Community, Mixed Media, Specialty Workshops

Concrete Jewelry? Why Not!

By Tegan Wallace

Brooch, Michael Nashef

Contemporary jewelry is known for its inclusion of a wide variety of materials beyond metal and stones. The value of contemporary work often comes from the story told in a piece, the intent, and the personal connection to a particular aesthetic.  Today, artists have the freedom to select materials that help tell their stories, whether in gold, silver, or everyday materials that we may take for granted. 

One such material is concrete. Concrete is a blend of aggregates (gravel, sand, etc) and cement (a binding agent made up of calcium, silicon, aluminum, iron and other ingredients). Concrete used in jewelry is comprised of very finely ground aggregate and binder that can be mixed in very small batches. It can be manipulated in a variety of ways including colored, and, to get technical, it’s a really awesome jewelry material. Here are a few of the highlights. 

  • Concrete is much lighter than stones, resin, or polymer (just binder and very fine aggregate after the water evaporates). This is particularly important when making larger works.  
  • Concrete is less messy and potentially toxic than plastic resins (It does, however, contain silica and also ingredients that can irritate the skin. Be sure to wear gloves and, if using a large enough amount to raise dust, use a mask. Safety first!). 
  • Concrete can be cast and shaped. It can be poured into bezels or cast in molds – silicon or DIY versions made from cardboard and tape. It can be carved with course files or rasps after several hours of drying time. When it has more fully set up, it can be refined and polished with wet/dry sand paper (Again, remember that concrete contains silica – wear a dust mask if you’re creating airborne dust!). 
  • Concrete can be colored. While basic grey has a great industrial look, it’s also possible to add powdered pigments, chalk, and even latex paint to concrete to give it a wide variety of hues. Concrete can also be gold leafed, either by placing leaf in a mold before pouring or by using adhesive after it cures. 
Bracelet, Frances Smersh

It’s important to note that concrete has been used by well-known jewelry artists for decades. Seattle’s own Frances Smersh made her beautiful line of architectural jewelry using silver, colored concrete, and pearls.  

Jeweler Jim Cotter has been using concrete for decades. He said he was inspired by the idea of “Taking industrial materials and breaking [them] down and maybe making it precious…[concrete]’s a logical kind of material to use because it has no boundaries and it has an incredible amount of beauty.”

Ring, Jim Cotter

Canadian jeweler Andrew Goss began working with concrete in the late-1970s, saying “The motivation of the concrete is a reaction against preciousness.” His works include diamonds submerged in concrete and cast concrete pendants covered in gold leaf. 

Brooch, Michael Nashef

Bringing concrete into the present day is artist Michael Nashef. He uses vibrantly colored concrete and 3D printed elements to create incredible works influenced by architecture and the destructive nature of war. He also happens to be teaching a workshop on concrete at Danaca Design this weekend! Among the topics Michael will cover are ways to color and to mold concrete, as well as mold-making techniques.  

I’m incredibly excited for this workshop. Concrete looks cool and is a very accessible material (nothing more frustrating than taking a workshop where the materials are so esoteric that they’re hard to source…). The colors Michael uses in his work are as stunning as the forms he creates. My head’s already spinning with all the questions and the possibilities the material presents. This workshop is one of those experiences that feels like it’s going to be transformative. I’m told there are one or two seats left – you should definitely sign up. 

Workshop details HERE. 

Necklaces, Michael Nashef

Danaca Design is also hosting a Jewelry Pop-up with Michael Thursday evening, September 22 in the Gallery SHOWROOM. Check out his work and meet the artist! 

Find details HERE! 

Community, Gallery Event

Trade Show Trades

Notes from an interview with Micki Lippe about her collection of Art Jewelry Trades 

by Claire Ramsey  

A craft trade show is a marketplace where wholesalers can purchase and order objects to sell in their shops and galleries, and where regular shoppers can shop on retail days. The American Craft Council shows are a well-known example, particularly the Baltimore and San Francisco shows, although ACC now holds shows in various places, and even online. Micki Lippe’s first trade show was the Baltimore ACC show and thus began her extensive collection of art jewelry. 

Micki learned about the Baltimore ACC show through a fellow artist when she lived in Charlottesville and had a studio set-up in a building shared by multiple artists. That Baltimore show featured about 800 exhibitors showing a range of crafts, from jewelry to ceramics, clothing, toys, and puppets. She recalls two very busy wholesale days – she took between $35,000 and $50,000 in orders and shipped up to $100,000 in orders afterwards because of her repeat customers. Three wholesale days followed the two retail days, although some retail shoppers re-invented themselves as wholesalers by passing out business cards they’d had printed as if they owned businesses.  

Artists were juried into the show the old-fashioned way, by submitting professionally shot slides of their work, and then checking their mailboxes every day for an acceptance letter. Once accepted they were assigned a spot at the show venue – a chalked off space on a concrete floor. Artists had to bring everything for their stalls – carpet, vitrines, lights, Sears utility shelves and fabric to hide their industrial look, and various ways to display their goods. Micki tells of stuffing “Mr. Carpet” into her car from the dashboard to the back window, hauling Abstracta display cases, driving to shows, and inventing such things as layers of plexiglass shards (shattered by her own hands) and expensive plexiglass balls as settings for displays. Artists often brought their families along to shows. Micki paid her kids when they worked for her at shows, and at one show Micki’s daughter Tanya, at age 12 reportedly “made trouble” with the other kids because she told them about her paycheck.  At one show w/o awnings in Virginia the summer heat and humidity turned her jewelry into “little branding irons.” 

Micki sold at trade shows in Rhinebeck NY, Baltimore, Dallas, and San Francisco, and at smaller outdoor shows, and eventually flew to trade shows with her wares and her display equipment. At one show, a group of well-off appearing women showed their business cards, and looked over her goods, gushing that they loved her jewelry. One of them stayed at Micki’s stall and pored over her jewelry. When the other women returned and asked their friend what she had ordered, she reported “I didn’t order anything because I have a closet full of clothes with Peter Pan collars and none of the necklaces would look good with my clothes. I need clothes like hers,” pointing to Micki who that she was wearing a kimono type top she’d bought for $10.00 someplace.  

When shows were slow on retail days, artists would start trading. Wholesale days were usually busy but when things slowed down, there was time to wander through the stalls and see what other artists were doing. Trades were always based on the value of the pieces. An artist would say “I like that, do you want to trade?” and they would negotiate. Micki displayed a variety of pieces with a range of prices, and traded mainly pairs of earrings from her production lines, or, if she was trading for a more expensive item from another maker, a box of a Micki Lippe pieces. Micki traded so that she’d have “something to take home,” and in addition to jewelry, acquired ceramics, clothing, and hand puppets for her husband Bill. She sometimes purchased pieces from other artists, knowing that sales were artists’ livelihood. It was fun to wear jewelry that others had made, until people asked whether she’d made it herself. There came a point when she could not bear to see “the disappointed looks on their faces” when she said that she hadn’t made the piece. Eventually she stopped wearing the bounty from her trades. “I amassed all of that jewelry but ended up not wearing it” and as many jewelers do, promoted her own work by wearing it.  


The pieces curated by Maru Almeida for the exhibition in the Danaca Design Gallery Showroom, demonstrate techniques that Micki did not use herself, but that she found useful when teaching. They illustrate creativity and imaginative thinking. She admires intricate pieces assembled without solder, creative cold connections or use of tubing, and makers who creatively use minimal tools, or who innovate ways to use the materials at hand. She recalls a teacher she met in Germany soon after the wall came down, when sheets of wax for casting were not available. She needed a big sheet to cast a candleholder in honor of a poet, so took a tray from the lunchroom, melted some wax and made her own sheet by flooding the tray.  

See COLLECTION: A curated selection of art jewelry collected by Micki Lippe in the Danaca Design Gallery Showroom September 12 – October 10. 

Join Micki for a reception and guided tour Saturday, October 8, 1:00 – 2:30 RSVP required. Event is currently full. Please email to be added to the waitlist.

During many years on the road, doing American Craft Council shows, like many artists, Micki traded with fellow makers. It is one of the best ways to build a fine collection of interesting jewelry. This section of 35 pieces curated by Maru Almeida includes brooches, earrings and necklaces created by a wide range of artists, over the course of a couple decades. These include work from Bob Ebendorf, Ford and Forlano and Diane Falkenhagen. Micki hopes that a peek at this collection will serve to provide design and technical inspiration to other makers. This is your chance to see the back of the brooch! 

COLLECTION: Treasures from a Jeweler’s Perspective is a new exhibition series in the Danaca Design Gallery Showroom. Art jewelers are collectors. Tools, gems, jewelry, imagery, and rusty metal; honestly I do not think I’ve ever met an art jeweler who did not collect at least one of the above. More often than not, all and more. The inspiration for this new gallery series is to peek into a single jeweler’s collection. Just one of them. This September we will explore a selection of jewelry works collected by local jeweler Micki Lippe. 

Classes, Community

Beginning Jewelry, Concrete Jewelry and Wax Working: The First Classes of Fall! 

We’ve got lots happening at Danaca Design this month: a gem show, a new gallery exhibition, a jewelry pop-up but in my book NOTHING is more important that our excellent jewelry making classes and we’ve got some great ones just around the corner! 

Barb Knuth is helping me out this month by teaching one of my most popular classes, Beginning Jewelry: Introduction. This beginner’s workshop is an ideal overview to the fundamental aspects of silversmithing. Over the course of 4-week nights, you’ll learn all the valuable basics: to saw, file, texture, form, and solder nonferrous metals like copper, brass, and silver. Not only that you’ll learn how to set a cabochon stone! 

Beginning Jewelry: Introduction with Barbara Knuth 
September 14, 21, 28, October 5, Four Wednesday evenings, 6-9pm 

More details. 


 I had the pleasure of meeting Michael Nashef last February when he presented at the Yuma Art Symposium. He is a dynamic and multitalented artist with an extensive background in traditional jewelry making. Traveling all the way from Michigan, he will share his secrets of concrete in jewelry making. This is a super exciting opportunity for anyone looking for new ideas. Concrete is a versatile material and it is down right cheap, so you can’t go wrong! 

Concreation – Concrete Jewelry with visiting teacher Michael Nashef 
September 23-25, Friday – Sunday 

More details. 

Learns the ins and outs of working with wax from the exceptionally knowledgeable Maru Almeida. 

Lost wax casting is widely used today for mass production of jewelry and jewelry components. However, it is also perfect for creating exceptional, one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces. 

Introduction to Wax Working for Jewelers with Maru Almeida 
September 26, October 3, 10, 17, 24, November 14, 21 Six Monday nights, 6:00 – 9:30pm 

More details. 

And at the VERY end of the month we are hosting an online class WITH A TWIST: work in the comfort of your own studio, OR in the studio at Danaca Design with access to all the tools necessary to complete the workshop and an assistant on hand for studio questions. This first ever hybrid class is offered by instructor Milt Fischbein who will dial in from Calgary to enrich us with his deep knowledge of filigree.

Introduction to Filigree Jewellery
September 30 – October 2, Friday 6-9pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm

More details.

Don’t forget, Mentored Independent Study now meets THREE times per week! 

Mentored Study is a great place to tackle challenging projects, learn fresh skills and discover new equipment in a consistently supportive environment. Register to drop in just one time or attend weekly. Mix and match teachers for a broader learning experience. Take more than one class per week and receive a 20% discount on the second class.  

MONDAY mornings with Maru Almeida | TUESDAY evenings with Juan Reyes | THURSDAY mornings with Dana Cassara 

More details. 


That’s it for classes in September but the great opportunities continue right on through into October. See all the coming classes HERE. 


LASTLY, Don’t miss the ROCK, GEM, BEER Gem Show Pop-up this Saturday, September 10. Thousands of cut stones from some of Seattle’s top gem dealers, all in one place, at one time, and there is beer! 

More details. 




Looking forward to seeing you there! 






Mentored Independent Study – Now THREE Times per Week! 

Hey Jewelry Makers! 

Are you interested in improving your metalsmithing skills or ready to learn something new? Do you occasionally need access to specialty equipment like a bench sheer, buffing machine or big torch? Tired of working alone and want to connect with other metalsmiths? YOU are a perfect candidate for Mentored Independent Study! 

Mentored Study is now available THREE times per week: 
Monday morning 10-1pm with Barbara Knuth  
Tuesday evenings 6-9pm with Juan Reyes 
Thursday mornings 10-1pm with Dana Cassara 

Register to drop in just one time or attend weekly.
Mix and match teachers for a broader learning experience.
Take more than one class per week and receive a discount on the second class! 

Mentored Study is an excellent opportunity to tackle challenging projects, learn fresh skills and discover new equipment in a consistently supportive environment. Ongoing weekly classes allow students to explore a wide range of projects and techniques with instructor guidance. Tailored demonstrations means everyone gets what they need and more often than not, one student’s request opens up a world of possibilities to another! Basic metal working skills required. 

See all the details HERE 



Jewelry Tools and Supply Swap Meet July 24!

If you live in or near Seattle and are in town and are a jeweler, metalsmith or just a gem lover, you will not want to miss this! A big garage sale for local jewelers and metalsmiths to buy, sell, and swap tools and supplies of the trade, what could be more fun? With over 20 vendors, you can also expect an excellent selection! 

NOTE: we have a new location. Fair Isle Brewing in Seattle has opened their doors for our event providing us with a covered outdoor area perfect for our Swap Meet! Note: Fair Isle Brewing is a 21 and up establishment. 

NEW: proceeds of sales from the Danaca Design table will be funding a new studio scholarship, The T.H. Artist Gap Scholarship at Danaca Design. 

In 2021, the Seattle metals community lost a true friend, Todd Hughes. Todd was a meticulous maker and passionate learner. He was also a lover of tools. Many of these have been generously donated to Danaca Design. Some will provide an upgrade to studio equipment and others will be available to purchase during our 2022 Jewelry Tool and Supply Swap Meet. Proceeds from the sale of these and all other items on the Danaca Design Swap Meet table will seed a new scholarship, The T.H. Artist Gap Scholarship. This scholarship, designed to supplement the cost of taking a workshop, will be available by application to students at Danaca Design beginning in September. 

Remember, there is NO CHARGE to attend the Swap Meet and you don’t have to bring anything to swap except some cash:)  Be sure to check out the FREE TABLE too. Who knows what treasures you may find! 

Looking forward to seeing you at Fair Isle Brewing for a long overdue swap meet, a bit of socializing and an exceptional beer if you’re in the mood! Also, plan to grab a bite from GARZON the Latinx Street Food pop up, YUM! 

Come early for the best selection. ALL VENDOR SPOTS must be reserved and are now currently taken. Sunday, July 24, 11am-2pm 


The Danaca Design International RING SMACKDOWN begins TODAY!

Today is the day. The day so many of you have been waiting for. The Danaca Design International RING SMACKDOWN begins TODAY! 

Every morning during the month of April I will be posting information on our Instagram feed @danacdesignstudio about the ring matches of the day. There will be up to four matches each day. The posts will include images, video and the story behind the rings to help you choose your favorite. 

At 9:00 AM Pacific Time; voting opens for exactly 24 hours in our Instagram story. This is where you can vote for your favorite rings! When you are ready, head to our Instagram page @danacadesignstudio and find the stories behind the green flower. There you will tap TOP, BOTTOM, LEFT or RIGHT based on the location of your favorite ring. Don’t worry if the story passes before you get a chance to vote. You can go back. There are going to be some VERY difficult choices…that is just the nature of the game.  

Not sure what I’m talking about? Read more about the competition HERE. 

VERY IMPORTANT: ALL of these rings are available to purchase AND you can see them all in person in our GALLERY SHOWROOM! Seriously, don’t miss this chance to see the rings in real life. They are worth the trip! Request access information to the showroom HERE. 

Battle of the Rings, otherwise known as the Ring Smackdown, is a head-to-head, tournament style, single-elimination juried competition and virtual event. First conceived in the spring of 2020, this event encourages creativity, comradery among artists and a passion for the art of jewelry, most especially the ring. This year our Jurors, Elizabeth Shypertt and Jim Dailing, juried 64 rings from a pool of 136 submissions from 16 countries. The rings will compete in daily matches on Instagram, April 4-29. All 64 rings plus 1 alternate are available for purchase through April, a wonderful opportunity for both collectors and participating artists. 


Have fun and good luck! 

Community, Gallery Event

Battle of the Rings – RING SMACKDOWN 2022

The jury has ruled. These 64 incredible rings have arrived to Seattle from across the globe to compete in The International RING SMACKDOWN 2022. Voting begins Monday April 4 at 9:00 am, mark your calendars! If you don’t know what I’m talking about then it’s time you get informed! All 64 rings will be available to view in person in our Gallery Showroom. Be sure to follow us on Instagram too because that is where the real fun is @danacadesignstudio  

Read more HERE! 


Yukata Jewelry Show Open at Danaca Design 

This week we opened a very special exhibition, Yukata Jewelry Show 2022. This exciting show is a creative collaboration between Okan Arts and Danaca Design. Vintage hand-dyed yukata cotton from Japan is the inspiration for the work in this second iteration of our Yukata Jewelry Show. The fabric, provided by Okan Arts, was sourced from vendors across Japan—antique shops, vintage warehouses, used kimono shops, and pickers. Danaca Design invited twenty artists from across the country to take the challenge—to design a piece of jewelry inspired by or made from this luscious and dynamic fabric. 

We will be posting pieces from the show this month on FB and Instagram but you can see the entire exhibition on our website now or COME VISIT US IN THE GALLERY SHOWROOM! The show is beautiful. If you haven’t visited the showroom yet, now is the time. We’ve never had so much wall space to play with in our gallery! 

View this unique exhibition is online and in the Danaca Design Seattle Showroom March 4-29, 2022 

Find Showroom info HERE! 

See the full Yukata Jewelry collection HERE. 

For additional information visit 

Participating Artists: 
Angela Gleason 
April Ottey 
Carolina Andersson 
Cynthia Toops 
Dana Cassara 
DeAnna Puls 
Helen Cowart 
Jane Pellicciotto 
Juan Reyes 
Laurel Nathanson 
Maia Leppo 
Maru Almeida 
Megan Corwin 
Molly Epstein 
Nancy Bonnema 
Ronda Miller 
Tegan Wallace 
Vicky Zomenou 
Virginia Causey 
Yuko Tanaka 


Battle of the Rings: Ring Smackdown 2022 – CALL TO ARTISTS



Battle of the Rings, otherwise known as the Ring Smackdown, is a head-to-head, tournament style, single-elimination juried competition and virtual event with a top prize of $500.  64 rings will be selected by two jurors and drafted into teams as selected by the jurors. Selected rings will be paired into matches for competition. Matches will be posted daily for exactly 24 hours, to our Instagram story for public vote, April 4-29 at 9:00am PST. Each ring can win up to three points in a single match. One is given to the winner of the Instagram poll; the other two points come from the jurors. The ring with the most points advances to the next round. All selected rings will be posted to our Instagram feed and available to purchase through our online gallery and Danaca Design Showroom.  


  • One submission per artist
  • The ring must be an original design created by submitting artist
  • The ring must not exceed 4x4x4 inches
  • The ring must fit fingers between sizes 5-10
  • No restriction on the nature of material used or shape within above parameters.
  • All selected rings must be available for purchase through Danaca Design Gallery 50/50 split; for the duration of the tournament.
  • All selected rings must be shipped to Danaca Design and the artists will be responsible for return shipping if the ring does not sell.
  • The retail price of the ring must not exceed $1,200
  • Suggested entry fee of $5-$25


Submission Deadline: February 21, 2022 (Enter HERE) 

Artist Notification Date: February 28, 2022 

Rings Due to Gallery: March 15, 2022 

Competition/Show Dates: April 4-29, 2022 

Jurors: Elizabeth Shypertt and Jim Dailing



Q: Can I submit and older ring?
A: Sure! Just not a ring that has previously been entered in the battle.

Q: Can I submit a ring from overseas?
A: Yes!

Q: Can I submit a multiple finger ring?
A: Yes! As long as it fit fingers 5-10.

Battle of the Rings: Ring Smackdown 2022 Jury

The jury has been selected for the Ring Smackdown 2022 and we couldn’t be more pleased! As always, we handpick a well-balanced jury to ensure an exciting and diverse mix of excellent rings for the competition. Representing Team Shanks will be Elizabeth Shypertt, long time gallerist, curator and collector of contemporary jewelry. Jim Dailing, a seasoned teacher and maker of exquisite fine jewelry especially rings, will head team Mandrels.

Read more about our jurors below!


Team Shanks – Elizabeth Shypertt

Elizabeth co-founded and ran Velvet da Vinci Gallery in San Francisco for 23 years. During that time, she organized more than 80 exhibitions including one-person and group shows. Working with other galleries and organizations including the British Crafts Council and the National Museums of Scotland, she curated and organized many traveling exhibitions, including Chess, Rings, and Anti-War Medals. The last show she curated at Velvet da Vinci was La Frontera, an exhibition about the Mexico/US border which opened at the Franz Mayer Museum in Mexico City. It was later on display at Velvet da Vinci, and at the Museum of Art and Design in New York City.

Since leaving the gallery, Elizabeth has curated jewelry shows for the Petaluma Arts Center in Petaluma, California, the Center for Enamel Arts in Berkely, California and for Shibumi Gallery, also in Berkeley. 2019 she curated a show of SNAG Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Tex Gieling for the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco.

She has been a juror for the Emeryville Celebration of the Arts in Emeryville, California, for the Academy of Art in San Francisco among other venues and also for the publication, 500 Pendants and Lockets by Lark Books.

Elizabeth is a long-standing member of the local Metal Arts Guild and the Art Jewelry Forum and was a board member for both organizations. She is currently on the board of the Society of North American Goldsmiths.

She has recently taken a new position at the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco as Jewelry Manager for the Museum Store.


Team Mandrels – Jim Dailing

Jim Dailing has been designing and creating mostly one-of-a-kind engagement and wedding rings for clients from around the world for nearly 40 years.  He specializes in creating rings. Jim writes, “I love hands and how each hand is unique and because of all that hands can do, express and create.  I choose to create mostly engagement and wedding rings because of their importance to my clients and I’m drawn to the fact that my rings will be around long after I am gone.”

Jim holds a BFA from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and MFA from the Tyler School of Art. He has taught at the University of Oregon, Oregon College of Art and Crafts, University of Portland, Central Oregon Community College as well as classes and workshops at schools and craft centers around the country. Currently, he teaches virtually and in-person workshops in stone setting, gold alloying and fabrication and wax carving.


Pop Up Jewelry Event with Ryan Gardner

Join us on Friday December 3, 5-7pm for a pop up trunk show with jeweler Ryan Gardner. This will be our first in-person event in nearly two years! Location to be announced.

Ryan is also teaching a stone carving class on Saturday and Sunday, December 4 and 5. We have ONE spot left! Learn more and register HERE.

Ryan Gardner
Participation in the arts was always important to me growing up. A strong arts program in high school influenced my decision to pursue a degree in the arts. I chose the arts program at Bowling Green State University in northwest Ohio where I discovered and fell in love with metals. I was introduced to many artists, including Michael Boyd, who became an inspiration for me.
Upon graduation I apprenticed for Michael Boyd at his studio in Colorado. That experience turned into an eight year adventure that continues today. It was with Michael that I learned to work with and manipulate stone, adding a new element to my love of jewelry design.
Since being in Colorado I have started my own business, Ryan Gardner Designs. I now showcase my work in galleries across the country. I love working with combining stone and metal in new ways creating works of art for people to enjoy in their daily lives.