Tuesday, September 21, 2010


It is often said that patience is a virtue. Indeed it is. I am not flush with copious amounts of patience, unfortunately. It is a quality that I struggle with at times. Despite the struggle, I really want Patience to win. She deserves it, after all, being such a mellow gal.

Why do I mention patience? The last few weeks of glass bead making have been IMPOSSIBLE! I am in the midst of my first official glass testing experience and everything that can go wrong, has gone wrong. Exploding glass, torch head with flames shooting out the sides, sooty and blackened beads, wonky beads. It's as if I have forgotten how to work the glass. Ever had that happen to you? Good news is, I finally discovered why so many difficulties. One glass-exploding day a few weeks ago, some shards of glass took up residence in my torch head. It never occurred to me to check the torch head. I just realized it yesterday. So now I know why almost all of my beads have come out all smoky and gross. I have since cleaned my torch head and, finally, I am back in business. Sigh of relief.

Patience also has come in handy for my current metalsmithing class. Last post I mentioned the sawing difficulties I had been experiencing. Well, I put in a little practice time, watched a few tutorials posted online by my instructor and, I can truthfully say, my sawing has improved. A lot. Yay for me! I did learn one valuable lesson in class last week. Actually, two valuable lessons: 1) Never, EVER, get your finger(s) in the way of the saw blade. It may be teeny-tiny, but it can do some serious damage. No, I didn't need stitches and, yes, I left a blood trail on the way to get a bandage. 2) Never, EVER, get distracted while sawing. Save the chat session for those less risky moments in your life. That being said, my biggest concern that night was whether or not I got blood on my project. I didn't. I was elated that I was able to finish my sawing for the class that night! And my finger is mending nicely. It should be good-to-go come time for my next class!

The following may seem like a complete change of subject but, trust me, it ties in to our subject today. In the last several months, I have been busy bonding with my three new-ish cats. They are still technically kittens, but getting seriously large now. Two of them are Bengals- a fascinating breed of cat. They are part Asian leopard, part domestic cat (usually Abyssinian) and completely unique. I was told they would be "playful", "kitten-like all of their lives", a bit rowdy, good jumpers. These cats are anything but ordinary. They could be in the circus! They are incredibly acrobatic, full of grace, rambunctious, obsessive, sweet, skittish, somewhat destructive, and totally loveable. They keep me on my toes and require a large dose of PATIENCE to live with their non-stop antics. Not to be overlooked is my one sweet tortoiseshell shorthair domestic cat- just a garden-variety type of cat, looks-wise. Personality-wise, she is a force of nature, up to the task of garnering her share of our attention. (Photo in this post is of my male Bengal, nosing the camera lens!)

"One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life."- Chinese proverb

"Patience is also a form of action."- Auguste Rodin

Thursday, September 16, 2010

In Absentia

"In absentia" is a lovely Latin phrase. It literally means, "in the absence". This phrase conveys the thought of not being present, perhaps when one should be. Macabre as it sounds, I think it appropriate to use a dead language to define the idea of not being physically present. I also think the term is apropos to explain not being virtually present. I don't like to make excuses because they sound lame at best. So I will simply get down to business and write this post!

This year has been beyond busy for me due to circumstances beyond control. Finally, the dust is settling, things are sorting out, breaths can be taken. At least until the next time. In the interim, I have been as creatively productive as possible. Currently, I am taking a metalsmithing class. Just getting started, actually. I must say that I have a whole new respect for metalsmiths. Sawing metal is my biggest challenge so far. I had no idea that jewelry sawblades are so very thin! My sawing technique has a L-O-N-G way to go. The first night of my class, I broke eight blades. Eight of them. Meanwhile, the students on either side of me were doing an incredible job of sawing. One cut out a cute little flower shape. The other cut out a sweet little bird. And me? A misshapen oval and eight broken blades. I should note, however, that I am typically a slow learner when it comes to crafty things. But I do sincerely hope that I can reach a point where my technique does improve. Practice, practice, practice!

I remember when I took a glass bead class for the first time. The torch was absolutely terrifying to me. The hot glass wasn't my favorite feature, either. I was living on the edge! But I eventually got a feel for it. Interestingly, the torch in metalsmithing holds fresh terror for me. I didn't expect that. I am so accustomed to using a torch when working with glass. But it's all different with metal. One of the torches in the metal shop is nicknamed "Big Bertha". It is used to anneal large pieces of sheet metal. "Big Bertha" is intimidating. She breathes fire. She is potentially explosive. My synapses are firing away as I learn to wrap my mind around it. It is a comfort to me that the metal shop is full of ladies using hammers, saws and torches. Not a man in sight. The only men in the building are in a pottery class next door. Huh.

I am also an official glass tester for Creation is Messy! This is the first time that I have had the opportunity to participate in the testing process. I received my package of glass ( a boxful of rainbow! ), sorted it out and got started playing. I have to say that I am a huge fan of Creation is Messy glass, a.k.a. CiM glass. They have colors in their glass line that are completely unique, with more streaming out constantly. They are particularly interested in pleasing their many customers, a wise business practice. I will be reporting some of my CiM glass observations in future posts.

Pictured in this post is just one of the sample beads I have been working on throughout the testing process. Beadmaking has been a bit frustrating lately. My bead release (a clay slip used to make bead removal easier after firing) has been failing me non-stop lately! I keep a bowl of water near my torch to "kill" beads that are not working out. The bowl is full of shattered glass right now, with the death toll ever mounting. Perhaps the high humidity we have been having locally is a contributing factor. I don't know. I will just keep trying!

"Never give up. Never surrender!"- from the movie, "Galaxy Quest"

"Age wrinkles the body. Quitting wrinkles the soul."- Douglas MacArthur

"Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged men who kept on working."-- Unknown