Thursday 30 June 2011

PMC3 Silver Lilies of the Valley Earrings

I'm way behind in making lily of the valley earrings. I haven't given any new jewellery to Studio Works in Paris for... oh, boy. Three months? B-a-a-a-d. Decided to get started on that tonight, and ended up making these chandelier earrings instead.

PMC3 lilies of the valley, pearls Swarovski crystals, sterling silver chandelier & headpins,
Argentium sterling earwires & jumprings

Tomorrow I have free and I intend to get a lot of stuff put together to take into the store either Saturday or Sunday, plus get some more things together to take to the consignment store, as well.

Got all my typing done. Very scary, the prospect of not having that one client's work to count on. Well, nothing I can do about it. Toes and eyes crossed that the volume of work I've been getting in keeps up.

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Grand River Bead Society Annual Show, 15-16 October 2011, typing & berries

Yesterday I was inundated with typing. Of course, the universe doesn't like imbalance: regular weekly files that I'd rearranged my life to be available to transcribe on Thursdays and Fridays have all of a sudden been cancelled "until further notice". There goes my rent every month. Crap. If it hadn't been for this client, some months in the past year I'd have been lucky to make $100. On the other hand, it means I can maybe start doing the Thursday farmer's market in Woodstock again... but not this week, which of course is going to be a perfect sunny day. This TON of typing has to be done before Friday, which is the holiday day this year. Speaking of which, here it is, the runup to the July 1st long weekend, and there's rain in the forecast for the entire four days. There's the universe in action again, giving with one hand, taking with the other.

I've committed literally every cent I can scrounge at the moment to paying for a table at the 2-day Grand River Bead Society bead show in Guelph in mid-October. This year three critical things have changed: it's not on the same weekend(s) as two major gem and bead shows in Ancaster and Toronto; it's in a larger venue closer to Highway 401; and most importantly they/we are/I am going to advertise, advertise, advertise -- which I am doing here:

I picked about 30 berries last night at 7:30 when I got back from the library that weren't ripe when I'd gone out with Max at 11. By the weekend I'll be able to fill a container each day with enough for four jars of jam, they ripen so quickly once they start. This year, for funzies, I need to record how many jars I get -- I'll need to drag out my cane to pull the berry branches (stems? canes?) down to where I can reach -- they must go up 10 feet now. Certainly they're taller than the eavestroughing. And they're prickly suckers.

My next question is ............... I wonder if I can coat them in PMC silver???

Monday 27 June 2011


LOOOOVE this bead. It's meltiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing. Now I'm wondering if it should have the red bead for a neck. Is that too designery and preciso? Gah...

I'm running out of time. I have to get some stuff ready to take to Guelph. Procrastination is my middle name. Have to go to the bank, too, and that'll add yet another half hour to getting out of here. Bwahahahahahahah to me, too.

Skull & heart earrings, raspberries

More silliness. I'm supposed to be getting silver weighed, packaged and labelled to drop off tonight to a store owner. More not terribly creative procrastination. Also waiting for a rush typing job that I was told was coming in today. More hurry up and wait: I just heard it will be here tomorrow.

Black raspberries are coming along. These are the pictures I took last Monday:

Here are the pictures I took today. Two are ready, one down the hatch, I'll give the other one another day to ripen even more. Then it will be jam-making almost every day until they're gone.


Sunday 26 June 2011

Lapis lazuli & turquoise necklace

Can't believe it took me all day to get this made. Sheesh. I've now used up all my remaining lapis lazuli heishi that I got a few weeks ago at Bamiyan in Toronto. I will be getting lots more. Handy handy stuff, and such a rich hit of colour for being so tiny, too. Same thing with the 5mm Hubei turquoise nuggets I get online from Magpie Gemstones. Just wish that stupid postal strike would end. No point in ordering anything from anywhere.

25" long Lapis Lazuli, Hubei turquoise, Argentium sterling necklace
Good news is I sold that wrapped arrowhead pendant yesterday at the market. Yay. Funny how that particular customer wasn't interested in the arrowheads when they were in their plastic bags, but leapt on this one as soon as I showed it to her made up. Guess I'd better get motorvating and do the rest up. ;-p

Friday 24 June 2011

Flintknapped arrowhead choker

Mike Lothrop, who flintknapped this arrowhead, lives down the road from me. I have a pile of his stuff. Mike makes it look so easy -- eh, Stephan!?!?!

I should have taken a photo before wrapping this. I should also take it apart and rewrap it. It's a little lumpy. I was going to wrap it in fine silver wire but the "neck" part is so fragile, and I was also afraid of snapping off the wingy bits. Gawd, dontcha just love tech talk? Well, not the first time I've had no idea what I was talking about. Ha ha and ha.

My notes are a little sparse, but from what I remember, this is Onandaga style, the flint is from Vanessa, Ontario.

Here's some more info on Mike:

Another day, another turquoise bracelet

I ask myself all the time, why oh why are you doing this? Nobody buys them.

I finished my typing this morning and decided to go see if anything had sold at the Brantford Arts Block -- or, more accurately, might there be a cheque waiting for me from the winter. Nope. Prior to that, as they don't open until noon, I went to the Brantford Farmer's Market, which is open Fridays and Saturdays. I recently heard they'd renovated the building -- I walked in and barely recognised the place. What an improvement! I talked to one of the vendors who told me they now have air conditioning in the summer AND heat in the winter. Whoa! What a concept!

Bought a lot of stuff I shouldn't have. I'll get the green stuff in Woodstock tomorrow.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, instead of working on the silver leaves and flowers which I am waaaaay behind on, I put together another turquoise bracelet. I'm wearing it now, and it is surprisingly comfortable, despite the feather dangle. I figured I'd put the feather near the clasp as it seems that with most bracelets, the clasp works its way around to the front, anyway.

Hubei turquoise, antique brass & base metal beads, base metal feather & 
hammered argentium sterling clasp
Now to load up the truck for tomorrow, and get a few more things put together. I made 8 jars of strawberry freezer jam this week, and I should think about getting more strawberries for a few more jars. Just in case I run out over the winter.

Monday 20 June 2011

Good news, again... and a comparison of wire work

Phhhhhhhht... now I'm told I "probably" could have driven with that overflow tank peeing down the highway. Duh... what part of I'm no mechanic, how would I know whether it's safe or not...?

Just for funzies, here's a before and after picture of the wire earrings I was playing with on the weekend. Boy, do I have a long way to go before I start doing this in silver.

And......... pictures of my dog's flaky bum and little white scar... all that remains of his near-death experience SEVEN!! weeks ago.

...and the far more pleasant and purty fluffy end...

...aaaaand... the impending jam factory next to the front door...

Every year there are more and more berries.

Sunday 19 June 2011

Playing with a necklace...

This was the first iteration, with African brass rings
Then I took out the brass rings, as I wondered if there wasn't a lot of competition
Strung it, wore it
I dunno.....
I still dunno.......... It's not hanging/doing something the way I want it to.
Except now that I'm looking at all the pictures together, I'm wondering about those brass spacers... maybe they would've looked okay. Gahhhhhhhhhhh...

Beautiful day out & all I do is sneeze, so I stay inside... and pound the snot out of copper wire

Took Max out this morning on an inspection trip through the corn field, and then went on poop patrol in the backyard an hour ago -- all of it sneeze city. You know that itch that works its way way up your nose and into your sinuses and you can't blow it out no matter how you try? Gack. Easier to stay inside.

It still pisses me off that I'm permaparked again and missed the market in Woodstock yesterday. Got a ride into Paris in the afternoon to go to the bank and do a little grocery shopping. I'm getting pretty fed up with it.

In the meantime, I worked on typing pretty much all day yesterday and I've been pounding wire since about 8 this morning. I've finally sold everything I've done in wire! Only took two years. Time to get some more made, I think.

Copper squirms... or maybe that should be "squorms"; copper spirals with base metal spiral beads, handmade copper earwires

Spiral copper & Hubei turquoise teardrops, handmade copper spiral earwires

Showing how easily the earrings move
I've seen some beautiful work online. It's so much harder to do than it looks, especially making earrings, when ideally you want two identical but mirror image. One always manages to look wonky and the curves are more bent than sinuous. This is all I have to show for 8 hours of fiddling.

Saturday 18 June 2011

Truck... again

This is your 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning I'm-supposed-to-be-at-the-market-by-now-but-I'm-not update:

Well, I knew it would happen because yesterday was Friday and today it's 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning, a market day. Since the brake lines were done -- was it only last week??? -- I haven't driven anywhere other than to Woodstock twice (30 km each way) and Paris a couple of times (25 km round trip). I had great plans this past Sunday to go to KW to drop off silver but decided in the end not to. Good plan given today's fiasco because I would've had bigger problems if the rad had drained dry on the way back from KW out in the country on a back road. 

I decided last night as I was loading my market bins and bags into the truck to check the coolant level. It was down to half way in the overflow tank so I topped it up, and topped it up and topped it up... looked underneath the truck and it was peeing out just as fast as fast as I was pouring it in. I put the cap back on the tank and the vacuum created stopped the peeing. Of course, by the time I was outside doing this around 7:30 or 8:00, the guys in the garage had locked up and gone home. Like I said, it's Friday. Late on Friday. This is when vehicles crap out.

I started the truck a few minutes ago and... yep, it's still peeing. So now I'm missing the market today. I have stuff for people to pick up, plus Rene was going to pay me today. I just phoned her and she said she will drive here after the market to drop off what she owes me. I hope she'll have time to take me into Paris to the bank.

I have just enough money from another government GST rebate cheque that arrived over a week ago, before the strike, and what Rene owes me to get the coolant thingy head gasket whatever it is fixed. It's always the way. I was going to pay $300 to hydro and $400 to taxes this week, but nooo...

I'm supposed to go to the doc in Stratford for my annual physical on Tuesday morning, and that appointment had to be booked months in advance -- but I can go there ONLY if Jared the mechanic next door comes in today and has time to fix whatever is wrong now. I really need to go to the doc because I've run out of meds, the refills on file at the pharmacy will be expiring, not to mention my Trillium Drug Plan application to be reinstated is "in the mail"... not to also mention, I have lots of work coming in now, but... the postal strike means I won't get paid until it's over.

Just when I was starting to relax.

What the bloody hell is going on??? What am I doing wrong??? My whole life lurches from disaster to disaster. Geez.

Anyway... nothing to be done now except drink more coffee, read the newspapers and then get back to typing. Max has gone back to sleep on the couch. I didn't get any sleep at all last night -- too worried about the truck -- and now I'm too wired from coffee to even try to doze until Jared gets here (that's if he does end up working today).

Wish me luck.

Friday 17 June 2011

Choker to bracelet

Playing with beads again... gack. Made a choker and pulled on it to tighten a knot and the whole thing went flying all over the room. Remade it, tried it on, took photos. Ick. Don't like all the knots and frayed bits of cord. Remade it again as a bracelet, and I think it works a little bit better.

Dzi-style carnelian bead, facetted Hubei turquoise, copper beads& spacers,
base metal beads, waxed cotton cord.

Dzi-style carnelian bead, facetted Hubei turquoise, copper beads & spacers,
base metal beads, hammered copper clasp
 Now, this is interesting. I checked to make sure that I'd spelled dzi correctly and found a page of what each dzi bead means. Check them all out at one of my neighbours, so to speak:

หินทิเบต(ดี ซี ไอ) TIBET DZI BEADS -9 eye : Builds up a lenient and caring heart for you, helps you gain fame and benefits. Increases the owner’s wealth. 9 Eye is one of the most sought after, believed to represent the 9 planetary systems and its essence. This Dzi is touted as a window to wisdom. The 9-Eyed Dzi bead endows the wearer to expand his intelligence and wisdom. This type of Dzi bead is also well documented in modern Asian circles for its "mysticism" and "power" by several people who wore them and survived near death experiences. This bead is often considered the unofficial wealth bead. The 9 eye Dzi bead may assist the owner of this bead to become rolling in wealth. The wealth will be gained through one’s own work. This bead attracts attention and assists in causing fame to increase. The nine eyed Dzi assists the entrepreneur in finding their ideas and strengths.

The nine eyed Dzi bead assists its owner to Gather Wealth, Achieve Good Health, Success, Gain Power, Compassion, Glory, and Expelling Evil & Acts as a Protector. It is believed that the 9 eye Dzi bead is able assist its owner in achieving the Nine-fold Merits. The Nine-fold merits are compassion, glory, everlasting brightness, fame, dignity, authority, control, reputation and the removal of obstacles. Accumulation of meritorious virtue, increases compassionate, separates from suffering and gains advantage. Gathering the Nine-fold Merits, ensuring the growth in compassion, power and glory thus bringing about immense benefits.

I need to work on refining the cording I use. I priced a dark brown leather cord at Bamiyan the other week -- I think I will get a roll of that to play with. 1.5mm seems to be a good weight, as well, which of course I don't have in the waxed cotton.

Back to the drawing board. But not tonight. It's 9:40 and I have to pack up the last bin for the market and get to sleep. 4:30 comes awfully early.

It's gorgeous out this morning

And I'm stuck inside typing. Poopie. I'd turn my desk around so I could look out the window, except that would put the glare directly in my eyes and make it difficult to type all day.

This is from an email I sent this morning to my buddy Judy in Vancouver:

I spent an hour this morning downloading jewellery pictures off the Internet to use as inspiration. I used to print them out, spent hours sorting them and putting them into plastic protectors, and it cost me hundreds of dollars in ink -- and I never looked at them, just put them all in a binder and closed the cover. Now I've made desktop folders so they're all thematically together -- lapis, turquoise, African, Tibetan -- plus photos of flea and indigenous market displays from around the world, costumes, general photographs, stuff like that.

What I do with these folders is I scan the images in the whole folder to get an impression of some colour combination and proportion. Then I use that inspiration when I go off to the bead stores, or I dig out some beads in the same colours I already have and fiddle with them. Mostly what happens is I end up off on a completely different tangent, so I don't feel guilty about "copying" someone else's work (nor can I be accused of it. I mean, good grief, we all buy beads ultimately from the same few places, and look at the endless variety of designs we end up with).

My own little jumbledy market display
What's in here? Hubei, Kingman & anonymous Arizona turquoise, Bali silver beads, African copper and horn, pure copper rounds, pewter, el cheapo red glass, jet heishi, hammered argentium sterling clasps and findings

Pure copper rounds, Bali daisy spacers, 3mm lapis lazuli heishi,
hammered argentium sterling clasps and earwires

I've also got into the habit now of NOT FINISHING A PIECE before I photograph it. When I photograph it, or hold the piece up against me in a mirror, I can see immediately where there are holes, where some combination isn't working, where it needs something else. I've had to take apart so many things, ending up tossing a dollar's worth of silver crimp beads, which isn't a lot but do it 20 times before you get the brilliant flash of "Duh..." above.

I have a zillion ideas for coffee table books/paintings I'd like to do in the next ten years. And taking photos of markets is a big one. I think they're going to disappear within another generation. -- in fact I know they are already disappearing in many places, being replaced by mass marketed dollar store crap -- and I mean the markets where the vendors themselves have made the items themselves, grown or collected them.

All you have to do is look at Queen Street West in Toronto. An area that is so beautiful and cool, and what happens? The whitewashers move in, followed by the big corporate stores with clothes made in third world sweatshops and plastic cookie cutter "restaurants" (I mean, c'mon -- KFC and its ilk is not food, it's a heart attack, stroke and diabetes, all shmushed together on a bun), they knock down the old buildings so full of character, and yes, rotten plumbing, creepy crawlies, a century-plus worth of dirt and grime, and what do we end up with? Nothing but a goddamned strip mall that looks like everywhere else, but, "Oooooh, I'm living in the Fashion District." What Fashion District? The Fashion District is long gone, relocated to a strip mall up north on Dufferin somewhere in suburban hell.

Well, that's my rant for today.

I need to start travelling again before I'm completely permaparked. Wanna come with?


Wednesday 15 June 2011

Riffing and raffing...

I do love the combination of copper and silver together, with lapis and turquoise and... etc. I made a pile of components of copper and Bali silver...

...and then I started riffing...

Lapis lazuli heishi, copper, pewter and sterling silver

...and riffing...

Hubei turquoise pendants

If I could only put these pictures where
I want them, that would be so cool. Why do they keep
jumping around no matter what I do? Gaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

                                                                               Pure copper rounds, crimps and crimp covers are all from Magpie Gemstones, as are the jasper bear fetishes. 

Facetted lapis earrings

I made the "goldfish tail" maple keys from PMC3 silver last year. I'm in the midst of coating gingko biloba leaves, not many as I waited too long and they'd grown too large, and I managed to coat about 30 lilies of the valley before they all rotted in the big heat and humidity wave we had two weeks ago.

PMC3 Silver "Goldfish Tail" maple keys

These silver goldfish earrings don't look so big, but they weigh a ton. This size might make better pendants.

I got a lot of typing done today. Packed it in around 3:00 and spent four hours making this stuff. The bracelet came together nicely, but of course I made it too big again to fit me. I'm still very pleased with the shape of these clasps, how they don't seem to come apart the way the rounder-curved ones do. The trick is to make the bracelet itself exactly the size of your wrist, then the clasp hooking into the loop provides the extra half inch or so of slack. You have to squeeze the bracelet closed to get the clasp undone, yet it's still easy to do, much easier than anything else I've tried. 

Camp Frio turquoise

My messy work space.

I give up. Buona notte, ragazzi.

Tuesday 14 June 2011

Regrets and moving on...

First show in Rome, Italy, 1996

Last show in Rome in 1998 with the gallerista, me, gf of art teacher, Natasha, my favourite model

4-person art show at the apartment in Rome, 1996. I think the wall was holding me up -- I'd had quite a bit of wine by this point.

Last show, 1998. Monsieur Poisson, my art teacher, Natasha, me, Sigfrido Oliva, painter

I wrote this post originally in response to something Rae Crothers wrote to me today on her blog Travels With Miranda. I've added a bit more to it here.

My 40s is when I finally got going on my dreams of travel. Travel-travel, not the zigzagging back and forth and up and down Canada I'd done for 25 years since leaving high school in 1970.

I started McGill (living in Montreal was always one of my life dreams) in January 1993 and got my BA in 2.5 years at 43, took a 2-week ESL course, went to Italy in September of '95 for 2 weeks, found two jobs and stayed 3 years. Dontcha just love a black market economy. I was illegal and but managed to get a codice fiscale and paid taxes the entire time I was there. The EU sucks 'cuz you can't get away with things like that anymore... at least I don't think you can. Hmm...

Unfortunately, my dad died in April 1998 which really threw me for a loop and I ended up coming back to Canada for "a year". B-I-I-I-I-I-G mistake. Yes, I do know that people die. Duh. And I have read all about the stages of grieving, but until you go through it, you can't begin to understand how profoundly the death of a parent, one of the two primary relationships in your life, will affect you. It's a major shakeup of one's interior landscape in ways you can't even begin to imagine, and loopy is the operative word until the figurative dust settles, and time passes.

When I wrecked my knee, scraping the former tenant's paint crud off a hardwood floor of all things, I was trapped here. When it finally got better after four years (idiot, idiot GP sending me to the wrong specialists) (did I say idiot?) (IDIOT), surgery (the surgeon was great) and endless physio that permanently wrecked my knee (more IDIOTS), I got front-ended by a moron who professed to not know that she had to have her brakes regularly serviced. She lost them coming down a hill, had to be doing 90 through a green light and ploughed into me while I was waiting for the guy in front of me to make a left turn. Her truck destroyed my precious Beretta, drove the engine into the dash which drove into my knees and spun my car around, so now I had whiplash on top of not being able to walk for another two years. Plus she almost killed her three kids and herself.

Long story short, I can walk without pain now, but not quickly, nor can I run or dance or bend my knees or kneel down (I'm missing half my kneecap, it's eggshell thin now) -- or fall down. I can't stand in one place for more than 10 minutes at a time. And I canNOT do stairs. So no subways and most living accommodation is out. And it exacerbated the old back damage incurred when a hit-and-run driver in a stolen car hit me on my bike and I went flying through the air, landing on my tailbone. I live most days feeling like I have shards of glass in my lower spine. Robax Platinum is my friend.

Travel is the best thing in the world as far as I'm concerned, and I am so frickin' sorry I didn't do more of it. Moral of the story is do what you want to do NOW. Don't wait for later, because later may never arrive. "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans" may be trite, but it's also very, very true. I still dream of going back to Italy, of going to Nepal, Tibet, South America, Siberia... Mountains and wilderness being the common denominator. Ha, ha and ha.

Eh, well... I have transcriptions to proof now, then it's off to the lab in Paris for my quarterly blood tests, then a meeting in Woodstock with Rene of Let's Eat Cake this afternoon to discuss our cake jewellery collaboration -- we have a bridal show scheduled for September 8th, with a photographer, caterer, Rene, me, and maybe we can find other bridal type suppliers as well. I have to drop off my art gallery gift shop application which is only a month and a half overdue and take stuff to the consignment store -- Rae has really inspired me, with getting rid of all my crap (even as I make more stuff!) being the first step.

Sunday 12 June 2011

Finished my typing, and now I'm playing...

Moving right along...

Amazing what you can do with a dollar's worth of frosted red glass beads, eh? ...and some anonymous Arizona turquoise, Kingman turquoise, a pewter dangle, a couple of horn beads and a hammered argentium silver clasp.

Of course, now that I've finished it off and photographed it I'm thinking I should have used a few more horn beads in the middle of at least four of the red bits, and used antiqued Bali daisy spacers... gahhhhhhhhhh.

This has taken me 3 hours to put together. However, I have a feeling this will be another one that gets remade after a few days of stewing over it.