Finally, Spring!

Apr 11 2015

It has been one of the most brutal winters I can remember this year. Extreme snow levels and brutally frigid temps. February was pretty much a blur - neverending snow, almost daily shovelling and snowplowing.  I would get up, go shovel, crash, go out again, shovel, crash, day in, day out.   Even had to learn roof raking and since there wasn't a single roof rake to be found, had to borrowed one.  Roof raking can be classified as a core exercise for I was sore for a few days.  At least 80 inches of snow in my neck of woods.  I had so much snow, I had 4 foot piles on my lawn.  I had deep trenches running here and there as pathways.  It did look like an archeological dig.  I was in a deep state of fatigue for a month, just hauling all that snow.  I had to make up 5 classes, a record.   Thanksfully, it is all over, the snow is almost completely gone from my lawn, and it's finally getting warm.   

March was sunny, but cold, and most of this month was just plain cold.   I'm plumb sick of being constantly cold. Anyways, winter rant over with.   I'm perking up more and more as the days get longer and slowly warming up.   I'm getting back into my groove, and now that I have fewer classes to teach for the spring, I have more time to work in my studio. For the first time, I had to say no to 2 schools, that I will not teach for the summer, but will return in the fall.  

I've been working on my laser welding skills and I'm getting more comfortable with the laser welder.  I just have to remember to breathe as I laser-weld, for I find myself holding my breath as I line up tiny joints under the 'scope before hitting the laser.   I still struggle, but my laser welds are getting better and easier.   Gold, esp. white gold is really easy to laser weld while silver is a pain to laser weld.  I'm still lasering silver and will continue to.   I've forgotten how easy gold cleans up compared to silver, now that I'm back to working with gold on a regular basis.   Jamie Cook keeps pushing me to learn the high tech tools that are now necessary in a goldsmith shop.  Learned to laser weld, learned to engrave rings and just started poking at the CAD program.   I'll be learning to design bezels and jewelry on CAD - had to dig out all my odd shaped gemstones so I can custom design bezels for them, to be printed out on the 3-D printer.    My goal is to be more "gemmy" this year - lots of jewelry with gemstones.  I hadn't been doing a lot of my rings with gemstones for a few years.  Now, I'm getting back to it, since I have lots of requests for my gemstone rings lately.

I'm kinda of feeling like what my students experience in my classes as I learn the high-tech tools ( not without a few tears of frustration).   However, I really needed that for I was in a deep rut for a long time.  I do find my bezel making skills are a lot better since I make so many of them, earning the title, Bezel Queen.   We'll see how learning CAD goes.   I did relearn lost wax casting when I TA-ed for my casting guy, Daniel Grandi of RaceCar Jewelry when he taught a casting workshop.   I had done lost wax casting twice in the past but never was comfortable with it, and always farmed out casting to Daniel. This time, due to Daniel's excellent explanations, I finally got over my fears of casting.   I feel like I can do it solo, and will do so later this year.  There's been a lot of advances in the past decade regarding casting equipment, supplies, moldmaking, etc, so it's actually easier now to cast than it was in the past.  Lot more consistent information as well.

On top of that, had to add a few more toys to my studio - an oxygen/propane torch, now that I'm used to oxygen/propane, a graver's block, and plating equipment.  I found an old recifier hiding under my buffing machine, and after cleaning it off, it still works, so I got all the plating solutions to do my own silver plating and any other plating I need ( gold, copper, nickel, rhodium).   Those old recifiers are real workhorses, and mine had to be at least 40 years old.   I'm almost complete in doing everything in-house, from plating to engraving to casting to laser-welding.  Between Jamie and me, we pretty much can do it all, with our workshops.  I even taught him how to use a rolling mill and make half round wire, and loaned him a rolling mill so he can do it in his shop.  We are learning a lot from each other and that's good for us.   We needed it!  I have my low tech but silversmithing heavy studio and Jamie has his high-tech workshop/studio and I divide my time between both workshops.

As for my hedgehogs, I just adopted a 2.5 year old girl hedgehog, named Peanut.  I renamed her Pumpkin Peanuts since I keep calling her Pumpkin.  I still have my beloved Spike, who is 6 years old, Cody, still a brat at 4 years and now Peanut.   Peanut has very dark quills, while Spike is more caramel color and Cody is ivory color, so I call them the Tri-Chocolate Trio.  Dark chocolate ( Peanut), Milk Chocolate ( Spike) and White Chocolate ( Cody).   I was ready for a new hedgehog, and a few days ago, Peanut came.  I love her - such a sweet girl but with a fiesty spirit.

Last but not least, two places I teach/work at, have new directors so there's going to be a lot of changes.  Should make for a fascinating year for new staff, new policies, different people to work with.  I'm just going to sit back and watch everything unfold and see where the organizations head toward.    I also have a new booth spot for the Annual Craftsmen's Fair in August, a spot I never requested.  Should be interesting as well.  It's right on the main path when people are coming in and out of Tent 4 so it is an excellent spot.  At least Lia Gormley and I will be closer together - we don't like it when we are opposite sides of our tent for we like being boothmates.  

The League of NH Craftsmen opened a new gallery at the Hooksett Rest Area off I-93 North in Hooksett, NH, and it's a lovely shop.  My mom works there now.  The rest area is brand new and quite stunning - very different from the usual highway rest area.





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