A ceramic bead tree is a good idea if you want to fire a lot of beads.
I decided it was time to get one, and was not surprised that they were expensive. I found some awkwardly shaped, didn’t stack and seemed to waste a lot of space.
Instead, I purchased large gauge bead wire for firing to cone 6 and went home to go MacGyver on it.
An easy and immediate fix for bead tree furniture is to use kiln posts and lay the wire across. This works fairly good, but the posts are too wide to make full use of the wire.
The problem with using bead tree furniture and kiln posts is that they add mass to the stack (kiln load). All this extra mass is brought to temperature, which costs money. Our tiny beads equal only a small percentage of this space and mass.
So over the long haul, if you fire a lot, this is costing real money.
Using soft brick to create your bead tree allows you to customize the dimensions, as well as being considerably less mass than kiln furniture.
First, you will need a soft brick, it can be scrap or a discard from an old kiln. Your local pottery supply or fellow ceramic artist may be able to help you out. Most potters have a pile of bricks hanging around, don’t worry if they have soot on them, this will fire off.
Cut a block with the width and height that is best for your work using a hacksaw (with a small toothed blade). The brick is very soft, this is easy work. It is a good idea to wear a mask or respirator.
Slice you block – I made my slices just thick enough for good stability. You can measure it, but I just eye-balled it.
Next, lay your bead wire, and mark where you want the groves to go.
Put the block back together and mark all the groves at the same time so that they line up perfectly.
Form the groves by sawing with a small file, or use your thick bead wire. The brick is so soft you could use almost anything that is the proper shape.
Soft bricks are just great to have around.You can even carve your own spy hole plugs from them. I like to cut various small slivers and use them to prop my kiln lid when I am trying to cool it down.
I am a stickler for firing tightly packed kiln loads and find these homemade bead trees really help me to fire in every nook and cranny.
Thanks for stopping by, Holly