Friday, July 31, 2015

(Another) trip down memory lane

I've been going through images on my computer earlier today and enjoyed another trip down memory lane.  I thought I'd share some of my favourites with you:

Tall flower vase, textured, glazed, ceramic decals

This vase is about 24cm tall and the perfect size for a bunch of roses.

I love this female body pot which I made with white
earthenware clay and fired in a saggar filled with organic material.

The clay surface near the rim has some beautiful marks
 of dried plant material which was in the saggar.
I made this large open bowl for an exhibition of works
 inspired by a classic Afrikaans recipe book.

I wrote a full page of script from a recipe book on this large open bowl.  After having written (scratched) the words on 3 bowls (which I had to discard as mistakes
couldn't be corrected), this one made it to the exhibition!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Trip down memory lane

As I walked through the Poet's garden at the Breytenbach Cultural Centre yesterday, I fondly remembered the hours of hard work which went into all those ceramic art projects!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Helping a fellow human being

We were having a quick lunch at a small bistro right on the banks of the Onrus river lagoon yesterday when this scene played out.  I had my camera with me as I wanted to take pictures of the river which has bursts its banks after Saturday's storm.
A man with a bicycle was standing on the river bank, contemplating how he was going to cross
 the river without getting wet and damaging his bicycle. 
A stranger in a wet suit then offered to piggy back the man to the other side. 

His friend followed carrying the man's bicycle to the other side of the river.  This kind gesture by one human being to another was really special to witness and I was so lucky to have had my camera with me to capture the moment!

I took these textured stoneware discs out of the kiln this morning and can't wait to
make the rings.  I have a few ideas that I've been playing around with.  One is to attach the disc to a silver plate with thick prongs and the other is to combine them with semi-precious stones.
 So many ideas, its hard to choose but at least there's 6 discs to work with.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The process of making ceramic beads by hand

Making ceramic beads is a complex process.   In short it goes like this:
1.  Wet ceramic clay is hand shaped into little round balls.
2.  The wet balls are left for about an hour to firm up and then the stringing hole is made using a wooden skewer/needle/wire.
3.  If its a sunny day, they'll go outside to speed up the drying process.  Otherwise they're left near the hot kiln while its busy firing a load of beads.
4.  Once the clay is bone dry (which usually takes about two days), they go in to the bisque kiln where they'll be fired to 1 000 degrees Celsius.  The beads are fired slowly to bisque temperature which takes about 8 hours.  Once bisque temperature is reached, the kiln has to cool down gradually and can only be opened after 12 hours.
5.  The beads are cured and can now be painted with underglaze.
6.  Underglazes needs to be hardened on the bisque surface and the beads go into the kiln for a second firing and another long 12 hours before they can be removed from the kiln.
7.  The beads are then painted with transparent glaze (to give it a glass like surface).  Care has to be taken during this step keeping the glaze away from the stringing holes.  If there's glaze in the holes, the beads will fuse to the wire and will stay there forever!
8.  It takes ages to put the beads on special kiln wire and loading the kiln.  Beads shouldn't touch each other and only a few beads can go on to a piece of wire as the wire tends to sags at high temperatures.
9.  The beads are fired to 1 100 degrees Celsius (2 012 Fahrenheit) for 10 hours and another 12 - 14 hours before the kiln is opened.
10.  The last step is the one that often keeps me awake at night - opening of the kiln!  So many things can go wrong in the firing process of which power fluctuations and outages is the worst...

I love opening the kiln although I'm always a little bit nervous but I can happily say that I haven't had that many kiln failures.  It is usually love at first sight when I open the kiln.  I still revel in the beauty of a small handmade bead as each one is unique and has a story to tell of the person who made it.

Sunny yellow beads to brighten up your day!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Transfer of skills

It is a sad fact that South Africa has the third highest unemployment rate for people between the ages of 15 and 24.  It is estimated that more than 50% of young South Africans between 15 and 24 are unemployed. There is of course no easy solution or quick fix to this problem and promises by politicians to create millions of jobs when they come into power, simply never happens.  So it is up to us ordinary people to do our small bit to create opportunities for our youth.  I believe that the least we can do is to share our knowledge and skills.  It is then also the reason why I asked my regular bead makers to bring two unemployed young women to the studio this week so that we can teach them how to make ceramic beads.  They have never before set foot in a pottery studio or visited a gallery!  Today they made beads and learnt about the properties of ceramic clay and tomorrow we'll visit the Breytenbach gallery where my jewellery is still on display.
Estelle and Lidihanna with our winners names which were chosen randomly from a bowl.

And the winners of my blog give away is:  Anne from Belgium and Helga from Italy.  Congratulations to you and please e-mail your postal addresses to me (  Both of you chose our black, turquoise raku bead sets as your favourites and you'll receive bead sets in that colour combination.  Thank you to all of you who left comments - we'll do this again soon.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

New in my shop this week.

Here's a few new ceramic bead sets which I've listed in my shop yesterday.
The images were taken not far from my house on my favourite walking trail through the farms bordering our village.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Doing it all

This has been such a strange week.  We've just completed a large bead order which took about 4 weeks from start to finish, wet clay to glazed bead.  What is so strange about it, is that it took me a whole 4 days to sort, count, string, pack, wrap and photograph the beads.  I was so relieved this morning when I finally handed over the large, heavy box to my local post office staff member and now I'm holding thumbs that it will reach its destination safely.  I should add packer, driver, photographer and more to my already long job description - bead artist, jewellery maker, ceramic artist, etc.  Oh, and lets not forget the all important one - marketing agent/sales person of Earth Butter Beads.

The order was for a large number of colour co-ordinated bead sets such as these:

Black, Red, Skye Blue, Yellow bead sets

Black, Red, White bead sets

Black, Brown, Terracotta, Animal Print bead sets

Pink, Purple, Lavender, White bead sets

Turquoise, Aqua, White, Black Raku bead sets

Blue, Red, White bead sets

Yellow, Green, White bead sets

Orange, Yellow, White bead sets

I like them all but I especially like the Yellow, Green and White bead sets.  Which is your favourite?  Let me know by leaving a comment below and you'll stand a chance to win a bead set.  We'll choose a random winner by the end of next week and will let you know here on the blog.  Thanks for visiting!