Skip to content

Artisan Jude Radwanski: Designing to silversmithing to jewelry-making

Judith (Jude) Radwanski designs and makes her own jewelry in downtown Moose Jaw’s Hammond Building under the brand name Firefly Art, creating lightweight, colourful earrings, necklaces, and bracelets targeted at busy, vibrant women.

Judith (Jude) Radwanski designs and makes her own jewelry in downtown Moose Jaw’s Hammond Building under the brand name Firefly Art, creating lightweight, colourful earrings, necklaces, and bracelets targeted at busy, vibrant women.

Jewelry is Radwanski’s second career — she worked for 30 years as an interior designer, mostly in commercial spaces. The job requirements were unoriginal. She worked to client specifications on hospitals, churches, and offices as she gradually burned out. Now, she works with her hands, plays while working, and feeds her heart.

“I was kind of a workaholic, and I got sick,” Radwanski told “It gave me an opportunity to really look at what I was doing and to reconsider. And I knew then that what I was doing was too stressful, and it wasn’t feeding my heart the way I wanted.”

She looked for something that didn’t need approval from a supervisor or client; something she could do all on her own; something expressive and artisanal.

“I started taking night classes in Regina, in silversmithing, and I loved it,” she said. “Then, about 10 years ago, on a trip to Mexico, I read there was a school for silversmithing. So, we checked it out.”

Radwanski and her husband backpacked to different cities in Mexico, and she arranged to get to Taxco — a small mountain town famous for its silver. When their trip was over, her husband flew home, and she stayed. She rented an apartment and took two and a half months of classes.

Many of her classmates were younger than her, and at first she wondered if she could fit in.

“I realized pretty quickly that it doesn’t matter how old you are. If you’re interested in the same thing, you get along, you have fun together, and you can learn together.”

After Mexico, Radwanski went to Toronto for two years to become a silversmith at George Brown College. It was a tough experience, with instructors who demanded perfection.

“It was intense, because they were training people to be bench jewellers, which means you can take any design and know how to make it out of silver or gold,” she recalled. “Their standards were really high. I remember my first polishing assignment, I kept taking it to the instructor and ‘nope, not good enough,’ so I would polish more and take it back and again, ‘nope, not good enough.’”

It was multicultural, challenging, and fulfilling. Radwanski made friends from all over the world on her way to graduating.

She has since discovered polymer clay, and taught herself to work with that material as well. She can make her art more affordable and lighter, and get the colours just how she likes.

“I can work in pattern and colour and do large-scale things because the polymer is so light,” she explained. “If you made something of that bulk in silver, not only would it be heavy to wear, say on your ears or a whole bunch on your neck, but it also would be very, very expensive.

“I’m a trained designer. I’m used to sketching everything out and doing scaled drawings, doing the preparation ahead of time. Once I started working with clay, I can kind of let my spirit guide me. I have what I call happy accidents, you know, I just like playing and discovering, and a cool design comes out of nowhere.

“It’s not very scientific. And I don’t do many sketches.”

She still has her smithing tools, of course. Pliers, cutters, saws, hammers, files, soldering irons, a Foredom flex shaft with dozens of interchangeable bits, and more are arranged across several different work benches in her studio.

Radwanski is a juried member of the Saskatchewan Craft Council, an experience she found validating.

“I made a body of work and had a jury session up in Saskatoon,” she said. “I think there were five judges, and they sat around and evaluated every piece and gave me my marks. After I was done, they said, ‘well, congratulations, you made it.’

“That was the first time I had taken my work and shown other designers what I was doing… And they liked it, they were so complimentary about it. I had been working by myself, not knowing if anybody would like this stuff.”

Firefly Art Jewellery is online at and on Facebook. Radwanski will also be showing her work at five juried trade shows this year, including the five-day Circle Craft Christmas Market in Vancouver from Nov. 9 to 13.

Moose Javians can meet Jude and see her studio and her work on Oct. 15 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the 10th annual Moostletoe tour.

(This article is part of’s coverage of local artists for the Moostletoe tour. Watch for further articles as the date approaches.)

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks