Thursday, July 28, 2011

Newest Piece - Sterling Silver and Turquoise Pendant

 I am so incredibly excited to show you all my newest piece! I finished it last night at my metalsmithing class and I am very proud of it. I purchased a turquoise cabochon (a flat-backed stone without a hole), that has a rough face (not perfectly rounded on the top, it has some bumps and grooves that a natural stone should) for my first bezel setting piece. I sawed out the shape of the sterling silver back piece, filed and sanded it repeatedly to get it nice and smooth. There is a bit of Japanese influence here I think ;-)
 Then I created the bezel from a piece of wide fine silver bezel wire. I soldered the bezel together and then soldered the bezel onto the back piece, after I had soldered the bail (the tube that the chain goes through at the top). The bezel soldering part was a bit scary as it takes a while to get all of the little solder pieces to flow at the same time, without causing fire scale (a mottling of the sterling silver caused when you heat it for too long) or melting the bezel. I did it though, and then I had to set the stone.
Because the stone has a rough top, not all of the surfaces are the same height so I had to file and sand down my bezel to make it fit the contours of the stone. That took a while as I didn't want to scratch my piece or the stone. Finally it was ready; I popped the stone in and started to push the bezel into place over the stone, carefully fitting it all into place. Once the bezel wire was around the top of the stone, I had to smooth and burnish it, finally finishing the piece with polishing to get it to a mirror shine.

Lovely! I can't wait to wear this to the Farmers' Market this weekend!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Office Cleaning Progress

 Since I last posted about my disaster of an office, I have made some progress. The weather here has been so hot that I haven't really been able to do as much baking as usual - even with the a/c on it is still warm in the house - so I have tried valiantly to make some headway into the scary world that is my office space when I'm not fighting the weeds, exhaustion and house mess. Oh my gosh, can I tell you how much the Wonder Dog is shedding right now?? CHUNKS of fur are falling off this dog every time I look at her, and despite attacking her with the Fur Buster brush every day, at least once per day. I still end up with little fur balls tumbling over my floors. Thank God I have hardwood floors and not carpet, or I would have a black carpet now! I am feeling better day by day so I am starting to have more energy to get things done. Slowly, but they are getting done :)

Anyway... I vacuumed the areas that I could see to get rid of dust and debris (I start my plants in here in the winter and had some dried leaves stuck behind the shelving), and have now started setting up what will be my torching station. You can see the white firebricks next to the mini torch and the quenching bowl. Beside that I have my safety glasses in their case and my breathing mask. Even if you're just doing a little bit of torching, you NEED breathing protection, especially if you have ventilation set up, which I don't (yet). I will also put an oscillating fan in front of the open window to draw out any noxious fumes when I torch. Underneath that shelf is a collection of some of my other necessities - my bracelet measuring tool, paintbrushes for applying various solutions to metals, chalk for keeping metal files working properly, an extra bench pin, my copper sheets and some of my inspiration photos and drawings for new pieces. Eventually, the paper will go on to my bookshelf or my desk, as I don't want anything flammable near my torch.
I still have to get a few more pieces of equipment (not the least important will be a fire extinguisher - safety first!), and then that should be set. I still need to tidy the shelves beside these ones so that I can find and reach everything easily and quickly. That should take another half hour or so.
And, well, the workbench is coming along. I can now actually see the desk, so that is good! I have a few works in progress (WIP's) that will have to get boxed and organized so that I can finish them in a timely manner, reorganize my bead and findings cabinets so that I can see what I need to reorder, what I should destash, etc, and then I'll have everything clear to do my sawing, filing and general beading and jewellery-making. My regular desk is almost clear too, which is great, as I've been using my laptop in the living room and it is killing my neck and shoulders, crunched up all the time. I'm hoping to move my laptop back onto my desk today or tomorrow.

Whew! Finally things are coming together. I really have to thank you all for giving me the inspiration and kick that I really needed to get this moving. I feel so much better about my office already!

We are now getting some much needed rain and it is so much cooler now that I think I'll go and bake some cookies. On today's agenda: peanut butter cookies, some plain and some with chocolate chips, and then oatmeal cookies, some plain, some with raisins, and some with chocolate chips. Yum!

Until next time,

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Many Moods of Arwen

 Today we will explore the many moods of Arwen the Wonder Dog. She is my ever-changing, ever-shedding, ever-barking, wonderful, loving dog. My buddy, my bestest furry friend. Above, she is sleepy. She does sleepy well. Her head sloooowly starts to droop, her eyes close, then open, then close slowly, then open slowly, until they just seem too heavy to open and then finally stay closed, though the exhausted sigh is optional.
 Here she is watchful, guarding her dino. An old photo to be sure, she has managed to tear all the stuffing out of it and it is now in the middle of her toy box, half inside out. She likes her toys this way. We recently bought her a "stuffed" wolf toy, that had no stuffing to begin with. She carries it everywhere. She loves to play "keep-away" with her toys, wagging her tail furiously while trying to walk surreptitiously away from us, like we won't notice a 53 pound dog with a 2 foot long floppy wolf in her mouth, wagging her tail (and sometimes her butt, when she is really trying to blend into the background), and walking around any corner and stopping to see if we follower her. If we do, she play growls or talks around whatever is in her mouth, giving a pretty hilarious sound from a pretty hilarious dog.
Her cute "Please feed me whatever it is you're eating 'cause it looks really, really tasty" pose, tongue licking optional. Carrots, cheese and yogurt are her favorites, though not necessarily in that order. She also loves her natural treats. And chicken. And oatmeal. And potatoes. You get the picture. The funny thing is, we don't really feed her "human food" at all, just the occasional, "Oops, it fell on the floor....Arwen have!" sort of thing. Except for carrots. But she still tries. And with a face like this, who can really deny her? She looks so cute and fuzzy. Only the thought of doggy dental work or weight reduction diets keep us from giving in. It's hard though :)
 Here is her cute, watchful, "Give me that squeaky toy" look. She wants to play! She is quite good at playing, particularly the "death shake" where she shakes the heck out of whatever is in her mouth. Usually reserved for very hyper playtime, and usually accompanied by bouncing up the hallway and back again, barking optional. Her bounce is hilarious. She doesn't really run, unless she's trying to chase something far away. She bounces. Think Tigger, but in a black and white, lab/border collie/husky mix dog.
Sitting pretty. My wonderful, cute, loving, friendly, happy dog. She really is always happy (except during thunderstorms, but that is ok). Even when she's not doing something like eating or sleeping or chasing toys, she is just happy to hang out and be one of the humans (don't tell her she's not, she won't believe you), with a special barking ability.


Can you tell I love my dog? I think she knows it too ;-)

Until next time,

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Busy Market Days of Summer

 The last  6 weeks or so have been pretty eye-opening for me. I started doing the Merrickville Famer's Market on Saturdays to sell my jewelry and gluten free, low allergy baked goods. Of course, though I know that many people have food sensitivities, the actual number of people coming to get my gluten free goodies on a weekly basis never fails to put me in awe. Thank you to everyone who purchases my baked goods, and I hope to continue seeing you for a long time to come!
It is, of course, a huge learning curve to figure out what to bake, how much of it to make, and when to do it so everything stays fresh. Baking 16 loaves of bread, dozens of cookies, multiple focaccia, banana breads, muffins and more, while making jewelry, walking the dog and fighting the inevitable invasive weeds takes quite the time management skill set, which I seem to still be acquiring. Add to that the issue that I am still trying to recover from my adrenal and thyroid gland problems and it has been quite interesting to see myself run around like a bit of an idiot to get everything done on time for early Saturday mornings!
 That being said, though my house and yard are a bit messier than usual, I LOVE the farmer's market! Every week, getting out of the house, with fresh air and (usually) sunshine, I am so privileged to meet new people and share their stories with jewelry or gluten free foods. It is so much fun! I look forward to each and every Saturday. It is a ton of work, and anyone who has ever done farmer's markets will totally agree with me there, but it is SO worth every ounce of effort. I can't believe I had never done farmer's markets before, I've really been missing out! I am even thinking of expanding to do the Kemptville Farmer's Market on Sundays next year. Hopefully I'll have my routine down by then ;-)
The one drawback, however, is that by the time I get home, I have very little energy for things like cleaning. My office, above, is an absolute DISASTER and I am posting this photo in an effort to kick my own butt and get it cleaned so that I can show you how it is SUPPOSED to look when it is all tidy and shiny-clean :)
Here's hoping, LOL! Now I have to figure out how I'm going to get some pies into my baking list...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Arwen the Wonder Dog Blogs New Breads!

 Hey, it's me, Arwen the Wonder Dog, and I'm here to show you a few things that have been going on here in the last little bit. Mommy asked me to blog today as she is so busy baking and trying to get rid of the weeds in the garden that she said I can take over. Rooh rooh, I am happy with that! I haven't done a post in a long time. I am so excited, I am bowing and smiling in the first photo :)
 Mommy has been busy baking up a storm, when she isn't fighting weeds in the gardens. She says that country weeds are the worst! We have problems with a weed called wild horsetail and mommy is constantly fighting it. I don't know why it is called horsetail though, it doesn't look like the horsetails I've seen, but maybe only because they weren't on wild horses. Anyroo, here are some cookies mommy made last night, waiting to be packaged. There are gluten free peanut butter, peanut butter chocolate chip and regular chocolate chip cookies. I like the plain peanut butter ones, but don't tell mommy! Sometimes when my daddy is eating them, he 'accidentally' lets a few crumbs fall on the floor for me to eat, because he knows how much I love peanut butter. But he NEVER lets me eat the chocolate chip ones, he knows that would make my tummy very sick!
 Rooh rooh, what is this? Mommy was busy mixing this right after she had breakfast this morning and they smelled pretty good...
 Oh bread! I love bread too! This is a gluten free artisan bread. It will be formed into 4 round loaves of bread. I love bread, but not this one - it has onion, rosemary and cracked black pepper in it. The hoomans love it though. I like plain bread, which mommy is going to make tonight. Maybe I can sneak some then. Mommy doesn't like me to have it though, she is always fussing about not wanting me to have tooth troubles when I am older. I just turned 8 on July 2 though, and the meanie, I mean the vet, said my teeth are perfect!
Here is a mock-rye bread that is gluten free and vegan. This one smells very good and mommy says this is her favorite. Gluten free hoomans can't have real rye, but they all say that this tastes almost identical to the real thing. I want to try it to be sure, but I'll have to be very sneaky, or very, very cute to get some though.
Oh! I have to go, mommy said it is time for my daily jog and I can't let her miss that! I'll see you all soon, have a great weekend!
and Arwen the Wonder Dog

Friday, July 8, 2011

Newest Leaf in Copper!

Hey everyone! Sorry it has been so long (where did the week go?), but I hope to make up for it with this teaser of my newest piece.

You may remember another recent post with my first copper leaf pin, and here is a similar (but not exactly the same!) leaf in copper, with a torch finish, but this one is a pendant! I soldered a piece of copper tubing on the back so that it hangs in approximately the same way as it is pictured above. I still have to get it on some nice chain, and make a nice clasp to go with it, so I'll have more photos when that is done too :)

That is all for now, I have a marathon baking session ahead of me, or I'd spend much more time here with you all.
Have a great day!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday Favorites - Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day to all of my fellow Canadians and Canadians at heart! To celebrate, I thought I would do this Friday's Favorites with a few of my favorite items from my fellow Canadian Etsy artists. Please make sure to visit their shops and send them a little Canada Day love :)
I love the fact that many of these items are one of a kind, and the others are made to order - you get something unique, beautiful, handmade and Canadian, pretty
 I hope you all have a wonderful, safe, happy Canada Day!

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