Tag Archives: metalsmith

Inspiration…

15 Aug

Apple Juice

Originally uploaded by CleverGirlBek

These were my first vintage plastic purchase.

These little vintage catalin/Bakelite cabs are why I stopped beading and started hammering and melting.

I bought these, early last year, from a seller on eBay… The purchase was the ultimate decadence to me then. And I had plans . I was going to set the little cabs in silver bezels that I had found when experimenting with PMC3/Metal Clay…Easy enough.
When they arrived I found that vintage catalin/Bakelite is not a precisely calibrated material. Each piece was just different enough that the die formed bezels, that came with my little PMC starter kit, were of absolutely no use.
So I put them aside.
I melted my first PMC piece. Purely by accident. I was captivated by the mirror shimmy that the liquid silver danced under the flame of my little butane kitchen torch.
I had some wire, so I melted that too. I must have melted a hundred little balls on my soldering block. My husband sat with me and watched while I teased the metal into perfect little orbs and tiny kisses on the ends of wire.
A brief search of the online card catalog for our county revealed a few books on the topics of silversmithing and metalsmithing. Some of them were fairly new, most of them were long out of print and some even rare. I had my husband borrow one for me and I read. I didn’t understand a word of McCreight’s Complete Metalsmith so I found a book by Jinks McGrath that offered a nice cross-section of information- it assumed little-to-no knowledge of metalwork and tools and provided many photographs.
And then I got to work making bezels, and I haven’t stopped since….

FLA

26 Jul

FLA

Originally uploaded by CleverGirlBek

Ahhh sunny Florida and vintage souvenirs….

Sometimes, though, there is a little too much detail on pieces… This particular intaglio pictures some palms, the beach, a flamingo, and what I’m guessing is a lady sunning her legs while the rest of her is under the cover of an umbrella…

But, due to the monochromatic and general tiny-ness of the piece is looks like a giant clam eating a person.

Now that would have been a classic drive-in bit…

With Love,
From Sunny Florida

Spring has sprung…

14 Mar



Tree by TimothyAdam

Originally uploaded by CleverGirlBek

Or at least it looks that way since I put a bunch of my earrings on the tree I ordered from TimothyAdamDesigns… Really cool steel piece, beautifully made… I put a bunch of earrings from my etsy shop on it and am more in love with it. Now go visit TimothyAdamDesigns

Rainy 4th…

4 Jul

It has been raining on and off all day. We desperately need the rain down here in SW Florida to hopefully keep anymore gigantic fires at bay. I hope people use their melons tonight and are more on the safe side of things as far as fireworks go (but I’m not holding my breath :-)

Alex is so excited about seeing fireworks that I’m amazed he’s sleeping right now but we had a busy morning/afternoon visiting with my folks (my dad is in town for the week) and going to the little eatery and shopping area near their home… There was a “Most Patriotic Dog” costume contest so the place was a mix of the usual folks we know from Mom and Dad’s development and then people who are obviously “dress up your dog like a small child and parade them around in hopes of winning a prize” veterans (complete with camping chairs and coolers and outfits to match what they’d decked out the dogs in)…

It was interesting. It was mostly a bunch of chihuahuas in denim. There were a few older dogs (including a 14 year old poodle who I was cheering for), a beautiful leggy great dane (they painted his white spots in blue and red…yeah. pretty disturbing.), but then out of nowhere comes this sweet cottonelle commercial yellow lab puppy. Cuteness in a little furry package. Wagging his tail. An American flag on a stick in his mouth. Sunlight glinting off his blond fur.

Yeah. The cute blond won. Like I didn’t see that coming from a mile away. Sheesh.

Anyways- made these last night… I made a similar pair in February and it just blows my mind how much my style and skill set has changed since then. These are completely different earrings from the original set (I’ll find a pic of the old ones when I get a moment)…. Spent some time on these yesterday and had a ball. It was a long (napless for Alex and me) day and I definitely was in the mood to play with my doming set and my mallet and a weight was lifted as soon as I fired up the torch…

I’m back from outerspace…

20 Jun

Ok. So not *actually* outerspace, more like innerspace (and no, Dennis Quaid was not there and I was not stuck in the 80’s :-)

June 14th, Flag Day here in the US, is always a “holiday” in our home. It is the anniversary of my diagnosis with Type 1 (“juvenile”) diabetes and each year we celebrate (Jeff takes the day off and there is usually cake or chocolate involved- kind of a way to safely give the big D the ol’ stinkeye….) . Some folks just don’t understand and think it’s sick that we’d celebrate another year of such a shitty, all consuming disease. We call it D-Day in our home and we definitely celebrate- we aren’t trying to make light of such a serious disease (although I do make plenty of corny diabetes jokes) -we are actually celebrating another year of my hard work to keep this disease from maiming or killing me. It’s a big Hip-hip-horray! for another year without complications.

This year was different.

Despite a lot of hard work after 14 years of ups and downs and strange happenings this was the first D-Day where I couldn’t celebrate another year being complication-free. In the past couple of weeks my docs have all agreed that it seems that I have autonomic neuropathy. Basically it means that the nerves that regulate my heart rate, breathing, digestion, balance, etc are crapping out. Actually, it’s not just my autonomic nervous system either. My hands shake and detailed work is a challenge- a challenge I happily take on but yeah, there are tears and a lot of frustration. I’m glad this didn’t happen when I was younger. I’m more levelheaded now. I’m also more bullheaded- but it’s a focused bullheadedness. I don’t just lower my head and strike whatever is in front of me, these days I aim and focus all that energy at appropriate (most of the time) targets.

With creating/crafting/metalwork/jewelrymaking this means that I’m modifying tools and techniques where I can. I’m using a pistol grip rotary tool instead of a traditional flex shaft. I’m learning to push myself less physically – I can no longer work until the muscles in my hands and wrists go numb or cramp up because that means I can’t even pick up a pencil for at least a week. So I’m pushing myself more creatively. I’m reading a lot more. I’m languidly playing with materials and discovering as many of their possibilities as possible – sometimes without the intention of actually making anything with a largish scrap of silver- sometimes I just hammer and play. Melt and play. It’s meditative. It keeps me out of trouble. And I’m writing down everything and instead of spending hours figuring out a new piece I’m actually keeping a sketchbook fairly regularly. That way I’m being smarter with the little time I have to fabricate. I’m learning to take baby steps again and once the initial frustration passes (and the little patches of residual frustration!) I’m finding it to be calming and centering. It’s like I’m letting go of the material (the finished product to introduce to the public…keeping up with listing new stuff on venues such as Etsy) and just enjoying the process, the experience…. The interesting thing is that by reaching this meditative point of creating I’ve also found myself to be more productive than before I got my big news… I’m also finding the materials to be more malleable and creating with metal is less a recollection of what I’ve learned in the past (I’m self-taught and learn by doing and experimentation, if I don’t do it that way everything escapes me) and more of a natural motion- as natural as breathing in and out. As natural as the rhythmic pumping of a heart. As natural as standing up without blacking out. I’m focusing on my creations to work through this but also as a reminded of what I do still have control over.

Ok now a little poll/survey question thingy:

If you have arthritis/carpal tunnel/hand tremors/structural issues- what mods have you made to your crafting tools/equipment or are there any tools and/or accessories you have found particularly helpful?  Thanks in advance!

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