How I work

It all starts like this:  a large flat piece of brass, bronze, copper or Sterling metal.


First, I clean it.  Then I etch or torch it top give it texture and color. Clean again, cut, file, smooth and then begin my design process.  

Below are some new examples of what I wind up with.

These pieces also showcase my special collection of vintage military medals, repurposed and now worn with pride.


You can see them this weekend as you explore the Great Falls Studios Art Tour.  50 artists are opening up their workspaces all weekend, for all. Visit Great Falls, see the creatives and enjoy the Fall foliage.  The Weather Channel says the sun will be out!

AND Come see me (!!!!)  at 1144 Walker Road, #19 on the Tour Map, first floor.  I will be there from 10am to 5pm each day, Friday, Saturday and Sunday (October 17-18-19).  Please stop by and say Hi!

Bracelet Envy

My only class this Fall!

Saturday, November 1, 10am to 4pm. A fun class which explores many techniques in metalworking and cold connections using rivets, wire and microscrews to affix components.

We will be doing metal etching, cutting, cleaning, torching, oxidizing and assembling a crowd-stopping bracelet that you will be proud of. The class is $65 and a $30 materials fee for all the necessities.

Please call (703)938-7018 to reserve your place. The class will be at Star's Beads, 139A Church Street in Vienna, Va.


Only one week until our Great Falls Studios Art Tour, October 17-18-19 (Friday, Saturday, Sunday), 10-5pm each day.  

Come see me (and 15 other artists) at 1144 Walker Road where I will be showing and demonstrating many of my jewelry making techniques like these fold formed earrings, in bronze, silver and gold.  $100.  

They took me three hours, not counting all the prep work like etching, sawing and buffing.

Sign up at the Great Falls Library on Saturday, October 18 for a chance to win a $50 Artbuck.  We are giving 20 away, good towards purchasing any art on the tour.  Pick up the tour brochure and map there or at many of the businesses in town like Great Dogs and the Brogue.

This will be my only show this year, so I do hope you'll stop by and say hello.


Cover Girl!

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Just returned from my magical two weeks in France where I learned many new techniques to incorporate into my jewelry construction.


2014-09-24 at 10-54-17Thanks to master instructor Keith Lo Bue, who traveled from Sydney, Australia to the tiny town of Durfort, in the south of France, very close to the border with Spain.  From Keith, I gained a new perspective on found objects, treasures from the past which I adore, and how to deconstruct them and incorporate them into my work.


In sorting through my mail today, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but Viva Tysons magazine with my necklace, Sonoran, prominently displayed on the front cover, lower right side.

Inside is a very nice article about our upcoming Great Falls Studio Art Tour on October 17-18-19, 10-5 each day. You will find me at 1144 Walker Road, first floor (same shopping center as Dante's restaurant).  There are 14 artists in the building demonstrating and talking about their art.

Please stop by and see me.  I will be showing many new pieces and demonstrating some of my jewelry making techniques.

See you then!

Bonjour from Durfort, France!

I'm in the middle of a two-week adventure in the south of France taking a metal jewelry making class with Keith Lo Bue.  He is a very talented, kooky guy from Connecticut who moved to Australia about 20 years ago. 

There are twelve of us taking the class. We’re from all over the world.

We are  staying in a 17th century restored village town home.  Our studio is at the top of the house with lovely beams and skylights, but never enough work space!

One assignment was to make an object, jewelry or otherwise, that was autobiographical.  

This first photo is of my workspace.

Almost all of the materials and tools were brought from home! (50 lbs. in my one piece of checked luggage).  There is a lot more on the floor, too!

I decided to make a "doll" that would be me.

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The photo shows the doll:  body from a small oil can, legs that are meant to be a battery tester, and a bald doll head.  All of these were found at French flea markets We’ve been to five. So far. :)

Here are a few smaller things I've made here.

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You can see these pieces, and others I’ve done in this class, next month (Oct. 17-19) at the Great Falls Studio Tour at 1144 Walker Road.

Faux Chanel

Nothing “faux” about the fact that the summer is ending, here in Maine and back home in Virginia.

Had a lovely lunch this afternoon at the Osprey restaurant, overlooking the Robin Hood marina.  The sky was clear and blue and the sunlight so bright you HAD to wear sunglasses.  Is it less air pollution? I don’t know, but the brightness is startling.

Even though we’re hundreds of miles away from the east coast media meccas, we do get The New York Times.  And when I saw a woman's Chanel purse advertised for $8,000 in the paper, I knew I could copy it.  


My version is a brooch in copper and bronze, textured, torched, etched and enameled and much less than $8,000.  

It's available at $150. Unless someone snaps it up before, it will also be available at the Studio Tour next month, Oct. 17-19. I'll be exhibiting at 1144 Walker Road, First Floor in the Great Falls Foundation for the Arts (GFFFTA) classroom

Hope to see you there!

If I had Wings

Isn't this gorgeous?  My newest: "If I had Wings".

As the days dwindle for our summertime stay in Maine, I'm still inspired by the wonderful weather, the people, and the bounty of fresh vegetables and seafood that are available to us every day.

This is one of my collection of Victorian Sterling and rhinestone stick pins (who knows, maybe they're diamonds!) in which I figured a way to retain the pin mechanism itself.  The purple and white bead is handmade glass from California. 

I held my breath and threaded the pin thru the bead.  It worked! 

The whole shebang is mounted on a lovely antiqued silver backplate with a hidden bail to keep he look clean.  Pendant is on a silver chain with Sterling silver toggle clasp.

Available for $200.00

Three for the show

In my never ending effort to destash and use up the collection of goodies I have accumulated over the years, I made these three fun bracelets.

The first, top center, features real turquoise, Sterling and artisan glass with a Sterling horse charm.

The second, lower right, includes copper and a matte-polished Red Creek Jasper stone with a Lady Bug charm for luck.

The last, lower left, is real artisan glass with ceramic beads and a Sterling "Paris" perfume bottle charm.

Save the Dates! October 17-19

The Fall Studio Tour for our arts group, Great Falls Studios, will be bigger than ever this year!  The tour will take place over three days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 17, 18 and 19.

I am especially excited about this Studio Tour because I will be in a new venue, not my studio.  I will be at 1144 Walker Road, First Floor in the Great Falls Foundation for the Arts (GFFFTA) classroom.  (Google Maps) The Artisans Atelier is just one floor up with a dozen more artists on display.

The advantages are many:  there is plenty of parking; you will be able to see as many as twenty artists in one location; there will be plenty of room to circulate and see my latest creations AND I will have enough space to actually demonstrate some of my techniques.  In the same location with me will be Ronni Jolles, paper collage artist extraordinaire. She will also be demonstrating.

Please mark the dates on your calendar and be sure to come and see us!

Semper Fi

Semperfi 19588One of my favorite things to do during our summers in Maine is shop at the Wednesday antiques market at Montsweag Flea Market, a mere five miles from our house.  Some folks come hundreds of miles to browse, buy, and chat.  

It's a weekly trip to a folk art museum where everything is old, whether vintage (1940-50s) or antique (1900s and before) and where treasures abound: wooden-handled tools perfect for my jewelry making, keys, buttons, watches, decorative brass hardware and of course, furniture.  I bought a lovely old oak hutch for $125 delivered by the 82-year-old vendor and carried up to the second floor by him and my husband.  It now graces my studio and holds my jewelry displays.

One of the things I especially like finding at the market is old military pins and buttons.  I have amassed a small collection and enjoy researching where they originated.  

Semper Fi is a piece I made this summer with two very old brass Marine Corps buttons.  

I've polished them up and, as it always seems like I am problem solving, I had to figure how to attach them to the pendant backplate.  These are the kind of buttons with slots thru their backs so I used bronze wire that just barely fit thru the slots (didn't want them rattling and moving around in place) and affixed them to the top plate (more later about that) and then had to make a second plate to attach to the first one because I didn't want those nasty old wires showing and catching on things. These I riveted together with microscrews BUT I had to use spacers in between because the two plates would not fit firmly together thanks to the bulk of he wire.  Try sliding spacers into this narrow space and catching with the screw coming thru.  Not easy!

My bronze top plate is textured with my beloved divots and has a lovely subtle checkerboard pattern I achieved through special torching techniques I learned from Mary Hettsmanberger at Arrowmont School in Gatlinberg, TN last October. Another custom bail and a lovely brass chain and this is a perfect gift for some proud lady with a vet in the family.

Donna Barnako