Posted by: cassymuronaka | April 14, 2009

Warring states of mind

When I had the idea for this polymer clay Warrings States beads bracelet, I thought myself quite clever with time management.

I planned to pitch the project to Jewelry Crafts Magazine. At that time, the Greater Los Angeles Polymer Clay Guild was holding periodic Clay Days at a wonderful commercial art facility and gallery on Raymond Street in Pasadena. Like the magazine, which ceased publication last year, it closed down and has gone to that great studio in the sky, but it served the guild well during the time it was available.

I did not originate Warring States beads. They date back hundreds of years to ancient China, and I think that Cynthia Toops was the first person I saw produce them in polymer clay. Many others have followed. By the way, there’s a really terrific short video on Toops and her work on the Seattle Art Museum website.

After I decided upon my bracelet colors, I thought it would be a winning idea to kill two birds with one stone and make my beads at an upcoming Clay Day.

Warring States beads are not hard to make, but they are tedious. There’s a lot of tiny ball-rolling that lies at the heart of the process. After a while, the only things that are rolling are your eyes, which are going straight up into your head.

Clay Day seemed a perfect solution to that problem, because I could socialize while I worked. But despite my best intentions, I did get completely obsessed with punching-and-rolling-and-flattening, punching-and-rolling-and-flattening little bits of clay … for about four hours straight.

However, at the end of the day, I had nine perfect beads. So, I packed my tools up and teetered out of the building with a baking tray of raw beads balanced precariously on the palm of one hand, on my way to loading my car for home.

At a red light near my freeway entrance, I glanced over to the passenger seat to admire my handiwork. But there was no tray of beads resting there. And at that moment, I felt a a cold little trickle of dread. I did not remember ever loading the beads, and I was pretty sure I knew where they lay: somewhere on Raymond Avenue, smashed and dirty, because I had left the tray on the roof of the car while packing up my clay, equipment, and luggage cart.

So, as it turned out, I saved myself no time whatsoever by bringing the project to Clay Day. I merely doubled the length of time it was going to take me to finish it. And when the payment arrived for that particular published story, I ruefully deposited it in my checking account, knowing that I had earned every penny I made. And then some.




  1. I have driven down the street with a cup of coffee on the roof of my car several times, if that makes you feel any better

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