Friday, December 30, 2016

12 Days of Christmas: Day 11 - Hollow Clay Beads

Hi There!  I'm Terri Del Signore from artisticaos.  I am a ceramic bead artist and I'm looking forward to sharing a tutorial with you! This is something that I have been experimenting with, and I am quite excited to show you what I've learned so far! Hollow clay forms using paper.


I work with ceramic clay but this concept could also suit polymer and metal clay projects.  In fact, somehow, somewhere, I came across paper beads used to make hollow polymer beads.  I don’t make polymer beads, but round paper beads are sold on Etsy for this purpose.  The idea is that you wrap your polymer clay around the paper bead, bake it, drill holes, and soak the bead to soften the paper pulp. Then remove the paper pulp with fine tip tweezers. You are left with a hollow polymer bead.  Even though I don't make polymer beads that idea sparked a different idea for me.

This seemed like something I could try with ceramic clay because extreme temperatures in the kiln would completely burn away paper, leaving only a hollow ceramic bead.  I wanted to play around with this idea because I have a background in papermaking (as we artsy folks tend to dabble in more than one medium;).  I figured this way, I could make various shapes to be used for hollow beads, and not be limited to just round beads. Who wants limits right!!??


I always have tons of ideas, and many that don’t work – but not this time! It worked! Here is a completely hollow bisque bead that I made using a paper bead.  The paper is completely gone, and all that is left is a hollow ceramic bead!



I will share what I did and some things I learned.
And the best part is that it is really simple!!
Making paper shapes to use to make hollow clay beads.

Materials needed
Cotton paper pulp and warm water

Equipment needed
Blender and dehydrator 

See that is not a long list of materials! If you don't have a dehydrator you could improvise with an oven, on the lowest setting, left open - or a heater even!  Cotton paper pulp is purchased through paper-making supply places. I have had mine for a very long time.  I bet you a good quality cotton toilet paper or paper towel would work too!  If you try it - let me know how it turns out!

Add warm water to your blender and add some ripped cotton paper pulp. Exactly how much is difficult to tell you, but, it's better to start with less and increase as needed. I say this because I once killed a brand new blender by adding too much pulp.  Now I have a Ninja, and it would take a lot more than paper to kill this beast!!  I love this machine!!  The left photo is paper pulp sheet.
Blend to a pulp (literally)!


When done, slowly lift out an amount in your hand that would suit your size and shape for your design.  Try to get the correct amount the first time, because adding to it is not ideal. You will learn this as you go and get better at it. Gently squeeze water out while forming your desired shape.  Don't try and get all the water out to the point you distort your shape. You will get a feel of what I mean. Working gently is key to maintaining shape. A little practice will help but I promise it is really easy!!

To remove the remaining pulp, you will need to use a fine strainer once the pulp starts getting low and hard to grab.


Once you have your wet paper shapes. Put them in your dehydrator to dry. Does anyone see my winking emoji;) in the photo below? I got my husband’s smaller dehydrator when he upgraded to a commercial one.  I snuck these into my husband’s, while he was making jerky. I kind of expected him to ask – but he is so past asking questions about my seemingly strange art projects about the house – even when they end up next to his jerky!

Once dry - they will be ready to use for your clay creations!! 


The clay you use to put over the paper will naturally want to take on the shape of your paper shape.  If your paper shape is really rough and bumpy texture (as thick handmade paper tends to be)  you will have to compensate by how you shape the outside. Either go with the rough texture and work it into your design or spend the time smoothing it out.  I did come up with a way to make your round beads smooth so that you can easily make nice smooth, round, hollow beads.  


The technique is to gently roll your rough round beads between two perfectly flat surfaces.  As you can see I am using really advanced equipment for this;) A plastic plate and a flat table top. The important thing is that both have a smooth, flat, textureless, surface!


Here is a pic of the difference it makes.


Now wrap clay around your paper shape and let the creative juices flow!


Important to remember is that there needs to be a hole that reaches into the hollow part of the clay for ceramic and metal clays (can't say for sure about polymer but my guess would be the same) - otherwise air can't get out and that is when things explode in the kiln.


You will see with my elephant head- that my design idea did not allow for air to escape, so I actually put a hole at the back.


Here is another hollow designs I made using this technique.


GIVEAWAY!!!! GIVEAWAY!!!!

And this hollow hummingbird bead is for one you readers who are still reading, and leave a comment. Winner will be chosen using random number generator. The winner will be picked next Thursday. 

I look forward to exploring with this technique much more and I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial!


Terri Del Signore – artisticaos.com

33 comments:

Saraccino said...

I have to try this idea! I am thinking of hollow beads with a lot of holes and an organic surface. Strangely enough, I used paper to create polymer clay beads, I use paper for ceramic clay sculptures as well as letter noodles for text in ceramic clay... but the link to create also ceramic beads this way didn't occur to me ;) I would love to win your bead, the bird is lovely!

Villa Türmchen said...

I like your hollow - beads verry much. This is a beautiful kind of making beads.
It woud be a big happines for me to win you nice bird - bead.
But I dont know, if you woud sent it to Germany?
Anyway, I wish you the best for the new year, Jana

Kathy said...

I always wondered about using paper pulp and I though I'd run into problems with the clay shrinking and breaking as it dried over the form, but it doesn't seem like this has been an issue at all for you. Any thoughts on this? Thanks for sharing your experiments with us. I really like your beads.
--Kathy of PajegoArtHouse

Bijoux Gems Joy said...

Very interesting technique. I like the way your beads came out. I do remember seeing a post about using the paper beads to make hollow polymer clay beads. I am a novice at polymer clay and had forgotten all about it. Now I may have to try it on a play day.
Mona

Kristen said...

I think this would be a great technique for metal clay beads. You wouldn't need as much clay making the beads lighter and much less expensive! Thanks for the tut and the give away. Happy New Year!

Kathy Lindemer said...

Great tutorial! Thank you for sharing!

Barbara Hanselman - BHClaysmith said...

What a neat technique! One question though, can these paper shapes simply air dry or perhaps be dried in a very low temperature oven? I'm assuming that the cotton/paper burns away when finally kiln fired leaving a nice light weight bead to work with. Thanks for sharing your ingenuity!

Barbara Hanselman - BHClaysmith said...

Great way to form light weight hollow beads and pendants; thanks for sharing!

thecolorofdreams said...

Great tutorial. Such interesting beads. Love the hummingbird!

Pat Denning said...

Terri,

That is fascinating! The beads are wonderful. Now I have something else to try. God help my poor house! Happy New Year!

Lynn said...

Such a clever idea! And, I just love that little hummingbird! Looking forward to seeing more of your wonderful creations. Lynn Carling

Shaiha said...

Thanks for the tutorial! And I love that hummingbird.

KimG said...

Thank you for sharing your creative process with us! It's amazing seeing all the steps to make each beautiful piece. I would love to use the hummingbird in one of my pieces!

Mokki said...

Cool technique. Thanks for the nifty tutorial. I love your elephant, it would look great in a necklace.

Kristina said...

I would love to try this technique with polymer clay. I have a concern though. Would the oven temp for polymer clay be enough to burn the paper?

Jo said...

I love artisans that keep finding ways to push limits and are successful.

Great job Terri!

Jo

Terri Del Signore said...

Letter noodles! Ha! Love it!!

Terri Del Signore said...

Thank you Jana! I will ship to Germany if your name gets chosen:)

Terri Del Signore said...

Hi Kathy! I have done quote a few now and not had that happen once! I have even used porcelain - and for me that has the most shrinkage of all the clays I work with!! So far so good!

Terri Del Signore said...

I think so too! I look forward to trying it with metal clay!!

Terri Del Signore said...

Hi Barbar! They could for sure air dry!! But you would need extreme patience as it would take a very long time. I would try the lowest oven setting and leave it cracked open a bit:)

Terri Del Signore said...

Oh and yes - all the paper burns away leaving a nice light bead!

Terri Del Signore said...

Thank you!

Terri Del Signore said...

Thank you!

Terri Del Signore said...

Haha! I hear you Pat! And thank you!

Terri Del Signore said...

Thank you Lynn!!:)

Terri Del Signore said...

Thank you!

Terri Del Signore said...

Thank you Kim!

Terri Del Signore said...

That will be a fun play day!

Terri Del Signore said...

Why thank you Mokki!!:)

Terri Del Signore said...

I have very little experience with polymer clay but I am pretty certain the paper would not burn at the Temp used to bake polymer. I am under the impression that when paper is used inside polymer beads - it is removed after baking. One way would be to soak the bead in water (to turn the paper back to pulp) then use fine tweezers to pull it out of the bead hole.

Terri Del Signore said...

Thanks so much Jo! Your comment makes me smile!!

Terri Del Signore said...

Thank you!