Thursday, May 23, 2013

Making "seed" beads

Its probably a bit ambitious to be making jewelry to give to friends we'll be visiting on Saint Helena in just a few short weeks. I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew. But since quite a few of these people are artists/craftsmen themselves this seems appropriate. 

Today I'll be making a bunch of "seed" beads. I've gotten a lot faster with these and this is how I quickly make a lot that are all about the same size. This is much quicker than pinching off pieces of clay and then rolling them and its easier on the fingers too.

I roll a long piece as evenly as possible. This is the slowest part and I do it on a larger scale than what I am showing today. If the log is even it helps the beads be even. For larger beads make a fatter roll - tinier beads, tinier roll. 

Then I chopped even chunks off the roll. You could put a ruler along the top of the log and actually measure but with practice I can get them very close in size, quickly. Like a chef with a carrot except the clay sticks to the work surface a bit so you don't have to use your other hand to hold it still. 

Then I roll beads using both hands. I like organic shapes so I don't shoot for exactly round. And I pierce them with a needle. 
I can do this like a little factory now and I find they are comfortable on the neck.

One of the artist's I'll be visiting is Mrs. Rose Bennett. (Here she was in her front garden in 2008 showing us fresh acacia seeds.)  She been making seed bead jewelry on Saint Helena since she was five years old. It would be interesting to learn more about her techniques and try using my beads so I think I'll take a small stash with me.