It’s on!

I don’t do New year’s resolutions because they make me anxious and I just feel set up for failure.

I prefer to call them good intentions.

To be honest I have a lot of good intentions throughout the year which I often fall short on, but it always feels on-going for me. Like I haven’t lost my last chance of doing well on the test.

I love the potential of the New Year. It makes me feel hopeful. A fresh start to clear the way. and in many ways I prefer it to Christmas.

Just don’t tell Santa.

It makes my head feel lighter like it does when I have my hair cut. Granted my hair is pretty short, but that extra couple of millimeters really bring me down. God knows what I’m going to do this week as my appointment isn’t until the 9th and I can already feel it creeping down toward my knees…

So here we are again and my whole life is opened up before me. What will I do with it all because at 58 I’m really beginning to feel an urge to get going on my life plan.

Depression gets in the way of life plans.

I suffer with depression.

It takes away my umph and makes the sofa a thing of beauty.

In the short time (or sometimes long time) it takes me to wake up and get up I can have gone from being excited to make something or do something to knowing that there’s no point.

It’s like I’ve done it already in my head so why bother.

I share this for those of you who suffer also so that you know you’re not alone, because sometimes it makes me feel ridiculous. As though I make it up and that, of course, I can snap myself out of it.

An interesting thing, however, happened to me a couple of months back. I was having lunch with an old friend and she mentioned that she didn’t think that she had ever been depressed. That she felt down at times and fed up, but that she didn’t think that she ever had been really depressed. It took me by surprise as I really thought that everyone was depressed. That it was just a symptom of life. So maybe ‘snapping out of it’ for me is different than for her.

Just a thought.

Anyway, that said, I do feel excited for the new year.

I do have lots of good intentions and I’m ready to see where they take me.

Most of them involve creativity, but a few important ones involve moving onwards and upwards with my attitude toward myself. Those mostly regarding the negative thoughts that don’t just creep in as I always thought, but that live constantly with me.

Damn them.

So.

I have paintings to finish.

I have jewelry to develop.

I have books to work on.

(I love writing my books. It’s my happy place which is probably why I avoid it.)

I have good food to make.

I have less wine to drink.

I have more smiling to do.

(That’s almost as good as a haircut)

I have books to read.

I have getting out of bed as soon as I wake up to do.

I have more arguing with the Texas humidity to do so that I can take a walk more often.

Might have to give that one up and get the tread mill out.

🙄

I have getting a better attitude toward the tread mill to work on.

And I have the Noble Peace Price to attain.

(This is probably just an interesting pshycological consequence of being told I’d never amount to anything, but I’m just going to go with it. Can’t hurt.)

I could go on, but don’t want to get myself too excited that I have to lie down again.

The struggle is real…

So I’ll leave you all with a little lovely something that happened last night.

A grandson from one daughter and a wedding from the other.

What’s not to like.

Now we just have to figure out what to do with the boy…

Wishing you all a good year.

It’s been a while.

A couple of biggies happened this year which seem to have blown me off course.

First my middle daughter got married in April which was lovely. My son and I arranged and decorated for it and I must say that Stephen turned out to be a great wedding planner – much to his mortification at being associated with lovely flowery things… and hearts.

Here she is with her sister.

Then.

And now.

Goes quickly doesn’t it…

We also went home to visit a couple of times. I would go back to live in England in a heartbeat but that trip wears me out and always knocks me back.

So the jewelry was put on hold for a while which I’m not sure was a good thing as it seems to have put me off track somewhat.

The final big thing was having the studio renovated which took far longer due to trips etc. than we expected.

I only wanted a new floor.

Really I did.

I had a concrete floor put in when we first built the studio and I thought it was going to be treated and have that lovely smooth finish and it would be practical and easy to clean. But no. The nice man who thought he knew better than me didn’t treat it and I didn’t complain and after a while it became pitted and stained and the worse floor ever to keep clean. I actually don’t think it was clean for ten years however much I swept vacuumed and washed it. It was a health hazard and when we hired a contractor to talk about renovating our house I asked if after that was done he would put in a new floor for me.

This is when my husband had the brilliant (I must admit) idea of renovating the studio first and then moving into it while the house was done.

I am incredibly lucky as my studio is like a small house. It has four rooms which we designed to be converted into a ‘granny’ annex if we ever moved so the store room was plumbed for a future bathroom and the kitchen area arranged so that it could semi function as such if we ever needed it to.

The kids have all up and left, except that the boy came back (still trying to impress on him the need to move back out, but I must admit I’ll miss him. You never know when a new flower arranging extravaganza will come up) and so we had looked, (I would say on and off for at least four years), for a smaller house to buy closer in town. The houses were great and we saw so many that we could have easily lived in but typically they had no gardens and definitely no room for an outside studio so eventually we decided to stay in this far too big for us house and renovate.

It took me forever to move all of my stuff out of the studio. I seriously believe I had more stuff packed in there than we have now packed from the house.

On a side note I don’t actually know what planet Peter lives on but he seriously doesn’t believe I need it all.

🙄

Now, except for most of my jewelry stuff, it’s all in the garage waiting for us to move back into the house so it can come back inside the studio to play.

The studio came out wonderfully and this week we finally moved into it and, I must say, I might not want to move out of it ever again.

Well that’s what I say now…

It’s not ideal to have your jewelry studio in your living room, but hopefully it won’t be for too long and perhaps I’ll take the opportunity to write more and to finish some of the paintings I have lying around and so not create as much dust and fumes as normal. I’m also going to be a grandmother in February so I think a baby blanket is in order. I’ve not tried Tunisian crochet before so I’m going to give it a go.

Little Monkeys Designs

Only the colour will be a mustard because that’s how my middle daughter likes to roll.

😊

And so that’s me.

I’m not completely convinced that I want to share my studio with Peter. It’s like an intrusion on my sacred ground, but as it was his idea to renovate it and it’s way nicer now than just having a new floor, I might have to give in on that score.

WARNING:

Although no flash photography was used in the making of this video, because I wasn’t sure if anyone would really be interested in what the studio looks like and so felt a little silly filming it, I kind of rushed it. Not super rushed, but enough to say whoa, hang on a minute there girl while I let the dizziness pass.

Enter at your peril…

So you can see that I’ve still a bit of unpacking and sorting to do and the jewelry area does look a bit out of place. I’ve yet to down-size on the clutter and decide what to keep in here or not as it does look as though it’s all stuffed in right now and as I’m not the tidiest person in town I think perhaps the less I have hanging around the better. The one downside is that we have to have the litter boxes in the room with us as there’s nowhere else for them. I’m not sure that I’m going to be o.k. with that. Also there’s nowhere to hang the wet towels right now 🙄 I’ll have to think about that one. But as none of these are world problems I think we’re good.

On a stranger note I happened to google my name the other day and this lovely lady popped up.

I don’t really know who she is (although she does look as though she’s in England) so I thought I’d show you the real me.

Try not to be disappointed that I’m not young, blonde, and beautiful as I’m sure you were all imagining…

Also Youtube seems to have changed things around since I last posted a video so I don’t know how to turn the sound off right now.

To be honest I don’t even know if the videos will post correctly.

🤷‍♀️

So now you’ve seen my face I’m going to have to eat you.

Ha! you thought that was just for disposing of paper evidence didn’t you…

It’s been a while.

A couple of biggies happened this year which seem to have blown me off course.

First my middle daughter got married in April which was lovely. My son and I arranged and decorated for it and I must say that Stephen turned out to be a great wedding planner – much to his mortification at being associated with lovely flowery things… and hearts.

Here she is with her sister.

Then.

And now.

Goes quickly doesn’t it…

We also went home to visit a couple of times. I would go back to live in England in a heartbeat but that trip wears me out and always knocks me back.

So the jewelry was put on hold for a while which I’m not sure was a good thing as it seems to have put me off track somewhat.

The final big thing was having the studio renovated which took far longer due to trips etc. than we expected.

I only wanted a new floor.

Really I did.

I had a concrete floor put in when we first built the studio and I thought it was going to be treated and have that lovely smooth finish and it would be practical and easy to clean. But no. The nice man who thought he knew better than me didn’t treat it and I didn’t complain and after a while it became pitted and stained and the worse floor ever to keep clean. I actually don’t think it was clean for ten years however much I swept vacuumed and washed it. It was a health hazard and when we hired a contractor to talk about renovating our house I asked if after that was done he would put in a new floor for me.

This is when my husband had the brilliant (I must admit) idea of renovating the studio first and then moving into it while the house was done.

I am incredibly lucky as my studio is like a small house. It has four rooms which we designed to be converted into a ‘granny’ annex if we ever moved so the store room was plumbed for a future bathroom and the kitchen area arranged so that it could semi function as such if we ever needed it to.

The kids have all up and left, except that the boy came back (still trying to impress on him the need to move back out, but I must admit I’ll miss him. You never know when a new flower arranging extravaganza will come up) and so we had looked, (I would say on and off for at least four years), for a smaller house to buy closer in town. The houses were great and we saw so many that we could have easily lived in but typically they had no gardens and definitely no room for an outside studio so eventually we decided to stay in this far too big for us house and renovate.

It took me forever to move all of my stuff out of the studio. I seriously believe I had more stuff packed in there than we have now packed from the house.

On a side note I don’t actually know what planet Peter lives on but he seriously doesn’t believe I need it all.

🙄

Now, except for most of my jewelry stuff, it’s all in the garage waiting for us to move back into the house so it can come back inside the studio to play.

The studio came out wonderfully and this week we finally moved into it and, I must say, I might not want to move out of it ever again.

Well that’s what I say now…

It’s not ideal to have your jewelry studio in your living room, but hopefully it won’t be for too long and perhaps I’ll take the opportunity to write more and to finish some of the paintings I have lying around and so not create as much dust and fumes as normal. I’m also going to be a grandmother in February so I think a baby blanket is in order. I’ve not tried Tunisian crochet before so I’m going to give it a go.

Only the colour will be a mustard because that’s how my middle daughter likes to roll.

😊

And so that’s me.

I’m not completely convinced that I want to share my studio with Peter. It’s like an intrusion on my sacred ground, but as it was his idea to renovate it and it’s way nicer now than just having a new floor, I might have to give in on that score.

WARNING:

Although no flash photography was used in the making of this video, because I wasn’t sure if anyone would really be interested in what the studio looks like and so felt a little silly filming it, I kind of rushed it. Not super rushed, but enough to say whoa, hang on a minute there girl while I let the dizziness pass.

Enter at your peril…

So you can see that I’ve still a bit of unpacking and sorting to do and the jewelry area does look a bit out of place. I’ve yet to down-size on the clutter and decide what to keep in here or not as it does look as though it’s all stuffed in right now and as I’m not the tidiest person in town I think perhaps the less I have hanging around the better. The one downside is that we have to have the litter boxes in the room with us as there’s nowhere else for them. I’m not sure that I’m going to be o.k. with that. Also there’s nowhere to hang the wet towels right now 🙄 I’ll have to think about that one. But as none of these are world problems I think we’re good.

On a stranger note I happened to google my name the other day and this lovely lady popped up.

I don’t really know who she is (although she does look as though she’s in England) so I thought I’d show you the real me.

Try not to be disappointed that I’m not young, blonde, and beautiful as I’m sure you were all imagining…

Also Youtube seems to have changed things around since I last posted a video so I don’t know how to turn the sound off right now.

To be honest I don’t even know if the videos will post correctly.

🤷‍♀️

I had cut the clip from the first video and then I thought, why not.

So now you’ve seen my face I’m going to have to eat you.

Ha! you thought that was just for disposing of paper evidence didn’t you…

It’s all fun and games in the studio until it’s not…

Perhaps it’s because the studio is being renovated and I’m make-doing in my dining room.

Perhaps it’s because we left for a visit home and I got all jet-lagged and everything.

Maybe I’m homesick and don’t know it.

Or perhaps it’s just one of those, ‘it goes in cycles’ things.

Whatever it is, it better hurry up and sort itself out because I don’t want to play any more…

I don’t think I’ll ever understand how one day you can’t put a foot wrong. Everything is going right for weeks and weeks and weeks and then bam! you go to bed one night and the next day you can’t make a darn thing work. 

To be fair on myself, I am betwixt and between things.

I’m in the dining room trying to work and all around me my house is in boxes waiting for its turn to be renovated. It’s unsettling as I’m always thinking I should be doing something else.

There are always people in my studio, which of course is where they should be, but I feel as though I’m just in here twiddling my thumbs. Not getting on with anything ‘important’.

And to top it all off I just finished a few pieces that I ended up melting down because they weren’t doing it for me.

And so my world has ended.

Woe and more woe.

I look at all the beautiful pieces that people are making on Instagram and think – why? 

Why me?

What has my life come to?

Will I ever be able to make anything again?

(Too dramatic?)

Well that’s what it feels like anyway.

Anyone else?

I must admit that since I stopped making my jewelry for charity I kind of feel that I’ve lost my purpose. Where’s the reason for making it?

I reached a mile stone for the amount I gave to charity and thought that perhaps it was enough. That considering the world’s horribleness doesn’t look like it’s going to be fixed any time soon that mine was a pretty futile effort.

I don’t know.

I enjoyed sharing what I’d learned with others, but now it seems I can’t even come up with anything remotely interesting so that’s also gone out of the window.

So roll on tomorrow and bring me some meaning.

Or at least a spark of interest.


Don’t let that mini crisis get you down man… A little snippet about me.

So if any of you have read the little box to the top right of this page you will have learned that I’m a recovering hypochondriac. Which is actually code for I take anxiety medicine. This makes me laugh because I had no idea that hypochondria was a form of anxiety. I just thought I was a full blown Woody Allenesque wimp – but with more hair. (Actually that’s not true as my hair is probably shorter than his. Unless he’s bald in which case I definitely have a smidgen more). The medicine helps, but I still have bouts when all kinds of illnesses come back to tease me. Some of which I’d never heard of before, and wish I’d never heard of. I mean vulva cancer. Come on!

I even had to stop reading one of my favourite murder mystery series because the detective’s sister is a doctor and so all sorts of intriguing illnesses are thrown into the mix. Of course I had them all. Even the ones that only men can get because, of course, the doctors could be wrong…

It’s known as hyper-vigilance. I can also have it when I’m in the movie theatre and someone is eating their popcorn loudly. It makes me cringe up inside and it’s all I can concentrate on. I seem to try to make myself as small as possible as if to protect myself from outside noises.

Weird right?

When I learned that it was all a form of anxiety I felt so relieved that I laughed out loud. O.K. and I felt a little stupid for not knowing about it before. Not that I wanted anxiety, but because it explained a lot of things about me. Some things that I’m still discovering. But it means I can now stop in the throes of it all and try to figure it out. Doesn’t always work but at least I know what it is now, and the medicine, however much I hate taking it, helps.

One thing that I’ve always suffered from, and I will say suffer because sometimes is debilitating, is a lack of confidence.

I’m definitely a perfectionist, which I actually like about myself. I don’t think this is necessarily a problem for me or actually the cause of my confidence issues. It can be frustrating, but I think it’s a quality that helps me strive to make things better and to always be moving forward. I’m not saying that this is always a good thing and I could definitely do with spreading the effort around a little more – like in the case of housework for instance.

Nah…

So here I am – again – in the middle of a mini self-confidence crisis, which no-one can help me with. Compliments (and believe me I’m not looking for any) in my top heavy world of insecurity actually makes it worse.

Right now I’m wanting to literally contact everyone that has ever bought anything from me for in the past ten years to ask to buy it back.

Yep. It’s that bad.

So what to do about it?

I want to answer – to give myself no chance whatsoever to mess up so that I won’t be caught in a mistake and people won’t be disappointed with my work (aka me) – but that’s an awfully small box to put myself in and I actually think it’s impossible so I figure that I’ll just have to ride it out.

Again.

Or maybe I could hit myself on the head so that I lose consciousness for a couple of days until it’s all over and I forget altogether what the hell I was worried about in the first place.

Could work.

But before I try that I thought I’d share the struggle because I know there are a lot of others out there who suffer the same way.

I see you.

We’ll be o.k.

🙂

Rings and Buffer happenings

I thought I’d just offer a little tip, but then decided I would go ahead with another quick show and tell on how I make a simple ring – I want to say shank, but am pretty sure that’s not what it’s called and I can’t for the life of me think of another name for it…

Just not that good at words sometimes.

So first up. The tip.

It’s not a big tip and probably everyone does it, but I used to get frustrated trying to straighten up wire. Don’t laugh.

Wire straightener – riogrande.com #116717

Personally I never use it, but if you want to straighten longer lengths of wire for viking weaving etc., I’m sure it would be pretty handy.

Now for the ring.

This is just a simply way of making a ring shank. (I just looked it up and I think it might be called a shank after all). There are so many ways to make rings and everyone makes them differently, but I just wanted a simple band (haha! I think I have the word I was looking for. Came naturally when I wasn’t looking…) but with more support because the top of the ring is larger and a single band seems too thin for it. There are different styles also so chances are you won’t want to use this one. But just in case you do and have never made one before…

There is a chart for working out lengths of wire that you need for each particular ring size. I’m just too lazy to bother with it, but if you really want to be economical with your silver you should look at it.

In this video I have already made the top of the ring as I wasn’t planning on making a show and tell.

As always be warned that I don’t edit but I do make the videos in snippits so you can skip around. If you click on the video it will take you to YouTube, but you’ll have to come back to the blog to watch the next one. The show and tells really are just for beginning jewelry makers that might need a little encouragement so the idea of them being out there in the YouTube universe kind of seems too much.

Ring mandrel – riogrande.com #112390 – this is a stepped mandrel which would be more accurate.

NOTE: If you use the wire/length chart above be aware that different gauge wire would alter the fit of the ring slightly. If, for instance, the wire is thick the inside diameter of the final band would be smaller so that’s something to be aware of. Also this chart will make a perfect ring shape and I have taken some of that out so you will still cut too much silver for this particular style. If you do cut the wire to the correct length, however, you can hammer the ends and file them down before bending it into the ring shape. Not as fiddly, but I’m often down for fiddly…

Diamond burs – riogrande.com #346063 – there are lots of different burs of different quality, but this is a cheap starter pack which includes various shapes. Once you’ve figured out which bur you use the most you can invest in more expensive ones.

Silicon polishing wheels – riogrande.com #332579 – again there are lots of different silicon wheels so it’s a matter of experimenting until you find those that work best for you.

Snap on sanding discs – HERE – you will also need the snap on mandrel which you’ll find at the bottom of the page.

Graver – this is a selection of gravers – HERE – I use one with a sharp point to scrape any solder that may have flowed into textured pieces. You’ll find them at riogrande.com also

O.K. so here’s the thing. My buffing machine should be bolted down onto the table, but I’ve never got around to it. Don’t judge me…

I just haven’t found a spot that I’d like it to stay in and it’s usually o.k. However when I first started out I made the mistake of buffing a length of chain that I was holding too loosely and it whipped around the wheel (and my hand) and as I tried to jump away I pulled the whole thing onto the floor. This is when the knob fell off.

DO NOT DO THIS!!! (I can’t write that loud enough) I’ve stupidly done this twice (maybe three times, but I’m not admitting to anything). It hurts and it could have been a lot worse than it was. Fortunately I only broke the machine, but I nearly took my fingernail off and had to say ouchy ouchy more times than I’d like to tell you when the chain was wrapped around my hand so tightly that I didn’t think I’d be able to get it off especially as my eyes were watering as I tried to use my not so good at cutting left hand.

I can’t stress enough how dangerous the buffing machine can be. My new one, because I think I’m going to have to get another one, will be screwed down. Don’t make me come out there to smack some sense into you as someone should have done to me…

Just sayin’

Black Max – riogrande.com

3m yellow radial discs 80 grit – riogrande.com #326026 – There are different grits for different jobs, but I mainly use this one.

You can buy a selection pack of them if you’d like to experiment with each grit at – riogrande.com #326024

NOTE that I like to use the 7/8 size. You can buy the smaller ones here – riogrande.com #332595

I use this wheel on my buffing machine to finish my piece – riogrande.com #330541

And this is the smaller buff for my handpiece – riogrande.com #338130

This is the link to the new mask I have – HERE – So far I like it and it’s easy to get on and off. It seems to push down on my nose a little which made me sniff in the video, but I think I just need to adjust it more.

NOTE: The fibers from the buffing wheel and the dust from the Black Max will still be in the air when you turn the machine off. Normally I keep my mask on because of this. I do have a dust collector, but it isn’t connected to the buffing machine at the moment because we took it off so that Stephen could whip me up something less cumbersome than the set up I had. He never got back to me which is why I’m seriously considering cutting back on his food rations. With that and the knob situation I’m deciding if it’s really worth keeping him around…

The video stops on this one as someone called me. Sorry.

It may seem like it in the video, but I’m not sanding an awful lot of the bezel thickness away. I’m just really skimming it over the surface to clean off the Black Max. If you want to try this just be careful to keep an eye on the blue masking tape so that you’re not sanding through it. You could also put two layers of tape over the stone if you’re worried you might damage it.

And that’s it!

Hopefully it wasn’t too boring. As I said it’s really just to encourage new jewelry makers to have a go. I found rings quite intimidating at first and couldn’t quite figure out the best way to do it.

This is one way to make a simple ring band. Someone else would make it differently and probably far better, but it’s just a beginning and you can go on from there.

Loop in Loop take 2

Hopefully you’ll be able to see what I’m doing in these videos as the first time I tried to make it for you everything at the end was out of the camera line and so was kind of a non starter 😉

Mexican Fire Opal

For this particular chain I’ve used 20 gauge fine silver. (You can use sterling silver, but it might be harder on your fingers). I’ve used a 9mm diameter mandrel to make the jump rings.

Single Loop in Loop Chain

 I’m pretty sure that I have seen some charts that will tell you which gauge of wire to use with which diameter jump ring to make different sizes of chain, but I haven’t been able to find them yet. If you’re like me, however, good old trial and error works just as well. You can make some test runs with copper first to save messing up with your silver. Your main concern will be to avoid using a diameter ring which is too small for the wire gauge as you want the chain to move well and not be too stiff. 

O.K. So…

This time I only focused on making the actual chain and not how to make the jump rings. If you would like me to make a video on how to make and solder the jump rings just let me know

😉 

MATERIALS:

For 6″ length of chain

30 x 9mm, 20 Gauge Fine Silver Jump Rings.

Round nose pliers

Awl for jewelry, leather or bookmaking

Draw Plate

This first video stops abruptly because my son came into the studio. It was kind of irritating, but we did have a nice chat about how I could edit him out…

NOTE: You don’t need to solder fine silver. If you make sure that the two ends of the jump ring are lined up perfectly and there isn’t a gap where you’re going to join them you can slowly and evenly heat the ring until the silver fuses itself. This just needs practice. 

LINKS:

Pepe Jump Ring Maker – riogrande.com #110189 – I have the older version of this tool. I really like it as it has a huge number of mandrels to choose from. You don’t need a jump ring maker, however, to make jump rings as you can wrap the wire around a length of dowel or something similar that is the width you’re looking for. Just be sure to wrap the wire as tightly as you can around the mandrel.

I think the word I was looking for at the end of this video was ‘fluid’, but you get the idea. I haven’t found the need to anneal the chain once I’ve finished it, but perhaps if I used sterling silver I would. It just softens the silver up after you have worked with it so that all of the links move more easily. As I said you have to be careful when you anneal it if you have soldered the joins together because you don’t want the solder to re-melt. This is another good reason to fuse the fine silver instead of soldering.

LINKS:

Draw Plates – HERE – There are many different kinds of draw plates out there, but these are the ones I use. I’m sure for this purpose you could even make your own by drilling holes in a piece of wood.

Awl – HERE – Again there are loads of different needle tools out there. This one seems most like the one I use.

And that’s it.

The only thing that might put someone off making this chain is that it’s fiddly, but once you get the hang of it it’s a breeze.

There are a few variations on this chain, such as the double Loop in Loop and also a triple one, but I haven’t made either of these yet as I’ve got to build myself up for extra fiddly.

Maybe later

😉