End of the year review

Dec 21 2014

Well, it is almost the end of 2014, which has been a year of ups and downs, plus changes.   

The League opened The Craft Center Metals/Glass studio formally this fall, so it's so nice to have a brand new facility to teach jewelrymaking and lampworking. So much soldering space, 6 students can solder at once with plenty of room.   Currently, I'm wrapping up my Guided Open Studio class, and starting new classes in early January.

I did CraftBoston Holiday Craft Show for the first time, which was at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.    I had very little expectations for CraftBoston, so I was pleased that it went better than I thought.   Knowing Hynes has a difficult loading dock, I was fearful my car was going to get damaged again by the truck ramp life as it did in '06 when I lost my muffler off my old car. This time, I was able to use a proper ramp to load in and out, all it all had to be done by elevators to reach the exhibition halls.  I never knew how vast the loading dock is, under Hynes, and oddly enough, directly above the Mass Pike ( I-90).  I was next to Metalwerx School of Jewelrymaking, so it was great to send people next door to see what Metalwerx had to offer, and Metalwerx would send people over to ask me about classes.  I even got to see my old professors from grad school, so it was wonderful to see them, and catched up.

Also did the RISD Holiday Sale as usual which was a tad better than last year.   For once, I organized everything so I only had to do one trip to load in my booth and 1 trip to load out my booth, which has never happened before.  I'll have to remember that next year.   We fair exhibitors dream of easy load in, easy load out.  Loading out at Hynes was one of the most draining of all load outs that I've done so I was bound and determined to have an easier time at RISD, which I did.   

I knew the flatware market was dead, so I didn't really make any new flatware, so no real surprise that I sold only 5 pieces at the 2 shows, but as usually my earrings flew off the walls.   Personally, after 26 years, I'm done making flatware.  I had a good run with them, but no longer want to make them.  My heart isn't into it, and I've enjoyed making jewelry more now, and a few bowls.   I'm changing again, and not quite sure how I am envolving, but it's definitely earrings, rings and bowls.   I don't mind teaching flatware, but I do mind making them for sale.   I'm happy to teach anything in metals, as long as I don't have to mass-produce certain things.

Discovered my hedgehog, Spike, has a thing for metal - he has an obsession with an old clamp vise, which is rather funny.  Hedgehogs are attracted to certain things - lotion, perfurm, leather, metal ( which is like crack to hedgehogs), certain foods, certain smells.  They will lick, chew till they foam up at the mouth and then smear the foam over their quills.  It is called anointing, and it's a hedgehog thing.

Started doing benchwork ( fine jewelry like gold/precious gemstones work and repairs) for Tates Gallery this month.  20 years ago, I worked for Jamie's father, Fran Cook, and now, I'm doing work for Jamie, so I have a long history with the Cook family.   I used to work for 3 jewelry stores from 1992 to 1995, started out at a local jewelry store in MA when I was in grad school, then moved back to NH, started working for a local goldsmith, which I stayed for 2 years, and also worked for a short time with Fran.  I learned a lot about benchwork, which entailed a lot of jewelry repair, making custom work, making fine jewelry, cleaning up gold jewelry that has been casted and needed to be finished, setting stones, whatever is needed in the workshop.   I burned out on jewelry repair, which is incredibly stressful, and went on to be an independent metalsmith/teacher in 1996.

Anyways, too many years of teaching and increasingly challenging students has led me to rethink how I want to go with my life, and as it turned out, Jamie was overloaded with work, and I was ready to work for a jewelry workshop.   The difference is, that afte 20 years since I last worked in a jewelry store, is that I'm so much more efficient, have a lot more skills and Jamie is hardpressed to keep up with my speed.  I feel like I actually working more carefully/slowly, and yet, I'm just better at doing whatever needs to be done ( cleaning up gold rings, setting stones, repairing, etc).  I'm also truly a queen at bezels - I can really bang out bezels for stones, no matter what shape or size.  My secret weapon is my 3M grey deburring wheel, which replaces the tedious emerying.   I can really sand and debur my metals so much more efficiently with my 3M wheel and it saves my wrists from the pain-inducing emerying, using emerying papers of assorted grits.

What I am excited is that I'm going to learn CAD, so I can design jewelry on a computer program, and then have a 3-D printer print out a wax model of the actual design I created.   I'm also going to learn again how to use a laser welder, which gives me possiblitites that I didn't have before.    I needed to take my skills up to the next level, and I was bored, so now there's a challenge to take on, and learn the high-tech aspect of today's jewelrymaking processes.   It's going to be a fun, challenging and quite a ride going the high-tech route next year.  I have lots of odd-shaped stones that would be perfect for CAD and 3-D printing.


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