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Class Announcement

If you have no interest in jewelry classes, please skip this post. I’m using my blog as a bulletin board for information about upcoming jewelry classes that I’m teaching in San Marcos, TX. These will likely be Saturday classes, except for the first class listed. The dates will be arranged depending on interest.

Introduction to Wire Wrapping for Jewelry III- $20- 2 Hour Class

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Prerequisite: Basic Wire Skills

Class Includes How to . . .

1. Begin and End a Wrap

2. Bind Beads to an S loop or Circle for Earrings or a Necklace

3. Make and Embellish a Wave Bracelet

Projects: Earrings or Embellished Wave Bracelet

Wrapping Cabachons, Rocks and Objects - Level I – 3 Hr Class - $35 (Wire Provided)

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Prerequisite: Basic Wire Working Skills (Maximum Participants = 6)

Class Incudes How to:

1. Work a Basic Border Wrap

2. Use a Hippie Wrap

3. Complete a Multistrand Wrap

Wrapping Cabachons, Rocks and Objects - Level II – 3 hr. Class - $35 (Wire Provided)

wraps - advanced class

Prerequisite: Previous Experience Wrapping Cabs with Basic Wraps (Maximum Participants = 6)

Class Includes How To:

1. Complete a Basic Prong Style Wrap (Fancy Prong Wrap Demonstrated)

2. Utilize “Karen’s” Wrap

Intermediate Wire Weaving for Jewelry - 4 hr. Class - $43 (Wire Provided)

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Prerequisite: Proficiency with Wire Work (Maximum Participants = 6)

Class Includes How to . . .

1. Work a Zig Zag Wrap

2. Complete a Two or Three Wire Wrap

Project: Dancing Feet Earrings or Ring, Zig Zag Wrap Necklace (will not complete in class time)

Prerequisite: Basic Wire Working Skills

Metal Mania – I - 3 Hr Class - $35 (Metal Provided)

For Beginners with Little or No Previous Metal Working Experience

Class Includes How to:

1. Handle Sheet Metal

2. Cut Sheet Metal

3. Forge: Hammer and Texture Sheet Metal

4. Shape Metal

5. Use a disc cutter and dapping punch

Upcycled Cans

 

red flower 

Designing with cans, reminds me of my childhood. In my small town neighborhood in Medford, Oklahoma,  there were no fences; so the backyards sprawled from one to the next without interruption. All ages and sizes of children often played “kick the can” at dusk and I remember that it was great fun. Have you ever played? We actually did not use drink cans, but usually had something larger. I learned quickly that you really should pay attention to the condition of the can. Since I played barefoot, if I kicked a rusted can on a rough point, I came home with a bleeding foot. Yet, this did not deter me from playing again and again. I don’t remember the rules of the game, but it had something to do with running and hiding while someone else counted. Then as the person looked for the hiders, one of us could sneak up and kick the can. Then it all started again. canOccasionally, I hid so well that when I finally came out everyone else had gone home. Bummer!

The earrings pictured here are made from Coke, Sprite and V-8 cans.   I appreciate that these are lightweight enough to be cut with paper cutters designed for scrapbooking. I’ve found that it is important to use the flattest parts of the can in order to get cutsthem into the cutter. Thus far, I’ve been riveting the can pieces onto copper discs, but feel there are many other possibilities.

 

 

red stars with blue beadsThe earrings on the left seem appropriate for Memorial Day weekend or the Fourth of July. Although the beads appear purple in the photo they are actually blue.

The colors on the V-8 can are more subdued and don’t show up as well on copper discs as shown below.  If I wasn’t so cheap, I would try them on sterling silver. But, I AM SO cheap!

 

double flowers

 

I haven’t yet put the earwires in the pair on the right. I think they might also make interesting necklace charms or small pendants.

I’ll continue to play with cans a bit more and especially want to layer several flowers on one disc. I think there are numerous possibilities for some fun summer pieces.

As for any other “play” with these, I’m afraid my days of “kick the can” are over. Now, the freedom I found playing this game is slower paced, but comes from creative expression.

Mother’s Day – The Nursing Home Experience

This is the pictorial explanation of the title. If you don’t want to look at old women, you should probably skip this entry.

Mamaw’s nursing home had a Mother’s Day party. All the “inmates” (Mamaw’s term) who are mothers were rolled down to the dining room for a celebration. My mother didn’t really think she wanted to go . . . but WE WENT! We tried to be fashionably late and some of the ladies had gobbled their snacks before we got there. Sometimes good food is hard to get in the nursing home.

Of course I wanted to get pictures of my mother, but at first there was little cooperation. When I asked for a smile, she gave me the face in the first photo.

         mamw2         mamw1

We were offered punch, little finger sandwiches and cupcakes, but Mamaw ate very little. She just kept asking “who are all these STRANGE people?” I attempted to explain that they were relatives of mothers, but she continued to comment about their strangeness until I finally had to put the kibosh on her. I believe that when you are hard of hearing, you tend to talk loudly in crowds. That’s the benefit of the doubt I’m offering her. It seemed that she had more to say about the more rotund females among the strange people than about anyone else. I really wanted to keep that quiet!

I managed to get a photo of Mamaw with her favorite volunteer. This kind woman visits several times a week and also teaches a Sunday School class at the home. We really appreciate all her caring and her work. The best volunteers seem to be those who do not have a loved one at the nursing home. Jealousy often arises in the resident whose “people” are trying to help others. I must be careful. After all, I’m told; I’m not their daughter.

mamw3

Another volunteer was kind enough to snap a couple of photos of Mamaw and me. I told Mamaw to try and look like she liked me and I think she did a good job. I guess you can tell from the photos that this great woman, my mother, might just be feistier than I am! I really glad she’s my mom!

IMG_2567      mamw4

Happy Birthday Bruno

There were harbingers of his birth days before he arrived. The restlessness and pacing let us know it wouldn’t be long. Yet, when he finally came into the world it was a struggle. His mother required help during his delivery; but, thankfully, he was born healthy, a whimpering mound of whiteness and fur. He and six other pups arrived one year ago today, January 15.

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Little did Bruno know or even care at that time, that he was to be chosen as the Dreamcatcher Ranch male blue heeler. Little did WE know that he would be such a BIG blue heeler.

dog bonnet His first Spring days amongst the blue bonnets at the ranch allowed him to display his spirit as he romped and played with his mother, grandmother and aunt, also blue heelers. That was back when they still liked him, back before he grew and grew and grew, back before he began to dominate the dog pen.

Bruno1What a difference a year makes as now Bruno rules. He is 56 pounds of ambitious dog who must surely be digging to China by the look of all the little holes around the back yard. We know they are his holes by the tale tell dirt on his nose. The girls all have clean noses. hmm . . .

Bruno catAs with all self respecting dogs, he would love to eat the cat. When he gets to come in the house, he must always check through the window to see if the poor calico kitty is anywhere close by. When he spots her, he chomps his teeth and makes biting sounds, surely thinking . . . Macho, Macho, DOG. He also displays his maliness by grabbing his little momma’s collar and pulling her around the yard.

All in all, Bruno is a pretty good dog. Although the girl dogs can’t wait for him to settle down, we enjoy his exuberance and have fun with him. I guess he’s going to get to stay. I thought about creating a beaded collar for his birthday, but realized he would just eat it! I guess he’ll just have to get an extra bone today. Happy Birthday, Bruno! 

Patina in a Bag

It is my hope that sometimes my blog entries offer ideas that spark your imagination or suggest some helpful technique. This IS NOT one of those entries!

I volunteered to guide a group of folks this week in making my dimensional bracelet. I say “guide” because I told myself that I was definitely not going to do any more teaching when I closed my consulting business. This is NOT teaching! At some point in my professional life, the dominant phrase was “guide on the side, not sage on the stage.”

Below is a photo of one of the dimensional bracelets. It is pictured with the necklace I made for a customer.

blue agate Since the bracelet armature requires relatively heavy wire, I gathered what we needed from the San Marcos Green Guy (recycling business). Later, realizing that I usually patina the bracelet after it is formed but before the stones go on, I decided to go ahead and patina the wire for the participants. We will not have enough time to stop and patina the armatures at our meet up. This seemed like the right thing to do, but when I looked at the amount of wire, it became obvious that it wasn’t going to fit into my little patina bowl. wire

I considered my options and added the condition that I didn’t want to use very much liver of sulphur which would be needed if I mixed a large patina batch for a bigger bowl. Therefore, I decided a plastic bag would work great. (My undergraduate students used to use small amount of food coloring in plastic bags to color the pasta we used with storyboards; so why wouldn’t it work for wire? )  Go ahead . . . why wouldn’t it? Look at the picture and you might get a clue.  IMG_1861Hint: The ends of the wire are sharp!

 

The bag worked great at first. I used a very small amount of liver of sulphur and water and was able to move it around in the bag to cover the wire a little at a time. Everything was going fine until I squeezed a bit too hard and one of the wires poked a hole in the bag. Then instead of patina in a bag, I had patina on the table, patina on the floor, patina on the shoes, etc. (I’m glad there wasn’t a dog wasn’t sitting at my feet!)   dogs

Now, perhaps you will agree with my initial statement that this isn’t a very helpful blog entry. Surely no one else would try to put a sharp object in a plastic bag of patina. (If you, too, might have considered doing this, then my blog entry has been helpful after all!) It’s better to go ahead and mix that big batch of patina in that big bowl!

How Many Earrings?

A teacher in one of my workshops years ago brought her gemstone catalogue to look at during our breaks. Surely, she didn’t plan to look at it during my “captivating” lecture! She told me that she just loved to make earrings. At the time, I thought that sounded pretty boring. How many ways could you make a pair of earrings? Little did I know what a silly question I had asked myself.

This week as I prepare for an upcoming art show, I’ve been trying to make some relatively inexpensive earrings to sell. I previously made a number of pair using various copper shapes and doing some riveting and etching on a few pair. Yet, in planning for this next set, I wanted some unusual designs that differed from what I usually make. Luckily, Magpie Gemstones (www.magpiegemstones.com) offered an online tutorial of how to make your own ear wires and that got me started. Rather than tell you about some of the pairs I’ve made, how about a gallery of a few?

circle ear

      coil long tiger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

coil short turq

               

swirl hanging

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                            swiggle ears two

 ear turq                                                                                                    

I have allergic ears and don’t wear earrings so my mother kindly tried all the above sets on to be sure they worked OK. There were a few pair that she noted she wouldn’t wear, but she said perhaps someone might like them. She’s so tactful!

I didn’t even ask her to think about wearing these bottle cap earrings. Let’s just hope someone does like them! There IS a limit when you’re almost 90.

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My next step is to make a few of these pair in sterling silver. Can you tell I’m having fun with these? I hope that teacher, wherever she is, will forgive my initial unkind thoughts about her love of making earrings. I think the passion for them is beginning to grow on me.

Children and Problem-Solving

I was somewhat bothered by a short five paragraphs in the Parade section of last Sunday’s newspaper. I waited several days to comment in order to see if my thoughts changed. They did not. The title of the article was “Teach Problem-solving to Prevent Bullying.” It was based on research conducted through Louisiana State University and the University of California the results of which indicated that those youngsters who have trouble with solving problems are more at risk of being bullied.

Bullying has also been on the television news lately as a result of the school bus incident during which a child was bullied and her father later threatened her attackers. This child, who is handicapped, would probably fit the profile suggested in the abovementioned research.

It wasn’t, however, my concern about the relationship of bullying and lack of problem solving skill that concerned me about the article. I believe that is a good point. It was the fact that the article focused solely on how games could help develop problem solving skills. I was pleased that the author mentioned checkers and chess since these do require rational strategic thinking. We might add to that dominos, chicken feet (played with dominos) and a number of other similar games that require thinking. None of these rely solely on chance like so many of the simple spinner type games.

I wanted the article to also talk about the place of art in the development of problem solving skills. I believe that almost any form of art requires this type of thinking. Even when the child is merely drawing a picture, he/she must figures out and plan where things go on the page, what colors work well and often what to do when a mistake occurs. Consider why a cardboard box is so often a child’s favorite toy. The child must solve the problem of how to create something out of very little. Also, if the art form selected requires tools or supplies, a young artist may need to solve the problem of what to do with limited supplies or lack of tools.

Many of of schools have no art classes other than what the classroom teacher might squeeze in. With extremely tight budgets most of the “frills” of education are gone. I have heard parents at school board meetings plead for retention of arts programs. Among other things, their rational is often based on the value of art (including music) in bringing joy and self confidence to the child. Should we instead be discussing the higher level thinking and problem solving skills that the arts teach our children?

My most recent example of difficult problem solving in art comes from the angels I first mentioned on September 11. I have continued to work with them for days trying to solve the problem of their crooked halos and messy backs covered with too much solder. Finally, after considerable work (problem solving) I completed some angels that are working. The halo now goes around the angel rather than just in front and the solder is hidden between the body and the wings.angel1I’ve also solved the problem of how to display/market them in boxes with a small poem. Doesn’t everyone need a guardian angel? (www.dreamcatcherdesigns.etsy.com ) I wish I could send one to each child who is forced to endure bullying.

angelpoem

This problem solving adventure is only one of so many that we find in art. Does that mean I’m ready for those big bullies? Hmm . . . I’d still just as soon they stayed away from me and from everyone else. Maybe the bullies need the opportunity to learn problem solving skills in order to direct their misguided energy down a better path.

Blooming

 

flowers pink Is it Spring yet? I seem to be all mixed up in the studio this week. I’ve been busily enjoying making fancy flowers and trying to ignore the fact that it will soon be Fall. It doesn’t feel like Fall in South Texas with temperatures still in the high 90s; so perhaps that’s the problem.

I just learned to make these flowers and, as usually happens with new things, I’ve gotten a bit carried away. I’m using organza and tulle in various color combination to produce flower brooches and hair accessories. One of the store owners where I sell jewelry asked why I was “sewing” instead of making jewelry. Do you think that was a hint? I made her a couple of necklaces and think she is happy now.

flowers blue

I’ve been seeing flowers on all sorts of things in the magazine ads and one of the boutiques just got in a sweater with velvet flowers on it. A boiled wool jacket at the same store has chiffon flowers already attached to it.

I took a basket of these to the nursing home today to show Mother and could hardly get down the hall for people stopping to look at them. I hope these folks are around when I need to sell them! In the meantime, I’ll just keep blooming.

.5

Today is Bruno’s .5 birthday.  If you haven’t read older posts, you might have thought that Bruno was a baby. Yet, at our age, he’s the only resident baby permanently around at Dreamcatcher. While his picture is not the best since a six month old puppy does not sit still for photographing, you can get the idea of how he has grown since the mid January photos with his siblings and the April 29 photo in the bluebonnets.

Bruno .5Bruno is an Australian Blue Heeler (cattle dog) who already enjoys barking at the bulls and riding in the topless jeep. Notice his feet. They are twice as big as his mother’s and he already weighs nearly 40 pounds. I hope we can keep him in dog food and am glad we don’t have to buy him shoes!

Happy Half Birthday Bruno.

Puppy Post

Many readers have asked for pictures of the my blue heeler puppies as they grow. They are now two weeks and two days old, have their eyes open and are doing a very fine wobble walk. I’ll let the picture tell it all.puppy play

 

Puppies at Play – growling and biting

 

 

 

 

trouble

 

 

 

TROUBLE! “I’m sure I can get out of this whelping box.”

 

 

 

DOUBLE TROUBLE! “If SHE can get out, so can we!double trouble

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

oopsOOPS! “ I think we just got caught. “ BACK IN THE BOX!