Bob's Nerikomi Porcelain Beads - history


Bob began making beads In the 1970's to help support the hanging planters Helene was making as a working potter in Gainesville Florida.  After awhile it became obvious that the beads had a life of their own.  We sold them at Florida art fairs and to craft shops along the east coast from Miami, FL to Kennebunkport, ME with much success.  However this came to an end when Bob took a position with a big telecommunications research lab in NJ and everything was packed up and brought to New Jersey.  


Bob has now retired and we moved to our present location in Paducah, KY. Here we were able to carve out some great studio spaces from a former neighborhood grocery store along with a generous living space and showroom.

 We were able to occupy our new home/workspace in January 2010.
Bob's Beads owe a lot to the influence of the glass trade beads made for over 600 years in Murano-Venice. There were new problems to solve owing to to the difference in material but this is where Bob's technical background helped.

Trade beads are made in glass in a hot flame originally from a lamp made intense with blown air. For this reason they are called lampwork beads. Pottery clay beads with multiple colors were made in Egypt before glass beads but were generally supplanted by glass first made in Egypt and perfected by the Venetians.

Multicolored porcelain was developed 1500 years ago by the Japanese and their term for it is Nerikomi or Neriage. If it is a controlled pattern it is Nerikomi, and if it is just marbled it is Neriage. Since there is sometimes no clear separation of these ideas, the terms are often used interchangeably  My techniques with porcelain is closer to Nerikomi and Neriage than lampwork but It is clear that I was also influenced by the Italian trade beads. To pay respect to the Japanese porcelain tradition, I am calling my beads in the Nerikomi style even though I have not yet found examples of beads being made this way in Japan. The nerikomi pottery work, however, is amazing and some of it's practitioners are recognized Japanese "National Treasures"


Bob Davis