Category Archives: Philosophy


It seems that relationships are often based on promises. After all, that word is a big part of traditional wedding ceremonies. “I promise to . . . “. I find myself also using that word quite a bit around children. “Do you promise to put the toys away if I give you five more minutes to play?”

The past week and a half, however, promise sticks in my mind as a noun. This connotation results from the birth of my son and daughter-in-law’s first child, Emmy. It’s hard to look at any newborn’s photo without getting that “ahhh” feeling. We see the sweetness in the child’s face and it often brings memories of other babies we have held and loved. That face symbolizes newness and the continuous cycle of life. It can evoke joy, hope and happiness.

Emmy sleep

This week, this new little face in our family has me singing a song that I used when teaching preschool music. It spells out why I smile when gazing at a newborn.

I am a promise

I am a poss-i-bil-ity

I am a promise

With a capital “P”

I am a great big bunch

of po-tent-iality


Yes, you are Emmy – yes you are!

A Tale of Two Prongs

The last two jewelry making classes that I’ve taught involved working on various types of prong settings. Although I don’t have any more of these scheduled, I’m still intrigued by the unique possibilities that soldered prongs present for jewelry construction.

I think the blue agate piece below might be called “snakes” except that might not be a very appealing title for a customer. I wanted to add a tube setting to this piece and used a 6mm lab grown amethyst. It seems to help bring out the color in the agate.


There’s always considerable problem solving in jewelry construction even when you’ve made the best of plans. I share my mistakes as a pat on the back for those of you who don’t make them (anyone out there???) as well as encouragement for the rest of us. My mantra seems to be “where there’s a will, there’s a way”. After the entire pendant was complete – soldered, filed, sanded, formed, patinated, etc. – I carefully set the stone and positioned the prongs over it. So far so good. Then I placed the amethyst in the tube bezel and used my new bezel setter to secure it . . . beautiful. But then . . . plop. . . out came the stone. Not to be dismayed, I tried again and again and then . . . I realized that I had soldered the tube bezel onto the back plate upside down! I knew I should start again, remove the agate and go back to the torch station.; but I didn’t. I recently read that a renowned jewelry maker/teacher uses glue in certain situations. THIS was my situation. I got that little E-6000 tube out of the drawer, glued that little stone in the tube bezel and if I hadn’t fessed up, you might never have known.


The second prong setting is a green agate. I cut a piece of 22g copper sheet to create the partial bezel and then used a two-legged prong setting at the top. In essence, the bezel simply keep the stone from sliding out the bottom. The prong provides tension from the top and holds the piece against the back plate. I also used a little bit of that E-6000 on the back of the stone so I would feel better. The bezel is a bit of copper tubing soldered on the front and I embellished the pieces by wiring some small glass beads to the prong. By the way, twice I filed and sanded the back of the piece too closely where the prongs come through and had to re-solder them. Oh well, it gave me good practice!

green1   green2

Did I learn anything? I found that self deprecation when something doesn’t go right doesn’t help me in making jewelry. When a prong failed to solder properly, I just said “oh great, now I get to go back down the stairs to the torch room.” (More exercise and more practice can’t be all bad!) Now, if something doesn’t give me a problem, I’m suspicious. Could attitude be 9/10s of the work ethic?

For my soldering students, keep smiling and torch on.

Flutter By

Sometimes, when you are old, the memories from your past flutter by like butterflies in the Fall. They can be just as difficult to capture unless someone is there to help you.

Mamaw turned 93 a few weeks ago and we have to admit that she has considerable dementia. Yet, if I am with her at just the right moment in time and ask the right questions, occasionally the stories of old, although brief, unfold.

Mama Young

Today, we were talking about why my hair isn’t gray yet. I remembered that my grandmother’s hair was late in turning; so I asked about my great grandmother, Dee Dee, too. Neither of us remembered a time when her hair wasn’t gray. So I guess I’ve been lucky.

I also ask about my great great grandmother. “Mamaw,” I said, “do you remember Dee Dee’s mother?” “Well, of course.” Mamaw replied. I asked her what the woman’s name was and quick as a wink she said “Grammaw.” I said, “no, what is her real name?” She gave me the same answer and told me that Grammaw was all she was ever as called. Mamaw told me that Grammaw lived out on the farm in Oklahoma with her brother, Will, who had a wagon. Of course, I was thinking a little red wagon, but Will’s wagon was the big kind pulled by horses. Once, Mamaw said the family had her go to town with Will. She told me that she hid in the back of the wagon so no one in town would see her. Can’t you just see a little girl doing that?

Next, Mamaw told me that once someone in town died and she was sent out to the farm to tell Grammaw about it. She couldn’t remember how she got out there and with that, this day’s memories fluttered on and left us behind. I’ve learned there is no point in asking more probing questions; this only proves frustrating and, for Mamaw, painful.

Although I learned this years ago from my studies, today it was even more apparent that emotion has a big affect on memory. Whether it’s happiness, sadness, embarrassment or another emotion, feelings at the time of one of life’s episodes help a person retain the memory. It is also apparent that feelings at the time when a person is trying to remember can also affect the story. When Mamaw is upset, weary or frustrated, she answers most questions with “I don’t know; I just don’t know.” At that point, it’s definitely time to stop asking.

Some say emotions are fickle and perhaps that’s true, but when and if they are just right, feelings can help us capture those memories as they flutter by. I just hope I’m around when things are “just right” for Mamaw.

Just Do the Next Thing . . .

As I likely have mentioned before, my great grandmother, Dee Dee Lewis, supported not only herself (post husband) but also my grandmother (post husband) and her two children. Yes, we are a family of lingering women. When someone would get in a muddle and become anxious about what they should do, Dee Dee always said “just do the next thing.” It didn’t really think that was very helpful and often couldn’t even figure out what the next thing was. However, lately, that little phrase has been sounding in my brain and I’ve follow the tenet behind it. I’m no busier than the next person, but sometimes I need a little help from my elders.

I enjoyed the past holidays and actually took some time away from designing to sit quietly and do some crocheting and sewing. It was a welcome respite and gave these hands time to recover from the hurried wire and metal work pre-Christmas.

Then it was suddenly January and there was a list of things that needed ASAP attention. First, I needed products for a silent auction donation to the San Marcos River Foundation. I wanted them to have a choice and they selected the blue tree below and some copper earrings from the three things I offered.

blue tree     Raindrop necklace


The next thing . . . I needed product examples for the three January-February classes I was teaching. Luckily, I had most of the wrapped rocks and cabachons below already done; yet I did need to practice.

Cabs 2014

Then . . . the next thing . . . I needed to create new products for the Hot Metal Mania class coming in February. These took a while as I tried to differentiate the level of skill needed for the products.

Hot Metal

When I completed enough of the Hot products to at least get information out to students, I decided to take a day off, but then the phone rang. Someone that I convinced to be the program chair for one of my groups needed a project/leader for February. She wanted something in metal. I got her into this . . . so I said yes and arose fromf my chair and back to the bench.


bracelet 3

Feeling pleased to have the former completed and tired of following Dee Dee’s advise, I took a some time to try a new scroll design. I thought I was making a bird, but I do believe it turned out to be a hen. She is soldered and the wing flower is torch enameled



Today, I realize that “the next thing” is preparing the products for the Torch Enameling class which is in two weeks. I guess you know what I’ll be working on today.  OK, great grandmother, I think you were right! At least I’m having fun.


Most of you know that post back surgery, I’ve been doing a great deal of walking. Even last week, when I got a positive report from my surgeon, he still said walk, walk, walk! On one of my 2 1/2 mile moseys around the ranch, I ended up on the banks of one of our back tanks. I was huffing a bit from climbing the hill leading to it when I heard a splash. I quickly looked to the water and although I didn’t see the splasher, I did see the after effect. . . nice concentric ripples moving away from a center. They grew ever larger until eventually there was nothing left to see. The water was still again. It struck me that one little start, a dip by a bird or a dunk by a frog, could lead to the ever widening circles on the water.

Throughout this season’s art shows, shopping and gatherings, I’m reminded that we also have a ripple effect on others. It doesn’t take but one grumpy person to send a whole group into the complaining mode. It’s almost like “one up-man-ship” when the complaining starts (my problem is bigger than yours). On the other hand, one happy and appreciative sole can definitely send that ripple in a positive direction.

One of my Facebook friends shared the video below that sent positive ripples in my direction. While the piano in the video is inanimate, it is controlled by a human sending joyful ripples to those willing to partake. Alas, there was one grump!

I hope you enjoy this video and it send positive ripples your way.

As the season rushes to a close, it is my hope that the ripples you both give and receive will be happy ones.

Thanks for reading.

Tree Fall

Tree of Life pendants have been popular ever since I started making jewelry (and probably long before). I’ve made many and people always seem to want them. The other day, I decided to try a different type of tree. This one looks like it fell over and thus the name blog entry name, Tree Fall.

leaf weave 2

The above tree or branch, depending on how you see it, consists of eight pieces of wire that I wove in the round with lighter gauge copper wire. While working on it, I kept looking out the studio window to see how the dimension of most trees changes on the way up. My observations indicated that the diameter of the tree branch should reduce on the way up. I attempted to represent this by splitting the bundle of wire to create smaller and smaller twigs or branches.

I enjoyed making the above piece and decided to combine it with some of the copper sheet leaves shown in a previous blog. I also thought this would give participants in my leaf classes this weekend another choice for creation.

leaf weave 1

I soldered wire stems to the copper leaves, torched painted them and then put them in cooking oil to achieve the red color. Finally, I sealed them with an automotive spray. I worked the stems of the leaves into the weaving. I think this piece will hang vertically as opposed to the horizontal position of the first necklace. I’m still cogitating about that.

I created a slightly different look between the pieces with the wire weaving. I went over each larger gauge wire on the first one and under each on the second one. I found it much more difficult to go under, but like the look; so I guess I’ll just need more practice.

The weaving continues to intrigue me leading to hours of play with the wire. This is confirmed by the callouses I’m building on my fingers. The difficult part is resisting closure and allowed myself to experiment with the weaves without a preconceived notion of what I can make. I have a book about Free Play sitting on my desk and it reminds me of the importance of play, like my experimental weaving, in the creative process. Author Stephen Nachmanovitch states “There is a time to do just anything, to experiment without fear of consequences. to have a play space safe from criticism . . . “ I’ve just got to remember that self criticism is also detrimental to creativity  and and try to think more positively about my play.

Where Do Songs Come From?

We’ve always been a very musical family and yesterday I realized that music holds my memories, giving them a time, context and emotion. For other families, it may be a handmade article, special piece of jewelry or other artifact that stirs the memory pot, but for me, it’s the music.

Sunday, at my daughter’s suggestion, my spouse and I met her family to take food to Mamaw at the nursing home. This was the first time I’d seen Mother since my back surgery 2 weeks ago and it was exciting to be out.

We usually eat outside in the courtyard when we visit Mamaw, but for some reason I was insistent upon eating indoors in the living room this time. We all enjoyed our food and talk, but the littlest one soon moved from our table over to the corner of the room where two new cockatiels were in their cage. He pulled a wooden rocking chair up in front of the pair and as they screeched, he sang to them.


Appearing a bit disgusted with the birds, he sang louder and then softer, trying to get them to stop being “annoying”. Finally, he tried a new tactic, we made up a song for the birds. The tune was strangely family . . . mmm and Bingo was his name . . . but the words were new. They had something to do with a shooting star. The birds selected the point at which the new song started to become quiet and we’re all sure it was the song that did it.


Later, when the child’s mom asked who taught him the song. He said “no one”. “Then where did it come from?” she queried. Without hesitation, the little 4-year-old put his hand over his heart and said “from my heart and then it goes to my brain.” I guess that’s where all good songs come from.


This episode helped me remember so many of those little songs this child’s mother and his “unc” made up when they were little. “Unc” is still doing it, having just given an acoustic performance of his own music at a café in San Francisco the night before.  My daughter performs daily with this little fellow as they sing through part of their day. My songs seldom escape in any audible form anymore, but they are definitely still within me.

So where DOES the song come from? My songs comes from a need –  to comfort sadness, to bring joy or perhaps to find a memory. Now that I really think about it . . . songs DO come from the heart. It’s a good place to hold them.

Visiting Old Friends

The title of this blog entry could be insulting and/or misleading but I mean no insult. The older I get, the more I balk at the “O” term in most any description. Most of my friends are younger than I am and even those who aren’t certainly can’t be called old. So, if you are one of the latter, please don’t get your dander up!

My spouse and I had a discussion the other day about when you were a senior citizen. Is it when you go on Medicare or Social Security? We couldn’t come to any consensus, but determined we weren’t there yet. I seem to recall a similar discussion about “middle age” many years ago. We never thought we were there either! I can, however, state that we are pleased not to be adolescent! I think I prefer wrinkles to acne.

I revisited some “old” friends in my jewelry designs and wanted to share a few new photos with you. If we were giving these an age, the wave bracelet on the right is definitely a senior citizen. I’ve been making these for about 4 years and it’s been fun to update them every once in a while. The one on the left is just a kid and will hopefully age nicely.

bracelet Lisa 1

This next group comes from a middle aged design. I think it is almost 3 years old. I can’t enumerate how many ways I’ve made this using different shapes and sizes on the top or focal of the bracelet. It remains one of the most popular of my designs and folks are still buying the tutorial for it in my etsy shop.

bracelet Lisa 2

Finally, the design below is just a teenager. It’s a few months old and I’m pleased that Step by Step Wire Jewelry magazine will publish this one with my tutorial in December. It, too, has many variations and will hopefully survive adolescence.

bracelet Lisa 3

I don’t mind if some of these designs are called “old”. They seldom get any wrinkles and if they do, I can repair those.  I’m just pleased to have them last and remain popular.

Ah, if only the same were true with people. I guess age is just relative to those around you. I think I’ll go visit Mamaw at the nursing home tomorrow and make myself feel younger. I think that just might work.




I’m not a joiner. I don’t do clubs and only belong to one “society”. Yet, I think that once in a while we all need to join. I join my family for lots of gatherings and even plan a “join” now and then. I also enjoy “joining” with friends who share a common interest or endeavor.

I think it’s the rules that usually come with clubs and societies that bother me. I also find that as these groups plan events there are often conflicting opinions of how to do or run things leading to hurt feelings and sour faces. I guess that’s why I enjoy the “Faux” bead group that I meet with monthly (no dues, no officers, no minutes, no bylaws . . . get the picture?) This enables to group to be dynamic and continually bending towards the needs of those who are participating at the time. I wrote a brief description of this group  


I guess I’m thinking about “joining” because I’ve been working on joins with my jewelry designs this week. Perhaps it’s a stretch, but I keep running into parallels between the two types of “joining”. Just as groups have rules and procedures, soldering has them too and when I don’t follow them, the join usually doesn’t work. I guess there really is a need for them. This week, it seems that each time I tried to skip things in the soldering process, I failed and had to return to the rules.

I did, however, realize that at times, when I’m trying to create something new and different, I must come up with my own rules and procedures. Often what I’m doing doesn’t exactly follow the guidelines for soldering and I just have to figure it out. In other words, this process is also dynamic and that’s what makes it intriguing.

My thought is that both types of “joining” require flexibility and problem solving. Just as I have to step away from the soldering at times in order to get a fresh perspective, I think I often need to step away from groups that cause consternation. But then, if I enjoy the metalsmith “join” perhaps I should try a bit more of joining with a group. What do you think? . . . (no, I think I’ll just keep soldering – ha!)

Positive Comments

Isn’t is wonderful how a few truthful and positive words can provide a great moral boost? When I show my work to someone, I’m really just sharing and not necessarily looking for accolades. I think my family should just know what I’ve been making. Luckily, they’ve learned to accept my “show and tell” without feeling any real obligation to like what they see. I’ve tried to encourage them to view my process and growth rather than just the art.

Today, I spent a good deal of time trying some new torch enameling techniques.


I’ve been working in my comfort zone for quite some time following the class that I taught and decided that today was the day to stretch. (sometimes stretching is hard)

First, that little bird pendant gave me fits. It’s difficult to tell the details on her from this photo, but suffice it to say they are there. It takes numerous firings on this type design and several times after I applied the enamel and set the pendant on the trivet for torching, the whole thing fell off on the floor. Then I had to start anew. I think it was a test to see if I really wanted to persevere. I worked through the frustration and when I brought the pendant to my spouse he actually knew what it was supposed to be. That provided a positive stroke. He even told me that it was an orange tanager. (If I had been on the ball, I would have said that was what I planned – but I wasn’t on the ball.) His remarks made me forget my frustration.

The final pair of earrings for the day was the orange and purple pair which I designed based on a piece of fabric called dimples. I thought they were really ugly, but when I showed them to my husband he said “great colors”. That helped me see them differently and I accepted another positive stroke. I guess they are rather funky.

My adult piano students used to say they always knew when I was going to correct something in their playing because I started with a compliment. I think some of them secretly wished I would just get to the correction. Yet, it helped me to find the good in what they had done rather than just searching for something to fix. I now need to find the good in my own work before worrying about what went wrong.

I wouldn’t want to hear “fake” positive comment, but once in a while a sincere one is really welcomed. Focusing on what turned out well can help me retain that part of a piece while seeking to improve the part that wasn’t so good. Oft times I only see the problems in the piece and need someone else to point out what worked well.

I am thankful for a supportive spouse who is always truthful and helps me see the good when I’ve missed it.