Making Ceramic Jewellery

Making jewellery and wearable art evolved from a combination of exploring ways to recycle and further develop my ceramics, along with resurrecting an old jewellery-making hobby I started many years ago (I used to make pendants out of wood, hand-cut and delicately pyrography burned with animal and nature themed designs). Now that I’m experimenting more with the medium of clay, and have access to kiln firing, I’ve started to revisit my passion for incorporating nature themes into these pieces. Nature is still my favourite designer in the macro world and found organic objects offer a range of pattern and texture-forming ideas.

I use a few different processes for making ceramic beads, jewellery and miniatures. I like that there are no limitations to the objects I can create, but I do need to think about some technical aspects of firing the pieces, such as how to prevent fully-glazed areas from sticking to the kiln shelf? Specialty bead racks are available to purchase for glaze firings but they can be costly and hard to source. I’m only producing small-batch objects and was able to create my own wire hangers:

Here are some ideas for creating your own ceramic beads, pendants, earrings and hanging ornaments.

  • Rolling organic objects such as leaves and flowers over the clay, then cutting out the shapes with cookie cutters, rolling pizza cutter or a knife tool.
  • using found objects to create imprints, I like to use shells and textured stones collected from local beaches.
  • make your own bisque clay texture tools and pattern rollers.
  • the “subtraction” method – cutting away bits of clay until your desired form is revealed. I use this method to create my tiny Puia Volcanoes.
  • Hand forming shapes and objects that represent your practice, style or personal interests. I’ve recently created a limited edition range of NZ ‘fish and chips’ jewellery along with some other NZ sealife inspired objects: stingrays, kina shells and of course, my obsession with holes and negative space.

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