Wednesday, December 29, 2010


One more full day until I leave for the coast.  I was hoping to detach myself from tentative ties here.  And yet carrying a slim hope that that beautiful stretch of beach with it's windswept trees might be a catalyst for something as beautiful and enduring.

I don't know, it could go either way.  I'm not in control anymore.  All I really know is that I cannot wait to walk along the strand, feet cold and sandy, smell the ocean air, hear the seabirds plaintive calls, feel the fog as it creeps in to blanket the cove.

The New Year has so many possibilities.

Peaceful dreams.

Project Part Three


The process here is called Keum-boo, the application of 24karat gold foil onto fine silver under high heat which causes the gold to actually bond with the silver.  Too little heat and time and the gold flakes off, too much and it absorbs completely into the silver and almost disappears.

Preparing the gold foil to apply to the fine silver.
The first piece on the open kiln, it's a good thing to do on a cold day.  This is an agate burnisher.  You can use a regular burnishing tool but the gold tends to bond to the metal when it gets hot.
The gold has been burnished down into the fine silver, you've got to carefully get into the whole design, any pieces left unattached will be brushed off.
A bunch of finished pieces.  This process anneals the fine silver and makes it very soft again so it either needs to be tumbled or work hardened.  I use a delrin hammer and bench block, they don't move the metal.
Cool huh?

This has been a wild day for weather, big winds, blue sky and then hail, snow flurries blowing sideways and finally back to a very cold (for California) clear day.

Two more days to the ocean.

Peace to you and yours

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Back to the Project...

Well, the furnace has been out for two days so it's been less than fun to be downstairs in my studio.

However, things are better now and I've started up again with this project.  It's been refined, tumbled, lightly sanded with 3M Microfine, the holes are drilled and today I started to color up the various layers.  The bottom and biggest layer is just getting a LOS (liver of sulfur) bath to enhance the definition.  The copper layer I've torched a little to bring out some pretty copper colors.  The top layer is still to be worked on, those pieces will get 24 karat gold foil applied.

I got some nice color with the LOS, it's not consistent but sometimes surprising.

Some of the patina on the largest pieces will be rubbed off to allow the texture to show a little better.  I love the deep rich colors.


I am from...

I am from  Ho-Ho’s, Ding Dong’s and sliced cheese, from Chris Craft’s, Corvettes, 66 VW Buses and sleepy dog Ford trucks.

I am from orange and gold shag carpet, grapes made from resin and the smell of rum soaked homemade fruitcake.

I am from the smell of gun oil, 45’s in the desert shooting cans, grey pants with blue stripes, the creak of leather and the smell of simichrome polish on a shiny gold badge.  I am from drawers full of fabric, polyester pantsuits, velour evening dresses with deep v’d fronts and whipped cream hair piled high.

I am from the sticky pine tree sap stuck to the bottoms of my feet,  mock wars on the water with handfuls of slimy lake weed, the feel of well worn wooden oars in my hands, the blooming daffodils bent over under fresh snow and great fields of lupine with crackling, curling seed pods.

I am from tinsel on the Christmas tree in the living room with a plywood floor and four girl cousins, each more talented than me, from Dorothy and Hattie and DeWitt and Shirlee.  From the babies who are grown up and wandering their own roads.

I am from the stern Scots and the pour the booze down the sink Methodists. From never shave above your knees and matching dresses with white shoes on Easter day. I am from sporadic church visits and Daddy holding up three fingers during a hymn so I knew how many hallelujahs to sing.

I'm from orange groves and high mountain passes, from men and women who traveled across the water to fertile farmland and over the mountains to California’s sunny orchards, from nettles stinging, juice sticky on hands and pickles bubbling in crocks tended by loving hands.  I am heaping helpings of sauerkraut and helping grandma roll dough for pies.  And from sitting for hours in front of heaping helpings of sauerkraut growing cold.

From the salt flats of Bonneville, dust blowing and the sting of vodka poured over the tick stuck to my head,  the wonder of a newborn baby born while a country mourned the loss of a President and the Corvette in the snow on mountain roads.

I am from 35 years of photos marching in order in many, many albums, from the sepia toned great grandma to the digitally enhanced picture of the college graduate taken from a cell phone.

I am from a man who bossed convicts fighting forest fires who loved my grandma and who would sit and ruffle the ears of the big german shepard who loved only him. 

I am from mountains and music and loving so fiercely it hurts. 

(Try your own

4 days to the ocean!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Neither winning nor losing...

I consider this blog my personal place to explore.  Sometimes I'm exploring places, water, woods, travel.  Sometimes it's experiences, food and entertainment.  Often it's showing new jewelry pieces and techniques I'm working on.

And lately there's been a lot of personal exploration as I venture out into the world of new friends, perhaps new lovers.  Forgive me if things get a bit raw.  It seems I'm more intense than I thought.

I made a decision to change the way I live.  I now see no difference between what I write and what I say to those close to me.  I'm gradually beginning to merge my imagination with my real life.  In my imaginary life I speak truthfully and with feeling but in my real life I spoke the Dick and Jane version, it sucked.

I'm beginning to see that I need to tell people I love them when I do.  I want to be able to speak the passion that I think, to pull the beauty of my mental images into my daily speech.  I want to look directly at you and tell you that I value you, that you mean something to me, that I love you, that I SEE you and that I can feel the emotions you feel. Sometimes it hurts.

Will it make me eccentric?  Perhaps.  Will it mean I've lived a true life?  Yes.

Some days I'll be hurting and I'll post it here.  And some days I'll be dazzled by the beauty of the places and the people I've been privileged to know.  And some days I'm just going to be confused, because I don't have it figured out, but it's so wonderful to feel really intensely.  And the more I allow myself to feel the greater my abilities to feel are, my ability to sense emotions grows each day.

And now and then I feel like a failure, because in my humanity I am unable to be strong enough not to hurt another person.  If I'm lucky I'm able to ask forgiveness.

It makes every minute beautiful, every emotion valuable, every person important, every sunrise and sunset a gift.

That's peace.


The ocean is calling me home, five days to wait.


I tried to take the higher path and I failed miserably.

I'm going to miss those sunrises.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Dazed and Confused - A Personal Grinch Story

Friends are good for the soul.
My vegetarian lasagna kicks ass.
My trifle makes grown men and woman moan with pleasure.
Jack Daniels is the best stuff ever made.
Drinking too much JD makes my head hurt.
I'll do it again sometime soon, maybe tomorrow.
My sister is hysterical (as in very funny).
It's better to be with friends and family on your first major holiday alone.
Loving someone who doesn't return the sentiment is really hard.
Hope is good.

The nature of love.
The ability to love.
Love in general.

Life is way too complicated sometimes.  It's good but it's complicated. I've been guarding my heart my whole life. "I don't need anyone."  "I can do it myself."  "No one can hurt me." I've been fooling myself for a long time.  Change is painful, but it's good.  I don't know that for sure but I do know that there isn't any other path for me.

Walking through the fire, hopefully to something better.

Peace to you

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

This is indeed a strange holiday for me.  Sometimes I will go into something thinking it will be one way and then it turns into something completely different.

I believe it's all a learning process, perhaps something I need to experience.  There are some things we are required to learn well before moving on.

From this recent bout of interesting I've learned a bit of humility, which is a pretty good lesson for someone with way too much pride.  I've learned you'll find friends in the most unlikely places.  I've learned that it's ok to ask for something and that sometimes you may get it.

I certainly know I will have many more things to learn in this lifetime.  However, one thing I've done throughout this experience is to approach the hard stuff with kindness and love.  I can't control what others think and feel except by how I accept those thoughts and feelings.  This time I think I did ok.

My reward may be a great and solid friendship that hopefully will bring joy to both of us.

For him and for me:
Peace to you on this Christmas night, peace in your life, in your country and in your world.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

When the Muse is on vacation...

Sometimes the Muse is just gone and since I can't turn on creative I have to attempt to lure her back.  This is a sketch I made on the plane from Denver.  The plane turned into a carnival ride and I was trying to distract myself in any way.
It's rainy and nasty, first I'll take the boys out for a short walk (thank goodness for golf umbrellas) and then I'll head into my studio to see what happens.

I'll do some clean-up and stay focused and see what happens.  Pictures to follow...

Here's some of the process on this piece.  Sketch clarification:
And some beginning cuts of textured fine silver:

Refining the design:
I've added some of the copper and fine silver overlay.  The design has changed from loose attachments to what will probably be rivets.  And these wonderful organic fresh water pearls.
At least you get the general idea.  The whole thing is still very crude, the copper will all be textured and then I'll flame each piece to get some nice patina.  The larger pieces of fine silver will be patinated with liver of sulfur, the top strips will have 24 k gold foil applied, the whole piece will be deep and rich with texture and color.  The joining will depend on how it fits the neck, maybe forged bars, maybe rings, we'll see.

I like it so far, the ideas are starting to fire away, which means I've lured my Muse back to play.

Peace to you and those you love.

Addition Tuesday at 5pm:

Starting to file and refine the edges.
I like it a lot so far.  The central piece will be over three inches long so it's not for the meek, but when has my jewelry ever been for the meek?


Monday, December 20, 2010

Amazing Week

This has been an amazing week in more ways than one.  I met my family in Colorado for my daughter's graduation from college.  We had a great weekend eating, drinking, celebrating and generally enjoyed hanging out together.

The graduate, my stunning daughter.
And me in downtown Boulder, looking extremely happy for reasons that had nothing to do with the location.
And one of my all time favorite things, the flatirons of Boulder.  I admit it, I'm a mountain woman, through and through.
I flew home today, which is not one of my favorite things to begin with, made worse by storm fueled turbulence the whole trip.  And then I was surprised at baggage claim and wrapped up in a fabulous welcoming hug which made my world right again.

I'm looking forward to a very nice Holiday and wish the same to you and yours.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


My baby is graduating from college this week.  How did that happen?

My feminine little beauty, this might be her first year in school, close anyway.

At the beginning of her skating, she just got more beautiful and elegant as she matured.

High school graduation, she looks so joyful.  And soon I'll have photos of her college graduation, can't wait.

She's done a very fine job of growing up.  We're all very proud of her and know that she'll be a lovely and welcome addition to the grown-up world, whatever she decides to do.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Ouch...once again

Well, chock up one more person who was not who they said they were.  Seems to be the story of my life right now.

I'm a bit battered and bruised but resilient as always.

But since this is my wishing place....please universe, send me a friend, a man who does not lie, who is not involved with something or someone, one who laughs and loves his job whatever that may be, a kind person, must like dogs, mountains and water, one who isn't obsessed with his physical perfection yet enjoys being active, tall is good, hopefully with some poetry in his soul.


Peace to you and yours.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Hanging out at the homestead.

My Dad has been my home since I was 16, doesn't matter where he is or where I was, he was home to me.  It's with great pleasure that I now can wander over to his property and see him almost whenever I want, unless he's not home, which is more often than not.

If he's not there I'll just meander around and look at things, like trees and all the divine junk down at the barn.  He likes to collect things, treasures dug up from the old mining days.  And he does unusual things, like stick them on trees and into walls of stone.  This combines two of my favorite things, trees and cool junk, as you can see here.

This is a trio of locust trees close to the house.  They're messy and tend to drop large limbs in storms and have the most nasty thorns, but the foliage is pretty and lacy and they seem to endure if trimmed back.  They've developed wonderful moss colonies, which look like forest worlds for tiny creatures.  I'd like to shrink down and wander around in them.  I wonder what it would feel like to stretch out in a moss bower, maybe bring a friend.

It was a brisk day with nice sun which was causing some steam to rise as it warmed the trees, either that or they were smoking or breathing.  We recently chose cartoon characters on facebook to use as our profiles.  For some reason I chose Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, she always scared me when I was small but I think her power could be used to good end.  I completely forgot my all time favorite book character, the Lorax.  I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees.  Remember?  Dr. Suess?  I'll have to remember to talk about favorite children's stories one of these days.

And then I headed home to pound some metal, 12 gauge fine silver to be exact, completely luscious stuff which begs to be worn.   Heavy chain is pretty sexy stuff, this gleams with that cool fine silver sheen and has enough weight to remind you it's there, a perfect gift.
And I had a fine conversation with a great friend about our emotions.  We've both been guilty of suppressing our emotions for years and years.  I've been working on uncovering mine for some time now, she's just beginning.  I've found that I cry more now, but I also laugh harder and feel more joy in each day.  As for love, that remains to be discovered.

Peace to you and yours.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Blobbing...or the process of reclaiming fine silver.

Nope, it's not a misspelling of blogging.  I've been working on texturing some metal sheet but started the hard way with scrap.  I work with a lot of fine silver.  It requires nothing more than a torch and some cold water, no chemicals.

Here's the start.  Pile up a bunch of scrap on a kiln brick.
Fire up the torch (I use two Blazer torches as I won't use my Smith Little in a rented house) and sing along with about four Christmas songs until it blobs up good..."What child is this who laid to rest on Mary's lap is sleeping."  "Frosty the snowman (Raffi version)"

Don't worry about the floating junk, it's impurities that melt along with the silver.  Later I file it off.  Here are four blobs in various stages, two fresh and bumpy and two that have been through the rolling mill once or twice.  You see the one on the right has cracks, I didn't anneal it enough and stressed the metal.

Now you see the silver blob as it's stretched thinner and thinner in the rolling mill.  I'll pass it through maybe three or four times and then heat it until it's good and pink, which anneals and softens the metal allowing it to stretch and flatten further each time.
Here it's as thin as I want it, which is about 26 gauge.  This gauge is great for earrings as they should be thin enough not to be heavy but it's sturdy.

The big piece I cut into three sections and ran each through the rolling mill with a brass texture sheet, sandwiched between heavy paper.

See my beautiful Durston rolling mill.  What an amazing piece of machinery, bless those engineers.
Here you see the three pieces I textured.
Then I can cut the pieces into strips or punch discs with my disc cutter, this is where I smashed my thumb yesterday.
See the nice discs with their wonderful texture?
And all the brass texture sheets with the silver that it textured.
Another pretty cool thing you can do is run heavy cardstock paper through the mill with the texture sheets.
I can use it to make some little gift cards or something.  It might also be good to use in some resin work, will have to try that.  One idea leads to another and another, wish I had 40 hours in a day.

I've been wanting to try some brass or bronze etching so I can make my own texture plates but these plates are so gorgeous and relatively cheap, it might not be worth the hassle.  Except I'd love some script texture and if I could pick out the words that would be even better.

I LOVE my job.

Peace to you and yours.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Caution! Cute Alert!

My first friend here in Grass Valley is my neighbor Alice.  I used to meet people through my kids, now I meet people through my dogs.  Bode LOVES Alice's Aussie Reese, they have a constant tussle going every time they meet.  It's so nice to have a friend.  Alice is a very talented artist too.  She painted this chair which I have scooped up for a friend.
And she took my old license plate and made this fab bird house.  She says I need to hang some of my little silver hearts on the front.  I think it needs a nice little adirondack chair in the front too.  Love it!
Oh my gosh.  Today I got a shipment of brass texture plates which I will use to texture silver in my rolling mill.  I tried one already and it's just great!  Then I punched out a couple of blanks, whacked my thumb with the one pound brass hammer and said "F*^%k it" and went out side and swept the driveway.

I'll have something to show tomorrow, besides a bruised thumb.

Peacefully yours.

Bells will be ringing...

Aaron Neville sings Please Come Home for Christmas, one of my favorite songs.  This is one sexy man, if they featured more like him on People's Sexiest Man Alive I'd pay more attention.

Raining here, heading downstairs to my studio to bend some metal.  I'm right on the edge of getting into a superb gallery here in Grass Valley, keep your fingers crossed.  Not only is it a fabulous location filled with amazing artists I would also get to work there, how cool is that?


Thursday, December 02, 2010

Lights and bells ringing.

I put up some Christmas lights on my treehouse.  It was fun to measure and shop for just the right ones. I put them on the deck rail so I didn't have to stand on a ladder.  I had to go out in the dark and look at them and hug myself with joy!  They are so pretty.

I love Christmas.  I love lights. I love Christmas baking, cookies, spiced nuts, biscotti, peanut brittle, FUDGE! On the other hand, I hate wrapping.  I used to pay my daughter to wrap presents for me, even her own, what a good kid. I love to hear the bell ringers in front of the markets and the smell of cut balsam trees.

And Christmas music, all the oldies like Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Mahalia Jackson, Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Judy Garland, Louis Armstrong.

And sitting by the fire at night with slumbering dogs nearby.

Time for bed now, sleep well.

Monday, November 29, 2010

If dogs could talk..

they'd be saying something like, "For crying out loud, why are we doing a down stay when there are SQUIRRELS to chase."

I think we have to work on down stay more often.  It was a very cool morning with mist rising off the frozen ground, possibly the reason the pic is a little cloudy.  Or that my phone was in my pocket and fogged up, or that I got handcream on the lens, drat.  My heavy scarf felt so good this morning.

We go there once or twice a week so I'll try again.  I'd love to get them into an ore cart.  Unfortunately, with two it's like herding monkeys.

I'm making more silver blobs.  They are ever so much fun, maybe a little scary when the silver begins to pool and starts to move itself across the kiln brick, shimmering hotly, molten.

At what point in our lives do we begin to learn from others?  To feel the peace and kindness that radiates from a person and consciously decide to take that feeling into ourselves?. To let it breathe through our cells in hope that it will stay and expand into our lives and interactions? To witness the toxic pain and anger of a person and choose to learn how to be softer and kinder and more forgiving in our own mind? It seems that almost every day I see ways to improve and while I certainly continue to feel fear and anger and impatience I feel like I may be heading up a good path.  It's good.

Peace to you and yours.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


I'm thankful for a sunny day, lots of nice projects done, decks swept, dog hair shaken from blankets, turkey carcass in the soup pot right now, smells luscious.

Here are a few of the wheels I've been making, love them.
I thought I'd try some words on one, this one says Love You on one side and Forever on the other.

I forgot I took this photo one morning recently. Our wading pool was lightly frozen over in beautiful patterns.  That's Bode's nose, no wait, it's Dandy's nose.

Peace to you.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I shall go Mad

If this rain doesn't stop.  I feel like the Grinch, "Sinking slowly into madness...."
I'm beginning to think I may have to move to Arizona.  Which is a terrible thought for someone who loves trees and mountains and water but I NEED SUN.

I feel like I'm wading through water. I still managed to get plenty done, washing, dishes, studio work including some fine silver reclamation with my rolling mill, cooked a turkey, amused the boys, worked on a crochet project, paced around, looked out the windows, checked the mail three times, wiped 8 wet feet and two wet bellies more times than I care to remember, looked out the window some more.  I know, bores me too.

I think it's the lack of exercise, our usual is a couple of miles so going without makes me feel sluggish and wired up, all at once. Tomorrow we'll make up for it.

The turkey was good though, with dressing and a nice salad.  Now I can make turkey sandwiches with a little mayo and a lot of mustard.  I even bought the really yellow stuff, which is best on turkey sandwiches.

Reclaiming fine silver is fun.  I keep each tiny piece and then torch those pieces into a big blob.  Then the blob gets fed through the rolling mill, once or twice and then back to the torch and so on until it's a nice piece of sheet.  Once I had a nice chunk of sheet I ran it through the mill again with linen, punched a bunch of discs, drilled a hole in the center and polished them up.  I've got a lot of really beautiful lampwork beads that look great with the silver discs or bead caps.  I'll tumble them up tomorrow and take pics to post.  I dislike pictures under lighting, natural light just seems more true.

I've been contemplating the art of conversation.  Since I've moved away most of my interactions have been on the phone, wonderful but lacking in the essential element of face time.  On this cold rainy day I found myself craving some conversation, some company, some human interaction.  I've been guarding my alone time, building up a base of security in my little treehouse.  Now I'm looking to head out and gather up some company, some friends to cook for and to laugh with.  By spring I hope to have regular company on my deck for sunset watching.  


Thursday, November 25, 2010


That's the word for the day.  We went walking at the Empire Mine this morning. The air is crisp, cold enough to make a fleece, scarf and gloves feel good. There's a really nice scent of woodsmoke in the air but it's not overwhelming.  The sun is out and the brightness feels good on my face as I walk.  The best part of of the walk is the crunch underfoot.  We've had a lot of water in the last few days and now it's lightly frozen. You'd have to get down on your knees to really see the amazing frosty world.  Can you see the pebble being lifted by the frost?

But two miles on my knees would have been difficult so I only stopped a couple times to take pictures.  The boys waited patiently.  We met another Cardigan Corgi on our walk, good old Walter who is 11 and still acts just as friendly and goofy as young Bode, if a little slower.

There is still plenty of color left though the leaves are falling fast now with the frost.

I've got my pies done, pumpkin and buttermilk, along with real cranberry sauce.  I think I'll break out the pomegranite syrup for the buttermilk pie, yum.

The best thing about a holiday is that friends seems to reach out more to connect.  We reflect on the blessings of our life and want to say thanks to those we love.

 There are so many degrees of thankfulness.  I'm thankful for my dogs and their constant attention in my life and for their joy in each day and their ability to warm my feet at night.  I'm thankful for my family and our deep history of laughter and tears and for the promise of our future together and the knowledge that eventually some will go ahead of us into the unknown.  I'm thankful for my friends and their cheery greetings and wise words and hugs in time of joy and trouble. I'm thankful for friends yet unknown and how joyful it is to be allowed to share our past lives in search of common ground.  I'm thankful for the beauty my eyes see everyday and for the ability to appreciate that beauty.  I'm thankful for the skill of my hands and the health of my body.  And I'm thankful that someone is making turkey and dressing.  Tomorrow I'll be thankful for all the above and cold turkey sandwiches with mayo and mustard.

Let the feasting begin!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Rain, Snow, Sleet, Hail, Rain, Snow...

Oh goodie, winter in northern California is here.  I knew it had to hit sometime but the fantasy was nice. Luckily I'm a little lower in elevation so less snow here, though we did get enough for the boys to romp through.

I love the fall colors and this is my favorite tree so far, the sycamore.  I think the sycamore thinks it has to put on the whole fall leaf display.  Each tree has multiple colors with many of the leaves different colors.  No two sycamores seem to have the same colors either, they are spectacular.
But with the good comes the bad.  I've noticed after this last storm that many big limbs have broken off, so they must be rather fragile.

Thanksgiving week.  I hope so much that my family here can be together though it's not looking good. It's my first big holiday alone and I'm finding it terribly difficult.  The turkey is defrosting, later I'll brine it per Alton Brown's instructions.  Pumpkin pie made with real sugar pumpkin and cranberry sauce from real cranberries, orange and some walnuts for crunch, yum!  I've got a bag of walnuts to crack and shell.  I suppose I should have done that before I vacuumed, oh well.

Peace to you and to yours, a rare and fragile thing.

Edited - Those aren't sycamores, they are called Liquid Amber trees, whatever that is, they are always spectacularly.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New Gallery!

I'm so happy to have my jewelry here:

Artists Studio in the Foothills

It's a community of artists, some have their studio here, some just display here.  They have a new gift shop which now displays my jewelry.

I'd love to have a studio here but I'm a little bit noisy, hammering is not exactly what painters and sculptors want to hear all day.  Actually I prefer my home studio as I tend to wander in and out all day, but being around these amazing artists is so inspiring.

Like Kathryn Wronski, who paints fabulous portraits of dog, pigs, cows and landscapes.
Painting-Coufos Cow

Isn't this the coolest picture you've ever seen?

And Sculptor Amanda Paoletti  and a bunch of other really talented artists.

So now I've got to head back into the studio and keep the inventory up, woot!

May your day be great!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New earrings!

Good morning!

 I just wanted to tell you that I sent off a new batch of earrings to Julia at the Blue Heron Gallery in Winona and Jodie at Jewels on the River in Wabasha.

Let me know if you need something special for the holidays.  I'm shipping stuff out now.  I'll be in Boulder for a few days in December for my baby's graduation but otherwise I'm at your service.

Enjoy the day!