Tuesday, July 04, 2017


My experience with learning silverwork I call the percentage method. When you first start your percentage of failure is high and gradually, as you do the same thing over and over, your success percentage increases.

I suppose it's true for most anything, that endless repetition that builds the skills deep into our bones and muscles and mind.

I often hear people wanting to know why a particular thing I do seems so effortless. Well, you should have seen the first 1000, wonky bits that often ended up in the silver recycling cup. I expect near perfection in my pieces, even while knowing my skill level is always improving. Many older things are sold at a discount or taken apart for recycling. It's a wonderful thing that most of my metal I can melt and re-use.

So, now I've set myself the goal of becoming a really good stone setter. I love adding techniques to my bag of tricks, those things that will enhance my jewelry designs and stretch my ever seeking mind.

How many is it going to take? 10? 20? 50? It will take just that many, until I'm satisfied and proud to send those pieces out into the world. The first goal is to achieve excellence in a simple setting, no fancy extras, no pretty leaves or balls, just one well set stone, everything smooth, shiny and secure.

My early efforts have been relatively successful, well, except maybe for that amethyst cab ring sitting on my bench, ick.

This business depends quite heavily on the right tools, especially finishing equipment. Setting a stone tends to rough up the metal a good deal and the clean-up can be daunting.

Here's what I've been working on...

I'm quite happy with this one and it's even made the cut to go to the gallery. A lovely piece of Royston turquoise. I'm please with the bail design and managed to get my maker's mark soldered on the back without making a solder mess. At first you just want to get it soldered, then you go for soldering without extra mess to clean up.

Then this:

All good to the very end of setting and that new piece of equipment wasn't doing quite what I thought it was, result, twisted chunk of messy metal, ack!  I did a lot of metal bending and managed to recover the piece to a certain extent, but it's not anything but a giveaway, sigh.  But that's okay, it's fun to give things away and most people wouldn't be able to see the slight lack of straight. I am happy with the bezel, coming close to the super smooth thick bezel of my dreams.

And then there was the ring shank that shattered in soldering, oops, don't press down so hard. I'm continuing to work, loving every minute of the learning and mishaps, it's all part of the process.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Whew, back home after a week in the British Virgin Islands where I had the best week of my life, sun, water, ocean breezes, snorkeling, basking and exploring tiny islands with my man in the most romantic place on earth.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Marching toward 2017

What an interesting year this has been, grand events, much needed changes, wonderful gatherings and traumatic near misses. Each has impacted my life in significant ways, though I could have done without the near miss.

This was my taking chances year. A time to get out of my comfort zone, take some chances, put myself out there and be bold.

I'd been hibernating for quite some time, immersed in my art, loving my friends and family and the boys, but down deep continuing to grieve my lost companion. Alone was better than accepting anyone into my life who didn't enrich my days and nights. And in the spring, when he came back, I was wary and cautious but gradually my trust grew as we started from scratch to rebuild. Life is good with someone who understands and celebrates who and what you are. I could not have accomplished so much nor weathered the storms without his strong arm to lean on and his big heart to hold mine.

I continued to make wonderful art and entered a piece in the CA State Fair, winning two ribbons in the process and firing up my imagination for future projects.

Then another wee babe came into our lives, this cherished and delightful baby, who makes us all stop and say, "I just love this baby!". She's enthralled her big sister and all of us. Now we have two delightful little girls to play with, love and watch grow up much too fast.

Limping into 2016 I decided that living with pain wasn't going to work any longer. So I put into motion the hip replacement that I so badly needed, dreading the surgery, pain and lack of independence. It's been 11 weeks now, walking through pain and fear, finding joy in the lack of pain and the improved movement, each day is better than the last. I'm so glad I did it and often now I can walk without limping which is such a grand and glorious feeling. We are looking forward to bike rides and hiking the back trails with our furry friends.

Family time and watching my man enchanted by my 3 year old Granddaughter has been one of the best things of the year.

My son is pursuing his dream on the road, playing music coast to coast. We got to see him in Santa Cruz recently, who would have thought a couple of 60 year olds would end up being band groupies? Check out Walker Lukens and the Sidearms, they are going places!

While my creative side has taken a back burner to healing it's definitely still alive and itching to get going. I'm only flexing my fingers at this point, loosening up for some fun in the next few months. I continue to love enameling bu the tray of natural turquoise is calling me for some stone setting.

And into each life some rain must fall.

Reminding me that life is short, my beloved Hank and I were in a terrible accident. Hit and sent spinning into the opposite lane, hit again, shuddering to a stop, eyes closed, waiting for the next hit. This is my nightmare life right now, waking to horror and fear, knowing the final hit could have been a large truck. It's really, really hard to deal with, the shattering of confidence. I didn't experience outward damage but the inside damage is still to be determined and dealt with. I will deal with it and move on and hopefully find my confidence again, along with some measure of trust in my fellow drivers, but it's going to take time.

And so here we are, looking forward to much more, more family, more friends, more adventures, more traveling, more creativity, more loving life in each minute. I am so grateful to be here.


Friday, October 07, 2016

New hardware...

Okay, this is hard, painful, discouraging and completely exhausting, and yet I'm very happy to be getting through it. I'm one week past my hip joint replacement surgery and am actually doing pretty darn well. It's been a rollercoaster for a couple weeks. I had to use all my courage to face down a very scary surgery.

First off, if you're looking at joint replacement surgery good for you. I'm sure you've carefully considered the implications of a drastic, life changing surgery. If you know someone heading into any kind of joint replacement please listen up. Do not tell your friend not to be scared, bullshit! What's not scary about having the top of your leg sawn off and a gigantic metal prosthesis shoved down into the bone? If you're not scared you're either nuts or taking way too many pain pills already.

Don't tell them they should do this method or that method. Save your wikipedia medical knowledge for when you're playing a doctor at Halloween. If you've had the Anterior method I'm glad it's working for you. Do not tell me that I'll be sorry if I don't do it your way and that I should pack my bags and travel to another state to have this done. Really? Are you gonna take care of me while I'm there? I'm smart and I have a background in the medical field. At 20 I was sticking needles in people, dispensing meds, checking iv's, suctioning trachea's, changing dressings on brain surgery patients and ever since then I've read Medical Journals for fun. I know where to find information. I know what a good study is and what's a bogus bunch of crap. I've talked to several docs and gotten info from the source. I also don't have time to interview 12 doctors. I want the doc who is so busy putting new joints in people that he doesn't have time to waste. Yeah, him...

Don't blather on about how this is done everyday and that this is the easiest of the joint replacement surgeries, again, see above, cut top of leg bone off....

Do tell them that you're proud of them for being courageous enough to want to take their life back. Courage is being afraid but doing it anyway. Do tell them that you'll be there to listen to them cry at 11pm at night when they just can't face another night of pain. Do stop in to visit if they are ready, bring some lunch and a cookie. Do send them a text once a day just to check in. Do offer to bring some tasty tidbit for late night snacking. Do keep them in the friend/family loop, so they have something to look forward to.

Do not bring them the latest fad from the local witch doctor. Do you know exactly how that herbal interacts with the combination of opiods and beta blockers and salicylic acids? Just don't, really.

Do remind them that the end product has to be better than the constant, endless pain and missing out on activities they love.

Because sometimes it's a bit hard to see around the big fat elephant of pain and loss and fear that sits on your chest late at night, the endless loop of...ouch, is my leg warm, is that a blood clot forming, ouch, damn, have to get up and pee again, dammit - ouch - fuck - hurt, can I have more pain pills, have my bowels packed a suitcase and gone to China, oh no - I'm getting a cramp in my foot, my foot is cold, is that a blood clot, ouch - shit - ow, no - don't move like that, back hurts now, hmmm - drugs are working, did I take too much, am I gonna sleep or quit breathing, oh man - wish I could sleep on this incision, ouch - ow - really - ow, no crossing legs, will I ever walk normally again, what color pads should I buy for my crutches, eek - holy shit - now it's the shooting nerves, I'm thirsty, pondering moving vs a mouth a camel pooped in....ouch, ouch, ouch...

I did it, it's done and gratefully I have the best caregiver imaginable, loving and giving and wrapping me up in big old hugs, teasing me out of my mini Pity Parties, rubbing my sore legs, feeding me, bathing me, just caring in incredible ways, being there in every way. I could not do this without him, my rock.

And all the fine people who make my life such a rich tapestry, checking in on me and being so giving of their love and time.

I'm so glad I did it. I can't wait to get back to hiking my beloved trails. This will be harder and longer than I imagined, but that's okay, the end product will be the same, less pain and more fun.


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The future...

Oh boy, life is so interesting.

A new baby has arrived, all pink skin and froggy snuggles. I spent two weeks in Texas playing with my darling girls and the wonderful man who loves them.

 Wee Hazel is here, charming us all with her wonderful calm baby energy. She's the second baby you hope you get when you've already got a three year old to keep up with.
 I could not get enough of holding her and watching my daughter hold her and cherish her and fall in love with her again every minute of the day. I so enjoyed caring for my daughter, being the Mother I didn't have, serving her and allowing her to rest and grow into her new role as a mother of two.

And this one, who loves to dance half dressed in her butterfly wings adorned with my biggest earrings. Who couldn't find her enchanting? She's a pistol, sometimes hard to keep up with but always loving. She's loving her baby sister and is very helpful in a not so helpful way. She came running into the guest house every morning, calling loudly Grandma, Grandma! She says she didn't want to scare me so she made lots of noise. Of course, I was awake early to crack the door so she could get in, but we won't tell her that.

Then I came home to get ready for my Dad's 90th birthday, with various celebrities flying in, like my son and even my ex husband, all to celebrate with my Dad. We had a marvelous time with dinners and a workshop party featuring melted metal and lots of joyful friendship.

The best thing is to come home to loving arms. I'm blessed to know this man. We've been through a lot of trials but the path ahead is open and filled with fun. Being part of his family and having him be part of mine is the best thing ever. We'll be sailing in blue waters next spring but find joy in kayaking in our local lakes and working together in his fine workshop. The holidays ahead will bring my family all together here and I know they'll enjoy his company as much as I do. I cannot wait to see him juggle the baby.

I'll be reporting the realities of a hip replacement soon, but I've got lots of great help so it should go well and once again we'll be hiking the back country. This comfort lover wants to try some camping, at least once. But then again, with the right company anything is possible.


Tuesday, July 05, 2016


Oh boy, I love what I do and every day it just gets better and better.

I'm trying to push my enameling skills hoping one day to be able to call myself an enamelist, instead of a rank beginner.

The beginner title suits me. Enameling is a lifetime achievement type of endeavor and since I only have 30 more years or so I'd best get moving. If you know me you'd hear me giggle right now.

My bestie and I are heading to a class with a Master Enamelist this fall. We're both so excited we can hardly stand it.

I think this is my third cloisonne piece ever but I'm definitely loving it and my skills are improving rapidly.

Here's the beginning. I built the fine silver frame, fused it and then started bending the small, thin, fine silver cloisonne wire to make the design.

It's working, layering more and more enamel, one coat at a time, adding the 24 karat gold foil into the middle, adding more and more color.

And now for some shading, the dark pink and some opalescent white. This one just knocks me over, all of a sudden it's really gorgeous!  Next up will be a couple coats of clear, then stone it down so the surface is smooth, then back in the kiln to make it shiny again.

Couple more weeks to the State Fair awards ceremony. I wonder if I'll get a ribbon? How thrilling!

Life is good, in every way. A dear friend recently posted a wonderful thought about realizing that she's got everything she ever dreamed of. She happens to be a person who finds amazing grace in her every day life as well as the bigger things. It's certainly a good way to live. When I get weighed down with the negatives in life I have only to think of those I love and the joy they bring into my life and my heart lifts. Then the corners of my mouth follow suit and soon I'm happily back on track. I know I only have this minute to feel joy.

I wish you joy, this minute, the next is up to you.