Started with stringing necklaces around age five. And I don’t mean the macaroni kind. Not for a young artist with such lofty goals as mine. I mean real grown-up glass, glass pearls, metal and crystal beads. It wasn’t long before I decided that I could make my own beads. Clay was my medium of choice, sculpy to be exact. By age 10, my necklaces were winning blue ribbons in the school art fairs. I discovered the art of ceramic clay in high school and gathered up some more blue ribbons. I continued my formal education in ceramics and graduated from the Illinois Institute of Art. In 1988, I set up a studio on a lake in the small town of Three Rivers, Michigan and never stopped. The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Contemporary Art Museum of Houston and various boutiques sold my work until my big career in advertising took center stage.
One year as an exhibitor at the Bead & Button Show and I was hooked! After 30 years of perfecting styles and palettes, developing technique and process, my ceramic beads are once again center stage and better than ever. My time as a fashion layout artist, an advertising director for the blue chips and a color specialist contributes to the unique and sophisticated complexion of my ceramic beads.
I knew the colors, glazes and kiln temperatures so well that it was just a matter of experimentation until I found a process. It was a long time in the making and has so many interpretations yet to be explored. It’s a technique I developed that is largely based on the technical properties of the glaze and glaze combining. I call it the Prestablend for achieving an incredible depth and luminosity of color. There are tons of applications awaiting my exploration. I can’t wait to teach my technique and watch the students as they discover the beauty and joy of my technique. People tell me they fall in love with my beads because there is so much interaction on the bead. Prestablend beads are full of life, energy and spirit…like me!
Old fashioned just may be the best way to describe my core process. I was educated classically and love the simple organic approach to clay. Although there’s lots of mechanical assistance available today, the beads that speak to me the most are rolled by hand from a tiny ball of clay or formed with my fingers. Another fave of mine, for which I’m well known, are my garlic press beads that I press through an ordinary kitchen gadget and drape around a straw. Beads are bisque fired in a kiln, underglazed, overglazed and fired a second time. Sometimes I will add a luster, such as platinum, and fire it again.
Sherie Presta ceramic handmade beads really are little works of art and I like to keep them the star of the show. My approach to engineering my art to wear, is akin to making a frame for a piece of artwork. I love to select the beautiful work of other artisans in the form of sterling silver links, high-quality black electroplate rolo or made in America high-quality leather. Sometimes I focus on the clay forms most of all and drench them in shiny glossy colors. Other times I like to choose a bead that speaks to me as a little canvas and paint a design on it. The beads really tell me what they want to be. Whatever way I go, I like to keep the designs clean and simple and timeless.
Learn ceramic technical. There is a science to the making of the ceramic bead that goes hand in hand with the creative side. Take your time to get to know ceramic as an art form. Get to know the clay. Pretty soon the beads will tell you what they want to be! Be patient through the trial-and-error phase of learning and you too shall be rewarded with the special beauty that is ceramic bead.