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.

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.

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.