Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It's not all rejection.....

After my experience at the gallery this morning, I was a little dejected, yet hopeful. I've started designing additions to my current lines, and immediately ordered more silver wire and sheet, and even a little bit of gold wire (I'm trying to incorporate gold into my work gradually). It's actually a great experience being told that you need to make "sets" of things in order to have a cohesive feel to your production lines. It was something I needed to be told, and a good push in the right direction.

This afternoon, I discovered that I'd sold my first piece on Etsy (above)!!! Holes in my Heart has found a new home, and I'm so happy. I love this piece, and I loved making it. I am excited for someone else to enjoy it now. Also, I am being commissioned by the same person to make another piece....I don't know if it will work design-wise, but I can definitely give it my best.

A little rejection never hurt anyone....

.....especially when it's packaged with "If you do this, we'd love to carry your jewelry".....I think if my father were alive today he'd say something about how rejection teaches us lessons. We can learn from everything. My lesson today? Modify. Look at things from different angles. Make a lot of variations.

And now.....I must go modify my designs and create new ones. Even though I feel a little sad and rejected, it's a good push to extend myself in new directions.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAVE!!!


Sammy here, for another late Caturday post....mommy was too tired last night to type this all up for me. Anyway...today is a very special day. It's Daddy's birthday!!! And his golden birthday at that. We love daddy and hope he has a very special day, after all this cleaning is done for the party. I love it when the humans clean, because I get to roll around in dirt piles!

Mommy took Amber and me out for a walk in the garden today. Amber climbed a tree, but I couldn't because my claws got trimmed the other night. So I ran away and almost choked myself on my leash--ouch! I hope we get real harnesses soon. And collars with tags. It's been really nice having mommy around all week....we got lots of cuddles all throughout each day. I especially love to curl up right in front of her screen and watch her....and then watch the screen....and that funny little arrow thing!

Oh yeah, last weekend, mommy and daddy found two lumps on Amber's right hind leg. Mommy thinks they're abscesses, but the vet at the emergency room (they took sis there since she had a temperature) said she hadn't seen abscesses that small. Apparently she tried to get some fluid out with a needle but that didn't quite work so mommy and daddy got some antibiotics for Amber. She sure hates them, too! Mommy has to wrap her up all tight in a blanket before giving them to her or else Amber scratches her. Anyway I think she is going to the dr. again this week to figure it all out.

And on that note, I'll leave you with some funny pictures mommy found of us playing with the green feathery thing. Oooh, grandma brought us these fun cube things that we can crawl in and out of and roll around in...we love them!








Thursday, September 20, 2007

What really happened on our "vacation"

So, as most people know, Dave and I went on what was supposed to be a lovely vacation last week. A much deserved and long-awaited vacation, for both of us. Something that we'd looked forward to, and that carried us through the tough times at work. Monday night, we packed the car, and got food ready, etc. Tuesday morning, we loaded everything up into the new Subaru, and headed out to the Oregon coast. The drive was lovely, and I was happy to let Dave drive most of the way. We stopped in seaside upon arriving there, just to walk around and see it again. My mom had lived there when I was little, so I like walking around it a little bit, just for memory's sake. We stopped in a shop and saw some really cool metal, handmade, watches. Then, we walked on the sand and swung on the swings that have been on the beach forever.

After grabbing a bite to eat, we decided to head up to Astoria. Dave really wanted to see the Maritime Museum, which ended up being really cool (the photo above was taken through one of the telescopes outside), and I really wanted to see the Peter Iredale shipwreck near Fort Stevens. After the museum, we headed to Fort Stevens to find our campsite, and decided to visit the shipwreck the next morning. We got some wood, and set up the tent, started a fire, and ate dinner. It was lovely. I absolutely love camping with Dave. After dinner, I climbed into the bedding and settled down with my book. It was vacation, after all.



The next morning, we packed up camp, and headed over to the Peter Iredale shipwreck. You can only see one end of the ship now, but from where the masts are, and some poles at the other end, you know it was HUGE. In the museum, there were photos from when the wreck first happened. I thought it was really cool. I absolutely love old abandoned houses, cars, and shipwrecks, if not for the beauty of them, then for the stories they hold.



After the shipwreck, Dave and I headed south. We stopped in Rockaway Beach and grabbed some coffee and candy. I wanted to stop at Cape Lookout to camp for the night, but we missed the exit. For some reason we decided to do the trip without a map. Silly us :) We kept driving and decided to stop in Lincoln city to get some more food for sandwiches. It was here, that our "vacation" became one of the most stressful events ever. Dave called his bank to check his bank balance, just to judge how much he could spend on the rest of the trip. He had intended to treat me to a fantastic Indian restaurant in Eugene on the way back. The operator told him "It appears that you are negative $644".....which meant that his paycheck had bounced. He hung up, as he was shocked, and we were instantly furious and freaking out. I told him to call the bank back, and inquire about what happened, just to make sure it wasn't identity theft. Sure enough, his paycheck had bounced, and multiple phone calls to his manager and boss ensued. We decided to camp one more night and cut our trip two days short.

We got a map and drove down to Beverly Beach, and decided to stay the night there. While still completely, obscenely stressed out, we managed to have an okay time. We went for a walk on the beach and while crossing a bridge over the river, saw a Beaver. I was very excited, as I'd never seen one in the wild before.

The next day, Thursday, we drove south to Newport, where I knew we could cut across to I5 and head north to Portland. However, I had always wanted to go to the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, and decided that even though I didn't really want to spend the money, this was probably my only chance. Dave and I had fun at the Aquarium, and it helped settle our nerves a little. Then, it was back to Portland.

Since the bounced check, things have settled down a bit. The bank was able to re-deposit the check, and we will find out today if Dave's boss is going to pay the overdraft fees, or if we will have to go to court and make him pay them, as he is legally liable, since they were a direct result of the bounced check. I'm hoping he just makes good and we don't have to go through any more stress than we already have.

So, our "vacation" was not as relaxing as we had liked. It was somewhat ruined. But this week, I am only working one day, so I have been able to take a vacation from my vacation, which has been wonderful.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Cuttlefish Bone Casting


image from Forsythedesigns.com

While Dave and I were at Art in the Pearl on Labor Day, I discovered Alexandra Forsythe of Forsythe Designs. I have never really liked the texture of cuttlefish castings, but for some reason, I absolutely LOVED her rings! Instantly, I wanted to learn how to make them. Or teach myself.

I'd signed up for a casting class already, and knew that cuttle bone casting would be the first project. The first cast I did, was in bronze, but the sprue channel was too small, and I poured too fast, which caused the bronze to hop over the cuttle bone and onto the stones. Some made it in, but not enough. Still determined, I purchased silver casting grain yesterday and went back to the studio to try again. This time I used a ring of my own to press into the cuttle bone, and was very technical about the whole set up. I made notches to line everything up properly, made the sprue channel larger, and this time, I poured much slower and made all of the silver in. I actually had a pretty large button, which I've sawed off. The half-way finished product is below. I still have yet to finish filing, polishing, and add a setting (with Labradorite!) in the middle. The picture isn't so great, but I'll take a better one with Dave's fancy camera later.
The way that I made the casting was by using two halves of cuttle bone. I think next time, I will simply have the casting in one half, and the other part flat. Otherwise you end up with a seam down the middle, and while I looks interesting, I am a perfectionist. I'm looking forward to trying again this weekend! Dave thinks I should call them "cuddle rings"....har har :)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Forced Motivation

Portland has been cloudy and rainy for about 2 weeks now. I think we were all hoping for an "Indian Summer" due to a fairly cold summer, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen. With this much cloudiness, I tend to get fairly....blaaaah....low energy, low motivation, etc. So, I'm going to force the motivation today. There are plenty of projects I've been wanting to work on, and although my torch is out of service, I can still do prep, sawing, etc. Above is a ring I made for a series called Bathurst Copper Butterfly (Paralucia spinifera). I did this about 3 years ago, and it was a response to research I did on endangered animals in Australia, where I came across this particular butterfly species.

One of the people I recently worked for is a biologist in Portland, and gave me a couple names of some endangered Butterfly species here, so off I go to research, draw, pierce, and produce. Necklaces, this time :)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Girl Time

Okay, so you've all met Sammy by now....he's my brother (see previous Caturday post). My name is Amber. Sammy and I are not just brother and sister, but best friends. Mommy and Daddy were actually going to just adopt Sammy, but Daddy's brother told them that he and I played together all the time, so they decided to take me home, too. I've turned out to be a little more of a handful than they expected. While Sammy is purry and cuddly and licks a lot, I am a little weaker, and a little more high maintenance.


You see, on my first vet visit, Sammy and I got our first round of shots, and mommy took us home, dropped us off, and left to run errands. I think she just thought we'd be tired the whole day, and be fine like most kitties. Weeelllll...I ended up throwing up twice, and had a fever. Luckily, January (mommy's friend) was home with us and was able to clean it up. So when mommy returned home, she found out what happened, called the vet and took me back for them to monitor me. They gave me a Benadryl shot and I stayed there for a few hours, just to make sure I was okay. It turns out that I had a "reaction" to the vaccine, so now whenever I get shots, I have to be pre-treated with Benadryl and can only get one shot at a time. Oh yeah, and tomorrow I have to go to the animal hospital because there's this funny bump on my right leg, and it kinda hurts when people touch it.


But anyway, enough about the weakness part. I'm turning into a very loving girl kitty...I love my daddy a lot and am growing to be more cuddly with mommy. She likes that. So you're probably wondering what it is I do all day. Well, last week the humans went to the coast and left us at home with January, so we did a lot of playing, and a lot of sleeping. M&D got us this great toy that hangs from the door frame, and Sammy went absolutely nuts over it jumping and jumping and jumping and jumping. Then, when he get too tired, I'd go at it. It's great. Not as great as that green feather thing though....wish they'd get another one of those. That's what sends me berzerk :)

Okay...that's enough for now. It's time to go snuggle under daddy's computer monitor and get kneaded and licked by my bro. TTFN!


Monday, September 10, 2007

Vacation....finally!

After having to cancel our previously planned vacation, Dave and I are finally getting a vacation this week. We leave tomorrow for the Oregon Coast, in our new car, for 4 days of camping and relaxation. I am sure I will come back revived and full of energy and ideas!

Today I was inspired by Eliza Kate, a fellow metalsmith, who draws inspiration from nature. Below are some of her pieces. I love the hollow forms with holes to peak inside of, the organic lines, and the contrast between copper, silver, and enamel.




Another artist I found inspiring today was Lynette Andreasen, who has recently created something varying from her norm. I love her exploration of form and technique! See below for her new work, and check out her Etsy shop for more!



Sunday, September 9, 2007

Extreme Consumerism



I am not the first person you would think of when you think "consumerism". I usually make do with hand-me-downs, used items, old items that don't work so well, etc. As far as cell phones go, I have always gone with the cheap, basic model when getting a contract, and using it until nearly dead. The past year I've been using a hand-me-down from Dave. However, yesterday that phone met some gum, and the gum is now stuck up inside the USB port, which is used for recharging, syncing, etc. It was time to get a new phone, and a new contract (something I've avoided for a year). So, I went to Cingular, and left with the Blackberry Pearl Red. A sleek phone with a nice little rolly ball and lots of features. Not too expensive, but everything I want in a phone and more.

Second on the list, is the 2008 Subaru Forester. A couple weeks a
go, someone offered to buy my jeep for $1500--about what it's worth with the repairs, etc. that it will need in the future. So, I told him we'd need some time to find financing for another car. I assumed that Dave and I would get a used car. However, when we went looking today, we found out that we could get better financing and almost a better deal with a new car. Enter, our new baby:

This is the "sports" model...ours doesn't have the air intake thing on the hood. But Damn it feels good to drive a new car!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

A Very Belated Caturday Post


Hi there! I'm Sammy, on the left, and on the right is Amber. We took over the household a few months ago. This picture was taken when we were just 7 weeks old...aren't we cute? Amber's my sister. Mommy and Daddy were going to just adopt me, but then someone told them that I really loved Amber, so they got both of us...Yay! Now we get to play and cuddle together all the time. Oh, that's Daddy with us...we love him.


This picture was us at about 8 or 9 weeks old (We are now 4 1/2 months old). You might be wondering about our names. Well, M&D (Mommy & Daddy) named me Sammy because they think I look more Siamese than Lynx Point, with my dark nose and face and all. And sis is named Amber because of the Amber colored blaze down her face. She was originally named Betty, but it didn't really suit her.

So, what is it we do around here? Well, we love to sleep. M&D do a pretty good job of entertaining us too, with feathers and fluffy stringy things, and these rad little jingly bell ball things. Sometimes they slide us across the floor but that's not as fun. We like to do jumps and flips and show off how strong our legs are getting. We're getting bigger now...I'm 6.5 lbs, and sis isn't far behind. Other than playing and cuddling, I must admit that we get into a lot of trouble. There's curtains to scale, as well as screens, and counters to climb on and knock stuff off of all the time. Humans hate that!

Oh yeah, and I recently discovered the computer screen....that funny arrow thing is crazy! Why can't I ever get it?Well that's it for now. I have to go give mommy lots of kisses before she goes to bed. Licking--its' what I do.

Paws and kisses,
Sammy

Friday, September 7, 2007

My Day Job...



When I moved to Portland three years ago, I entered a whole new era of my life. I moved in with a friend, in order to save money and find a place to live together. It was through her that I started my career as a nanny. I had only babysat as a job once or twice when I was 18, and back then I had no real concept of what taking care of a child entailed. Living in Australia helped that, as I had a lot of friends that had kids in their families, and was exposed to a lot while living there. When I moved back to Hood River from Australia, I defaulted to my previous job as a Barista, something comfortable and that I knew. After a few months, I took a second job as a caretaker at a group home for people with developmental disabilities. Through this job, I was trained in First Aid, CPR, Medical Management, Behavior Management, and a lot of other skills--all of which drastically raised my awareness of what it takes to take care of someone.

My first job was for a family that my friend knew, and was only a month long. As soon as that ended, in October 2005, I immediately posted an ad on Craigslist for another Nanny position. Almost immediately, I received a call from a woman regarding a position to nanny her two children--a 3 y.o. girl and a 5 y.o. boy. I instantly fell in love with these guys. I was able to use my skills as a caretaker, as well as my experiences in art school. We played a lot of games, and their imaginations were great. I introduced a lot of art projects which were fun as well. I was introduced to a lot of new things as well, such as play dates, nanny share, playgrounds, a variety of games, finnicky eating habits, and the constant behavior management that is necessary with kids as their behaviors change.

In December of 2005, my boss told me about her friend who was thinking about hiring a nanny for her 3 month old girl and 2 y.o. boy. I had met them once or twice before, and decided to take the job. I would start in January 2006. I knew the baby had bad acid reflux, but as time went on we realised she had a lot of other issues, including sensory issues and delayed development, which was due to not getting the nutrition she needed (because of her reflux). Her older brother was also adjusting to having a baby around and all the issues that come with sharing the parents. Despite all of the hard times, I fell in love with this family as well. Both families were open and loving, and the mothers had been friends since grade school. We would have play dates and once I graduated from college, we started doing nanny shares fairly frequently.



It has been two years since I started working as a nanny. The two older children, now 7 and 5, are in school full time. The two younger, now 4 and 2, are in daycare full time as well. Last weekend, my bosses held a barbecue to honor my leaving them, which was wonderful and bittersweet. I love the kids so much, and the families as well. They have opened their arms and accepted me into their families as one of their own. On Christmas day, 2005, I even spent the evening with one family because I had no family of my own to be with. The last few weeks, I have played coy with my feelings about leaving, because I didn't want them to get too emotional, but the other night I cried while waiting for sleep. Luckily, I know that I will be seeing them once in a while throughout the next year, before I leave for my Master's, and that helps in this transition between jobs, income, and lifestyle.

There have been many moments of hardship, happiness, and utter joy in these last two years. Here are a few more of those moments. All via camera phone :)

















































Saturday, September 1, 2007

Lazy Saturday

In lieu of discovering that my acetylene has run out, I've decided to post online instead. I am fairly new to "blogging" and am only really getting into a routine with it. It's Saturday, which is usually a day that fills me with energy and inspiration. Instead, I am worn out from working late last night, and will be working late again tonight. I tried to nap, but I am simply not a napping person. Amber, however, had no problem falling asleep on me.

Apparently, because I was born on the Taurus/Gemini cusp, I am a "busy body" by nature and feel the need to stay busy at all times (I already knew this, but was told so by a book recently).

On the topic of blogs, I would like to introduce some artists that inspire me. Megan Auman is an artist I discovered while researching graduate programs. She teaches at Towson University, in Maryland, along with Jan Baum, who I discovered through The Penland Book of Jewelry.



Megan Auman makes wonderful use of steel in her work, drawing inspiration from well, drawings.

They're gorgeous pieces, with bold lines that are hard, yet beautiful. I instantly fell in love with her work when I came across her website, which consequently led me to her Etsy shop, and her blog (which was partial inspiration for my own blog).

I also just discovered Megan Auman's other blog, jewelry. metals. objects., which is fantastic! It serves as a collection of artists and materials from around the web.

As mentioned previously, Jan Baum is also an inspiration to my work.



She is a master at hollow forms using a hydraulic press, and I was able to immensely improve my technique based on hers, which was printed in The Penland Book of Jewelry. I have always loved using a hydraulic press, but my previous education only provided the absolute basics, and I ran into a lot of problems when trying to solder two halves together without holes. During my Hollow Forms & Mechanisms class, we used Baum's technique and my hollow forms came out beautifully (see below).