Friday, November 13, 2015

Stamped Shadow Beads

Since discovering hand carving, I tend not to use commercial stamps in my work very often, but I do like pattern stamps. Once in a while, I get an idea of how to use them in an interesting way and I’d like to share one of my ideas today. 

Pattern Stamps

I’ve been continuing my love/hate relationship with my pottery wheel (now back on after watching The Great British Pottery Throw down) and a while back I made some mugs. They are very wobbly and I’m sure one day I will look back on them with horror, but at the moment I love them. They’re made from buff clay and decorated with a sprig from my own mould. 

Wobbly Mugs
I really like how the sprig part of the design came out, so I decided to scale it down to use on beads.

Shadow Beads

They’re quite simple to make, although a little fiddly at this size, and you only need basic tools to create them, a skewer and a scalpel. 

To start, you need some outline images. I used shapes that I designed for screen printing on to raku tiles and scaled them down to the right size for fitting on to beads. These were then printed out.

The designs

And cut out…

Cut in to templates

I took some buff coloured stoneware clay and rolled it to around 2mm thick. I discovered this type of clay is very weak when it’s so thin and it tore as I tried to lift it, but it doesn’t have to be neat, just flat! 

Gently stamp a pattern on to the clay.

Stamped Design

And place your cut out on to the pattern.

Placing the template

Using a scalpel carefully cut around the paper outline.

Trimming the design

Using the same clay, I made up some bead blanks that were larger than the paper cut outs and pierced them with a skewer from side to side for stringing holes.

Wet the bead with water or slip and carefully lift the cut out clay on to the bead and gently press it down to stick. I lift using the scalpel as the thin clay is really delicate. 

Placing the design on the bead

Then with a paintbrush, smooth around the edge of the design taking care not to wipe over the pattern.

Cleaning up the edges

Once dried, the beads go in for a bisque firing. The design is coloured with an oxide wash and either fired like that leaving the clay bare, or they are coloured with glaze around the edges. 

The finished beads

Glazed and washed set

The finished design

Although they are fiddly and take a bit of patience to make, I think the end result is worth it! I hope you'll try out some of your own designs to make some for yourself!


  1. wow - I never thought that layering with stamped pieces would give such a beautiful effect

  2. Beautiful beads! You make it look so easy.

  3. I'm in love with your wobbly mugs too... they look fabulous! Thanks for sharing your technique for getting stamped patterns on your critters. Those finished sets are drool worthy!

  4. Clever use of those stamps. I admire your fine motor skills to cut out the shapes and place them onto beads. And of course, I adore these beads. Thanks for peek at your process.

  5. Thoroughly and completely amazed. And if someone feels like emailing me at lori at lorianderson dot net about the white clay (does it require a kiln, etc) my son would be very interested.

    1. Hi Lori, and thanks! I'm not sure which white clay you're referring to, but all ceramic clay requires a kiln. To start him off, I would suggest you get your son some air drying clay or polymer that can be safely baked in the oven to have a play before you invest in large equipment. This tutorial can be easily transferred to all types of clay.

      If he wants to look in to ceramics, the library or internet are great starting points. There are lots of books covering the basics, The Potter's Bible is a good one covering everything you might need to get him started. Hope that helps!

  6. Thanks everyone, glad you enjoyed it!

  7. Where did you get those little round patter stamps? I've been looking for some like those for etching for ages! I understand if you don't want to share your source, but I'd be very appreciative if you did!

    1. Hi Diane, these were from Ebay, if you search 'set of 6 stamps' you should be able to find them :)

  8. Thank you for a wonderful tutorial Caroliine!! Your work is awesome!!


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