Category Archives: Torch Work


What should you do on the anniversary of the 9-11 tragedy?

I watched some of the news reports and heard some of the names of the fallen as they were read aloud, but I wasn’t sure what to do. 

My family was fortunate that we did not personally lose anyone on that day. My son, who was working in NYC at that time in a building not far from the towers hadn’t gone in to work that day. My daughter, who was working at one of the high rise offices in Atlanta was evacuated and sent home since authorities feared the possibility of other attacks. When my husband and I talked with each of our children, the distance between us seemed extreme, yet we felt close, and we wished we could still protect them as we did when they were little. Alas, we wondered if any of us would ever regain the sense of security taken from us on that day.

Of particular interest to me on the news was the report on the Ground Zero Memorial that is to open in another year. I was taken by the description of the two pools, titled Reflecting Absence, that are to lie in the footprints of the towers. The reporter referred to them as the inverted vertical of the buildings that formerly rose so high above New York City.

Today was 9-11. Today I made angels. It was the least I could do.

angel tiny silver










copper angels

Things That Fly

A friend at our last wire workers meet up showed me her new book, Metalworking 101 for Beaders, and I was off and running. As she flipped through the pages, a metal bird caught my eye and it didn’t matter what else was in the book, I was certain I needed it.

After four order attempts, it finally arrived this week. I won’t bore you with the sordid details of the various online bookstores and delivery services that kept the book from reaching the ranch, I can only say “Thank you Amazon!”

bird on the run 

The bird on the left is somewhat similar to the one shown in the book. Of course, I can’t make anything EXACTLY like the directions. I added the bottom piece of wire and can’t quite decide if he is a “bird on the run” or “a bird sitting still on a branch.” There’s probably something philosophical in that, but I won’t get into that either.

Another bird, much more like the one in the book will probably become a wall hanging for my mom who is an avid birder. bird wall When I told her I was making metal birds, she wanted to know what kind of birds. This was something I hadn’t considered, but she showed me how the birds at her window feeders had various unique distinctions. Not knowing if I could recreate my metal birds to her specifications, I changed the subject.

Another day, I minified the bird and created a necklace with the third creature.

bird copper



These birds are actually quite simple to make and I’m hoping people will like them.


I made another type bird several weeks ago from a cabachon and sterling silver half round wire. He’s cute, but I’m not sure he will be popular. He was also tricky to make since his silver tail melted off once while I fused the pieces.



Well, you cannot think of birds without thinking about flight. My winged friends will fly out of here either as gifts or customer purchases. Flight will get them where they need to be just as flight got me where I wanted to be last week. (Yes, I know this is a stretch, but I wanted to include the picture below.) We flew to Atlanta to visit family and enjoyed the little cherub below. Hmm . . . I wonder if he needs a bird . . .?



“When I Am An Old Woman . . .

. . . I shall wear purple . . . “  Those are the initial words of a poem called Warning by Jenny Joseph. The poem appears in a book by the same name edited by Sandra Halderman Martz. The contents of this collection include both poems and short narratives such as The Trouble Was Meals, Late Autumn Woods and Reaching Toward Beauty. Years ago when I first bought this book, I thought the pictures of the elderly woman throughout the book were frightening. But after so many trips to the mirror and the nursing home, they look quite normal now. Reading it now for the third or fourth time Warning remains my favorite entry. Not only does the woman in this poem say that she will wear purple, she’s also going to make up for the sobriety of her youth by picking flowers in other people’s gardens and learning to spit. In the final part of this piece, author Joseph suggests that she needs to practice now so that people won’t be shocked when she really is old and starts to wear purple.

I say “hurrah!” I think we should all wear a little purple now and not wait until we’re too old to get a kick out of it. I’ve actually been practicing for years now. Once while shopping with my young adult daughter we saw a rather rotund lady going in a store with curlers in her hair and an orange housedress on. I asked my daughter to not ever let me do that. Then, on her wedding day as we rushed around with our preparations, there I was with curlers in my hair and my lime green and orange housedress on. I went to the nursing home to pick up my Mother in that garb. I’m thinking that when I’m old no one will worry about what’s in my hair or what I’m wearing. I guess I was just practicing on that wedding day.

Today’s jewelry pieces fit with all this practicing. They’re PURPLE! As I looked around at my products and caught up on what had sold at the stores, I realized that purple goes out the door pretty quickly. See what you think about these two new pieces. am1 The pendant at the right hangs from a lightweight strand of amethyst chips and sterling rounds. The bezel is one of those for which I became brave enough to use all sterling silver. Other pictures are in my etsy store at the following address:

The second piece is based on the colors of a specific garment at one of the boutiques. The amethyst is highlighted with just a few olive colored Czech crystals. You can see one of the larger stones best in the side picture blowup.











Now that I’ve got my purple to wear, the poem also says I can gobble up samples in shops and wear my slippers out in the rain. It sounds like I’ve got all sorts of things to practice for when I’m an old woman. Does anyone out there want to join me?

The Pickle Ate My Pants

I looked up the word pickle and found all sorts of connotations that I hadn’t considered. The first definition usually appears as food or something you do to food as in pickled okra. Then there are all manner of situations that cause one to be “in a pickle”; yet, none of those fit this situation. Let’s get to the beginning of the pickle I’m talking about.

As I’ve probably mentioned before, when learning something new, I try to practice it every day. This goes back to learning and then teaching piano and realizing how skills develop over time. I’m continuing to do daily practice on making sterling silver bezels. While some days I think I’ve really mastered it, the next day is often a disaster and puts me back in my unskilled place.

Lately, I’ve completed a bevy of bezels, most of which are already gone; but a few are shown here. bezebl glack


bezel copper








blue bezel

The copper backed bezels remain the most difficult due to the variation in temperature needed for copper versus silver.

Now, about that pickle. After spending considerable time one afternoon working on copper backed bezels, I took off my apron and noticed big holes in my shorts. I didn’t recall any sparks flying from the torch or any pain in the area of the holes. This did, however, remind me of the time I went fishing with my dad and his pocket caught on fire. He was dancing around pretty well when he figured out that his tobacco pipe, which he stuck in his pocket, was not completely extinguished. I think we later threw away those trousers. I guess I was luckier than him since I didn’t have to do any dancing around.

It wasn’t until a day later that I figured out what happened to my now-holy shorts. The pickle must have eaten them. I remember seeing drops of pickle fall on the shorts during several trips of the copper back and forth to and from torch block to pickle. (For those of you who aren’t metal workers, pickle is a solution used as“a treatment of metallic surfaces in order to remove impurities, stains, rust or scale (Wiklopedia).” I think I either mixed my pickle a bit too strong or I need a longer, tougher apron.

This morning as I was making the daily bezel, I felt something easing down my leg. After the shorts versus pickle incident, I’ve become more aware of what gets on me while I’m using the torch. The bezel had just reached the right temperature for the solder to begin to flow and I didn’t want to have to start over by stopping to see what was after my leg. So, I decided that I would not jerk or yell when the “something” bit me and I WOULD finish that bezel. Luckily, when I finally completed the bezel and extinguished the torch I learned it was just my untied apron string that was crawling down my leg. I think I lucked out on that one.

I can’t wait to see what “get’s after” me during the next bezel practice. I never anticipated so many extraneous happenings would occur while designing jewelry.

Pickle . . . we all either eat them or get in them from time to time, but I never imagined that one would eat my pants!