1. How long have you been making beads?
I have been making beads for 19 years. They started out homely. We are talking beyond humble. I am self-taught and there was only one polymer clay book on the market way back in the day.
I make beads every day and hundreds of them a week. We work full time making beads and this is our family business.
2. What kind of clay do you use?
I use mostly Premo. I hardly use a color straight out of the package and spend lots of time mixing my own custom colors. I buy all my clay locally when it's on sale at the big craft stores.
3. How do I get the matte finish? How do you paint your beads? What is your watercolor technique?
To paraphrase my friend Erin, "Heather has a proprietary technique that she has developed over the years to get those amazing colors and beautiful finish." (See below)
4. Do you sell tutorials for beadmaking?
Because we make our living selling beads, I don't offer beadmaking tutorials. I offer lots of tips on making jewelry and running a business here and on the Art Bead Scene. That is where I try to give back to the creative community.
I do have two online tutorials that you can check out and feel free to give them a try. I don't offer any other technique tips, but I do have a few resources to share below.
5. Do you have tips on beadmaking?
I encourage you to find what works for you - play, make messes and mistakes, take chances, ask yourself - what if I do this or that to the clay? There are so many great books and online tutorials, have fun experimenting and finding ways to use them to tell your own story. Go beyond a technique and use polymer clay as a tool to make something with meaning.
For me, in all my beadmaking I want to tell a story about the beauty and peacefulness of nature. I want my work to be a break from the fast-paced world and remind people to take a step back and find something green to calm their soul. And you thought I was just making leaves and birds, there is so much more there. I often try to share the story or inspiration behind the beads and give you glimpse into why I picked a motif or symbol.
If you are thinking of selling beads, my best piece of advice is find one or two techniques that you love to use and create a collection of beads that are based on a theme or inspiration. It might be reaching back to your roots, interpet a few favorite poems or something like pick images that make your heart skip a beat and think about how to use those elements in a bead.
And my final piece of beadmaking advice (p.s. - this is for those selling their work). Don't copy.
Wordy Bobby Pins
Whenever I had a burning polymer clay question, I would head over to Polymer Clay Central and for inspiration you can't beat Polymer Clay Daily.
Tutorials I Love:
Favorite Polymer Clay Book:
I highly recommend Cynthia Thornton's book, Enchanted Adornments for more inspiration on creating personal stories and symbols in your jewelry/beads.