What I Learned from Susan Lenart Kazmer

Mike Models Susan’s Bracelet

If you read this Blog last week, you know that I was heading down to Damascus, MD to take a class with Susan Lenart Kazmer at Polymer Clay Express. The two-day class was fantastic. Here’s some of the things I learned:

I learned how to drill a hole in a stone.slk4
I learned how to fabricate a cone out of metal.
I improved my torch enameling skills.
I learned how to make and use different kinds of rivets.
I  learned a cool way to put a red patina on copper.
I  learned how to preserve found items like paper and twigs with resin and incorporate them into my jewelry.
I  saw an ingenious way to make hinges that I’m going to try because now I am more confident in my sawing skills and I think I can do it!
I  saw how to make dapped forms to turn into cool rings and pendants.
I  learned new ways to incorporate fiber with beads and metal.

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Now every day the sidewalk holds more treasure than ever before.

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Thanks Susan for teaching this class and Terri for telling me about it and giving me a ride! 

Appointment in Damascus (Maryland)

I’m off to Polymer Clay Express at The Artway Studio to take a class in Creating Objects and Elements in Jewelry with Susan Lenart Kazmer. If you’re not familiar with Kazmer, she wrote  Making Connections A Handbook of Cold Joins for Jewelers and Mixed-Media Artists.

I’ll let you know about the class in a later post.   In the meantime, check out Kazmer’s Blog  and her on-line store, Objects and Elements where you can buy her remarkable book, supplies, and watch her great instructional videos.

A New Polymer Clay

robindemoRobin Milne    introduced her fellow members of the The Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild to a brand new clay at our last meeting!   Robin had been tapped to introduce Pardo Jewellery Clay manufactured by German Company Viva Decor at the Winter CHA Show in Anaheim, and she came back with clay samples and brochures.  What could be better?



Pardo Jewellery Clay comes in gumball-sized pieces packaged in 2.7 oz jars.  Robin said it has no odor when  raw or baking and it’s easy to condition.  It uses beeswax as a plasticiser in place of phthalates.

But is it durable?   Robin was  able to run it through her pasta m31achine on the thinnest setting without tearing and, when it was baked, she could tie it in a bow.  She could bend a cured bookmark-shaped piece of clay in a circle without breaking it.  Although the clay is on the soft side, she could produce decent canes with it.  And she was able to sand and buff it to a high shine.

Pardo Jewellery Clay comes in a beautiful range of jewel-toned colors, and the metallics contain plenty of mica. The manufacturer, Viva Decor,  says it can be mixed with other brands of polymer clay without a problem.  

Poly Play Clay, is  the only retail supplier I know of at the current time.  They don’t carry all of the 64 colors of Pardo Jewellery clay yet. Owner Trish Hodgens says that eventually,  however, they  plan to carry every color Viva Decor makes available to the United States Market.

Robin also recommends another Viva Decor product: Precious Metal Paints.   She’s tried thse high quality paints on raw and baked clay; they don’t scratch off and cover beautifully.  When the paint is applied to raw clay, allowed to dry, and run through the pasta machine, it crackles like metal leaf.  The mica in the pain is so small, you can use the paint for screen printing. And, Robin says, “the colors are amazing!” 

If you want to see what Robin has done with Pardo Jewellery Clay and Precious Metal Paints, press here.

I don’t know if anyone in the United States currently selling the Precious Metal Paints, but you want more information on them, check out U.K. supplier The Fruit Pixie.



Ray Kremzner Goldsmith and Bladesmith

Ray and Raoul
Ray and Raoul

Ray  was first and foremost a bladesmith.  I’m sorry I don’t have pictures of his museum quality knives to show you. Most of them are in private collections.  Ray had been interested in metal working all his life, taking his first jewelry class in high school.  He wanted to be a jeweler, but his father was mortified that any son of his should sit at a bench and work with his hands.  Never mind that Ray had talent, intelligence and a desire to find his own voice-his career plans didn’t fit in with his father’s myth.

Ray and Shari
Ray and Shari

His parents split up when he was two and his parents remarried and had new families .  There was no place for Ray. He was on his own from an early age,  but he had a way about him that made people invite him into their families almost everywhere he went. Ray settled down with my sister-in-law Shari, pictured on the left around 1993. Phil and Sandeye Jurus, who own Baltimore’s Jurus Gallery which carries some of Ray’s work, became like second parents to him. Ray always managed to appear right when Sandeye was cooking something. My own mother adored him and wanted to have her picture taken on his motorcycle.

About three years ago, Ray heard that his father had died. I think this liberated him somehow, because he started making jewelry again-this time in earnest. He also started a job as a machinist working with high tech metals for the defense industry. The proprietor and his boss was Sam who was also like a second father to him.

Here is some jewelry Ray made for Shari.


In August 2007, an SUV turned in front of him as he rode his motorcycle to work. Even though he was rendered a paraplegic, he and Shari were determined to get on with their lives when he got out of the hospital. Shari moved their belongings to a wheelchair friendly apartment. Friends offered to build him a wheelchair accessable jeweler’s bench. His friend Kelly planned to teach him how to use precious metal clay. But since the accident, he suffered from constant bed sores and MRSA infections. He never did leave the hospital. His body finally gave out and he died in April, 2008.

Those who truly knew Ray knew he was a complicated man who struggled with serious demons all his life. But they loved him anyway. I suppose this is what you call unconditional love.

I have some of Ray’s jewelry tools now and I will think of him whenever I use them. But most importantly, I am again reminded that for anyone who is hurting because he was denied unconditional love when he needed it most,  his pain will be healed if he can find the courage to give love unconditionally.

My New Hat

     Life has its ups and downs.  Sometimes a girl’s just gotta get herself a new hat.  I got this great hat from The Hats You Want Then I decided to dress it up for the summer with ribbon and some fabric flowers. I love it because it is crushable, packable and so very me.

Bob’s Urban Garden 2008

I wrote about my neighbor Bob’s Urban Garden last year.
Since then, he’s built a wooden Koi pond complete with solar lights that keep it lit at night. Three of the Koi fish from last year are back and bigger (literally!) than ever. They have smaller Koi fish and two turtles to keep them company. Bob’s added a new ceramic fountain, Lilly pads, and an additional wooden tub of flowers in front of our house to give it badly needed curb appeal. Loki the cat is still around checking under cars for hapless pigeons. Barbara the Macaw had a good time mugging for the camera. While I was taking pictures, several people stopped by to admire.

Enjoy the slide show.

Ancient Patinas

     Here are some new  twists on  polymer clay surface techniques I have been working on.   You can see some earlier incarnations in the Keepsake Memory Book I demonstrated on HGTV, and my work in Ellen Marshall’s Polymer Clay Surface Design Recipes. More to come.

Life’s Rich Fabric

I have boxes of old family photographs that bring back memories every time I look at them. But the women in my family preserved the family history  with different materials.  They sewed, knitted, crocheted, tatted, and quilted.

In my living room an afghan my maternal grandmother Emma crocheted is draped over a chair. Over another chair is a patchwork quilt my paternal grandmother Mattia pieced together from her bag of fabric scraps collected over the years. My mother Rosemary, who is still living, was a marvelous seamstress and I treasure her Singer Slant-O-Matic from the early ’60’s. Clothes she made for me still hang in my closet, and I have scads of towels and aprons she embroidered.

My mother-in-law Vicky, who died earlier this month, was also an accomplished seamstress. She made beautiful jackets for a few lucky women in the family (including me) from vintage velvet, lace, and her stash of fabric scraps. I wear mine on special occasions. I was fortunate  to have  inherited her sewing machine.  I will remember her every time I use it. 

Here are some pictures.








Ways of Remembering

   One of the goals of my blog is to examine history, personal history and the bigger kind, to  see how it impacts our lives, art and creativity.   We tend to think of history as something that happens far  from us-maybe we catch some of the ripples-but we believe that unless we are very important people or happen to be at a particular place in time, we are never a part of history or a witness to history.  We remain unaware of the effect history has in shaping our personality and lives.

     I started to examine all of this when I began to delve into the story of my family and  interview war veterans about their experiences.  I knew when I spoke to them that I would never get the whole story.  How could I?    It’s terrible to remember such things much less give them new life by saying them out loud, and  to a person without a shared experience.  Few of us would dare make ourselves that vulnerable.

      But it was on this this journey that I began to understand how  much of my creativity, my need for a rich fantasy life and my personality comes from my childhood, which was shaped in large part by  my father’s personality. I knew he served in World War II, but not much more.  Then I came upon this quote from the last chapter of The Lord of the Rings.  J.R.R. Tolkien was a World War One veteran and  there is a controversy on whether The Lord of the Rings  was influenced by his war experiences.  This quote erased all my doubts and  clarified so much of my father’s personality for me.  This, in turn,  helped me to understand myself better.  

     “But,” said Sam,  and the tears started in his eyes, “I thought you were going to enjoy the Shire, too, for years and years, after all you have done.”

     “So I thought too, once.  But I have been deeply hurt, Sam.  I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me.  It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger; some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them… [Keep] alive the memory of the age that is gone, so that people will remember the Great Danger and so love their beloved land all the more.  And that will keep you as busy and as happy as anyone can be, as long as your part of the Story goes on.”

Frodo speaking to Sam Gamgee, in The Grey Havens, last chapter of The return of the King,  the third book of the Lord of the Rings.

     I could see from living with my father that he was “deeply hurt,” and began to understand why.    I also began to understand how my personality, creative and otherwise, developed as a way to cope with his.   The whole process is, of course, much more complicated,  but this should be enough to give you an idea.

    On this Memorial Day Weekend 2008, take some time to examine how the experiences of your family members influenced your life and creativity.    The answers are not always obvious and you have to dig deep.   Do not be afraid to dig.  Prepare to be surprised.




Arlene Groch: Polyaddict

 Let Arlene Groch’s story be a warning to all of you. “My totally out of control addiction to polymer clay had such an innocent birth in September, 2004”, she recalled. “I bought some clay and a couple of books to share an activity with my 8 year old grandson. He was mildly interested; I was hooked. Within a month I had decided to give up my 30 year career as a trial attorney so I could devote most of my time to playing with clay and attending workshops and classes. I set myself a one year goal of learning enough to be able to begin to develop my own style.”  To see more of Arlene’s one of a kind Mezuzah cases and jewelry, go to her site,PolyGemDesigns.