Last Blog of 2015

Dec 31 2015

I hadn't felt I had much to say in my blogs, so I let that slide.  As New Year's Day comes closer ( within a hour) it's time to reflect for 2015.   To sum it up, 2015 was just a plain weird year.  Nothing is quite what it used to being and I just can't figure out how or why things are different.  I have no expectations for 2016.

I've had to cut back on teaching, for I was too burned out.   For the first time since I started teaching at Snow Farm Craft Program in 2001, I will not be teaching at Snow Farm for 2016 and problably for 2017.  New director, lots of changes, and I wasn't happy at Snow Farm for the past few years for a number of reasons, so in a way, it's a relief not to teach at Snow Farm for a while.   The warm fuzzy feeling is gone and Snow Farm has changed in many ways, and it's alienating me so I'm done for the time being.   I also cut back on classes and workshops at various schools in NH, so I don't have to stretch myself so thin, as it was happening to me.  

It's been 14 months since I started working for Tates Gallery, as Jamie's right hand and fellow goldsmith.  I've been improving so much on the laser welder, I now use it routinely, and think, I'll laser it instead of soldering.  Sometimes soldering feels odd.  The gold earrings with garnets/sunstones are laser-welded together.   I've been so passionated about laser welding, I even started a Facebook group called Laser Welders for Jewelers and Metalsmiths.   I was able to take an Advanced Laser Welding Techniques workshop at Laserstar in RI in Aug which helped a lot.    Like everything in life, I want a laser welder, for it really does help me a lot, but at $18,000 and up, it's going to take a while to get one, so I am going to try to invest in a PUK ( pulse welder) for it's more budget-friendly.   Laser welders hate silver for it's so reflective, and a pulse welder works better on silver, so when you line up the pros and cons, the pulse welder wins, even though I prefer a laser.

I find myself transitioning from being a silversmith to more of a goldsmith, since I routinely work in gold/precious gemstones now and its changing my work.   I'm more than ready to step up in doing more gold jewelry, but I  need to find a whole new market that is willing to buy my gold jewelry, for most people know my work is primarily silver.   I will always love silver and use it, but as I get older, I don't want to make a ton of under $100 jewelry pieces for that means I work 24/7.    As I grow in skills that are used mostly in the fine jewelry/repair trade, I find myself without the proper tools and my metal shop is not set up for stonesetting.

Over 2 years ago, I came home from a weekend workshop to find a vintage watchmakers bench.   My father had gotten it from a friend who's father had it.  That watchmakers bench sat in my garage till a few days ago, which I pulled it out.  3 buckets of Murphy oil soap/water, hours of sanding and an entire container of linseed oil, I have a new bench in my studio.   It has so many drawers, it just thrills me.  It's going to be my stonesetting bench.  I have different stations for specific processes.    Now I just have to finish upgrading my photo setup and my polishing machine to a new vac suction unit.  I've had to start upgrading various parts of my studio after many years of use.   I'm hard on my tools, machines and vehicles for I'm constanting working.

My father finally lost patience with me, hauled me off to a car dealership and said pick a color for I was dragging my feet on getting a new car for 2 years.  For the first time in almost 3 decades, I finally got a brand new car.   I'm still having separation issues with my old, very high mileage ( 184,500 miles, a record for me) PT Cruiser.  It's going to be painful to let the Beast go ( as I call my old car), but The Tank ( as I call my new car) is nice.  The luxury of a brand new car is quite nice.  I can see why people want new cars.

The Annual Craftsmen Fair in August was good.  I had a different booth location.  That one booth spot I never, ever ask for, I got assigned to it.   It was the flattest spot I've ever had at Mt Sunapee. and my booth walls weren't as crooked, which was a relief.  I finally was able to get Skyline popup walls which is the best you can buy, but very pricy.  This is why I use Ebay so much - I can find the things I need, at the price I can afford.  You just need to be very patient in your Ebay searching, and in time, you will find what you want or need.  Weather was perfect the whole time the Annual Craftsmen Fair was running.    I made a knitted wire belt that won 2 awards, much to my surprise.   I'm still making bowls, but my bases re getting spiker and spiker, thanks to my hedgehog's influence.

As for my hedgehogs, Cody had a series of seizures that left him paralyzed in less than 2 weeks and he passed away June 20th.  Pumpkin Peanuts came in April.  She was originally Peanut, but I kept calling her Pumpkin so I finally renamed her Pumpkin Peanuts.   She's shy but curious.   Spike, who is over 6 yeras ago, which is elderly for hedgehogs ( most only live 2- 4years) but he's a tough trooper.  He has a lame shoulder but he's still very mobile.   He's such a lively, friendly hedgehog, it's hard to believe he came in Aug 2012 as one angry hissing ball of fury, and largely unsocialized. He likes nothing better than chicken, being with me, licking any metal and oddly enough, the Sunshine polishing cloth I use to polish my jewelry.   I'm amazed at his resilense.

I'm finding myself making multiple stone pendants after a long hiatus.  The 2 stone pendant has a story.  I collect rocks here and there, as well as buying gemstones.  The top, rougher rock was a piece of rock I picked up from the ground and cabbed it into a unusual cabuchon.  Same with the bottom stone - it was a cab that broke into 2 part, and it went well with the rough cab.   I'm playing more with the too many stones I have.

To wrap up this blog, I did the RISD Holiday alumni sale on 12/5, and then CraftBoston on Dec 10-12.   RISD is changing their alumni sales to just 2 next year, not 3, so that's new.   I have no idea what craft shows I will do for 2016 but I'll always do the Annual Craftsmen Fair.

Happy New Year's to all of you, and hope 2016 will start on a more positive note.



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