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Archive for the ‘class’ Category

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. ~Walt Disney

So… I’ve been gone from the scene for a while.

It was actually planned. Well, at least at the beginning I had a plan.

I didn’t talk about it before I took a break, but it maybe would have been a good idea to explain why I was planning an extended break from my blog and Twitter. I was just afraid to admit it out loud because I don’t like to fail. If I explained what my plan was, then I’d have to come back and say whether it worked out or not.

And here’s the deal, it didn’t work out. Nothing worked like I thought it would. But I learned from my break and some things really changed.

Sometime around the end of the last Bead Soup Blog Party (when last we met), I decided that I was going to put into action what I’d wanted to do for a long time. I was going to make some pieces (30 to be exact) and I was going to finally open my own Etsy store. I wanted to create a line in time for Christmas shopping.

I’ve been designing and creating jewelry for eight years now. I’ve been gathering up supplies (for years), saying I was going to make certain pieces I’d designed, and I finally decided I was going to “quit talking and begin doing”.

I was going to leap right in.

Just watch me.

I’m here on this ledge…

I had a plan. Starting at the end of July, I was going to take 6 weeks. The plan was 1 week to firm up some ideas, 4 weeks to create (all of August), and 1 week to take pictures and post (beginning of September).

You can stop laughing now.

Once I started on creation, I quickly realized that there was no way I would be able to put together 30 pieces. If I was planning on just doing stringing or some wire work, then I might have been able to pull it off. But what I wanted to do was make some soldered focal pieces and bracelets.

Like this…

Soldered Pendant

I also wanted to do some metal work, which was going to take more time than one piece a night. I wasn’t specific enough in what metal pieces I was going to create. I had ideas, but my designs were still forming.

I wasn’t too discouraged because I figured I could put together some earrings pretty quickly to round out my 30 pieces. And I had some simpler stuff I could do too.

But things kept consuming my time. I work full time. I was taking a drawing class every Monday night until 10. I was actually in class 3 nights a week at the end of July. There were birthdays late in the summer, which took up some evenings.

Then, my oldest started Kindergarten at the end of August (sniff), and suddenly my evenings in September were filling up with back-to-school things. I was also working with my sister-in-law to plan the 40th Anniversary party of our parents-in-law in mid-September.

I just kept pushing my dates back and working as best I could. But by mid-September I still only had 5-6 pieces in various states of completion.

Then… at the end of September, I found out about this…

And everything came to a screeching hault.

I felt pretty okay for about 2 weeks after we found out, but then the morning sickness and exhaustion hit.  This one has been especially hard.  I’m not sure if it’s because I’m older or because I have two other kiddos, but I have had a hard time.  It was probably some where around Christmas that I started seeing some of my energy come back, but I still can’t keep up like I used to.

I am itching to create though, and I haven’t forgotten about my vision to put together a shop.  I’m hoping to create some pieces for Valentine’s Day and Spring.  It may end up being 10 things, but I’m going to try.

Bracelet-to-be

work-in-progress

I’ll post when it happens, but this time I plan to be back before then.

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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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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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What I’m Learning: CSS I

I started my Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) Level 1 class last night, and I am so excited to be taking this class. Up to this point in the Web Design program, I haven’t learned a lot of new stuff. The HTML II class started to touch on some new things that were pretty exciting, but CSS is something I know very, very little about.

It wasn’t until yesterday morning that I realized I was going to work for eight hours and then to class for nearly another four hours. It was at that point I came to the conclusion I must be nuts. But class was fantastic! I loved it.

No idea what CSS is? Well, imagine if HTML was the meat and potatoes of your website, then CSS is the gravy. HTML is the content, and CSS is what makes it readable and interesting.

CSS takes something like this…

http://csszengarden.com/zengarden-sample.html

And turns it into this…

http://csszengarden.com/

As my instructor said, the appropriate response is ‘Wow!’

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As a rare treat, I was able to do two beading projects in two days. This evening I took a class at my favorite local shop creating a metal worked pendant. This creation was inspired by the designer’s neighbor’s Wisteria vine. It was a really fun piece made by crushing light-weight, 34-gauge copper into the blossoms

I really, really enjoyed this metal working technique. It was very organic and worked up nicely. I’m thrilled that I was able to complete the pendant during the class. I can’t think of another metal worked class where I’ve walked away with the finished piece. I have so many nearly completed projects. I’m not counting the fact that I still have to make it into a necklace

I was also very happy to discover that I already own nearly all the tools to make this piece again in the future. I am certain I will be incorporating this technique into other pieces.

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A Bit of Chaos

It has been and will continue to be a very busy time for me right now. It seems like I am never home with my family. But when the opportunity arose to take a class from Scott David Plumlee at my favorite bead shop, then I had to find the room in my schedule.

The class I took was making a Double Chaos bracelet using a technique from his newest book. (It’s actually featured on the cover.) The technique is pretty free-form, which is a bit out of my comfort zone. Even my “free-form” was coming out in a pattern, so I had to mess it up a bit.

It was a great class, and I wish I’d had the time to take all four of them this weekend. I hope he’ll return when his third book come out next fall, and I’ll be able to take more. He’s really such a nice guy and explained several other techniques in addition to the chaos component.

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