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Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Multi-Tasking Gene or How Weird Our Memories Can Be

I'm kind of proud of myself (it doesn't take much).

Today I peeled and chopped carrots and cleaned and chopped celery and I did with no tv, no kindle, no music even.  Just me, standing there at the kitchen counter, feeling the breeze from the open window, hearing the birds outside, and smelling the quinoa cooking in the pot.

That's probably pretty normal for a lot of you, but not for me.

I have a hard time doing one thing at a time.

There are some exceptions and they usually relate to work.  When I'm torching, etc, I want no distractions.

But I would never do what Monk or Poirot do... prepare a meal and sit at the table all by myself to eat it.  Nope.  I've got to put the tv on while I'm eating AND looking at photos on my phone at the same time.

And for those thinking this is perhaps an effect of the current generation, let me say that one of my most vivid memories of growing up is eating breakfast and reading the cereal box.  I mean everything on that box, interesting or not.  I read the ingredient list and the factoids and the weight.  Breakfast was the only time I could get away with that.

The few times I tried to read a book at the dinner table while eating... ha!  Yeah, no.  My father would have none of that.

I remember reading, many years ago, that there is no such REAL things as multi-tasking.  That our brains can't really do two things and once and what our brains ARE really doing is merely shifting back and forth quite rapidly from one task to another.

That made sense to me.

But what if it's not true?  What if you can allocate different parts of the brains to handle different tasks at the same time?

For example, remember as a kid rubbing your tummy and patting your head? Yes, it took some coordination and even then some people could never get it.  But I think the successful ones were instructing one part of their brain to rub the tummy while another part of their brain handled patting their head.

Not a conscious decision to do both at the same time.  More like one unconscious instruction with an overlying conscious instruction.

I find myself doing this, sort of, when I have something to memorize in a VERY short span of time.  I'll give you an example.

When I'm doing my bills.  I want to transcribe a date, an amount, and a vendor from a website to my datasheet.  If I try to remember all three at once, it rarely works.

Nov 17, $25.60, Amazon Kindle Books

I'll get one or two and then have to flip back to recall the third.

But if I "allocate" one piece of information to a different part of my brain, it seems easier.

For example, my eyes will make "like a photograph" of Nov 17, I'll speak $25.60, then the only part my brain has to remember is "Amazon Kindle Books".

I flip to my datasheet and retrieve each piece of information from its source.  My "eyes" recall the visual image of Nov 17, my lips sound out "$25.50", and my memory was easily able to hold "Amazon Kindle Books".

I've done this for years.

Now, you'd think someone who can do that could remember meeting people, their names, and their faces.

Maybe I just have memory issues that others don't.  Or maybe my memory just works differently than most.

I can tell you where in a book I saw something. Not quite like an eidetic memory (which some scientists don't believe exists anyway), but I can just visually remember what thickness part of the book it was in, which side of the page, and how far up or down on the page it was.

But I can meet someone at a party and forget their name within one minute.

I can't tell you how many times I've been with a group of people and someone starts to introduce me to someone else and that person says, "Oh, we know each other!  We met at so-and-so."  And I'm just standing there like a deer in the headlights going, "Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhh".  I don't remember them AT ALL.

Maybe that's WHY I have to do those "brain compartmentalizing" tricks when transcribing info.  Maybe I can't retain much.  Ha ha ha!

Our memories are weird things.  I mean, how many times have you been DEAD sure you remember something a certain way, only to be proved completely wrong.  And you're shocked by the revelation because you were SO sure.

That's why witness testimony scares me.  People get things wrong... but they're so sure of what they remember.






Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Benefits of Yapping

I always wanted to be the stoic hero.  The cool cucumber.  The person of few words.

But that's not me, and I have to accept that.

I'm a yapper.

I will tell you online if I have a splinter, what I made for dinner, and why I don't like mushrooms.

I try NOT to be the person who does a blow-by-blow of her whole day, but I do like to make comments that I think will spark conversation.


Okay, maybe all the posts about spiders isn't such a great idea, but I meet people and occasionally learn things (like I've got to stop talking about black widows if I want my east coast friends to ever come for a visit).


I do most of this yapping on Facebook.

So my point is that sometimes yapping is extremely beneficial.

Today, for example, I yapped about having a splinter in my heel that I can't get at, can't see, and can't abide.  People I don't know at all responded... and one of the recommendations was "black drawing salve".  I'd never heard of it but in googling it I see it's something that sounds promising.

Once, I was yappying (lamenting) about needing a kiln that would do something my current kiln wouldn't do.  But the kiln I wanted was a minimum of $600.  A little pricey for a new workshop toy.  A few comments later and someone in the Bay Area said she had one she wasn't using and she offered me a price I, not only couldn't refuse, couldn't believe.

A couple years ago, I was yapping about a car that needed to go to the junkyard because it wasn't running.  I mentioned I was thinking of donating it to charity for the tax write-off except that I'd get no tax write-off because you have to itemize and that year I wasn't doing that.  A friend sent me a msg through FB about a place where I could sell the car for a significant amount of money.  A few weeks later, it was a done deal.  I totally owe her lunch (at a minimum).

And the best outcome of all from my yapping was finding another hockey family clear across the United States who took my daughter under their wings for several years as she began her college career, 3000 miles from home, with no car, and knowing not a single other person over there.  That kind of selfless giving doesn't grow on trees.

Had I not been "yapping", none of these wonderful things would have happened.


So maybe I don't want to change myself after all.

Along those lines, I was reading something the other day about another trait of mine that I don't like, but that turns out may be linked to something I very much do like and would not like to sacrifice one for the other (but that's a subject for the book, so don't worry, I won't yap about it here).

[ETA: My internet friend, Kerry, who I wouldn't know at all without my yapping and my life would be the lesser for it... just reminded me I forgot to state the obvious.  My yapping has brought into my world some of the most awesome friends I can imagine.  In this blog post I was focusing on the totally random things my yapping has achieved, but let's totally not forget the non-random things too.  Thanks Kerry, friend, perhaps fellow yapper!]

BTW, if yapping has led to something good for you, big or small, I'd love to hear about it.  Leave me a comment!




Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Still Learning to Etch Silver

Not exactly sure where I left off, but here's my blog post on me trying to use nitric acid to etch silver.

Since then, I ordered ferric nitrate.  Today's experiments are the second time I'm using it, so let me wrack my brain and try to think what the first thing I etched with it was.

Oh yeah, these earrings.
But before you judge my etch too harshly let me tell you that the etching actually came out perfect.  That bubbly stuff you see at the top of the earring on the right... that was me unintentionally starting to reticulate the silver when I was trying to solder the bezel cup onto the domed disk.

So yeah, this is a pair I have to keep for myself.  Quel dommage, eh.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure I mixed that batch 1 part ferric nitrate to 3 parts distilled water.

When I make my video, I'll show you why I am not a fan of the agitator (maybe I can find other uses for it).

I'm okay with the method I'm falling into.

What I'll really benefit from is less "winging it" and more "actually keeping good notes".  Today is a perfect example of that... the winging it part and why it doesn't work.

The piece I needed to etch today was large... 7 inches across.  To accommodate that, I had to use a large glass dish.  To *fill* a large glass dish requires a lot of etchant.  And ferric nitrate isn't reusable, nor is is cheap.

So I decided to quickly think of a couple things I could prep and toss in there at the same time as my large project.

I settled on a couple of pieces of 20g silver for band rings.

I started to use the same one-to-three ratio as before, but in my miserly mentality, it looked like it was SO MUCH etchant.  So I added probably a third of the amount of ferric nitrate as I should have.

And much to no one's surprise, the etch was taking a long time.  :-)

After an hour, I added some more.  Then I took one of the pieces out after about 15 minutes in the stronger solution and decided it could be a test.

Here it is.  I like the design but the etch wasn't deep enough.  :-( 





I then added a whole lot more ferric nitrate (see, I need to measure next time so I can replicate any process that DOES work well).

I checked (and wiped) periodically and in another 20-40 mins, decided my remaining two pieces were ready.

Here's the other band ring.






The large piece was a personal custom order so I won't how it here for privacy reasons, but it came out great.

The aftermath of etching is mostly the part I hate.  Pouring the remaining ferric nitrate into a glass jar, and adding baking soda until it's no longer liquid.  I can't emphasize enough how slowly you need to pour that baking soda in to neutralize your acid.  Let's just say you will be reminded of those 4th grade volcano assignments.  Hmph!

So I'm starting a collection of ugly glass bottles under my work bench that need to go to hazardous waste soon.

Okay, I might have made it sound worse than it is, but etching copper is SO much easier in comparison.

Still, I like this.  I got a good deep etch on the second ring band.  I look forward to more silver etching soon. 

But first... someone's coming back from Rhode Island for three weeks so my attention might be elsewhere.  :-)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Am I a Jeweler?

What am I?

  • Jeweler
  • Jewelry maker
  • Craftsperson
  • Metalsmith
  • Artist
  • Jewelry artist 
  • Designer.
I'm often asked what I do for a living.  Usually I just blurt out, "I make jewelry".

But I think maybe at times I'd like to sound more official.  "I make jewelry" almost sounds like a hobby.  It's true, I *do* make jewelry.  But the phrase just connotes (to me, anyway) an inaccurate picture.  Or incomplete, at least.

So what am I?

I often refrain from referring to myself as an artist.  Why?  Sometimes it's because "artist" to me is often linked with painting.  We all know that's not true... there are SO many kinds of art.  But it's frequently the first thing that comes to mind with the word "artist".

Also "artist" doesn't just role off my tongue in reference to myself.  It's like, you can call OTHER people artists, but you don't call yourself an artist.  In the same way that you can say OTHER people make beautiful jewelry but you don't usually say you yourself make beautiful jewelry.  Well, maybe you do.  But I don't.  It feels too much like I'm complimenting my own work.  When it comes to my own work, I'd prefer to hear the compliments from others.

Don't get me wrong, I'll definitely tell you how happy I am with a piece, how much I like how something turned out, how great a piece looks with such-and-such outfit, etc.  But I don't think I usually tell people I make amazing, beautiful, really cool jewelry.

I have used the term "jewelry artist" before.  That at least explains the medium.

I'm really liking the word "metalsmith".  There are notes of "worker", "craftsman", and "artist" in there.  Metalsmith seems to neither imply hobbyest nor esoteric artist.  It's more down-to-earth and even a little intriguing.

I've always like craftsperson or craftsmen but I don't think others get the same thing from the word as I do.  Because I really do consider myself a budding craftsperson.  I'm someone who works in my studio every day trying to get better at a chosen craft.  I work with my hands, making each piece from start to finish.

I am very much more a craftsperson than I am a designer.

I do design, that's for sure, but to me a designer has aspirations to come up with designs that can go into mass production.  I don't.  That's where I'd be more like an artist then than a designer.  I want to be the person who handcrafts each piece that will be sold under my name.  I have no desire to come up with designs that will be produced then sold in Macy's, Neiman-Marcus, or the Sundance catalog.

Which is a shame.  I think there's a lot more money in designing than in making.  (If you're successful.)  But it just doesn't interest me.  Not now anyway.  I really enjoy the hands-on process. 

So when people ask you what you do for a living, what do you say?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.  Please leave me a comment if you like.  Thanks!

Here's one meme making the rounds...





Wednesday, May 4, 2016

But What if Your Facebook Account Really Was Hacked

The other day I blogged about how to take steps to protect yourself from scammers cloning your Facebook account (basically impersonating you) and "hitting on" all your friends.

Today I will address... what if your account was hacked and/or things to do to make it not as bad as it could be.

One of the first things you want to do is go into your settings...


... then click on the SECURITY tab on the left side and once there, click on the edit option for the LOGIN ALERTS...


... This opens up to a window where you can select the option to be notified if an unknown device logs into your Facebook account...


Aside from that one, I also use the second one, Login Approvals.  If you set this up, you'll have to enter a code that is texted to your phone if you try to use your Facebook account from a device you don't normally use.

Anyway, if you do get an alert that someone did or is trying to log into your FB account and/or if you know you've been hacked because someone is using your account to post or msg things, then the first thing you want to do is change your password.  If you can't because someone else already did, then reset your password (that's like when you click the "I've forgotten my password" button).

You can also report a problem with your account.  I'm guessing that's under "report a problem" (pull down menu that showed you "settings")... but I don't want to go there 'cause my account is okay at the moment.


Maybe also post something on your timeline so any of your friends who check there can be warned not to open suspicious msgs from you or click on video links, etc.

If you want to try to avoid all this, there's one thing I learned about awhile ago that sounded reasonable.

Go back to your settings and this time click on APPS...


... then click on SHOW ALL and start editing them (or deleting them).  You decide what your apps can and cannot see.

So happy trails and safe socializing.  Fingers crossed we all remain relatively unscathed.