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Archive for May, 2010

I have been woefully negligent of my blog the last couple of weeks.  It’s not that I haven’t been dying to chat and post, but May has been a very busy month for me.  And then I had to go and be sick with a “touch” of the flu for about a week.  It pretty much sapped all of my energy and ate up the small portion of my free time.

All that to say, the Bead Soup Blog Party is back for a second round!!  I loved the first party, and am looking forward to creating for the second batch of soup.

Bead Soup Blog Party

This party is hosted by the lovely and super-talented Lori Anderson.  I love seeing all her new creations and the directions she explores as a designer and lover of all things beads.

The way the party works is you sign up and Lori assigns you a partner.  Then the you and your partner put together a stash of beads that includes a lovely focal, fun clasp, and assortment of complimentary beads.  The focal and clasp must be used, but the beads are optional.

Then you mail your selection to your partner and she sends hers off to you. You eagerly wait by the mailbox for a few days and a super fun beading package arrives.

You have about a month to work on creating a piece with your soup ingredients.

On June 19th, everyone in the party reveals what they made.  And then the fun of hopping around to 97 different blogs begins.  It is great fun to see what everyone makes.

I’ll be posting what I sent to my partner in my next post.  At least, that’s the plan.

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The third day of the retreat was fantastic!

Well, after I blew up the torch, then it was fantastic.

I literally started the morning, by changing the head on the torch I’d been using all weekend, turning the gas on and watching the thing become a decent sized fireball in my hand.  Apparently I had good, quick thinking and turned it off right away.

After I stopped shaking, I proceeded to anneal my wire strip to make a bracelet.  Before I show my absolute favorite piece from the entire weekend, I’ll tell you what I did. Basically, I hammered the ends and then cut out a long, wide piece in the center. It was pretty tough to saw because it was 14-gage copper.

I got halfway done, and then walked away for a bit to finish up polishing my main piece, my test piece, and one I just threw in there for fun. I only have a picture of my main piece right now.

I love how it turned out! It’s not perfect.  After all the polishing was done, you can really see a spot near the top of the inside of the flower that did not get the solder. Also, I can still see all the little solder pieces around the edge.  The instructor thinks there may have been some sort of contamination or something with the solder.

Then I went back to my bracelet. I finished the cut, widened the opening, and annealed it again.  Then the fun part began. Basically, you twist and turn the copper and shape it into a piece that’s appealing to you.

I could tell from the beginning that the unpredictability of the piece would probably make me a little nuts, which is exactly why I decided to try this technique.  What would be the point of taking this class if I didn’t at least try to do something outside of my comfort zone?

The results…

This is one of the top three favorite pieces of jewelry I’ve ever created. I just love how it turned out. I only wish that I had the ability to create more.

Overall, I had a great weekend.  It was fun to rest, relax, and create – even if at times it didn’t really seem like much relaxing was happening. I’m so glad that I did it.

What I really need now is a studio, but I’m not quite sure I’ll be able to convince my husband to allow me to put something like that together.  I haven’t really told him about my exploding torch incident yet…

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Here is my highlight of five posts in the blogging world I found interesting in the last week (or so). If you’re like me, you have limited time, and can’t always stay up-to-date on everyone’s blog. These were some of my favorites.

1. Digital Photography School
How to Achieve Better Bokeh – 4 Simple Tips

I had never heard the term “bokeh” before, but I’m sure you’ll be excited about these tips.

2. Doc4 Design
Color Trends Lead the Way to a Better Outlook

I found this post through another blog I follow (Color for Bead Artists). It’s a neat article, but the best part is the quote from The Devil Wears Prada.

3. How to Eat a Cupcake
Oatmeal Fudge Bars

How fantastic do these sound?? If I’d had time this week, I would have given them a try.

4. Blog for Beaders
Fall/Winter 2010 Fashion Trends

I’m kind of intrigued by the modern twist on more traditional styles. (And how do they already know these things?)

5. Stuff Christians Like
Trying to explain to men why you love Beth Moore so much.

This was a funny, yet true post. She explained it pretty accurately.

Hope you enjoyed this short jaunt around the web. Have a lovely rest of your day!

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Your path may be difficult. But will be rewarding.

-Panda Express fortune cookie with tonight’s dinner.

It was a difficult day in class today.  I was very frustrated with about everything I did.  I’ve taken a soldering class before and it was challenging, but I really feel like being able to solder will help expand my beading options.

We did a test piece, which turned out pretty well.  Then I went to my main piece.  I laid out all of the little solder pieces on the back.

And when I heated them up, all that happened is the piece turned black.  It got so bad that I couldn’t tell of the solder had melted or not.  The instructor suggested we put it in the pickle.

Then, it was fortunately lunch.  I needed a few moments to get away from the workshop. I was really disappointed that it was not coming together well.

After lunch, we fired up the piece again, and soldered it onto my second piece.  But it just didn’t seem right.  The instructor assured me it was nice and secure, but I still felt like it wasn’t the way it should be.

So the next thing I needed to do was put my little leaves on. I got the flux on and the solder, and as I was putting them onto my main piece,  I lost it right in the gravel under the firing tripod.  I spent probably 20 minutes digging around in those rocks trying to find that tiny little leaf. I was finally successful and managed to get them on the piece.

Then I wanted to make a little silver ball to put as the center of the flower.  I made some balls that were too small, and one that I thought would work.  I put some flux on it and it just would not attach to the main piece.  I tried it a couple of times, and then the instructor could see my frustration and did it for me.

It seems like throughout the day, my problem was not getting the piece hot enough or the heat in the correct locations.  It was very frustrating.

Then I went to make the bail for the piece.  I worked on getting it shaped and put it on the sander to make the edges flush.  All day long people had been talking about how hot the sanded pieces got.  So what did I do? I picked up the piece with my fingers to switch it to the other side.  Yeah.  My fingers still hurt.

And when it was all done, I had to make another one because it was all crooked for some reason.

At the very end of the day, I finally had my piece all together and ready to polish.

On top of not being able to get this soldering thing right, it seemed like everyone else around me was sailing through it.  There was one gal who had 4 finished pieces and was working on more. Another gal was troubleshooting some outside-of-the-box pieces.  And there I am, struggling to finish one piece. It was very frustrating.

I’m so glad to be taking this class, and I’m happy with all that I’ve been learning, but I think I’m putting too much pressure on myself. I want to be able to go back home with completed pieces and be able to show what I’ve done.  I feel like this sort of opportunity is really rare, and I need to make the most of it.

If all I make is one piece that’s pretty okay, then at least I learned some new techniques.  So tomorrow, I’m going to finish my pendant, and it sounds like we’re making a bracelet.  I’m sure that will turn out much better.

Oh, and if you don’t hear from me tomorrow, it’s not because it didn’t go well, it’s just because tonight is my last night of hotel living.

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A few months ago, our family decided to take a day-trip up to Bellingham. My husband and I went to school there and have several places we like to visit. On a whim, I wanted to try to find a jewelry shop. It was pretty late in the day and unlikely that we’d find a place that was still open, but we managed to find a shop called Pouncing Rain just a few blocks away.

It is one of those awesome shops that you wish was just down the street from your house. It’s a small store, but packed full of fun metal tools, enameling materials, sheet, wire, and books. It was a treasure trove of goodies!

While I was talking to the clerk, he happened to point out the metal workshop going on in the other part of the store. I was only marginally interested since we live so far away. When he said it was a three-day intensive course, I was suddenly paying very close attention.

I watched their site for a few months, and they announced the next workshop over Mother’s Day weekend. I told my husband about it, and he immediately said, “Happy Mother’s Day!”

I was excited about the idea, but started making excuses. What would the rest of the family think about me being gone over Mother’s Day weekend? Who would take care of the kids on Friday? Did I have vacation time? I started working overtime on how to not make it happen.

After about a month, I decided to register for the class because I could cancel up to a week before without a penalty.

I couldn’t decide if I should drive back and forth to Bellingham on each of the three days or stay in a hotel. My sweet husband told me to just make a trip out of it. A couple of weeks ago, I finally committed to getting a hotel, but could still cancel the day before.

Do you see a pattern here?

I could only think of a hundred things that could go wrong, but here I am sitting in a hotel, working on a blog post. I have completed the first day of the weekend intensive, and I’m loving it! There is stuff that I’ve already been exposed to, but I really don’t feel like it detracts from the class because I can push myself to try new things.

Anyway, I’ve rambled on long enough. Time for a couple of pictures.

My inspiration has revolved around flowers lately, so it’s not all that surprising that my vision for this piece is a cut flower. I sawed out the flower and stem. My sawing skills need a bit of work, but so far it’s at least coming out like my sketch. Mostly.

Here you can get more of an idea of what my vision is. I textured the bottom layer with a nail set, which was pretty fun, but not as exact as I’m comfortable with.

I could go on and on about class today, but I’ll end with this. I’m pretty excited to get to finish up the detailing and solder this piece together tomorrow.

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