This month my post will be a short one, as I’ve been dealing with the flu and a neverending cough!

For the past few years I have started each year joining a challenge;  A Ring a Week, an Earring a Day, Four a Month.  I’ve never finished one, sad to say. But I continue to join them and push myself to meet deadlines.  I don’t expect that I will ever finish one totally or on time, life generally intervenes.  However, I enjoy them for a number of reasons.  There is a difference in how I think about the work I do for these challenges compared to my day to day studio work.  I teach a lot and have work in a few galleries, so a good percentage of my work consists of class samples and easily repeatable pieces that are cost effective for both myself and my buyers.  Challenges give me a push to create beyond this.  There is also enjoyment in seeing what other people will do within the guidelines of a challenge.  

This year I decided to join Joy Funnell’s challenge A Critter A Week.  I’ve posted four pieces to the group and am up to date thus far.  If you’d like to see what the rest of the group has posted check out their work at



About Mikki

I am a metal clay artist, living in Londonderry, New Hampshire. I teach from my home studio, at Metalwerx in Waltham, Mass and various other venues throughout New England. My work can be found at the shops of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen and local galleries. You can see my examples of work at

Understanding Image Resolution

I work for Metal Clay Artist Magazine as an art and photography editor. One of my jobs is to prepare photographs for print. I see many images that are submitted to the magazine. A problem that comes up many times is a resolution problem—the images are too small and don’t have enough resolution to be suitable for reproduction in the magazine.

Resolution was a very hard concept for me to grasp when I first learned it. I’d like to share with you the way image re-sizing was taught to me that finally helped me understand it. There is another method of image sizing in Photoshop, called “resampling”, that I won’t be discussing here. I’m concentrating this article on re-sizing an image for print.

Every digital image contains a set number of pixels of information that you determine with your camera settings when you capture the image. Once that photo is taken, pretend those pixels are all you will have to work with.
So think of an image like a cube. The cube has volume. Think of the volume as the pixels in the image.

Now let’s say that cube is 2 inches wide by 3 inches high, and the depth is 72 dpi—the resolution of the image. That cube’s volume is 91.1K pixels. For our purposes, that is all the pixels that cube will ever contain.

If we decide to enlarge that image and stretch out the 2 inches by 3 inches to 4 inches by 6 inches, the depth of the cube has to get shorter. So the resolution will drop to 36 dpi.  Remember, in our case, we only have so many pixels in that cube to manipulate.

When you stretch the 2×3 cube to 4×6, the depth (dpi) gets smaller.

If you want to submit photos of your work for print, the resolution of that image usually must be 300 dpi. This is the industry standard for print resolution. If your image’s dpi is lower than that, then the image needs to be large in vertical and horizontal dimensions.

Here is an example—again using our cube idea. We have an image that is 17 by 25 inches at 72 dpi. So our cube is 17 inches wide, 25 inches high, and 72 dpi deep. It has a volume of 6.30M of pixels, and that is a set number for us. Now we want to stretch the resolution, or depth of the cube, out to 300 dpi. When we do that, the width and the height shrink down to approximately 4 inches by 6 inches.

When you squash 17×25 down to 4×6, the depth (dpi) gets greater.

To re-size your image the way we are illustrating, in Photoshop, go to Image—Image Size. You will get the Image Size dialog box. Uncheck the “Resample Image” box. Notice that the width, height and resolution proportions of the Document Size become linked together. Now type in one of the sizes you want to change. It doesn’t matter which one you change, they will all re-calculate according to how many pixels your image has. (If the cube gets stretched or shrunk one way, the rest of the cube adjusts along with it). Then click “OK”.

Notice how the width, height and resolution sizes become linked when the Resample Image box is unchecked.

The width and height sizes change when the resolution is changed.

This article is a brief and simplified overview on image re-sizing for print. As it always is with Photoshop, there is so much more to the topic. Most importantly, be sure when you are preparing your images for submission that you have plenty of pixels to accommodate the necessary 300 dpi resolution needed for print. When you take your photographs, be sure your camera is set to capture a high resolution image.



About Evelyn

I'm a metal clay artist who is learning something new every day. My goal in my work is to make things that are well crafted and distinctively from my own hands, like the work of a good tailor. My jewelry can be found at

Are You A Resolutionary?

Hey all you New Year’s Resolutionaries! It’s that time again. Time to reflect on the year that is ending and think about the new one coming up, resolving to improve this or start/stop that. Make a list of things you want to accomplish, goals you want to reach, things you want to make happen. It’s a ritual you partake in every New Year’s Eve, like watching the ball fall at Times Square for the countdown to midnight.

So how’s that working for ya?

If you’re like most of us, the number of things still unaccomplished at the end of the year far outnumber those accomplished. In other words, it’s not working well. I gave up making New Year’s resolutions many years ago. I got tired of making promises to myself that I didn’t keep. So I stopped. No more lists of goals to be accomplished by December 31st. I was sick of feeling guilty for not achieving them, sick of disappointing myself in such a ritualistic way year after year. Enough. No more.

That’s not to say I don’t reflect on the year that has passed, or ponder the new one starting (or that I don’t have a “To Do” list as long as my arm!). I still do a mental ‘summing up’ of the old year, and think about how I’d like the new year to be. And I consider ways to create that new year for myself, but not with a list of ‘things to do’ or ‘goals to achieve’ or ‘habits to break’.

For this New Year, I would like to concern myself with ‘attitude adjusters’ or ‘brain trainers’. Not things to accomplish and be done with, but states of being to move toward on a permanent basis. I would like to work on my intents, rather than my intentions.

Merriam-Webster defines “intention” as “A determination to act in a certain way. What one intends to do or bring about.” We all have good intentions – the road to heaven is paved with them, right? But having good intentions doesn’t necessarily get the job done.

“Intent” is defined as  “The act or fact of intending.” Or more specifically, “[A] determined and purposeful state of mind accompanying an act… Implies inevitability of a consequence.” ( gives this clear distinction: intention implies “…an intermittent resolution or an initial plan” whereas intent “…implies a sustained unbroken commitment or purpose…”

Intention versus intent. An intermittent (every New Year’s Eve) resolution versus a sustained commitment. A determination to act versus the inevitable result of a state of mind.

The other day, as I was thinking about all of this and starting to write this blog entry, a friend posted something on Facebook that brought it home for me: “Joy is the inevitable result of gentleness” (from A Course in Miracles). Being in a state of gentleness will inevitably result in joy.


And who wouldn’t want that?

So in this New Year, I am going to work on my intents instead of resolutions. And perhaps I’ll start with gentleness.

Katie Hanrahan

About Katie Hanrahan

Making jewelry is my passion. Metal clay is part of that passion and a favorite tool in my toolbox. Each day in my studio I try to challenge myself in some way, to push myself to sharpen my skills, think outside the box, learn new techniques or experiment with new materials in order to grow as an artist. I am part of an artists collective called The Screw Factory Artists and you can see some of my work on our website

Holliday’s regal rough pendant

Claire Holliday

Pendant, 2006. Fine silver, 2 1/4″

This silver pendant from Claire Holliday was the first piece I saw from her work.

I was instantly captivated.

It was on the promotional postcard for the PMC conference 2007 in London, UK. My first ever conference and also the first PMC conference in Europe.

Since then I am a bit on the hunt for work of her. She doesn’t make it easy to find. No website or public profile. She has been the Chair of the Metals Department on the Southwest School of Art & Craft in San Antonio, Texas from 1981 till 2008. Lorena Angulo and Vickie Hallmark have been lucky to be one of her students.

Her work has a textural richness and roughness that I admire highly. She knows how to take advantage of the ceramic qualities Metal Clay has.

Till now I found a few sources where you can see her Metal Clay work and I would like to share them with you.

The book PMC Decade by Tim McCreight
On the cover and page 27, 87, 112, 113, 127, 213 (the pendant pictured here). On you can see the brooch on the cover: “Coba“.

Metalsmith magazine volume 27 nr 3
Front cover and page 45 (the pendant pictured here).
Metalsmith is a publication of the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG).

The year book PMC Guild annual#2 2008
She was one of the jurors together with Maggie Bergman, Holly Gage, & Alan Revere. Two pieces of her work.

Metal Clay Beads 
The book from Barbera Becker Simon. On page 135.

We’re Serious About This
2004 Invitational Exhibition by curator-Barbara Becker Simon.
Page 19, 20, 21, 22.

If you know more places where her work is published, I would love to hear about it in the comments.

Helga van Leipsig

About Helga van Leipsig

Lives and works in The Netherlands. She creates one of a kind and limited edition jewelry that she sells through her website and a few galleries. Exploring the possibilities of metal clay is her passion, one that leads to innovative techniques like using ceramic decals on fine silver. She loves to share her knowledge by teaching metal clay workshops in the south of the Netherlands and presenting at conferences.

From Sketch to Metal with a Computer’s Help

Fourth of a Four Part Series: Designing for Metal Clay

In my series so far, I’ve talked about calculating metal clay shrinkage and enlargement, and then using those calculations to create templates from your sketches. You trace your sketches and enlarge, then cut the templates. These templates are used to cut metal clay and construct your pieces.
The other way I design jewelry and make templates is with my computer.
I don’t use CAD software (used in the industry to create 2 and 3D drawings and models of jewelry designs). My computer-aided jewelry design is much more simple and crude than that. But it works for me and at times I find it extremely useful.
If you are interested in trying this technique, you will need some type of vector drawing software. I use Adobe Illustrator.
To begin with, I usually still start with a sketch on paper. In this case it helps me to get a direction and there’s something about the immediacy of pen to paper that helps my imagination flow freely. Sometimes, I come into the project with such a clear idea that I go directly to the computer to draw it out. Or, if I love my pen-to-paper sketch as it is, I can scan the drawing and trace parts of it if it is necessary to be more accurate than simply tracing the drawing on tracing paper.

My sketch


Once I am ready to plan my piece I use the various drawing tools in Illustrator to draw my piece at actual size. I don’t usually get into a lot of elaborate shading or illustration techniques. In this case I am working out scale, proportion, shapes and construction. Sometimes I only need to draw simple boxes or circles, sometimes it’s a bit more resolved—maybe a little shading just so I can visualize what I’ve got going on.
Another thing I find useful is to place scans, for example a scan of a stone, and trace it with my drawing program. Then I use this traced shape to design a setting for the stone.
I print my drawings often, sometimes cutting things out so I can “hold” the actual piece in my hand or try it on.
Once I’m satisfied that I have the design the way I like it, I make a copy of the drawing. I always keep my original as a reference, and make as many copies of it as I will need. This way I never lose my reference point.
I take the copy and enlarge it to the percentage I need for my clay of choice. This may be all I need to do. I print out the enlargement, cut it out and use it as a template. Usually, though, there are several layers or components to my piece so I need to make another copy—this time of the enlarged drawing—and then I pull the enlarged drawing apart. I place each part separately on the page.

An example of a layout using Illustrator

The finished bracelet.

Now I have all of my shapes, enlarged to the proper size, ready to print and cut out for a template sheet. As I mentioned in my last post, I print on card stock and put packing tape over the back. When cut out, this makes a nice solid template to use with a needle tool for cutting metal clay.
Also, this method can be adapted for making photopolymer plates of artwork, or to send artwork out for being made into a rubber stamp, etc. Remember to use your enlarged version for these purposes. And if your artwork contains lettering or anything that needs to be “right reading”, you will need to flop it over so that your lettering does not come out backward on your final piece.


About Evelyn

I'm a metal clay artist who is learning something new every day. My goal in my work is to make things that are well crafted and distinctively from my own hands, like the work of a good tailor. My jewelry can be found at

Experiments With Copper Inlay

Recently I’ve been experimenting with clays and techniques I haven’t tried before. There has been much discussion elsewhere about the new clays, so I’ll let you know about the results of my inlay experiments.

My first trials were on a few pieces from the “to the refiner” pile; a pair of button earrings and a pair of cufflinks, all Art Clay Silver. In the first earring, I inlaid pure copper and torch fired the piece according to ACW’s instructions. While the clay sintered properly and looks okay, it did have the typical open-air firing oxidation that chipped off, not a look I like. The second earring was inlaid the same way, but fired in charcoal using Hadar Jacobson’s temperature for the second phase of her white bronze . This piece fired successfully, the copper held in the impressions well without chipping.

Next I stamped out two pieces of Art Clay silver to inlay unfired.  The first was inlaid with pure copper and the second with a 75/25 copper/silver alloy made from ACS and ACC. Both of these were fired open air on a bed of charcoal full ramp to 1100 for 10 minutes, then covered with charcoal and full ramp to 1360 for an hour and a half. The pure copper inlay chipped in some areas, while the alloy had no chipping and a nice surface. However, the contrast between the silver and copper/silver alloy was not as strong as I would have liked, although it looked better with an application of Baldwin’s patina. Since the pure copper did not chip from the prefired button earring, I wonder if I should have fired longer or hotter or if my inlaid was not done well and will try this again.

Because the alloy inlay fired better, I decided to try inlay in sterling clay. I made up six test pieces with PMC Sterling; three for inlay in a fired piece and three for inlay in an unfired piece. While firing the 3 pieces to be inlaid in a fired piece, I also fired the cufflinks with the 75/25 copper/silver alloy.

The cufflinks displayed an eutectic reaction between the copper/silver alloy and the fine silver button/sterling shank, forming an unknown alloy due to the high firing temperature, and were now a dull grey, not the copper alloy they had originally been inlaid with. Not being a metallurgist, I might have some of this wrong, but, as I understand it, when two metals are mixed, as in an alloy, it lowers their melting point and an eutectic reaction occurs. Enamelists can see this when using silver cloisonne wire on copper. If the silver sinks through the enamel basecoat and touches the copper, it will form an unknown copper/silver alloy. This was the only time I had a eutectic reaction, and the only time I fired the copper inlay at this high temperature.

For the sterling inlay, I used a two phase firing. All the test inlays in sterling were successful. I got sloppy on one copper/silver batch (late in the evening when I mixed it) that shows some unmixed silver in the copper, but it  sintered properly.  The first fired/unfired inlay pair were pure copper inlay, the second set were 90/10 copper/silver alloy and the third set were 80/20 copper/silver alloy. The unfired sterling inlays have a nice smooth surface, while the prefired sterling with inlay were textured. Both would be effective for different looks.

The unfired sterling bases successfully sintered at the lower temperature. I could not bend the pieces by hand and they were only a tiny bit larger than the sterling fired at the manufacturer’s recommended temperature. I did not try hammering them, but this is something I will try.

Lastly, I decided to inlay some silver into a prefired copper piece and found a reject copper piece and just “smooshed” some silver in it. This was sintered in a single phase firing in carbon to 1360 degrees. Again, a successful firing, in that the silver sintered, but there was some cracking due to shrinkage, which could be filled but wouldn’t be… I now wish I’d picked a nicer piece, as this is rather ugly and a waste of silver.

In most of the experiments, I liked the pure copper look better, but I think all alloys used in a single piece could make a nice shaded piece and this is something I want to try. I can just see a tabby cat sketch done with copper inlay on silver or could I do a sgraffito technique on a layer of copper over silver or vice versa?  Oh, the possibilities!!  I still have experimenting to do – more alloy combinations, different hold times and temperatures, and more trials in pure silver, “homemade” sterling and using Hadar’s copper rather than the ACC clay and will let you know how it all goes.  Please try this yourself, I’d love to see some pictures of your work.

I would like to thank Mary Ellen D’Agostino and Hadar Jacobson for generously publishing information on their experimentation with alloys and firing as without this, I most likely would not have been successful with my inlays if not for their freely given information.


About Mikki

I am a metal clay artist, living in Londonderry, New Hampshire. I teach from my home studio, at Metalwerx in Waltham, Mass and various other venues throughout New England. My work can be found at the shops of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen and local galleries. You can see my examples of work at

Websites – a Presentation at Metal Clay Mojo Retreat

In my last post I mentioned two regional conferences that are being planned for the U.S. next year. Well guess what?! I’m presenting at the Metal Clay Mojo conference next September! My topic is Website Design for Artists.

Yes, the conference is 10 months away but I Really want this to be a useful presentation for you so I’ve been sketching outlines for a few weeks already. What I want to know is What Do YOU Want To Learn About?

Here’s some possible topics to cover (will probably have to choose a subset due to time). What would you prefer, add or remove?

Should you have a website?
What do you want to achieve with your website?
Design tips (Layout, Colors, Branding, Images)

Setting it up
DIY or get help?
Hosting & Domain names
Images – resolution, picture quality, sizes

Next steps
Social Media
Email lists

Keeping it running
Updating content

I realize there’s a wide range of stages where people are ‘at’ with their websites (or lack thereof!) so I’m also interested in finding out at what stage you’re at with your website & what you want your website to do for you.

Kim Paige

About Kim Paige

As a mother of two young girls, a wife and the family breadwinner, I dream and plan for the days when I can spend more time with art and my business. Until then, I squeeze in as much time as I can in my little basement studio with support from my husband. I’m a techno-phile and information-junkie so when I can’t create, I love to stay up-to-date on the latest Metal Clay news. You can find my website at

So You Want To Do An Art Show

I’ve sold my jewelry at art shows and holiday boutiques for about 10 years now.  There’s no quicker affirmation of the work I put into my art than selling a piece.  The idea that someone connects with my jewelry still gets me.  It’s not so much the money…although that helps….it’s the fact that my piece speaks to someone else and they feel good wearing it.

We have quite a few good art shows in Cleveland.  When I started out, these shows were my goal, but initially I knew I was totally out of my league.  So I started out small….really small.  I saw an ad in the local newspaper that artists were needed for an art show in a church.  I sent in my pictures and got accepted.  They provided me with a table and I took a white table cloth and laid my necklaces out for all to see.  I was convinced that I would sell out….everyone there was sure to see what a fabulous artist I was.  I spent 7 hours sitting at my table and sold two necklaces.  One to the promoter and one to the woman who had a table behind me.  They were pity sales.

But I continued on.  At my next show I realized that I badly needed to develop some type of table display.  When I looked around and saw everyone’s creative displays, I was embarrassed to lay my necklaces on the table.  I think I spent most the show trying to sneak a peek at the other displays so I could get ideas.  At one point I pulled out a piece of paper and started to draw table lay-outs.

My third show was a three day Christmas boutique.  At multiple day shows you really get to know the other artists.  So I screwed up my courage and asked another jeweler what advice she could give me.  She was very nice and gave me quite a few suggestions for improving my table display.  The husband of another artist came by and suggested that I invest in better lighting to make the jewelry pop.

So….I very quickly read up booth displays.  I knew that I didn’t want to invest in expensive jewelry cases or pro-panel type set ups early on.  I wanted to find out if I had a chance of getting into the bigger shows before dropping some big bucks on displays.  The first thing I purchased were tables with adjustable legs.  Most of the info I had read talked about buying tables and using PVC pipe to increase the height of the table to 36”.  I found tables that have legs that adjust to three heights: 22”, 29”, and 36”….perfect.  I found that three tables give me enough flexibility to have a variety of arrangements in a 10’ x 10’ space.  Most of the time I use all three tables, sometimes I only use two.

Next…table coverings.  I went to the local fabric store to look at black fabric.  Black makes the jewelry stand out but it’s overdone (in my opinion) and I couldn’t find a nice quality material that would last more than one season and wouldn’t wrinkle.  I walked over to the upholstery section and found an amazing dark greenish brown blend that looks like suede and can be thrown in the washing machine.  It has a little bit of stretch and no matter how tightly I fold it up…it doesn’t wrinkle.  You need a lot of material to cover three 4’ tables.  Plan in advance and purchase when the store is having a sale.  I also lucked out that day in that they were having a 50% off sale.

For lighting I decided to buy professional from the start.  I purchased 6 telescoping halogen lights.  They weren’t cheap.  I’ve had them for 6 years and have only had to replace one bulb.  They look great, they highlight my jewelry and I’ve had a number of artists ask me about them.

For table displays I went to stores like Pier 1 and World Market.  They have an amazing variety of dishes, candle holders, statues, trays and bamboo mats to drape jewelry over.  You could also use cigar boxes or items that you find at antique shows or flea markets.  Just use your imagination.  Look at an item and image what it would look like with jewelry on it.

Now that I had the basics of what I needed to go inside my booth….I needed a tent.  I initially purchased one of the pop-up brands because I didn’t want to spend a lot of money and I wanted something I could put up myself.  It lasted about 3 shows.  It wasn’t easy for me to put it up by myself, it wasn’t water proof, and it twisted out of shape during a wind storm and wouldn’t collapse fully….until my husband gave it a big squeeze and snapped one of the supports.  I needed to get another frame for my tent because I had another show in a few  weeks.  I was unable to get a replacement frame for my pop-up tent so I decided to invest in a professional tent.  This was the best investment I’ve made.  It’s can be assembled by one person, it’s water-proof and it’s very good in storms.  I’ve used it both indoors and outdoors and it has a great re-sale value if I decide to get out of the art show business.

Here is a few pictures of my set-up today.

This didn’t come together in a year…it has been an evolution over about 5-6 years.  I went from a single table with a white table cloth and no displays to this. I worked at coming up with a cohesive style that goes with the jewelry.  The take-away is this….get out there and do it…even if you are doing it with white table cloths and no displays. It won’t be perfect the first time….it will probably never be perfect. I’m always looking for ways to improve my display.  But if I had waited to get it to this point…I would have never done art shows.

In my next post I’ll provide you with some sources for booth displays and a list of items to pack for your art show.


Gail Lannum

About Gail Lannum

My day job is research administration but my making jewelry. I work primarily in bronze and am inspired by ethnic and tribal art. You can see my jewelry at

I’d like feedback on how everyone keeps track of blogging!?

Having joined this amazing group of generous artists who are always willing to share their experiences; I find myself in awe!  Feeling a bit like the redheaded (Feria) step-child here.  I did attempt to blog before and just couldn’t organize the time or … Continue reading

About Donna Lewis

I'm still fascinated by the process that metal clay goes through from its initial form to finished work. A variety of techniques: both unique to metal clay, and standard in traditional goldsmithing; are combined to create some of the most individual signatures in art jewelry today. Absolutely thrilled to see what comes next!

From Sketch to Metal

Third of a Four Part Series: Designing for Metal Clay

In my previous two posts I talked about how to calculate metal clay shrinkage, and how to calculate the enlargement rate of a design to accommodate this shrinkage.

So why do you need to know this stuff? Many metal clay artists have said they have trouble getting their design sketches off the paper and into a 3D reality.

I do a lot of sketching, so I thought I would share my own process for creating templates and building a metal clay piece based on sketching.

Sketching a design is such a great way to work out the particulars of a piece—scale, proportion, texture, and how the piece will be built. (Although I would add that it’s not necessary to get caught up in the construction of the piece just yet…first you should let yourself freely imagine. You can figure out the construction later. Don’t limit your creativity by worrying about “how”).

A sampling of sketches

And some of the finished pieces

Do your drawings at actual size. If you want to make a piece for a certain stone, for example, you can trace the stone and sketch around it. If you have a chain you would like to work with, lay the chain on your sketch and visualize the connection. Working actual size is very important for getting scale and proportion worked out.

So to start with, you will need a sketch that you are satisfied with.  Now you can begin to think about how you will construct the piece. Before you even open a package of clay, mentally picture all the steps you will use to make the piece. Pre-planning is very helpful for success. Not to say disasters don’t still happen, they do! But having the piece well thought out eliminates some of the problems.

Now, lay a piece of tracing paper over your sketch. Trace out the different parts of your piece separately. For example, if you have a large shape for a base and several smaller parts that will overlay or attach, trace each part.

Using the enlargement rate to accommodate the shrinkage of the clay you are working with, take your tracings to a copy machine and make an enlarged copy onto card stock. Or you can scan the image with a scanner (remember to enlarge to the correct size) and print with your printer.

Cover the card stock on the back with clear packing tape, and use a craft knife to cut out the shapes. A neat, clean cut will make for a nicer edge and less sanding on your metal clay piece*. Now you have your templates, properly sized to work with. Roll your clay and use your templates for cutting it out. Build your piece in the method that you thought out ahead of time.

The sketch, tracings and cut-out templates

The finished piece

*Tip: when cutting along a line, keep your eyes looking at the line ahead of where your tool is cutting. Your hand will follow your eyes. You will get a better cut than if you look at the tool.

Next time I will describe how I use my computer to plan a piece.


About Evelyn

I'm a metal clay artist who is learning something new every day. My goal in my work is to make things that are well crafted and distinctively from my own hands, like the work of a good tailor. My jewelry can be found at

Artist Profile – Birgitta Kastenbaum

Okay, I have been stalling, trying to figure out what it is that I can contribute to this blog.. what will make you want to read MY entries on Metal Clay Magic?

The great thing about having a shared blog like “METAL CLAY MAGIC” is that we all have a different voice to share.

Mine? I am the voice of the artist who wants it all but is not sure how to accomplish it, the compulsive designer, great in the studio but challenged by paperwork, organization, deadlines etc. sound familiar?

I am going to let you peek inside my messy (but great) life. I try to balance three children ages 9, 11 and 14 (coffee, chaos, deep breathing, love ), a school teacher husband with big ideas of how to change our schools for the better( hip hip hurray and OH BOY) and an aging home that needs my help constantly (or needs our money constantly) with my deep desire to create and share.

Since being introduced to Metal Clay by Lora Hart six years ago Metal Clay has proven to be the tool I needed to fulfill my dream of creating art jewelry and modern day heirlooms. After years of creating and selling mostly wire wrapped and beaded jewelry and trying a trembling hand at traditional silversmithing, Metal Clay created an explosion of possibilities, my mind is still reeling 6 years later. New possibilities keep presenting themselves and I am addicted to trying them all, combining ceramics, glass, felt, resin, paper, wood and found objects with Metal Clay, what’s next? Sometimes these new techniques started leading their own life for a while, but in the end it always comes back to Metal Clay and the freedom it gives me to express myself.

I’ll be letting you in on the little triumphs and setbacks I have as I try to balance all the different aspects of my life. I promise; no whining, hopefully some “Ahaa” moments, the occasional chuckle and maybe some cries for help.

looking forward to getting to know you all and letting you know me.

Birgitta Kastenbaum

About Birgitta Kastenbaum

With Artwear by birgitta, I hope to bring back a sense of reverence for the objects that adorn us and Metal Clay is my favorite tool for making this happen. Taking inspiration from the small things that make up our personal and collective history I create art jewelry and modern heirlooms. I am never at a loss for new ideas and always have something new on my work bench. Finding the time to bring it all to fruition is my biggest challenge. Originally from The Netherlands, I live in the Mar Vista area of Los Angeles with my husband and three children. I love sharing, learning and growing as part of the metal clay community. You can contact me at any of the following sites in their various chaotic stages of development :)

Artists I Admire

This month, I’ll introduce some a couple of my favorite artists, and probably introduce you to some of other artists that I admire in future posts. I am not going to introduce artists who work in metal clay. I think that anyone reading blogs such as this one already keeps up on the world of metal clay. I’ll introduce you to artists whose work I follow who might not have come to your attention.

The first artist I’d like to introduce you to is Jim Kelso. He’s my hero. To hell with Brad Pitt, I’d like to meet Jim Kelso! His work thrills me. While some of his work is jewelry, a lot is trays, bowls, screens, etc. His work calls to me, as he, like myself, delights in nature and the little things that most people overlook. His work conveys the essence of his chosen subject.  He calls it “Ecstatic Naturalism.” His work has a Japanese influence and he works with a lot of traditional Japanese metalsmithing techniques, as well as Japanese alloys and patinas, balancing the traditional with innovation. His website is






The second artist is Janel Jacobson. Another hero of mine!! She also works in a Japanese style, mainly small carvings and netuskes, but started out carving porcelain. Janel is another who looks at nature’s minutiae. Bugs, worms, frogs and other creatures that most would see no beauty in populate her many carvings and they are beautiful.Her work has texture and detail in abundance.  The more you look at a carving, the more you see.  Her website is Take a look at the work on her numerical list, you’ll be blown away!

Both artists’ work, as well as other artists doing small carving, can be found on Both Jim and Janel contribute information about their new work and encouragement to new artists on this site. I hope you’ll be as excited about their work as I am.


About Mikki

I am a metal clay artist, living in Londonderry, New Hampshire. I teach from my home studio, at Metalwerx in Waltham, Mass and various other venues throughout New England. My work can be found at the shops of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen and local galleries. You can see my examples of work at