Alone Star Jewelry

Post #2 for Faux Bone tools & supplies

This post goes through the tools and supplies list, starting with info and comments about the characteristics of how the tools will work for you, and perhaps offer ideas and tips for execution of the project. The hope is that this extra information will assist in preparing for and then moving through the activity with more complete knowledge ahead of time. Thanks for reading.

Faux bone:

Comes in various sheet sizes and thicknesses; ours is 1/8″ thin. You will have an 8×8″ sheet that you will cut in half, then one half cut again for making a few small practice tiles. The material is cut with a hand saw:

A comparison of a faux bone blade with about 20 teeth compared to a much finer blade with 3 times as many teeth. The material is hard but easily cut with heavier blades. Faux bone is formulated for artistic uses and is non-toxic. Nonetheless, it can get crumbly and burry when cut and sanded.

Robert Dancik, the inventor of faux bone, calls this instrument a forming tool, although you may know it as a deburrer. The principal is the same in that superfluous material is removed, in this case, a slight bevel is easily created. You will be able to practice on a tile beforehand to get the hang of that swivel action.

A large flat plank file tears through faux bone most satisfactorily for you out there who love to quickly transform materials. Use this file if you want a wider, more sloping edge like the one seen at the top of the page. Because of the debris, please working over a paper towel, placemat or trashcan while using files and saws.

At left, the little yellow circle is a 2mm CZ. Those who have taken metal clay classes know how to use a setting bur to create a seat for the stone. This type of setting for faux bone is made is exactly the same way, except of course, the flat end of a pair of tweezers will not further push the stone into the material! That is why 2-part epoxy is so handy. Make the stone table flush with the level of the faux bone.

Also, the reddish tint coming from the very black lines above the little CZ was made with red Prismacolor pencil, rubbed firmly over the scratches to push pigment into them. It was then rubbed with a paper towel and probably a little bit of erasing was involved.

Here is the drill press fitted with a large diamond bur. The depression underneath was made with a ball bur, and the diamond bur will flatten the seat and create a vertical wall that will surround a bezel or perhaps a flat medallion. Don’t go all the way through the faux bone with the ball bur; instead, go only deep enough to properly seat the element to be added. Use a straight drill bit to bore down almost through to create a place for some epoxy (

“Sewing” beads onto faux bone. This is one of my favorite techniques. It requires a hole that is large enough to hold the bead, with just enough space all around it to accommodate the bead cord that attaches it to the piece. If the hole isn’t slightly larger than the bead, you’ll have no success hiding the cord. Additionally, opposite notches are cut on either side INSIDE the hole, for the thread to slide into, allowing the bead to sit properly. Use the hand saw for notching these.

Another point about this step is also diagrammed at left: When sewing beads in a line, the notches must point in the same direction in all of the holes. Think of an illustration of a star constellation where lines are drawn between the stars. The notches need to line up with those lines so that the cord on the back is oriented efficiently. Which leads to another point, below:

A separating disk (works best) or a triangle file is used to incise “trenches” that connect the holes on the back of the pendant. After passing through to the back, the cords lie in the trench between holes, so that the silver back piece will lie flat for a good fit.

This handy photo not only shows the way the holes for beading should initially look (they don’t have the notches yet), but it also shows the nifty shot plate made by Tucker Tools from which the silver flower at the top was made. Fun stuff!

Alcohol inks are likely the fastest way to apply color on faux bone without having to take time to remove brush strokes as with thicker paints. Colors are as intense or dilute as you wish. Don’t worry–or be as excited as you wish!–either way, we will take time to practice on the sample tiles.

Acrylic paints can be thinned to watercolor consistency. As long as the faux bone surface is sanded, either of these media will look great on the material. The alcohol inks, however, can be dissolved more easily than acrylics, but both can be lightly sanded to apply more color or eliminate it, and certainly darken or add even different colors on top. Sanding is the best way to preserve areas of darker tones that you like without having to worry about washing them out. Colors can also be scraped with a blade, as on an Xacto. The possibilites become endless, really.

Other ways to create color are with colored pencil as noted earlier, shoe polish that can be forced into lines, India ink as well, oil pastels, China markers, obviously the colors in the beads and other embellishments you add.

It’s recommended that you pick up at least 1 bottle of these alkie-inks for use in the class. Multiple colors of acrylic paints will be available, and they have the advantage of not instantly drying! This is the reason that alcohol inks are hard to share unless you are sitting right next to your share-mate, and if you are, then you have to hope they aren’t holding a bottle you need immediately before the color you just applied dries up! (You can’t pour some in your bowl and expect it to last any time. The stuff dries so fast because really, you need hardly any of it.)

Sealer will be available once you are finished applying color. Because FB is not absorbent, color rubs off much more easily where handled muchly. Sealer helps prevent that, and dries quickly. It is a water cleanup for the brushes–yay!

Below are some tools that can be used to texture the surface of faux bone.

Beneath the dapping punches is a rasp. Very gnarly teeth on this one. Below it are some burs, etc.: starting on the left, 2 separating (cutting) disks for incising lines, a stone bur (bead shop), 2 pear-shaped burs, 2 stone-setting burs, 2 ball burs (bead shop) and 3 tiny burs in assorted shapes. Basically from this bunch, in the class you need a setting bur(s) a ball bur(s), and 1-2 separating disks. With these 3 types of tools, plus Xacto knife, sharp scribe, sandpapers, and among others a triangular file, you will be set.

The dapping punches help with the shot plate and at the bottom is a steel leather-working tool that looks like a 2-sided chisel, very small.

And now, for the finish:

(and I hope you enjoyed the post)!