Panopoly: Ceramic art and craft, by Lynae Zebest

Button (or Bead) Clasps for Your Fiber Jewelry

I’ve been really getting into making friendship bracelets lately, but I kinda wasn’t wearing them, because I hate having to undo the knots afterward, and it makes them get worn out really quickly. I had been thinking of buying some s-hooks at the hardware store and using those, but that didn’t sound very comfortable. I wanted something easy to do and undo that also, you know, looked nice.

Meanwhile, I make porcelain beads and buttons, and I always end up having a few oddballs that for whatever reason never end up in the shop. I’ve been meaning to replace the buttons on some of my clothes with my own work, but I never seem to get around to it! So I pulled those out and started messing with them. As it turns out, they make the perfect clasps, just slipped through a simple loop, and the porcelain is never cold like metal, either.

There were a couple kinks to work out–chief among them the fact that attaching them was hard. The embroidery floss just didn’t want to behave. It was hard to make nice snug neat knots and then they’d keep coming undone. I thought about using glue but me + glue = sticky stuff everywhere. Plus it feels like cheating. Then I saw this macrame tutorial that uses waxed thread, precisely because it makes the thread behave and knots securely. Huzzah! And fortuitously enough, I had a block of beeswax lying around from when I took a book-making class. (If you don’t hoarde art supplies like me, you could wax your thread with a candle too. Beeswax is best but I think paraffin wax would probably work as well.)

And they look great!

button clasps

So in an idle moment, I put together the super advanced and sophisticated tutorial seen below, so that you can make these clasps too. Please click on it to make it big so you can read it and admire my beautiful illustrations!

button clasp tutorial

A couple notes:

1. I do not recommend waxing yarn, or anything but embroidery floss, string or thread. (You probably won’t need it, and it’ll look yucky if you try anyway.) To wax, just run the thread along the surface of the solid wax. The more you do it the waxier the thread will be. I do it until the thread is kind of stiff and a bit tacky. You do not need to wax all the thread for your project, unless you want. Just the ends where the clasp will be will do.

2. This will also work for beads or buttons that have more than two holes. If you have fewer strands of fiber than you have button holes, you could stitch the fibers through the holes a few times to make up for it…but if you only have one strand of thread or other fiber, I recommend using a nice flat bead instead, because otherwise it’ll look pretty uneven.

There is so much amazing, easy-to-make jewelry out there, and you can really elevate it to the next level with just the right button or bead. Good luck with all your projects, and have fun!

BIG update in the shop tonight…

I have been bustin’ my buns recently, getting pieces made and photographed. I’m gearing up for the holiday season!

Tonight, a number of new pieces, mostly my larger work, made their way to Etsy. Take a peek:

squid book cover woodland buttons celebration bowl celebration bowls celebration cups helianthemum lunch plates helianthemum dessert plates jade zinnia plates seafoam zinnia plates mountain daisy plates eat more pie plates pie in the sky plates apple pie plates round plaid dishes oval plaid dishes square plaid plates heart plaid plates

Coming soon: gift tags, coasters, a wee bowl restock, more pendants, and little vases!

Some New In-Progress Photos for You

I don’t think I ever even wrote about this here, but for this past Christmas, my dad gifted me with a much larger kiln than the one in my apartment, so that I could finally start making larger ware with more regularity. It’s big and beautiful…and unfortunately can’t actually live with me here in San Francisco. Theoretically I could rent studio space for it, but practically that’d be way outside my price range (which is about, uh, $0). However, my dad also recently bought a house in my old hometown, Sacramento, which is less than 2 hours away from me. The house has a large empty garage, so we decided to install the kiln there.

Kiln in the Corner

Because of the its size, and the travel involved, I decided to only use the big kiln when I have a lot of stuff to fire. This means slower turnaround times, but gives me an incentive to make stuff on a larger scale.

Full House

Earlier this week, I finally decided I had made enough greenware to make it worth the trip. Two days ago, Orin and I carefully loaded the backseat with well-padded boxes of goodies, and off we went. Everything survived the drive intact, which pleased me very much!

My Bowls Runneth Over

My dad’s house is in a very picturesque setting, right over the levee from the Sacramento River. While I unloaded the boxes and snapped some photos, Orin climbed the tree in the front yard.

Boy in the Tree

Then he helped me load the kiln, which I think took at least a half an hour to do.

Totally Stacked

It takes my kiln about 8½ hours to heat up to Cone 07 (roughly 1800 degrees Fahrenheit), and then probably another eight or so hours to cool down again. We took the time to relax and have a little “vacation” of sorts.

Then, yesterday afternoon, everything was ready to come out again.

Zee Kiln

I remember, when I was in ceramics classes, my instructor often said that our ware would be hard to recognize after it came out of bisque fire, because everything shrinks, and items sometimes warp, crack, etc. And sometimes things sat around for so long before firing that you’d even forget you made them! Indeed, I remember occasionally not knowing my own work, and only realizing it was mine when I saw my signature on the bottom. It’s hard to say whether or not that has changed simply because, you know, everything in the kiln is made by me now. I would rather think it’s because my work is more defined now, because at the end of the day my work simply looks like mine. Which is a good thought to have.

Bowls of Goodies

And now I’m back home again, with my bisqueware in three big boxes, waiting to be glazed and fired again. I really like making lists, so here’s a nice numerical rundown of what I brought back today:

  • 6 burnished white stoneware plates, for me to try some maiolica-style illustrations
  • 1 special white stoneware plate with a complete poem stamped into it
  • 12 (4 sets) descending canvas vases, in a couple different size variations
  • 10 ice cream bowls in both red and white stoneware
  • 6 wee succulent pots, significantly larger than that first prototype
  • 18 wee bowls in red stoneware clay. I’m going to be streamlining my wee bowl line so that they come in two standard sizes; these ones will be the smaller size
  • 102 flat porcelain buttons, in various shapes, sizes and textures.
  • 31 rings; hopefully, counted among this number are the myriad custom sizes I’ve been trying to get for the last couple months
  • 3 new button molds
  • 29 poem drop pendants
  • 5 big beads. My beads have suddenly decided to get popular, possibly due to some advertising I’m doing on Ravelry, so I’m planning on making a lot more of ’em in the near future
  • 22 big shank buttons. I’m really excited about these. I redesigned my shank buttons so they’re bigger, and made entirely of clay, rather than metal in the back. I’m making them from molds of vintage earrings.

Also: I’m now making all my little ware (beads, buttons, rings, pendants) out of porcelain, for extra strength and durability.

Plates, Bowls, Vases

Ready to Fire

Buttoning Down

Apologies from six days away from the blog. As I said in the last entry, the 26th was my birthday (!!!) and I had a lot of work to do preparing to take a day off. It’s satisfying and terrifying to need that much planning for one day away from crafting!

I’m currently working with a bunch of Etsy folks on possibly having a holiday craft fair. I will of course be posting updates on that as things develop, but for now there isn’t much to say. I’ve contacted a few venues and have gotten no response so far. It’s very frustrating, but I will try my best to be patient.

Speaking of craft fairs, I will also be sharing a booth with several other members of SFEtsy at Bazaar Bizarre, at the San Francisco County Fair Building, Sunday, November 30th. I will be there for the second half of the day. Hope to see you there!

I was going to call this entry “Buttoning Up” but it’s been way too hot to think about buttoning anything up at all! I’m totally slacking today because it’s so warm. This weather makes me all droopy.

But anyway, after having the poor little bisqued guys sitting on my shelf for a while, I finally got a big batch of buttons (so many b’s!) glazed and fired, and they’ve been finding their way into the shop this week. I made some more of the little shanks, plus some neato new designs, based on some vintage buttons I’ve been collecting. Here’s a sampling:

Gun Metal Green Wing Ceramic Buttons

Faceted Orange Ceramic Shank Buttons

Pistachio Wagon Wheel Ceramic Shank Buttons

The Etsy Five feature will be returning either tonight or tomorrow!

(I’m big with the alliteration today, aren’t I?)

Back from the Break

I have returned from my short reprieve from blogging and internet shenanigans! Unfortunately my break from the internet as a whole never happened–there’s always one more thing that comes up, you know? But, well, it’s not all that unfortunate, and I still managed to get a lot of offline work done. I am sooo excited about the new things I’m working on! Meanwhile, there are lots of new(ish) things in my shop that I have been meaning to show off here!

Coming soon to my shop…

Coming soon!

Coming soon!

Coming soon!