Here there and everywhere…

New encaustic painting.

I call it,

Red fields with big yellow blobby flower things.

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I’m still working on how I can get rid of the wax fumes. Yesterday I tried using a fan to blow the smell away from me, but the air just cooled the wax and I couldn’t use it properly. I’m thinking an extractor fan would be best, but then just how many extractor fans does a girl need.

I need a room that IS an extractor fan. Now that’s a thought waiting to happen.

I find the whole encaustic thing a bit messy which is saying A LOT coming from the messiest person alive.

How did I get to be so messy? We may never know. Sometimes I can barely move around the studio. I went in there once or twice to clean up when my dad and sister were here, but had to walk out again as I was immediately overwhelmed by it all.

I do try to put everything back as I use it on the jewelry table. And that works great until I get carried away with what I’m making and it all goes to pot.

Too easily distracted is my theory.

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I’m going to have to stop reading the news. It’s too depressing. I’m sitting here already having a little moment after reading about Gaza, and the children, and the airplane people, and all the terrible things happening around the world.

I’m thinking there should be a news channel with all good, positive news. I don’t mean sappy, puppy articles, but real, look what’s happening over here to fix things, and see, it’s working, articles.

But then what would happen to all the bad stuff. We can’t ignore it.

Yesterday I went to a local ministry to see if I could volunteer for the food bank place. I’ve been building myself up for it for a while now because I didn’t really want to get involved with all of that church stuff, but it’s definitely time to get over myself.

I was amazed that I hadn’t noticed the place before. I drive past it often. It’s right there on the road, and it takes up a whole strip center. I walked into the back office thinking it was just going to be food and resale, but there were loads of people in there waiting to be helped in terms of finding jobs and getting help with food and bills etc.

I felt so ashamed that I didn’t know.

Of course we all know, but going into the place just made everything real.

There were real people in there waiting to be helped, and here I was just driving past them every day.

I spoke to the volunteer woman, who told me that the food bank always has loads of volunteers and that no one was going to be moving from that part of the ministry soon, but I realized then that I could volunteer in many other departments.

I felt good about it, but then I went to bed and woke up a 3 a.m. worrying about all of the people, what I would have to do, would I be able to do it, would I want to do it, and if I did do it, would I be shot doing it.

Because obviously these people who have nothing are angry and resentful and violent.

Then I lay awake for the next hour or so feeling even more ashamed of myself that I could think so little of people, and so much of myself.

Sorting cans at the back of the food bank seemed so safe in comparison to actually meeting real people.

So now I’m waiting for them to call back to schedule a tour and orientation. That’s the problem really, I needed to just start right in. Apparently they need to vet their volunteers first though. Seems a bit harsh.

I’ve tried volunteering before. I worked at the local hospital once, but that didn’t go down well with my hypochondria. I always came home with some new disease or condition. I had to give up reading Susan Hill’s Inspector Serrailler books for that reason. His sister was a doctor. I could handle the murders just not the side stories where the doctor had to deal with illnesses I’d never even heard about. Kind of spoiled the whole head chopped off with an axe part for me.

And that’s my news for today. It’s all a bit of a waffly, a bit sad, a bit dreary kind of a day. P’s gone to San Diego, or somewhere that starts with a S. He’ll be back later so that’s o.k., and I’m going to see what else I can do with the fan so that I don’t have to die sooner rather than later because of the old wax fumes.

I’ll figure it all out one day.

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Fright night at the circus.

Here are two of the collages I made while I was away.

Pretty weird but … well you decide.

The extraordinary Crab Man.

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And the, how you doin’?, tribal guy.

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And yesterday I started another painting.

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But of course, as I’ve not been in the studio for three weeks I’ve decided once again to quit painting as I don’t know what I’m doing with it all.

Man it’s frustrating.

Inside my head it’s a nightmare of indecision and doubt. It’s a wonder I function at all.

Thankfully, as I get older my short time memory has decided to call it quits and start working on half speed so I forget to give up on things almost as soon as I decide to.

It’s all good in the end.

;)

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Well, they’ve gone :(

And all that’s left is me.

O.K. me and those other people that live in this house with me.

But I still feel left behind.

I’m either leaving or being left, and that’s not cool.

BUT

Enough feeling sorry for myself, and onwards people.

Onwards and Upwards.

We had a great time. We went back to Rockport TX for a week of fishing, otherwise known as P, dad, and S going out each day and telling tall tales when they got home of all the fish they caught, but which were too small to bring home.

Right!

I didn’t see one pterodactyl, although my sister insisted they were still there.

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Pterodactyl – credit: Nobu Tamura

Laying in wait.

scary pelicans bird things

Scary pelicans bird things

We did see the seagulls, but nowhere near as many as the thousands that swarmed us last year.

But then K did forbid me from throwing bread at them.

She’s no fun in that respect.

We ate, we read, I made some art. We suffered the a/c packing up on day three of our stay, but as it was only 95 degrees outside we only withered away a little bit. It was soon fixed though, and I have to say that the canal house we stayed in was really, really nice, so no worries there.

We drank a lot of tea, and K had her milky coffee every day so all was good.

Apart from that we just had a lazy time really although K, on her last day, as we were waiting for the time we had to leave for the airport, did inform me that she would have liked to have visited NASA.

Good grief girl, could you not have mentioned that at the beginning of your stay!

As the NASA place here in Houston is extremely boring in my opinion, I didn’t really care, but it would have been nice to have taken her.

Oh well K, you’ll just have to come back now won’t you …

So, all I have now is my studio, which will take me a while to get used to going into again.

Me, my studio, and I.

But don’t feel too sorry for me my cyberspace friends. Just because my family has left me here in foreign lands (again), alone to fend for myself among the strange native people, I will be o.k.

Probably.

Most likely.

Maybe.

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I had a little bit of time, so …

I worked a little more on one painting.

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And I made another encaustic.

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Now I just have to figure out the best way to ventilate my studio so that the wax doesn’t kill me, and I’ll be off and running.

TTFN

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Until further notice.

The studio is closed.

Before I go, however, I wanted to show you some last minute paintings that I started yesterday.

I really enjoy these coastal paintings.

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The houses still need work, especially the ones on the right hand side, and the church is giving me some grief.

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These are painted on 6 x 18 inch birch boards. I really like this size. I’m working myself up to larger, but can’t quite manage it yet.

The colours of oils pastels really are gorgeous in my opinion, but I am having trouble with them drying.

I guess I’m just going to have to keep them all.

Here it is underneath an earlier one.

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And because I flit around I also started another one.

This is larger. 18 x 12 I think.

I think I’m going to put more land up in the right hand corner as there’s too much sky going on right now.

Not that I make it up as I go along you understand.

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I started this one (below) a couple of days ago, but it’s not doing that much for me at the moment.

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And this one is a further experiment with the encaustics.

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I’ve ordered some more colours, so that’s exciting. They’re really expensive though which leads me to think that I will only be making small ones until I hit on a super fantastic style which will make me famous and which everyone will be lining up just waiting to pay thousands and thousands of dollars for.

This might take some time, however, but I’m up for the wait.

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Dad’s on his way. Just about to take off from Heathrow I should imagine. I must say that I don’t envy him the flight, but it’s going to be really nice to see him.

:)

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Buckle up, it’s going to be a long one …

So, yesterday, instead of cleaning the house like a good girl, I made us a project :)

I thought you might like to see my process, for what it’s worth, and make one yourself if you’re so inclined.

 It’s called, The Butterfly Turquoise Flower Thingy.

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I love to doodle. One day I’ll show you some but for now we’ll just go with this one.

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I have a piece of turquoise which I’d already put a collar on because I was going to use it for something else. I can’t remember what happened with that plan, but when I found it just hanging around on my table I decided it needed a new home.

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So I drove it around the doodle block a few times until we found something it liked.

If I find a doodle I like, but which happens to be too small, or large, for the stone I want to use I just re-draw the same design around the stone. This one didn’t really need resizing, but the bottom part of the doodle wasn’t working for me so I kept part of the doodle and just re worked the bottom half.

I didn’t really want it to be a butterfly flower thingy, but for some reason my doodles just keep going there.

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Next I simplified the design and tried to make the shape symmetrical.

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I like to give my designs some depth because a stone just placed on a sheet of silver doesn’t look quite right to me, so I drew an outline around the design which will be a bottom layer of silver.

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And so now we’re ready to go.

If you fancy making one, please feel free to use my design. I don’t know how to sue people, and frankly don’t really care to. There’s plenty to go around :)

However …

‘Disclaimer: I am just a somebody muddling through. This is the way I do things. I am a wing it, try it, do it wrong, try again, sort of person. I do not maintain that I know what I am doing, only that I am trying to do it. Please feel free to enjoy my discoveries but follow your own research for professional advice and to perfect your skills. Above all, enjoy. Life is short.’

So now you can’t sue me either

Mwaahaha!

Soooo,

Now put your, I’m getting too old to see small things without them, glasses on,

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and trace what is to be the top layer of the design onto the transparent side of a piece of clear sticky back paper stuff.

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Some people just tape their drawing onto the silver, or glue it, but I really like using this clear contact paper. You can get it from craft, or office supplies, stores.

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Once you peel the backing off and stick the film to a sheet of 22 gauge silver you’re ready to saw the shape out.

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I have left room at the top of the shape because I wanted to have some wiggle room in case the collar didn’t exactly fit as expected.

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See.

aaaaaaa

O.K. Perhaps not, but hopefully it will all become clear soon.

Now, and this bit is very important, peel off the sticky tape from the silver, and all of the scraps. If you don’t do this when you come to solder the silver, or make balls etc., with the left overs, it will burn off and really smell bad and you will breath in fumes and die.

Of course I’ve never done this so I’m only guessing.

Sand the top of the shape you have just cut out, and also the bottom of the bezel collar.

I have a couple of squares of different grit, sticky back sand paper stuck onto my bench for this purpose. I find it’s really convenient not to have to search everywhere for the sand paper, even though my bench is always spotless …

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Note: After you have done this re check that the stone still fits into the bezel as you may have distorted the collar when sanding.

Sand your hard, or medium, solder and cut it into small pieces (pallions), and then you’re ready to solder the two pieces together.

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(I forgot to photograph the two pieces soldered together. Sorry.)

Next, because you want the stone to sit as far down into the silver as it can to give the piece more depth, you are going to cut away the inside of the bezel shape, and the extra silver you left at the top. This is easier than trying to match the leaf shape around the bezel.

Believe me, I’ve tried it.

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Then you’re going to check to see if the stone still fits. It might take a bit of sanding, but the stone should be able to pass right through the bottom.

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At this point file down the edges of the shape to smooth them and bevel them slightly.

Now cut out the design in the bottom half of the piece.

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And maybe you think you want to check once more just to see what the piece looks like with the stone and the holes cut into it.

But, darn it all if this doesn’t happen just when you least expect it.

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Remarkably, only the words, oh man, come out of your mouth, and as irritating as this slight set back may seem, you choose to ignore it.

Now, whether it likes it or not, you put that stone back in its home dammit and trace around the top layer of the design onto a sheet of 24 gauge silver. (Note that this is a gauge thinner than the top layer, but you can use the same gauge if you wish. I just like to mix it up a bit. I’m edgy that way …)

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Now cut the rough shape out, clean both touching surfaces, and solder them together.

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You’re still a bit put out, and the broken turquoise has definitely put a bit of a damper on things just as you was beginning to enjoy yourself, but you plod on and saw away the excess silver.

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DON’T put the stone back into the bezel until you have either cut out a design on the back, or placed a thread of dental floss etc,. into the recess first. You want to be able to get the stone out again as you continue to work on it.

If the back of the stone is nice I like to cut a design into the back of mine. At this point I also stamp the silver mark into it. It’s a little trickier to do it at this point, but I always forget to do it at the beginning. I just prop the inside of the bezel onto a support of some kind, usually my disc cutter stamps, and brace the silver stamp against that.

Somehow I managed to stamp it a bit wonky here. Makes it look more professional though, don’t you think?

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Now I pickle the piece. I don’t really like to use the pickle that much and tend to clean where I want to solder by sanding the pieces. The pickle gives off fumes, and will kill you. Yep. Also I get too impatient waiting for it to do its thing.

And when I get impatient this happens, and I can’t keep up.

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So quickly get the piece out of the pickle before you come up with more ideas than you can cope with, and decide if you want to use 16 or 18 gauge wire for the leaf stems.

Really you want to use 17 gauge, but Rio doesn’t have any :( so you go with 16.

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Loop the ends of the wire, and gently heat it. If you do this slowly, and gently feather the flame across the loop, the gaps in the loop will fill in with silver and leave you with this golf club shaped end. For this piece I prefer these to the simple balled ends. You can hammer the ends a little to really define the shape at this point, and sand them smooth.

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Then decide if you want the club ends to face up, or down.

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I chose up because down looks a bit depressing – and evil.

Shape the prongs a little and cut them to the length you want. Hammer the ends of the stems closest to the bezel to flatten out the stems and make them look fatter and more natural, then sand them smooth.

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And, even though prongs up makes the piece look a little crouching tiger, jumping dragon- ish go with it anyway and solder them on.

I like to buff down the edges of the stems at this point. It gives it a smoother, more natural look.

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You can’t really see it here but it does make a difference.

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Now for the fiddly bit.

(You might want to look away if fiddly distresses you too much, but it really isn’t as bad as it could be. Honest.)

Cut the leaf vein things out.

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First snip away at the scraps until they look almost leaf like.

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Then hold them in a pair of old pliers and sand them down with the sanding disk on your dremel.

For me this is the easiest way to do it. You might find a better way.

I’ve also stamped them with a nice tear drop stamp that I bought from Larry – here.

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And here’s the fun part.

Balance alllll of those little pieces onto your design, and dare them not to solder.

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Like so.

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Now this might seem like a miracle, but I met a nice man at the gem show the other week who told me about Wolerine Ultra Flux. I bought some because after he finished telling me all about it I felt bad not to, but I’m telling you, all of those little leaves soldered first time, and as much as I would like to tell you that this was due to my remarkably fantastic soldering skills, I suspect it was the flux.

It’s probably really bad for you, but now I’ve got my super duper extractor fan I’m a little happier about it getting rid of the fumes.

Only a little bit though.

And so finally.

I made it something to put the chain on.

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Some balls and a couple of doohickey’s.

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And Bob’s your uncle.

The Butterfly Turquoise Flower Thingy all liver of sulphured and polished up.

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I ended up gluing the stone together. It annoyed me to do so, but …

Don’t tell anyone.

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So there you have it. I told you it was a long one.

I would love to see if you make one.

P.S. I will write up a normal, less wordy, version of this and put it up in the How To’s section of the blog later.

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Bring on the vacation.

I finished the amazonite necklace.

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It’s a bit chunky, and I’m still not sure if I like it. Also the stone wasn’t cut perfectly round. Annoying.

I also made a few paintings.

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And this one (below) which isn’t finished yet.

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It’s called, Autumn Breeze With Full Moon Shining On The Hilltop Above The Tilled Land And A Pond On A Clear Evening Just Before Bedtime.

Because it’s special to have a name.

(Look at those blues.)

And that’s about it really.

My dad comes on Tuesday, so there’s probably not going to be a lot of studio time happening for three weeks.

I’m in mourning already although, to be honest, I think it will give me some time to do other things and freshen myself up a little, so to speak.

Maybe write, or read. Definitely sketching. Maybe photography?

I’ve never really been that bothered about photography actually, and it’s a relief really to find something that I can eliminated from the, I just have to do it, list.

Woodwork and glass are off that list also.

I feel bad about the things that aren’t on the list. It’s like I haven’t picked them for my team.

Oh gosh. Now I’m going to have to get the camera out.

Shoot!

(That wasn’t meant to be a pun by the way.)

Soooo,

I’m supposed to be cleaning the house to get ready for my family, but …

I’ve only got three days left.

Three days people!

How am I going to be able to fit everything in that I just need to do before my dad comes?

Like – I’ve got to touch all of my stones. Use my new oil pastels. See if I can print out some paintings. Get more touchy-feely with the encaustics. Finish glazing my pots. Get it together with some screen printing, and lino cuting.

Actually, maybe I can do the lino cutting while he’s here. That’s not studio driven. I can be sociable and do that.

I’m really looking forward to my dad coming :) I only get to see him once a year. I’d love to be in England where I can just pop over and take him a cake, and have a cup of tea, or walk with him over the park when he takes his dog out.

So it all comes down to what is really important to me.

I can give up my studio for three weeks.

:)

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