Metalsmith Adventure

I’ve done something this week that I haven’t in a long time, and something else that I had been talking/thinking about for a few years now. The two things coincided nicely in the second half of this week.


One: Having a solo adventure. It’s been awhile since I did any sort of small trip alone. Traveling with Grant, my partner, and/or  Derek, my son, is really fun. I look forward to when we go new places, kid-friendly, romantic, both, whichever! But traveling alone does have it’s own appeal. Stay where you want, eat where you want, stop for rest breaks whenever you want, fill the days with your own agenda.

And with Grant doing his own travel adventure to Baltimore this week, the timing was perfect. My son is with his dad for a few days in the middle of each week, and so the days and road were open… so I went to Bend, Oregon to visit my friend Jim.

Several years ago I met this guy sitting in a bar on the east side of Portland, just a gathering of friends of a friend of mine that I went to. I was just starting my glass journey, and he was a full-on metalsmith, making high end rings for couples and clients. We talked a little, and stayed in touch. He used to have his studio in Portland, and I visited a few times. The bench block and chasing hammer that I own were gifts from him that I still use.

Anyway, a few years ago, when my divorce was final and the coparenting relationship had settled into the new, amicable reality that  was the way our days went, Jim and I were talking, and he mentioned he had taken old jewelry of his and melted it into something new. I wasn’t ready at the time, both emotionally and from a knowledge perspective, but I kept the idea in my head.

And finally, that’s what my agenda is on this metalsmithing journey, both literally and figuratively. I’ve brought some rings, more than just my wedding ring, an old gold ring that housed the diamond that my wedding ring had in it, a gift from my Mom who didn’t wear the ring anymore. Together, with the diamond, which has been freed from its setting, and a couple new stones, something new will be created from something old. I hope that the piece honors its past, the relationship it came from, and brings the material into the hopeful, optimistic future, which now contains the most precious thing I have ever created in my life, which was only possible with that relationship: my son.

I melted the platinum yesterday, which was intense. Silver needs relatively low temps to melt, platinum must be taken to over 3000 degrees F.  Three Thousand.

After that, Jim showed me how to use his rolling mill with a motor, something new for me, to start turning it into raw stock wire. Today work will continue and I will get as much done as I can, before going home tomorrow. My hope is to get things at least to the point that I can finish them properly in my own studio at home, with my own experience.

Jim helped me think and take my ideas I had been mulling over for several weeks. A few choice comments and questions helped, as well as his prescribed walk along the Deschutes River, which I did for about an hour, thinking, feeling, being present. This project is exciting but it is intense. It’s hard to let go of things, let them have a new shape. It requires looking straight at what dream failed, and acknowledging once again one’s own shortcomings and failures, even when doing the best one can, sometimes it isn’t enough to make a hope hold. But that’s life, and if you are always trying, that is all you can do. But it still was an intense moment taking that torch to the ring.

And now it’s a lovely wire, that is a start of something new, freeing it to have new life instead of sitting in a drawer for decades. I’m making something new, and learning things, and so grateful to Jim for his time, his knowledge and his willingness to take me in for a day and a half and guide me on this.

Right now I am at my Airbnb, which had a wonderful coffee machine as a selling point, and yes, it’s amazing coffee. I’ve got my wire to hold and ponder, and the idea is pretty solid in my mind for the piece. In a couple hours work will be begin, and we will see how far I get today.


Here’s a video about Jim, and shots inside his wonderful, cozy, creative studio where I will be today, overlooking the Deschutes River.

Gathering of the Guilds 2017

It’s about a week now until I will be ready, or not, hee hee, for this year’s Gathering of the Guilds at the convention center in Portland on April 21-23.

Show info.

I’m feverishly working to finish my pieces, and hopefully will get started with final pricing and making sure I have things like sales receipts, by Monday.

This year is different, as I am participating in the show as part of the Creative Metal Arts Guild this year. I am excited to see how things go, and honestly nervous. But, I am glad to have made the move, and consider this the year I learn the new ropes.

Those of you in the Portland area, I hope you can come! If you are looking for me, I will be near the silent auction and gallery area of CMAG, NOT in the Oregon Glass Guild. But do stop by all the guilds and see all the wonderful work. I am happy that the Oregon Potter’s Association is also back this year, it should be a really wonderful event!

Happy International Women’s Day!

It’s different this  year, isn’t it? Last year I was giggling at Deadpool’s take on the holiday, and today it has become something bigger. In some ways, something more serious, and dark-seeming, but to me, it’s more full of light, because it’s full of activism and awareness and awakening.

There’s good news for women who have their own businesses in the world. This data is a couple years old, but According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s (GEM) most recent Women’s Report, there are an estimated 126 million women starting or running businesses all around the world. That’s a 17-percent increase since the prior GEM Women’s Report in 2010. As the number of women in business and leadership roles continues to climb, it’s important to continue to inspire new leaders and celebrate their achievements.

That is overall good news!

Where I live, in America, there is definitely a discord between rights here, as I know them, and rights in other places in the rest of the world. The movement for equality that falls into the domain of women’s rights is larger, and is linked deeply now to rights for those of color, or other groups that have been marginalized in the past.  Communication pleases me, so any conversation and sharing of inertia, passion, and active effort between groups that are working to spread equality and inclusiveness seems a good thing.

I am thankful for the men in the world who support women in their efforts, and their strength. We can’t do this alone. Women need men to help support them them in their loves and challenges and battles against oppression,  and vice versa. We need each other to stand against those who would belittle our standing and dreams, whomever we are.

So, today, when I am to strike to show the world what things are like without me, I  am fortunate that I can bow out of public labor and service today, and work on my own business, my own future, and the future for my son and family.  I do so with love, and as terrifying as love seems to be for many in the world, it’s still just that… love. I hope we all can be as open to it as possible, even when history and family pressure tries to block us off. We all deserve it. All of us.

SO. In other news, I am working on love for myself and my own business by working ever on new things, new ways to create and new ways to share what I can offer to the world, to help people express themselves.

One of my dearest friends was in town on Monday, for one day. I decided to make him something, which was a challenge on a few levels. I don’t really have much experience (yet!) with jewelry for men, and I wanted to try something new to me: hollow forms. So, I went for it!

He once wrote a song called “Windpower,” and while that makes a wind turbine a fairly obvious piece of subject matter for him, the turbine has a deeper connection for us from earlier in our friendship. I’ve loved their shape for years, even before I ever met him.

In 2006, he went on a tour across America, his first in many years, performing his music to old fans and new. I went along as his tour manager. As we crossed the nation, we ran across a few wind farms, and pointed them out to each other, each geeking out their own way at the giant machines, spinning like happy daisies in rows in the distance. It sounds silly, but it’s a happy memory for me of our friendship, and a shared feeling about something in the world that ordinarily doesn’t perhaps invoke fondness on an aesthetic level.

It’s the smallest thing I have ever tried to saw into being, and I think I did well. The turbine is maybe an inch high. And the hollow form was fun! It’s light and was a great soldering exercise, using my new soldering station.

The piece came out wonderfully, and I am so happy for the experience, and he loved it! It was the first piece with my new maker’s mark, as well, so there were a lot of firsts for this one.

And now, it’s time to go make more! Would you like one of your own? Let’s make you one! In today’s political climate it’s a statement piece I never expected it would be.

Business Meltdown (and melting down is good)

Oh my goodness, friends.
I’m adrift. I’m all over the map. I’m not sure what I am doing.


That means I am onto something.

I took this free marketing class for a week about a month ago. It was one of those things where you get a little bit of information, free, and then they offer you their full-blown workshop, for hundreds. You get some good info to make a few changes, learn a little, but then you need to commit to get the whole tamale.

I have no issue with this, it’s how seminars and info works, you exchange money for the goods. I knew I would be marketed to, and so I was ok with it. I don’t like being marketed to, even though I recognize the irony that I need to be on the other side of that hustle for my own work, exchanged for money. I knew I needed something in my business, to make a full go of it, to really get in there and try to do it right, instead of feeling my way along in the dark with no flashlight the way I have been.

So I did the week to see what I would learn, and I did learn some new things. It all culminated with a live presentation/webcast to pull things together, and give them ample time to discuss the eight-week workshop that would be starting in a week or so after the free bootcamp wrapped up.

They were offering three scholarships to people who showed up for the bootcamp. You had to write in a FB thread post about why you thought you’d be a good candidate for the scholarship to the 2 month intensive.

Derek had a delayed start school day due to ice that day. So he was home, I was making breakfast for him, after days of snow days. I had gotten so little done that week with a kiddo home from school. So I had the laptop on the kitchen counter, cooking up eggs and toast and sausage, listening to the live webcast, and typing in my answer as to why I would be a good candidate at the same time as everything else. Not very focused arena to really write something well-worded, but I did my best.

At the end of the webcast, after answering lots of questions, they announced the three winners. And, wouldn’t you know it……

I was one of them. I can’t begin to describe how grateful I felt that morning, and still do.

So now I am deep in week two of this class, and I am so deep into chaos. I am rethinking everything with the information being thrown at me. It’s wonderful.

But I am totally flailing right now in what I make, how I make it, how I present it.  How to connect better to you, and serve you with my business. I literally don’t know what to make next, but I am working how to bring more connection and joy to everyone my business touches.  How to put it all together and offer it to the world, because of what I am learning. And the information keeps on coming, relentless, each piece working to further tear down everything so I can build it back again, correctly.

I’ve spent almost no time in the studio these past two weeks. At first, it was ok cause I was learning so much. Now it’s kind of ok because I don’t really know what to make.

There’s larger commitments on the horizon, with the Gathering of the Guilds show in April. Worst case, I will take some of what I am learning and make what I make, what I have made, with some alterations and expansions, mild ones, to get me through. Or, I may have time for the changes to move through my work, and what shows up at my booth is evolved in ways I can’t even think of right now.

I just don’t know. As John Taylor and AA say, “trust the process.”

I’ll just keep going.


Reaching Out.

It’s a rainy late morning. There is much to be done today, and once again, none of it at the bench. But I’m ok with this. It’s hard, but so much is shifting at juiceglass, the work of the brain and the pen are what is flowing right now. It’s good work and it’s hard work, and not as fun as creating. But getting the business itself in a much better place will work only to help reach out when the bench time comes back into the spotlight.
This month, I am working on website overhaul, creating a weekly work schedule, and getting the mailing list back from slumber.

I’ve had the list since 2004, but it’s never really had a direction. And that’s something I need to work out for myself. What IS the direction of the mailing list? To showcase new work? To ask questions? To keep fans updated on where new shows are? To elicit feedback?

So many ideas, and I’m going to figure it out. I like the idea of the mailing list, even with so many ways to connect online today. The newsletter on paper may be going the way of the dinosaur, but newsletters themselves are still delightful, if done right. I appreciate the digital means so that I am not using paper (trees) to communicate every month, and that will keep me connected with all of you as well as to my firm conviction to live as lightly as I can on this planet.

Do you want to join me on this journey? Are you on the mailing list yet? It’s about to be reborn! With discounts and giveaways and ways for us to get to know each other, and connect and create beautiful, meaningful things in this world.

So, that’s something that is definitely on my mind this week.
I’ve been doing this business workshop that is taking up so many hours with valuable exercises, but I try to make sure those ideas and brainstorming sessions also make constant change to the business as I go.

I’m off for a few days to the Oregon coast, for inspiration, for a breather, for a moment to just enjoy new places and new sights. One night will be in a yurt! I have never been at a campground in the winter, I wonder how many people will be there besides me and my partner. Oregon rain has a plus side on the coast, and that’s terrific storms and waves.

If you would like a few moments to see where I am going, or just to see some beautiful coastline and amazing waves, check out this video. My last night of the trip I rented the little loft that sits above the RedFish restaurant, as seen here. The trip also includes a visit to the sea wall at the beginning of this video, and I hope to see some huge waves!

Recharging is so important. I hope you are taking the time to recharge and treat yourself to new things, even just a new type of tea, hiking path, or a new knitting skill, or a new local restaurant or art gallery.  I’ll see you on the other side!


The Oregon Coast – A Winter Odyssey from Uncage the Soul Productions on Vimeo.


Back to the ocean

I’ve been working so hard on upping my silversmithing skills, and working to make pieces that incorporate both silver and glass of late. It’s a lot of work and hard and frustrating but also fun and exciting.

Each piece takes me a lot longer, however, and I have a jewelry trunk show coming up in a couple weeks. It is at Art on Broadway, where I had a solo show in November. With the holiday orders for gifts, and other distractions, making a full body of work in silver wasn’t going to happen, so I instead am focusing for this show on what I love to do best in glass: little worlds.

Instead of abstract ones, these beads have little ocean elements in them: starfish, barnacles, seaweed, water and swirling bubbles  and sand.

Sea beads - glass, sterling silver
Sea beads – glass, sterling silver

They still take time but I can produce them faster then a single dramatic focal silver necklace with a bezel set large glass cab. So I have spent more time in the glass studio the past couple weeks, and it’s cold out there! Glass work is so much more pleasant in the spring and fall, vs. winter and summer. But, work must be done in all seasons, so I have been getting the small heater I have out there turned on early, or I make straws early and let the larger kiln I call Big Mama heat the room better for me.

I asked followers on FB if they liked encased beads or beads with three dimensional elements sticking off it better, and most went for the former option. Encasement acts as a magnifier and makes the glass inside a tad larger-looking. Plus, all that luscious clear just makes things sparkle.


Both were enjoyed, but B was the winner. I will make both for the trunk show, but I was curious, and always am, in what people see in my work, in the glass. Literally and in terms of feelings or memories that are kindled or rekindled when looking at glass.

I have been making encased beads this week. It’s been a joy to spend so much time with glass again.

sea beads, top view
sea beads, top view

Emerging from the Snow

Depending on if you have been watching the news or not, the Pacific Northwest was pretty buried for the last week, especially in cities and areas that are not used to a bunch of snow, real quick. As a result, along with freezing temperatures for days on end, those of us in the Portland metro area, at least, spent the week mostly at home. School was canceled for an entire week, snow turned to ice, roads didn’t improve, folks couldn’t get to work. Only now are we emerging from the snow, with the return of rain to wash it away.

I had a big birthday party planned for my sweetie on the weekend, and had to postpone it, save for the small group that could actually walk to the party from down the street. I’d rather folks be safe.


So, it was a week of being at home with family, and not much work got done. But, I had signed up for a free online bootcamp that dealt with branding and jewelry business, specifically, and I worked my way through that. That was something I could do in my own time, squished between surprise birthday visitors flying in from other states (when the airports let them actually arrive in the weather), sledding with my kiddo, making endless cups of hot cocoa and coffee, and trying to find moments to just watch the snow fall.


Work life is such a balance, whether you work at home or commute every day. Time for yourself, time for family, time for work.  As my son grows, I really want to be present for the kid years left to me, which are dwindling as I wrote about in my previous post. I am fortunate that I can work while he is at school, and be home when he’s with me. I plow all my work hours into the days he is with his dad. I miss him when he’s gone, but I do have time to focus on work as a result, and one of my goals for the next month is to really set up a schedule that takes advantage of this. It’s easy to stretch oneself thin if one schedules their own hours. Errands, housekeeping, appointments, taking a little time here and there to be social or do research….before you know it, the time is gone.


I am hoping to use what I learned in the bootcamp to start refining things about my jewelry business, and use those goal posts and ideas to refine actual work in the studio. And with that, I had probably get in the studio. I have a show next month and work is due in a couple weeks. It’s been so cold the glass studio has been miserable, and it takes a few hours for it to heat up in there. I had best get the power running, the kiln turned on, and the muse awake.

Once I get the work done for the show, I will return my focus to the cabochons I have already made, starting to get ready for Gathering of the Guilds in a few months. I have time, I need to block it out. In work, and in life.

cabochons ready to get sterling silver homes

Tuesday Nights

Non-maker post subject ahead. *grin*


I still sleep with my son on Tuesday nights. Sometimes, he talks me into more than one time a week. It’s very hard for me to say no.


I read somewhere recently that the basic job of being a mother, in the grand scale, is to push your child away from you so that they can learn to fly on their own in this world. And then, while you are pulling apart the closest of bonds there are, one that started with two humans in one body, you should pat yourself on the back and feel goddamned great about it.


I don’t.


My son is still sweet. He still hugs me before sleep and whispers “I don’t want you to leave.” He gets up from his dinner to give me a kiss. Sometimes I am reading, and don’t want to be interrupted every thirty seconds with a new tidbit from his Book of World Records book. I think “he must be annoyed when I interrupt him…doesn’t he see that it goes both ways, I may want to actually get a moment to read a whole page here?”

But…I also don’t. I have maybe, maybe, 2 years left? Three if I am insanely lucky. Three years of him wanting to share with me, hug me, do things with me. Three years of telling me about his books, his Minecraft, his stuffed animals. Three years left of my child, as a child.  Soon, the chemicals will start brewing and his simple desires and drives will be overrun with others far more complex, that will change his life and rule his outlook for the rest of his days. These are exciting things. I can’t imagine, and cannot wait, to meet my son the man.


I could also wait forever for it.


To get there, I must go through the forest of his teen years, where the trees will start to block my view, once so clear and close, of my son. He will stop holding my hand. He will one day let me know when Tuesday night is no longer mine.

I know on the other side lies the return, but it isn’t the same. It’s not supposed to be. But I will miss this, so I want to be present for it now. Even if it interrupts my reading every thirty seconds. It is what I want, while it is here.

I don’t know how any mother does this, nods, smiles, and thinks, “This is goddamn great.”


Tonight is Tuesday. And for now, it’s still ours.



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.


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!



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.