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Jewelry Designer, Sam Katz, Makes Tap Jewelry for Dancers

Updated on May 19, 2014

Stay On the Good Foot With Sam Katz's Tap Jewelry

Victoria Moore's tap shoes
Victoria Moore's tap shoes | Source
Tap dancer, one of the Nicholas Bothers.
Tap dancer, one of the Nicholas Bothers. | Source
Victoria Moore tapping in an "I Love Tap" t-shirt.
Victoria Moore tapping in an "I Love Tap" t-shirt. | Source

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

Jewelry Doesn't Have To Be Precious It Can Be Fun Too

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