Jewelry

I am making ceramic beads at a small point on the timeline of the ancient activity of bead making. Beads for adornment, self-expression, status, ritual, protection, and to signify wealth have always captured my imagination, and I have traveled to observe, collect and be inspired by these small objects in their cultural contexts. It was only a matter of time before I started making my own.

Clay allows me to form, texture, and color my beads in ways that please me. There are an endless variety of options for form and surface treatment. My earthenware beads are slipped and glazed and have the most rustic qualities. Unglazed soda-fired stoneware allows for the kiln’s mark on the clay from intermittent introductions of soda; porcelain allows me to be a bit more refined in texturing and crafting special beads. All of my beads are formed, sanded, bisqued, sanded again and washed before glazing by hand with brushes.

As a bead-maker and jewelry designer, I like to know that I am one of many artisans contributing to the ancient tradition of adornment. I am influenced by the beads in jewelry I have collected or that I have encountered in books and in travel. I find much that pleases me in both contemporary minimalist work and in the much-ness of Moroccan Berber or Turkmen jewelry. I respond to so many aspects in these objects and images: surface design, the repetition of elements, color, texture, geometrical shapes, attention to detail. These qualities resonate and satisfy me as a maker. Linda Hillman makes ceramic beads and designs jewelry for bebeka design, a company she owns with jewelry designer Joan Friedberger in Oak Park, Illinois.