Sunday, December 30, 2007

Silver work

Here are some pics of pieces that I have been working on.

I am going to rivet this to another piece of PMC or copper to make a pendant. I really like the design. This came from a stamp designed by Teesha and Tracy Moore.

The front and back of a 2-layer pendant. A little macabre. Again...stamps from Teesha and Tracy Moore's website.

Prototype for some earrings that I am working on. I didn't know if I would like the design so I only made only one. I think now I will make a couple pairs after I perfect the technique of wrapping the strip around the lentil. Maybe some PMC that has been mixed with glycerin would work better for the center strip.

This is one of the hearts that I am working on. It looks better in person. I hammered this to pieces to give it a worn look....I had too...more on that later.

I discovered 2 things making this heart...a number of instructors have told me that you can use a butane torch to make the initial ball on silver wire, but you can't use it to ball the back side. Butane isn't hot enough and the piece itself ends up being a heat sink. You need a really hot flame to ball the back ...much hotter than you can get from butane. But I thought I would try it anyway. When the butane torch didn't work....I tried a propane torch. Still not hot enough. The only thing that I accomplished was to heat up the entire pieces and melt some of the enamal on my washing machine...which was the surface I was torching on. So if I want to ball both ends of the wire I need a propane/oxygen mix. Rio has a set up but I don't know if I am comfortable with having an oxygen tank in my house. This doesn't really make sense since I alreayd have a butane torch and a propane torch in the I might as well invest in a propane/oxygen torch

The other thing that I learned is that I can't rivet very well. When I couldn't ball up the wire with heat...I decide to rivet the back. Part of the problem is the heart has a slanting surface so it was hard to hold the piece the right way to get the rivet going. I did eventually get it to work...but not before I marred the surface of the heart....which is why I ended up hammering it to make it look hide the marks I made by mistake. I need to get some help on riveting.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Readin' Fool

I've been a readin' fool lately. I finished a couple books.... Life Studies which is a collection of short stories by Susan Vreeland. The first half of the book has stories that revolve around the impressionist painters...Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir....but they are side characters in these stories rather than the protagonists. I like her writting style so I am going to read Girl in Hyacinth Blue next. It follows a Vermeer paining from owner to owner and tells their stories.

The other book is finished is Entre Nous: Finding Your Inner French Girl. I talked in a previous post about some of the topics in the post . The rest of the book talks about how fabulous the French woman is in that she throws marvelous dinner parties, prepares all the dishes herself using only the freshest ingredients most of which she grew herself, invites the perfect mix of people, plays the perfect hostess and has time to relax and enjoy the party. Did I mention that she's also finding a curing cancer and solving world hunger? At this point the book started to piss me off.

I did find out that I am very French in the fact that I live in a small house is very small. When we were looking for a hotels in Paris...most of the reviews I read talked about how small the hotel rooms were and it's pretty much the same with apartments. Looking for an apartment to rent when I go back in's not unusual to see a bedroom loft above the kitchen with just enough room for you to crawl into it. I've had 20 years practice at living in a small space.

But I did learn how to tie a scarf 3 different ways so that makes the whole book worth it cause I have been on a scarf kick lately.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Hope you holiday was a good one. I had 5 days of relaxation. No blackberry, no phone. My family showered me with books. We exchange names and I just handed over my wish list from Amazon thinking I would get one book from the list. I got 6 plus a DVD. I am set for the winter.

My mom got me Pollen which is a really cool book of electron micrographs of plant pollen. There is a companion book called Seeds. They are great coffee table books but better than that they provide inspiration for making metal clay beads. The challenge is to figure out how to make these amazing shapes in PMC.

My brother and his wife got me The Milagro Beanfield War DVD. It's based on a book by John Nichols. It's a story of the impoverished town of Milagro and their triumph over a rich land developer and his political croonies. Great book, great movie. Sweet and funny.

They also got me these....

Bedazzled: 5000 Years of Jewelry
Beadazzled: Where Beads + Inspiration Meet
Paris to the Moon : A collection of essays written for the New Yorker during the 5 years the author spent in Paris
Entre Nous: A Woman's Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl : Doesn't need much of an explaination. I'm half way through this one already. The basic ideas are to be a strong woman and true to yourself, buy classic clothes, and remember your roots and family traditions. The idea of living with your husbands indiscretions grates on me and seems to go against the idea of being true to yourself. I've told Lou a number of times that if he has a "little indiscretion" he'll wake up to find his "little friend" missing...Lorena Bobbit style. It also talks about how secretive the French woman is versus the very open American woman. The book equates secretive with being alluring. That's a hard leap for me to make since I am one of those people who lives life as an open book.
Water for Elephants: A Novel : A story of a young man who becomes a vet with a scraggly circus during the Depression.

Well...I'm back to work tomorrow and since it's 1AM...I think I need to get some sleep.

Have you been thinking about your New Year's Resolutions yet?? Back soon with some thoughts.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

It's the Holidays!!!!

I don't have to be back at work until Thursday so I have a nice little break here. Both Lou and I have been relaxing these last couple of days. Turned off the blackberrys and pretty much disconnected the phone.

Went to dinner at Hyde Park Grill last night to celebrate Lou's birthday. Great food...steak with blue cheese, hash browns with onions and sour cream...makes me salivate thinking about it. Drank champagne and had a good time.

I put a load of PMC into the kiln tonight. After not working in it for a while, I was rusty. I needed to make a few pieces just to get the touch back. I made some pendents and some hearts. I have a few cool ideas of what I am going to do with the hearts...involving gears and rivets. Should be fun.

Tomorrow we will go to Mom's house. We eat, drink and watch movies on Christmas Eve. Then everybody gets back together for dinner on Christmas day. It's 2 days of doing nothing. It's nice...but we both go a little stir crazy. We are very selfish with our free time. We like to spend it doing what we like to do....for me it's the jewelry and for Lou....since it's winter...he will be writing martial arts manuals. We has 7 books written so far. Neither of our past times are easily transportable. So we end up taking books and magazines we want to catch up on...but you can only read and watch so many movies before we want to get back to doing hands-on things. That's why I am taking Wednesday off too. I can spend an entire day being hands-on before going back to work.

I'll post some pics when my pieces come out of the kiln.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The B&B Schedule is Out!!!!!!!!!!!

'Twas 12 days before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse (that’s cause we found him and his little friend dead in the ductwork last month);
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds.... Sorry no kids;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads....What the hell are sugar plums??
With Lou at work and I in my cap (cause I’m home sick with a cold),
I just settled down for an afternoon’s nap,
When out on the porch there arose such a clatter,
I stumbled from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash (after I tripping over the ironing board),
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash (with the way I feel we’re lucky that’s the only thing I threw up).
The sun on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave me a migraine looking at the objects below,
When, what to my watering eyes should appear,
But the mailtruck led by eight tiny reindeer (OK…there were no reindeer)
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,I knew in a moment it must be Pete..the mailman…with my copy of the B&B Show Schedule….woo hoo.
More rapid than eagles its courses he read,
He whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, PMC! now, Lampwork! now, Casting and Beading!
On, Fusing! on Felting! on, Resin and…..

Oh screw the rest of the poem….I have to start choosing my classes!!!!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Back to PMC

I finally got back to working on my PMC this weekend. We have a guild meeting next Sunday and I needed to make charms for our Charm Swap. I'd post a picture but then I would spoil the surprise. Now that the stuff is out...I will end up working in PMC for a while...or least until my current supply runs out. I have some new ideas for pendants that I want to try out and some new textures.

My workroom isn't big enough to hold a table to do my PMC, so I set up on the dining room table. No loss...we never eat at the table. We actually sit on the floor at the living room coffee table and eat. I don't remember how that started...but we just migrate there and sit on the floor. Strange.

We finally got a new screen door for the front of the house this weekend. We have been without a screen door for a year. I broke the glass in the bottom panel last November when I was carrying out one of my show crates. This is so typical of us. It takes forever to get a project done. So anyway...we went through last winter and this summer without glass in half the door. Can you say Hillbillies!! So we got a great forest green screen door with nickel looks so nice with the tan house. The installor got done and then tested the window panels that move up and down. The screen is built into the top of the door and rolls down when the window is lowered. Turns out the screen doesn't roll back up like it sort of jambs up. The installor told us to call the company to report the defect. So the good news is that we finally have a nice screen door and it is solid and keeps the house warmer...but the bad news is that it will need to be replaced.

We actually did get a number of things done this year. New roof, replaced the furnace and added AC, replaced the screen door, had the roots snaked out of the sewer line and had to replace the gas line. And I am on a mission (poor Lou) to go through every room of the house to update and remodel. We've been here for 20 years and haven't done much but paint occasionally. It's time for an upgrade.

We also went out to the By-Hand show this weekend. It's an indoor art show. We stayed longer than we expected cause I know some of the exhibitors so I ended up visiting. We found a few things. I bought a couple of scarfs for the winter and I bought Lou some black martini glasses for his birthday. I also got a couple of Christmas kitties.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

It's been so long...

since I posted. Seems like forever. When I got home last week I did a jewelry show on Friday at work. It went well....better than most of my other shows. We had a large crowd show up. I sold a PMC pendant to a semi-famous person. She is the author of the book "Miracle Dogs" which was then made into a movie with Ted Shackelford and Kate Jackson.

Last weekend and this week have flown by.... too much work to do at work, too many things to do at home, and always the jewelry is calling to me. December is always such a tense month trying to fit everything in and see everyone. It's about this time that I start dreaming of January and February....those wonderfully desolate months when there are no events to go to or people to visit.....when there is absolutely nothing on the agenda. The weekends then seems so long and full of possibilities. And the best is when I am the only person that decides what I will be doing.

Lou and I are perfect for each other in this way...he goes into his room which resembles a cave and I go into my workroom and we can spend our entire day like this and be perfectly happy. The only reason we see each other is because he has to walk through my workroom to get to his cave. And the reason he comes out is usually because he is hungry. If he were an animal he would be a bear.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

More from Chicago...La Vache qui Rit and a Titty Lamp

A few pics from Crate and Barrel. First looking down at the escalator from the 4th floor.

Looking up through the ceiling at the building across the street.

The Holiday tree in front of the John Hancock building. Michigan Avenue is so pretty this time of year.

I found two other interesting stores. The first is P.O.S.H at 613 N. State Street. China, dinnerware, silver, glassware, and lots more. I ended up buying some laughing cow plates from France and a couple of glasses with the Eiffel Tower etched on them. I also picked up a box of 35 mini vintage inspired glass ornaments. They will go good on the small tree that I have in the house. Here are a few pics of the store.

The blue bottles are antique seltzer bottles from Argentina.

And sunny yellow La Vache qui Rit ...Laughing Cow plates. These were originally created in 1921 to promote Laughing Cow cheese in France.

But the best find of the entire trip to Chicago is the Titty Lamp. I found it at Jonathan Adler. A very hip upscale store...which makes me wonder what in the world I was doing there. I usually feel very farm girl in stores like this, but I couldn't resist getting a look at the lamp.

Oh my cup runneth over...and over...and over...and over. It's enough to make a grown man and a newborn cry.

I did end up buying a Horse Tray there. I am going to put it on the dinning room table with a candle and ornaments in it for the Holidays. After that I am going to use it to store beads in my workroom.

One last shot before we go walk around all day long in these skyscraper cannons and then you turn the corner and see this....

I don't know what the building is...but I've seen several like it. The property must be worth a fortune...imagine the high-rise that could be put there....but someone had held out and preserved this house. I like that.

Does this picture make my butt look big???

OK..who took my ears??...where are my ears??? Oh My tail...did you take my tail?? Hey...hey...does this picture make my butt look big???

Marshall Fields, Christkindel Market, and the Art Institute

Another must for me is going to Marshall Fields…now Macys…they put out the trumpets and the windows tell the tale of the Nutcracker Suite. Lou and I walked by at 11 at night so we had the whole street to ourselves. During the day the windows are jammed with parents and kids. In one section of the store there is a Tiffany ceiling with 1.6 million pieces of favrile iridescent glass.

Just down the block in Civic Center Plaza is the Christkindel Market. It is a German market. They sell things like nutcrackers, cuckoo clocks, beer steins and ornaments. They also sell traditional food…oh the food. I stopped back the next day for lunch…bratwurst and potato pancakes. Good old fashioned stick to your ribs food that will stop your heart cold. It was so good!!

The same plaza has the Chicago Picasso and across the street is Joan Miros “The Sun, The Moon and One Star”.

Off to the Art Institute to see all my beloved Impressionists. I wandered through the Modern Art section and found a new love….Paul Klee. Here are a few of his paintings that I liked.

I think I have wrinkles that look like this...but the heart is there....a little black one.

They also had a great Asian exhibit with number of statues, vessels, bells, and tombstones. They had great very intricate designs on them. Some of them are reminded me of designs on some of the Mayan artifacts.

I went with Lou to a reception this evening at the University Club. We got up to the 9th floor and enter Cathedral Hall which was at least 3 stories tall. It reminded me of something out of Harry Potter or maybe Harry Potter took a page from construction like this. It was a great opportunity to see it…since the club is private. Down on the 8th floor they had a library that was floor to ceiling books.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Chicago Day 2....Mary Mary Christmas Shopping

I have been here a number of times and Michigan Avenue is wonderful, but the stores get a little old after 5 years. This trip I am on the lookout for something different. Today I wandered down Dearborn in search of a store called Mary Mary Gifts. What a gem!!! Mary and the girls were so nice. And the store is filled to the brim with all kinds of decorative items, purses, chandeliers, and much more. I ended up buying a Mad Hatter lamp, a box with Paris tiles on the front, 2 really cute tree ornaments, and a set of Tibetan rice bowls for Lou…don’t tell him…it’s a present. Check out the pics of the store. You really could spend a couple hours here. It was exactly the type of store I was looking for. Oh…they also sell this toffee that is made here in Chicago. It has been put in the goodie bags for various Hollywood award shows. It was wonderful. Of course I bought a little bag of that too.

Off to Chicago

The drive from Cleveland to Chicago is boring. I love the country. I grew up on a farm. And besides my family, I am one of a few people I know that can find beauty in a field of wheat or corn. But the drive to Chicago is 320 miles of this….

Then you arrive in Chicago. This pic is from the 20th floor of the Westin Hotel.

This is our first time at the Westin... I love it. We are up on the Executive Club Floor. Because Lou travels so much, he gets free upgrades at various places. We weren’t expecting to be on this floor…it was a nice surprise. The Club Room is three doors down from our room and has multiple large screen TV, couches, chairs and tables. There is free breakfast, cookies, fruit and beverages in the afternoon and happy hour with appetizers in the evenings. Plus the views out the windows are breath-taking. I’m sitting here watching the traffic and looking at these buildings. From the ground you don’t get a change to appreciate the tops of these buildings. The older buildings have so much character. The second building from the right has a dome on the top.

This pic is a view out our window. Marina City is reflected in the glass. This is a different kind of beauty from the farm.

This is a pic of Trump Tower which is still under construction.

Although is is sunny up top, it is already getting dark in the skyscraper canyons. This is the Old Water Tower, one of a few buildings that survived the Great Chicago Fire and the John Hancock building (on the right) on Michigan Ave.

Free Hugs.....the free hugs campaign is a worldwide movement. We saw people doing this in Paris also. These are a few advocates in Chicago.

Everything is decorated for the holidays. One of the window displays at Crate and Barrel. I stepped into it to take this pic. There was a chair in front of me. I tried to convince L to sit in the chair and let me take his picture from outside. I even taunted him by calling him “chicken”. He wouldn’t bite. I love Crate and Barrel for the 4 floor escalator that sits in the front of the building. Like a kid, I have to ride up to the fourth floor every year. All the furniture is up on 3 and 4…so I run around and test out the couches and chairs. Once of these years I am going to buy a leather arm chair. I just haven’t found the right one at the right price yet. Most of them here are ~$2000. Ouch.

And I found a long lost love in Chicago...he was so sweet and all decked out for the Holidays with his Santa hat on.

The Word of the Day….HELLO!!!

These are photos of my step-grandson, Mathew..Matty. Is there even such a term…step- grandson? Rachael is my step-daughter…but what do I call Matty? After 20 years with Lou do I just leave the “step” out of it. At what point do I earn the right to just call them sons and daughters…or do I ever have that right. I don’t know. Rachael likes to call me Grandma in reference to Matty. I cringe at that word…am I old enough to be a Grandma….YES.

Matty is so cute and not afraid of anyone. He just took over a room of family and friends. Walked up to people and talked to them is his 18 month old language. He walks…or rather runs everywhere. He was bouncing off countertops. He was the right height to hit one of the countertops right in the head. He ended up with a bruise at the end of the day.

Like most of his parents generation…he is learning to carry a telephone everywhere. This one was actually a refrigerator magnet. He ran around the room with it to his ear and all the adults would yell…..HELLO

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

It can't really be the end of November. There has to be some scientific principle that the older you get the faster time passes. I remember that time seemed to drag was I was a kid. Now the weeks and months fly by.

I did a show at Landerhaven last Saturday. It wasn't bad for my first year. I was hoping for better sales...but I made my costs and then some so I guess I should be grateful. I am hearing from a number of people that sales are down. It's either they don't have money to spend or they drop $300 on me. There seems to be no middle ground. Below is a pic of my booth and my friend Donna from Chelle's Closet

I'm off to Chicago on Saturday. I will be taking the computer along so I can blog. I'm there until Thursday with absolutely nothing to do but roam around the city.

Don't eat too much Turkey!!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pics of the Month

I started doing a pic of the week....but I'm all caught up in doing shows right here are a few pics of month. First up....Santa Fe. This was taken at the B&B that we usually stay at in Santa Fe...Water Street Inn. The next pic is of a gate in Taos. Both are very typical of the area...adobe, rickety wood painted in bright colors, ristras hanging from the eaves, scruffy plants. The third pic is looking out from a cave in Bandalier National Park. It's earthy, ancient, and raw.

Paris is far from's beautiful, cultured. At the time the Anasazi Indians were living in the caves at Bandelier....Pope Alexander III was laying the first stones of Notre Dame and King Philippe-Auguste constructed the Louvre.

Paris and Santa Fe couldn't be more different. I love both places... How can this be???