Non-traditional, non-precious materials

I was just telling someone the other day that one of the things I
wish I had some of the multi-colored iron slag I used to find
around the old 19th-century iron forges. It came in shades of blues
and greens and was striped like agate. I don't think anyone ever
made jewelry out of it. Cut into cabochons, it would have been

On the contrary- it has been cut into cabs and jewelry has been made
of it. And still is. At least in Scandinavia but the jewelers using
it tell me that lots of it sells overseas (meaning the US). And they
turn out quite beautifully, doesn’t look at all like a waste product!


Hi sam,

I do incorporate precious material along with the non precious.

Please visit my website at or It will be updated in the next couple weeks.

Take care, Andy

To All:

Please send us images. Hi resolution digitals via email or burned to
a CD. Innovative use of any material is always inspirational and
worth the effort.

Nice use of the word “myth” especially if it refers to the use of
metaphor to transcend mundane existence. Traditional materials
continue to hold those metaphors, both cross-culturally and
trans-generationally. But look at the recently discovered 100,000
year old shell beads. Because they are beads are they non-precious? I
don’t think so.

Where traditional and precious materials serve their purpose is:

  1. when the purchaser has an expectation of intrinsic worth,
    longevity or durability of the piece in relation to its price.

  2. where the craftsperson has a great deal of skilled labor invested
    and they want to justify the cost to possible purchasers.

  3. when the materials offer workable or archival properties not
    found in any other material.

Nanz Aalund
Associate Editor / Art Jewelry magazine
21027 Crossroads Circle / Waukesha WI 53187-1612
262.796.8776 ext. 228

I wish I had some of the multi-colored iron slag I used to find
around the old 19th-century iron forges. It came in shades of blues
and greens and was striped like agate. 

Coming along a bit late (as usual), but I wanted to add that I’ve
bought several cabs of this lovely material at local gem & mineral
shows. It is glassy, with a transparent to greenish body color and
stripes of opaque light blue, some of which are close enough together
to give a shimmering effect - very agate-y and quite pretty.

It was sold under the name “Swedish Blue.” Happy to send pix or
contact info for the seller to anyone interested, off list.


Jessee Smith
Cincinnati, OH

Hi August,

(Tried your personal email address, my laptop would not send to

Sorry it’s taken me this long to respond. I love all the comments
from the orchid people. It’s nice to know there is a small faction
of die-hard designers who “embrace” losing money for the sake of the
art… okay “embrace” was the wrong word. “Accept”.

Tesora has made not one cent – and it has nothing to do with the
fact that it’s a website – it’s just that we are both so involved
with other things - jobs, life, you know - to maintain and add to
it. Of course it also could have something to do with the fact that
people might not like what they see.

As far as how I got my work into boutiques: I researched on-line
boutiques in areas that I knew I would be visiting last summer -
made appointments with ones that I liked and that were willing to see
my work - and took a deep breath each and every time I walked into
one. It’s really horrible putting yourself out there, but you must do
it. A few places loved my work and bought some pieces outright. A few
places were not interested at all, and one place tried some on
consignment. I’ve had stuff sent back to me though – now that is
depressing. So, getting the work in is hard but feasible - keeping
it there is another thing. Remember, too, that the shop usually takes
40% commission.

I will always think of myself as artist / designer, no matter what
the scale or medium. I am enjoying the functional aspect of the
jewelry and can’t imagine stopping, even if no one ever buys another
piece. But oh man, that would be terrible! All my inventory! I don’t
want to become someone who gives up and ends up selling all my stock
of great stuff on E-Bay!

I’ve been flat on my back all summer due to an embarrassingly clumsy
fall down my deck steps, carrying a big plant. Broke some tiny bones
connected to my vertebrae. So no gardening, no driving (to look at
junk stores!). Currently I’m re-thinking things like closures – have
to re-do every one of my finished pieces – and there are about a
hundred, no kidding. That is my least favorite part, the closures –
although I can imagine actually getting involved with the design of
just the clasps… maybe that should be my next project…

It’s difficult being a student and working outside of school - I did
that as a student. Now, years later, I am a professor teaching at a
private art college.

Keep going,

Hi Deborah,

Ouch! Your fall sounds very painful, I hope you feel better soon and
can get back to doing the things you love. I really appreciate your
advice about approaching stores. One day (hopefully after I graduate)
I will get my nerve up and actually call and set up appointments with
some buyers. I’ve been clipping store advertisements and write-ups
out of magazines for awhile now, I just feel…afraid to try. So
silly, especially from me who has never backed down from anything
else. This one just kind of freaks me out. I know I just have to bite
the bullet and do it. The first one will probably terrify me, but
after that, I know it will get easier. You know it’s funny what you
said about accepting the unprofitability of what I do. I had to
laugh. At one time, when I believed that I was heading for a career as
a designer, I couldn’t accept it. It really was too much for me. The
stress of trying to make enough by hand to sell, putting the pieces
out there, trying to sell, etc nearly knocked me off my feet. I
couldn’t handle it. It was the one thing I attempted in my life, that
was too much for me to handle. That’s when I decided I wasn’t in this
for the money. I couldn’t be. I don’t have what it takes. At the end
of the day, I am a “maker of pretty things.” I have learned to be
okay with that. I went back to school for psychology and I graduate
next spring. This is just my hobby now. It’s nice because my jewelry
pays for itself and I enjoy it so much more. Trying to be a business
made me hate it. Relegating it to “art for art’s sake” made it a joy
again. Am I still an artist? I would have to say yes. Thanks for all
the advice. Get well soon!

Augest Derenthal
Cry Baby Designs

I just feel....afraid to try. So silly, especially from me who has
never backed down from anything else. This one just kind of freaks
me out. 

hello Augest, just a thought - i think the difficulty in this comes
down to the fact that as an artist, you are putting yourself in your
work, so it’s like exposing your self totally to public gaze. Take
heart, you do get used to it, and after a while you might even find
it liberating. After all, art is about communication. enjoy,


Thanks, Christine. I’m getting more used to the idea as time goes by.
I’m never one to give up or shy away from things, so I know it is
inevitable that I will make some appointments with buyers eventually.
I truly appreciate the advice and you are right, it is fear of
artistic rejection and nothing more.

Augest Derenthal
Cry Baby Designs