To bead or not to bead…

that is never the question. The question is “What sort of bead is that?” With the rise and rise of polymer clay jewellery I am often asked by my clients “What’s the difference and why do I have to pay more?”

ceramic bead necklace by Elisa Bartels

Ceramic bead necklace


My beads are made a variety of ways. They are all porcelain but some like the middle one in the image above has been hand rolled, then fired once in a kiln, it was then dipped in glaze and fired a second time.


Hand rolled and hand dyed porcelain necklace on a neoprene cord.

Others been hand coloured. I start with a liquid clay to which I add my preferred colour. The clay is then dried to a workable consistency before the beads are hand rolled into different shapes. The beads are then put in the kiln for firing.


I do many preliminary tests on my colours to develop different hues. It is all very time consuming, but the end result is a product which has a warmth in its texture and a pleasant irregularity which makes my necklaces wonderful to wear.

I won’t comment on polymer jewellery because I don’t know enough about the process involved in using it. What I do know is that my beads are a products of many hours of trial and error and accumulated experience working with clay. The colours are unique to me because I have developed them in my studio. The beads are irregular because each one is personally hand rolled by me (usually whilst watching bad daytime TV).

Elisa Bartels Ceramic Bead Necklace with Neoprene and Sterling Silver Chain.

Elisa Bartels Ceramic Bead Necklace with Neoprene and Sterling Silver Chain.

And I know this is often said in the craft world but they are truly a ‘one of a kind’ piece of jewellery because I don’t know how to make them any other way.

PS: Apologies for the bad images. I seem to be having problems with my Photoshop program. If you would like to see clearer images please go to my Etsy shop.





About Elisa Bartels

A ceramic artist/designer and sporadic botanical dyer chatting and photographing the trials, tribulations and celebrations of being an artist who doesn't want to starve.
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