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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Starting with Wax Carving, Discussing Calories, and A Couple of New Jewelry Pieces

Found something that frustrates the heck out of me.... carving wax for casting.

After 15 years of making one of a kind items, I was thrilled at the prospect of making something I could send out for casting and y'know... continue to sell with a minimum of time investment that could otherwise be devoted to the one of a kind items.

But wow, I'm so uncoordinated at it.  Granted, part of the problem MAY be a lack of anything but the most basic of wax carving tools (an alcohol lamp, an exacto knife, and some sharp pointed dental tools).  But I don't want to blame my tools if it's really just my own inability.

Here's what I have to start off with...

I find it daunting to even THINK of a design.  In theory, I want something I couldn't do with sheet metal or through metal clay.  But any design I thought of could be make easier and more quickly with those methods.

What what what can I make from wax that I can't make from the other stuff?  BTW, that's a rhetorical question.  I know there's a TON I *could* make... but I don't have the skill/ability to do any of those.  Ha ha ha!

I had to go out and walk, clear my head, think for a bit.  I'm back now but have no better ideas.  Sigh.

So let's talk about walking then.

It's been just over two weeks and I can't say I have any more energy.  At first, I thought I did, but now I'm just tired.  I was so tired yesterday, in fact, that I didn't even walk.  ARGH!

I wake up... tired.  Of course that COULD have something to do with not being able to get more than 6 hours of sleep at night.  I guess instead of watching tv after 9pm from now on, I may just read... that should put me to sleep earlier seeing as how I get up around 5am regardless of when I go to sleep. 

The last book I started, I lost interest in.  I need to find something that will captivate me. 

That being said, it's only been two weeks (we're back to talking about walking now).  I don't think the disappearance of three pounds would give me a ton of energy.

And even if I don't drop weight... I am eating so much better... and that's saying a lot because I did eat way better than your average American even before I started really taking note.  Now, though, since I only want 1200-1700 calories a day, I have to make them meaningful.

Here, for example, is today's accounting.  The percentages in blue are the recommended daily suggestions from the Mayo Clinic.

And I'm not even worried that I went over a bit on percentage of fat eaten today because it was olive oil for my salad and walnuts for my afternoon snack.  At least those are nutritious fats.

Same thing goes for carbs.  If I'm gonna have 'em (and I am!), they're going to be from things like sweet potatoes and brown rice... not from breakfast cereal and corn chips.

If nothing else, I'm really enjoying the scenery on my walks...

Now back to work...

Totally loving these two bracelet parts I made this week.  My idea is to add some "manly" beads and clasps and then I've got more men's jewelry.  Yay!

And I'm trying to decide what to send as my second submission for consideration for the tv show Cedar Cove (have to mail the package tomorrow).  Since they chose my first submission to be worn on Grace, I wanted to try to design for that character again.  Here's my first idea for this second submission.

I may try designing a necklace tomorrow.  We'll see.

For now, I'm going to search for a good book and try to get to bed early so I have lots of energy tomorrow.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Tracking International Shipments and Men's Chainmaille Bracelets

Now, where was I?  See, this is the problem with having too many days between posts.  I forget what I've actually told you versus what I dictate via internal monolog.  Yes, I'm actually talking to you all the time and only a fraction of it gets transcribed into type. 

I need to get started on my wax carving for class.  I think I'm putting it off because... well, because I'm afraid.  I have ONE piece of wax and if I mess it up, that's it.  I'll definitely keep you posted on this project.

Other than that, I finally got my chainmaille bracelets listed.  Byzantine design (on top) and Inca Puno (bottom photo).

I like making "man jewelry".  I find it much harder to make than women's jewelry, but that's changing.  So many pieces are unisex now because there aren't such hard and fast fashion lines.  I like that.

Tracking International Shipments

Y'know how sometimes when you look up the tracking number through USPS of an international shipment the info just kind of drops off as your package left the U.S.? 

Well, turns out there MAY be another place you can get info.  Here's a link that on occasion has more info about the whereabouts of your international shipment.

Quilting Instead of Prozac

And here's an interesting article (that I think may relate to beaders and other forms of jewelry making) about how these kinds of activities may act as therapy.

My Upcoming Photography Tutorials

I feel like such a slacker because these tutorials (three in all) are taking so long.  The problem is I'm working on them in my spare time.  Well, you all KNOW what that means.  Yikes!  Yeah, what spare time?

So since the move is settling down a bit, I'm using my afternoon workbench time to finish up the tutorials.  I think I've got the first two 99% complete.  Yay!  Just one more to go and I'll be golden. 

After that, I go back to jewelry making tutorials... much easier in a myriad of ways.

Speaking of jewelry making tutorials, I got the nicest feedback this week for my tutorial of a basic net-weave bracelet.

As I mention in my tutorial, this isn't a weave I made up... almost all bead weavers know about it and use or have done it.  I learned this weave from several different sources.  All I've done is documented the steps for someone who may want my version of hand-holding during the process of learning the weave.

Here's the feedback: "Beautiful pattern and Laura is a genius with directions, even I could follow it! I can't wait to make a second one. Thank you so much!"

I couldn't be more thrilled.  That's exactly what I want... to teach something to someone who didn't think they could they could do it.

These are the bracelets the tutorial instructions make:

The Walks

The walks have been great.  The land around here is so lovely and the climate is ideal.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Resin-Filled Pendants, Shining Up Bronze, and Earbuds That Stay In My Ears

So back to that last batch of metal clay... I made two bronze bezels and filled them with various stuff (like poppy seeds and KaƱiwa) and resin.

These I love...
... but just like any highly polished metal (including what you get from Zales, etc) they will dull when worn and exposed to body oils, fingerprints, elements, etc.  It's just a matter of shining them back up occasionally.  I truly hope my customers understand that.  I want them to be able to shine up their jewelry when needed with very little fuss, muss, or expense.

Here's a photo of a hammer-textured bronze ring pendant that I wore non-stop for a couple months.

The image on the left is right after I took the pendant off the chain.  It's dull because of water, soap, elements, and body oils.  After less than half a minute of polishing (the image on the right), not only does it shine but you can actually tell the metal has a texture.

And now just a bit more sharing of my morning adventures...

The horses and cows seem to enjoy people watching.

I have to give kudos to a pair of earbuds that finally stay in my ear.  Yurbuds, sport earphones, developed for women.  The package says "Guaranteed to never fall out". 

Inspire 100 for Women

And I can totally hear approaching cars on the road.  I'm very happy with them.

I went shoe shopping yesterday.  I figured with all this walking I should probably have some decent shoes.  Ideally two pair, but I'll work my way up.

First I tried on a bunch of walking sneakers.  They were all too narrow.

Then I tried on a bunch of hiking shoes.  They were wider, which is great for me, but something about them made the ball of my foot hurt.

I was about to give up when my friend suggested hiking sandals.  Tada!  Got myself a pair of men's Keen sandals.

Not "pretty", but I wore them today and everything seemed fine.  Yay!

I also got a pair of Injinji socks for when I alternate with my regular walking shoes (sneakers) because when my toes are close together (as they are in sneakers) I get blisters.
RUN 2.0 Lightweight Mini-Crew
So that's my life now.  I get up (usually pretty early), eat breakfast, then hit the road.  :-)  I kinda do feel like I have more energy even though it's only been a week of daily 5-mile walks.  Even if it's psychosomatic, I'll take it.  :-)

Just go.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Fitbit Flex and More Photos of Penryn

If I say, "I am having no problem getting my 10,000 steps in each day".  Some of you will know what I'm talking about.

Yes, I've jumped on the FitBit bandwagon.  Why?  Because I personally know someone who got one last year and it seems to work for them. 

Being held accountable on a daily basis is apparently what I need.

What's cool is that I don't keep track of my "steps"; the fitbit does.  I don't have to log anything... the info goes right from my bracelet to my computer (or phone).  And the food database is amazingly well-stocked.  I have yet to find an item that isn't in there so keeping track of calories in is a SUPER breeze.

For breakfast I had a Qrunch brand Quinoa burger.  How many of you have even heard of that?  But there it was so I didn't have to do any data input.

I've been wanting to up my activity level, and while I generally eat pretty healthily... watching the "calories in" has been very eye-opening. 

I want more energy in the day so I'm thinking more exercise combined with better food choices may make a difference.  But didn't I just say I eat pretty healthily?  Yes, but there's always room for improvement.

It also tracks my sleep patterns.  Tells me how long it takes me to fall asleep (usually a couple minutes), how many times I wake up in the night (usually only once or twice) and how restless I am (okay, I admit... I toss and turn a fair amount).  But tracking this can help me change things in my life that may afford me a better night's sleep if I compare sleep patterns to my evening activities (like reading before bed instead of tv before bed).

10,000 steps is the basic threshhold for daily activity.  Next threshhold is 15,000.  10,000 steps is about 4 miles (for me, anyway... I think for most it's 5 miles, but I'm short so my stride is shorter).  10,000 steps is a pretty easy goal to achieve with one good walk a day (less than an hour) and then just regular old daily walking around while life goes on.

I'm also really enjoying my early morning walks.  You saw some of the scenery in my last post.

And since I hate routine, today I went the other direction, stopped at my friend's house for a quick visit, and she walked back to my house with me.  How fun!  We timed it well too because it started to pour as soon as we got back to the house (I drove her back home as we had planned anyway).

I was looking at Google Maps and there are tons of little roads I can veer off to try to keep me from getting bored.  And after that, I can drive to places where I'll walk and see different scenery.

When you walk, you see so many things that you don't know when you're driving.  And we drive these roads every single day.

Today we stopped to look at some cool owl droppings (they're cool because they have lots of little skulls in them).  Don't worry; I won't show you a photo.

We also saw geese on top of a barn.

We noticed that the palm trees are all tagged.  And speaking of palm trees... watch out for falling leaves... sheesh!

Yesterday a wild hare ran across my path.  I don't see too many of those around here.

These, however, I do see many around.

And doesn't it make sense that if citrus trees are so abundant during winter, there might be something legitimate to the idea that vitamin C helps fight winter viruses and bugs?

Monday was kinda of a throwaway day.  They're tougher on me than other days because I process SRAJD applications and have school from 7am-1pm.  My plan was to get to school early and get my walking in before class, but that didn't work out.  Well, there's always next week.  Truthfully, I think my feet put in a private protest.  They are getting pretty blistered.  I'm going to go to REI this week and see about getting some good walking shoes and socks.  Wish me luck coming out of there under $150.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Metal Clay on Sheet Metal and My Walks Through Penryn

Completed another successful "firing schedule" test... this time for Friendly Bronze.

Here is one of the things I put in the kiln the other day (the day I had to replace my kiln relay).
The cuff is bronze clay over a piece of copper sheet.  What's holding the bronze to the copper is that I made three small (1/4 inch) holes in the sheet and connected the dry bronze clay via more clay through the hole to small bronze clay "rivets" on the inside of the bangle.  

And to completely change the subject, I want to share with you some of the amazing scenery on my morning walks.

I grew up here and can't tell you how happy I am to be back after 30 years in Oakland... which has it's great stuff, but Penryn is more in tune with my wants/needs.

When I go on walks, it's easy to flashback to good times listening to Led Zeppelin and reading books like The Hobbit and The Last Unicorn.

In the late 1800's, a Welsh immigrant established a granite quarry here and named it after that of Penrhyn Slate Quarry in Wales.  The "h" was dropped to avoid confusion about the spelling and Penryn was born.

I love the granite rocks that pop up in various places.  When I get around to photographing my favorite two rock formations, I'll share the pictures with you.

Leaves are falling all around, it's time I was on my way
Thanks to you, I'm much obliged
For such a pleasant stay, but now it's time for me to go
The autumn moon lights my way
For now I smell the rain
And with it pain, and it's headed my way
(from Ramble On by Led Zeppelin... thanks for the reminder, Deborah!)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Second Day of School with Pierce Sawing and a New Gluten Free Cookie Recipe

Another fun day in class this week.  One of our homework assignments was to make a piece of alternative jewelry (jewelry from found objects or objects not normally used to make jewelry).

I went to the hardware store and bought some vinyl tubing then filled the tubes with kitchen spices alternating with pieces of recipes from old cookbooks.  
Then I made a bracelet of brass and steel washers connected using bronze jumprings.
And for good measure I took a pair of earrings in made from vintage game pieces I found at Goodwill.
The other assignment due yesterday was to write our initials in various ways in circles and squares.  Here are my sketches (along with a quick sketch I made of a second piece I started in class since I'd finished sawing my initials and there was still time left).
And here’s the one I chose to use for our first lesson in pierce sawing. 

And now I will share with you what I made for breakfast this morning.  I quite often have oatmeal.  My version is that I just pour boiling water over some steel cut oats then add Craisins, chopped walnuts, some almond milk and a wee bit of maple syrup.  But today I wanted something different so here's what I invented.

Preheat oven to 350 F then put these items in a bowl:
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup of coconut sugar
Mix, then add:
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of sunflower butter (or peanut butter or almond butter)
  • A handful of Craisins
I was going to add walnuts but was too lazy to chop them.

I put ping pong ball size dabs onto a greased baking sheet then flattened them somewhat.  Baked for 10 mins.


To go with them I juiced some oranges we picked two days ago.

Between the cookies and the orange juice, I realize there were a ton of calories, but that breakfast held me for quite some time.  Yes, it was a splurge.