Jewelry Designer Sam Katz Creates Tap Bling for Stylish Dancers
Sam Katz Tap Dancer/Jeweler Extraordinaire
"Tip, Tap Jewelry": Sam Katz Tap Jeweler Extraordinaire
After 29 years of tap dancing and 20 years of jewelry making Sam Katz found a way to combine both of her passions. I sat down with her one evening and talked to her about her interest in immortalizing tap greats like Dr. Leonard Reed and Fayard Nicholas.
Victoria Moore (V.M.): How long have you been making tap dancing jewelry?
Sam Katz (S.K.): I've been making various kinds of tap jewelry for over 20 years now. For awhile I did woodcut tap shoes that I painted then I did basic cut out pictures of tap dancers on cardboard. Now I do polymer clay square-heeled and triangular-toed tap jewelry and Magic Gloss necklaces. I discovered the Magic Gloss at a trade shoiw. It's a lisa Padelka product.
V.M.: What motivates you to make them?
S.K.: I studied with the older masters from Honi Coles, Cookie Cook and Steve Condos to Buster Brown and Chuck Green at tap festivals in Boston, Colorado, Portland, Austin and Southern California, and it was important for me to pass on their legacy to younger dancers. The jewelry is a reminder of those who've paved the way for them. It's a way to keep them close at heart.
V.M.: Who's buying your jewelry?
S.K.: I have a very limited audience now of tap dancers so I sell my jewelry at festivals and when I teach tap. Whenever I wear my necklaces students ask me about them and want one for themselves.
V.M.: Where do you get the photos for your necklaces and how do you recreate them for your pieces?
S.K.:The photos I use are ones I've either gotten permission to use or changed 50% via computer generation. To change the Dr. Leonard Reed photo I used from Rusty Frank's book Tap! The Greatest Tap Dance Stars and their Stories 1900-1955" I added a signature.
V.M.: Do you ever make custom jewelry?
S.K.: I will customize a piece from a photo but since I need to do two to four prototypes it takes a little while.
V.M.: How do you do it?
S.K.: I take a photo with a digital camera then I alter the colors and shrink it down.
V.M.: Who's your inspiration?
S.K.: In the past it was Christopher Miller, a tap dancer and jewelry maker who made some tap shoe pendants out of ivory that I found at the Renaissance Faire. Today I'm inspired by tap dancers.
V.M.: What do you hope to accomplish with your tap jewelry?
S.K.: I want it to be relevant to tap dancers and others by opening up a dialogue about tap history. I hope it will help tap become appreciated by a larger audience too.
V.M.: How much does your jewelry cost?
S.K.: Everything's under $50. I try to keep it affordable for dancers who don't have a lot of money.
For more information and to contact Sam Katz you can email her at email@example.com.
Stay On the Good Foot With Sam Katz's Tap Jewelry
Tappin' Costume Capsule 1
Tappin' Costume Capsule 1: Soul Sista Number One
"Get Up Offa That Thang and Dance 'Til You Feel Better!"--James Brown
One of the biggest challenges of practicing tap is finding the right clothes to move in. When you go to a professional show like Bring In Da Noise, Bring In Da Funk, of course, it's pretty easy to buy a snazzy tee and represent for very little money. But if you want to jazz up your find and still retain your femininity, black short-shorts, culottes, and over-the-knee socks are all you need to dance and look like a girl with serious style and rhythm.
The Tap Practice
Tappin' Costume Capsule 2: Swinging to the Jazzy Beat
"Dance is the hidden language of the soul, of the body." --Martha Graham, quoted in New York Times
Kind of Blue is one of my favorite albums by Miles Davis and I always wanted to tap dance to it, so one day after I got my new digital camera I set it up in my living room and went to town hittin' some wood. For the occasion, I was feeling a little romantic so I paired my Gap tuxedo shirt with a pair of lacy white short-shorts I found on Sale at Forever 21, and a pair of black leggings. Cool and comfortable this costume really helped me "get into the groove".
Tappin' Costume Capsule 3: Go Coco!
"Less is more." --Robert Browning, Andrea del Sarto
Ever since my undergraduate days as a Fashion Merchandising major at CSULA I've been obsessed with Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel. I've copied her style so much that I feel I know instinctively what she was trying to convey with her designs. The simplest and most basic invention of hers to me are her two-toned spectator pumps, which go with just about everything. Since one of my favorite types of pants are beige khakis, I decided on the day I scored the Chanel knock-off ballet flats from Ross, I'd choreograph an homage tap piece to my girl. A little bit Kerouac, a little bit Kelly, the costume which also included a white t-shirt, helped me bring the '50's back with a riff.