Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Full Moon

How much better does it get?

Hanging with my son in the hot tub, drinking wine and tequila and philosophizing the time away under a full moon?

This time is so precious with him as well as watching him interact with the older generation, knowing he's storing up memories. I'm doing some memory saving of my own.

Walking the Tribute trail on a cool and crisp sunshine and shadows day, happy dogs bounding ahead.

Convincing my family to sit and play a simple dice game.

Slowly conquering the hideous flu I contracted almost ten days ago.

Thinking about new projects brewing in my studio.

Big changes ahead this year as my need to wander kicks in.

Life is always so good.

Stay tuned.


Friday, November 27, 2015

The day after...

Still in the post Thanksgiving stupor, but enjoyed it nonetheless. My dear family collaborates to cook a great meal with the single exception of their inexplicable love for nasty mass produced pies. The good thing about that is absolutely no temptation to serve up a plate of pie covered in whipped cream, save on some calories and then there's room for more turkey and dressing.

Life is lovely and busy and full of friends and family and endless incredible hours of burning metal. This is the latest and one of my all time favorites, golden rutilated quartz in sterling silver.

It's called the Clouds pendant, the holes in the back plate let the light through and look like bubbles through the stone. I'm very happy with this one and plan on a small series of pendants and earrings.

Staying home this holiday, the first in several years, might have to string up some lights.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Turquoise and Lace

A few process pics from my newest ring. Of course, I forgot to take pics during most of the crucial events but you get the idea.

I'm having a serious brain lapse on getting my Riverwoman stamp on these pieces. I'll have to sign them by hand. I sweat soldered my name tag on this one and managed to melt the crap out of it and had to unsweat solder it. Jeez, if I could just remember to stamp the ring shank...

The beginning, the bezel is already cut and soldered, the architectural elements are stamped, cut and sanded, and still trying a lot of different sized silver balls.

On the soldering bench, the bezel is soldered to the backplate first and then the extra elements are soldered on. I managed to get all those little pieces stuck on at the same time without melting anything, yay!

Polished up and ready to saw off the extra part of the backplate

Sawed the backplate around the piece. Now it's ready for the ring shank. This part I forgot to photograph. I made a wide band, sawed it it three parts, spread them out and refined and then soldered on the side elements before soldering the two main parts together.

 Here it is, cleaned up before adding the Liver of Sulfur patina.

If this was my ring I'd leave it with the heavy patina on. It wears off pretty quickly but I love the blues and golds you can get with carefully applied LOS.

 Polishing off most of the LOS leaves a ring with depth and character. This is a pretty piece of natural Royston Nevada turquoise. It is heavily backed, but that helps cushion the stone and lets me use the high thick bezel I prefer.


Monday, October 19, 2015


The Italian word of the day.

Whew, just finished up the grueling two week stretch of the Open Studios Tour. It was a circus (in the best way possible) at my house these weekends. The four of us had the best time, talked ourselves silly, sold a bunch of  beautiful things and laughed a lot at the same time.

I do demos most of the day and about day three I was tired of hearing myself talk about the same processes. So I tried out a new enamel technique called sgraffito, which is basically scratching a design into the enamel and firing it. Of course, there is more to it than that but you get the idea.

Here are a few. I'm desperately tired and trying to get things put away here and there.

They'll get better. The first pair sold right away. More later...


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Rise up!

I am profoundly disgusted with the recent developments in our governing system. The idjit men in charge have decided to defund Planned Parenthood. What's next? Public school?

Whatever their reasoning it comes right down to allowing a woman to own her body. Completely own it and thus be able to decide exactly what happens to it.

I will uphold a woman's right to choose what is right for her and her body. The vast majority of women make their choices wisely and with considerably agony and forethought and will hold those choices forever in their hearts. Many women are blessed with partners that will support her but those who do not need a safe place to explore their options.

I'd rather that no woman every had to consider an abortion. I want her to have access to sex education and birth control. I want her to have access to STD testing. I want her to be able to get screened for cancer. I want her to feel like she's more than the sum of her parts. I want healthy, happy women to bear healthy, happy babies and to be able to raise them, feed them, educate them and send them off into the world able to contribute to the greater good.

These powerful politicians scare me. I see evil in their eyes. Recently I've been reading a historical fiction book about WWII and the Nazi SS was characterized as men with no intelligence and no skills who only desired power. Given any sort of power they quickly resorted to brutality. They had little humanity and less conscience. They beat and brutalized and murdered hundreds of thousands in their quest for power.

Sounds like quite a few of the current crop of Presidential wannabees. We cannot give that type a foot in the door. It's already too late to some degree but it's not time to roll over. It's time to fight.  I call on women to wake up and realize that we are more powerful than we think. We can still vote. We can vote these bastards out. We can protest and call them on their idiocy in loud voices.

We can make choices for our bodies, our children and their wellness and education, for the health and beauty of our environment, for simple humanity untarnished by greed and the lust for power.

Please look in the mirror and see how powerful you are and how powerful we are if we decide to step up and take that power. No woman would choose to send her sons and daughters to kill other sons and daughters. No woman who has watched her child entranced by a butterfly would choose to devastate wilderness for the sake of oil. No woman would see her elders forgotten in sterile nursing homes.

Think, vote, speak up.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Summer of Friendship

Meanwhile, back at the ranch/homestead/mountain lair, all is smoky from several gigantic fires in the area, 1000's being evacuated from the Butte/Amador fire. We daily count our blessings and know that it would be so easy to be in the same situation, just one tiny spark. Insanely, our vigilant fire departments are almost daily having to attend to illegal camp fires, thereby proving idiots walk among us. Rain cannot come soon enough.

Photo by Shannon Prieto - 9/10/15

I am naming this the Summer of Friendship. I've been blessed to find myself surrounded by a lovely tribe of geeky metal working, fun loving women and feel for the first time in my life that I'm accepted and celebrated for who I am in the company of women. It's a fine thing and if my life can be compared to a bowl of Salted Caramel Gelato then they are surely the Fudge Sauce and Toasted Almonds on the top.

Do we grow into our acceptance of others? I'm not sure if aging allows us to simply be who we are or if we get better at picking the right people to hang out with. We learn that some people are more like Habenero peppers, they enrich but you only need small doses, while some are more like French Roast, in which a daily slurp is almost mandatory.

I think of the history of my life and marvel that I've gotten to this most excellent place, peace and acceptance, rich and varied relationships, exciting and exacting work, with so much more to look forward to and I cannot help but smile.


Mad for Leaves...

I've been on a leaf run for a couple of weeks.

These morphed from plain to FABULOUS, even if I do say so myself.

Fine silver, cut into rectangles, folded over, cut into vague leaf shapes, hammered with a riveting hammer, heated to anneal, opened up.
 Starting the shapes.
 Kind of ugly and scary at this point.
 Smoothing the edges, bend a little bit here and there, yowsa, much better. From here lots of sanding and polishing.
 This set got stems, but the next batch won't as I prefer the extra movement a simple drilled hole provides.
Some enamel alchemy, mixed some dark red on top of the gold and got a really successful color.
Hmmm, what would look good with this? Need shiny, some irregular citrine, some Mandarin garnet and we'e good to go.
 Finished, sold the first day out, sent to the Midwest to a very beautiful, vibrant lady.
Here's the next batch, in the polishing stage. Open Studios is fast approaching and I want to have some new work ready.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Finished and.....Gone!

It feels really good to labor over a piece for days and days and even better when I get it done and it sells the first day.

Edited to add a process pic.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Baubles and Babes

Ten days in West Texas blissfully doing little girl things with my darling granddaughter and now I'm heading home again to my treeful haven.

Time away refreshes my creative streak so I can hardly wait to get started burning and hammering metal.

I got some nice things done before I left.

This is a natural turquoise from the Nevada Royston mine,  designed with a bail big enough for this handmade Viking Knit chain.  I'm proud to say that except for the purchased stone and clasp I've fabricated it all from wire and sheet.

There are more on my bench waiting for completion.

I think the grandmother gig is about the best job ever.  My Georgie loves to talk and imagine so we have a great time together.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Out of the frying pan...

We're always just one spark away from disaster. The Lowell Hill Fire started two days ago and is being fought with everything that's available. Incredibly, no structures have been lost but four firefighters have been injured, one seriously.

It's only five or ten miles from here, our fairgrounds has become a staging area and heavy equipment trucks are moving past my house day and night.

The smoke is choking. I wake up to a hazy fog of thick smoke but complaining is useless and silly when people are either being evacuated or are planning exit strategies depending on how the wind blows.

We can only wait and watch and send good thoughts to those who stare down the gullet of the beast and with shovels, chemicals and sheer courage say, "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!".  Bless them and their heart.


Monday, July 13, 2015

Leaves, fire and tears...

I tend to work through grief by immersing myself in my studio and brother, I've been working a LOT in the last three months. My well has run very low but I find that I can keep it from running completely dry by just being in my studio. Often I become so completely absorbed in creating something interesting that I forget everything else.

Life has been rough for me and mine, horrendous events have knocked our wheels out from under us, sadness and loss have torn holes in our lives. All we can do is hug and talk and try to be there while the terrible wounds heal enough to go on with life.

And so, I do the only thing I can, keep working, keep moving, stay focused on the blessings, even when they seem elusive at best. We are at our best when things are worst...a line from an old movie, but it's true, not to run from pain but towards it, to help with the unbearable burden.

So, my little world may seem trivial but it's the best way I know to go on, I like the thought of things that will remain when I am no longer here. A legacy of beauty, pieces created with love and soul, little bits of me that will speak to those down the road.

I now have my own soldering set-up, mine, all mine. This has been a long time coming. I waffled around for years and years, not quite sure if that was the direction I wanted to go. But once I started using a real oxy/propane system I knew I had to get busy and get it done.

Gathering all the paraphernalia took some time. I had the Smith Little Torch but originally bought Oxy/Acetylene regulators, soooooo, off to Cyberweld for a new regulator, then gather up the chemicals, crock pot, pickle, alcohol, borax, flux and so on.

Whew! Then, with the help of a great metalsmithing friend, the tanks were connected and voila! That first flame thrilled me.

I'm setting stones, building bezels, thinking through designs. I know the leaves thing is sort of trite but I really love that organic look and wanted to try to on my own. They are so much fun, cutting and shaping and filing and soldering on the stems and more finishing makes me happy on so many levels.

More will come, the ideas are endless,

Don't hold back on love, spread it around, tell that person you love them, because tomorrow may be too late.


Sunday, July 05, 2015

4th of July...

Doesn't get a whole lot better than a July 4th party at Lucchesi Vineyards. Their private road is named View Forever which gives you just an idea of how gorgeous it's going to be. Their gracious gardens wrap around the top of the hill with grapes sweeping down into the valley.

Lovely shaded seating and cool breezes, grilled burgers and very good wine, laughing conversation and music led us through the incredible sunset and into the cool dark night towards dancing to live music and eventually to a far distant display of fireworks. It was lovely to see the splashes of color all along the ridge, from Meadow Vista to Lake of the Pines, Roseville, Sacramento and on.

It was peaceful and sweet and later we star watched in the hot tub. Life is good in so many ways, even in the midst of challenges and loss, the very act of keeping company makes the road a bit easier.

I was heartened to hear very few fireworks, probably the first time in my life the endless pop and bang has not accompanied the day and evening hours of this day. Our community seems to have taken to heart the danger we live in with our drought, thankfully.


Sunday, June 07, 2015

Burning and hammering -

One of my all time favorite things to do, especially when I can push myself into new and beautiful things.

 This is my second bezel set stone, in this case a rainbow moonstone. Here's the bezel and back plate already done and the prepped ring shank. I'm sort of making this up as I go, I soldered the rink shank and then sawed it partially so I could separate the two sides. I like that split shank look and it seems like it will be more stable on the finger.

 I'm learning great patience with myself when soldering. It soldered beautifully the first time then came apart in the quench water, oops. I couldn't even see where the solder went but the second time it all came together like a charm.

 The back view. There rings behind are spinner rings in process, waiting for texturing and their companion middles.

Here we go!  It turned out great, this is before final polishing.

So, I'm happy, happy, happy with my professional life, pushing my personal envelope and continuing to find joy in everything.

Here are a few of the latest.

The moonstone, a spinner with the words Nolite Tradere and my Queen's Ransome spinner,with lab grown ruby cabochons.


Friday, June 05, 2015

Starry night

I'll meet you there,
Under the starry night,
The trees will stand guardian,
The silence and the heat
Will surround us,
Soaking into our skin,
Sinking down deep into our
And we will simply


Monday, May 25, 2015

Mom Heaven

An unexpected visit from my son has me doing the happy dance.

I haven't seen him since Christmas and when his trip to Italy went awry they decided to head out here to explore.  Note to self and everyone else, don't try to fly on stand-by in mid May, not gonna happen.

Tough cookies, swimming in the Yuba river in May. Normally the run-off would be tremendously cold and dangerous but this year it was just cold. The Yuba river is a soul restoring place, one that I visit far less than I should but for some reason I head there after almost any flying, it just calms the jitters.

Riverwoman Design is getting very popular lately and so I'm working hard to keep the new stuff coming out and the older tried and trues in stock. I'm happy as can be with the spinner rings and I'm working on version two and three of cabochon set rings. I've learned that only repetition makes me good at those processes.

Last night I enjoyed my new hot tub under the stars for the first time and rejoiced at how wonderful it felt. This has been a dream since I bought this house and now the last big project is finished. I know there will be many nights of star gazing ahead.

And now to get busy, big family dinner tonight to say farewell to the travelers...


Monday, May 18, 2015

Glorious May Day

It's actually food porn v.2, another completely fabulous Polly's Paladar dinner, this one round 2 from the Fine and Rare duo from San Francisco.

The food was amazing, the company heartfelt and funny and comfortable.

We aren't really that messy, but there was wine involved, lots of it, so things got a bit silly. I painted the menu with bits from each course, starting with the butter/olive oil/anchovy/garlic dip for the bread and ending with some strawberry/rhubarb.

I'm a huge sushi fan but have been avoiding Sea Urchin since that first taste 40 years ago overwhelmed me. Well, now I'm loving it, the combination of urchin on avocado was sensual and quite tasty, both the same texture but the urchin bursting with ocean flavor. Yum!

I could not resist taking a pic of this delicious crab cake course, for it's beauty.

A fitting capstone to an incredible year.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Oh yeah...

I promised some jewelry porn and then got distracted actually making it and forgot.

I've been wanting to sink my teeth into soldering and stone setting for a long, long time and now I'm so lucky to be involved at the Curious Forge, with easy access to a torch and lots of fun tools, as well as the incomparable talents of Karen Olsen Ramsey.

So, I just launched in, spending some really fun hours practicing and getting a feel for the torch and placing solder just so.

 Here's my first spinner ring, made out of brass and likely not terribly wearable without turning my finger green but it's a good prototype.
 I also started the bezel setting for the amethyst stone.

 Here's more of the bezel setting and the beginning of two sterling silver spinner rings.

 Matching up those edges is going pretty well and it's major fun.

 Here we are, the original, the silver with copper still in progress, the triple gold filled and silver wire on sterling and the amethyst ring almost done.

 This one has been a blast and there will undoubtedly be more, those little fine silver balls are so much fun to stick to that copper.
And the amethyst bezel set ring, looking good with more fine tuning to be done but I'm hooked.

Pushing the envelope like this means I spend a lot of time combining the things I already know with the new things I'm learning.  There will be enameled pieces with bezel set stones, oh bliss.