Barbara’s Blog – BBD Art Jewelry

Faux Amber, Coral, and Turquoise Revisited…


I spent time this past week replenishing the polymer clay faux amber, coral, and turquoise beads that are included in my “Tibetan Inspired Beaded Rope Necklace” kit. After finishing my task I decided to play with several different shapes…I made turquoise nuggets, chunky coral beads, several amber donuts, and a long amber spindle to name a few. Then I decided that it would be nice to have a really wide amber cuff to compliment my summer wardrobe! I embedded some teeny coral and turquoise nuggets, a fine silver metal clay ammonite, and decorative dots of sterling silver as well. I love this cuff and am so pleased with the fit…measuring 2″ in width, it is very comfortable to wear! The clay I prefer using? Premo! Sculpey™. It is the perfect material for a cuff because it has some pliability and great memory. I can easily slip the cuff onto my wrist because the opening “gives” easily and then returns to its original position. The clay also comes in an extensive array of colors that can easily be blended into custom colors. When I find time, I’m going to make a wide faux coral cuff and perhaps I’ll even mix up some faux jade and ivory!

Lucky Me!


Richard Salley is teaching the Ketoh Bracelet (shown above) workshop in Mineral Point , Wisconsin at Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts on July 22-23 and I’ve signed up for his class! This piece is drop-dead gorgeous and all the materials including the large turquoise stone are included in the kit fee.  All I have to do is show up with a few hammers and jewelry-making tools and enjoy two days of creating!  I took a class from Richard at Bead&Button several years ago…he’s a great teacher and I learned how to forge some really nifty stamping tools in that class. If you live within driving distance to Mineral Point and love jewelry, you really should consider signing up for this class!  But hurry because his classes fill up really fast!  Incidentally, Mineral Point is a charming little town with several art galleries and great restaurants. In fact, my husband is joining me and will visit the galleries and shops while I’m in class…win-win!

As Usual…

What I liked best about the Bead & Button Show was a class taught by Susan Lenart Kazmer! Over the past years I’ve taken several of her classes and they always inspire me to get back in the studio and work with metal and resin! “Resin, Relics, and Ancient Artifacts: Casting Resin” is the class I took last week. It was only three hours in length so there wasn’t enough time to complete a piece, but we explored mold-making and I left class with several molds and two cast resin components. Although I have been working with resin off and on for several years, I learned tips and tricks and discovered endless possibilities for making unique art forms by applying paint, mixing in alcohol inks, and altering the finished resin casting with carving!  Upon arriving back in my studio, I couldn’t resist the temptation to get out my Ice Resin®, molding compound, inks and dyes, paints, accent powders, and ephemera and start to play! I love the large urchin and stone castings.  These measure over 2″ in diameter and will be wonderful focal pieces used in pendants and/or brooches! The upper left and lower right components in the above photo measure a little over 1″ in diameter and have been accented with inks and paint. The center component contains a 27mm Swarovski Crystal…the photo doesn’t show the depth and brilliance, but it truly looks like an orange opal! The lower left and upper center components are faux quartz crystals. I plan to use them as focal “stones” in rings!  And what did I do with the resin heart-shaped component I brought home from class?
I used it as a focal in this pendant! My mixed-media “Talisman” Pendant is composed of polymer clay (twig and serpents), fine silver and bronze metal clay components, sterling silver wire, carnelian, green jasper, and resin! 

I’m Back…

It was a whirlwind trip to the Bead&Button Show…a four hour drive to Milwaukee on Thursday and a repeat back home on Friday.  I solely went to just do some floor show shopping and to take a class with Susan Lenart Kazmer (more about the class in my next post!).  Attendance at last year’s show was down considerably…this year attendance was down even more.  Several years ago there were well over 500 vendors at the show, but this year it seemed there were about half that amount. Sadly, many of the vendors who have really unique and interesting wares to sell were absent. In the past attendees were tripping over each other and sometimes one couldn’t even get close enough to see what a vendor was selling!  No problem this year…you could have thrown a bowling down an aisle and not a single person would have to jump out of the way!  Granted, I was only there for two days so I hope traffic picked up over the weekend when the show is open to the public.  Below is my stash from the floor show…very little compared to what I brought home from previous shows.


Here are a few highlights from the Bead Dreams display on the floor show…

This colorful bead-embroidered neckpiece was created by Sherry Serafini.


“The Beauty in the Bees” neckpiece below won Best in Show for Tatiana Fitzpatrick.

Below is Amy Johnson’s “Secret Garden” bead-embroidered neckpiece.

One can only imagine the hours that went into the creation of these pieces.  

And can you believe the crystal-studded Porsche shown below!

I’ll post a show and tell about my class with Susan Lenart Kazmer later!

Goin’ Shoppin’….

My contest entries have just been returned and thanks to Fire Mountain Gems & Beads and a $150 gift certificate (the silver medal award for the bracelet I entered in the 2017 Metal Jewelry Contest), I’ll be doing a bit of online shopping! Over the past few months I’ve been perusing the FMG catalog online and putting goodies in my shopping basket…I’ll continue to do so until I return home from the Bead and Button show, which is being held next week. Prudence tells me to wait and see what I find there before placing an order because I always come back to the studio with various treasures I’ve found at the show. Aside from beads, I keep an eye out for beautiful tools and new equipment that I feel is a “must have”! I’m fairly well stocked on most of the materials I use in my work so whatever I purchase at the show will be something rather unique and/or special that I can’t find online. Many vendors offer “Show Specials” with lower pricing and of course, being able to hand-select pearls and gemstones is always preferable to ordering and having someone in a warehouse choose for you. Gary Wilson always has his gorgeous gemstones at the show and since he doesn’t have an online shop, this is my chance to find some unique Drusies and other stones. Undoubtedly my next post will be a “show and tell” of my purchases and a report on the class I’m taking with Susan Lenart Kazmer. Best of all, I always return from the show with my creative juices flowing and great ideas for new works!

A New Tutorial!


I’ve received so many inquiries from fellow polymer clay enthusiasts who love my “Matisse Inspired Cutouts” Earrings  as to whether a tutorial for making them is available and here it is! The tutorial contains over twenty full-color process photos and step-by-step instructions for making the polymer clay components as well as creating drop earwires and hoops from stock sterling silver wire…you’ll never have to buy commercially made earwires again!  I love Art Jewelry and consider each earrings a wearable mini-sculpture! 

For those of you who don’t work with polymer clay but love the “Matisse Inspired Cutouts” earrings, I presently have thirty-four one-of-a-kind earrings listed in my Etsy shop. Although the earrings are asymmetrical, the colors and themed of the components coordinate beautifully! Each earring is priced individually so you can mix and match to your heart’s desire!

You My Be Wondering…

Have I abandoned beadwork? Absolutely not!  And I promise to get back to beading eventually, but my creative muse has the upper hand and at the moment she is dictating that I continue designing with polymer clay cutouts.  Do you know the story of “The Red Shoes”?  A ballerina sees a beautiful pair of red satin slippers in the cobbler shop window and when the cobbler presents them to her and places them on her feet, she starts to dance and cannot stop.  She dances continuously and eventually dances herself to death!  While I seriously doubt that creating earrings will result in my demise, these colorful polymer cutouts keep calling to me to make another pair!  Each playful earring is a flight of fancy leading to the next design and the design after that!  Thus far, I’ve made over thirty one-of-a-kind mix and match “Matisse Inspired Cutouts earrings and the designs continue to evolve.  I’ve kept several  for myself, but the others are can be found in my Etsy shop!

Back in Working Order…

My hydraulic press has been out of service for several months. After 26 years of service, the ram was leaking oil like mad and the pressure gauge had “given up the ghost”.  A new Bonny Doon ram with gauge is quite expensive, but what good it to have an unusable press?  Besides, I really wanted to use the press again so I “bit the bullet” and shelled out $380 plus shipping for a replacement. I’m confident this new ram will most likely outlast me!  If you’ve read my recent blog posts, you know that I’ve been working on collections of polymer clay Matisse Inspired “Cutouts” earrings , which I absolutely love to make and wear, but I’ve wanted to add metal cutouts to the mix as well!  Using a die and hydraulic press to cut out a shape is definitely faster and far less labor intensive than sawing the shape out by hand, plus you get consistent results when producing multiples.  Below are my first sterling silver cutout shapes using the new ram with several of my Potter USA dies.  It certainly is wonderful to have my press back in working order!

It Started in March…

After months of winter gray and white I needed some color in my life! Polymer clay came to the rescue as I made colorful flowers and used them in a bead-embroidered collar, which I entered in Fire Mountain Gems “Creative Clays” contest (thus far it has made it to the second round of judging).  Wanting to continue working in a floral theme, that project was followed by my “Fleurs et Papillon” cuff. Now, spring has finally arrived and each day flowers and ferns are emerging both outdoors and in my studio! The vivid colors of the cutouts Henri Matisse created in the later years of his life are inspiring my latest works. I so love the pair of blue and green asymmetrical polymer cutout earrings that I made two weeks ago that I just had to make more! This collection is the result of my toil…or should I say play because these were really delightful to create! No two earrings are exactly alike, but they all coordinate beautifully! I find mixing and matching jewelry to be great fun! On any given day I might wear a hoop earring on one ear and a long dangle on the other or I’ll wear just one earring leaving the other ear bare. Do you do that too? I’ve decided to sell these earrings individually rather than in a set for that very reason! You’ll find these in my Etsy shop!  Here  are a few closeup photos from my One-of-a-Kind Matisse Inspired Polymer Clay Cutout Earrings collection…Enjoy!

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