From a lump of clay, each bead is made in my studio and set aside, allowing them to completely dry, which can take up to 7 days. When dried, my beads are gently cleaned with a damp sponge.
From here the beads are placed in my electric kiln for their first firing, known as a Bisque Firing. The temperature reaches over 1000cel, which can take up to 9 hours.
Once the desired tepmerature is reached, the Kiln shuts off. Now it is a matter of waiting until the inside temperture equals the outside temperature because opening the kiln any sooner risks the pieces cracking. This wainting usually takes as long as it took the kiln to reach the temperature.
Finally, I can open the kiln and sort the hard beads. Sometimes I have a specific project in mind and I like to start painting as soon as possible. Other times I simply sort my beads into the bzillion storage jars.
Each bead receives up to 5 coats of paint, 3 coats of colour followed by 2 coats of Glaze, which is crushed glass suspended in water which gives the bead that shiny, smooth finish.
After each cost has dried, only then the next one can be applied. When I have enough beads painted for a kiln load they are loaded in which can be time consuming. The beads are NOT allowed to touch each other or they will fuse together. It is not unreasonable for this stage to take an hour or two.
Happy that my goodies are loaded. I turn on the kiln for the second firing, known as Glaze Firing. As before, this whole proces can take up to 24 hours before the kiln lid can be raised.
This is the most exciting time of all. The beads have transformend from flat dull colours to shiny ceramic gems.
Ceramics is certainly a long process, but so worth it.
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