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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

If You're Not Failing, You're Not Trying Hard Enough

Five minutes ago I was in the workroom, nipping and filing some wire to make stacker rings.  Some of my nips were at an angle so I proceeded to file them straight (perpendicular to the piece of wire).

And my mind, in its usual wandering fashion asked, "What if instead of filing the ends of the wire straight up and down, I filed them at an angle?  I'd still be able to solder them together so long as I had two flat surfaces."

And then the other part of my mind responded with, "Yeah, but it's probably not as cool as you think it'd be.  They would most likely just look like you messed up your solder join."

And then the first part gave the response I love: "Maybe, but you don't know until you try."

I love my workshop failures.  They say to me that I am trying.  I'm trying new things, I'm working outside the box, I'm not letting history dictate my work, and I'm eager to innovate.

Both my children played youth hockey and I recall one statement by a coach that really stuck with me.  He said, "If you're not falling down, you're not skating hard enough."  It was a simple and profound message.  If you never fail, you're most likely playing it safe, not pushing yourself hard enough, and "safe" doesn't become best.  "Safe" doesn't create new inventions.  "Safe" isn't a leader.

In my workroom I have drawers and drawers of failed experiments.  These are treasures.  While they're unusable, many were stepping stones to some new technique or some new design element that needed to be worked out, thought through, and practiced.

Without my drawers of failed attempts, I would have no progress.



Thursday, July 7, 2016

My First Jewelry Collection: Part 1

It's true... I've been making jewelry for 15 years and I've never made a collection.

It shows, too.  There is no cohesive look to my shop or display.

My shop...


My gallery display...


Mind you, both of these are WAY better than it used to be, but the bottom line is I like to play, I like to experiment, and I kind of have ADD of jewelry making.  Every time I see a new technique or get a new tool, I want to go off and explore that direction.  I end up with lots of directions and very little focus.

So I decided to put my foot down and actually create my first collection.

I also decided to vlog (video log) the experience, for better or worse... or maybe just to keep me on task.  I'm not yet familiar (in the slightest!) with my new video editing software so bear with me in the beginning please.

This first vlog entry is merely to introduce you to my idea and tell you what my starting point is.  In my next entry, I hope to explore (and show you) some hard core plans for the collection designs.

If you prefer to watch the video directly on YouTube, click here.  And if you feel inclined to leave me a comment or give my video a thumbs up, I just want you to know those are ALWAYS appreciated.  Thanks!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

My Review of the Black and Decker 15.6V DUSTBUSTER® Hand Vac Model CHV1510

Why a dustbuster review?  As a metalsmith, I find it comes in handy.  Not only do I use it for quick clean ups, I can look in the canister to see if I vacuum up any gemstones by accident.

A dustbuster is, for me, not an entire house vacuum cleaner but rather something for mini vacuuming... spills, a patch of dust bunnies, etc.  I didn't even *care* if my dustbuster held a charge for over a minute.  Trust me, I was finished with whatever I needed to do with it in under 30 seconds. 


But just for the sake of testing (I love research!), I recently started the stopwatch and decided to do continual vacuuming with this until it died. 

Five minutes later, all the crumbs and cat hair were off the floor of two rooms and the thing was still going strong.  I decided to stop there.  There is no earthly reason I need a dustbuster to run for more than five minutes.  [Others may use theirs differently... I'm just telling you that for the reason I got it, it works great.]

My only complaint is that the extension nozzle retracts too easily.  As soon as it touches an object it starts going back into the housing.  IMO, there should be a catch so it stays extended until you purposefully retract it.

Other than that, thumbs up. 

And I leave my dustbuster on the charger 100% of the time except when I'm vacuuming. 

I've had it for about 2-3 years now.

Here is the product on Amazon.  The rating is very bad and had I read those prior to purchasing, I would not have gotten this model.  I'm glad I didn't read those reviews before buying.  It's sad to see so many people having a hard time with it not holding a charge.  Does that mean I got a reverse lemon?

On the other hand, here's a site with a beaming review.

But... on Black and Decker's own website the reviews are terrible.



Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Kitty Help in the Jewely Making Process

The cats are no longer near my jewelry stuff, but ten years ago was a different story. I was recently sorting through some old photos and was reminded how helpful the fur-babies were.

Here's Ten looking all cute and innocent (notice the awesome ears!).


But not so innocent really, and he'd just finished playing with a necklace and batting half the beads down the heating vent.


Asia is a perfect fit in my bead box... no work until she wakes up.


Can take photos in the mean time.  Jag will help by pulling on the camera strap just as I'm about to press the shutter button.


You know they have to try out every box for size.  Ugh!  It's like me trying to get into jeans... I'll MAKE myself fit, dagnabbit!


"No, you may not take the mail just yet."


"Photo props?  I thought you brought me presents!"


Nothing like a warm kiln on a cold winter's day.


"Wait.  These earrings are out of place.  Let me adjust them for you."


"Yes, it really is comfortable with my face in your bead bowl!"


No computer work until kitty wakes up.


Kitty is awake... and ready for modeling job.  Too bad I need a jewelry model rather than a silly hat model.


"Oh, but your bags of jewelry findings feel SO GOOOOOOOOD!"


At the end of the day, it's just SO exhausting tipping over bead trays, chewing on postage envelopes, and completely disrupting the photo sessions.


Got photos to share!  Add to the comments section.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Can Jewelry Go In Water?

Should I come here and update even when I have nothing to say?

I feel I'm letting my friends down... either way.  (Ah guilt.  Isn't it FABULOUS!?)

If I have nothing to say so say nothing, I feel I'm being unfair to those who follow my blog.

If I have nothing to say and yet come in here and babble about nothing, I feel I'm being unfair to those who follow my blog. 

Ha!

I come from a land of black and white.  It's very hard for me to do things part-way.  (Please stop rolling your eyes those of you who know me and know there is an endless supply from me of doing things part-way.)

What I mean is that... and this is probably one of the curses of people who have that "perfectionist" thing goin' on.  Oh, don't get me wrong, those people (of which I am one) aren't perfect.  They just want everything they DO to be perfect.

Now, where was I?

Oh yeah, one of the curses of perfectionists is: If I can't do it fully the way it should be done, I don't want to do it at all.

Ugh!

How that translates to blog land is that I get ready to talk to you about something, but maybe I haven't taken the photographs yet... or haven't finished testing something yet... or haven't done enough research yet.  So I can't possibly come in here and do a partial job of showing/telling you anything.  I've got to have it all, and have it under my belt nice and tight, before I can spill the beans.

Phft!

So, in order for me to try to break myself of that habit, I will today tell you of a recent "thing" in my jewelry making world.  (And hopefully I'll come back and give you the conclusion to this thing too.)

I had a rather interesting custom order the other day (but that part doesn't go into this story).  One of the questions that arose was, "Can this jewelry go in water?"

That's a darn good question... with multiple answers.

The piece in question was a bezel set mood stone.  Mood stones are acrylic.  The rest of my piece was sterling silver.

So I figured I'd better experiment.

My normal response to "can jewelry go in water" goes something like this: "Most metal pieces suffer little damage with brief exposure to tap water (showers, etc), but saltwater (the ocean), bleach, and pool chemicals can be harsh to metal so if possible remove jewelry before pool or ocean water exposure and before using bleach."

But that's "metal pieces"... as in sterling silver or gold.  Adding a stone to the equation changes the answer.  Adding a synthetic stone to the equation changes the answer even further.

So I figured I'd better do at least a little testing before coming up with a response.

The only bezel set mood stone I had on hand right then was one set in sterling with a solid backplate AND glue behind the stone (the bezel wire was too short for the stone and this was a piece I'd made for myself... I only use glue when setting stones under the rarest of occasions and only if there's a good reason).

I put my ring into a glass of water for 24 hours.  After that time, the mood stone looked fine... at first.  Then, when I expected to happen happened.  Well, I don't know if that's really what happened, but I expected the glue to react with the water and become something that changed the look of the stone somehow (remember, mood stones are translucent).  Adding to that is the fact that the bezel is closed, so I'm picturing water behind the stone, mixing with glue, and no way to come out or dry up.

So here's what I have a bit after removing the ring from the water...


And several hours later...


So, to determine if it IS in fact the glue (please be the glue, please be the glue... or even just water that will dry up... I'm okay with that), I went ahead and set another mood stone in silver but this time NO glue (and open-back, in case trapped water is the issue).

That's in the water now so you'll have to come back tomorrow and see the results of that test.

I really like the idea of jewelry that isn't high maintenance.  Meaning, my preference is jewelry I can wear while washing my hands, taking a shower, and doing the dishes.  But we'll see where this mood stone thing sits.

I know not all jewelry will be like that and I'm okay with pieces that need a little more care.  I just want to make sure I know the difference.

See you later!