There they are...the earrings that were all but finished when I broke my wrist. Needed nothing but final polish. I posted them on Facebook and instagram, had gotten some good comments, so I was looking forward to regaining enough grip strength to get back to them.
Good grip strength happened last weekend. And then this happened.
Argh! I try to be very careful about small solder joints. The last thing you want to happen is for a joint to fail after the stone is set (refer to above picture...this is a bad thing...). Often I will reinforce with a small decorative circle of metal that covers the joint, but I thought this joint overlapped enough to be secure. I was wrong. After thinking about it for a while, I decided to go for the fix. I could think of two possibilities.
Sometimes you can drill a small hole in the back of the setting and then use a small round file or punch to dislodge the stone. The setting in this case made that less likely to be successful because the bezel sides were high enough to curve in around the stone. I felt sure the stone couldn't be pushed out.
The second possible fix is something I've never tried. To prevent the stone from either exploding or changing color for the worse, it has to be somehow protected from the intense heat that will be required to re-solder the joint. I wasn't optimistic, but decided it would be an adventure in skill building to figure out how to submerge the stone in water, but not the backplate, and re-solder the joint from the back. This would mean building a structure that would keep the broken joint level and supported while the stone setting was underwater. Possible, but would take some engineering!
So, while I was contemplating that, this happened.
I picked up the earring I'd already polished and something looked "off". I gasped. (I don't know if you can see the problem immediately...I had a battle with google photos and I lost, so this is the only bad picture that remains from before I dismantled the earrings.) I said a few ugly words, out loud, but to myself. What happened? I have never seen this before, but all I can conclude is that polishing with my flexshaft--and electric rotary tool that reaches high rpms--had created enough heat to alter the stone. Ruined. And no fixes that I could imagine.
The good news was that I could let go of building a little swimming pool for the other stone to attempt the fix on the other earring. As I said, I was not optimistic. The bad news, I now needed yet another plan. I think it's always acceptable to abandon a project all together, especially if the frustration outweighs the motivation to keep going and there's no creative energy available. But I wasn't there yet. It was time to re-imagine. Time for new stones. I found a pair of small black onyx square stones that seemed to fit the bill.
The truth is that one of the lessons I'm still learning is how to not feel so frustrated when something I've invested myself in and am feeling happy about, goes belly up. I have to stop, get quiet, and focus. The mantra this time sounded something like this:
Let go of the effort put in to the first try.
Embrace the lessons learned.
Be happy that reinvention was successful.
Last Saturday I went to Art Camp. The third annual art camp, hosted by Nossi Art School in Nashville, TN. (artcampnashville.com) I didn't know about it the first year, so I've been twice. Every city, town, or village needs Art Camp for its creatives. I don't know who originally thought of it, but I owe he/she/them a debt of gratitude.
It's a very straightforward platform:
So what's the big deal?
There is some kind of magic that happens when 150 or so creative, artistic, entrepreneurial personalities all get dropped in the same space for several hours. My happy place is not being in a crowd of strangers. And yet, this immediately feels different to me. These are people making art. I want to share their space.
There's a buzz...a happiness...a vulnerable and trusting exposure of self that feels safe in this space. There are stories of belonging, perseverance, success, and fear of failure, shared with people you've never met but feel artistic kinship. I got to hear these stories and I got to tell a little of mine. The best thing about the stories is that we accept each other as artists, each on our own journey.
There is a sharing of knowledge and skills and resources. Sharpening your artisitic vision, what resources does our city have to offer, how to tell your story and how to have a multifaceted social media presence were among the offerings. These sessions are a big deal to me because I can make myself crazy trying to figure out everything I want to know using Google or YouTube!
My most significant "takeaway" was about creative community. I need it. Even though investing in creative community will mean taking the time and being socially vulnerable, I'm pretty sure that magic will be present.
Thank you Art Camp.
I broke my wrist. Then had surgery on it. A happy, funny man that I don't even know suggested the best back story. Walking in my neighborhood last weekend, holding my heavily dressed hand/wrist/arm up in the "thumb sucking position" (required until the swelling is gone), this man was getting out of his car, looked at me and said, "WWE?" I said, "Yes! I've been looking for a better story; this is it!" So, now that you know I broke my wrist in a WWE exhibition bout, I'll move on...
When I found myself one handed, I immediately did an inventory of how this would impact my life for the next several weeks. Then, almost instinctively, I reacted to that on an emotional/life perspective level. The inventory went like this: argh...I'm off the (climbing) wall, off my bike, out of yoga, out of spin class for a while. Ok, ok, ok...I can walk. Elliptical. Run? Stationary bike? Given that activity is how I protect my psychological balance...uh, sanity...I needed to get that settled in my mind pretty quickly.
The second inventory was how this would impact making/creating. What are my current works-in-process and works-in-design? Two pairs of earrings done except for final polish. Dang! Can't grip the tools I polish with for a while. Always several designs ready for being realized, but...firing up my torch? Not a good idea. Cutting/sawing metal? Performing any two handed operations? No. This pretty much shuts down most work executed at the jeweler's bench. At least until my fingers are more available for gripping and holding. I can definitely transfer designs to metal for etching though and I can still sketch new designs. OK, what else? Sewing? Once I get all the finger use back, I think so. Manipulate lye to make some soap batches? Um, that would just be stupid. Build something cool with my favorite power tools? That would be a great way to do further, perhaps irreparable harm! "Chill out", I said to myself.
Then, a happy idea. Rope necklaces. I made several a few years ago when I was working more with beads than metalsmithing. Long strands make for such versatility! I made a few more for my friend Kelli to show/sell in her new boho chic themed boutique on wheels...SWAT Boutique--Style With A Twist. (You should really go see her if you're in or around Nashville...find her on Facebook.)
These two were made largely one handed, so more slowly, but in some way more satisfying. Offers that lesson to me where I may never have mastery. Slow down. Ponder the design. Enjoy the process.
I finished taking inventories. My full time job: yes, I can type one handed for a while and yes, I can wear yoga pants (to avoid buttons, zippers, and all things fitted and not stretchy) to the office every day for a while. I wonder how long I can get away with yoga pants...? Day to day living: twisting motions are a problem, so jar lids and ponytails are nealry impossible, and let's be honest, my life isn't damaged by the temporary loss of either. I broke the non-dominant wrist, so driving, feeding myself, and writing are virtually unscathed.
While I wouldn't have purposely orchestrated this to learn the lesson, I do think there's value in observing myself react to it. There were decision points that flashed in my mind...am I going to whine about this or find opportunity? Am I going to use it as an excuse to lay low and wallow a bit or am I going to see it for what it is...a broken wrist, no more, no less...and carry on? Having a few completed decades of life behind me, I'm relieved to say that there has been some wisdom and maturity gained. The moral of the story is that a broken wrist is nothing. I have been gifted with a crazy good life. Everywhere I look in my life, I see richness...family and friends and talents of people who I do know and people who I don't, goodness and generosity and grace. I deserve none of it and am grateful for all of it.
Hi, I'm Donna. Long time artisan/creative. Full time work in nonprofit world. Mother of two adult sons. Currently, also mother of two cats.
The patience project. Because patience is a virtue. And a creative challenge.
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Tile and wood floor...this year's winter project...kitchen renovation