Clay beads

Clay Beads and Pendants
History and Examples
• Has traditionally referred to a material
composed of fine particles of minerals that
is dug from the earth
• Has been broadened in contemporary use
to include other substances whose
plasticity resembles that of ceramic clay.
– Polymer clay
– Bakers clay
- Ceramic clay
Things to think about when working
with clay….
Sculpting “in the round”
Working in small scale
Surface treatment
Now for the History…
Some History…
• Clay beads go back centuries, to at least 1000 BC
• Clay was abundant and was the province of the poor.
• While the wealthy Europeans of the late Roman Empire
wore precious stones and metals, the migratory tribes
people adorned themselves with clay.
• Clay beads were produced simultaneously all over the
world, including in the Phillippines, Thailand and Peru.
• To this day, Peru, China, Thailand, Greece and India
produce a great many ceramic beads.
Some History…
• Beads have been significant for many cultures for
• They've been used as money and worn as talismans
• and amulets to bring wisdom and fortune to the
• Found dating back 38,000 years, beads have been
made from pebbles, shells, teeth, claws, clay, glass
and more.
• Glass became an important material in beadmaking
with its discovery, around 3400 years ago.
Some Cultural connections
• Clay beads have been used in Muslim prayer strands
• In Thailand as amulets as well as in jewelry.
• When they were introduced into the United States by the first
European settlers, the clay beads were very popular with the Native
• Clay beads have large holes that could accommodate leather cords
so they were used as decoration on horse reins.
• Some nations so prize their clay bead heritage that they protect the
simple bead from export. For example, Guatemala has restricted
the export of their Mayan ceramic beads.
• They have since been replaced by plastic beads, ceramic beads
were the New Orleans Mardi Gras beads of the 1920s.
• Ceramic beads again become popular in the 'hippie days' of the 60s
and 70s when people wanted an earthy feel to their beads .
• There are a number of symbols used in
the world in beads and other objects, and
it’s useful to know the meanings of these.
Some Symbols…
• Spiral – a symbol of being, knowing or
• Circle – totality, perfection, unity, eternity. A
symbol of completeness that can include ideas
of permanence and dynamism.
• Eye – occult 3rd eye, or eye of the heart can
mean spiritual perception. Sometimes an eye is
painted on an object to protect against the evil
eye. Blue is a popular color for these.
• Dots – are also called eye beads and were used
to protect against the evil eye.
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