Joking aside, I have spent a little time at the clay table since returning home. There's one project (based on a project in the new Kato book) that I'm in the middle of. (It didn't go quite as planned, but I'm going to try to make lemonade.) Then I've also been using up some scrap clay and taking advantage of the opportunity to try out some of the bead shapes I admired in the Blackburn book (as well as online, in my contacts' Flickr photostreams).
I've taken a few photos of my first attempts at that "new-to-me" style of bead. I'm not sure what the name for this style of bead is, if it even has one. Basically, it's just a base bead covered in one long string of extruded clay. To jazz them up, you usually use a few different colors of clay to make the extruded snake.
I was excited to finally try my new homemade clay gun leverage tool. My husband made it for me based on the design I found on-line. (You can see the page here: http://kelliesklay.homestead.com/pusher.html.) It doesn't look like much, but it works like a dream. I had only used the clay gun once before, and it was so difficult that I never cared to try it again. Now, with this nifty tool at my disposal, I see more extruding in my future. ;o)
Here are my first attempts. I was using up some scrap clay and didn't realize that my color choices were so similar that there wouldn't be much variation in the extrusion. There is some variation, but it's very subtle and may not be visible in this photo. . .
Next, there are a few more from that first batch, in a slightly different color.
As you might have noticed, I decided to experiment a little with the basic idea by adding some texture to the beads. I used rough sandpaper and a toothbrush (my favorite texture tools, and also some of the cheapest I have (g)).
Oh, and I also experimented with whitewashing/antiquing a few from this group. I used white acrylic craft paint. I don't like the fact that they even further dim the colors, but I think this might work well for some styles of jewelry. They remind me of some pottery I've seen. . .
These in the next photo aren't even baked yet, but by the time I made these, I had at least managed to choose colors that didn't completely blend in the extruder. ;o)
This photo definitely leaves something to be desired. I'll have to give it another try the next time I'm "really" taking photos. (This was something of a spur of the moment photo shoot.) This is something I made before our vacation. I was just in the mood to try something different, so I tried my hand at applique. It's a bit time consuming, but enjoyable. (Probably would be more enjoyable if I put it up on a taller surface so I wouldn't have to hunch over it.)