Friday, January 28, 2011

There's A Chink in the Armor, A Crack of Light in the Doorway, Someone Just Threw a Rope Ladder Over the Wall

Whatever you want to call it. It's happening...was it just this week that I wrote about the growing pains of last year? Not to worry, they are definitely still with me every single day so far. *But* I am starting to connect parts of the fabrication puzzle. And how gratifying it is!

Today's agenda included:

- soldering some production items (most worked the first time; a couple had to get re-soldered)

-soldering two domed halves of metal together to make sterling silver beads (one worked initially; the other three fell apart in the pickle and had to be re-soldered. Also I forgot exactly *how* to solder them (didn't take great notes from that class!) and had to wing it a bit. Probably why the other three didn't take right away. They turned out nicely in the end, but what was fun once in class became an exercise in drudgery and a study in persistence when I sat down to make *four* of them.

- making two ring shanks and soldering them to the ring tops. Why two? Well, it was supposed to be *one*, but I made it the wrong size. Okay...that's not quite right. It likely started out as the right size, but something I'm TERRIBLE at is filing an open shank (not a technical term, but it's on the ring pictured here) flat. Instead of filing one shank top, I have to cut out the center part and file both sides evenly...definitely NOT a strong suit of mine. I have to keep filing...file some more...make faces and call it names, and file, file, file...which means I am losing shank-ness constantly. It ended up at least one size too small. So I overcompensated on the second one (and *how* excited do we think I was to have to make a second one? Yeah.) and miraculously, it fit. Fortunately this ring is going to be cast for me, or I would never be heard from again, because every time someone wanted one of these, I'd spend 4 hours on it...all other rings will have a closed top. Otherwise I might just stab myself to death with the damn file.

- and finally, soldering a new design idea that didn't work, but taught me a lot. Right now I am learning more from the failures than the successes, which I guess is a little expected.

Notice a pattern here? Solder, solder, solder...After not picking up the torch for weeks and weeks, I am back with a vengeance! Now if only I didn't have all this other stuff going on...the only thing that I actually should have been doing today was the production work. And there's still much, much more of it to do. It's my constant battle - making the stuff that is selling (not a bad thing in itself) at the expense of time to play and practice failing so I can figure out which failures will lead to successes.

It's so exciting that I am having a hard time winding down and thinking about bed, even though it's 2 a.m. almost and I have to be up *early* tomorrow. I want to hide away from the world and start to see some more light coming from that crack in the doorway.

...Of course, yesterday's fabrication work was an utter exercise in frustration. Notice a blog entry from yesterday? Oh yeah, I was cranky and didn't write one. Plenty of lessons in humility along this path...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Growing Pains

2010 was a year of struggle. While the business did pretty well, I personally struggled - to grow as a metalsmith, to realize new and more complex designs, to learn to create differently.

The end of last year was crazy, and left little time for reflection. But in the small silences I found during the holiday season, there were moments of realizing that it *was* a growth year. I found myself more at peace with my skills, and with my own self, than I had in some time. It was a good feeling, to glance back and realize that there was some sort of measurable distance between where I began and where I ended.

Practice helps. Right now I'm at a place where I wish I  was just starting my business, so that I didn't have all the demands of an already-existing business to manage. I'd love to really sit down and play, play, life needs more "playing" with the torch, the sheet, the saw, the hammer(s). I can't seem to find the time for that in the midst of all the other things that shriek for my attention. I've been trying to slow down and be more in the moment, but my moments right now are so fragmented. I'm thinking of other things while I'm doing other things and still feeling like too many other things are being neglected. There has to be a way to rectify that.

Fabrication is not easy. I doubt that it ever will be easy for me. But by the end of last year, a full year of soldering, fabricating, and learning, it HAS gotten somewhat easier. More time will help, of course. I feel stuck between my limited understanding of how to create through fabrication, and on the other side, a still-vast black hole of non-understanding. I look at jewelry and think, HOW did they do that? I want to soak up all the knowledge I can about how things are made...I never want to copy someone else's work, but I want to have the knowledge, the tools of creation, in my own toolbox as well, so I can forge my own path.

I'm not there yet.

But I am closer...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Really? It's 2011 Already?!

How did this happen? Okay, I know how it happened. I just haven't been ready for it. A rather icky virus took me out of commission for several weeks, and I was working like a demon for weeks before once again I am kick-starting the blog! Maybe *this* will be the year I can actually keep up with it? Cross those fingers...

So what am I doing? Where am I going? Let me share some things with you!

- I'm back in metalsmithing classes, effective today. Every Friday morning I will be enjoying the knowledge shared by Kristen Wilder at the Spruill Center. Kristin is a talented metalsmith who teaches the way I like to be taught:  logically, straightforrwardly, and (because sometimes I need to see and hear it more than once): repeatedly. I have learned so much from her and I can't wait to see what this quarter of classes brings.

- Now that I'm recovering my health and feeling less like "please, kill me now", I am fired up and ready to tackle new designs. I have ( as usual) a million ideas to work on and the hardest part is sorting them out and organizing them, rather than trying to tackle them all at once. The ring above is something new and fun - I've been wanting to make rings for a long, long time, and this is just the beginning!

- I'm traveling to new, exotic (okay, not necessarily exotic, but fun) locations: Coconut Grove (Miami) Florida. I've never been to Miami, despite living fairly close to it for the last few years. I'm exhibiting at a festival there in February and can't wait to explore a bit of Florida! I'm also heading to both Alabama and Arizona in March...I've done both of these festivals last year and I'm heading back again this year. The Arizona festival comes with a big, big bonus as one of my best friends lives in Phoenix. It's one of my great joys in life to hang out with her. Plus, she comes to work the shows with me. Can't get much better than that!

And that's just the first quarter of the year. Nothing like staying busy...but I work better when I'm busy so this suits me just fine. The trick will be to manage all that needs to be done...since it's still "just me" in the studio, I'm both the person behind the wheel of this business *and* its roadblocks.  Of course I'm going to try and keep the dang train ON the tracks...   :)