Category Archives: Articles

Joining

 

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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  http://www.magpiegemstones.com/san_marcos_faux_bead_society.html  

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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!)

In the News

Following is a nice article that was published in the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung several weeks ago. I apologize for the grainy photos, but they were scanned from the newspaper. (Can you tell by the photos how much I enjoy teaching these classes?)

Reprinted with permission from the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung:

Jewelry Lessons   image

By Betty Taylor

The Herald-Zeitung

A group of 11 women hammered away Tuesday night at copper wire in the art room at New Braunfels Ninth Grade Center, before holding up tiny loop clasps and comparing their work.

“I’m ready to open a jewelry store now,” said Gail Profant, as she and friend Patricia Schlichting burst out laughing.

The Jewelry Making and Wire Work class was the first of a set of three taught by Dr. Karen Meador of San Marcos as part of New Braunfels ISD’s Community Education program. Meador said she has been making jewelry for about 12 years. She also teaches torch enameling and basic soldering.

On Tuesday, participants learned how to make earrings and a necklace. Techniques included crimping and how to bind beads to wire.

“I’ve always wanted to learn how to make jewelry,” Schlichting said.

Carole Bartram also signed up with friends for the class.

“We just all wanted to learn how to make jewelry and have some fun doing it,” she said.

Meador provided the supplies for the class as well as tips on the best kind of beading wire; how to keep copper from turning color; and keeping beads from popping off of necklaces.

Marilyn Johnson has been making jewelry for more than 10 years, but wanted to take the class to learn more techniques. Chris Newton said she wanted to learn how to repair her own jewelry.

For the next two classes, students will be making chains with S-links and jump rings that they will turn into charm bracelets and necklaces; a “smile” necklace featuring a curved piece of copper set with beads; and a copper wave bracelet embellished with beads.

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In the News

I’ve been remiss in not sharing a little success via this venue. This month, October-November, Step by Step Wire Jewelry published one of my pieces. Below is their photo of my Tri-Loop Necklace.

tri

This example was made in sterling silver with lovely amethyst stones from Magpie Gemstones (www.magpiegemstones.com) There’s a very long period of time between having something accepted by a publisher and actually seeing it in print. The publication also contains my complete tutorial for the necklace where you can find out the sneaky way I make those tri-loops. These are NOT made on a jig.

My friend, whose sister works for Disney, calls this the hidden Mickey necklace. Just look at all those ears. She purchased one for her sister in copper and it looks great. I was pleased to see it. Someone who read the magazine also sent me a photo of her version of the necklace. If you make one, why not send me a picture too?

Also, I have another piece that should be out in the same publication in a couple of months. I’ll let you know when it’s available.

Rude America

The Today show on TV this morning had an interesting segment about Rude America. It really struck home with me and I wanted to think about it through this writing. The piece basically referenced emails and group posts, focusing on whether what we write online is the same as what we would actually say to someone face to face. I wondered if I was braver about saying things in print than I am about saying things in person.

I appreciated the fact that the professionals in the segment noted how face to face someone may start to express negative feelings to another person, but then read the person’s reaction. Certainly if I began to tell someone about my frustration toward them and they immediately begin apologizing or admitting that they were wrong; I would simply stop my words of negativity. Unfortunately, online we do not have that face to face read that tells us we’ve made our point with just a few words. At times, I’ve likely written posts and emails that continued past the few words that needed to be written for the other person to reach understanding. Yet, I continued since I couldn’t feel or see the other person’s reaction.

My other concern about Rude America is the possibility that I sometimes jump on the Rude Bandwagon. Do I agree with another person’s negative comments and add my own when I would not have originally thought to write them? I hope not!

While some Facebook and Yahoo groups are designed to foster contrary discussions, many others are meant for healthy, helpful advice and communication. I’ve just got to remember which is which. I do, however, believe that I can write in the former without being rude. We learned as teachers to comment on the actions of the student and not on the person. The negative actions can come from good people and I never wanted to hurt the student but simply correct the behavior.

Rude hurts! I’ve felt it online much more often than I’ve felt it in person. While I cannot control what others type, I can control my own fingers. I am trying to carefully read what I write prior to pressing post or send on my computer. . . . AND, if I forget to check, there’s always that little delete post possibility on Facebook. Since I don’t have that luxury on my emails, I guess I’d better read them twice before sending. I really don’t want to be a contributor to RUDE AMERICA. Do you?

Life is Like a Crooked Road

When I was a girl, I thought that life came in a straight path. If I just behaved myself, studied hard and sought the goal, everything would pan out. Work = results – right?  If I didn’t get the top score at a piano contest, it was probably because I didn’t practice hard enough. (Remember that day I went to the drug store with my friends instead of practicing?)  If my African Violets didn’t bloom, I probably over watered them. If my children acted up, I must have not taught them properly. If I ate too much, I gained weight (now that was is actually true!) Even now, if a piece of jewelry doesn’t sell, I think that I must not have polished it enough.  I could and probably still can justify most everything through cause and effect.

Now, I’m grown up and I know I’m not responsible for every occurrence in my life. Today, I’m coughing and sneezing because of the allergens in the air. Is it my fault? . . . I don’t think so. As confident as I am, I don’t really think I can control the elements. One of the classes I offered didn’t have enough participants. It’s not all my fault; people are just busy. My favorite dog is growing too old to last much longer . . . it’s not my fault; things just happen on this crooked road.

You can practically drive yourself crazy by trying to avoid the inevitable and working hard visioning what might come next. My former idea that life follows a straight path from A to B is absurd. Life is just plain crooked.

When we first bought the ranch, every day something broke; an animal got in the wrong pasture or something else initiated a crook in the daily routine. We wondered when we could just get on with the plan. The fact is that these things were the plan; we just didn’t know it and we learned to expect the unexpected like the pit in a cherry. If the young bull fell in the well (as he did one night), you just get the tractor and pull him out. After all, it’s not my fault he fell in!

There are tiny crooks in the road and enormous ones. There are crooks that narrow to the point that you feel yourself being strangled while other crooks pleasantly open up to a plethora of possibilities. I think the trick is to accept all the twists and turns both ahead and behind us and embrace the road. I remind myself that life would certainly be boring if it were totally predictable. Do I really want to be able to manipulate what comes next? (actually, some days I do)

If life is a crooked road, my current thinking is “give yourself a break.” I can’t straighten the road by working hard or caring more. Let’s just hope my best efforts help to smooth out a few bumps on those hard turns.

Here’s hoping all your crooked roads lead you toward happiness.

Goldilocks and the Three Bracelets

Once upon a time, a little girl named Goldilocks was getting ready to go to her very first dance. She wanted to look just right and knew that even though her dress was pretty, she really had to have the right jewelry. She had already looked in all the stores at the mall, but just couldn’t find anything that was unique. Then, she read on Facebook about an independent jewelry designer who lived in the forest near her home. Maybe that designer would have something she could wear to the dance.

One day, Goldilocks followed her GPS directions and arrived at the home of the independent jewelry designer. She knocked on the door, but no one came. She rapped hard one more time and the door pushed open. Thinking this was a good sign, she went right in. At first she thought it was a bit strange that no one came to greet her, but she quickly erased this thought as she began to look around. “Wow,” she said to herself. “This is really cool stuff!” There were necklaces and earrings and bracelets the likes of which she had never seen. Why, this was just what she had been wanting.  At the mall things looked just the same from one store to the next, but here everything was unique, just like Goldilocks.


Goldilocks quickly spotted the most beautiful bracelet sitting on a table right in front of her. It was the perfect color to go with her dress for the dance and even Pantone had recommended this tangerine orange as the color of the year. She had to have it! So, she tried it on. “Rats,” she muttered. “This bracelet has very small beads on it, but it is too big.” Goldilocks was so disappointed that she failed to put it back on the table where she had found it. As she turned to walk away, she spotted another bracelet in the same color that was made from big beads; so she tried it on, but it was too small. Maybe coming to the independent jewelry maker was not such a good idea after all. As she turned to leave, she caught a glimpse of something sparkling on the corner of the work bench. Even though she was really tired and discouraged, she decided to give it one more try. She slipped the third bracelet on her wrist and it was just right! Goldilocks whirled round and round admiring the bracelet and imagining how beautiful it would look on her wrist at the dance. When she finally stopped, she was so dizzy that she dropped into a nearby chair and closed her eyes to dream.


About that time, the independent jewelry maker came in the back door of her home. First she noticed the big orange bracelet was not where she left it and then she found a second smaller bracelet out of place. Grabbing her big hammer off the work bench for protection, she began to look around to see if there was an intruder roaming about. That’s when she noticed a teenager plopped in her favorite chair. That girl was wearing one her original orange bracelets. Hmm . . . the independent jewelry maker’s first impulse was to call 911, but her cell phone was still in the car and the girl looked harmless. She gave Goldilocks a little nudge and the surprised girl hopped up exclaiming about the beautiful bracelet she found.
Now everyone knows that a good compliment about an artist’s work goes a long way and so Goldilocks and the independent jewelry maker made nice and searched the studio for a pretty necklace to match the bracelet. Goldilocks used her Dad’s credit card to purchase the jewelry and went happily away to tell all her friends about the independent jewelry maker and her wonderful wares.

 
As for the independent jewelry maker . . . she decided to lock her front door the next time she went out, but to leave a note saying when she would be home just in case any more girls were tired of the mall.

The moral of this little tale for consumers is that the independent jewelry maker CAN provide something unique that you won’t see at the mall. The moral for the jewelry maker is to always have product available (and lock the door).

Sharing

I greatly enjoyed a phone conversation last week wherein a friend from another life asked me about giftedness in five year olds. This brought back a basketful of pleasant memories from my work with young gifted children.

Today, I’m thinking about how freely the littles help one another with finding toys, building block structures and putting answers on tests. When I tested kindergarten children, we worked in small groups of no more than four or five children at a time. I was so careful to spread their tiny desks about the room where they could not see each other’s answers. Yet, they felt free to hop up and scurry to someone else’s spot for help with questions. They did this even though they clearly knew the answers. Some just moved to go and help a friend. Eventually, when I got that stopped and they realized their feet were glued to the spot they were in, the sharing still continued. I would read a question and the children would look around at one another. Then, many times one child would say “it’s the dog!” and all the others would mark the picture of the dog whether it was a good answer or not. It was really difficult to convince them that this type of sharing was not appropriate. “But,” they would counter, “Mrs. So and So tells us that we are supposed to share in class.” Hmm . . . One little guy was so vehement about announcing his answers that I had to place him in the hall where the others couldn’t hear him. I administered the test from the doorway of the classroom. Yes, little children are very slippery when it comes to testing, but they are often much better at sharing.

Lately, there has been considerable talk in the jewelry design business about just that – sharing. When can we share an idea, copy an idea, sell an idea, etc.? You can find a link to my article on the topic of copyrights and ethics at the side of the blog on the website (www.dreamcatcherranch.net/designs) or go directly to it at http://www.magpiegemstones.com/ethics.html . This short treatise basically encourages us to share techniques, but to develop our own ideas rather than copying those of others. “But everyone does it!” Part of the problem is that we’ve spent a life time, beginning in preschool, of being told that we should share. Yet, when we share an idea with someone, it is NOT OK for the person to profit from it. We have to consider intellectual property and honor the initiator.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a clear purple vs. ecru issue. I want to share and that’s why I write this blog. I hope you gain ideas from it that you will develop your own, but if you make any money from my intellectual property, how about sending me some?

As I ramble on, I would be amiss if I didn’t state that the Easter season is a good time to share. Christians share in the joy of a risen Christ and littles share the joy of hunting for Easter eggs. I hope that someone shares a good thought with you and you have a happy Easter. Below is a photo of the bunny salad my grandson and I shared with his family. You can see that I inadvertently shared some marshmallows with my little friend.

bunny salad

Update

Today I put in the links for a few jewelry related articles that I have written. You will find them on the right below the etsy shop listing. There you will see 17 articles I’ve written thus far for Magpie Gemstones (www.magpiegemstones.com). (The next one on making headpins will be out next week) I also write a short blog entry for them each week. These articles have been fun to write and I’ve enjoyed the research process that I undertook for many of them. This online bead company tries to determine what their customers are interested in, determine needed information about issues in designing and making jewelry and then provide free online help. (I think I’m supposed to be some of the help . . . ) If you have interest in any of the topics, take a gander at the articles. Most of them are pretty short and contain pictures. Go ahead, take a read: I wrote them for you. (By the way, there are also many excellent articles which I didn’t write at their site.)

On another note, I have a skunk update. Today, the dog that got spraying by the skunk earlier in the week saw the critter again. Luckily the dog was in his fenced in yard and the skunk was outside it. I went to the window and the dog literally POINTED at the skunk. I POINTED at my spouse and he POINTED the gun at the skunk. Skunk GONE. I wonder how many friends it had . . . ? I guess we will find out.

Double Wire Series

Have you ever noticed how some design ideas are addictive? Working with double wire necklaces has become that way for me lately. The chaos necklaces let to other double wire designs and one piece seems to lead to the next. Double wire refers to the manner in which these designs initiate. I use one long piece of wire and double it over at each end to form the portion that either goes around as a neck wire or attaches to a chain. You can observe this at the top right and left of the piece below. bird The joyous part of the design comes in deciding what to do with the extra wire. Should it curve up or down? Where should it cross? I’m trying to do something different on each one. Once the armature is complete, it has been challenging to figure out where the beads should be placed. I wore the piece in the first picture to a bead show yesterday and asked several other artists what they would change on the piece. A synthesis of their comments with my own opinion yielded several changes to the piece last night. One of the reasons I enjoy working with wire is that you can make changes to a piece without having to completely start over. Another challenge is that since the armature starts the same way each time, I have to be diligent enough to take the wire in a different direction and create something new. You wouldn’t want me to get in a rut, would you? butterfly The piece above initiated a giggle when I turned it upside down and a bow legged something or other appeared. Dr. Torrance, educational creativity giant, encouraged us to look at things from different perspectives before deciding on a problem solution. I also try  to remember and turn my wire designs various directions before making a final design selection. My other challenge remains the need to look at these armatures and NOT see something other than a design. The second piece does, of course, bear some resemblance to a flying creature, but I was determined to resist turning it into a butterfly. Although replicas of nature can be quite nice, they can also be limiting. I’ll continue with this double wire series and need to see what might hatch with it in terms of earrings. Now that could be a real conundrum! By the way, I just finished another article for Magpie Gemstones. This one pertains to ways to add a patina to copper. If you have interest, you can find it at www.magpiegemstones.com/copper_patina.html