Friday, July 4, 2014

Inside the Studio with Mary Harding

Inside the Studio :: Mary Harding of Mary Harding Jewelry

                           Welcome to Inside the Studio!

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 free prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard. The following week we choose a random winner.

Congratulations, Colleen  You have won a Q Marks the Spot Necklace from Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati Jewelry that Erin will create just for you.   Please send Erin an email with your information.

         This week we visit the studio of Mary Harding of Mary Harding Jewelry
                              Some porcelain beads I made recently by Mary Harding

Beads, beads, beads. That is what I have been up to.  Shaping them.  Coloring them. Glazing them. Experimenting with them and yes, taking a class about a special way of making them.  More about that in another post later this summer.

  Beads in the bisque stage that I made a couple of days ago  by Mary Harding

What do I like about making beads?  It is working with my hands, the process of moving and shaping the clay, the feel of the soft velvety clay on my hands, and most of all the exciting journey to that special place in my consciousness where the Now takes over, the endorphins are flowing and and the inner critic is mute. I like to think of the process of making beads as a non verbal stream of consciousness.  As a place where the mind is freed up and the hands and eyes are in charge, not my thoughts and rational thinking.

                          Notice how short my finger nails are and how the clay is neither too sticky or too dry:  all prerequisites to                                                                   working with clay for bead making

And how do I get there since it takes a bit of warm up before it all comes together and the journey and exploration begins?  For me it takes quiet, assurance that I will not be interrupted, warmth, and a comfortable chair and table arrangement and a reasonable plan for how many I will make.  I usually like to make beads in small amounts so as not to feel overwhelmed or like it is a chore.  I usually decide ahead of time which tools I will use and set them out.  I like to have a bit of structure regarding how I will work which could involve size, and only a few tools for marking the clay.

                        Tools I used in this most recent bead making session

Yesterday when I was glazing my beads I set up a structure of 4 colors and piles of 5 beads in each pile that I would use one color with for the base coat.  By the end of the session, when my hands took over I was using 6 colors and even painting at times by dipping my fingers into the colors.  I had a wonderful time and I just love how the beads came out.

the beads with colored glazes before they were fired drying in my dehydrator   Mary Harding

For me it is the process that I love for bead making, but for other activities, like stringing or bead work, I often like the product better.  What about you?

All this brings me to my question today.  For which one of your creative activities do you enjoy the process of making the most and why?   Comment below and you will automatically be entered into a draw  to win a 3 bead string of my newest beads.  The winner will be announced next Friday in the Inside the Studio post on that day.

Thanks so much for stopping by.  I look forward to reading your comments.

I leave you with this validating quotation from D.W. Winicott

 “It is creative apperception more than anything else that makes the individual feel that life is worth living.”


Ann Schroeder said...

Your new beads are beautiful! I always have such mixed feelings about making jewelry because nothing ever comes out like I see it in my mind. Reading about bead and component making always makes me appreciate all the work that goes into it, but I never thought it would be something I like. But recently when I went through all the steps of taking raw wire and shaping it into clasp and links, aging it, cleaning it, tumbling it and sealing it, I had a wonderful time. It was relaxing! I was in a zone. I think that is going to be the process I love best as I learn more.

Alice said...

Your beads are fabulous! Thank you for sharing your process. I love searching for the perfect beads to complete a piece of jewelry. And sometimes they work and other times they don't. My husband thinks I stress too much about the beads but I want each piece to be perfect.

Shai Williams said...

I love digging thru my beads to come up with that perfect combo that conveys what I am trying to get across.

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite steps is taking newly baked polymer beads off their stringers and sorting the different batches. After all that time mixing colors, executing a cane or other effect, and shaping beads... they're finished and ready to become jewelry. Very satisfying.

Rebecca said...

What a great post - and a great question, Mary. I am really going to have to think about that one. Like you, I also bead-weave from time to time....there is something wonderfully meditative and almost hypnotic about stitching with beads that I do love. But I also love designing and creating new pieces when stringing - I love the mental and emotional buzz I get, bringing seemingly incongruous components together to create something new; something that will hopefully be more than the sum of its is hard to know which one of these activities I like process of the best!

sandi m said...

Thanks for sharing your process of turning clay magically into beautiful beads. Love the colors.
For me it is the process of taking a length of fine silver wire, forming into a shape for fusing and then watching the dance between the metal and torch flame. Then the flow of metal .... a zen moment, and the fun of final forming and hammering ~ bliss!

haezz said...

Gorgeous beads, fun tour and great question. I had to smile as you described dabbing the paint with your fingers. Reminds me a bit of what I do. I call it the tinkering phase; my hubby calls it the stinky phase.

I adore patina work. When I happen upon a new recipe I rearrange the vinegar or ammonia or salt or LOS or water...they all add something in terms of color. That's how I found a stunning purple patina that looks brilliant with heavily textured copper.

It's the 'What if I...?" question that I love so much.

Marybeth said...

Thank you for sharing your creative process, you articulated the feeling of being in "the zone" so well! For me, gourd carving is my current favorite process. When I forego the power tools and only use my knives, scrapers and sandpaper to shape a piece of gourd, I feel connected with the distant past, when primitive tools were used to create decorative objects, fetishes, totems. I love the colors of the gourd, the feel of the soft/hard organic substance as I carve, scratch, scrape and sand. I even enjoy the somewhat acrid smell of an opened gourd. I feel physically strong during the process, yet delicate patterns can appear. It is a wholly sensual experience, and I love it! When I'm there, yes, life is holy and flowing through me like it does at no other time.

Patti Vanderbloemen said...

Wow! Amazing colors and shapes on this page! Everything you touch...whatever medium you choose-is always so beautiful! I find myself "in the zone" when I play with wire. Every once in a while, I stand back and have an "aha" moment when it all comes together. I rarely preplan, but sometimes, I sit for an hour just staring at the beads contemplating what it wants "to become". Most times, I leave the bench so satisfied! It is such a good feeling when that happens.

Love your work!!!

Sarajo Wentling said...

Fun new beads! And I love that one of your tools was a pair of earrings.

To answer your question, I think it depends on my mood what process I enjoy the most. This may sound goofy, but some days I really enjoy just sitting and making a bunch of bead units on wire or eye pins... it's something that I can just get in the zone with and it's relaxing.

Some days it's embossing and/or etching a ton of stuff with the Big Kick and then playing with different combinations of the Vintaj patina paints. There are so many fun combinations of colors and it feels like you can't really mess it up... it just may turn out a little differently than you expected.

Anonymous said...

I do love seeing glimpses of the artistic process, especially ceramics, as my Mum is a potter and I am so familiar with the steps (albeit on a larger scale!). As for me, I love the process of designing a piece, picking out beads and putting them this way and that until I get the look I want. Sometimes that extends to the making too, sometimes it doesn't ;-)

Terri Del Signore said...

Absolutely when I "play" with clay! First time I ever touched the stuff I thought- "where have you been all my life!"
I had to smile when Marybeth mentioned gourds - I too love gourds!

Kristen said...

When I am enameling,the process needs to be neat and clean and somewhat repetitive so I would have to say I love the product more. When the powered glass melts in my kiln into that shiny colorful surface, it's magic to me!

Unknown said...

Mary, your work is divine and so inspirational. I have to say with what experience I have in clay, there is not one step that I don't enjoy about making beads and components. The hardest part for me is coming up with a design and when I find one that works, it's such a joy.

baymoondesign said...

If I could make beads as lovely as yours are, I would definitely, like the process of bead making the most. Alas, I can't so I have to say that creating with beads is what I enjoy the most. I love finding the perfect fit of beads. As I am starting to make my own clasps and links, I am finding joy in that. I can make exactly what fits into the design.

Bucci Handmade Jewelry said...

I love this! Thanks for sharing! My favorite part of this journey is working with and manipulating various metals. There is so much you can do to make them unique! It is definitely meditative to me. Next up on my bead adventure...working with clays. I have dabbled a bit with polymer and I, too love the feel of it in your hands. Great work!

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing. I like the colors of these beads. My favorite part of creating my earrings is taking a special bead like yours and searching for the components and beads to go with it for that special pair of earrings.
Sometimes the beads will sit there for awhile before the right parts come together.

Anonymous said...

wonderful post Mary and lovely beads! For myself, beading is a meditation of sorts, where I find the concerns of the day dropping away as I work with my beads, needles and threads.