How I MAKE Ceramic Beads.

... or any Ceramics built by hand.
All the Ceramic Beads [buttons and more] are made by me and are painted with tiny brushes, one-at-a-time in my home studio. Because of my Handmade, Hand Painted process - no moulds or decals/transfers insight - all my beads are slighty different in size and shape giving them that authentic handmade appeal. This guarantees that each bead is a One-of-a-KindUnique, little piece of art.

There are many stages to Ceramics, but for ease I will break this lengthy process into 3 parts.

I start forming the clay into the shape I want either a ball, a flat bead, a twisty etc and either add a hole or pieces of high temperature wire as needed.

After the beads have been slowly air dried, and this drying time can take a minumum of 4-5 days in winter, each bead is cleaned gently with a damp sponge to make sure the surfaces are smooth.

Re-drilling is usually required because with this cleaning process, the holes can be partially lost.

Air drying Beads
Air drying Buttons

Part 2 - BISQUE
After the clay Beads have been cleaned and are dried, they are placed in the Kiln for their first firing.  The beads can touch each other without any drama.  I sometimes load them in containers so I'm not chasing them around in the kiln later.

This first firing is known as a Bisque Firing, where the temperature reaches 1101 Celsius. The beads must be completely cooled in the kiln before removing, thus this whole process takes about 24 hours. 

After this first firing the beads are ready for underglazing and glazing.

NB At this bisque stage, you may cover the beads in PMC, Art Clay Silver, Bronze Clay, Resin, Enamel, Cloth, Acrylic Paint etc which of course eliminates the final firing

Gift Tags and Beads

Part 3 - GLAZED
Once out of the kiln, each bead is painted with tiny brushes. Usually 2-3 coats of specially formulated underglaze colour is applied to each bead and then 2 coats of a clear glaze. After complete drying, the beads are inspected and cleaned as required, glaze left in the holes makes the beads stick to the wires - not good. Now they are placed back in the kiln, for the second 24 firing process. Known as a glaze firing. This time the beads need to be hung on supporting wires. Too many beads per wire can make the wire to sag. This is a bad things because if the beads touch each other, they will permantely fused together - also not good.

Once this second process is complete, I can hardly wait to open the kiln and catch the first glimpse of the small treasures I have created!

I hope you will enjoy my Handmade and Hand Painted Ceramic Beads as much as I do creating them.
In Summary...
Every single Ceramic Bead has been handmade and painted by me. This is a 'one lady' hobby and I really enjoy making my own ceramic beads. It is a lengthy process, but it's very rewarding.

Beads painted with Underglazed.
Beads painted with Glaze - which is crushed glass suspended in tinted water.
Beads loaded in to the Kiln, waiting for their next firing.
Beads cooling in the Kiln after the Glaze firing.

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