Slowly…

Very slowly, the dollhouse is squeaking along.

I’m still spending most of the time sitting and looking at it, and thinking about it, and looking some more at it, because quite frankly I don’t know what I’m doing.

And don’t even get me started on scale.

I’ve decided not to worry about scale…

As a consequence the whole thing is taking forever and I might have to take a break from it and make some jewelry.

At least then I’ll know what I’m doing.

Perhaps

The house so far.

All along I’ve had trouble with the second floor and where the windows will go because of the roof so I decided to cut it down and work on the first floor upward.

Instant relief…

So it went from this.

To this.

I made a mock up of a wall which turned out o.k.

I made a practice floor.

And painted it.

I worked on an Inglenook fireplace.

Which was going to have a firebox in it, but I’m thinking now the box may have to go somewhere else.

And then I made it some book cases.

I worked some more on the stairs.

Which are a complete mess inside because I just made them up as I went along. Who knows, next time I may very well know what I’m doing.

(Probably not)

They’re going to have a cupboard.

With shelves.

The whole thing just cracks me up ?

Now I have to just put a second coat of paint on the walls, make the room a larger floor, put a grate in the fire and paint the woodwork. Then I’m going to make it some beams and go onto the kitchen.

Or maybe I’ll make some jewelry…

?

I always knew I was messy

But I’m ashamed to say that yesterday I actually took my dollhouse from one room into another when the mess became too overwhelming – even for me.

Yes, I walked away from it.

I love the concept that we create from chaos. The fact that I can take perfect lengths of fabric and cut them into hundreds of smaller pieces only to put them back together again to make a quilt has always fascinated me. That individual tubes of colour can come together to make an image that wasn’t there before is like magic, but I’ve a sneaky feeling that my creations leave more destruction in their wake than the chaos that gives life to them.

Reluctantly today will be a cleaning day.

But before that, my progress so far for those of you interested in how not to go about making a dollhouse from scratch.

I’m not going to lie, maths was never my strong suit and so mostly I have to visualize things first before I can get the numbers down.

That involves a lot of cardboard and blue painters tape.

It started off like this…

Here I will show you only two renditions as, to be honest, there were quite a few of them.

A day or two into trying to work out the structure and fiddling around with all the cardboard boxes I could get my hands on, I started to get bored and so tried my hand at making some windows and stairs.

Because it’s never not a good idea to jump ahead and waste time carving out things that you’ll probably end up not using.

Look at those teeny nails ? I didn’t need to use them because the wood glue would have been just fine on its own, but I couldn’t resist.

And so after quite a few cardboard mockups and carved out windows and doors I decided to stop procrastinating and got the wood out.

It has to be said that there has been a lot of sitting and looking.

And then getting bored with it again and making something else I probably wont use.

But just look at that dormer.

I can’t tell you exactly when the house started to morph into something larger than I’d intended, but I think the dormers had something to do with it.

Because then I had to bump out the side wall to accommodate them

And, of course, add a chimney breast.

Or two.

But really it’s the roof that’s giving me pause for concern so I’m mostly ignoring it at the moment. Adding a few sheets of cardboard here and there when I feel a moment of inspiration (albeit short lived) but I’m determined I’ll get there.

Of course an engineering degree would have come in handy at this point, but no, I just had to pursue that sculpture degree for what use that does anybody ?

To be continued…

It’s a strange thing, but true

That for a long time now I’ve wanted to make a dollhouse.

I know. Don’t think about that too much for now as I don’t really understand it either.

All that needs to be said right now is that it’s been bubbling along inside me for years now and so finally I decided it was time.

As with most everything I do I tend to spend ages thinking about how to go about it – mostly because, as my very own number one cheerleader, I think it will be too hard for me and I will fail miserably. It was the same with setting cabochons. I would be making my silver pieces while all the time thinking about how to go about making a piece with a stone in it. I’d already made a cabochon setting in a class I’d taken at community college, but I made it again and again in my head as I sat at my table. Eventually, when I was finally ready, it was as though I’d been setting cabochons forever.

Same with this dollhouse thing, although I don’t think it’s going to be as easy as the cabochon setting – no matter how long I think about it.

So I looked around the internet a bit to get some ideas on how to go about making one and who knew (not me) how many people were making doll houses! It’s a remarkable thing to see. It kind of put me off a bit as I could see all of my ideas already made. It was as though I’d already made it – without making it – if you get what I mean.

But I continued to think about it until I knew that it was only a matter of time before I’d have to give in and open up this whole new can of worms because, as I’ve learned throughout my life, when I’m in I’m really in and now I was going to have to buy all of the stuff that I didn’t know I had to buy and then some.

The fact that I could most likely buy a couple of brand new, fully furnished, fantabulistic doll houses for less than the materials and tools I ended up getting didn’t deter me at all although it did confirm what those other people who live with me have been telling me for years now, that I’m a little, how can I say it nicely – obsessed.

Who wants to buy a new doll house anyway when you can spend ages regretting that you didn’t pay attention that day in school when they were teaching the Pythagorean Theorum. Now, had they told me then that I’d be needing that, or something geometrically similar, to figure out the structure of my future dollhouse roof pitch no doubt I would have been all in and at the front of the class, but… oh well.

All I can say is that now, with dogged determination, I am winging it.

I’m aiming for something in-between this.

https://mulvanyandrogers.com/gallery/

And this.

Doable I think…

And now, before your very eyes…

I’m going to show you how I keep everything organized.

I wasn’t going to because half the time I don’t know what I’m doing – you’ll see that when I get to my feeble attempt at bookkeeping – but what I’m about to show you works very well for me and so for anyone who doesn’t want to take the six years that I did coming up with an efficient way of keeping their jewelry straight, this is for you…

First up – Storing each piece of jewelry so that it’s easy to find.

I separate my pieces into categories as such.

Necklace/Cabochons

Necklace/Silver

Bracelet/Cabochons

Bracelet/Silver

Earrings/Cabochons

Earrings/Silver

Rings/Cabochons

Rings/Silver

Use as many, or as few, categories as you want to. You might not want any and just clump all of your pieces under one umbrella, however, I tend to have a lot of pieces hanging around and find breaking them down this way works well for me.

Then I make each category a chart.

This makes me feel very efficient.

Each category uses the same chart and I just switch out the heading when I’m printing it. The Silver items don’t have stones I know, but if I use beads (I don’t usually) I can list them there.

I made this chart initially as I was interested to see how much it was costing me to make each piece and how much in fees I was paying. Especially as I’d been hearing a lot about how much Etsy was charging. I wasn’t really paying attention at that time, but started to wonder how much I was actually making on each piece I sold. Now I often see beautiful pieces on Instagram and Etsy which I doubt are making anything much at all for the artist.

I don’t have a column for Time here as I can see under the Net column if the amount I’ve made after Cost and Fees is worth my time. This really is a chart to keep everything straight.

Here you can see the chart in action.

This is just an example as I just pen mine in.

It’s pretty straightforward. Each item gets a SKU number (the SKU for the Kazakhstan Necklace therefore is NC3) and a brief description.

Under Gross I put what I’m going to charge for the piece.

Next is the silver column. I weigh the piece on a small scale I bought from RioGrande – HERE – and times it by the cost of the silver – which is $26.67 per troy ounce right now. You’ll find the market cost for silver on the RioGrande home page top left. This gets a bit tricky I suppose as the cost of silver moves and if I kept track correctly I would know which piece of silver cost what when I bought it and when I used it. Not happening. So I tend to just times the troy ounce by $25 right now and keep an eye on the market. If it dips or rises in price significantly I alter my calculations. The silver used in a piece is negligible at this point I think. In this column I also include the cost of the chain and clasp which tends to add up to $15 for the ones I typically use. So the amount of silver I used for the Kazakhstan Necklace after the chain and clasp was $7. I round these amounts up or down accordingly to keep it simple. – O.K. and also because my dad laughed at me when I showed him how I used to calculate this part down to the last cent.

Next I fill in the Stone column and then the Cost column is the Silver and Stone added together.

I don’t put the Fees in the sub total here because Peter says he just needs the actual material cost.

Yes. Peter does my taxes for me because – I don’t.

When I tell you that I can put three sets of numbers into the same calculator and get three separate results three times in a row you’ll understand why…

Don’t judge me.

I could lump the silver and stone together in one column to begin with but I like to know how much I spent on the stone as sometimes they can be expensive and later, when I come to see the price I’ve charged, I get worried that I’ve messed up my silver calculations (read the paragraph above) and reduce the piece out of embarrassment and then only realize once I’ve sold the piece that I’ve lost money because the stone cost an arm and a leg and I forgot etc., etc..

Then I put in a rough round up of the Fees charged for using PayPal, Stripe, etc..

I have a sheet which I refer to at the front of my folder which tells me how much PayPal, or Stripe, or Etsy (if I still used them) is for the amount I charged (Gross) for the piece. And so by adding the Cost and Fee column together the final Net column is what I will have made after all of that. Now I can see what I will actually get for a piece and depending on how much time it has taken me and how involved it has been to make I can decide then if that’s a good price for me and alter it accordingly if needs be.

Now all of my pieces have their SKU number and I’ve a rough idea of their cost they get their own box.

But, to make it more exciting, they also get bags.

Yep. Sometimes it’s even too exciting for me…

Now. This may look a bit anal, but I have a tendency to make a lot of jewelry so…

The bags you see below are the Mother Bags. (I’ve just watched an Alien movie so work with me here as I try to get the lingo out of my brain). Each Bag represents a category (again you might not need this) and each Mother Bag has smaller individually numbered bags in them ready to be filled with a piece of jewelry that corresponds to their SKU number on the chart.

Necklace/Cabochons are NC1, NC2 etc.. Necklace/Silver are NS1, NS2 etc.. Earrings/Cabochons are EC1, EC2 etc.. You get the idea.

You can decided what you need.

Then, as I fill them with finished pieces of jewelry, I put them into larger bags of ten. This means that I know exactly which box and then which bag a piece of jewelry is in when I need it. Of course you have to put the SKU number in the item description in your shop otherwise this method will do you absolutely no good whatsoever.

Yes. I’ve done that…

Here are the cabochon bracelets in their box ready to go.

I keep all of the charts in a folder so that I can enter a piece as soon as I’ve made it, give it its number and put it in its bag.

If I sell a piece I run a highlighter over it to know it’s gone. A different colour for each year… just for jollies.

And then behind that I have monthly records where I can enter pieces I’ve sold and also items I’ve bought. I can also keep receipts, etc here.

At this point you might be wondering – why.

And it does seem a lot as I write it here, but actually it’s not and it really helps me keep everything in order. The monthly Sales page (below) also helps me keep a record for the tax man as I have been known to spend hours and hours at the end of a year trying to find out how much I’ve sold throughout the year, and then, how much tax I’ve collected and how much ‘I think” I’ve spent on materials. Etsy and PayPal keep records for that I know, but well, I find this so much easier and it keeps my pieces organized at the same time.

So again this is pretty self explanatory and is again just an example.

This is where I write in how much the customer has been charged, by me, in total – including shipping and tax if any. The date it sold, the SKU number, how much it cost me to make (found on the first chart), the invoice number, the exact amount I’ve been charged in fees by PayPal etc. The exact amount it cost me to ship, and I also have a column where I can indicate which payment of a layaway it is if that’s relevant. (Layaways have a different baggie, but that’s for another time…)

I make two sheets for each month. The one above and this one.

On this one I just write the date, what it is I’ve bought, whether I paid via PayPal, or another way and finally the amount I paid. I really only use it for supplies but you could put equipment, etc., here also.

And at the end of each month I can calculate each column and put their totals on here.

The Supreme Commander Chart.

And at the end of the year I can add up all the columns and be able to tell the tax man exactly how much I sold and how much it cost me in materials without having to resort to drinking.

You’ll have to ask Peter how to do all of the other tax stuff because, frankly – not my thing. Sorry. As long as it’s all done I will just thank him nicely and make him an extra cup of tea.

And that’s how I organize. It sounds involved, but it really isn’t. It works well for me. If you’re like me and make a lot and are absent minded and can’t find something when it’s sold, this might work for you also. There are a lot of systems out there and I know many are much better than this one so use at your own risk…

If you happen to find that none of this is clear nor makes sense you’re probably not the only one.

I made my charts using Pages on my computer. You can use my examples if you wish or make up something that makes more sense to you.

Stay well

?

So

I woke up one day and had nothing to say.

Actually it wasn’t one day as it had been creeping up on me for some time. Since my dad died to be honest.

And that was that for the blog.

And for my motivation.

I don’t really know if I’ve come back from being gone yet but I’m going to try hard this year to get back some purpose.

I’ve got a new house and a new grandson.

What’s not to feel motivated about.

Jamie

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

😉

Just a hello…

I made a video on how to make the Link in Link chain for you, but right at the end, right at the crucial part where all the important stuff happens, I move my hands out of the camera view and you can’t see any of the good bits.

Here I’ve used two 3″ lengths of the Link in Link chain to make up this Mexican Fire Opal bracelet.

So a remake of the video is now on my to do list as it’s a really simple chain which you might like to have a go at making yourself. It’s fiddly, but once you get it down there’s nothing to it.

Just a note here on the videos I make.

I’m by no means an expert, but I don’t mind sharing how I make things with you. If you ever see something I’ve made and would like a, ‘behind the scenes’, just let me know. I’m not very good at making the videos. I can’t be bothered to delve into the tech depths of editing for instance, I’ve too many other things I’d rather be doing. So what I do in real time is what you get, so to speak, including all of my mistakes. And I do make mistakes which is annoying as oftentimes it’s just because I’m being lazy or not paying attention or I simply don’t really know what I’m doing and I’m making it up as I go along, but I think mistakes can also be good to share as it’s encouraging to see the ‘real’ stuff going down.

Well that’s my story anyway.

😉

I also get very bored, very easily and don’t know what to do next so a video challenge gives me something to do.

Except for when I’m depressed then we ain’t getting nothing.

But the sofa sees a lot of action.

I get depressed a lot.

Just one of those things.

I’m also a bit all or nothing. I’m either going full steam and don’t lift my head up, or at a full stop wondering what the point of it all is.

You know how it is…

In other news. I went to the MFAH the other day to see the Royal Family which I really enjoyed. Well I enjoyed the Tudors and the Windsors. I didn’t care for the Stuart and Hanover paintings. Too wafty for me. I like the meat of the Holbeins.

I mean look at Anne with her lovely long neck.

I love the simplicity of this style of painting.

Unlike this style.

Which is a little too frivolous for me. I also don’t like all of the space around it.

Brilliant painting though.

He is George III. Mad King George. The one we got rid of in the U.S.

And here is Charlotte, his Queen, and interestingly enough the first black queen.

I didn’t know that.

Anyway. Back to the Tudors.

Lady Jane Grey.

What a tragedy.

Below is one of my favourite paintings of her in the exhibit.

According to the nice man on the audio tape it apparently was thought lost, destroyed in a flood, but was unexpectedly discovered rolled inside another painting years later in London with extensive water damage. It’s amazing how they were able to restore it.

You have to stand in front of it to feel the awfulness of it.

It was one of the only paintings in the exhibit that I felt compelled to go back to several times.

Then, of course, there was good old Henry himself.

Which was fantastical

🙂

Although this has to be my favourite.

I have to include one of the Earl of Essex of course because that where I come from.

He definitely looks like he knows how to get things done.

Thomas Cromwell

Of course he ended up with his head on the block.

And then there were the Windsors.

My people.

The Andy Warhol.

The Princess Di.

And this, my favourite, of the Queen.

I know. I know. Not quite her most flattering, but it was marvelous.

The one I stood in front of was the blue hologram (below) which doesn’t translate well from my photograph so I found you a decent one online.

It was mesmerizing. Almost magical.

Strange, but true…

Of course no good visit to the MFAH should end without a quickie to the African gold room.

 

 

A looksee at the wonderful little these things.

 

And a finish off in the what the hell happened in here room.

 

 

 

They make my rather large and peculiar butterfly necklace look rather mundane…

Happy Sunday.

🙂

 

 

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Ocean Jasper Box Necklace – Show and Tell

I’ve made these on and off over the years and thought I’d share with you how I make them if you’d like to give one a try.

Coral Fossil

So.

Same disclaimer as always.

I’m not a professional.

I don’t endorse any tools or materials, but just let you know what I use.

And last but not least.

I will deny any responsibility for your getting annoyed at the video in a court of law.

Moving on…

I am definitely a make it and figure it out as I go along sort of person. I also forget from one minute to the next what I’m doing. Usually I’m not showing anyone else so I can generally get away with it 😉

I like to put a design on the back of the pieces I make because I think it looks nicer if the necklace turns while someone is wearing it. It also serves the purpose of being able to work the stone out of the bezel setting when I’m making it and for releasing hot air when soldering.

NOTE: I soldered the box edges (the bezel wire) onto a piece of silver. I’m showing you on this larger piece of silver, but I had cut a smaller piece before I soldered the box sides on.

NOTE: Making sure that the flow of silver is continuous on the outside of the bezel wall is relevant to any bezel making. When I first started to make jewelry I used to be disappointed when I could see little pits along the outside of the setting. It took me a while to realize that if I took a little time to make sure I could see a continuous line when the solder flowed to the outside edge my finished pieces would look far better. You can help the solder flow by using your pick to spread it evenly or, if this doesn’t work, it might be that you haven’t enough solder and need to add just a little more. Even if it looks great on the inside it can still be pitted on the outside.

If you find that you need to cut down a piece of bezel wire that is too high for the stone and you have already soldered it onto the silver backing you can mark the sides with a sharpie, adjust a pair of dividers to the amount you want to cut away, and then run the point of the dividers around the bottom of the bezel wire. This leaves a fine line that you can use as a guide to file, or sand, the excess away. To make sure that you have the edge completely flat you can finish it up by then marking the bottom with a sharpie and sanding it in a figure of eight motion on a flat piece of sand paper until all of the sharpie has gone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was trying to focus the camera closer to the work and so it doesn’t show that I’m just picking up small pieces of solder with my pick and bringing them back to the small cutouts.

Solder will stick to the end of the pick If you heat up the pick and ball up small pieces of solder at the same time. They have to both be hot. Then you can bring your pick back to whatever you’re working on.

I do the same thing when I’m soldering a ball into place except I replace the pick with the ball. I pick the ball up with a pair of long tweezers and take it over to the solder. The ball is thicker and more solid than the small pieces of solder so the ball has to be heated more before the solder will stick to its bottom. Then you can take the ball back over to the piece you’re working on. If the back plate is as hot as the ball, the ball should solder onto the plate with no trouble. If the plate is not hot enough the solder may come up over the ball. The temperatures have to be the same with anything you’re soldering and you have to bear in mind that each piece, due to its size and thickness, will take different amounts of heat to attain this. Only when both pieces are the same temperature can the solder join them.

I often shield a piece I’m working on with my hands to double check that I’ve got the pieces in the right position for soldering. If the light source is coming from one direction it can be deceptive.

If you’re looking for a shiny surface in the finished piece, obviously you wouldn’t sand the silver as I do. I like a more matt, buffed, look and so this doesn’t affect the finished piece.

You won’t always need to put a stopper inside the box. It just depends on the fit of the stone.

You have to look around the web for the Wolverine Ultra Silver Brazing Flux as it seems to vary in price and availability. I use mine by putting a small amount of it in a smaller jar and mixing it with distilled water until it’s fairly runny. Even though I keep a lid on it the water evaporates out of this very quickly so each time I open it I have to add more water. This seems to work well for me though.

Cross locking tweezers – riogrande.com – #115206

Honeycomb soldering block – riogrande.com – #502005

Soldering pegs – I can’t find where the pegs are sold separately, but you can find some here – riogrande.com – #111039

TIP: Unless you like living on the edge as I do you might want to measure the height of your prongs first 😉

It would have been easier for me in the long run if I’d made up my mind about the small pieces of balled wire that I added at the end before I soldered the box onto the back plate. It’s not a problem to add things afterward, but whenever you solder anything onto a piece after you have added the prongs you have to be very careful not to re-melt the prong solder. I just kept the flame away from that area and kept a good eye on it, but you can coat the areas that you don’t want to be affected with that yellow oxide powder that I used in a previous show and tell. I just forgot about it – again… (riogrande.com – #504080)

As it was I cut the wire to the correct height and held them in place with tweezers using the same technique as with the prongs.

Ocean Jasper

larsonite

And some older work using the box.

Sonora Dendrite

 

Purple Passion

 

Jasper

 

Poppy Jasper

 

Prudent Man

 

Amethyst Sage

Next up I’m thinking of making some more of these if you’re interested in another show and tell.

Amber

🙂

Behind the scenes – Cheetah Jasper Necklace…

As you probably know by now my video skills leave a lot to be desired. I had wanted to make a, ‘why don’t you make one along with me’, video of the Cheetah Jasper necklace, but what with the glare and the constant fumbling around for my grown up words and then forgetting to explain what I’m doing I have decided that really this is just a show and tell.

If you are able to make anything of it that helps with your own jewelry making I congratulate you 🙂

 

NOTES AND LINKS:

Indian Jewelry Supply not Art Supply, but I’m not sure if they’re around anymore.

Short-Handle 1lb Brass Head Hammer – Rio 112061

Lindstrom HS6001 Cutter Shears

Buffalo Rutland Stamps

Chasing tool from 2moontools on Etsy.

Turned out to be no dilemma at all as I only had 23 gauge anyway 🙂

I use an acetylene/air torch and mostly pick solder.

Here I’m using the little silver balls to pick the solder up instead of my pick. I pick the ball up in my tweezers and take it to a pile of solder chips I have laying on my brick. I heat a little piece of the solder which then attaches itself to the bottom of the ball. I keep it heated as I move it back toward the leaf.

I mainly put the little hammered balls under the pieces that make up the bottom layer. I do this to bring the pattern up off the back plate to give it some dimension. As I build the picture up I don’t use as many balls but instead lay pieces where I think they will best suit the design.

I generally have all of the solder ready to go on the bottom of each piece.

As I said, I’ll try to figure out a good way to video the process without the glare and try to show you how it all comes together on another piece.

I know you can hardly wait…

BeadSmith 1-Step Big Looper Plier

Abrasive wheels.

 

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Happy New Year!

I was going to write about my New Year’s Intention to work on protecting my boundaries without feeling guilty and how Joe from Little Women is my new, just be yourself, hero.

I was also going to tell you about the face rash I developed the week before I was due to fly to England for Christmas which I thought was shingles and which I just knew would prevent me from getting onto the airplane due to being infectious to pregnant women and children and how I would have to stay home alone to suffer my own sad and lonely holiday, but which simply turned out to be an allergic reaction to hugging a friend.

I was also going to tell you about how I’ve fallen three times since August due to not paying enough attention to where I’m placing my feet and how the third time I fell, on Boxing Day, although it seemed that I barely touched the floor with my knee, it resulted in a bruise to end all bruises which has systematically migrated from the tip of my left kneecap down to cover the whole of the front of my shin and which is, even now, moving around to the side of my leg and down to my ankle.

I was also going to tell you that Christmas was good albeit especially cold on the one day we chose to spend in London drinking cocktails in the Ice Bar (because why not spend 45 minutes in a room even colder than the already bitter outside) and taking the Jack the Ripper tour well into the dark, bitter evening. And how I was disappointed with the tour because I, and I think most everybody alive today, already knows the ins and outs and the hows, whos and whys of this particular serial killer and as most of the sites the guide took us to are now either modern office buildings or parts of London which did nothing to call up the horrors of the day we could have happily sat with the guide in a warm pub drinking beer as he pointed to the pertinent locations on a map. All I could think about the day after were the poor half frozen to death prostitutes waiting for tricks on dark miserable corners with nothing but the prospect of getting drunk silly on gin and orange to keep them warm. Which reminds me to look up the months that the murders took place as the idea of a knife piercing already bone-chillingly numb skin seems somehow worse than if the murders took place in the summer months.

Just me?

I could also tell you how my daughters boyfriend approached me ONE week before we all left for London and asked me to help him make her an engagement ring. Of course he had zero experience and had never made a piece of jewelry before and I had never made a prong setting, but we did it in spite of, or maybe because of, the fact that I told him every inch of the way that he wouldn’t be able to do it. A somewhat new approach for me from the encouragement I normally give my kids.

He did good

🙂

 

But then I decided to not tell you about any of this, but instead just wish you all a Happy New Year

🙂

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Notes on watching the videos of my bracelet tutorial

This is my first video series and it’s been a bit of a learning curve to understand YouTube and what I wanted from it when I uploaded my videos on there so I thought I’d just give a quick explanation of my thinking here.

When I made the videos I knew there’d be some extra notes that I’d want to include as I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to talk and make the piece at the same time. I think I did pretty well with most of them, but there are one or two which I felt needed a little further explanation.

Also I’ve included a lot of links to the materials I’ve used etc. for those who would like to know and there are no notes for any of this on YouTube.

To be honest, the idea of anyone being able to watch this on YouTube worried me a little bit also. You guys may know how I muddle through and perhaps forgive me for it, but there’s a lot of stranger danger out there in the grown up world.

I’m hoping this will work out, but just let me know if you have any trouble.

The first part of the tutorial is HERE

 

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Happy place…

So it’s been a year.

Well a couple of weeks shy, and I’m finally beginning to sort myself out.

Now I know why the Victorians had the whole black thing going on.

It’s like a code for, Back off, I’m not quite right and might explode at any time.

Tell me, would you approach this woman thinking things are all happy and rosy?

Apparently, as you can see by her jewels, she’s only in half mourning.

According to the rules it’s just nothing but black for two and a half years after which then, and only then, you might add a little trinket to lighten things up a bit.

Of course Vicki had the whole thing down pat.

Even the dog was in on the game.

I just happen to be watching Victoria on PBS right now.

It’s always a shock to see the real face of Victoria after seeing her on t.v.

Almost an exact likeness except for the nose I think…

The same thing happened with Henry.

Must have just caught him in bad lighting.

Anyway, suffice to say, I’m feeling a lot better about the whole dad dying thing except for being a bit pissed off.

I find myself happily plodding away in the studio when suddenly I remember that he’s dead and spontaneously snap at him for being so inconsiderate.

Sometimes swear words are involved and I’m not sorry about them either because I’m generally just pretty ticked off by the whole thing.

On the whole I have to say I’m happier with this stage of the grieving however.

It feels more productive.

But I just wanted to share with you some goodies I bought for myself today.

One of these.

This.

And this.

By Catie Miller – HERE

I love the happiness of them.

Could these be my little coming out of mourning trinkets I ask myself?

Would they look a little strange hanging round my neck?

Think I’ll just stick with using them for succulents and tea, however, otherwise the people in the grocery store might really think I’ve lost the plot and could explode at any time.

Wouldn’t want any trouble around the egg plants now would we…

Checking in.

As those of you that read my blog know, I’ve kind of lost my way since my dad died, but I don’t want to give up just yet.

My trip home was good.

I only had a cry three times, including one where my sister lovingly tossed me a used tissue.

Bless her.

Probably why I’ve got the lurgy now.

I’ve come home with a sore throat, cough and achy parts.

Thank you K.

I ate all of the food on my list except for the pie and mash, fish and chips, and the pint of bitter.

So much food, not enough time.

The flights were awful. The most uncomfortable I’ve flown for a long while and took for ever. We did make it there and back in one piece, however, so I’m grateful for that.

I wasn’t as cold there as I expected, which is unusual for someone who usually curls up in a corner with a blanket and doesn’t come out again until all the heaters are turned up high.

In fact, at times it was just as cold here in Houston as it was in England.

We stayed at my brother-in-law’s house which is an old converted barn.

Actually I think it was the pig sty as the large barn is to one side.

I started a painting of their house before we left, but I just can’t get those pesky oil pastels to dry.

They’ll probably get it two years from now.

Our bedroom was behind the larger window in the roof, above the kitchen door.

The house has the original brick floors and some brick walls, but I really only had to curl up once.

Probably the red wine helped.

I’m thinking of painting the barn opposite also.

But not the big black barn.

It’s just all barn and windows.

Nice, but a bit boring.

This is the entrance coming into the old farm.

Before Christmas I made quite a few pieces which I shared on Instagram, but only got into the studio for the first time yesterday.

A friend wanted a piece with topaz and amethyst, but it was hard for me to find anything that I liked.

In the end I found these.

And this is where K and her used tissue comes in.

Usually I’m pretty good at replicating one of my drawings. In fact it always surprises me, but this time.

Well…

Don’t even talk to me about it.

So today I’m off out to get my hair cut, which always makes me feel better, and then I’m boycotting the studio until I feel better.

I’m going to sit on the sofa and switch off BBC and put on some old film.

An old black and white Barbara Stanwyck movie is my preferred choice, but I doubt I’ll be able to find one.

And I might even start back on my embroidery.

 🙂

I’m off to jolly old England :)

I gave it a smiley face there because I’m really happy that I’m going home to see my family, but even as I write this I can feel the anxiety tingling away in my chest having a party all on its own.

Big chicken when it comes to flying.

Big melodramatic chicken.

I’ve spent this week saying goodbye to all of my stuff. Slowly at first, but with more sadness yesterday and today.

(Did I mention the melodramatic part?)

That said and done I think it will be good for me to get out of dodge for a while. I’m ready for something to break up the vacuum of stuckness this year has hanging over it.

So yah for me.

(Still nervous)

On the upside.

Sausages in a crusty roll with Daddy’s sauce.

Pork Pies

 

Fish and Chips

Beef Pie

And last, but not least, I’m determined to have a dish from my childhood.

Pie and Mash with lots of liquor – and I don’t mean the alcoholic kind…

lum

All washed down with a pint of bitter.

Hey. If it was good enough for the Queen Mum it’s good enough for me…

So if I don’t come home fatter than I’ve ever been in my whole life, something has gone terribly wrong.

Might have to have the old arteries checked out also.

Best wishes and let it be a really good Happy New Year to everyone.

🙂

What’s not been going on.

Getting out of bed for one.

Not cool.

I’m just up and it’s midday. I keep telling myself, don’t think about it girl, just put your feet on the floor and straighten them knees up, but as I always over think everything I’m still waiting for that to work.

And then, when I’m finally up and remarkably find myself in the shower, I’m even more fed up because then I’m all wet and can’t be bothered to get out.

Also what’s not been happening is getting out and about in the real world, although that’s never bothered me much. Once I’m out it’s like, wow, so this is what civilization looks like, but once the initial surprise is over that’s it really.

And the blog.

What can I say, except that’s it exactly.

What can I say?

I’m boring myself to death in a dense pit of gunk so why bring everyone else down?

But every so often I feel that I need to at least write something. It’s like we had this thing going on and I’ve just walked off and not looked back.

I do think about everyone.

As I dragged myself through the post shower drying process this morning I even thought how nice it would be to go to Peru with Gale and eat guinea pigs! But then I thought of poor Guiness and how he’d be turning over in his little grave at the thought and how thankful he must be that he just died of a respiratory infection and not because he had been roasted alive in some charcoal pit in South America.

It’s nice to travel, but I guess you have to think about these things…

And I’m really worried about Cecilia all alone in South Africa going off on those safaris. Haven’t heard from her in ages.

So that’s me.

Still here.

Still crying over dad.

I mean, not always, but just enough sadness to suddenly be brought up short and go through the whole thing again in my head. You know, like how he had just fallen over and wasn’t really dead at all, but then they went ahead and cremated him anyway, even though he had three weeks in between where he could have jumped up and shouted ‘surprise’, so in actual fact the crematorium killed him and it all could have been prevented.

You know, the normal thoughts…

Well normal if you’ve got this low lying depression going on with a touch, just a touch, of psychosis.

I have been getting into the studio as some of you might already know because of Instagram. I’ve also had a few custom orders which always surprises me, and have sold quite a lot really. So that’s nice. It just takes me longer and longer to get in there.

I’m going in there after this although really I just want to sit on the sofa and close my eyes.

Grief is an awful thing, and guilt, because my sister is left in England finishing up all of the paper work and what else is required when someone dies.

And she still has dad under the stairs although she says that’s o.k. as she lets him know the soccer results every time she needs to get the vacuum out.

So just in case I’ve managed to bring anyone down into my gunk pit here’s one of my favourite Christmas jokes to cheer you up.


See you next time.

Strange times.

As I come to think about my blog and all the friends I’ve met through it, I find that I can’t quite ignore the bad feelings that have exploded leading up to this election.

I’m not completely sure what has happened to us all.

I’ve found myself caught up in my own fair share of Facebook propaganda and yet have been surprised when I come across some pretty aggressive comments between people whom I’m sure are strangers to each other and yet believe are otherwise friendly and accepting . One time I even came across a remarkable post linking Clinton to child sacrifice and blood drinking satanic rituals, but as I’m desperately hoping that the people who believe these things are now safely back to their right minds I’m left wondering how it is that we have become so outraged by differences of opinion.

It’s like The Stanford Prison Experiment, but on steroids.

When all is said and done, however, I refuse to lose any of my friends because of the intense negativity of this election.

I’ve decided to remove myself from FB for the time being, except for sharing my jewelry, and I’m also going to try to turn off the news for a while as we seem to be living in a world hell bent on destroying itself and the hatred and anger is becoming overwhelming to me.

You won’t hear my thoughts on the election on this blog, that’s not what I come here for, and I hope that those who have found they differ from my posts on FB will feel safe knowing that I respect their beliefs as much as I do my own.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Here’s a photo of my cats.

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😉

After a slow start

I’ve finally picked up the pace again.

I’ve mostly been doing custom orders which is kind of nice in that terrifying kind of way.

First there was this one which I made using the customers own stone.

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Turquoise

And then a ring, again using the customers stone

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Eudialyte

And finally one with yet another customers stone.

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Yellow Fire Opal

This last one was hard for me as the stone was huge and very thick and was also bevelled on both sides.

When I took it on I thought it was a regular flat backed cabochon which would have been easier to set, but with the back undercut as well I had to spend a lot of time fiddling around with it to make it sit well in the setting. As a consequence I used a lot more silver than expected. This is actually the second attempt so there was a whole bunch of silver that had to be scraped before I even got to this point.

The lady wanted bees and honeycombs to complement the stone.

To be honest I didn’t like it at all.

Not the stone, nor the design and I know that if I were a better jewelry maker it wouldn’t have been a problem.

When I showed the lady she said that I was close, that if I just took all of the silver off and put a couple of bees in the corner I would have it.

On top of that I had set the stone bottom up as the carving was supposed to be on the underneath.

I felt really awful.

🙁

I didn’t blame her as to me it was always a horrible piece, but I just couldn’t bear to do it a third time so I finally apologized to her and returned the stone.

I think perhaps now I can’t do anymore custom orders because I hate disappointing people.

I tried to like the challenge of working through the piece, however, I wasted a hell of a lot of silver which I have since melted down, but it means a lot of work rolling it out again. I did figure out a lot of things through trial and error, but really I didn’t enjoy it at all and think it ended up with all my bad energy in it.

Even looking at its photo gives me a bad feeling so I’m pleased it doesn’t exist anymore.

If the lady is reading this I’m sorry.

I tried.

Then another custom order with a stone I cut myself this time.

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Marcasite

Although one of its ball fell off.

Man!

After that I gave up jewelry.

Again.

Fortunately I forgot that I’d given it up fairly soon and decided to make a couple of pieces with some more stones I’d cut myself.

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Gold Sheen Obsidian and Marcasite

I didn’t cut this one below, but it’s definitely one of my favourite stones.

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Prudent Man Plume Agate

Nor did I cut these ones, but I am definitely working on never buying another cabochon again.

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Ocean Jasper

Yeah, right!

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Ocean Jasper

Here are some of the other stones I cut.

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Top two left – Indian Black Skin Agate. Bottom two left – Some kind of Jasper. Middle two – Owyhee Picture Jasper. Top right – Graveyard Plume Agate. Bottom right – Gold Sheen Obsidian.

Such a proud stone mamma lol

And here is what I worked on yesterday and which I’m going to have to fix today

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Yellow Adventurine

Call it OCD or what you will, but that left hand leaf is just going to have to go which means heating it off and putting a new one on. Which also means that I’ll probably have to reset the prongs again as they’ll most likely come off as well.

Jeez.

Then I think I’m going to try to stick to some simpler things.

Like the bangle below.

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Graveyard Plume Agate and Serpentine

Why do I always have to make things so complicated for myself.

🙁

One day I’m going to make something that doesn’t have bits falling off it when I do the final polish.

It’s so incredibly annoying.

Fred and Sylv.

My life just slipped into what it is now.

Like just the other day around 55 years ago I was just starting on it, and now I’m still just starting on it.

I have an on again off again relationship with making a go of it.

It being whatever I think I’d like to be when I grow up.

I went to art school after school because a teacher told me I should and I didn’t know what else to do.

Two years foundation course and three years for my degree in Sculpture of all things.

I had a bit of a hard time telling mum about that little chestnut.

She thought I’d signed up for painting and didn’t know what the hell I’d be able to do with a Sculpture degree.

I wondered what she thought I’d do with a painting degree.

Paint houses and garden fences?

After art school I worked in London.

Reality hit me in my last year of school and I spent some evenings copying text from Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake to teach myself how to type on an old manual typewriter that I picked up from somewhere or other.

Not good on the fingers let me tell you.

Anyway, after a few disastrous interviews that the temp agency sent me on, like the one at the Bank of America in London where I not only had to sit in a little room, along with I don’t know how many other applicants for the one job, to do a maths exam, after explicitly telling the temp agency that I did not want a job which had anything remotely, at all, whatsoever to do with numbers of any kind, even my favourite ones, but I also had to go on to name all of the capitals of all of the countries in all of the whole darn world for heaven sakes.

Really!

Didn’t get that job by the way.

Canberra tripped me right up.

I then had an interview at a film studio. I think it was Twickenham Film Studios, but I can’t remember because it was a thousand years ago now. They opened a door to let me in and I swear I’ve never walked inside such a rambling confusion of stairways and corridors in my life. The place was so huge that if I actually got the job I didn’t think I’d ever get out alive. They would find my skeletal remains five years after I’d starved to death in some grimy corner of an abandoned stairwell the first time I was sent out to the coffee machine.

Fortunately I didn’t get that job either.

I eventually got a job in a large accountancy firm, (I know. Numbers. That temp woman never did get it right) called Arthur Young McClelland Moore, and although I didn’t last a month upstairs in the pencil ordering department because I was apparently too shy when it came to talking with suppliers, I wheedled my too shy self into a job downstairs in the graphics department where I ended up manually cutting and pasting type for brochures and booklets and the like and even got to draw overhead projection slides.

Go me.

Then we moved to Malaysia, and so, after my two whole years of working in London for a living, I had to quit to follow P into the oil and gas insurance biz.

So that’s me.

After Malaysia came America, where 27 years ago I was assured by the said oil and gas insurance guy we would only live for two years, and then kids. Three of them. All wanting to live in the same house as me.

Somehow my life just drifted by.

I tell you this because I feel I’m in some kind of almost land right now.

I’m almost back to blogging.

I’m almost over crying about dad.

Except yesterday my sister told me that a large old black lady came by dad’s house this weekend when my brother-in-law was there, thankful to be able to tell someone how much she was sorry about the old man who had lived there as he used to always carry her bags for her when he saw her coming down the street.

Strangers strangers everywhere making me cry again.

And laugh because who knew there were so many of them out there. They mostly only knew him as the man with the dog, but still needed to come up to tell us how much they liked him and how sorry they were to hear that he died.

So yesterday I bought a domain name and worked on a new site.

Just for kicks perhaps. But I think because I also liked him.

A lot.

It’s not open yet and perhaps it never will be as I’ve got Cold Feet, but who knows.

Maybe it will remind me that this is all I ever needed to be be when I grow up.

Someone like dad.

If I can get out of almost land that is.

fredandsylv.com

d1

_

By the way, the first paragraph of Titus Groan is one of my all time favourites.

‘Gormenghast, that is, the main massing of the original stone, taken by itself would have displayed a certain ponderous architectural quality were it possible to have ignored the circumfusion of those mean dwellings that swarmed like an epidemic around its outer walls. They sprawled over the sloping earth, each one half way over its neighbour until, held back by the castle ramparts, the innermost of these hovels laid hold on the great walls, clamping themselves thereto like limpets to a rock. These dwellings, by ancient law, were granted this chill intimacy with the stronghold that loomed above them. Over their irregular roofs would fall throughout the seasons, the shadows of time-eaten buttresses, of broken and lofty turrets, and, most enormous of all, the shadow of the Tower of Flints. This tower, patched unevenly with black ivy, arose like a mutilated finger from among the fists of knuckled masonry and pointed blasphemously at heaven. At night the owls made of it an echoing throat; by day it stood voiceless and cast its long shadow.’

See.

I gave it my all

I did.

But now I’m done with the Art Fairs.

I gave it ten years.

I persevered through the Houston heat and that one bizarre time when at the same time of year I nearly froze to death it was that cold.

Honest I did.

But yesterday even the good ol’ Texan boys were complaining.

Grown men moaning about the heat.

And I was with them.

I’ve never been so overheated in my life.

I wasn’t just sweating, it was coming off me in planes.

Sheets of wet sliding off my face.

My face looked like a wet rhubarb and I gave up on trying to keep what little make up I wear on my face.

Just wern’t ‘apning.

I had to go au natural, which actually wasn’t natural at all because no one looks the way I did yesterday.

Ever.

Oh I checked it out alright.

I looked at every last vendor there and no one looked as much like a wet fish as I did.

And I bet you no one had to change their clothes three times!

It was bad enough at the beginning after setting up, but then it rained. Not a lot, but just enough to make the humidity virtually unbearable in the hour or two afterward.

We can’t have a good old cool down after a sprinkle can we.

No, Houston has to turn into the hothouse of hell.

It did let up later in the afternoon until the thunderclouds decided to roll on in.

Fortunately, (or not), they did seem to pass either side of us. I say not because at that point I was actually praying for a catastrophic storm, or even a small earthquake really, that would mean we’d have to go home.

Not one to abandon ship at an art fair, because that’s just not cricket is it, I was at one point seriously considering emailing the show organizer and telling her that my leg had just fallen off and that I had to leave. Sorry.

I trooped on though and have now vowed that it was my last.

I had four sales including the one from the friend who helped me with the booth.

This morning I still can hardly walk.

I’m telling you.

I almost died out there.

As I was in the shower later that night I tried to turn my misery around and thought about all the people in Syria and Yemen and how they must feel just living day to day in awful conditions with oftentimes no water or food to boot.

It made me feel a little ashamed that I couldn’t make one day without completely falling apart and so I determined to continue to make my jewelry for them  as it’s the least I can do.

Although not at art fairs unless I can find a good one in Houston that’s indoors for heaven’s sake.

For the love of god, are the people who live here even aware that it’s completely abnormal to even consider outside activities in 90 degree heat with 90% humidity!

And I was one of them, but I’ve come to my senses at last and not a minute too soon.

Before yesterday I was even considering applying to the three day Bayou Festival they hold here twice a year.

What drugs was I on…

I am never leaving the house again.

A little lapse with, if I say so myself, a brilliant recovery…

As I write to you on this fine morning I admit to having just deleted the FOUR new games I gave in to midway through this week.

Shame on me.

But it did bring home to me more than ever the fact that this addiction to wasting my precious time is wasting my precious time.

I was reading again.

I was like almost finished with the book I’ve been reading for over a year now.

And then – nothing.

A black hole of word games sucked my life into a mindless funnel toward zombie land and I was gone again.

But now I’m back.

Until the next slip.

Not going to happen.

Maybe.

Despite the relapse I’ve had a fairly productive week and I sold quite a few things.

I’m now over $60,000 for charity which although amazing seems to have had no impact whatsoever on saving the world.

Man.

Can you say disappointed or what!

But, kidding aside, I do want to thank everyone who has bought a piece of jewelry from me.

🙂

The new lovelies this week are.

A pair of earrings with beautiful purple Luna Agate stones.

This shop is expensive, but I just can’t resist the stones there. It’s sometimes hard to use them as they make the jewelry so much more expensive.

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This Ocean Jasper was from there also.

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And here’s its back.

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Then I made another one of these for someone using one of my new favourite stones.

Rare Purple Chalcedony.

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And this one with a piece of Carnelian that I cut myself

😉

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Next up I’d always wanted to make something with one of these dentritic stones.

It came all the way from India. I prefer not to buy from outside the US, but look at it

🙂

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And then I fiddled once more with this piece which has been giving me some trouble with its stone choice.

I think finally I’m happy with it.

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I also made a couple of chains, some simple silver earrings, and cleaned up my work table to the point where I’m shocked whenever I go into the studio and see it again.

Simple joys.

🙂

I’m still having trouble avoiding purchasing stones, but look at this

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And this.

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Seriously.

I had to have them.

No hope for the wicked as my old mum used to say….

Just as a side note those are not my fingers. He seems to have cut the top off of one of them, something to look out for when cutting my own stones perhaps…

And on a completely different topic.

Just look at our orange tree!

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We bought it last year and I forgot what it was. I picked one thinking it was a lime and cut it open. Wow. The combination of the gorgeous green outside colour to the vivid orange inside was incredible.

Another shock to my week.

It’s all good.

🙂

TTYL

Things are getting bad – please send chocolate. Or, as my good mate Charlie once said, Desperate Times…

O.K. so I didn’t actually know Charles Dickens, but I’m pretty sure I spotted him in the street that one time in my other life.

Think it was him, those Victorians look all the same to me…

So today, rather than wallow which I’m apt to do, I finally decided to implement Stage One of the rest of my life.

I think it will be somewhat easy with mostly difficult spells so sounds simple enough…

First up I have deleted all of the games I have on my phone. A huge beginning of which I’m immensely proud.

Of course it’s only been two hours, but I’ve only missed them once so far so I think it’s going well.

As a consequence I’m up and out of bed literally 45 minutes earlier that usual. This could change of course as I haven’t yet banished the computer from the bedroom.

Small steps…

I decided to launch Stage One as I’ve been having a really hard time with the death of my dad. It’s kind of taken me by surprise as I wasn’t so bad when my mum died.

Feel a bit guilty about that.

🙁

Maybe it’s because of this that for a while now I’ve been aware that my life has become rather middle-aged and flabby and It feels as though I’m living in a static world of nothing much in particular, so I think now is a good time to either make my move or forever hold my peace.

And so the first step toward my Brave New World, (didn’t know Huxley either which is probably a good thing as he’s a bit too intense for me in that extremely negative yet prophetic way of his) was to banish the phone games.

I feel rather liberated…

And now, with all my free time, I’m going to find some more positive things to waste my time with.

😉

But first to the studio to finish this,

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And to make another one of these.

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Happy Friday.

🙂

We’re away on holiday…

… and I am just bored outta ma mind.

It’s nice here, it is, but I just don’t want to go out fishing on a bay in which you can’t see nuttin’ but water.

It’s just not my cup of tea.

Talking of which I must have had somewhere in the region of five billion cups in the five days we’ve been here.

I’m kind of all tea’d out now.

Might have to take to vodka…

So I don’t mind really because P doesn’t get much time to relax and he loves fishing and I get to play all day when I’m at home so it seems only fair.

Except I just can’t get down to anything.

I’ve brought my oil pastels, my sewing stuff and the book I’ve been reading for a year now, and I just can’t seem to get in the right frame of mind to do any of it.

I’ve taken to watching Lifetime movies, that’s how bad it is.

Might put one on in a moment.

Here’s all I’ve done so far.

A vase of flowers. Half finished.

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And a half hearted drawing.

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I’d started this one at home and brought it with me, but I can’t even be bothered to finish this one either.

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I think I’m withering away.

And here’s P after a hard days fishing.

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I can’t even be bothered to sleep.

Better get that vodka out.

Desperate times…

Today I did something a little out of my comfort zone.

I signed up for a class.

On my own.

All alone and

By myself.

clasp-class

I’m a bit of an introvert you see,

with extrovert tendencies…

It seems that I will talk with anyone, and actually I do, but really I’m a scaredy cat who frets until I’m there and doing it.

Then I’m like.

Who are you? And what did you do with Deborah?

But not in that, Be gone from me Satan way.

In a good way.

I almost left the page, then I thought Do It! And so I did it.

It still makes my heart skip a little, but I’m sure there are worse things I’ll encounter.

Like my next trip to the dentist.

I also thought that as I’m pretty good at watching a video and picking things up through trial and error that perhaps I should save my money, but I think I really want to go mingle with like-minded people and see what happens.

Can’t be a hermit forever.

In other news.

The tank is back baby!

This is the old one going home to his empty friends

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Doesn’t help calm the nerves that they put that bright red sticker on it.

And here is it’s replacement.

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Looking a little lost with his clown nose.

Anyway he soon got right to it and we made a couple more necklaces.

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Turquoise

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Turquoise

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Ocean Jasper

It’s like my old nan used to say.

The back should be as good as the front.

Could do with a little more work under that second leaf on the right though…

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Yesterday I ruined my painting.

This is it started.

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I haven’t got a photo of it ruined as my darn phone keeps telling me that I have no storage.

It never used to have this problem so I think it’s all just a dastardly plan to get me to buy a new one.

They think I don’t know about their dirty tricks.

It’ll probably work though…

And now I’m off to Austin to visit B, my eldest.

We are going to have a weekend of watching movies, doing some stitching,

I’ve still not finished this.

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Or this.

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And just hanging out.

And so I leave you with a Rumi quote.

Not really into all that touchy feely stuff, but this one kind of makes me feel very centered.

luna-let-yourself-go

Have a good weekend y’all…

(Sorry)

The darn acetylene’s empty again.

When the gauge gets down to around 4 on the regulator thingy I start to get anxious.

The inevitability of having to drive that bottle down to the shop one more time and bring back a full one starts to weigh on my mind and every time I light the thing up I know I’m just a little bit closer to the end of the world.

D day awaits me tomorrow.

I’d have it delivered if it wasn’t for the fact that I live in the Stepford Wive’s neighborhood.

They’d probably have a committee meeting to throw me out if they knew the goings on in the studio.

I think I’m safe though as I’m pretty sure they think I’m the house cleaner.

So today I could paint. I could make some non soldered pieces – I’d like to brush up on the old cold connections and work on some riveting.

I could clean the house.

I think, however, it’s going to have to be the cinema.

Bourne has been waiting for me and I hate to disappoint him.

Yesterday we went to the Summer Chills here in Houston to see Agatha Christie’s, The Spider’s Web.

I love going to the theatre, and I especially love it now as we make a point to go see these summer murder mysteries with all the family.

It’s become a tradition.

Except S hasn’t been around for a while.

He sayyys he’s working in his namesake town, Stephensville, but how likely is that.

I personally think he’s been kidnapped into slavery again.

Or he’s working undercover to throw down some huge drug ring in the middle of Texas.

Negotiations have obviously been thwarted if it is abduction, however, as first he was to come home the end of July, now he’s to stay there through September.

They let him answer his phone occasionally so that’s kind of them. Most of the time though we don’t hear a peep out of him.

Kidnappers can be so inconsiderate like that.

Here’s his picture so if you see him would you alert the authorities.

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Although he’s grown a bit since then.

Like 20 odd years, but I’m sure you be able to pick him out in a crowd…

I haven’t done much since we last met. I made the simple things a simple bracelet.

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I’m quite pleased with the simple things except they take me ages to make as I’ve to cut each piece out individually.

I started on another oil pastel painting.

I’ve decided to call these paintings Happy Art, because they’re not really real art, but make me happy.

Dawn, see. A Triffid.

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Although I think I prefer the black background.

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Maybe I’ll work some more on this today.

Yet.

Triffids v Bourne?

No brainer really.

ttyl

Everything was going so well.

Things had picked up.

They’d moved on from the funk.

Even I liked the pieces I was making.

I know, right!

I should have known something was up when it took me five years yesterday to solder two caps onto the ends of some wire.

I should have walked away then.

But no.

I had to persevere didn’t I.

I had to finally, after hours of fiddling around and trying again and again, finish the piece and decide to buff it.

Didn’t I.

One rotation, that’s all it took, one rotation of the buff and the same mood that had obviously been lurking around during the whole time I was making the darn thing, and that was it.

The wire wrapped at least twice around my hand, if not more, so tightly that it’s a wonder it didn’t rip my finger off. Fortunately for me, (well more than fortunate really), the wire snapped. All three strands of 18 gauge half-hard silver wire. Otherwise I don’t know what would have happened.

That’s how much it had twisted around my hand.

Twice around my hand and then spiraling off when it couldn’t go around anymore into a mass of twisted wire before snapping.

It hurt.

Please.

Please!

Always use the buffing machine with care and your full attention, and don’t use it on things that it’s not meant for. Like chain or wire.

The dent in my fore finger was so deep I didn’t think it would ever go back to normal, and with a bruise on my pinky and a gouge out of the underside of my forefinger, I consider myself to be extremely lucky.

For a minute I didn’t think I was going to be able to cut it off with the snippers in my left hand and all I could think about was tiny baby toes getting wrapped up with a thread from their blankets, rotting, and falling off.

I know.

Don’t ask.

But it was fine. I had a little cry, because right now it’s all just piling up, and turned the buffer off and shut down the studio for the day.

Should have done that right at the beginning.

Today’s not much better. I don’t seem to be able to get myself moving and it’s taking me ages to do anything.

I know why. My sister sold dad’s car and we made the decision to sell his house also. I was doing o.k., but then smacked into emotions about the house that I didn’t know were there.

And then P had a birthday and dad’s was always the first card to arrive.

It had to happen, and will happen again. This year will be a first for everything.

Just putting it out there.

But I was happy with the pieces I’ve made, which most of you have probably seen on Instagram or Facebook.

It’s like I have no surprises any more 😉

First up the Carnelian.

I broke the stone I made it for so had to cut another.

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Looks like a jelly bean doesn’t it.

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Then there was the chrysoprase.

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A bit blurry.

Sorry.

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Then I used up some more of my scraps using the blob of silver I’d heated and rolled and heated and rolled till my arm almost fell off.

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I quite like these and am making a bracelet to go with them now, but due to The Mood it’ll probably take another five years before it’s finished.

Next I made a little something for somebody.

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I quite like the rustic look of this one and might try it again.

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Then I bought some lovely East Java Purple Chalcedony off of Shirl and Bruce and made this little one.

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Designs by Shirl is one of my go to cab shops. They’ve always got some interesting things going on.

Then there was the quartz.

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The piece for which I almost lost my finger.

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And its friend.

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Who was much more well behaved.

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I like this one as the back of the stone is a pyramid (I’m sure there’s a term for that) and so it juts out slightly from the hole I cut in the back.

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Anyhow, those are all the newbies.

My next challenge is taking the acetylene tank down the road to get a new one.

I’m putting that little treat off until I don’t feel so accident prone.

😉

I’ve given it all up – again.

Call it what you will.

Off the boil.

Bored with it all.

Funk.

Decline.

But the jewelry’s taken a plunge.

Again.

Hasn’t stopped me from buying up all the cabochon’s on Etsy though.

Or a new saw.

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I didn’t want to buy it.

Really I didn’t.

Just look at it in all its funky self.

I didn’t want to encourage it.

I’m not that fancy gadget tool kind of girl.

But, although my trusty German beginners saw has done me well over the past years, I decided to bite the bullet.

And I’m glad I did.

It’s a beaut.

What I love most about it is the tension lever. I do find it a little more awkward to change the blade or open it up for piercing, but only because I haven’t found a comfortable way to hold it yet. The old saw just sat nicely in-between my chest and the bench, but because you don’t need the tension of your body for this one it seems to wobble around more and it’s just a little more fiddly, but aside from how to hold it as you put the blade in it really is easy to load and it saws like a dream. It almost seems to do half the work for you.

I love it. and recommend it.

I perhaps wouldn’t have got the 5″ one, however, as it hits me in the Optivisor if I’m wearing one. I thought it was a good idea, but as I buy my sheets in 6″ squares, it doesn’t accommodate the width anyway and I feel that the regular 3″ would have been fine.

Because of the asthma I’m also going to have to invest in a dust collector.

I’ve seen a few that will work for me and just have to make up my mind.

I need a hose that goes to two places on my bench. One where I buff and one where I use the Foredom to sand, etc.. I already have a fume extractor which I’ve started to put over the pickle pot as well as over the soldering area as, as the fine doc says, you can’t fix stupid. Actually he said fume damage, but I knew what he meant.

So I may go for this one.

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Or this one.

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I’m thinking the Dura-Bull as it looks easier to change the filters. Depends on it fitting under the table with the hoses sticking upward however.

So, maybe it looks like I’m not giving up jewelry again after all.

Maybe just taking a break.

Here are the newbies.

Petrified Fossil Wood
Petrified Fossil Wood

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I broke this one so I’m going to have to re-do it.

Perhaps this was the beginning of the funk.

You know. When everything goes so well.

And then not.

So my heart really wasn’t in this one below.

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Plume Agate

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Although it turned out well.

Or this one really.

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Australian Crazy Lace

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I have enjoyed making the torc collar, or whatever they’re called, for the pendants.

I looked everywhere for them as I knew that my work would be better suited for them, but couldn’t find them anywhere. In the end I asked a jeweler whom I’d noticed used one. She told me she’d made her own which I had thought about doing myself, but for some reason thought that they wouldn’t hold up well. So this gave me the confidence to go ahead and make one.

I used three strands of 18 gauge sterling silver wire which I capped off and soldered a lobster claw clasp to.

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This is the jeweler I asked.

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Laura Jane Bouton

I really like her jewelry.

You should go check her out if you haven’t already.

So that’s it really.

Spud’s all jewelry’d out.

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And I’m off out to do some painting, which I’m sure I’ll really, really enjoy until I decide to give that up also.

My life. I tell you…

ttyl

Why good Sirs I do believe I’ve found me a fine Southern boy…

After Dracula I had decided on either Rebecca or Anna Karenina, but when I listened to the preview readings of the audiobooks I didn’t fancy either of their voices so I search around aimlessly until I came upon South of Broad by Pat Conroy.

Bit of a difference I know, but work with me here.

I think everyone must have seen The Prince of Tides with Nick Nolte and Barbara Streisand, but I hadn’t ever thought about anything else he’d written until I listened to an interview he gave on the Diane Rehm Show on NPR. He was talking about his book The Death of Santini and I was fascinated, until I forgot about him again.

Sorry Mr Conroy.

As I listened to the preview of South of Broad I was hooked.

What a warm, relaxed feeling that Southern accent gives. I could listen to it all day. I don’t know if Mark Deakins who narrates it is from South Carolina, but who cares…

And the words, in the sentences, that make up the paragraphs.

What can I say.

Pure bliss.

I’ve nearly finished it so I’m sure now I’ll have to go through and listen to them all.

You may never hear from me again…

I’ll be on my veranda drinking cold lemonade with my audiobooks.

If only I had a veranda.

And some lemons.

Not a lot going on in other news except that I have just found out that I have asthma. Turns out that instead of keeping me for two days in hospital and signing me up for five thousand heart tests when I went to the doctor with the heavy chest and shortness of breath feelings, they should have just looked more carefully at the chest x-ray they took when I first got there.

But at least now I know my heart’s O.K. and that, as P points out, they actually found one.

At first I laughed when the pulmonologist told me as asthma was the last thing I expected to hear, but of course then I thought that he had also got it wrong and in fact I have silicosis which he had overlooked in favour of the lesser deadly disease because I don’t look like the silicosis sort.

I started preparing myself for the inevitable lung transplant.

So when I went back to the doctor after having the ‘breath tests’ which the man kept referring to as ‘breast tests’ (was it just a lisp I asked myself or had the v-neck of my t-shirt got stuck around my waist again?) we had the, ‘ So, how do you know exactly that it’s not silicosis because you know I work with clay and other fraught with danger chemicals in my studio’, chat.

He said that I didn’t have silicosis.

I questioned him again, just to make sure.

He said no (again).

I didn’t have it – yet.

He could have left that last bit off because of course that means there’s still a chance that I could contract it in what’s left of my lifetime (I’m opting for the 40 more years version) and so my hypochondriacal self will obviously be having a field day with the possibility of contracting silicosis from now on out.

Girly you really need to get a grip.

So now I have two inhalers and some other medicine. I sometimes wonder that they don’t just give out this stuff like candy. I’m going to have to tell him that I can’t be inhaling that stuff everyday forever when I go back in six weeks.

No-one got time for that…

But I’ve definitely been more diligent with putting on the old fume extractor since.

And so here’s a new lovely.

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Ocean Jasper

And some new drawings for some Willow Creek Jasper.

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Although I must admit I’m having a bit of trouble getting excited about them.

Don’t know why, but perhaps I just need a break.

A painting break?

Not a pottery break. I’m too silicosis’d out for that right now.

I know for sure that I need a break from going to the darn doctors every day since the beginning of eternity.

😉

So we haven’t had a project in a while…

And I thought you might like to play along with me.

By the way, Dracula is great. I much prefer it to Frankenstein except that it’s spoiled somewhat by the fact that the Gary Oldman/Keanu Reeves movie is so true to the book that I can see it all playing out in front of me again. I really wanted to imagine it differently this time.

Oh well. Rebecca next…

Or Anna Karenina.

Don’t know.

So onto the project.

I bought a lovely piece of Sage Amethyst and thought I’d make another of my boxy pieces.

So if you fancy making one here’s how I did it.

I drew a rough design around the stone.

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Then I took a length of bezel wire that is the same width as the depth of the stone and shaped it into the top three sides of the box.

You can just about see it below.

See.

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I sniped it to sit perfectly on top of the stone.

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Then I bent another piece of the bezel wire across the top of the stone.

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And soldered it to the bottom part of the box.

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(Prepare for fuzzy photo)

I turned it over and soldered what will be the top of the box onto a piece of silver leaving enough overhang on the bottom edge to create a lip that will cover the top of the stone slightly

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Then I cut around the sides of the box.

(Another fuzzy photo)

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and checked out how it fit to the stone.

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I actually thought of leaving it right here as the plain silver looked so good on its own. But you know me and my fiddly ways…

Here’s the lip.

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You can see above that the area where the sides of the box and the stone meet doesn’t lie flat on the block. Annoyingly I had forgotten my own instructions and chosen the wrong bezel depth so I had to adjust the lip slightly so that it didn’t lay quite as far over the stone as I would have liked. This allowed the two pieces to sit flush.

Had the sides of the box been deep enough I wouldn’t have had to kick myself and swear (just a little – I’ve had bigger problems) but as I’m all about problem solving I manned up and moved on.

So much for paying attention.

Then I forgot all about it when noticed a half set little Tiger’s Eye just laying around on the table doing nothing much in particular and thought it might look good with the amethyst.

The colour actually looks a lot better with it than this photo gives it justice and, as Snow White would sing anytime she had chores to do – Someday my Prince will come – It was as if it knew its soul mate would eventually come.

Somehow thinking of P when I’m doing the washing up doesn’t quite have the same effect on me..

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As the sides of the tiger eye bezel wasn’t as deep as I wanted it I decided to make it another.

Now I don’t know if you remember, but I had an awful time fiddling around trying to get this vice thing to work for me.

But now I can tell you it’s my new best friend.

I just wasn’t being stern enough with the screws on the top.

Now I’ve figured out that I just have to be firm with it the thing holds the tubes, and whatever else you want it to hold, like a champ.

So I cut another length of tubing to fit the tiger eye.

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And placed the cut off bit back in the vise and made sure to sand the ends completely flat.

You can file right down the vise and not damage the file, or so the Internet says, and you know the Internet is always right…

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Once you’ve done that you can use your nifty bur to drill down into the tube to cut a seat for the cabochon to rest on.

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As you probably know you can purchase cabochons, tubing and bur sizes in various millimeters so that they all correspond to make setting a stone a breeze. Once you get the hang of the annoying vise…

See here how it sits so pretty.

Took me over a year to figure out the easy way to do this.

Man I’m slow…

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Next I cut out a matching hole on the top of the box.

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You can just about see below that the tube has been soldered to just stand proud of the top of the box. You want the tube to fit snug into the hole you’ve made so that the solder joins the two completely and you want just enough of the bezel showing above the box to be able to push the sides over to hold the bezel.

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Next I filed the bottom flush.

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And cut out a backing sheet of 22 gauge fine silver to fit both the top box and the stone.

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Before soldering the top to the backing plate, however, you have to pierce the back so that air can escape as you don’t really want another explosion in the studio.

Just sayin’

My tube sits all the way down and will be soldered to the back plate so creating a sealed chamber around it inside.

My preferred way to do this is to trace around the pieces to be soldered with a Sharpie pen.

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This way I can play around with some ideas and then saw out my design.

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After I have done this I can then go ahead and solder the box to the back plate knowing exactly where the design will lay by matching the top to the Sharpie lines.

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I then drew in the bottom part of the stone again and drilled some holes for the prong setting.

IMG_8868I like to solder the prongs using a charcoal block. This way I can place each prong into the hole I’ve drilled and gently tap it with a hammer so that it sinks down into the charcoal a little. I place each prong as you would close a bezel up, tapping the next prong on the opposite side, etc., etc., until they are all in. This way seems to keep them more secure.

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Then I place a little blob of solder at the base of each prong and place the leaves around the bezel and after soldering

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See if I haven’t completely messed up and that the stone fits correctly.

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Here is the pierced back.

And my grubby finger. Oh how we suffer for our art…

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Here I have cut the excess silver from around the box and stone and have cut the prongs down to their correct height and finished them by shaving some of their thickness off and smoothing out the tips.

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Here’s it’s sexy shot.

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I fashioned it a simple, yet charming bale and soldered that to the top after I finished up the back design.

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At this point we know that it would be an extraordinary thing for me to have managed to photograph every stage of the pendant’s making.

Extraordinary I am not.

I forgot to show you the back.

You’ll have to improvise.

Sorry.

Here is the piece sanded, patina’d and buffed.

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Sage Amethyst

Turns out that I’m not completely happy with it because the top left hand of the stone doesn’t sit as snug as I would have liked it to and the prongs are set too far out on the left hand side. I think it happened when I had to fiddle with the lip to fit over the stone.

🙁

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But I will bravely continue on with my struggle to produce technically perfect little pieces of lovelies.

I’ll never surrender…

And here’s its back.

Finished while you weren’t looking.

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And here’s another piece I had on the back burner.

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Variscite

So let me know if you make one.

🙂

The dangers of not paying attention…

Left forefinger – bur cut.

Not just any old bur, but the sharpest bur in the box bur.

Middle finger – sanding disc cut.

Yep the edge of the disc managed to slice open the side of my finger at full speed ahead – which kind of hurt.

And it had to be the coarse disc didn’t it…

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Right forefinger – water bottle cut.

Man!

Who slices their finger open on the cap of a plastic water bottle!

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They’re all wrong. Too much water is obviously hazardous to your health.

I haven’t cut so many of my fingers at one time – ever, and all of them are really sore and needed Band-Aid attention.

Previous to that, in this same week, I suffered a scalpel blade cut and yesterday a chain swipe around a thumb as I was happily buffing away.

Don’t do that.

Buffing chains is not cool and can kill you.

I just like to live on the edge.

I blame it on Mary Shelly as listening to Frankenstein had seemingly lured me into a deep hypnotic state from which I obviously couldn’t wake up from in time to prevent these bodily dangers.

Darn you Mary Shelly.

Or was it the narrator?

Probably more likely.

What can I say except that Victor Frankenstein is a complete weeny and is frankly getting on my nerves a little bit. He needs a quick kick up the you know where so that he can just buck up and stop going on and on about how tormented he is all the time.

Such a drama queen.

And that wretch the Monster. Good grief. He learned an awfully excellent vocabulary in the short time he’d been exposed to the German mother tongue and showed an extremely enlightened compassionate side to all fellow creatures for one so primitive.

I almost kind of liked him.

Until, of course, someone ticked him right off and he threw all decency out of the window in one hell of a toddler temper tantrum and decided to kill anyone who he decided had done him wrong.

No hello, no how you doing, no nothing.

Just straight in for the kill.

Talk about bi-polar.

Now don’t get me wrong I am enjoying it, but Dr Frankenstein’s final telling of his story as he searches once again for his offspring, this time hopefully to put an end to it all, is getting just a little mind numbing.

Dracula next.

Dum dum dum…

Here are my newbies.

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Sonoran Dendrite

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Mexican Crazy Lace

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Morgan Hill Poppy Jasper

For all his woe is me drivel I have to admit that Frankenstein seems to have definitely steered my designs toward a new path. Now, if only I can keep all of my fingers intact I might be on to something…

One thing I learnt that I already knew and two things I learnt that I didn’t.

Yep. Still here. Still a bit P O’d about you know what, but soldiering on… 😉

The weekend before last I did the art fair. This is when I wished I didn’t live in Houston.

Because of the weather.

Had to change my clothes three times.

I’m so over it.

I didn’t do as well this time. I think it was my attitude. My booth mate couldn’t make it because we had a rain date due to the fact that the heavens have decided to dump every last drop of water it has on Houston right now. I seriously wouldn’t mind sharing it with Alberta.

I can’t imagine what they are going through.

My booth was in-between two friends, but I just felt a little sad and wanted to go home about an hour after unpacking everything.

Was probably putting out some pretty negative vibes and everyone decided to give me a miss.

That’s o.k.

Dad would have blamed it on Kipper Season.

So back in the studio I’ve decided to concentrate on stepping it up again. It’s taken me a little while to be bothered with it all, but here’s one of my latest pieces.

It seems I still need to pursue the flower design even though I thought I was over it.

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I do like this turquoise though.

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Just a beautiful colour.

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For my next piece I think this is where I’ll stop.

I like how simple and clean it is. My pieces are sometimes a little overworked.

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 I don’t regret how involved my other pieces are as it has really helped me figure out the whole soldering thing which I have discovered is much less tricky than it wants to be given credit for.

I wrote once about how everything has to be perfectly prepared before you even begin to think about soldering two pieces together, but now I don’t think that’s necessarily true.

Of course to a degree everything has to be fairly clean and flush but, and you’re welcome to disagree with me, I’ve found that it really is all about the flame.

Of course I forgot about all of this when I was soldering, or at least trying to solder, the piece below, but eventually I stopped struggling with it and got, Go on, give it a go Gertrude, out and sure enough, as I’d already learned quite some time ago now, the flame wins every time.

If, my friends, you can only remember one thing from now on let it be this – size does matter…

Here’s the piece waiting to be soldered.

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Looking innocently like any other piece I have worked on.

Except it wouldn’t for the life of me solder even though I heated the hell out of it.

Even the silver wouldn’t melt whereas when I first learnt to solder I couldn’t even show it the flame from the next room without the bezel collar turning into a molten mess.

As I have come to find out over time the key to soldering is simply to heat everything up to the same level. If the nozzle on your torch isn’t capable of doing this, nuttin’ ain’t ever gonna solder.

Period.

You don’t really notice this with smaller pieces, but when you start on the larger ones until you get the hang of it you can lose a lot of hair pulling it out with the frustration of it all.

Tip. Unless you really like bald don’t keep at it. You pretty much know when you’ve been slogging it out too long. If it isn’t going to solder it just isn’t going to solder so turn the torch off, walk away and go wash those golden locks while you still have them. Willing it with your bloody minded laser vision isn’t going to cut it.

Believe me.

I know.

So when I first started I had a 00 tip for my Smith acetylene torch head. This was great until I spent several agonizing hours (read days) trying to solder one of my first larger pieces. Dad and I had many, what the hell’s going on now! conversations before I realized that the 00 just couldn’t heat up the larger area of silver.

So I bought a 0.

This has done me very well and now I only get the 00 out if I want to repair a chain or something small like that, so I was a bit surprised when the 0 wouldn’t work for me. This piece really isn’t any larger than some other pieces I’ve made, except the back plate is a thicker gauge so it could have simply been that.

I don’t have a 1 which is why I had to get, Go on, give it a go Gertrude out.

She’s only a number 2, but man does she fire up.

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I bought her a while back when I wanted to melt down my silver leftovers.

If you remember I started out on that terrifying adventure by purchasing a number 4.

Nearly took my head off.

Don’t chance it folks, the number 2 is more than happy to melt anything down for you. She still takes you by surprise every time you light her up, but not to the heart attack level of the number 4.

Now with Gertrude’s super power on my side the problem was everything heating up too much so I had to be very careful, especially as I tend to only use easy solder instead of working down through from hard.

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But by paying attention I even managed to get the prongs on without a meltdown.

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The thing I did find, however, was that because I had spent so much time heating it all up before getting Gertrude out, the bezel collar had become very crumbly and just seemed to fall apart. I’d never come across that before, but as nothing else was affected I just took the collar out and made a new one.

With a little filing and fiddling I managed to get it back in there.

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Now, here are the two things I did learn.

The first from an old guy that I met at the last art fair in October.

Flux the whole piece of silver and not just the area your soldering. O.K. so everyone in the whole world must know this except me, but It really does protect the silver and keeps the whole thing cleaner and you don’t have so much mess to clean up.

The second is something that again everyone must have already known.

After liver of sulphuring, or Black Maxing as I prefer, you can put the darn thing in the tumbler and it does wonderful things…

Now.

Tell me why I’m the only one who doesn’t know these things….

I’ve always had a really hard time cleaning up the pieces I make and getting the finish I want but, fingers crossed, this seems as though it might do it for me.

Of course I hadn’t used my tumbler for such a long time because I don’t like ‘shiny’ and didn’t realize that it could do other things that the belt had rotted and broke as soon as I started to get excited about the results.

But.

I have a new belt now.

Mwahahaha.

Here is the piece, and his friend, almost finished.

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He hasn’t been in the tumbler yet so I’m hoping he’ll be super great after that.

If not the tumbler’s going straight back in the cupboard…

ttyl

So here’s the thing.

Even years used to be my favourite.

Now you might say that this is magical thinking at its best, but I know that when you enter the dark world of odd numbers there’s just gonna be trouble in store.

Just take a look.

1 3  5  7  9

Now you can’t tell me that all those odd numbers don’t look dark, angry, and downright depressed compared to their round and jolly even compadre’s.

2  4  6  8  0

O.K. so the 0 is a bit ominous…

Can’t see it? Then I can’t save you from the consequences of ignoring the possibility of imminent every other year danger.

Sorry.

But, I’m beginning to think I was wrong as so far 2016 has sucked, more so even than 2011 when both my mum and father in law died within a month of each other costing us a small fortune to go back and forth to the U.K. for their funerals. Not to mention the waste of time and energy it took to unpack from the first trip just to load it all back up again.

Oh, and let’s not forget the distress and anguish part.

To be honest this mess of a year did start back in December of 2015, as though it was saving up its winning card to throw onto the table right at the last minute – just when you thought you were safe – so perhaps that’s what set 2016 off on the wrong foot. But let me tell you, from now on the even years have got a lot of making up to do…

The story so far…

December – Cervical scare. Hospital procedure involving Victorian leg tights, deli cap, and stylish hospital gown. Waited a month. Nothing wrong…

Also in December – Kidney’s took a 50% function hit involving blood and pee tests – nothing like keeping your pee in the fridge alongside the dairy to keep life interesting. Two weeks of scouting out unsuspecting, healthy looking, kidney donors in the supermarket – only those in the fruit and veg section of course, didn’t want any of those vitamin deprived kidneys hanging out in my body, and the making of an extensive reading list to keep me going through dialysis.

January – Kidney tests came back A Okay for no apparent reason whatsoever except, I suppose, to keep the hypochondria fed and watered. This lead to a small smacking of the doctor to let him know that it sucked to be fooled into false diagnosis’s even though it wasn’t his fault. He should have known better than to pull his chair up that close to an anxiety ridden hypochondriac.

Also in January – Mammogram scare. Another month of terror. Hanging around. Tests, tests, and more test. Turned out to be a cyst… or did it. I can see that little blot on the landscape may well be hanging around in the depths of my overactive imagination for some time to come…

February – Ovary scare. Loads more tests culminating in the making of a, who get’s what, list. The studio was divvied out and preparations for the Viking send off in the pool were arranged. Couldn’t be doing with all the expense and ceremonious inconvenience of a regular funeral, rather a floaty, a large G&T, and then get the ol’ jewelry torch out for me.

March – Dad died. All of a sudden. No warning. No nothing.

April – Well this week really. Apparent heart attack… O.K. so that was jumping ahead a bit.

On Monday I went to the doctors having had chest pressure the whole week before. They wheeled me right down to the E.R. which was kind of embarrassing, and distressing as apparently there was a 6 hour wait! What! I almost decided to go home when my name was called. For some reason they like to check out the high blood pressure, chest pain, quiet, pale people sooner rather than later. So six tests and two days later I came home. Can’t say they weren’t thorough.

Turns out it’s probably anxiety, although I’m pretty sure it esophageal cancer. You know a hypochondriac is nothing if not vigilant…

So, taking into account that, alongside my dad, all those other lovely people have died. Bowie, Prince, Victoria Woods, Ronnie Corbett, to name just a few, 2016 pretty much sucks.

But, I know its number and where it hangs out so 2016 better be darn well careful from now on is all I can say…

So back to life…

Before the trip to the E.R. I finished the sad girl painting.

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And this little lovely although I’m not enjoying how it looks like a bunny.

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Polychrome Jasper and Turquoise

This, which seems a bit too chunky.

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Candelaria Turquoise

And just before all the excitement I began this

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Which has a long way to go if it’s going to hang around with the others.

The afternoon they released me from you know where I started these.

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And it was wonderful to get back in the studio.

I finished them yesterday 🙂

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Kingman Turquoise, China Mountain Turquoise, and something lovely

I call them my little freedom lovelies…

And now I’m putting chains on all of my older pieces in time for the art festival.

To me this is the most boring part.

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Condor Agate, Ocean Jasper, Larimar, Ocean Jasper

So friends just to finish. I started this blog as a way to put myself out there. I wanted to show myself that it’s not worth living with a lack of confidence, and to face all of my insecurities. And it’s working. I’m growing as a jewelry maker and I found along the way that I wanted to share all of this, warts and all, so that anyone else who struggles knows that’s it’s o.k. and to just do it. In the long run, none of this matters.

So I share my mistakes, my anxieties, my hypochondria, all be it tongue in cheek. I am o.k. It’s all good. And I want to laugh in the face of it all (except for my dad) and just get on with making the most of it all.

None of this is meant to get you down or elicit sympathy, although chocolate never hurts…

Sorry if it does.

TTYL

😉

Alrighty then…

I bought myself a new toy.

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I decided to give myself a pick me up after, you know what, happened.

Now, whenever I grind a stone, I can imagine my dad did it with me.

We’ll be in it together.

Trouble is when it arrived my immediate thought was to phone him to tell him the exciting news. He would have laughed at the thought that his daughter had bought yet another piece of machinery and perhaps wondered what happened to her and all the girly things.

But of course I couldn’t phone him so instead I took a photo of it and sent it to my sister and told her to show him.

He’s under her stairs.

He was on the porch for a while, then she put him under the stairs until we can decide what to do with him.

She can’t look at him yet. Also she’s had to give up watching soccer as she used to watch it with him every Thursday when he came to her for dinner which is a shame as she loves football.

For reasons only known to him, dad supported Queens Park Rangers. Traitor to those of us who know that West Ham is the team to beat. Well according to P that is.

My nephew called QPR and apparently we can spread dad’s ashes on their football pitch if we want to.

Who knew!

Lords cricket ground won’t have him though as, although he loved the game, he wasn’t actually a member.

I just can’t get over how many dead people all those cricketers and footballers must be playing on.

Do they know?

It’s almost as bad as all those dead people laying underneath the aisles of the churches.

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William Shakespeare

Gives a whole new meaning to not stepping on the cracks.

Anyhow, in other news, I was thrilled to break the $50,000 mark and my new goal is $60,000. I did wonder if it should be $55,000, but then threw caution to the wind and decided to dream big.

You can see where I sent it all – HERE

And I’ve been making a few things all whilst eating the sweets I brought back from home.

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Sour Apples

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Pear Drops

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Rhubarb and Custards

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Mint Humbugs

Don’t judge me…

Actually the Rhubarb and Custards have gone now because they’re my favourite.

The Mint Humbugs are actually P’s, but I confiscated them as I feel my need is greater than his.

Here’s what I made.

Another one of these.

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Chrysophrase

Another one of these,

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Chrysophrase

One of these,

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Star Ruby

One of these,

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Ocean Jasper

One of these,

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Amber and Garnet

And a pair of these,

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More Amber

And I finished a happy painting.

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Now I just have to get up, get going, and wonder what else I’m going to make.

I’m thinking I should make some simpler things for the art show coming up as I’m wondering if all my stuff isn’t a bit big and fussy.

They just seem to want to be that way.

All on their own…

ttyl

‘To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.’

Well, that was the longest month of my life and I don’t think I’ll be getting over it any day soon.

Loved my dad.

I think a lot of people must have as the crematorium was overflowing with people standing that he’d known since he was in his twenties. Colleagues from Ford’s where he’d worked since he was a lad and from where he’d retired nearly twenty five years ago.

Amazing that some of these men had tears in their eyes as they all agreed he was an exceptional man, willing to help anyone and with not a bad word to say about anyone.

Practically the whole street came out to mourn him with us. Even a little five year old boy brought down a card because he’d heard that the old man who let him hold his dog’s leash as he walked home from school had died.

Let’s just say that I can’t believe I just left him there to come back to the States . Doesn’t seem right to just get on with things as if it were normal.

But.

For anyone who knows me they shouldn’t be surprised that, amid the tears, I’m going to give it a darn good shot.

TTYL

d

Off again…

I’m off over to England again and won’t be around to tell you of all the happenings and anguishes of studio life for a while.

Last Friday week my dad died and so I’ve been dealing with all the happenings and anquishes of real life.

Sometimes real life sucks.

Anyway promise not to forget me and I’ll be back around mid April.

I’ll leave you with a lovely that I made yesterday to take my mind off things.

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Toodle pop and all that.

To the motherland I go…

A chain for you and a question…

I thought I’d share with you one of my chains.

It’s very simple, and like most things creative, not unique to me, but if you’ve not tried making your own chains yet and fancy having a go, read on…

You will need about 4 ft of 19 gauge wire for this 18″ chain and simple soldering skills.

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I used sterling silver because that’s all I had available in 19 gauge.

Of course you can use any gauge and ring diameter, but you will have to adjust for the amount of links, etc., accordingly. You can use copper if you prefer, but note that the solder tends to show more.

TIP

When making calculations for a different chain design or gauge I like to make a 4 or 5 link sample chain. This way I can measure how long that small piece of chain is and then multiply it for the actual amount of links I would need for the chain length I want.

I can also see at this time if I like the chain design and the gauge.

For this reason I’ve started making different sample chains out of copper for quick reference.

To calculate the length of wire needed for each chain I’ve found this handy interactive chart.

how to work out the circumference of a circle

and for calculating millimeters into inches,

how to convert mm to inches

NOTE

Jump ring sizes are measured using the inside diameter. To be sure that I actually have enough silver to complete the chain I measured the jump ring I want to use by the outside diameter.

Now for the chain…

Make 24 x 9.5mm jump rings.

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Wrap them with tape.

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And saw them apart trying not to slice your finger open – because it hurts.

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TIP

After much experimenting I find it easiest to use long blade passes through the rings holding the rings just proud of the edge of a wooden block. Start sawing at an angle and once you’ve got a good purchase straighten up the blade so that it runs more or less perpendicular to the outside of the rings.

With practice it becomes easier and that’s actually the first time I’ve cut myself.

Must not have been paying attention.

Always pay attention…

Now make 26 x 3mm jump rings and do the same.

Beware as this is more fiddly and swear worthy.

Now solder the small jump rings together.

Note: I like the whole chain soldered, but you can skip soldering the small jump rings if you wish and just join the completed larger links together at the end.

For a completely soldered chain, however, I find it easiest to solder the small jump rings first.

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For joining the jump rings I like to use chips of solder which I buy from Contenti.

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I sprinkle a small batch directly onto my soldering board and use my pick to take them one at a time to the links.

NOTE

You do not need flux or solder to join fine silver together.

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You really only need one of these tiny chips to solder the 19 gauge jump ring together. The key, as always, is to make sure that the ends of your jump ring fit tight together.

There shouldn’t be much of a gap at all otherwise the solder will not flow across the two ends to join them.

Now they are all soldered you can slip two of them onto a larger jump ring and prepare to solder that closed also.

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TIP

 Always point the joins you want to solder in the same direction. This way takes the guess-work out of finding the join, especially if you’ve done a good job preparing them and they’re so tight you can’t find the join at all.

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Now take two of the soldered links and join them together with a third, large link.

Solder these also.

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Now you’ll have groups of three.

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Which you’ll join together with another large link.

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Although at this point it becomes easier to solder the whole chain together at once.

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Continue in this way until you have used up all of your jump rings.

Now you could stop right here and you’d have a nice, large loop chain to clean up and buff.

You could leave the rings round or hammer them slightly to give them more character.

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But I took a pair of round-nosed pliers and opened up the links.

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If you do every other link in this way you’d once again have a nice, large loop chain to wear.

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If you then took the oval links and squeezed them together so that their middles touched, you’d have yet another design of chain.

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But I was going for the figure 8, which is achieved by holding a pair of flat nosed pliers at each end of the oval link and twisting it 180 degrees, making sure that you twist each link in the same direction.

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So here’s another chain design.

You could also change it up by using a different size joining ring.

Your options are limitless…

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If you continue to stretch the rest of the 9.5mm links you can go through the same process, making a different style of chain at each stage.

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But, like I said, I was going for the figure 8 all the way…

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Here it is after the pickle.

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And once it has been dunked into the Black Max, or Liver of Sulphur. and buffed.

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All ready and waiting to go.

You can see here that I also hammered the ends of the figure 8’s.

Now for the question.

How much would you charge for this chain?

Bear in mind that you have to accommodate for your experience. For example it’s not fair to set a price when it’s taken you all day to make something which, in fact, it should only take you 2 hours.

I’ve made quite a lot of them now and each time this particular chain takes me 1 hour 50 mins from start to finish.

No breaks. No daydreaming. Just exact timing carefully watching the clock.

Right now silver is $15.79 and so this piece has $4 worth of silver in it.

If you have a scale you can easily weigh the finished piece in troy ounces and then calculate the silver content.

You can find the current silver prices at the top of Rio Grande’s site.

I have a scale similar to this one.

116854

So, what is your formula for pricing?

I used to just guesstimate, but as time has gone by I’ve begun to see how important my time is and how, in the past, I was almost giving my jewelry away.

This had always been o.k. with me insofar I was learning my craft as I went along, but if you are serious about making and selling your jewelry there comes a time when you should start to look into the real value of your work, if not you are not only underestimating your worth, but also undercutting the worth of other artists.

This is a simple formula that I like to use.

labor + materials + overhead + profit = wholesale price

wholesale price x 2 (minimum) = retail price

At the end of the calculation I then look at the figure and see if I think it’s fair and if I think the piece will actually sell for that.

I would be interest in your opinions about this and how you work out your prices

🙂

Eeet is finished

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I enjoyed making this one.

It was quite satisfying as I went from not being able to solder a darn thing last week to not being able to put a foot wrong this week.

I’m going to have to commit this one to memory as I tend to go straight to complete despondency when something in the studio goes wrong and take to the sofa vowing never to make jewelry again.

It’s exhausting, let me tell you.

P just rolls his eyes now which kind of bugs me because I totally mean what I’m saying at the time.

I’m just so misunderstood.

All I ever wanted was love, attention, and a good, strong cup of tea.

Here’s a simpler piece waiting to be finished.

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Sooooo

I got this macro lens for Christmas.

Macro8-570x600

Because, as this nifty little gadget twists straight onto your iPhone, I thought, Hey! I need to get me one of them things.

Brilliant.

And so Santa got me one.

Bless him.

And because sometimes I have to wait a while to get my head around new things I only opened the box yesterday.

Now I know what the term macro means.

I do.

But for some reason I thought that this lens would do its macro thing magically whilst I wasn’t looking and as I was taking the photographs the way I normally do.

After struggling a bit actually putting the lens on because, heavy-handed and impatient as I can sometimes be, I thought I’d snap some vital piece of it off and have to swear, I was a little disappointed to find that I’d been sent a defective one.

So I swore anyway.

Because the fact that the lens was completely out of focus couldn’t possibly be my fault.

Who knew that you had to actually put the lens right up close to the jewelry.

I mean so close that the cup on the end of it was practically touching the table.

I had to stoop so low that I nearly put my back out.

I wasn’t tremendously impressed at first although I did get to see that I really do need to stop cutting myself and start taking more care of my hands.

Maybe.

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(I had to make this really small as it was shockingly real and scared me each time it popped up on the screen… weak heart.)

So here’s one of my jewelry.

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The thing I haven’t worked out yet, if indeed it’s possible, is how to take a photograph in focus without the lens having to be right on top of the subject and so not being able to get more of it in the picture.

Also.

Dam’ I’m going to have to be good if I want to use this lens and not see every single mistake on my work.

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I mean could it get any more in your face…

Now I’m not sure if I’m can use it that much, which is a shame as I really want to, and it was expensive, so I’ve decided I’m going to have to play with it more to figure it out.

Or just go find some stationary insects to gross me out and, despite my revulsion, become the next David Attenborough of the macro world.

Could happen…

Why you should never mention the words, Kidney Disease, to a hypochondriac…

So for two months I had kidney disease and all that implies.

I was already sorting out what books I could read whilst having dialysis and secretly eyeing up unsuspecting, but totally suitable, donors and wondering just how one goes about asking for one.

Could you just bring it up over coffee perhaps?

Like, So hey, you look like you’ve got a couple of healthy kidneys packed away in there. Do you think you’d be up for sharing one?

I mean seriously, how hard could it be.

But then lo, all this became a moot point as, on my next trip to the doctor, as I sat in the bright, sterile, completely unfriendly room wondering if there was a hidden camera checking up that I wasn’t poking around with the ultrasound machine, I didn’t have it any more…

He didn’t know why.

He was sat so close to me as he showed me all the lab results, like I actually knew what it all meant, that when he came out with the good news I actually smacked his arm as I told him that I’d had a really fun couple of months wondering how long I’d got left on the planet.

Not.

Just to keep the anxiety above the extreme level I also had to have the old ovaries looked at.

Let me tell you… I was on the edge.

Not to waste a good ultrasound I had the sweet tech girl have a quick look at my kidneys just to make sure that they were actually in there and, for good measure I had her check out my liver also.

I think she enjoyed it as she doesn’t often get a chance to rummage around looking for all the other stuff when usually her clients are only interested in those tiny baby things growing inside.

Although to be honest my right kidney did actually look like a baby.

It had that hunched over, floating around look that they have – only in the wrong place.

Of course as she’s not allowed to tell me anything and as I didn’t know what the hell I was looking at, it was all a bit of a futile exercise, but at least I got to make sure that I had them and that they were right where they were supposed to be.

How the hell they can see anything, let alone make out what’s going on in there, is beyond me. It’s like when the doctor pushes around on your outsides and tells you that he can actually feel your organs.

Right.

I go home and have a go and they’ve all disappeared.

Crawled back into the murky abyss I suppose.

So what with that on my mind and the trip home I was completely off going into the studio.

It was enough to drag myself out of bed.

But that’s over now and for the past two or three days P has been well out of luck with any dinner being presented to him on his return from the big outdoors.

I mean how hungry can you get sitting behind a desk all day.

I did feel a little guilty yesterday though, but as I sat finishing up one of my new pieces, it didn’t quite stop me from texting him that the chicken just did not want to get into the oven.

Not my fault…

Here’s what I’ve been working on.

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And before I could actually bother to even look at the jewelry table here’s what I tried to get back into the mood with.

A little colour.

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Now I’m working on this,

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Which was the cause of the chicken protest.

And I leave you with one of the reasons my life is so complicated.

A note from P.

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I get them sometimes.

He leaves them for me so that I don’t forget that sometimes there are important things that need to be done.

Like cooking I suppose.

But really!

What the hell does it mean?

O.K. so today…

Is a big day.

I’m trying not to get too excited, but…

It’s bathroom cleaning day!

Can I hear a yah!

You know, if only people would refrain from going in there I wouldn’t have to keep cleaning the darn thing.

It’s o.k. though as I seem to be struggling with everything that I touch in the studio right now so perhaps I should appreciate this time alone with the Clorox.

We rarely get to spend quality time any more…

Actually we’ve been going through a lot of the stuff recently as Willow, bless her heart, has decided that her pee is too good for the garden and that she intends to conduct all of her business from now on in the living room.

Fortunately we have a tile floor.

S believes that this is the key to the problem, however, as when she was a young pup she had to do all of her peeing outside on the concrete in the dog yard we had specially made for her and our other two dogs.

Go figure.

He says that now she’s old, and blind, and deaf, and, as that other man who lives in the house with us insists, a little senile, he believes she thinks the tile floor is the concrete and that she is, in fact, outside.

Consequently it’s our fault for making her pee on the concrete in the first place and so we shouldn’t get irritated by it.

I’ve become very good at rolling my eyes.

Here we see Spud knocked out cold by the combined fumes of Willow’s pee and the Clorox.

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It doesn’t seem to help that I only use the lemon scented kind.

I spent four hours in the studio yesterday until I finally threw up my hands and melted down the bezel I had been working on.

I called time of death around six p.m..

I had only managed in that time to produce one, small, heart charm.

And I don’t even like hearts…

The only good thing going on in the studio right now is The Moonstone – and I don’t mean the ones in my top drawer.

I’m listening to Wilkie Collin’s book of that title and, in spite of the dark hours spent in that jewelry desperation wasteland, am thoroughly enjoying it.

Before Christmas I was listening to The Woman in White, which I really loved, but this one is even better and sometimes I even have to laugh out loud.

Betteredge, the butler, cracks me up.

I want one.

I read both of them when I was in my twenties, but sometimes you just can’t get enough of a good thing 🙂

The day before yesterday, however, I did manage to make a bracelet.

I spent most of the day wallowing on the sofa, I even had to have a little nap when the boredom overcame me so much that I couldn’t keep my eyes from shutting.

Dark times people.

Finally, at five o’clock, I managed to crawl my way into the studio and make something I’d been toying with for a few days.

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I call it,

Just get up and do something before you melt into the sofa and become lost forever in the deceptively cosy depths of doom.

(Too much?)

It’s a very easy, non challenging project which I share with you today, but beware, only make this when you really need help getting off the sofa otherwise you will have wasted your one chance of rescue.

I used 12 gauge wire for the links and 18 gauge wire for the jump rings and clasp.

Cut 12, 1″ lengths of the 12 gauge wire.

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And hammer the edges flat.

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If you don’t hammer very often here’s my tip.

Keep the hammer balanced nicely in your hand and let it do most of the work. You want to move your hand up and down, more at the wrist, allowing the weight of the hammer to fall consistently on the end of the wire and not force the metal into the shape you want.

For the shape above I like to move my hammer slowly away from the center of the length of wire along to the edge. I tap the hammer more gently at the center and as it moves along to the end allow it to come down with more weight. This produces a smoother and more even result.

As you are hammering toward the ends of the length watch carefully that you’re not hammering more to one side and thereby producing a misshapen end. Unless you have completely outdone yourself and whacked the end out into a wonderful, but not what you was going for, deformed shape, you can rectify any lopsidedness by gently concentrating your hammer on the other side of the end, or by gently rolling the end back and forth very slightly to allow the hammer to even the shape out.

If this isn’t possible you’ll just have to abandon the length and start over.

It’s the only way…

Once you have hammered the lengths you can file and sand them to perfectly round ends and then drill holes in them making sure to position the holes consistently.

Using a small bracelet mandrel or a large pair of mandrel pliers such as these,

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You’re going to bend the lengths slightly so that when two links touch end to end they form an oval.

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Now make 7, 4.5mm jump rings from the 18 gauge wire and join two links by two links until you have a bracelet.

I soldered the links on my bracelet, but if you’re not up for it no worries.

Unsoldered jump rings are better than wasting away on the sofa…

Just sayin’.

Next I bent the ovals again, but this time in the direction that when the bracelet is on, the links lay more comfortably and hug the wrist rather than lay rigid.

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 Lastly finish it with a clasp of your choice.

After which you can go inside and have a bowl of super food.

🙂

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This blog has taken a nose dive…

Who knows what’s happened?

Someone tell me quick before I bore myself to death…

We need upbeat, lively, creative fun, and what do I come here to offer?

I haven’t even a name for it.

So back to work my friends.

I refuse to get bogged down else I rot to death, here in Houston, strangled by my sluggish mind.

I’ve got to get moving and actually making it in through the studio door would help tremendously.

I had a great time in England with my family and, except for the last day when I was ready to get the flight over with, didn’t want to come home.

P wouldn’t even entertain the possibility of us moving back, which I thought was a little mean-spirited of him.

I mean, just because his job is here, and our kids are here, and I’ve picked up weird American pronunciations, doesn’t mean we have to stay. Right?

O.K. so I would miss the kids.

A little.

But I feel so normal in England, and still a little displaced here, even though it’s been 26 years now.

Pretty soon we will have lived here as long as we lived in England, and somehow that’s kind of sad for me.

But, no more wallowing…

I had a bit of everything I needed to have a bit of while I was there.

A pork pie.

A sausage roll.

Hula Hoops.

Fish and Chips.

A pint of bitter.

A steak and ale pie.

Sausages.

Twiglets.

Bread.

And a lot of other things that I didn’t really need any of.

I watched British t.v. and drove around the countryside.

Well K drove me. I don’t think I could drive there at the moment. It would take me some time to get used to it again and not kill myself.

We got lost once, which K put down to my touching the GPS on her phone (I didn’t), and found a village called Chignall Smealy. Brilliant right? I mean imagine telling people that you live in a place called that. Or Throcking, or Anthorpe Roding. Or Clatterfield, Bacon End or Shallow Bowells.

Especially Shallow Bowells which could be construed as something entirely different.

And we drove down lanes almost too narrow for the car to fit.

And we’re talking about a small Fiat-y car.

If someone comes toward you you have to back up all the way until you find a small space to creep into. And even then we’re talking millimeters of passing space.

You have to take a lot of deep breaths and do a lot of finger crossing.

Also using your imaginary passenger side brake comes in handy, especially if your dad’s driving and doesn’t seem to notice that there are, in fact, other cars on the road.

I made it back alive though, even after both airplane flights which happily didn’t result in tragic endings somewhere over the Atlantic.

Going there was very quick. Seven and a half hours. I don’t think I’ve ever got there in that time before. And no jet-lag at the other end which was great. I put it down to the 9 p.m. take off, two gin and tonics, red wine and steak dinner which consequently resulted in a good, sound, anti jet-lag sleep.

It’s the only way to fly…

Coming back, however, was a full ten and a half hours during which I watched four films back to back and two pilots of t.v. shows.

One of the films I watched was Little Boy which was great.

I love those magical thinking movies.

Being a magical thinker myself I can totally relate.

I am pleased to be back though, in spite of a slew of doctor’s appointments lined up which are kind of getting on my nerves now.

Oh the wonders of getting older…

This week I’m going to make a concerted effort to get into the studio and work through the boredom and homesickness as best as maybe.

I need a project is all.

A great bit fat one which hopefully involves using up all of the cabochons in my top drawer.

Just a few updates before I head out east, over the horizon to the home land…

Christmas was different but good.

It was the first time we didn’t have it at our house with just immediate family, so that was a bit strange, but still nice.

We got to meet a lot of people we didn’t know. Like at least fifteen of them!

There were twenty odd of us all told, give or take a kid, stuffed into the smallest house possible.

Good job I’m older now and not as shy otherwise it might well have done me in completely.

And so yesterday I took a moment to myself and went into the studio. I don’t think I’d been in there for about a week.

I almost forgot how to get there.

So I did some more to this.

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I’m liking the mirror finish on the water.

This time around I used oil paints over the oil pastels.

I don’t know if you can do this, and perhaps the painting will spontaneously combust when I’m not looking, but I decided to chance it non the less.

Living on the edge people…

I did the same to this one and I’m quite liking this one too.

(Yep, I said that)

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The one below is on canvas instead of board.

I prefer board as I’m not keen on the texture of canvas and it doesn’t seem to take the paint as well for me.

But I think that’s just me.

Everyone else seems to get good results on it.

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The next two were worked on before the Christmas shut down.

This one, was remarkably orange when you last saw it.IMG_7696

And this one is of a field of Triffids in the Rolling Plains of the Lower Kowlandis.

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Actually it’s a bit too hilly to be rolling plains, but we’ll go with it for now.

I’m still working on them all, as well as the five thousand and sixty-three others hanging out in the studio, but they’ll all have to wait now as I leave for the mother land tomorrow and have still to organized myself.

I just found out that my green card expires at the end of the month so I’m lucky as I’ll just about make it back into the U.S.

Nothing like checking out these things before you decide to travel is there.

I didn’t even think to check my passport, but fortunately P, being the only executive in the house, had it all under control.

Except I thought executives had peeps to do all that organizing stuff for them.

Most likely no one will work for him…

I’m sure it would have been o.k. though.

You can get all the paper work done on-line now and Spud is always willing to help out.

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Except here we see her lying down on the job.

To be fair I think she’s become hypnotized by the psychedelic painting on the screen.

No excuses Spud.

And here are two new jewelry pieces.

I’m thinking of changing up this one because I can’t decided if I like the stone combination.

Isn’t that lavender stone beautiful?

And I think that’s a piece of Royston Turquoise

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I can’t remember what the lavender stone is right now.

And I also made this one (below) which I quite like.

This is a nice piece of turquoise also.

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And so all that’s left for me to do is leave you with Nutmeg, who doesn’t quite understand why the orange seems to be bigger than her head.

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And Wally contemplating the bananas

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And Pickles who has definitely eaten all the pies over the holiday.

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Save yourself girl. Eat more fruit…

And so I wish you all a Happy New Year – when it comes to you.

I’ll see you on the other side…

🙂

Nothing to report

It looks like there’s not going to be a lot going on from here on out until I get back from England.

So I leave you with a little Happy Christmas gift to remember me by.

Have a great holiday.

Be safe.

Be happy.

And eat all the pies you can get your hands on…

Please sit down for some shocking news…

I have almost finished a painting!

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I know, right!

It’s called

Always Protect your Cereal from Wayward Birds.

This is the first time in a long while that I have actually enjoyed being in the painting half of the studio.

Last week I gave up on painting ever again.

Again.

Fortunately I’ve slept since then.

This painting incorporates my love of colour and pottery, and also those strange bird creatures.

I’ve been listening to The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins while I’ve been in the studio.

I read it a long time ago but after listening to a couple of really blah books I decided that I needed something good and classic to get my chops around.

The last blah book I listened to was The Stone Man by Luke Smitherd.

It was just o.k.

The best bit about it was the afterword by the author and he nearly had me giving the book a good review just because of the way he asked me to.

It might just be me, but it smacked of The War of The Worlds by H. G. Wells – which I really enjoyed.

Although old, I found The War of the Worlds very tense, and that surprised me in a really good way. The Stone Man was just old and predictable.

Sorry Mr. Smitherd.

I would listen to another of his books though – just to give him a fair chance.

The Woman in White is just so lovely to listen to.

The writing, although a tad long-winded and old-fashioned, is just so good. It keeps me engaged the whole time.

Audio books are expensive but I’ve decided that I’m just going to have to go with them for now.

I love reading, but just don’t find the time at the moment. I’m in the studio for most of the day and when I come in I find that P has the t.v. on after his long day hunting and gathering, and I get caught up in it.

I usually listen to NPR during the day, but you know, it’s just downright depressing at the moment to listen to the news and how it seems the whole world is on a downward trajectory to complete destruction…

Laura Fairlie’s troubles are much less stressful, although I must admit to despising Frederick Fairlie and Sir Percival Glyde just gets on my nerves.

There’s still a lot of anxiety listening to it because back then my modern-day equal rights sensibility was yet to be unleashed, but it just makes me appreciate more the fact that I am born today and not then.

I’m sure I would have been either burned as a witch or have been outcast in some other way when I read about times gone by.

And so all would be revealed tomorrow as I finish listening to the story and, hopefully, finish the painting, except that Christmas shopping and decorating the tree is in desperate need.

Now I’ll have to wait until Monday.

Life can be so unfair…

December 11 and still nothing done…

It’s official.

I’ve turned into a boring old turnip.

And what’s worse.

I can’t be bothered to care.

I actually parked outside a shop yesterday and almost got excited about browsing for Christmas presents.

Didn’t happen.

I even opened the car door, but admit I didn’t get a leg out.

It had a lot to do with shopping for the sake of it.

Of buying a gift for someone just because that’s what I’m supposed to do this time of year.

Or at least that’s what I hope it is rather than just being bored to hell with it all.

Because that would be awful…

So I shut the car door and decided to think more about what I really wanted to get everyone.

I just hope it happens sometime before Christmas Day.

I don’t know what’s happened to me, but I really have to get over it already as I’d much prefer to be a green bean than a turnip.

You know, one of those French ones.

Tall and skinny..

On top of all this I’m struggling with deciding whether to go to England for part of the Christmas holiday.

It sounds good doesn’t it.

Christmas with my family here in Houston, then Christmas with all my other family in England.

Couldn’t ask for more really – if it wasn’t for the fear that I’m going to blow up on the airplane, or die in London…

I’m already afraid of flying without having to worry about the recent terrorism.

So when P asked if I’d like to go I said no.

Then I said yes.

Then I said no again.

Then yes.

This went on for about a month, but yesterday, as I tried to get my foot out of the car, I said yes again knowing that it was my final answer.

In that sad resigned voice one has when you know nothing good can come from it.

(Did I mention I’m a drama queen?…)

It was a struggle I can tell you.

Apart from the fact that I would see my family and that is always a good thing, here are the pros and cons.

Pros:

I get to be with the Fam.

Pork pies.

Sausages.

Pubs.

The Fam.

David Hockney.

Cons:

Cold.

Wet.

Death.

Jet lag.

Oh, and,

Death.

So you can see that I’ve had a bit of a hard time of it lately.

Anyway, turns out the David Hockney exhibit isn’t the one I want to see – I wanted to see the landscapes, not the portraits, but hopefully I’ll still go up into London to see something.

So that’s it really.

No real news except that Cornelius has come across a new plant.

The Spindle Back Warvil.

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I’m glad that one of us has still got it together enough to do some work…

Good Night. It’s Sunday again!

Every time I look around it’s a new day gone by.

A new week.

A new year.

Just yesterday my dad and sister were here and it was July.

Why didn’t anyone tell me that it was going to be December already.

I wasn’t ready…

Not that I’m worried about Christmas. I’ve always been a wing it person when it comes to preparations.

In other words I forget all about it until it’s a week or so before, then I get a little worried that I’ve nothing done.

You’d have thought I’d have figured it out by now.

I’m so over worrying about doing things the ‘right’ way. I think it’s one of the best things that comes with getting older.

I could do without the achy joints though.

It’s the knees.

I think they’ve had it.

I remember when I was at art school lying on my bed one afternoon trying to figure out how old I would be when the new century came around.

Math was never one of my strong suits.

Or maybe my confusion was because I couldn’t ever imagine being that old.

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Man!

And now that’s over and done with what else is there to worry about.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about me then and now. I’ve felt a shift and it’s kind of sad, but in an exciting kind of way.

It’s like all of a sudden I’ve become different.

Like a layer has been peeled away and I didn’t do it and didn’t want it to go, but now i’s gone and I’m left a little lost.

Like I’ve got to grow into the new me.

I’m a little worried that I’ll waste myself.

I think a new strategy is in order, one that hopefully involves finishing The Goldfinch because I’ve been reading it for five hundred years now and it looks like I still won’t be finishing it any time soon.

One that involves enjoying stuff, finding out the important stuff, not worrying about what people think about me, enjoying who I am, and finishing things that I love to do.

Looking after myself, and the people I love.

Getting out of bed and getting on with things instead of dreaming about doing them.

Being more spontaneous.

Not being afraid.

(I’m afraid of everything and it’s boring)

Using my powers for good.

And just doing it for heaven’s sake.

Do you think it’s too late for me to be an astro physicist?

Would the math part be a problem I wonder.

As I ponder these life problems I leave you with a new piece.

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A little seed pod, plucked and fashioned into a necklace before it could grow into the fearsome Triffid it was intended to become.

For the time being at least, we can rest safe knowing that one more threat of world domination has been removed from this world and that we can all put our laser guns away.

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And maybe get ourselves a good haircut and shave already…

I sold it.

But before I posted it yesterday I took another photograph as I wanted to show you the back of the bracelet.

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I love making the backs almost as much as the front.

And I started another painting.

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I’ve begun to realize that I’m a starter painter and not a finisher.

I must have about fifty of the darn things hanging around.

I’ll be that crazy old woman who leaves behind so much stuff that her kids have to pull their hair out deciding what to do with it all.

The cats must be attracted to weird start-up people because this is how I wake up most mornings.

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On my side with at least two cats balanced on top of me.

Glad they’re comfortable.

So

What to do today?

I always wake up at a bit of a loss really.

On the weekends P watches his football team lose.

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This is them running away from the ball.

I used to hate football, but now I love listening to it.

There’s a special football noise that reminds me of home and it’s kind of comforting.

It comes with some danger, however, as I’ll be sitting here in another room, happily dribbling out my thoughts to anyone who cares to read them, and I’ll either hear despondent groans, or loud euphoric yells of victory which make me jump out of my skin.

Fortunately the latter happens rarely.

Good ‘ol West Ham!

You go boys…

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So I’m sitting here wondering what to do today when I know full well it will involve the studio.

I’ve been thinking pottery which kind of annoys me as that’s a whole new ball game when it comes to disappointment.

Worse than the painting as at least you can change a painting where as there’s no hope for a pot once it’s fired except to smash it up and make mosaics.

I don’t want to make mosaics so let’s hope that little urge passes soon.

So all that’s left to say is a happy Sunday to you all and may your football team always win.

But don’t forget to put the ear plugs out for those of us who don’t care…

Thanksgiving.

I started another painting yesterday.

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It’s very orange…

and pink.

I think I shall call it – Blinded by the Light of the Glorious Hills.

I’m determined to persevere with the darn paintings.

Every so often I think I’ll have a go and then spend the day wallowing in and out of disappointment and moaning to P that I can’t do it.

I think he’s kind of over it.

Again.

So today it’s back to the jewelry before the kids come over.

As Thanksgiving has never been that big a holiday for us, especially as we’re English and have no family over here for us all to get together with and make it special, I told the kids that if they wanted to spend the day with their significant others who are American and have deep roots in this wonderful tradition, I would be O.K. with that so long as I get to see them all today.

Friday.

Of course, I forgot all about S who has no significant other and who bemoaned the fact all day that he had no turkey.

And, of course, as soon as the girls said O.K. that’ll be great, I felt completely abandoned.

And I felt bad that I had made this Thanksgiving arrangement without consulting P.

But, hey.

We got to go to see James Bond, which was almost as delicious as eating a turkey leg.

Afterward we thought we’d top off the day and pick up some Indian takeaway, but what d’ya know, even they were closed for the holiday.

Man!

We had to go home to cheese on toast with S giving me the sly, so it doesn’t matter to you that I’m an American, look.

He had beans on toast.

A traditional English feast so I don’t know what he was complaining about anyway.

So our first non traditional Thanksgiving is over with to which I can only tell you that it has made me very grateful that I have family to miss and that next year I will be happy for everyone else to decide what they would like to do instead of trying to make sure not to upset anyone with wanting my grown ups to be with me only.

Here’s my latest piece.

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Made with beautiful turquoise that warms the soul.

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Thank you for your nice comments Patti, they made me feel good.

🙂

I hope that everyone who celebrates had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Now let’s get on with it…

I’m back.

I had a good time but am pleased for my own bed as I thought I would have to have both my legs amputated from the buttocks down as I was in so much discomfort from the mattress.

I think it was an IKEA mattress.

‘Nuff said.

Not that I’ve got anything against the Swedish you understand, I’ve purchased my fair share of their products in the past and have appreciated every one of them.

But the beds…

They have a mind of their own.

I’ve still some residual pain, but I think I’m on the mend.

The house is lovely though. We’ve stayed there a few times now and this time it was even better as it wasn’t the summer and so it was cooler and there was hardly anyone else about.

So I read and I drew mandala’s – for no apparent reason except that I had to doodle.