Sunday, July 05, 2009

Think I'll Go Eat Worms

Despite the fact that the cheese in the enchilada photos looks like little orange and white worms (oh gross) , thank you for letting your mouth water down your front, Mom :) I think we could write a fabulous cookbook, as long as we improve on the food styling.

No new news about the triplets.

When I'm not cooking, or knitting, or at work, or watching Rescue Me, I'm making jewelry. So far: a brooch, a ring, three pairs of earrings, and a bracelet and three pendants in progress. The bracelet...has been challenging. I guess it's my lot in life to embark on a project so far outside my league. It applies to work (that story is for another post) and jewelry. On the other hand, "it's a great learning opportunity." Harumph.

For the record, I'm not a project manager, as in: I hate doing project management. Which doesn't mean I don't like working on projects. Don't confuse that with outlining the steps of a small crafty project. And in the realm of jewelry projects, this is kind of detailed. But there's no comparison. The latter (outlining steps for a small crafty project) is infinitely more palatable. And you know what? People make assumptions. "Oh, you can do that? You must be a really good project manager. Hey, here's one for you..." Buyer beware! Don't let them label you as a "project manager" no matter how thrilling it might sound, or how much more money you might make.

But I digress. And I'll probably just lift that entire paragraph as the lead to my rant post about project management. But that's Not This Post.

This is the bracelet. 10 stations for 5 stones and 5 mixed media resin pieces, one box station, and one box clasp. 12 hinge pins for 12 hinges comprised of 36 independently soldered tubes. Yes, you are supposed to say "holy shit!" to the business about the tubes. Was it a pain in the ass? Most definitely. Would I do it differently? Probably not, but I'd use different fire. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Last summer I picked up a back issue of Jewelry Artist magazine. I ordered it because on the cover was the most beautiful hinged bracelet. Over and above the fact that I thought the construction and choice of colorful quartz was gorgeous, I'm a sucker for hinges in jewelry. Hinges provide nifty kinetic opportunities. Hinges are also impressive, but that wasn't a driver. They are just cool. Like jazz. Cool. Dig?

So I says "Hey, Barbara." Barbara, wonderful Barbara, is my silver jewelry master/guide/yogi/instructor/mentor. "I want to make something like this."

Barbara says, "Okay." Silly Barbara.

I have three square pieces of some kind of jasper Kent brought back from MIT. Two pieces of rectangular apatite that I picked up at a local bead store. Visions of interesting resin-with-embedded-pieces dancing in my head, a la found object art. Some wood bits with polka dots in a color that goes with the jasper and apatite.

There is lively and repeated discussion in the Ganoksin forums about whether to design around a stone, or design around an idea. My personal opinion is depends. In my limited experience as a jewelry designer (dare I call myself that? so presumptuous!) I've done both. The bracelet was designed around an idea, and I refined it based on what I had in my stone collection. The brooch was designed around an idea, and I found The pearl earrings were about trying a technique, the "messy bulky wrapped loop," technique, and then I chose the stones. The chandelier earrings were designed around the red beads in a beading class. A pendant was designed around two stones that look good together. Another pendant was designed for some extra pieces of silver I had lying around and a nearby stone that looked like it belonged, although it began with a circle of square wire that was waiting for a purpose. Another pendant was designed to experiment setting stick pearls. but you could make an argument that I designed around the stones and mixed media because I didn't formally draft the design until I had those in the right order. Hmph.

In other words, the chicken and the egg mysteriously occur ed simultaneously and any attempt to determine which came first just takes all the fun out of it. There is something to be said for those who enjoy the debate. Kent.

  1. Gathering the requirements/technical specifications, in which our hero measures her wrist, the stones, determines which tube thickness looks best, and what type of clasp will be used.
  2. High level design (HLD), in which we make a pencil drawing using the specifications and ask the all important question: does it work? does it look good? are the pieces in a pleasing order, and answer the question: are you sure you want the bracelet to be this long? (Answer: yes, I like my bracelets loose, and it matches the length of another favorite bracelet.)
  3. Low level design (LDL), in which we figure out how much silver we need, how tall the bezels should be, does Barbara have right sized tubing or do I need to purchase from Rio Grande, what gauge to use for the bezel backs, gauge for the hinge pins, how to approach the actual build, and again answer the question: do you want the bracelet this long? It seems really long. (Answer: my wrists are big and I like my bracelets loose. It matches the length of another favorite bracelet.)
  4. Build, in which our hero begins the tedious process of measuring, sawing, soldering, resoldering, resoldering, fussing with her creme brulee torch (and which we eventually discover is completely inadequate for this kind of fine detail work).
Build is taking a looooong time, because every time I get to the stage where I am doing the rough polish I have to boomerang back to build because a hinge snapped. Over and over and over and over. And I stopped doing some of the work at home because I got busy with other things and unenergized about the whole thing.

Then I got energized again, and it broke. During the build stage, The Bracelet has popped apart many times. A bezel popped off when I started setting the first stone. Ah the joys of learning to make complicated jewelry. It doesn't LOOK like it should be complicated. Stations and hinges and a clasp. What's the big deal?


  1. Can't wait to see it when it is done, so make sure it makes it to YfB. Glad to hear all is well with Tre Bambini. Hope to see you next weekend if possible.

  2. When I read what you do and how you describe it, I am awed at my daughter and "how she has come out". I don't think I had anything to do with it, but I'm proud of you and the fact you have these crafts/arts you do and that you seem constantly busy with something creative. I hope you don't give up on that bracelet, after all the work you've put into it. I know it will be beautiful when you finally stop it from breaking! Love you! MOM