Holiday Time

Here we are, America! Still digesting our turkey while balancing on ladders getting our twinkly lights up on buildings and draped on evergreen trees.

I hope for snow this year down in the valley. We have the luxury here in Portland of traveling to snow almost all-year round, up on Mt. Hood, but nothing beats the delight of watching snow fall from your home window.

For those of us in the retail business, we get the added smash of orders, if we are lucky. The time between Thangsiving and Christmas is often the biggest month of the year for sales, and while it’s a challenge while trying to manage making merry for the family at the same time, it’s a blessing. And my blessing has begun. In the past 24 hours 18 hours have come in, so as soon as I finish this blog, it’s into the studio I go to start filling them.

 

I have gotten a few ideas in my head for new jewelry, which is handy in terms of timing. We had our quarterly meeting at the Art on Broadway Gallery yesterday, and the jewelry folks will have a trunk show in February. My show is just about to end there, so it is a fairly quick turnaround to get some new work done, but I am eager to do so. I am not sure how much “play time” I will get to fiddle with these new ideas until after the holiday rush, but I hope to try to take at least one day a week to get in there and develop these ideas.

I guess this will be a short entry, as there are orders to fill and printer ink to go buy, and if I am lucky, I’ll get to the gym today after the work is done and before picking up my son from school.

Life is good. Days have been a little difficult, but as the guy in the liquor store said to me last week. Have a good day? I can’t miss. Upright, and breathing. I’ve got it. And that’s true. I’m alive. That goes a long way towards it being a good day. =)

New (Old) Shiny.

Tools. There’s nothing like new tools.

It’s scary to invest in myself. All the money in doesn’t mean it will equal money out. I’m not going into debt with my purchases, and I am setting myself up for long term success with what I buy. Things that are good for my body, and things that are good for my creative soul. Today I offer an example of each.

I’m not a spring chicken, but I’m not an old lady either. Still, if I am going to work harder with my hands I need to take care of them. Bezel setting and sawing have been making strange parts of me ache in ways that are new!

When I started doing glasswork as more than a hobby, I bought a setup that would help me ergonomically to stay safe with so many hours at the torch. So, I did the same for myself now with the metal work and bought a GRS Benchmate, which will allow me the same, I hope, for my hands and elbows as I dig deeper into working with silver, setting bezels and bending metal to my will. 😉

I hope the instructions are in there somewhere
I hope the instructions are in there somewhere

So today I will be setting that up.

 

I also finished a small challenge of bringing new life to an old tool. A friend I made one evening at the Lucky Lab in Portland ended up being a wonderful jeweler and metalsmith, Jim Dailing, who I have been delighted to know and experience in the years since our meeting.

He traded me some of my early work (sweet guy) for a hammer and a bench block. The block got a lot of use and neglect early on,  from me and students who handled it rough. I looked around for a new one, but this one was the perfect size for me, and thicker than most. Plus, it was a starting out gift of an important tool I didn’t have.

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I called several machine shops trying to find someone who would bring it back to life. A lot of them said nope, can’t do it, won’t do it, too small of a job, don’t have the right equipment, etc.

And then I found Paul Brong Machine Works. The end price was only about $10 more than buying a new, thinner block. They turned it around in 24 hours, and while it is on the other side of the river from me, I had other errands and just did it all at once as best I could. They were quick and nice and didn’t look at me strange with my funny square block of steel.

And just LOOK at it now!

Whee!
Whee!

 

I’m excited to have a tool that has a story, in my life, to be refinished and given a new life. Old tool, new tool, together, to help further what I can create and share with the world.

But now I gotta go find those dang instructions.