Friday, July 31, 2015

Inside the Studio with Mary Harding

Each week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio, creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our readers and hope you'll leave comments! As an incentive, we offer a prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard and tell us what you think. The following week a winner is chosen at random from all eligible entries.

Congratulations to Amara Honeck!!! 

You have won a $25.00 gift certificate to
Please email Heather to claim your prize.

Welcome to the studio of Mary Harding Jewelry.  I am delighted to host this week's Inside the Studio post.  July has been a busy month and I have been in and out of my studio teaching classes, and participating in a craft show for the first time in several years.  Last week I posted some of the raku beads that I  made as color samples for a collaborative Raku Bead firing one of my classes participated in. You can read all about it  here.  

Now that the classes are over and no shows are on my  horizon, I have been busy making some new toggle clasps with soft solder and copper sheet.  I really enjoy soft soldering because it is such an intuitive and impromptu medium.  I have been working on some clasps that are similar in feel to one that will be published next month when Stringing magazine releases its Best Beads of 2015 issue.  I called that one Poetic Grunge.  The series I have been working on is inspired by that clasp and by the book I have been reading for Andrew Thornton's Inspired by Reading Book Club---Swamplandia.  I wanted to capture my interpretation of what the author, Karen Russell, refers to as the Sawtooth Age.

So I used a saw type motif through out this series of clasps.  For the ones pictured above I flooded the clasps with soft solder and then added the copper saw tooth wire bits by placing them on the solder and then reheating it.  

For a more lyrical effect, I wrapped copper wire around the clasp after completing the basic soldering.  I think it almost looks like some kind of exotic tropical flower, as well.

I floated bits of copper in the solder to create the texture of the  alligator hide in the two clasps pictured above.

This clasp is more 3 dimensional and has two layers of saws.  The bottom layer juts out from the surface of the clasp but the saws are soft and smooth due to filing and tumbling.

I have also been experimenting with toggle clasps made from steel rebar wire.  I was inspired by Keith Lo Bue's online class Steeling Beauty and his lessons on playing with the wire.
I have tried out a few clasps by bending and forging the 16 gauge steel wire and plan  to continue on seeing what I can come up with.  Here are a couple of examples of what I have been trying out.

There is no solder on this clasp.  All the shapes are made by bending the wire with strong linesman pliers.

 A  square toggle clasp wrought from 16 gauge rebar wire.

Now for my question: Is making work in a series something you  like to do?  Leave a comment below related to this idea and you will be automatically entered to win a $20.00 gift certificate to my Etsy shop.
Thanks so much for stopping by.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Hello Art Bead Scene!

Hello Art Bead Scene!  My name is Michelle McCarthy and I am one of the newest contributors.  I have been playing with ceramic clay for 10 years now. I started out with hand building and wheel lessons at my local art center in Englewood, Florida.  I had a wonderful instructor who encouraged
and supported my growth in making functional and decorative pottery.   

I started selling my pottery at out door tent shows through out Florida.  Well, wind can be brutal and a few shows I had more pottery break than I sold.  Not fun.  But....I soon discovered beads and jewelry design and said, "Hey...I should make beads!"  So now I make beads 90% of the time and sneak in a bowl, plate or decorative piece 10% of the time.

Here is the start to the ceramic pieces I made for a fun ruffled heart bracelet.

This is white earthenware clay that I rolled out to 1/4" thick.  I smoothed the pattern out that the slab roller cloth leaves behind and used the cookie cutter to get my shape. I then make the hole vertically through the heart with this skewer.

This picture shows the various stages of the heart and round beads.  The green ware heart at the top is still wet.  After it dries, I clean any rough edges and put it in the kiln for the first firing, which turns it into bisque.  The white round bead is in the bisque stage.  It is now ready to be glazed.  The cone or temperature for this clay is 04 for bisque and 06 for glaze firing, which is just under 2000 degrees. This teal and copper glaze is one of my favorites.  It has glass crystals in it that burst from the heat of the kiln.

I am going to make a fun bracelet with the ceramic beads I just created, along with some waxed linen, 1mm leather, aventurine gem stone beads, 2 antique copper spacer beads and a closed antique copper ring.

Waxed linen is my favorite stringing is so easy to use.  

Thank you for reading about my ceramic bead making process and following along with a finished bracelet design using my beads.  If you'd like to learn more about me and my beads, please visit my website at 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

July Monthly Recap

Let's go to the sea, shall we?!
We will sit with our toes in the sand, soaking up the warmth of the hot summer sun, searching for shells and investigating the tide pools. We will leave footprints and gaze on sunsets and imbibe in drinks with little umbrellas floating in coconuts. May you see all of eternity in the spirals of a shell and feel the infinite wonder of being a speck against the clear blue sea meeting the cloudless sky.
And may you wonder at the majesty of it all!

July ABS Monthly Recap by Slidely Photo Gallery
Want to see it large? And listen to the soothing sounds of the ocean? Click the Slidely to launch the gallery.

 Now it is your turn! Show us what you made so we can celebrate you!

An InLinkz Link-up

Get the InLinkz code for your blog

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Patina Ideas

The other day I ran across this formula for creating patina on copper sheets with Miracle-Gro and vinegar and thought it would be worth a try. Hint - it has to be the Miracle-Gro water soluble azalea, camellia and rhododendrons plant food. You can read the directions here from Home Depot. 

I would use copper sheets from a jewelry supply shop, Ace Hardware or Hobby Lobby - they don't have a coat and you'd like to use thicker .016 copper sheets for most jewelry projects. 

(Photo credit: Home Depot)

This is a super fun idea from Rena Klingenberg using a Sharpie as a resist for patina - so many possibilities! Check it out here

(Photo credit: Rena Klingenberg)
You can totally fake a patina with Vintaj's Patina paints. Check out the video on Lima Beads here

(Photo credit: Lima Beads)

Another favorite of mine is Swellegant patina paints. I wrote a review with lots of tips a few years ago. Visit my blog for the article here. This is great for updating inexpensive pewter or brass components.

Have fun exploring coloring metal with these simple techniques! And if you try out that Miracle-Gro formula let me know - I'd love to see the results.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Amuse the Muse - Ocean Inspired Beads - with Rebecca of Songbead

Hello all! It's the last week of our ocean-inspired beads roundup - and this week, I'm bringing you a selection of beautiful handmade polymer art beads. Enjoy!

And now for the BeadBlogger Links - have a great week everyone!

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Check out Andrew's new bronze creations and find out what he plans to do with them!

Robot Love
Enjoy some fun amigurumi & learn about a few crafting giveaways.

Connie Gee's SAL
Connie has started up a free SAL. Join the Connie Gee's Stitchers group on Facebook to share your progress photos. Find out how to get started.

Silhouette Studio - Tedious Tasks Made Easy
Silhouette Studio conquers two card making issues. Two-sided projects don't align well with desktop printers. Many pieces mean tedious cutting & varied results.

Art Bead Scene
Meet Julie of Uglibeads, one of our fantastic new Art Bead Scene contributors (and FYI, her beads are the opposite of ugly!)

Table Transformation
Cherie transforms an old table into a fun piece for the living room.

Beading Arts
Make a teeny tiny little bead embroidered pendant! It's fast, easy, and a great way to try stitching with the smaller seed beads.

Rebecca is a Scottish jewellery designer; currently living in the capital city of Edinburgh. You can read more about her and her work at her blog, and see more of her jewellery at She also has a supplies shop at

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Pantone Fall Color Inspirations

I haven't even started enjoying summer yet and fall is already on the horizon. Actually, more than fall - Bead Fest in Philadelphia and thinking ahead to fall designs for the show is on the horizon! 

When I was designing a new line of beads for fall and samples for an upcoming event I turned to several sources for my inspiration. And when I was struggling with colors, I pulled out the Pantone Fall 2015 top 10 colors and went to town! 

The Pantone palette this season is inspired by the evolving landscape and finds it's inspiration in what they are calling haute hippie, with roots from fashion from the 70's. I really like the muted colors as a starting point.

You can read the color report here and see some Pinterest inspiration here. What do you think? Any color calling your name? For me, I love Biscay Bay, Cashmere Rose and Oak Buff - what a combo!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Inside the Studio with Humblebeads

Each week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio, creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our readers and hope you'll leave comments! As an incentive, we offer a prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard and tell us what you think. The following week a winner is chosen at random from all eligible entries.

Congratulations to Blue Kiln Beads!

You have won a mystery bundle from Claire's latest bead making marathon! 

Hello and welcome to the Humblebeads Studio today! I'm actually on a little hiatus this week - which went by way too fast to work on book #3 for me that will be out next summer. Yeah. But aside from that I have also been busy in my studio this summer creating class samples for fall retreats. (Yes that is plural!)

I will be hosting my 5th annual fall retreat during Halloween weekend in South Haven, MI - my sleepy little hometown.

It's three days of beadmaking and playing with metal and wire to create jewelry. This event is my heart and inspiration wrapped up into three days.

I pick a theme every year to create a collection of jewelry and this year is Forest Floor Treasures. We will go for a nature walk on the trail near my home to a covered bridge over the Black River. It's one of my favorite places here in town and has inspired many a creation in my studio!

If spending three days soaking up my beadmaking knowledge and creating jewelry sounds like a little slice of heaven, stop on over and read all the details. I only have a few spaces left and would love to have an Art Bead Scene reader or two join me!

So on to the giveaway - your favorite part right? At my first retreat I created little name plates for everyone's door. It was a small touch but it was appreciated. I also put together a little fall inspired gift bag with beads from a few of my friends and treats I picked up a bead shows during the year. My first year I even created a little creative scavenger hunt booklet - I should do something like that again!

My question - what little surprise or extra touch would mean a lot to you at a bead retreat? Help me brainstorm some ideas.

One lucky random reader will be picked from the comments for a $25 gift certificate to

---- On a side note: can I tell you how much I love reading all your thoughtful comments on our Inside the Studio posts! I really loved reading about your color combinations last week on Claire's post. You guys are so inspiring. Love ya to pieces!!!!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Ceramic Raku Art Beads

                                    Ceramic Raku fired Beads by Mary Harding

Just last week I did a raku bead firing at my home so that I would have some color samples for a class I would be teaching at the Thousand Islands Art Center in Clayton, New York.   They are pictured above.  The class was exciting and our beads came out well.  Since raku beads are fired quite differently than kiln fired ceramic beads, I thought I would show you a couple of pictures of how they are fired.  For this class the raku firing was a collaborative affair with the ceramic studio and myself. At The Thousand Islands Art Center they have a very skilled potter and a wonderful raku kiln which they break out 4 times a year for a community open studio type event.  The public can purchase a pot, glaze it with raku glazes and watch it get fired.  We were invited to participate in this firing which took place last week.

The picture above is of the kiln.  It  has a crank that opens it from the top after it reaches the temperature of 1800F  degrees.  The kiln is fueled by a propane tank like the ones used for outdoor grills.
This picture shows the kiln being opened up.  You can see the flames that heat it on the sides and the tool in the foreground is the giant tongs used to pull out the red hot ware (and our homemade bead rack) and put it in barrels that are full of shredded paper and other combustibles.  Once the lid is placed on these containers,  the beads and pots will be starved of oxygen which will in turn entice the glazes to show their metallic colors of copper, blue, red and more.  This is called the  reduction phase.  After about 20 minutes  the hot pots and beads are dunked in water which completes the process and causes the metallic colors to brighten and some of the glazes to crackle.    
Now that you  have some idea of the process for making raku beads, I would like to share with you today a number of raku fired art beads I  have found on the web.  Raku beads can be very colorful and they can also be gungy and dark with exotic surfaces.  I hope you enjoy this raku bead tour.                        
                          Handmade Raku Fired Ceramic - Lentil Bead - Focal Bead - in shades of Turquoise Emerald and Copper
                               Beautiful Raku Fired Lentil Bead By Lisa Peters Art
We will start with Lisa Peters, who  has long been at the forefront of raku bead making.
You can see the metallic glints of copper at the center of this beads.  The dark areas of black are characteristic of raku fired beads as well.
Marianne Kasparian, is the creative person behind Maku Studio.  She too has been making raku fired art beads for a number of years.  Her work is characterized by strong metallic colors and bold images.
Raku Ceramic Heart Pendant Jewelry Handmade Gifts         by MAKUstudio
                                  Raku Ceramic Heart Pendant by Maku Studio

Raku Ceramic Pendant Raku Jewelry Supply Handmade             by MAKUstudio

                                   Raku Ceramic Pendant by Maku Studio

Love all those swirls of red copper and blue which the raku firing made happen.

198. Three Raku Autumn Midnight Rusty Copper Leaves
                              Raku fired feathers by Wondrous Strange

More metallics, this time in golds and silver.
164. Viking Invasion Hoard  Ten Charms Copper Moss Green Burgundy  Raku Pendants
Viking Invasion Hoard Raku Fired Charms and Pendants  by Wondrous Strange

Raku Steampunk Rivet and Filigree Necklace Connector
From Petra Compeau of Scorched Earth a raku fired steampunk necklace connector

Raku Iron Age Pendant - Steely
Raku Iron Age Pendant   Scorched Earth on Etsy

Urban Industrial Tribal Raku Earring Shield Earrings
Incredible metallics  titled  Urban Industrial Tribal  Shield  Earring components from  Duane Collins of Elements Pottery
Raku and Copper Focal Bead Set

Stunning set of raku fired beads is bright copper and other metallics by Elements Pottery
Gilded Buds-  Handmade Porcelain Raku Connectors

Gilded Buds Porcelain Raku Connectors by Kiyoi Design
Handmade Porcelain Raku Pods
Porcelain Raku Pods by Kiyoi Designs

Pendant gold raku ceramics - jewels in raku - europeanstreetteam

Modernistic Raku Fired Pendant by Thomas Lussi of RakuLabFly

Buttons raku pottery and copper yellow half-moon - europeanstreetteam - rakulabfly

Button Set by Thomas Lussi  RakuLabFly

I want to finish up this tour with the delicate raku screen printed pendants by Caroloine Dewison of  BlueberriBeads  The one above is a screen print on ceramic clay that has been raku fired!!!

      And this pendant is a Raku and Lustre fired Fox Pendant by BlueberriBeads

  I hope you have enjoyed this look at raku art beads.  May they inspire and enrich you.
Thanks so much for stopping by,