Thursday, September 12, 2013

Higher, Faster, Stronger. The Best Never Rest. Etc.

Though I struggle against it, I am a perfectionist. It's in my bones, in my DNA. I want the best, I want to *be* the best, I want to be able stronger, fly higher, design and fabricate (and do everything else) faster. It's a driving force in my life but also a constant source of dissatisfaction.

And my own designs are certainly not off limits from my expectations, of course. Usually when I'm designing one of the labor-intensive, fabricated pieces, it's (mostly) a labor of love. Sometimes it's just a labor. And the last time I did one of these, when yet ANOTHER part of the process utterly didn't work, I cried - just a little - and yelled some unrepeatable words. And I do mean yelled. At the top of my lungs. Twice. (the first time just wasn't satisfying enough).

Then I stepped away from the work table. I had a snack. I poked around on the computer. For about twenty minutes. Then I made myself go back to the work table, pick up the torch, and begin again. Some days, that's what it's all about - refusing to give up. Of course, some days I should give up, but this was not one of those days. How do I know the difference? Trial and error. :)

What was frustrating me was not learning something new, but rather running into an issue(s) with tasks I've done before. A lot before. So much so that I should be able to pretty much do them with ease. And most days I do...but not earlier this week. Monday's work was an exercise in picking one's self up after being dropped in the dirt repeatedly. Bloody, but unbowed, and all that.

So what did perseverance get me? Well...

This. Which isn't a bad reward. It's better when you don't start thinking that the reward  might never happen...because this nearly went in the scrap jar more than once. But it's completed and all is good.  :)

It's slightly different from this piece in a few ways:

- I made the overall pendant more lightweight, using a lighter back plate. The other one was comfortable to wear, but rather heavy. By the time I'd finished the three plaques, and the chain, all that metal added up. I wanted to design a bit lighter this time. Less silver = less cost. Metals prices still aren't super inexpensive, and keeping costs down is always a bonus.

- I  also learned from this chain:

to go bigger, bigger, bigger on handmade chain loops. The chain above was nearly the death of me, both the making of and the cleanup / polishing. First, I don't love soldering small jump rings. These are about 3.5 mm
18 gauge rings. And there are a LOT of them. And my soldering didn't get noticeably better after having done so many. And then hand polishing them all...I did not want to repeat that anytime soon. So I made much bigger, wider links on the new necklace. Result? A happier Jill. Also, less labor because I made 300% fewer jump rings.  :)

- I also wanted to try a different connection method. Past big necklaces like these have had a simple jump ring connection, which has worked fine. But I want to push myself a bit on connectors and bails. I think it's time. So I soldered on some tubing and then ran a jump ring through it, for a more flexible connection. I am planning to use this kind of connection on some other pieces, and wanted to see how easy it would (or wouldn't) be.

And in the meantime, I finished these:

Two of the Royston turquoise stones I purchased in February. The bottom pendant had to be completely redone, because of this:

The bezel kept getting these nicks, or divots, in the top. This has happened before and I couldn't figure out why...I got some online help and now I think I know what was happening. But I had to scrap the bezel and back, saw off the top embellishments, and start again. And of course the top piece(s) didn't just want to magically attach to the new took far longer to re-do than it should. I'd almost given up on it entirely.

But I didn't. I cried and I yelled and I might have even stomped my feet a little bit...but eventually the studio diva got her way. At least I can exert my will over the inanimate objects...sometimes. :)

So a lot of imperfection manged to add up to more learning...and at least a *little* satisfaction in the end. Worth the journey, every time.  :)

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