Bead Carvings

I was wandering around on the Etsy Mud Team thread and one of the members posted a link to this woman’s shop. It is a cuff made from pvc, carved. So so beautiful!

The detail is incredible. I can’t believe someone could do this with a knife. This woman’s cuts are so perfect that I would feel perfectly safe is she were the only person available to cut out my bursting appendix.

This got me thinking about how to transfer this type of art to clay. The best way to attend a seminar for free these days is log onto ….. You Tube. How do you learn something new? YOU TUBE! It suddenly occurs to me that my last sentence could be a great jingle.

How do you learn something new?

(and for the ‘you tube’ shout someone could jump out of a big tube, like a parody of being born….)

This is why I think I must have some sort of attention deficiency thing-ee …. I’m coming up with jingles instead of sticking to the subject on hand … bead carving.

SO ….. (back on track) … I went to you tube and found this video on fruit carving. Watermelon is not exactly the same consistency as clay but when leather hard, comes close. Watermelon is also somewhat round … hey … LIKE a BEAD! So what could I learn? Well, this was very cool! Watch it!

Off I went to make my own ‘bead watermelon’. I hand rolled about 20 white porcelain balls before I thought about the contrast of light and dark. So I handrolled about 20 brown stoneware clay balls too.

It was time to roll thin sheets of white and brown to enclose each ball with (watermelon is red with green on top) and it dawned on me at that particular moment that I could have used that colored porcelain that I spent a fortune on last month. Then sanity took hold …. iffn’ this experiment didn’t work out, no big deal. If it does do well, THEN I’ll use the expensive colored porcelain for future carvings.

I began by enclosing a white stoneware porcelain with a brown stoneware clay and visa versa. Because these clays both mature at the same temperature, they have about the same amount of shrinkage.

I put everything in one area on my living room floor in front of the tv … always the tv …even when it is not on: the tv! I would use the table in my studio if the table wasn’t already completely full of other projects.

Ahem … I have the two paper plates to put the two differently colored beads. The paper towels for …. whatever. And the small container of water to keep my fingers moistened.

I figured this would be similar to the same process as covering a polymer bead.

I began by cutting into the clay with a triangle shaped cutting tool that I already had! At this point I’m thinking I might have better luck with a watermelon and I’m also relieved I wasn’t using the expensive colored porcelain. It dawns on me that the clay is not hard enough to work with. I set it aside and roll the messed up clay into little marble beads. Waste not want not. A transparent colored glaze would show the marbled clay underneath very prettily.

While I waited for the clay to harden, I got to looking at a small slab of clay and wondering what that tool would look like on it. Then I thought MUST CUT CIRCLES. I moistened the circles and put them on both sides of the brown round and thought it looked like a hamburger. I took a tool and put triangles on the sides and added dots. Then I thought it needed more dots. So I added more. Then I tapped it on all six sides so it was square. Hamburgers aren’t square. Good job!

I made three buttons and a pendant out of four of the circles. I will glaze one side of the rest of them and glue a magnet on the back to use as thank you gifts for customers who buy mugs over at my pottery store.

I ended up getting three of the brown balls covered before the thin white slab became too hardened to work with. I tried moistening it, but it just wasn’t the same. So instead I played with how those white strips contrasted with the brown clay. Fun!

(sidenote: couldn’t help it. Sculpted an animal head. What do you think? Pig? Dog?)

I’m still waiting for that clay to harden enough to begin carving it. So while I wait I keep playing with other things and I came up with this next.

Since it was lunchtime, I washed up and made a steak burrito for lunch. I watched this You Tube video for inspiration. I googled “Carving pottery” and found this:

So … maybe I should have just painted the outside of each bead with slip …. NAH!

Even though my bead carvings didn’t come out anything like the watermelon carving in the video, I did learn a lot about working with two different colors/types of clay and also about carving in general. Below is what I ended up with. As you can see there is a lot of experimentation going on. And as I’m looking at these again I’m thinking about how much they remind me of chocolate …. mmmm…. chocolate.


And here is a finished Carved Bead.

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