The Craft of Ceramic Bead Making

Learn about the process of how we create our unique lantern beads, one of Claycult's most ornamental beads requiring special tools and training.
The Craft of Ceramic Bead Making

Greetings, As I know many of you are curious about how we craft some of our beautiful ceramic beads, as an introduction, I will take you through the process of crafting one of my absolute favourite clay beads … our handmade lantern beads. One of our most unique and ornamental beads requiring special training and multiple handmade tools.

Firstly we need to create the lantern form. Not the easiest shape to make, with its conical ends & wide girth, it requires skill and patience to create a uniform & symmetrical form. A hole is placed through the centre using a bamboo skewer & we are ready to start our intricate surface decoration.

Our unique design is created using a series of our own handcrafted, ceramic tools. To begin, a very fine border is placed around the edges of the bead as a frame for the complex pattern.

Handmade Lantern Beads

The main part of the design is created by using a small stamp placed in clusters of four, four times around the bead. The spacing of each mark needs to be perfect for the design to ‘fit’, with each mark pressed firmly but gently into the soft clay.

Finished Lantern Beads

Once we have our basic design, more small embellishments are added into the empty spaces using various hand made ceramic tools & stamps to give an exquisite ornately designed bead. Scroll down to watch our master Lantern maker, Srey Mom, working on the main body of the design.

When completely dry, the beads are bisque fired in their raw state before being painted in dreamy translucent glazes which pool in the recessed areas highlighting the intricate design. We have a few tricks with our glazing (trade secrets), allowing us to create multiple levels of different colours.

As in the pic below where the Egyptian blue glaze appears to bleed a deep red from beneath. This type of glazing in particular highlights the exquisite design.

Placed on wires in the kiln for their final firing, the beads are transformed from a matt dull surface into a rich glossy transparent finish.

Making Lantern Beads 1

Making Lantern Beads 2

Here are some of our products using Lantern beads:

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Claycult applies Fairtrade practices in our studio & workshop, our beads are hand rolled by Khmer women living in our local community.

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