What grabbed me when I found clay was beads of course. I needed beads for my jewelry making obsession. Not any beads though. Millefiori or caned beads were my particular obsession.
The technique is a take on the glassmaking version by the same name. Designs, sometimes incredibly intricate, are built up by careful stacking of rods and sheets of colour. Then this large design and pulled and stretched to make a long cane (like cane glass beads are still made today or saltwater taffy candy). Slices are taken off this cane and baked or applied to raw clay.
Thick slices of cane can be made right into beads like these:
Thin slices of cane, often tissue paper thin, are applied to raw clay bases and smoothed in. Then the whole bead is baked, often sanded and polished. Examples of beads made this way:
A few styles of canes that I often use in making beads: