About Damn Time (or New Year, New Leaf)!

Wow! Look at me – finally putting pen to paper (metaphorically speaking). Just to let you know how significant that is, I had an unpeopled blog for WELL over a year without EVER writing one word. I finally felt so sorry for it that I deleted and decided to start over. If you’re gonna do a thing right best to start from scratch and begin as you mean to go on.

As you see in the title of the blog this is supposed to be about beading and random thoughts and questions about well, anything. I hope I find something to write about that’s interesting to others – else no one but me will ever read this (or more than once anyway). Honest to God, I don’t know if I have anything interesting to say. I hope someone besides myself finds something they like here. If not, we’ll just have to chalk it up to how NOT to write a blog. The thing that counts is that I’ve made a start, and that’s further than I’ve gotten before. Maybe I’ll improve as I go on.

Since I’ve just given you some (not so) random thoughts, I decided to include a beady bit in the same post just so I have something in here other than words written about words being written (sorry, couldn’t resist). .  The photo below shows a piece titled Storm Surge and it is one of a series that I call “Bandits”. The pieces in the series are all made from up-cycled watch bands. The Steam Punk artists use the innards of old watches to make some cool and incredibly awesome jewelry, but most of the bands go to waste. I decided I could do something about that, so the Bandit’s were born. Storm Surge is one of my particular favorites. It sold quickly and while I was quite happy for the income, I was saddened too. After all, like most of us, I make things I like… a lot. This makes it hard to part with when it comes time.

Well; I’ve gone and rambled on longer than I intended when I started this post.  To those of you who stuck around and suffered to the end, hope your eyes haven’t glazed over too badly. I’d love for you to come back sometime. I promise not to always be so verbose. In my own defense, though part of the blog title IS mental meanderings – guess you got a taste of that! Thanks for visiting and come back soon – feel free to comment!

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Soup’s on!

My BSBP partner, Stephanie LaRosa sent me a nice little soup for this year’s party. It arrived on Wednesday and I’ve run design ideas through my mind ever since🙂 I had hoped to have a photo of my soup before I wrote this post, but no pix yet – I’ll post one sometime over the next couple of days. Meanwhile, back to my beady machinations.

The Mean Kitty survived… and making bead soup

Well, the operation was a success – I only broke 3 or 4 things – nothing vital thank God!  I had to tear it back down when I was half-way finished b/c there were two screws left over :/  She cranked right back up when I hit the power button, YAY! Not too shabby a job considering the only thing I’ve ever taken off a computer was the battery.

Got the word that I’m a participant in the 8th annual Bead Soup Blog Party, WHOOP!  I’ve been plotting what I’ll put in the bead soup I’m sending my partner. Looking forward to meeting them and getting to know a new friend. Always nice to have something to look forward to!

Operation G62 – Cool (Kill?) that kitty off!

I may be getting ready to kill my poor laptop off… YIKES!  You do what you have to do when the circumstances require it. I can huddle in the corner quivering and crying  b/c the laptop’s overheating to the point of shutting down, or I can take the poor thing apart, clean it, and put it back together. 

That doesn’t sound too bad does it? The guy on that YouTube video I just watched made it look easy enough – he tore his down and put it back together in 12 minutes – same model as mine too. Somehow, I have the sneaking suspicion it’s not going to be that quick OR that easy for me. 

Specifically, I need to remove the fan and clean off the dust, but I’m fairly certain that stuff’s everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Not quite sure how I’m supposed to clean it without hurting the motherboard; I doubt it’s advisable to vacuum it directly, but that doesn’t mean I won’t  try it – at least from a low hover. Screw’s!  Man alive – that thing has a hardware store’s worth – more than Fleet Week even! I’m experiencing a creeping horror of having one leftover after I’ve closed it up.

Oh, well Mean Kitty (my laptop) here goes nothing. Gotta say though – that corner’s looking better by the minute.

Jewelry and Safety – Sometimes ya gotta give a little

What DOES safety mean to you as a jewelry artist? I’m sure we automatically think safety glasses, or dust masks, gloves, keeping your attention on what you’re doing, etc, etc… I’m not speaking about our safety though, but that of our customers – and friends and family members to whom we gift our labors of love.

Like most of us, I want the pieces I make to hold up to the test of time – like being passed down through a couple of generations at least! What do you do specifically for the end user’s safety?

Here’s a couple of things I do toward that end:

use open jump rings.

I use rings that are proportional to the design, or even larger. Much of my jewelry uses 2 or 3mm leather cord; I use 16 or 14 awg to attach the clasp. An open jump ring provides a “give” point if the necklace or bracelet gets caught (stranger things have happened). I don’t work with delicate pieces very often, and open jump rings are probably not a very good idea for those. The very delicacy of pieces made with very small gauge wire, chain, and beading wire will allow something to give way before much (if any) damage is done to the wearer.

use fine silver rather than .925 for hook clasps

That may have drawn a breath of protest or two – everything that I’ve read says that fine silver is too soft and easily bent to use in this manner. I’ll even admit to having to repair or replace a hook myself on a couple of occasions, but it hasn’t happened often, and I’d rather do a repair than leave the wearer with grooves around their wrist or neck where the jewelry dug into it when it got hung up hard and sudden on something.  I DO use a larger gauge in fine silver than in .925, and I do hammer the curves of the hook to strengthen it at the arch of the curves to harden it. I actually had a customer email me yesterday needing to have a stretched hook replaced on a necklace using 3mm leather cord with crown type cord ends, 5/32″ thick HDPE o-rings, and doubled 16 awg jump rings to attach the o-ring links to each other. The best give point for this necklace was the hook – which was made with 14 awg fine silver. The wearer was a slightly built 15 y/o – far better the hook than her neck. Check out the pic below – this bracelet features a doubled jump ring and o ring construction with a 14 awg hook also… it would pretty much be the hook that would be the first to give – agreed?

So, why did I bring this up to begin with, and why do I have this point of view? I worked in manufacturing for 28 years (in an aerospace wire and cable company). Safety was always important to me b/c I was conscious of things that could happen if I wasn’t diligent about doing my job.  Yeah, I know – this is JEWELRY we’re talking about, not planes falling out of the sky. It’s still the same principle even though the consequences aren’t quite so dire. BUT I’ve seen my husband have the skin on his ring finger peeled like a grape up to the middle knuckle when a ring got hung on a forklift at work…while it was driving away from him. A friend at work was wearing a very delicate pinky ring given to her by her father; she refused to take it off even when they changed the safety rules about the wearing of rings. She tripped one night and as she tried to catch herself that ring slid over a hook used to hang clipboards up on the machines; it ripped her entire finger off. Pardon the expression, but this kind of shit leaves an impression!

Now in reality, there really isn’t much that you can do to make a ring safe (as regarding getting hung) b/c it’s a closed loop – most of them anyway. I have nevertheless seen necklaces and bracelets get hung up leaving bruises, scrapes, and cuts b/c they didn’t give. While my POV may seem a little over the top, and the scenarios as rare and extreme as being struck by lightning, these considerations still bear a thought or two when you’re designing your beautiful and unique works. You don’t need to be in a manufacturing environment to get hurt. Accidents can (and do) happen under any and every kind of circumstance.

So what are your thoughts on the subject? Do you build in any give points in your jewelry – or even have a story of your own to tell? I’d love to hear from you!

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