Friday, March 23, 2012

Learning Curve

My adventures into ceramic bead making have been a blast. Many obstacles

have appeared, but with the help of my friends, I have succeeded.

One such obstacle has been glazing. My dear, smart friend Mary Ann Carroll, who makes GORGEOUS beads, uses porcelain. Porcelain is white, and will take on whatever color glaze you use. Good, smart rule to follow, huh? Yeah, well, I've never been much of one for coloring in the lines :) While taking an initial private class with a local potter, who uses stoneware, I saw some finished pieces made with black clay!! I was in LOVE!!!!!!!!!!! I had purchased Raku fired beads from someone previously, who didn't glaze the ends. This resulted in a smoky, black clay where the bead was unglazed, and I just loved them. I believed if I used black clay, I could achieve a similar result with my beads. She also showed me the stoneware (tan), and a red stoneware clay. Those 3 are my favorites.

Bisque fired black, red and tan stoneware from right to left.

The problem, I found, though, was that not all glazes are made for all clay bodies. I am no chemist, and do not wish to be. I just want GREAT colors on my beads!! Some were perfect... some failed miserably. (Again, left to right, black, red then tan stoneware clay)

As you can see, the red did well on all 3 bodies. The black and red, are richer and deeper, as is the turquoise below it.

-The light blue did well on all three, but again, I prefer it on black.

-Green apple is most true on the tan stoneware.

-And the forest green didn't seem to vary any across the board.

Cool, huh?? That's what I thought. Although I did have a few failures. I can still use the beads, but they're DEFINITELY not the color they were intended to be.

The first one is cream-breaking red. Tan looks good, the other 2 failed. Next in line is butterscotch.Strangely enough, it only seemed to work on the black clay.

Then comes lemon.... hmmmm... No yellow here. On tan, it appears to be an acid green with orangish spots.. pretty cool! Black on the other 2.

The last 2 are the most mysterious. Believe it or not, one set was light pink, and the other was spinach green. Which is which? Your guess is as good as mine!

All in all, it's been SO much fun. The experimenting and discovery phases are so motivating and fascinating.

What shall become of the "failed" colored beads?? Whelp, they look brown to me :) I KNOW I can make use of brown beads! And I think I know a certain friend who could actually make pink and spinach colored beads with pink and spinach colored glazes :)


stacilouise said...

I love that black clay! I think experimenting is much of the fun, as long as you are willing to just go where it takes you.

mairedodd said...

keep having fun with it... i really do love black clay as well... one of the things i admire so much among you glaze experimenters is how well you keep track - yes, i understand it is a necessary step... but still...
the light blue on black is pretty dreamy...

Lesley said...

Looks like you had a lot of fun. I have metal clay pieces that aren't as intended - but isn't it great when the unintentional turns out more interesting and just as good?!

Artisan Beads Plus said...

Thanks for showing those differences. I experimented with different clay bodies (never black or red) and then decided my favorite was white..... I absolutely LOVE the black ones too! Actually, experimenting can be the most fun... sometimes not what you intended can become your favorite :o) LOVE IT!!!

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