New Year, Clean Bench

cleanbench

This state of cleanliness lasted all but an hour. Still, it’s been a few weeks since I really sat down to work here, and it helps to take a look at where everything is and what I was doing and what still needs to be done. Class starts again in a couple weeks and I’d like to say I’m preparing for it, but I’m not . . . yet.

I’d also like to say “It’s 2017 and I’m going to start a business and be a real artist!” but that’s not happening either. I like Making Stuff, but I don’t have the entrepreneurial spirit. I’ve checked out the books, signed up for basic bookkeeping, talked to people who have done it (surprise: they didn’t always find it a positive experience) and have concluded that I’ve screwed around enough. For now, anyway, it’s time to find a full-time job, take care of some things. I’ll keep taking classes, and I’m starting to focus on developing my own designs, but there are no plans. No real ones, anyway. And maybe that’s all right. There are benefits to being a “Sunday painter,” like being able to truly create whatever the hell you want and not having to worry about business, customers, and the market.

In other news: knitting. My husband and I drove down to Memphis for a couple days during the last week of the year and had a great time. Some of the car ride was spent on these:

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They were quick and easy and meant to use up the yarn left over from this:

hownowbrownscarf

I suppose I’ll keep up with socks and the like for a while, to use up my stash, which is my only knitting goal for the year.

And finally, I think this might be it for the blog. It’s been fun working through and talking over what I’ve been creating for the past few years, but I think it’s time to go. I don’t know what the next stage will be, but I’m sure . . . of nothing.

Goodbye, and keep creating! I know I will.

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Filed under knitting, Uncategorized, yak yak yak

Season’s Greetings!

Well, my husband is sick and family Christmas time is postponed, so here I am blogging about some little gifts I made for my niece and nephew, respectively.

melbracelet

I think this will fit a six-year-old. Well, I hope so. I made this with a super cheap and crappy set of alphabet stamps I got from a big box craft store with a 50% off coupon, so they were like 8 bucks. Mind you, a good set could run at least 75 dollars or more. I’m not terribly happy with them, but I knew what I was getting into, and they’ll be good for marking things and experimenting, anyway.

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My nephew is into sea creatures these days, so I dug around in my Ravelry favorites until I spotted this sweet Little Blue Lobster pattern. I’d have liked to use blue yarn, but I actually don’t have any since I’ve been working on a scrapghan. Fortunately, I did have just the right amount of scrap bulky red with a charming fleck in it–and ah, sadness, I think I got it from my knit night friend who has just moved away as her husband has a new job in Chicago. So he turned out super cute and the pattern was easy, fast, and enjoyable.

And just because I’m too lazy to write a separate post:

2ndclasp

Here’s a bracelet I (finally) just finished up. I don’t think I ever talked about it or took progress shots, but I’ve been working on that box clasp since last fall. Actually, I finished that a while ago. I found it easier and more enjoyable than stringing up beads and putting crimps on (I don’t even know how I got the tongue end of the clasp on backwards, but I did on my first attempt.) I might get those little c-shaped crimp covers you put over them and squeeze down with pliers, but we’ll see. Anyway, I’ve had those red creek jasper beads for nearly two years now and I’m glad I finally did this–and I have four beads to spare, so there might be some fun with them in the coming year.

And so it’s not been the best year, but it’s been a creative one, and I can’t complain. See you in January!

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Filed under amigurumi, beads, bracelet, crochet, metals, presents

Hammertime!

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Here’s a little something that turned out better than I could have hoped! I came up with the design shortly after finding that beautiful central agate at a rock, gem, & mineral show in October.

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(As you can see, I opted for the second idea.)

There were some design challenges here. And some funny moments, like when I soldered the big bezel on using a brand-new solderite board. The silver kept sliding around as I worked, like a sweating glass on a wet tabletop. Never had that happen before!

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Getting the three discs on the bottom soldered onto square wires was a particularly tough challenge, especially since the central one was thicker than the sides. I had to work from the back (heating from the front would only make the solder on the bezels flow again, plus I wouldn’t be able to see when the solder flowed in back.), and getting the pieces lined up straight and pressing against each other was a bit of a challenge; I’m used to working with pieces that have a flat side so it’s easy, and this was not so. I ended up blorping on more extra-easy solder than I might have liked, and while I was able to grind a lot of it away, there’s still a color mis-match on the back of those discs, and with extra-easy it only takes a day or two for a tarnished look to pop up again.

But live and learn. And speaking of learning, I had to figure out how to set the stones. For some of them, putting wooden blocks behind them on either side of the central wire worked really well (like the uppermost, round agate.) For the lowest, smallest ones, not so much. It was very tough using hand tools to set those stones without bending or warping anything; I tried setting the whole piece on a sandbag, but that was of limited use. Also, I nearly f’ed up setting the big stone.

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Here I used a common trick to test the fit: lay down a bit of dental floss, insert the stone, and use the floss to lift it out again. Well, that worked fine, so I popped the stone back in without the floss. Only THEN did I realize I forgot to take down the corners of the bezel first.

Oops.

And that stone wasn’t coming back out.

So, I carefully drilled a hole in the back. I was afraid of hitting the stone, but you can definitely feel when the bit is done with the silver, so that was fine. I pushed the stone out easily enough with the other end of the drill bit, filed down my corners, and . . . wait, what about this hole now? I had to think about it. I drilled three more, and sawed out little squiggly shapes around each one so it would look like a deliberate design. Well, it worked well enough, and gave me an idea for another project later, so that part made me happy. But–

I just could not set any of those stones to my satisfaction with bezel pushers and rockers and burnishers. For one thing, I’m starting to develop pain in my hands, especially around my thumbs, and this didn’t help. Also, like I said, the wires in back were different gauges and I had a hard time getting just the right support underneath the pieces to be able to apply so much pressure without ruining anything. So when I got done setting them all at home in my basement workshop, I just felt depressed about the whole stupid thing because it didn’t look right at all, and I was a big failure, and all that.

But I took it to class anyway, and Bob knew exactly what I needed.

handpieceAre you there, Santa Claus? It’s me, Jennifer.

Here’s a bezel pushing tool I had dismissed as a silly gadget for lazy people, because I am a closed-minded, short-sighted, and stupid person. Sometimes. This hammering attachment for the flex shaft is exactly what I needed to get into all the awkward angles and push down those silver bezels exactly where I needed to. AND there was no need to worry about putting pressure DOWN–the force just goes horizontally from metal to stone (and if you’re worried about damaging the stone, as I was, you probably don’t need to be. These agates and carnelians took it well. Maybe an opal wouldn’t, I don’t know. And don’t forgot to protect their surfaces with masking tape, just in case.)

So that was my adventure, and the big project of this class cycle.

Just for posterity, here’s the pretty, pretty back of the agate. Because I guess I’ll never see it again, except through four tiny squiggle-shaped holes.

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Filed under helpers and devices, metals, necklace, pendant, soldering, stones/gems

How Now Brown . . . Scarf

So I had two skeins of sport weight yarn I had no idea what to do with–too much for some projects, not enough for others, sick of scarves–so I searched around for an appropriate pattern and decided on the Cancun Boxy Lacy Top, a simple, shapeless affair made of two rectangles that would looks stunning on a skinny twelve-year-old, and absolutely no one else. I did most of the front rectangle, held it up, confirmed my skepticism, and made a second rectangle. I had an idea I’d just stitch them together on sort of an angle to make a diagonal, poncho-type thing, but in the end I didn’t have the energy for it and just seamed them together to make a–whoopee–scarf. It is a nice scarf, though.

hownowbrownscarf

And there’s enough yarn left over for a pair of ankle socks, which should get me through holiday car trips and the next knitting guild meeting. Honestly, I’m about done with fiber arts, or I will be when I’ve depleted my stash. I want to turn more attention to jewelry and plans for the new year.

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Metal Beads!

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Well, this was fun. My teacher let me borrow this book on making metal beads, so I tried my hand at a couple basic tutorials.

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Little round lefty over there has a lot of silver solder on it, and I’m not sure how that’s going to look as the patina sets in. I’m hoping for awesome, but I’m not sure. In future, I suppose I’ll have to get better at soldering a seam like this neatly. As for the square on the right, well, that was pretty awesome, but I wish I’d chosen a larger tube, because I had to flatten the bead a bit more than I’d have liked to secure it. Live and learn, though.

So last weekend I finished up a copper box I’d been putting off for nearly three years. This was partly because it required a ton of riveting, and partly because I’d lost some enthusiasm as it was not my original design, and I wanted to focus on my own things. The box was something I’d seen in 500 Pendants and Lockets and thought was supercool and I wanted to learn from it. Well, learn I did, and I had a big long post about it, but I ended up deleting it. Again, it’s not my design, and maybe posting a step-by-step of how to copy it was a dick move. I don’t know. But I did get it done–so many mistakes and all—and learned a ton about how to make my own hinged box.  So, onward.

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Filed under beads, riveting, soldering

More Teeny Tinies

My mother’s birthday has come and gone again, and I’m still trying to make small, lightweight earrings for her.

I thought I had a winner with these:

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I’ve made similar ones before, but these are a touch more elaborate . . . and I guess kind of heavy. I don’t see my mother very often, and I never realized she’s–well, she’s 75 now, and her earlobes hang in a way they didn’t used to. So after I gave her these, and saw how they droop on her, I came home and started working on another, tinier pair with hopes of getting them done by Thanksgiving when I’d see her again. I think this time I have a winner.


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These are very small, and thin, and lightweight. It’s hard to see here, but there’s a subtle stamp pattern on them, underneath the crossing lines I put in afterward. I think these might work very well. Can’t decide if I want to blacken the lines, though, or keep everything shiny.

A few more things are in the works, as always, including a project that’s been on the back burner for three years. I’d hoped to show it by now but I got to the very end and screwed up big time. Or I thought it was big time. Now I’m not so sure. I can’t work on it until I feel better and know what to do next.

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Filed under earrings, metals

Happy Halloween

Well, just as I was getting all into my wax ring models, I realized I had to get down to business on my Halloween costume before a community trick or treat event  on 10/21 that I volunteered for. The good news: I had it half-done. Sort of. Remember this crazybusiness?

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I made that a good three years ago and never got around to the rest of it. So, thanks to my buddy Pinterest, I found a diagram and some basic–really, really basic–instructions for making a Viking coat. The bad news: this was written for someone who knows their way around a sewing machine, and while that kinda-sorta was me years ago, I’d forgotten it all. Actually, that’s not quite right. The sewing machine is the easy part. The measuring, the cutting, the pinning, the marking, the ironing, the seaming . . . so many steps with their own little quirks.

helpI did have help, though.

It all took more time than I anticipated, and though it’s got an amateur-hour quality to it, I got it done with no major problems. The only real alteration I made was to shorten the coat to a tunic (and not cut the front open); if I were to do this over next year with better fabric (yeah, right) I’d make it just a bit longer, because I forgot that actually having a, you know, body tends to make tunics shorter than you think.

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Accessories weren’t difficult: I got a belt from the thrift store, a ring featuring a skull with a giant axe through it from Six Flags Great America a billion years ago, my husband’s gray sweat pants, furry slipper-boots from the Kmart that’s going out of business in our town, and as for a weapon . . .

lilmjolnirOh, Li’l Mjolnir!

My riveting hammer just didn’t seem mighty enough. The fly-by-night Halloween store in my neighborhood had a Marvel licensed Thor hammer, but it was 20 bucks so I said screw that and bought a giant plastic broadsword for 10 bucks instead.

vikingDrama.

My favorite comment of the evening was probably from the kid who was all, “I know what–who–I know what that is! It’s like from the dragon–How to Tame Your Dragon movie.” And my least favorite was probably from the boy who grabbed my hem and was all, “Is this a dress?” Hands off, kid.

As for sewing, I can’t tell if I never want to do it again or if I want to look through some old patterns I have and get busy on something else! Truth is, this isn’t the time to get involved, and by the time it is, I’ll have lost interest, so farewell again, my sewing hobby.

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Filed under crochet, sewing, yak yak yak