My first collection of handmade ceramic jewelry is a bright, wearable ode to joy. Each necklace and pair of earrings is one-of-a-kind.

The process:

It started with a slab rolled out from a big ol’ lump of clay, leaving me with a flat canvas ready for action. I had a selection of shapes I liked playing with; I cut out as many of these as could fit, then found new forms in the scraps that remained. 

I finger-smoothed all edges and surfaces, then stamped one side with an irregular pattern that comes from a very special ring. The ring was made by my grandpa—a dentist by trade, and jeweler by talent—for my grandma many decades ago; he took a small molding from the roof of the first house they shared, then cast it in sterling. (I wear it every single day.) 

The set of greenware—unfired stuff—was bisque fired. 

Once everything was out of the kiln, I took stock and started grouping miscellaneous pieces together, a batch for every color I wanted to use: Sunset Red, Pumpkin Orange, Sun Yellow, Holiday Green, Royal Blue, Caribbean Blue, and Plum Blush. A couple thick coats of glaze later and they were ready to be low-fired again. 

After this second round in the kiln, I laid out the whole lot on a table like a puzzle fresh out of the box and began to arrange—and rearrange, and rearrange, and rearrange—mix-and-matching until unique necklaces emerged. I drilled small holes with my trusty Dremel where each piece would come together, then sprayed the backsides with a triple-thick lacquer before I made the connections with silver jumprings or a series of knots; attached a sterling chain or length of leather; and ta-da.