Inside the Studio with Mary Harding

Welcome to Inside the Studio!

Each week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio, creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our readers and hope you’ll leave comments! As an incentive we offer a free prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard. The following week we choose a random winner.
Congratulations, Lori Bowring Michaud!! You have won a set of three Tropical Tide Pool Beads from Erin Prais-Hintz.   Please send Erin an email  with your information so she can mail that out to you!
Today we visit the studio of
I am delighted to be back again this month filling in for a team member.
 I want to thank one and all of you for your very interesting and thoughtful comments about your studio space that you left here last time I posted.  I have read every one of them and have learned a great deal about how varied our needs as artists are.  I think as a whole all of us want that special room of our own so that we can have  our creative supplies at hand and not have to feel interrupted by putting them away before we are ready to.  And for many different reasons we would choose to be in our homes or in a studio separate from where we live.
I also was so delighted at everyone’s response to our old barn and the studio spaces inside of it. Again, thank you so much for your wonderful comments.
Ceramic Birds     Mary Harding
Today we are visiting my studio to look at some birds I have been making.  I have been inspired by the subject of our March Monthly Challenge, Birds on Riser, by Adolf Dietrich.
My birds don’t look much like the ones in Dietrich’s painting since I am going for a more folk art style bird.  I am hoping that they have a presence but don’t convey a specific species of bird.
I make all of my birds by hand forming rather than using a mold.  I start with a ball of clay that will turn into a bird. It is surprising to me what a small amount of clay it takes to make a bird.  
After I roll out a ball of clay, I pinch it to rough out the bird shape as in the pictures above.

picture of clay shaper, ball stylus, orange stick(manicure tool)  and wooden skewer

Once I am satisfied with the shape of the bird,  I use these tools, in the picture above, to add some markings for texture and use the wooden skewer for making the stringing hole.
Birds beads with textures  not yet fired in the kiln
Yesterday afternoon I spent some time painting the birds I had made recently. You can see I work in small batches.  They will be coming out of the kiln in time for this post. 
Birds that have been bisque fired and are now ready for painting/glazing and one then one more firing in the kiln.

Finished Birds  Painted and Glazed by Mary Harding

in my Etsy shop
Now for the question:  Other than birds, what is your favorite creature to include in your bead work?  Leave a comment below to be entered to  win a pair of my hand formed ceramic birds like the ones in these pictures.  A winner will be picked randomly and will be announced next week.
Thanks so much for stopping by.
Posted by Mary Harding

You Might Also Like

Previous Story
Next Story

29 Comment

  1. Nan Smith
    March 16, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    Thanks for the inside scoop on your birdies, Mary. They are perfect and very evocative of the birds in the painting. I love using birds(who doesn't?)but I'm starting to stretch out and Rebekah's (TreeWingsStudio) sleeping woodland creatures are inspiring me. The next one I'll try is the fox, followed by bunny and hedgehog.

  2. Alice
    March 16, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    Birds are my favorite but I also like using butterflies in my jewelry.
    Your finished birds are darling!
    Thanks for sharing your process.

  3. Karin G
    March 16, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    Beautiful birds! I love how you turn those little balls of clay into such beauties!

  4. Danielle
    March 16, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    I Do love birds! I have been "friends" with many who have shared their joy filled lives with me and my family! My last birdie, Sophie, went to fly the eternal sky 2 years past and Boy I still miss my friend. She was the most beautiful color blue and she had an opinion on everything! LOL I have wanted to do a memorial piece for her for sometime but still, after 2 years, cant get my heart around it.
    Your birds remind me of all the tiny ones at our feeders in winter.

  5. Sajuno
    March 16, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    These are delightful. I have been pondering how to go about making my tiny bird beads for this month's challenge and your short tutorial might be all I need.

    I also like to use fish, dragonflies and crows.

    Thanks again.


  6. Sarajo Wentling
    March 16, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    Thanks for sharing your birds, Mary. I too am pretty fond of our feathered friends, but also really enjoy dragonflies lately.

  7. freshbakeddesigns
    March 17, 2014 at 12:14 am

    Butterflies!! And a few ladybugs. Also made a sweet pair of hedge earrings with beads from Heather Powers for my daughter.

  8. Gigi Harlan
    March 17, 2014 at 1:03 am

    Those little birds are so cute! Congratulations to the winner!

    Gigi @ Old World Patina

  9. beadrecipes
    March 17, 2014 at 1:33 am

    I love frogs, and I wish there were more froggy beads out there to keep all the birds company!

  10. Angi
    March 17, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Thank you so much for the inside look into your creative process! You are such an amazing artist! I love to design with birds and owls. I also love the tiny houses created by so many talented artists!

    Angi Mullis [email protected]

  11. KayzKreationz
    March 17, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    I love your little birds. Other than birds, I love adding owls and horses, especially when I can find them, but can't find them small enough. Need to figure out how to make some myself out of polymer clay, I guess. Would love to have some of your birds to play with.

  12. Susanm
    March 17, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Thanks so much for the step-by-step description of how you make your birds. They are all adorable. I like birds, but fish run a close second. I have a cute little Jade Scott hedgehog who keeps pushing her way onto my design space (aka the dining room table).

  13. Janet Mc
    March 17, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    Very Lovely Mary! Nice to see you tell anything about how you do your wonderful beads.What is it about birds that make our hearts soar? Its warming up and today is about 67 a really pretty Spring day..and the little ones are slowly coming out to eat the bugs and the seed..

  14. Cait Throop
    March 17, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    Oh Mary, I love watching you work and love visiting you in your studio! Your little birdies are so charming and happy! I love your creative process! xo

  15. Ema Kilroy
    March 17, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    Beautiful little folk birds Mary. Thanks for sharing your technique with us. They are adorable. I'm seeing a pair of earrings created with them.

  16. Melanie Connor
    March 17, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    Mary, your birds are just adorable. Thanks for sharing, as usual all you do inspires all of us.

  17. Patricia Johnson
    March 17, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    Those are sweet! Wish me luck! 😉

  18. Lynn
    March 17, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    Thanks for sharing how you make your tiny folk art birds—I will have to try doing something similar. I really love using dragonflies also. And starfish. And butterflies. Oh how I would love to win your little birdies!

  19. Lucy Kalstrom
    March 17, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    I like any and all animals, cats, dogs, owls, butterflies, bugs and pandas! Great birds Mary <3 Thanks for the tips 😀

  20. Sandra
    March 17, 2014 at 11:22 pm

    Such cute birds!! I love to use birds and dragonflies in my jewelry.

  21. Sandra
    March 17, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    Such cute birds!! I love to use birds and dragonflies in my jewelry.

  22. Cheri
    March 18, 2014 at 12:02 am

    I love your birds, I also like using owls!!

  23. Ann Schroeder
    March 18, 2014 at 2:00 am

    I love your birds! I have to say, I seem to have a thing for elephants lately. They are really fun!

  24. Meg
    March 18, 2014 at 2:40 am

    I like any sort of forest animal – foxes, deer, squirrels, bears, all of them! Beautiful birds, and thank you for sharing the little peek into your process!

  25. Stories They Tell
    March 18, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Love those birds, Mary! They remind me of Inuit images, just the essential bird you might say. You have defintely captured their "birdness". Also very much like the birds in my Oxacan black clay necklace from Mexico.

    As for the animal I do most, this is funny, it's a serpent! I love owls, butterflies, etc but I have done several dragons and a few other serpent-like creatures. I don't do a lot of animal figures in my work.

    Thanks again for the entertaining post.

  26. Kathy
    March 19, 2014 at 2:58 am

    I like using dragonflies. Just answering this question makes me long for spring and summer to go camping! It has been a long winter up here in Northern Michigan! Speaking of birds, I will be so happy when they start returning!

  27. Shaiha
    March 21, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    I just love your birds! They are such individuals. I tend to use a lot of dragonflies & starfish in my work. Yeah I jump all over the place.

  28. olga rutko
    March 28, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    Очень нравятся Ваши птички! Люблю также рыб, сов и разные домики. Очень люблю Ваши мастер-классы.

  29. olga rutko
    March 28, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    Очень нравятся Ваши птички! Люблю также рыб, сов и разные домики.

Comments are closed.