Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Turning Faux Bone Beads with Flemming

My apologies for my long absence. I've been on the road teaching and meeting so many wonderful people. Something had to give. But now I'm back and am excited to feature some students in the next few blogs who share my same reckless spirit.

This September, I had the extreme pleasure of teaching at the Art Clay Festival held at Creative Glass just outside Zurich, Switzerland. My friend Robert Dancik, founder of Faux Bone, was scheduled to teach but unfortunately had to have last minute back surgery (he reports he is doing much better and is already back at his bench working on some new concrete kits he has planned for in 2013). I was thrilled when he asked me to step in, and while I could never fill his shoes (clogs suit him way better than they suit me), I looked forward to the experience of teaching to a group which, in large part, spoke little English.

I could spend the next year blogging about this trip, the kind hospitality of Erna and Harry Sowersby, the unbelievable success of the well-planned and executed event, and the amazing people I met from all over Europe, including artists from the UK, Cyprus, Austria, Hungary, Germany, and Denmark among many other countries. I was pleased to walk away feeling like I created some new Faux Bone ambassadors as well as friends. I already have a collaborative project planned with metal clay artist extraordinaire Joy Funnell (but more on that later)!

Everytime I teach, I learn something: a new technique, something about myself or a new way to teach. On this trip, I was shown a clever trick by a lovely gentleman name Flemming Sorensen from Denmark. Clearly an accomplished jeweler, it was fascinating to watch how he approached working with Faux Bone. He spoke very little English, I speak no Dutch, but it really didn’t matter at all. I think we learned from each other quite well without any spoken words.

Flemming showed me how to turn Faux Bone beads. He cut a half inch square of ¼” thick sheet and drilled a hole in the center. He then mounted the square on a screw mandrel. He placed the mandrel on the flexshaft and, as it was spinning, used his metal file to slowly shape the piece. Depending on the angle and placement of the file, he created round beads, tube beads and oval beads, quickly and neatly. He used tiny tubes to separate the bangles he formed together in his stunning cuff (below).

He warned to watch that you don’t push too hard as you can bend the mandrel and risk pulling it from the flexshaft, flinging it across the room, but other than that precaution, it was an elegant solution. It reminded me very much of how Andy Cooperman works with a flexshaft (which I do believe I have raved about several times in this blog already). 

Thanks Flemming for agreeing to share your trick with us! 


  1. I hope you teach a faux bone class at The Ranch, I'd love to learn more.

  2. Wow, Melissa! I've been bugging Robert for Faux Bone beads for awhile! Now I can make my own! Awesome blog!

  3. wow I love how we learn from our students as well.What a awesome technique to learn.

  4. Wow, so elegantly simple, yet I would not have thought of that, so cool!

  5. Melissa reading this post I felt like I was there again in Switzerland. Hope we meet again!!

  6. What a great opportunity to hang with some students with a different view! Now I have another cool thing to do with my flex shaft, it's becoming my BFF.