The bead-making process is intricate and lengthy, taking up to two weeks from start to finish. The clay is dried, powdered, put in buckets, slaked with water and when settled is laid out to dry. Once ready, the clay is hand-rolled into beads, a small hole is made in each one and they are left to dry, which can take up to a week.
They are glaze-fired in the kiln then stacked on wire and fired for about eight hours. Once the beads are cool they are vitrified, or transformed into a hard, glass-like state. They are then stuck onto bamboo skewers to be hand painted, and up to six coats of glaze might be applied. It’s a very labor-intensive process. Each bead, once it’s finished, might have been handled 12 to 14 times.