by judyfreyerthompson on May 20, 2012


This weeks’ post comes from Evelyn Pelati Dombkowski:

With Robert’s upcoming workshop at The Bead House in Bristol Rhode Island on concrete/Faux Bone™/cold connections in mind, this pendant was made to bring to class for trying Faux Bone™ and attaching it with cold connections.

I used COPPRClay, texturing the backside with the ever-so-popular “scratch foam” that has taken the metal clay community by storm. The design has simple lines and forms influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement.

The Faux Bone™ was cut and the edges were finished in class. The simple freestyle design of lines and dots were carved using dockyard tools. The lines reflect the back texture and the dots were done thinking about the balled-head rivets that were planned for the cold connections. The Faux Bone™ was then finished with a rub of brown shoe polish to give it a warm vintage tone and compliment the copper.

Class was so busy, that was as far as I got! The rest was done back in my studio.

To mix up the metals a bit, fine silver was chosen to rivet the Faux Bone. I kind of like the two silver dots it creates on the back of the pendant. The bar chain was designed to compliment the pendant. Texturing the ends of each bar ties in with the linear designs. The links were connected with fine silver balled up on each side like miniature barbells. They match the rivets on the pendant and allow the links of the chain to move.

The whole piece was given a liver of sulfur finish that was buffed off on the high spots. Then it was sprayed with Protectaclear to keep all finishes from rubbing off or changing

The workshop with Robert was excellent! Faux Bone™ is a fascinating material with a lot of possibilities. I have a few more pieces in the works.

And, much to my surprise, I’m very interested in experimenting further with concrete. I have to admit having a bias against concrete before trying it in class. I thought of chunks of concrete and it didn’t seem very inspiring! But I learned it doesn’t have to be like that and some very interesting things can be done with it. I plan to play with it more.




Three happenings in the past couple of weeks have made an impact on my psyche.  How?  Well, you must all know the feeling of being stuck, trying to overcome that whole right brain/left brain situation.   I really wanted to get the creativity working again,  and seeing a pair of simple little copper fold formed earrings that I had made for an Art Jewelry Magazine article/project resurfaced.  This resurfacing was the fact that they were chosen as one of 12 of their favorite projects.  Chuffed, to say the least.  Then, they resurfaced again…as one of the top 10 downloaded projects for April, double chuffed at this point!    You can check them out here:


The third event is the release of Ganoksin’s ‘Differences Unit Us’ online exhibit, with three pieces of mine amongst so many fabulous pieces from artists from around the world.  You may follow this link to feast your eyes on some exceptional eye candy.

Next I will be preparing for a month long exhibit at Mitchell Library in the Westville section of New Haven CT.  I am thinking of focusing on my interest in African art including masks and amulets.  I just finished up a couple of amulets, since I have overcome my stagnation for the moment, I am going to focus on a few more for the exhibit.

I hope you are in the position to enjoy this wonderful day we have been given.  ~Judy

Last night I was musing over various recycled and natural elements that I can incorporate into a new piece within in my varied collection (I am a self proclaimed pack rat of all things cool).   I have  feathers, fossilized shark teeth,  deer antler tips, crab claws, cowrie shells, porcupine quills, wooden beads, pieces of bone, leather, and small pieces of fur. And I mulled over picking out some beads from Ghana made from recycled glass and  bone beads.  And, don’t forget the copper!  Copper is my metal of choice.  When I first started making art, it was my metal of choice due to the fear of messing up something that I had fabricated had I been working with silver.  I will say that my taste for different materials has evolved the past couple years, but my love of copper has stayed consistent.   At this point, I am not too sure what will become of my assortment of elements, but I do know they will pair nicely with copper.

Sometimes I just work better under pressure.  Today is a special day for Madison’s friend Lily, she is being baptized.  How exciting an event for Lily and her parents and lucky godparents!  Lily is a beautiful girl; sweet, smart and articulate.   Yesterday afternoon brought an invite for us to celebrate with Lily and her family.  And of course that means a gift is in order.  What better than a handmade little booklet?  I have had so much fun lately making these little booklets that I have made special for each receipent with details specific to their special achievement or event.  For Lily’s booklet, I incorporated some peridot Swarovski crystals (her birthstone), carnelian to watch over her, a bit of color with a teal leather binding and ruby colored sari ribbon.   I hammered copper into a cut out in the Faux Bone cover, and a simple yet meaningful verse from Deuteronomy graces the interior.  I truly enjoy creating these little booklets and when they are for a person that is close to me it makes the meaning much more heartfelt.  I am almost emotionally exhausted when I finish one, in my opinion that is a good feeling.

My post today is my review of Gordon K. Uyehara’s new book Metal Clay Fusion from Lark Crafts. Watch for more of my reviews of new jewelry and beading books from Lark in the coming months.  Judy


Master class

Metal Clay Fusion

Gordon K. Uyehara

Diverse Clays. Detailed Techniques. Artful Projects

Lark Crafts. An Imprint of Sterling Publishing

© 2012- 144 pages   List $27.95

ISBN: 13:971-1-60059-697-1 

After one dip into artist Gordon K. Uyhera’s new (and first) book, Metal Clay Fusion, you may develop a taste, or a voracious appetite, for metal clay.  Metal Clay Fusion is fabulously scripted and well-detailed, written with humor that makes it feel as if Gordon was sitting in your studio for a one-on-one session. 

Metal Clay Fusion is full of gorgeous pieces of jewelry and functional sculptural pieces of art by Gordon himself as well as pieces by leaders in the field today.   You will enjoy feasting your eyes on designs throughout the book from Angela Baduel-Crispin,  Gwen Berknecker, Tina Carvalho, Louise Duhamel and Robert Dancik, Holly Gage, Liz Hall, Hadar Jacobson, Linda Kaye-Moses, Hattie Sanderson, Barbara Becker Simon,  and Wendy Wallin  Malinow. 

Gordon’s personal introduction gives the reader a glimpse into what he referred to as  “just an unhealthy pre-occupation” when he began his “near obsessive compulsion“ to create with silver clay.    He moves smoothly onto an informative general overview of tools and materials, and gives suggestions on using readily available implements as part as your repertoire of metal clay tools. 

A detailed and informative list of metal clays available is next, sided with some extraordinary images of sintered metal clay through an electron microscope so one can see the porosity of the material. 

The fundamentals section covers the areas from shaping to drying to firing in easy to understand detail.  In the following chapters, Gordon covers firing techniques, different types of metal clay and their properties, how to repair before and after firing, carving, applying embellishments, soldering tips, and most importantly, safety.

Within “Putting It All Together” Gordon addresses design concepts, developing your designers’ eye, and issues surrounding construction and implementation of your design. 

In the “Artiquette” section, under “Artist Declarations” Gordon speaks of the importance of each artist needing to decide how they wish to be defined.  His points are: Be Professional; Be Original; Adapt, Evolve & Experiment; Build Skills; Work Hard; Be Your Own Critic and Have Fun.  As Gordon indicates, “Play, relax and don’t take yourself too seriously.”  He advises to Practice Metal Clay Zen; “To be successful, to a certain extent you must adapt to the characteristics of the clay.  Then, do you shape the clay, or does it shape you?” 

Although the Metal Clay Master Series of books is intended for intermediate to advanced metal clay artists, beginners in the medium will find that Metal Clay Fusion is an inspiring journey and would benefit by adding it to their library of technique specific titles.

Scripted yet refreshingly natural.  That description did not immediately pop into my brain, it took a couple of days of thinking about the evening.  This is my description  of Tonya Davidson’s Artful Success seminar on Tuesday night titled ”The Profitable Artist: 5 Essential Ingredients to Being Successful. “  There was a TON of information that Tonya gave, and the best part of the seminar was it felt like Tonya was in my kitchen, with a steaming mug of tea, talking directly to me.  Why do I say ‘scripted yet refreshingly natural’?  Since she was just getting over bronchitis acquired from the Tucson Gem Show, Tonya needed to clear her throat, take a sip of tea and cough a little on occasion.  Therefore, it felt like she was sitting across from me and it felt very friendly and comfortable.   So many of the topics she covered made me think; but the one that stuck with me the most was the topic on how to price your work.  I appreciate that facts that she brought up; so many of them I did not consider as I attempted to put a price tag on some of my work in order to set up an Etsy shop.   What I keep replaying in my mind is the fact that, if as an artist you undervalue your work, that idea of undervaluing will be radiated to your potential customers and your sales will suffer as a result.

Woah, what?  Really?

Well, I found this to be exactly the case!  I was having a conversation with a woman that has recently gotten herself ‘back on her feet’ after a family upheaval.  She has recently started a new job, and is adjusting to relocating with her two young sons.

She has admired my work for sometime now, which makes me feel wonderful.  She does wish to acquire a piece or two, but as she said the pricing for her right now is not in her budget, but she will definitely be purchasing one or two once she is on more level ground.  She did not say that my price structure was over the top, she is just not in the position at this point in time to make a purchase.  Thank You Tonya for this invaluable piece of information.

Tonya also talked in detail about life coaches and mentors, which makes a person think about the people they come in contact with daily and how to turn these encounters into learning and mentoring instances.

If you would like to listen to this, she is offering an encore presentation on Saturday March 3rd.  Go to to sign up for her free presentation.  You won’t be sorry.

Thanks again, Tonya

(image courtesy of Artful Success)

This past Monday I was surprised to receive an email from Reidin A Dintzner, Assistant Editor from Art Jewelry Magazine.  She wanted to let me know that my ‘Edison Moment’ ring that I entered into their Facebook Design Challenge for Illumination was chosen as the winner of the challenge.  Reidin stated; “Congratulations, it is a great piece!  The little light bulb was perfect.”     I had previously entered this in the Ganoksin Call for Entries for their online exhibition titled “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder” that went live in July 2011.  Special thanks to Melissa Cable for the fabulous photography.

To say I was, and still am chuffed, is an understatement.  I found this vintage headlamp bulb in my parents cow barn that served as a large storage area in the years after the cows moved out.  At that point in time I had no idea what it would be used for, but being a dedicated collector of stuff, I knew I could not leave that little bulb there.

You can see the image on Art Jewelry’s Facebook page here:

Now it was up to me to choose the Facebook Design Challenge for the next month!  Yay!  As stated above, I am a dedicated collector of stuff, and love to recycle bits and bobs into pieces, I chose the next Design Challenge to be titled “Repurposed.”

If you love to use repurposed items in your work, enter them into the Design Challenge by using the following link.

There are some excellent entries posted, take a peek and post your own repurposed piece!!


Design worked up in Faux Bone – in process

Oh, the power of paper!  I realize that the mantra to ‘go paperless’ surrounds us.  I do agree with many of the attributes of going paperless, although going paperless and solely using technology can prove to be not such a fantastic idea.  Used to be for people to steal account numbers they’d have to pick through a dumpster; now they need only hack into bank or credit information transmitted by the web.  Not such a comforting way to ‘go paperless’ at some times.

I love paper.  I use paper every day, and I will say almost all of it has been used once for something, therefore gaining the title of ‘scrap paper’.  When is the last time you made a paper airplane?  A paper fortune teller?  A snowflake to hang in your window?

How many of you have ever received good news via paper (okay, bad news as well, but we won’t go that route), a love letter, a Valentine Card from a special person, birthday greetings from a long lost friend.

When your child is learning to write, they need paper to capture those first strokes, and you need those memories to be on paper.

Crumpling a piece of paper in frustration helps take the edge off, you can’t crumple a computer screen!

I had an idea while on the way home this afternoon for a new piece; as soon as I was in the door I reached for some scrap paper.  I drew out my design on said paper, and since it involves a hinge system, dug out some brass paper fasteners.  I need to see and feel how something works before I go ahead with the design.  I personally cannot do that using a computer, I need to have it in my hands and test the mechanics that way.

So, I for one will keep using paper, although I will make myself more aware of wasting it, and remembering to recycle it.

Success.  How do we measure success?

From Wikipedia:

Success may refer to:

Today, I achieved success.  I did not reach a level of social status, I reached a goal that I would say that almost every artist strives for.

Again, Wikipedia defines a goal or objective as:

A goal or objective is a desired result an animal or a system envisions, plans and commits to achieve—a personal or organizational desired end-point in some sort of assumed development. Many people endeavor to reach goals within a finite time by setting deadlines.

It is roughly similar to purpose or aim, the anticipated result which guides reaction, or an end, which is an object, either a physical object or an abstract object, that has intrinsic value.

Intrinsic value is an ethical and philosophic property. It is the ethical or philosophic value that an object has “in itself” or “for its own sake”, as an intrinsic property. An object with intrinsic value may be regarded as an end or end-in-itself.

I made my friend Jess cry.  No, not because of the opposite of failure, but by creating a physical object that holds intrinsic value that touched her heart.  I created a special piece for Jess’s baby shower.  I poured my heart into this, much like the baptismal book;  I was emotionally drained after each piece was completed.  If I pour my heart into a piece, I know instinctively that the recipient will be as touched after unwrapping it as I was in creating it. In this case, the physical object is a small book I made using Faux Bone™, leather and copper.  It contains baby information; her husband’s full name, and birth statistics, her full name and birth statistics, and a blank page for their daughters’ statistics once she enters into this beautiful world in March.

That is my measure of success, to touch the very heart of the person of it was made for; presenting to them a physical object that has intrinsic value.

It has been a creative year so far.  We enjoyed a little break for the holidays, already 1o days have been shaved off 2012.  I had some studio time and of course I was scheming to carve a new design!

This is what happened during that time; I took it for a test wear yesterday and it feels quite comfortable around the neck.  This is a rather large piece as I used a full sheet of Faux Bone.

I had fun with the design of this one, the eyes are re-purposed Tiger Eye charms from an old bracelet gifted to me to recycle.  I used wooden and glass trade beads on the hanging cord, and a simple brown shoe polish patina and a cold connected copper accent completed the finish.

AND, did anyone catch the Soft Flex Company’s ‘Spotlight on…Designer’ for January?  Melissa Cable is their featured designer, follow this link for the full article with a fabulous emphasis on Faux Bone.  Congratulations are definitely in order!!!


A visit to Wikipedia offers the following:

The English word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus, meaning “breath“, but also “spirit, soul, courage, vigor”, ultimately from a Proto-Indo-European *(s)peis. It is distinguished from Latin anima, “soul.” In Greek, this distinction exists between pneuma (πνευμα), “breath, motile air, spirit,” and psykhē (ψυχη), “soul.”

The word “spirit” came into Middle English via Old French. The distinction between soul and spirit also developed in the Abrahamic religions: Arabic nafs (نفس) opposite rúħ (روح); Hebrew neshama (נְשָׁמָה nəšâmâh) or nephesh (in Hebrew neshama comes from the root NŠM or “breath”) opposite ruach (רוּחַ rûaħ).

Why did I choose this particular word?  Well, Holiday Spirit is supposed to be surrounding us.  Why do we only need to feel “Holiday Spirit?”  What about feeling ‘spirit’ all year long?  As indicated above, ‘spirit’ means “breath” and of course we all need breath to sustain living.  What happens when we displace our spirit, our breath?  We may find that there is no joy found in everyday living; we may lose the desire (courage) to push the envelope.  We may feel that the vigor and passion we have felt in the past has waned.

OR…are we so inundated with information on how we should be feeling, or living our lives that we lose site of our own Spirit?   Look beyond what some say we should be feeling/doing/eating/buying/driving or desire to make us whole and satisfied.   What we all need to be whole and satisfied, is know who we are and what makes our spirit soar, soul fulfilled; boldly show our courage and hit our lives head on with vigor.

I, myself, have been thinking too hard about finding the ‘Holiday Spirit’ this year, and as I well know thinking about something too hard is akin to the saying ‘a watched pot never boils’.  I was waiting and watching too closely for my water to boil.  After breaking out some holiday decorations and a lovely long distance talk today, I am at a slow simmer…

This past summer I had the pleasure to meet sculptor Paul Cofrancesco who has a working studio in New Haven CT.  Paul was wonderful to talk with, fabulously enthusiastic, and I was lucky enough to be taken on a tour of his studio.   His most prized piece is ‘Panthera Tigris’ a negative space sculptural piece that is “a tribute to an animal that has been master of its environment, but is now critically endangered in the wild” as quoted from the brochure I was presented with.
Visit to view Paul’s Panthera Tigris piece as well as many other powerful sculptural pieces.  Enjoy!

We were invited  to witness a very special event today, the baptism for Mae, the infant daughter of our friends John and Ashley.   I knew we wanted to give a gift, but what to present to her?  Yesterday morning I awoke with an idea to make a little book for her that would last her lifetime.  After some research to find a heartfelt passage that would represent the day, I chose one from Matthew 19:14.  Cutting a cross shape into Faux Bone, I dapped copper sheet into the cut out shape, after  the final fitting the copper sheet was cold connected to the Faux Bone.  Page two brought two sheets of copper, both etched.  Page one is Mae’s name, Holy Baptism and the date.  Page two is the passage from Matthew.  I sandwiched some felted wool in between and secured with tube rivets.  The last page contains her picture printed in black and white, secured behind a plate of clear Plexiglas.  The Plexiglass is mounted using microfasteners.  Sari ribbon in a gorgeous shade of ruby keeps it all together, part of a recycled vintage set of Rosary beads swing from the side.  Tears upon cheeks were seen when I previewed this to my friend Jess; and tears were definitely on the cheeks of Mae’s Mom.   There is no accomplishment that is more satisfying for an artist than touching the heart.

Since Mother Nature decided for me that today was going to be a stay home day, I finally had the opportunity to dive into a design that had been on my sketch pad for a while.  As you can see in the first image, there is a beautiful ivory necklace from what is thought is from The Republic of Zaire.  This is in a book from The Museum of Modern Art titled ‘African Textiles and Decorative Arts’, copyright 1972 by The Museum of Modern Art.  I was really intrigued by this piece and wanted to explore.
I rough cut some 1/4″ Faux Bone and shaped it with a drum sander attachment on my Flexshaft,  applied alcohol ink in accent holes and rubbed brown shoe polish into the pieces.  I strung them on cotton cord, interspersed with copper beads and trade beads, and made a toggle using an 1/8″ Faux Bone washer and strip.   Faux Bone lends itself well to providing the vehicle that allows you to re-create pieces that in the past were made from materials that are now not readily available or protected.
By special request, we have added two new widths of cuff strips/blanks to our line!  Now available are 16mm and 28mm width strips in 1/16″ and 1/8″ thicknesses.   Heat them up, form them around a bracelet mandrel or just a soup can and you have a fantastic cuff blank ready for embellishment!!   I used a condensed sized soup can; remove the label and cover it with paper painters tape so you avoid having the ridges of the can being heat pressed in the finished formed piece.  These cuff strips/blanks make a great background for metal clay designs, inks, beads, scrimshaw,  you name it; let your creativity soar!  Above is an image of a simple cuff with an etched copper band riveted on.
Ready for Bennington Vermont in January 2012?  Join Robert at North Country Studio Workshops for an adventure in Faux Bone and Metal Clays.  Bennington in January is gorgeous and chilly, but the communal spirit is warm and the creative energy is hot!
   This morning was designated a ‘Thrift Morning’.  We met up with my friend Jess at New Haven Home Recovery; love this place as  I have mentioned it in a previous post.  So, their ‘special’ today was you could fill a good sized bag with clothing for $5.00.  Hmmm…. interesting.  I am an avid Thrift Store Shopper so I was up to the challenge.  I asked for a bag and started perusing the racks.  I came upon some funky printed pants; nothing I would put on mind you (picture Bozo the Clown here), but they appealed to me for making handbags.  I have had an idea floating around for a couple of weeks to create one of a kind handbags, and I have the desire to use strips of Faux Bone that have been embellished themselves to spice up the exterior.   I also have plans for antique brass tokens, vintage buttons, beads, and any other interesting items that can be secured to the fabric.  I don’t do much on the craft fair front, but since Madison’s school has an event coming up in a couple weeks that I can rent a table for $15.00, I thought I would mix it up a bit and offer some handbags along with the art jewelry.  That is if I can part with them myself!


It has definitely been a couple weeks since I posted last…I seem to have been lacking time.  Time.  What exactly is the definition of Time?  I always am thinking or voicing, ‘I don’t have enough time’;  ‘no time for that now’;  ’I’ll do it next time’.  So, I went to Wikipedia to see what their definition is for the much used word  ’Time.’
It was an interesting read, I must admit.
This is the first paragraph from Wikipedia for defining time:
“Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects.   The temporal position of events with respect to the transitory present is continually changing; future events become present, then pass further and further into the past. Time has been a major subject of religion, philosophy, and science, but defining it in a non-controversial manner applicable to all fields of study has consistently eluded the greatest scholars. A simple definition states that “time is what clocks measure”.
 Hmmm.  So, that means I am lacking that of ‘what clocks measure’.  But what exactly does the clock measure?  I will name what the clock measures ‘it’.  Why can’t I grasp ‘it’ ?  Why can’t I turn ‘it’ back and change those things that happened that made me sad?  Why does’it’  seem to go by painfully slow as a child and so quickly as an adult?  Why can’t I get my hands on more of ‘it’?  I suppose my desire to get my hands on more of ‘it’ would mean I need to address my ‘use of time’ or ‘time management’.  But how can I successfully use ‘it’ or manage ‘it’  if I don’t really know what ‘it’ is?
Carl Spunde
Tribal Knife Neck Piece

 Carl Spunde created a statement piece  he calls ‘Tribal Knife’ and he was kind enough to share his tutorial with me.  The focal stone on this is absolutely fabulous, and emphasizes the name ‘Tribal Knife’.


Carl Spunde was born in Kentucky in 1957 to Latvian immigrants from World War II and has developed his own particular vision over the years. Taking an early interest in art, his first juried sculpture from high school was exhibited in Washington DC, along with the best in high school art from the State of Florida in 1974. He graduated from the University of Florida with a B.A. in Fine Arts in 1979 with a split major in Photography and Painting.

Carl established and currently owns his own Graphic Design Studio, I/O Design Group, Inc., in Tampa Florida. Most recently he has been pursuing jewelry design with an emphasis in metals and designing men’s jewelry. With his own set of strengths: photography, painting and graphic design he provides a unique interpretation of fine art.

Carl says, “I found a lack of masculine jewelry being designed currently. I want to change the perception that wearing jewelry is for women only”.

Please friend him on FaceBook (Carl Spunde) to view more of his work or if you have any specific questions regarding his work. Also you may email him at

Sink your teeth into Carl’s Tribal Knife Project by clicking here
This week we talk with Jennifer Davies-Reazor.  Jennifer is a mixed media artist that works with ceramics, clay and metal to name a few!
“I started out with my muse/goddess/poppet icon that I do in clay on all scales. I wanted a mixed media OOAK piece for myself, an I wanted to finally try FB. The copper backing was inspired by some Richard Salley pieces he had been sharing on Facebook. I cut and shaped – using my Dremel and Cratex wheels. I stamped, stained with alcohol ink, and sanded some white back up. After the goddess piece I decided to take it a step further. My moon hare is one of my most popular ceramic pendant designs. Again – a OOAK prototype, that I can keep, of course! The first moon was trial and error with polymer. It ended up too thick. I think I prefer the faux bone at this point, and will work on fabricating the crescent from faux bone during my next session at the bench…”
Check out Jennifer’s blog, you can email her at, and be sure to visit her website at   and last but not least, her Etsy shop at
  Look at this monstrosity of a decoration!  I was perusing my favorite thrift store a couple weeks ago, and this practically hit me in the head.  When I realized what it held in store for me, I got excited!  It was chock full of cowrie shells!  I have been on the lookout for some, but as of yet had not made the decision to order any.  As you know, some times the cost for shipping a small order outweighs the price of your desired item.   I am greatly inspired by African Art and cowrie shells appear many times over in African Art and have a long history in African culture.   Check this Wikipedia page that has a TON of information on cowrie shells  What a find for $5.00; I could not wait to get home to my studio and start tearing this ‘thing’ apart!
I ended up with two quarts (at least) of the larger shells, and an equal amount of the smaller ones.  There are some other little shells (snail?) in the mix, but they are a bit more fragile and some did not survive the destructing well.  I am looking forward to creating a piece of jewelry using some of these shells.  I have a few designs in mind, now to make the time to sit and create….

Today we visit Jane Salley as she presents a tutorial on how she created this gorgeous ring using Faux Bone™ ring blanks.  Jane loves creating with Faux Bone™ and has designed some beautiful pieces.  You may visit Jane at or email her at

“I love creating with Faux Bone™ and I’d like to share my latest creation with you.  For this ring I used the Faux Bone™ ring blanks.”

 To see the tutorial, please select the link that will take you to our projects page.

I was so excited to receive a box from my friend Melissa Cable, visit, with  SIGNED COPY of her new book ‘Spotlight on Wire’ .   Seriously, who is luckier than I am??? You can order you very own copy by visiting  .    This book is jam-packed with fabulous projects, even if you are a beginning jewelry artist, want to expand your knowledge and style, or have been creating for years, Melissa teaches you different and innovative ways to use wire in your designs.  A few months ago my friend Jo gave me a piece of Tiger Eye she had fallen in love with. It is smooth and beautiful…but offered no way to display it in a piece of jewelry.  Sure, I could have drilled a hole (while holding my breath!) or purchased a glue on bail. No, neither one appealed to me.    This beauty has been kicking around on my bench for months….I keep telling Jo that I will do something with it.  So, while happily skipping through Melissa’s book…there it was!  Her ‘Dreaming of Pumpkins’ technique is the perfect solution.  I have a toilet-tissue-flour-and-water-paste wrapped piece of Tiger Eye  in the toaster oven as I write this.  Melissa’s book will take you places you have not thought to go before, and inspire you to bend, twist, wrap, texture and embellish.  Add ‘Spotlight on Wire’ to your bookshelf. ~


   The online exhibition titled “Beauty Is In the Eye of the Beholder”
is now open to the public, The exhibition showcases 247 images
chosen from entries from over 55 artists representing North America,
South America, Europe, Australia, Central America, Africa and
Online Exhibition: “Beauty Is In the Eye of the Beholder”

“Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder” showcases 247 images chosen
from entries from over 55 artists representing North America, South
America, Europe, Australia, Central America, Africa and Eurasia.
The drive to adorn the human body is surely as old as human kind.
From pre-historic times this drive has led humans to use the
materials at hand, combined with the technologies and tools
available, to create objects to adorn the human body. The oldest
jewelry found to date goes back to at least 75,000 years ago in
Early jewelry was made of bones, shells, sticks, and whatever other
materials the people could find and shape. Over time the ability to
mine and shape metal developed, and jewelry was made from bronze,
silver, gold, platinum and other metals. Gold has long been thought
of as a “precious” metal, and today it is joined by silver and
platinum as the three main materials modern jewelry is made from.
While much jewelry today is made from these three main metals, a
large body of jewelry world-wide is still made from a much wider
range of materials. This exhibition, “Beauty is in the Eye of the
Beholder”, focuses on jewelry made primarily of materials other than
gold, platinum and silver.
Jewelers today are still using found objects such as shell and bone;
they are using “green” materials – upcycled and recycled objects and
materials; they are using cutting edge plastics and newly developed
technology; and they are using older metals such as copper, brass
and bronze.
Some of the more unusual materials include vinyl LP’s, velvet, VCR
components, rattlesnake vertebrae, corian, canvas, paper, crab
claws, magnets, synthetic rubber electrical insulation tubing, and
aluminum grounding wire.
More traditional materials used include copper, bronze, brass,
glass, various types of wood, gemstones, pearls and seeds.
Techniques range from traditional metalsmithing, through a range of
beading techniques, textile techniques, photography techniques and
cutting edge industrial fabrication.

Participants range from professional jewelers with international
reputations to students just learning their craft.
Hosted on the Ganoksin website, the world’s largest internet site
devoted to jewelry- related topics, the exhibition is a snapshot of
what jewelers around the world are exploring, and an inspiration to
all. The exhibition was conceived Beth Wicker, an artist from South
Carolina, in the USA, and curated by Beth and Hanuman Aspler, founder
of the Ganoksin Project.
Beauty Is In the Eye of the Beholder

For more information about the Exhibition please contact: Beth Wicker or Dr. E. Aspler (Hanuman)

Dr. E. Aspler (Hanuman)
Owner and founder

The Ganoksin Project
S i n c e 1 9 9 6
Jewelry Manufacturing Methods and Techniques

This is what the preliminary piece I posted last week evolved into.  I used some of those fab beads I got from Amazon.  Next time I will play around with  
spacing a bit on the lower tube rivets, but all in all this worked for me.  I wore it one day last week, and it wore well.  I personally like to give pieces a ‘test wear’ just to make sure the engineering (yes, engineering!) that went into a particular piece was correct.  The curvature of the fit of the main piece must feel correct and not uncomfortable, the bead part of the neckpiece must be figured correctly so as to not affect where the main piece needs to be sit to feel right, and the dangles must be placed so as to not interfere with one another so admirers may see each individual facet.  So, there is engineering involved.  Of course I am not building bridges here, but it all counts with design and wearability.

I am extending wishes to all for a safe and happy holiday weekend.  Revel in the fact that we can celebrate Independence Day as a free nation.  ~Judy

I have been able to stay awake long enough the past few nights to finally get my vision to a sketch, my sketch to a drawing and my drawing on to a piece of  Faux Bone.  Well, this is my vision of a neckpiece which is not quite complete yet.  It was cut, heated, shaped around a necklace mandrel while still warm.  I did do a bit of rough sanding on the extensions, then spot heated them with an embossing heat gun to shape them away from potential danger!  I shaped the tips to accept copper crimp bead covers, when I was ready to install them I heated them lightly with a torch and while still hot in the pliers squeezed them on to the tips of the extensions.  I then drew on a design, of course it was tried on paper first and I was not really sure what would be in relief, so I just went with what my brain advised.  I used wax carving burs for the most part…love them!  If necessary I used a drum sanding sleeve and mandrel.  Color was applied in three stages…copper infused 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper was first and I must admit by accident.  My hands often get ahead of my brain, but in this instance grabbing that particular piece of sandpaper was a new discovery of adding depth of color.  Next was coloring in the carved out spaces with rust and oregano alcohol ink pens…it was okay but the more I looked the less I liked  the look.  Back to the wax bur to remove it; but I started to skip the bur around and it gave the appearance of chipped paint!  Oh, how cool!!  Next color layer added was brown shoe polish adding more depth to the piece.   Today I received an order of beads…I finally used that wonderful gift card from my kids in Kindergarten, if you recall I ranted about too much information and too many choices in a post a couple weeks ago and I could not make up my mind.   So, that being said, I ordered some fab  beads and got them today.  Snail shell, sponge coral, African Jade, horn shaped turquoise…happy happy!  I am in the process of picking out what dangles I will make that will be suspended from the bottom, as well as what I will use to complete the piece to be comfortable around the back of the neck.   I am considering using some of the sponge coral.  Check back to see the finished piece!

I have admired the beautiful work of Ed and Linda Simpson for a while now.  So, what better way to share their fabulous work than asking them “What’s On Your Bench?”  Take a look at these wonderful pieces!

Ed and Linda Simpson are a husband and wife jewelry design team doing business as “Arts on the Vine.”  Their jewelry designs start with colorful lampwork glass beads that Ed creates in his backyard studio. He primarily uses Moretti and Bullseye soft glass.  Their preferred metal is copper.  Linda completes most of the metal and wire work.  Over the past six months they have added Robert Dancik’s “Real Faux Bone™” to their designs.   Linda prefers to use cold connections to attach the glass, Faux Bone™, and metal without soldering.  She utilizes rivets, wire and pins to add to the aesthetics of the design.  Paints, inks, heat patina and liver of sulfur are used to add dimension and color.

Their jewelry is published in the June/Jul/Aug 2011 issue of “Belle Armoire Jewelry” magazine.  They will also be featured in the July issue of “Belle Armoire: the artistry of clothing and accessories.”

Their work is currently offered in several galleries in the Northwest.  They have an online shop at:

Email is welcomed at:

Ed and Linda currently live and make jewelry in the Yakima Valley of Washington state.

Excess.  Excessive.  TMI (too much information). Over stimulation.  Information overload.  All of these terms come to mind when I think of my recent searches on Amazon.  I was happily gifted with a generous gift certificate from some wonderful Kindergarten students (and their parents!) for my birthday…I must add my birthday was in APRIL!  I have yet to redeem this gift certificate.  Every time I decided on what I would like to treat myself to, another item pops up and into my subconscious.  Well, maybe really could use that versus what I had picked out last week…It is mind-boggling the amount of information that is thrown at us daily and we must digest.  I do admit a number of this ‘always on’ contact is brought upon by our own desire to stay up to date on what is happening around us.  But, really, whatever happened to taking a walk and listening to the birds (I also digress, I listen to music while walking), but what about the peepers singing their majical music at dusk, watching fireflies flicker on a quiet night,  and catching a falling star on a sharp clear night?  I do love to go to the beach as well and gather shells and stones and beach glass.  This is one of those relaxing times, and I can clear out my mind for a bit…altho I tend to build a new piece of jewelry based on what goodies I have found; therefore not really letting myself ‘not think’.  Seems like I for one need to step back once in a while to the time when I was growing up, and enjoy non-technology influenced stimuli for a little while.  This will help calm the soul and ready your mind for yet another 21st century technology filled day. Enjoy.

I asked Carolyn Edmondson a Graduate student at Grays School of Art Robert Gordon University Aberdeen ‘What’s On Your Bench?’  This edition should actually read ‘What’s On Your Sewing Machine’. 

“I have attached a photo of one of the pieces I’ve been working on with the Faux Bone you sent me, which I’m delighted to say has been chosen to be displayed in John Lewis (a large department store chain in the UK) in Aberdeen. This is a huge opportunity to get not only my own work, but also Faux Bone introduced to a wide commercial market and I’m really honored to be one of only two people from the University asked to display work.

I have been informed that I have been shortlisted in the Scottish Fashion Graduate of the Year awards, which entails designing a dress for Marks and Spencer (another large UK department store!) where the winning design is put into production to be sold in-store, it has also already had press on as well as in the Guardian and Herald national newspapers! I’m really excited as I am to attend the awards ceremony held in Glasgow with a host of huge Scottish and British fashion names, who knows who’ll be sitting at my table!

We are still working on the Donald Trump Tartan competition, it’s moving along very, very slowly!

I think that’s all my news for now, I need to get back to the sewing machine!

Carolyn Edmondson

Concrete Jewelry: It’s Not Just for Sidewalks Anymore

 Peters Valley Craft Center

19 Kuhn  Road    Layton NJ 07851

General Information:
Store & Gallery:

Workshop Dates: May 28 – 30, 2011

Class Description: Class Description: As unlikely as concrete for jewelry may seem, it is surprisingly lightweight, easy to use, extremely versatile and…. unbelievably inexpensive. In fact it is lighter in weight than stone, resin or metal of comparable size and this makes it perfect for jewelry and other objects of personal adornment. In this workshop you will learn the basics of using various types of concrete and numerous ways of incorporating it into the work you are already doing in metal clay, polymer clay, mixed media work and traditional metalworking. We will start by making non-soldered boxes. These can then be filled with concrete and include virtually any material or found object you please. We will then branch out, casting into silicone molds and forming small concrete slabs with inclusions that can be set in a bezel or with prongs or tabs. The concrete materials we use are easy to find, take no special tools and yield fast results.

Level: Beginner to Advanced


Such a beautiful Sunday morning, and there are plenty of things to accomplish, and most of them not what I truely wish to do!   The lawn has grown so much in the last week with the plentiful rains that when the birds land they disappear and my otherwise relatively tall dog majically becomes shorter when she steps on the grass.

A couple of weeks ago a beach-combing trip yielded some very cool things, one of them this huge blue crab claw.  I was a bit disappointed it was missing its ‘thumb’ at first, now I am inspired by this the void will serve as an outlet for beads, wire and ribbon.  Some time last night allowed for a bit more play, so this piece is coming together.   If you are able, get out and enjoy this wonderful day, consider yourself fortunate for the things you have in your life.  Listen to the birds, feel the sun on your face, embrace those you love, and say a prayer for those who are experiencing difficult times.

“To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness”  – Bertrand Russell

I asked artist Liz ‘What’s On Your Bench’ and she sent me these images that show her talent with Mixed Media.  She combines found and everday objects to create beautiful amulets.  In Liz’s own words:

“I’m a self taught artist and work in various mediums. I’ve been making constructions out of found objects for many years and recently became interested in small metals. I was inspired to make an amulet for my husbands birthday. I loved everything about making it, especially personalizing it with objects that would have meaning for him. I work intuitively and no two pieces are alike. As amulets they can be hung anywhere or even worn. The meaning of the amulet is whatever you place on it.”  Beautiful work!

I have stolen some time in between this and that to play with some of our new Faux Bone™ washers.  On this piece I used some of the 1/8” thick x 1” ones.  These are perfect for incorporating into hanging chain to add some different texture and just mix it up a bit.  I scuffed them up a bit on a checkering file and rubbed on some brown shoe polish; after letting that sit for a while, I rubbed them with a soft cloth (I love cloth diapers for this step) and then rubbed in a little graphite, again rubbing with a diaper.   I made all the chain links and gave them the Liver of Sulpher Spa Treatment.  One dangle is a re-purposed vintage earring, and of course the crab claw had to make it’s way in there as well.  I made ball-end copper wires for the carnelian beads.  Yes, I made them with the bead slipped on the wire, holding my breath hoping the carnelian would not crack.  After success with that, I formed the links, hammered them a little to add strength and texture, and they got the Liver of Sulpher Spa Treatment as well.

I am not sure if it needs anything else or not, perhaps a dash more color towards the top. I pulled out a piece of Sari Ribbon that is a rusty color like the carnelian beads.  Maybe, maybe not…

Today Madison and I headed to the New Haven Mineral Club 38th Annual Gem and Mineral Show.   I had thought this show was in May, but thanks to a Thrifting Day again yesterday (yes, I am hooked) I saw the signs for the show for this weekend.   To think we could have missed it was disconcerting!   Check out their website  they offer some really interesting information, I was especially taken with the history on the iron smelting furnaces.   Madison was thrilled to try her hand at a little lapidary work and shaped and polished a beautiful piece of Serpentine see this beauty on the left of the image.  I just drilled a hole for a jump ring so she can wear it proudly.  A lapidary set up is on my bucket list, good thing I have a huge bucket, as there are a bunch of wishes inside!  I also scored some fabulous fossilized shark teeth, as well as a bit of Fluorite , Herkimer Diamonds and Selentite.  I am enamoured with the shark teeth.  To the right of the image above there are some nice polished stones acquired while Thrifting.  Not sure what my vision is for these, they may be drilled and strung.   We definately enjoyed today and will look forward to joining in one day on a rock hunting expedition.  Yes, hooked on that too!

We have added some new items to our product selection!  One new offering is our Starter Kit; we put this together to

give you just about everything you need to get started using Faux Bone.™   One of each  6″ x 6″ pieces  of Faux Bone™ in  1/16″, 1/8″ and 1/4″ thicknesses; shaping tool, three fine and three medium Faux Bone™ saw blades, 1/4 sheets of 360, 400 and 600 grit silicone carbide wet/dry sandpaper, and 18″ of 16 gauge copper wire. We have also included an instruction sheet for a Labion Ax Pendant just to get your feet wet.   We have also have a Ring Kit, and some Faux Bone™ washers in different sizes…and, did you see the Faux Bone™ strips?!  1/16″ in various widths, check them out at!!!

Honor Your Local Thrift Store!  Seriously, you can find SO many treasures it will make your head spin.  I am an avid Thrift Store supporter.  The most important part to me is that when I peruse for treasures, I am helping support local services, those services include New Haven (CT) Home Recovery which supplies shelters with household goods including linens, furniture and kitchen items.  They step in to help individuals and families who have gone through difficult times find a place to live, jobs and they work with people to regain their dignity.   My Sister’s Place,’s_place.htm run by Birmingham Group Health Services  is the parent organization of the Umbrella Program.  The Umbrella Program has spearheaded the fight against domestic violence against women and children, and has been doing it for over 20 years. There is no better way for me to support these types of services than donating and finding some fabulous treasures to boot!  The goodies on the left will no doubt become altered and reborn into a new piece.  I HAD to show the coat as well, this vintage beauty is in perfect condition (kinda like the car with 500 miles on it, no rust, driven only to church on fine Sunday mornings…)Fur collar, cashmere, fully lined, 3/4 length sleeves.  I fell in love with this one, and finding it hanging on the $.50 rack was an extra bonus!  I schlepped this one home last week; yesterday my friend Jess and I spent a good part of the day Thrifting, she collects Pyrex and found some spectacular pieces to add to her collection.  I came upon yet another vintage coat similar to the one pictured.  Okay, so I went all out and paid $1.00 for the ‘new’ one.  The ‘new’ one needs a stitch or two here and there, but nothing I can’t accomplish.

So, next time you are out and desire something new to you, something vintage, or just something funky, visit your local Thrift Store.  You will be supporting a wonderful charity, and just may find that most all if not all of the people working hard within the walls are volunteers.

When the clock reaches 23:21, Spring will officially arrive, at least according to the calendar. So what if the weather forecast predicts ice, snow and rain next week here in CT, the calendar tells me it is Spring.  What says Spring better than fresh asparagus!

This morning I brought Bradie back in and on the way I saw a little something that instantly created a smile.  Depending on what happens throughout the day today, that may be the only thing I get to create completely- a smile.    That little something was swooping through the sky; muted red breast, well, more like a bright rusty color, white tipped tail.  I did a double take to make sure I was seeing correctly.  Indeed, I was not mistaken and I had the wonderful opportunity to view my first Robin of the season.  How appropriate she appear on the day that marks the Vernal Equinox.   Since I was a bit curious about the technical explanation of an equinox, (far beyond what I already thought I knew), I went to Wikipedia  and found the following:

‘An equinox occurs twice a year, when the tilt of the Earth‘s axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun, the center of the Sun being in the same plane as the Earth’s equator. The term equinox can also be used in a broader sense, meaning the date when such a passage happens. The name “equinox” is derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), because around the equinox, the night and day are approximately equally long. It may be more precisely understood to mean that latitudes +L and -L north and south of the Equator experience nights of equal length.

Although the word equinox is often understood to mean “equal [day and] night,” this is not strictly true. For most locations on earth, there are two distinct identifiable days per year when the length of day and night are closest to being equal; those days are referred to as the “equiluxes” to distinguish them from the equinoxes. Equinoxes are points in time, but equiluxes are days. By convention, equiluxes are the days where sunrise and sunset are closest to being exactly 12 hours apart. ‘

I found it interesting that Equinoxes are considered points in time and Equiluxes are considered the days where sunrise and sunset are closest to being exactly 12 hours apart.

In parallel with art and the desire and drive to learn something new, I learned something new today with the description of the Equinox.  With Spring on the way according to the Robins, daffodils, snow drops, crocus and the forsythia that are budding, I am ready to try something new.  I may be as simple as a new method, Spring always has a way of renewing the soul and spirit.

Embrace the day, learn something new and reflect on this passage from Confucius “Learning without thought is labour lost; thought without learning is perilous”


Today…ah, well tonight,  I will give you a preview of what will soon be on MY bench.  I admit we attended the St Patrick’s Day Parade in New Haven CT.  So, anyway,  I had a request from Melissa Cable ( for  some shapes and strips and I coupled those with my ideas and came up with what will be FAB new shapes and beautiful cut strips precison milled fromRobert’s Real Faux Bone tm!    My take on the washers to use them intespersed, textured of course, with jump rings  for hanging chain.  Stay tuned, I am creating…and will share!  These cool new pieces will be available in about 10 days…stay tuned!

I asked Jill DeDominicis if she would like to share with ‘What’s On Your Bench?’…she was more than happy to and I am thrilled she did!  Jill kindly commmented on the blog;   “The blog looks great! I love the “What’s On Your Bench” concept–it’s always interesting to see how others work.”   (Thanks, Jill!)
From Jill: “I’ve attached two pictures of our first project with Faux Bone™. My partner, Phil, was inspired by a recent kitchen remodel he did, pairing bright white melamine cabinet fronts with reclaimed teak wood veneers. The contrast was stunning, and we were looking for a similar effect in jewelry. He turned the Faux Bone into bangle bracelets on a lathe; not sure if you’ve had much feedback on using it this way, but Phil said it turned rather nicely.”

“Anyway, here are two shots of the final product. People at our recent trunk show were very interested in the material.”

Thanks again!

Best regards,
Jill DeDominicis

Wood and Silver

   I received a wonderful email from John Murdock last week!  He had sent me an image of his first piece of jewelry, the piece with double spirals,  using Faux Bone™.   He told me it is ‘nothing spectacular’ but I loved it and think it is fabulous!  Best part?  John is an 81 year old retiree and one of his hobbies is making jewelry.    John blogs about his experiences, you can follow him at

This past week I asked  my ‘What’s On Your Bench?’ question to Melissa Cable.   Check out what Melissa has going on:

Well, its almost easier for me to answer what’s NOT on my bench. There’s a reason my motto is “create recklessly.” But here’s a first glance, left to right, of the things I am looking at right now.

-A package of Costco baby wipes

-Packaging for ICE resin which I used for the first time last week, and must admit, am loving

-4 unfinished fold-formed Valentine’s Day pendants meant for my nieces

-Jars filled with oil and objects (pictured, see below)

-Random samples of my metal garden flowers I’ve been working on for my next book

-A retractable Sharpie marker

-Faux Bone™ cut into strips (thanks to the good folks at Crackerdog Design who had them cut for me)

-A pile of geode pieces

-A tube of epoxy wood putty

-3 bottles of alcohol ink

-A tube of acrylic paint

-A baggie filled with Hill Tribe silver beads

-A roll of blue painters tape

-A bottle of jasmine ice tea

-A badly deformed dome of Plexiglas™ I overheated with a heat gun

-The heat gun

-An unopened package of wood push pins

-A growing pile of used sandpaper, eye makeup applicators, paper towels, scouring pads, and broken emery boards (that, now having had to admit this, I am throwing away immediately).

I’m mostly working on writing instructions for and creating additional samples of Faux Bone™ projects I am teaching this year at the Bead and Button Show

These are test jars for my Time of My Life pendant which has an oil and object filled globe in the middle (pictured). The jars allow me to place random things in oil to see how they move, reflect light and ultimately, hold up. I’m about to create another set using different types of oils. The Faux Bone strip was used last night to create another ring sample (pictured).

And by the way, you can find the link to a project sheet for the Valentine’s Day pendant mentioned above in the links section of my website at Thanks for asking!

I asked Lynne Glazzard ‘What’s On Your Bench?’  Lynne provided me with a wonderful array of projects and pieces she has on her bench.  Take a look at this!

On my bench at the moment are all sorts of half done things.

I am preparing to teach a class at the Flame Off at Towcester Racecourse in April and making a few examples.  The Flame Off is really about glass bead making but the last couple of years they have added other classes in art clay silver and enamelling (among other things).  Embellishing silver beads is my new class for this year so I have been working out what is achievable and at the same time trying to tone my enamels to some of my glass beads. (Flame off samples 1)

In order to simplify this I am preparing lots of tiny wire shapes in fine silver wire, ready to apply to the surface of the beads.  (Cloisonne prep)

The box of half done things is all sorts of bits and pieces that I have been working on at various points since early December.  It includes a bracelet that really needs some plain silver beads to finish it off.  There are a a few birds with embedded screws and some plain silver beads waiting for their enamel embellishments.

There are also these two pieces of faux bone.  I began these two pieces in 2009 when I was artist in residence at Whitby Museum but then put them away for a while.  I have recently got them out and started working on the ideas again, mainly as a result of gently cleaning a couple of Inuit artefacts at the museum before they were put back on display which made me want to return to these ideas.

The other thing is this lovely flat lap machine, a Christmas present from my partner that I haven’t had a chance to even try yet.  It arrived quite a while after Christmas because of the bad weather and although I checked it all over and set it up it has been languishing there since.  I was really intending to make some glass beads and then grind and polish them back.  Reflecting on this as an idea is quite funny as when I was at University grinding and polishing was the very thing that put me off glass fusing (well that and the kiln going wrong and ruining two days work).  Anyway, as soon as I get a few free days I will be able to play.  I don’t think this will be until April now though as I am filling my time over the next few weeks trying to re-assemble a display of ethnographic artefacts at Whitby Museum – see this on

It is a lovely idea to share this

Thanks, Lynne


I asked Alison Lee of Craftcast, ‘What’s On Your Bench?’  Alison told me “I have been very inspired by Art Smith and am looking at everything out there about him and his work.  Visit Alison at

I asked Cooky Schockand Margie Fish from The Shepherdess in California…’What’s On Your Bench?’

Margie and Cooky are working on a collaborative project incorporating Margie’s work with Faux Bone & Cooky’s fold forming & found object work. Margie has done extensive work with dyes & color to ensure that the end result is permanent. She has colored, carved and molded the Faux Bone. Cooky says ‘I am riveting my  etched,  fold formed brass & found objects onto the pieces. I wanted to hinge the pieces in an unusual manner & we both agreed that the small brass hinges were the answer. Not completed yet, waiting for a clasp inspiration! This is the first joint effort but we have a great follow up planned!’

Visit The Shepherdess at

Are you ready for a change of venue for a few days and want to learn something new?  How about taking a workshop with Robert at Art and Soul in Las Vegas??!!  If you are in the northeast you may wish to see something other than snow banks…perhaps palm trees and bright flashing lights that are NOT from a plow truck?   Check out the links on the Workshop page on the blog, or follow the link below for details.


Since we are ‘enjoying’ yet another snow day off from school here in our area of CT, I figured I would immerse myself in my next Ring A Week…maybe by the time today is over I’ll be up to number ten…  Mother Nature can un-flex her muscle, we know she is powerful.  Wednesday night we got an additional 18″ of snow on top of the 24″ that was still left from the other storms.  Even Bradie had a hard time navigating the snow, and she is a Husky!   To help me think of warmer weather, I put on a little Dave Matthews Band, carved up a Faux Bone ring blank, and ferried out a crab claw found at the beach, those two coupled with a vintage rhinestone earring and a bone bead made for an interesting mix.   Maybe it will take my mind off even more snow headed our way today…

I asked Lynette Fisk of Pleasant Hill Missouri…’What’s On Your Bench?’

AND, Lynette went the extra mile and actually SHOWED me her bench!  This is cool, and, seriously, much more organized than mine although she thinks this is unorganized, it looks perfect to me!

“What REALLY is on my bench today: a friend’s vintage earrings to convert, a tutorial I’m writing up for Polymer Café Magazine, a bead pattern to write up for submission to Beadwork Magazine, a mess of beads and tools stacked there for safety while I reorganize and clean my studio to incorporate some new storage and a gigantic, invisible BLOCK. I’m hoping that cleaning and reorganizing my studio will also remove the BLOCK so I can get to the several unfinished ideas that I hope are still hiding there. I know everyone gets blocked at times, but my summertime fantasies of holing up in my studio during the winter and just making things fly out the window when my studio is cold and messy. Sometimes the BLOCK is also a result of too many ideas and not enough focus.”

“But some of my BLOCK thing is a left-over “mom” reaction. The thing I want to do the most always gets postponed (for anyone else’s real or perceived need….and I haven’t had kids other than my husband at home for 10 years) or put off until the day is nearly over and I haven’t worked on anything. Somehow must give myself permission to let myself be creative….”

I asked JoAnne Webster from West Hartford CT- What’s On Your Bench??  JoAnne told me:

“I took Robert’s workshop in Portland last fall and just love the Faux Bone material as well as his teaching/philosophy. The bracelet is not done yet. It needs more brownish patina and maybe a charm or two. Used the Dremel engraver for the front and the checkering file on the back and edges. I used black shoe polish for the coloring and then sanded with 600 sandpaper.”

Thank you, JoAnne, so much for sharing What’s On Your Bench!  Can’t wait to feast my eyes on the finished product!

Here’s my “Edison Moment”.  I posted it on Flickr for my Ring A Week  challenge #3.  It did not start out to finish in this manner, but I am happy with the quirky finished piece.  I sliced a piece of copper pipe, of course using one of Robert’s Nearly Indestructible Blades for Metal!   The depression was made to originally seat a piece of Fool’s Gold.  Well, that was just not working for me.  I rummaged around on my well-organized bench (double chuckle on this reference, that could be a whole post by itself!), and came upon this headlamp.  Hmmm…workable.  I cut another strip of copper, textured it with the claw end of a tack hammer, upset the edge of the piece of pipe and installed some brass rivets to cold connect the strip that would serve as my bezel of sorts.  After burnishing the edges, it enjoyed a Liver of Sulpher Spa treatment followed by a vigorous brass brushing.  Then a quick drill through of the headlamp, and a final fitting, I secured it with a balled headpin.    Definately quirky…

“A man’s maturity consists in having found again the seriousness one had as a child, at play”  – F.W. Nietzsche

Seriously, I love this quote.  As all of you know, we tend to get so wound up in everyday life, that we forget what play is like.

I am constantly reminded by Madison that I need to play with her.  It is difficult to let go sometimes and play.  And I have to keep reminding myself that it is good to let go and  play a bit, and to remember that some of the most important things we learn in life are learned through play.

So, are you serious about play?  Are you interested in learning new ways to play??  How about involving yourself  in a workshop with Robert this year?  Freshly updated, the venues he will be teaching at are listed here:

There will be a few more in there, but details need to be worked out before posting.

I will update as they are confirmed.

No longer on my bench, this is what developed from my earlier post of ‘What’s On Your Bench?’.  I decided to make some copper headpins that received a Liver of Sulpher spa treatment.  These fit nicely into the copper tube rivets and became the perfect vehicle to attach some fabulous bone beads.  I re-thought the attachment of the fish skull, and felt that keeping the headpin attachment throughout the piece was the way to go.    The headpins swing freely inside the tube rivets, so there will be no issues with stressed wire that could fatigue.  I added some cotton string on the outer bone bead headpins for a little interesting fiber detail.  Happy ending!   ~Judy

This is the start of my wish to do a feature once a week (read: attempt here) titiled ’What’s On Your Bench’.  I want to see what’s on YOUR bench.  Some images, where your insiration came from, and what your vision is for the piece.  AND, it does not need be incorporationg Faux Bone.  I will post your web links; your website address, online store, gallery links, teaching venues, etc.   Let me know if you are interested!

This is what took up space on my bench yesterday.  OK, I did use Faux Bone to make the choker part and I made and installed a bunch of tube rivets.  Admittably I am a tube rivet junkie.   I did some decorative detail and then applied brown shoe polish and then rubbed some graphite into the low spots to add some depth.   The focal is part of a fish skull that I found at the beach a while ago.  I has been sitting around gathering dust, waiting for its debut.  It was actually intact when I found it, but after sitting outside my back door it softened up and split into 4 pieces.  So, now I have more to work with!  I will post an image when I am done with it.  My vision:  to create a one of a kind piece that has a natural and psudo-primitive feel to it.  Judy~

Did you do something this year to challenge yourself?  I have pledged many ways to challenge myself, but one that is out there for all to see is joining the Ring A Week Challenge.  How about joining?  You will find yourself in excellent company with so much artful support you will be AMAZED!   This image is my first one…Faux Bone, copper tube rivets, Sari Ribbon.   Seriously, if I did it, you can do it…

Busy next weekend, January 15th and 16th? How about heading to The Bead House in Bristol,  Rhode Island ( for a Faux Bone workshop with Robert?

‘The Book is The Cover’ is an exciting and definately hands on experience!  You will learn how to cut, sand and finish Faux Bone and will create a one of a kind mini-book piece that will become a keeper of a memorable treasure or a special photograph, it can also be fashioned to be worn as personal adornment.   Treat yourself!!

So, my Everlast heavy bag, mini-trampoline and dumbbells made their annual pilgrimage into the house from the garage for the colder months.  Once again I will try to find balance.  I need to find balance between family, work, art and fitness.  Seems like I can balance family, work and art; and family, work and fitness.   But…when I try to mesh fitness and art with work and family, I can’t quite get them to meld.  I have tried to understand why there is such a disconnect there; I suppose I need to improve on incorporating more activities that make my right hemisphere and left hemisphere work in conjunction with each other.  Just maybe because art is random (right brain feature) and fitness needs structure (left brain feature).   Easier said than done.   I am going to give it a go,  we shall see what transpires…

The Bead House, Bristol RI, January 15th and 16th. Robert will be teaching his ‘The Book IS The Cover’ Faux Bone workshop. Only a couple spots left! Head over to  for detailed class description and to secure your place in this fabulous two day workshop.

In her upcoming book, Jenny Doh has assembled a cadre of artists and asked them to interpret the phrase/statement “art saves”.  Jenny asked us to do this by making an object as well as writing about how and why we think art saves and how we see this going into the future.  We were all also interviewed and Jenny wrote the copy to go along with a photo of the artwork we had done.


Merry Christmas!  On this special day of the year, take a moment to remember those who have lost someone very special and send them thoughts and give an extra hug.  When you are sitting around your table with friends and family, join hands and remember those who have loved ones protecting our freedom, and those who are spending their days needing extra caregivers.  Rejoice in your family, give thanks for beautiful friends, and revel in the wonderment of this special time of year.  ~Judy

Looking for a last minute gift for that special artist on your list or for yourself?  A Gift Certificate is always welcome from Robert’s Real Faux Bone!  Delivered via email, a Gift Certificate from Robert’s Real Faux Bone would  be the perfect gift.  Everyone would agree, we can all use new goodies to play with after the holidays are past us!


Charlie Long from Mission Texas has been using Faux Bone for creating his beautiful scrimshaw pieces.  He also pondered placing his skrimshaw in a bottle, much the same as building a ship in a bottle.  Mr. Long sent me the SIBAA Newsletter which featured his article on scrimshaw in a bottle using Faux Bone.  For some more of Mr. Long’s scrimshaw pieces, check out his page in our Inspiration Gallery!

Tonight I was in the market for some clasp hooks, so I fired up my plumbers style torch.  Indeed, one of those inexpensive propane cylinders and a basic torch head straight from my local home improvement store.  I cut a few lengths of 16 gauge copper wire, balled both ends and pickled them in a 1 to 2 pickle of plain salt and white vinegar.  This mixture does not have to be heated and works beautifully for removing fire scale.  I really like this pickle variation…readily available and non-toxic.  Of course you would need to consult on disposal if the solution is saturated with copper.  I have been using the same pot of solution for a year or more, and it still works great, therefore I have not reached the saturation point yet.   What I am saying is that an artist does not need to own tools and equipment that may be a financial investment to achieve fabulous results.  A trip to your local home improvement store can prove to be  a fabulously inspiring experience.

And,  I have a tendency to look down while walking on a sidewalk, and Madison and I have been known to wander parking lots and of course the beach…we have found some amazing doo-dads and hoo-haas to add texture and funk to pieces.  So, look down while reaching for the sky!

And I am sure you will agree, there is meaning to the term ‘Starving Artist’!  I am  admittably one, I cannot help but create art no matter what, and creating art on a shoestring gives me a wonderful sense of accomplishment.   ~Judy

Thought I would put up a page ‘Meet Robert Dancik’ for those of you who have never had the pleasure to meet him and/or enjoy a workshop with him.  Check out the following link:

Links, links, links!   Send me the  link to your website, online store, blog, etc.  Or, send me (after asking, of course!) the link for a favorite artist.

Another cool deal!  Robert’s book ‘Amulets and Talismans’ is now in it’s second printing!  Waiting on the new batch to be delivered…

Finally did it, linked the blog to NetworkedBlogs.  What took me so long??  I am going to start expanding Robert’s Real Faux Bone blog to include just  plain fun stuff happening in the realm of art; jewelry, sculpture, etc.  Of course Faux Bone will in the loop as there are so many talented artsists using this fabulous medium.  We have and will continue to expand our online store offerings.  Have you tried Robert’s Nearly Indestructible Saw Blades for Metal?  Place an order from during the months of December and January (write a note in the message box) and I will include a sample of these excellent blades so you can try them yourself!

Ever dealt with tables at workshop venues being too low for proper bench pin positioning?  Check out the swivel head bench vise with hardwood bench pin that clamps on to a table top and brings the bench pin up to where it should be!  And…we added drill bits to Robert’s Microfastener Assortment, and are also offering  Robert’s Drill Bit Assortment.  Look soon for a hexagonal steel riveting block too.   And, we have some new kit offerings up our sleeves!!

And…soon to come will be interviews with varied artists using Robert’s Real Faux Bone, but not limited to using it.   Don’t be surprised to see posts that have nothing to do with Faux Bone either.  There is SO much to see out there from a multitide of  talented artists,  I wish to do my part to make sure they are applauded for their creativity and vision.  Stay tuned!

     Check out the newest offering from Lark Crafts;  Jewelry Design Challenge by Linda Kopp.

From Lark Crafts: “ 30 jewelers were given the same nine materials, allowed to choose a wildcard material, and asked to create a one-of-a-kind jewelry design. The brilliant inspirations that resulted produced this dazzling book of 30 creative projects. Featured jewelers include Todd Reed, Thomas Mann, Sara Westermark, Tim McCreight, Robert Dancik, Deb Karash, Candie Cooper, Pauline Warg, Eric Silva, and many more. This is an essential release of the season!  “

Available through, follow the link below

We are gearing up for Art and Soul in Portland OR in October.  Robert is teaching three fabulous workshops. ‘Concrete: It’s Not Just for Sidewalks Anymore’; ‘Faux Bone Spinning Bead Pendant’; and ‘Non-Solder Settings’ .  Check out the workshop page for detail and links to the workshops.

Here it is!  Robert Dancik’s fantastic Faux Bone and PMC ring.  This is a must see!!!

Fabulous new Master Muse Project!  Thanks go out to Tonya Davidson for her brilliant Master Muse Projects in her Design Challenge #26 featured on her blog Musings and Mullings of the Metal Clay Variety.

Five Master Muse Personalities were asked to meld Faux Bone™ with PMC.  This weeks Muse is Ruth Baillie, check out her rings here:

Did you see the fabulous Faux Bone and PMC box designed by Angela Baudel-Crispin??  You need to see this incredibly talented artists’ piece!!

Our new shapes are now available! Have you tried them yet?  What are you waiting for???

Coming soon!  We have three new shapes to add to the circle and rectangle already offered!  Now we have a triangle, oval and square.  Watch for them to be added to  A new finishing process has allowed us to offer these shapes to you sanded and ready to apply the finish of your choice.  Great for charms, to insert into bezels, let your imagination run and have fun!!


A must read interview with Tonya from Whole Lotta Whimsey. Check out the link below for a great read!

There are also some fab pieces featured on Flickr as well as on Facebook , take a look and be inspired!!!/group.php?gid=175609358215.






Latest posts by judyfreyerthompson (see all)

Now available!!  Robert’s New DVD,  “Faux Bone Jewelry Tools and Techniques with Robert Dancik”. 
Expand your jewelry and mixed media art with the unlimited possiblilies of Faux Bone!  Faux Bone is a non-toxic vitrually indestructible material that can have the look of bone or aged ivory.  Since Faux Bone is just that, faux, you know it has not been gathered from any animal species.  In his DVD, Robert opens the door on the tools and techniques for using Faux Bone.   You will find lessons on sawing, sanding, drilling, polishing; adding rivits, microfasteners and combining Faux Bone with resin and metal clay.  You will have the opportunity to create a pendant, carve your original design and add dimension with antiquing and polishing techniques. 

With the tools you already own, and maybe a trip to your local hardware or craft store, you are ready to explore the endless possibilities that await you working with Faux Bone.





Latest posts by judyfreyerthompson (see all)

WordPress Admin