About I'm Hazel Ward, and I design and create all the beads and findings on this site out of polymer clay, from my studio in the Midlands, UK.
I started making polymer clay beads in 2009, after finding, like many people, that I wanted to use artisan handmade beads in my jewellery designs, and what better way to do it that to make my own. The jewellery aspect faded away, however, when I realised how addictive polymer clay can be and I fell deeply in love with it - so I make my beads and findings so that someone else can give them a purpose in their lives! Common themes are flowers, vines and leaves; the British Hedgerow series of beads, for example, is a celebration of the beautiful wildflowers that flourish in the UK, not only in woodlands and grasslands, but also at the sides of paths, between paving stones, and at the edges of cultivated gardens; nothing can match the persistancy of nature. About my work My beads and findings are made from polymer clay, a polymer-based, clay-like art medium which has amazing possibilities. I use my handmade canes (or millefiori), to decorate the majority of my work, although some pieces also feature texture work and surface decorations like sparkles and mica powder. A cane is a length of polymer clay that has a pattern or image running through it, much like a stick of seaside rock. The pictures are made up of different polymer clay components that, when assembled lengthways, produce a complete image. Very thin slices are then taken from the cane, and placed onto a base bead. canes: After a bead is decorated, it is put into an oven to 'cure' or bake, so it is no longer pliable and mouldable but a solid piece. My beads are wet sanded thoroughly following curing with a few different grades of sandpaper, and then buffed with a rough fabric. This gives a smooth sheen to the polymer clay. On certain types of beads, such as those with powders or surface decorations, I forgo the sanding, which would destroy the effect, and add a coat or two of polymer clay varnish to protect the designs, which also adds a high gloss shine.