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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. 


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.


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.


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!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Soldering Tube Bezel Rings

Had a friend over the other day and among other things we worked on tube settings.

Here are two rings I made and since the ring shank I used was really narrow (14 gauge wire), I want to show you the set up I used for soldering.

(BTW, that gorgeous prong set ring was made by my friend Kristi Taylor of Got Sparkles.)

Normally I solder with a third-arm holding the ring shank and then I just put the bezel on top and sweat solder.  (Like for these rings)

That wouldn't work with the tube bezels.  The bezels are too heavy and awkward to sit atop a thin piece of wire without falling.

So I got some greening pins (100% steel pins used in floral arrangements... easy to find on Amazon or at local craft supply stores).
I bent them into shape with pliers.  I bent the legs as shown and I made a dent (cubby hole or holder) in the top.  The legs went into holes in my soldering pad (you can also press them into charcoal soldering blocks).

I then placed the tube upside-down on the soldering pad and it was super easy to align the filed divots of my ring shank with the tube walls.

As I said, the pins are steel, so it's the same as when you use binding wire to hold things.

Everything stays in place during soldering.  It's wonderful!

If you try this out, I'd love to hear about your experience!  Leave me a comment.

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!