Garden Goneth, Mulch Cometh.

And that would be a great fat

:(

Followed by another one

:(

Last week…

Gardener: Would you like mulch?

(Only this was said mainly with arm movements as neither of us fully understands each other’s language.)

Me: Oh yes. Great!

This morning.

Gardner: We mulch tomorrow. Today we prepare.

Me: Great!

This afternoon.

Me:

Oh no P. Look what they did to your garden.

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P: Bugger!

Now this may not seem so bad to you, and I wish I could have taken a better photograph, (as it was I was too distressed and had to do a hit and run), but you have to understand that before the gardeners ‘prepared’ you couldn’t see any of the fence.

P had worked on it over the spring and it was almost like an English garden. Loads of colorful shrubs and stuff. It was a riot of organized chaos, and I was really enjoying it.

It was beautiful.

:(

Where did it all go.

:(

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So next year I’m going to either have to take a more intensive charades class or a course in Spanish for gardeners.

Look at that poor, lonely, what the hell happened to all my friends, bush.

He probably thinks it’s something he said.

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O.K. so it’s the art festival this weekend so that should take my mind off it.

Perhaps it will have grown back by Monday.

If not I suppose the upside is that at least I’ll be able to see the mulch.

:)

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I think I have made a favourite piece.

And I might have to keep it around for a while.

It almost makes me wish I wore jewelry.

So, without further ado and

from the beginning.

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Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending which mood you’re in, the turquoise at the bottom is an irregular shape, but I had to buy it because of its colour.

I think it’s lovely with the reds in the jasper, although I was a little surprised at first when I wanted to put them together.

It just makes me feel good to look at it.

I also made another piece yesterday, but it was dark when I left the studio and so I didn’t get a chance to photograph it.

I’ll show it to you later.

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In other news.

 I cleaned all of my tools.

Usually I just look at them and feel sad that they are rusty and no one cares about them, but with the Ebola scare now just minutes down the road from me in Cypress, I just felt a little lost when I went into the studio on Tuesday.

It’s only a little scare. Someone who just came back from West Africa and doesn’t feel well being monitored, but I wish they’d just keep it to themselves for a while.

And I wished they’d kept to themselves the fact that the family of the Dallas man who just died couldn’t bear to look at him because he looked so bad at the end.

Hasn’t anyone told the news people that hypochondriacs like me just can’t deal with these things.

So with my jewelry making mood a bit off the rails I finally took action on the dapping tools.

They were covered in a thin layer of rust.

But now …

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Of course after I had cleaned every one of them and wiped them with a thin coat of oil P informed me that sometimes a layer of rust actually protects the tools.

He was probably making it up to distress me, but it didn’t work as it was more depressing to look at them rusty than sparkly. So who wins there is what I want to know.

The egg things at the bottom are my forming blocks, and they just looked horrible before. And you can just see my disc cutting set to the right. That wasn’t too bad but in for one, in for all.

Including the stamps and chasing tools.

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I even cleaned the pliers and tweezers and center punch.

I began to get a little worried that the madness had finally set in and I would never stop cleaning.

No such luck.

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O.K.

I wasn’t going to write to you today as I’m off in a mo to visit the boy at school.

He’s only an hour and half away so it’ll be nice to get out.

But, I wanted to tell all of you jewelry making people out there that, if you didn’t already know, Art Jewelry Magazine is celebrating their 10 year anniversary by giving away 10 prizes.

So pop over – HERE and see if anything grabs your fancy.

Personally I’d like the kiln, but the madness has to stop.

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I have to tell you.

I feel a little bit put out by the Ebola thing being only THREE HOURS away from me.

It brings back bad memories of the terror I had of throwing up when I was a kid, not to mention the whole dying part.

All I ever wanted was a quiet life, minding my own business, making some art stuff, with no one bothering me.

Then this happens!

It’s enough to make me throw my hands up and go scream in a corner.

Probably in my closet which is my ‘go to’ screaming place.

Thank god I cleaned it out. I might be spending a lot of time in there.

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I finally opened my website.

coldfeetstudio.com

I’ve been procrastinating about it for far too long and the whole thing was beginning to get on my nerves.

I had been fiddling around with Wix for some time and really liked it, but couldn’t get over that I would be paying for a site which would probably get no traffic.

It was a nightmare with all the discussion going on in my head.

I had used Tictail before, which I like, but thought that no one would ever go there either. But it’s free.

P tells me that I’m very cheap. I say look at my stash of jewelry supplies and say that to my face.

Finally I had to write in big, grown up, capitals.

MAKE A DECISION WILL YOU!

And I did.

I transferred my domain name over to Tictail. Changed up the theme. Toyed with the coding, once I’d found out where it was hiding that is. Heads up, they hide it in plain sight. And stood looking at my computer in awe that I had managed to do all those things.

Coding looks very special and untouchable, but it’s amazing what you can do when you throw caution to the wind and say, dammit, I’m special too, so don’t you be thinking you can do the I’m specialer than you thing to me Johnny boy.

I still can’t find the code part which changes the background of the navigation bar which is a dark, glaring grey, but I am determined that this will not defeat me.

I do believe the Ebola scare has set me free.

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So while I’m waiting to hear back from Tictail about how to change the colour, here’s a new piece.

I took my bloooood red crazy lace agate from Jim.

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And made a doodle, but forgot to photograph it.

Basically it looked like all the other doodles I do so I’ll leave it up to your imagination.

Jump ahead to a little leaf making session.

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My way is to take some masking tape, roll it up, stick in on my steel block, and tape it down at the open sides with scotch tape, or more masking tape to stop it from sliding around.

This enables you to stick the leaf shapes to the tape to hold them in place but also giving them a little bounce which allows you to move your stamp across the surface of the silver as well as still allowing some resistance from the block.

You’ll just have to try it to understand what I’m talking about.

The stress of the Ebola is muddling my mind.

To get the veins of the leaves I took my line chasing tool from Larry and chased it across the surface. The tape allowed me to do this smoothly. The chasing gives a nice continual line rather than a disjointed stamping line.

Next I took a texture tool, again from Larry, and chased that across the surface also.

If you hold the tool as I am in the previous photograph, you can rest your little finger on the block and bounce the tool off the surface with each hit of the hammer. This means you can constantly move the tool across the surface of the leaf as you tap the hammer.

Again, this is my way, there are loads of other ways.

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So.

Once that’s done, you’re going to twist them slightly,

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Trim them up a bit so that the edges fit flush to the outside of the bezel collar.

And solder them onto the bezel setting.

These are some little plain leaves I made to go underneath the leaves I made above.

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This is the piece with the top layer of leaves soldered to them.

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Next I added some balls and doohickeys.

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And Bob’s your uncle.

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A new piece.

It’s a bit big, and I always wonder about that. Also I never really know what length of chain to put on them.

Maybe I’ll get the hang of that one day.

NOTE:

Use a charcoal block – here – to make the silver balls. This is the only way I’ve found to make consistently round balls. Other blocks tend to make little flat plops of silver that just don’t look as good.

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Unfortunately

I went to bed last night watching you tube videos on ancient jewelry making techniques.

Now I might just have to give the filigree another bash.

Remember this.

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Well I hated it so I remade it into this.

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And so that was that.

It was hardly filigree, but one of my first ventures into soldered curly things and I thought I’d never want to go back, but some of that old filigree work is spectacular.

We’ll see what happens today.

It might be filigree, it might not, but getting out there into the studio will definitely be the first step.

You might notice that I’m a late starter.

For those of you too excited to wait any longer, here are the earrings.

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I’ve got an art fair coming up and need to make a lot more smaller items.

The hungry can’t wait for me to sell a $200 necklace, however much fun I’m having.

I’m thinking of sending my next $1000 to Save the Children. I was reading this morning about the children orphaned by Ebola. They are being shunned because of the fear that they might give caretakers the virus. Some of the children are just toddlers. I can’t imagine the abandonment.

From the BBC news – HERE.

I think I’m going to have to listen to music in the studio today.

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So, in other news…

As you know I’ve been volunteering at the assisted ministry and am sad to report that I have hated it so far.

I’ve been so bored I decided that even doing housework here at home would be more thrilling.

Yesterday was my fourth day and up to now I’ve been trained to answer the phones, although so far I’m not allowed to touch them which kind of disappoints me in a, good grief how hard can it be, way.

After telling them that I could hardly stand the excitement of waiting every half hour for someone to call and then not answer the phone I was banished to a back room to sort all of the socks into three pairs. I had to put an elastic band around each trio which was fairly exciting and I also had to sort the underwear into size and gender.

This could have been o.k. except I was all by myself and it was hot and stuffy back there. I did feel somewhat proud of the trust bestowed on me when I was also given the task of taking all of the outdated juice boxes out of the little zip lock cold and flu bags that had been made up for those who needed them.

Yet yesterday I could hardly stand to go back.

But, as luck would have it, they must have felt my despair and put me in one of the sorting rooms and I got to price fabric and fold tablecloths. Now, this doesn’t sound thrilling I know, but I got to sit with three really nice ladies, and we laughed a lot, and as that’s my favourite thing to do I was quite happy and think I might actually enjoy going back next week.

I did have to come home and have a little lie down afterwards though.

Sorting fabric is shattering.

So, it’s back into the studio for me today.

Don’t worry about me though. I still laugh, and I get to talk to the dog, and make fun of the weather man when he comes on and starts his news with the same little guttural sound each time. AND I’m still practicing for the X Factor auditions, although I think I might have missed the cut off for this year.

Darn it.

Oh well there’s always next year.

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Sunday offerings.

Once upon a time, a long while ago, I said I’d show you some of my doodles.

As I’ve got bazillions of them I can only show you a few at a time in fear of your computers exploding.

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Some of them are pretty ugly, but they’ve allll got dangles which might mean something.

But might not.

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o.k. so this one hasn’t got a dangle.

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I mainly doodle while I’m watching t.v. which is why I keep missing some of the more important issues in the Game of Thrones and have to keep asking P questions like, why can’t they just all get on together already? and, when is that little boy who can’t walk going to do something useful for a change? and, John Snow must really smell under all those furs, does he ever get to clean his teeth? Kissing that northern woman must be real enjoyable.

P get’s a little annoyed with all the questions, but I’m sorry, I need to know these things.

Anyhow after the aquamarine bead necklace, which really only had eight beads in it so I should probably start calling it something else, I chose this doodle.

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Because I thought this stone might work well with it.

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Darn it. While I was getting the link to Jim’s shop  (HERE) who is one of my favourite cab people, I had to buy six more stones!

Will the madness never end.

Indonesian Coral

Indonesian Coral

Crazy Lace Agate

Crazy Lace Agate

Another Crazy Lace Agate

Another Crazy Lace Agate

Yep, you guessed it, another Crazy Lace Agate, but look at it - bloooood red!

Yep, you guessed it, another Crazy Lace Agate, but look at it – bloooood red!

Just one more. You could say Crazy Lace Agate is one of my favourites.

Just one more. You could say Crazy Lace Agate is one of my favourites.

And just to mix it up.

Tiffany Stone, which I'm never too sure about although I really want it to be one of my favourites.

Tiffany Stone, which I’m never too sure about although I really want it to be one of my favorites. Got a feeling that it’s never going to be though.

So I went through my process

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sticky back contact paper HERE

 

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And ended up with this.

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IMG_3965 - Version 2

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IMG_3966 - Version 2

Next stop.

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Earrings!

And maybe how to make those little balls …

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Beginning soldering tips. Share yours in the comment box and share the wealth … although you don’t have to ramble like I do … unless you want to …

After I made this bracelet I decided that I wanted to use some more of the aquamarine beads.

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And thought I’d show you my process again.

Mostly for Jane W :)

Of course, half way through I became too involved and forgot to take the photographs.

Sorry.

I’ll show you what I have though.

From the beginning.

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I found a stone that I thought I could use.

This one is a drusy from – HERE.

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And drew a rough sketch around it.

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I took my bezel wire which I buy from – HERE.

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And wrapped it around the stone to make a collar.

Tip.

When you have aligned the cut ends of the wire ready to solder together, take a pair of flat nosed pliers and gently squeeze where the two ends touch. This will flatten the side of the collar slightly and ensure that the ends are perfectly flush.

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You can just about see the unsoldered join below. This is what you’re looking for, a nice flush connection.

I seem to have snipped my thumb also.

Oh well. That’s it for being a hand model I suppose.

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(Don’t look at my poor jewelry making fingernails!)

Fitting the bezel wire around a stone takes a bit of practice. You don’t want it too loose or too tight and it can be a bit frustrating at the beginning trying to get the right fit.

Be brave. It will come in the end.

The key is to cut the bezel wire too long first off, then keep checking it by wrapping it around the stone and snipping away at it, and not your thumb, until it’s good.

Then you’re ready to solder.

I think everyone has their own way of soldering, but this is mine.

I like to hold the collar in my third hand, as the alien said to the shirt maker.

Again you can find this at Rio Grande – HERE.

I used to solder the join on the inside of the collar, but now I solder on the outside. I changed because I still sometimes get a solder bump at the join which can affect the fit of the stone. I also found that as I continued working on the bezel, by adding the back and any decorations, often I could see the join in the finished piece, which annoyed me.

By soldering on the outside I can more easily file the bump down when I’ve finished, and it seems that the join remains hidden no matter how much more work I do on it.

I tell you this solely so you can send me your first-born whom I will train to make my tea.

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As I was taught there are three types of solder. You can correct me at any time, but I warn you, I may have to send your first-born back and then you’ll be left paying for their schooling and worrying about EVERYTHING they do even though they’ve left home and you think things are all good now.

Not that I speak from experience you understand.

The types are Hard, Medium, and Easy.

Go figure.

Each has a different melting temperature and so you use them in sequence as you build on your piece.

Depending on how many stages you will go through to build up your bezel setting you will start with the hardest. So for instance I would start with the hard solder on my bezel collar. When I next solder the collar onto the backing plate I would use the medium solder. This ensures that the solder will flow at a lower temperature than the hard and won’t ‘undo’ the first solder. And so on.

I don’t do this.

I just use regular ol’ easy solder or whatever I’ve got hanging around and wing it.

Which is probably why I always got that solder line at the end, but as I’ve fixed that problem now with the outside soldering trick I say all is good.

Choose your method at your own risk.

I use two types of solder. Chips – HERE, and wire – HERE. You can also use solder sheet which you can cut into your own chips but I haven’t got around to that yet.

I typically use the wire for larger areas, as in joining the bezel collar to the back, and use the chips for the more delicate areas.

I used wire on this collar as even though it’s a more delicate join I sometimes like to break my own rules.

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Next you want to cut out the back for the piece.

I used 24 gauge fine silver sheet – HERE, and drew a circle slightly larger than my bezel collar with a template.

This gives you wiggle room.

Note this is just a simple bezel. In other designs you would cut out the back accordingly.

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Although I don’t need this cut to be perfect I try to use every opportunity to practice my sawing. That way, when I really do need a perfect cut I will have already put in the practice.

I found sawing the most frustrating when I first began. Lots of broken blades, and wonky lines, but practice makes perfect, and that applies to most jewelry techniques.

Then clean the back up and make sure it’s as flat as it can be. You want the join between the bezel collar and the back sheet to be as clean and as flush as you can make it. I use sandpaper to clean mine.

(Still not a perfect round. I just don’t know how those guys do it!)

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Sand the bottom of the bezel collar also.

Here’s a photo of me doing this on another piece. I have a couple of squares of sticky back sand paper (HERE) on my table to make this easy for me.

Tip. Sand the piece in a figure eight movement. This helps keep the bottom level.

MAKE SURE that your stone fits into the bezel collar afterwards as the sanding may have distorted its shape.

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Now flux the two surfaces.

I use this.

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Which you can find – HERE.

I’ve used various types of flux, but so far this is my favourite.

Cut the solder wire into pallions, which is a fancy way of saying small pieces, and place them evenly around the join.

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When you start to heat the silver the flux will begin to melt and the pallions will jump about and you will have to use your soldering pick (HERE) to push them back into place. To help prevent this, heat your piece very gently at first.

(You can find various soldering blocks – HERE. I prefer the honeycomb block, but any of them will do.)

Circle your flame around the piece without it quite touching the silver. Every so often wave the flame over the silver and back out again. Keep your flame moving and at a, let’s say, two-inch distance from the silver. You will begin to see the flux start to whiten. When this happens you can start bringing your flame over the metal more and more. Still gently.

Take your time.

The key is to keep your flame moving. You are trying to heat the silver, NOT the solder. The solder will run over the hot surface when the silver has reached the solder’s melting temperature. If you keep your flame in one spot the silver will not heat evenly and the solder won’t always run everywhere you need it to. Also you will be in danger of melting the bezel collar.

As the silver continues to heat up, every so often rest your flame in the center of the piece, but take it away almost immediately. Remember the bezel wire is much thinner than the back sheet and will heat up faster.

I also like to hold my flame downwards. Depending on how large the piece is that I’m working on this seems to heat the area more evenly. If you hold it at an angle, toward the piece, even though you are moving the flame around the piece, the heat is coming in from one side only.

This might not mean anything, but works for me.

Could be magical thinking.

Just when you think nothing is happening you will see the solder start to change and run around the join.

Be patient.

If you have any gaps between the back sheet and the bezel collar the solder will not join the two together. Sometimes pushing down on the top of the collar with your soldering pick as you heat it is enough to allow the solder to join them. Hold the stick horizontally so that you push both sides of the collar down simultaneously. If you push down on one side only the other side will raise up.

You’ll get the hang of it, or I can come round and show you.

Keep heating the silver gently until the solder has run the whole way around. You can use your soldering pick to help it on its way.

You can just see that shiny piece on the inside left hand side. That’s what the solder will look like when it melts.

It’s a beautiful thing.

The brown stuff is the flux. You will put the soldered piece into pickle (HERE) to get this off. Oftentimes I wait to do this as I don’t like to use the pickle too much, also I’m too impatient.

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Note on Soldering.

Sometimes there’s just nothing to do but to stop trying and start over.

If you haven’t done everything His Fickleness requires you may as well just bang your head against a wall and take up bowling.

The metals, including the solder wire, have to be clean, and the two pieces needing to be joined together have to be flush against each other. Once you get the hang of it you will begin to see when it doesn’t matter how long you keep heating up the silver the darn solder just isn’t going to melt.

Don’t let it get to you. Turn the torch off, cool the piece in the bowl of water that you always have at the side of your soldering brick, put it into the pickle to clean it, and, or use some of THIS remarkable stuff to clean it even more, and start over.

Now file down the excess from the sides.

If you have a lot of silver left around the sides of the bezel collar, which you should try not to as silver is very, very expensive, you can use your jewelers saw (HERE) to remove most of it first, then use your file.

I just bought myself a new ’00’ file with larger teeth because I’m too impatient to wait for my ‘0’ to do its job.

It’s brilliant.

There is a great selection of files – HERE.

Note. If jewelry making is something that you can see yourself doing for a long time it’s worth buying the best tools you can afford as you will only waste money later by replacing them with better ones.

I like using the Grobet barrett files and the half rounds. I typically only use the larger tooth files however as I find sand paper is more than enough to do the rest.

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You can also use the sanding discs on your Dremel, or Foredom.

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BEFORE you test your stone in the setting drill a hole into the back of the silver so you can push the stone out again.

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O.K. So this is where I started to get a bit forgetful.

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I started fiddling around with things and forgot all about you.

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Sorry.

But I was enjoying myself, and practicing for my audition for the X Factor.

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James Morrison was helping me by singing along although he couldn’t quite keep up with my take on the tunes.

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So after a while I had to switch to Michael Jackson, although I do have to say he was slightly off also.

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And voilà!

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Before I knew it, it was doneth.

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It looks exactly the same as my sketch, don’t you think?

Jane, I hope this helps a little bit. I do tend to wander off in my descriptions so you can well imagine just what’s going on in my head as I make this stuff.

The key is to practice. One day you’ll pick up the torch just after you’ve decided to give up, and it will be a piece of cake.

Here’s the torch I use.

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You can find one at your local welding supply shop.

If you’re just starting a small hand-held torch might be the way to go.

Theres a nice little soldering kit – HERE.

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And as for the pickle, I have a small, very cheap, crock pot in which I put about two inches of water and a couple of teaspoons of the pickle granules from Rio Grande.

You can just see my pickling pot back there in the corner.

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And remember.

Always keep your table perfectly organized.

;)

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Drink lots of tea.

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But don’t listen too much to the BBC world news on the radio as it will put you in a funk and you have to go into hiding of a couple of weeks.

:)

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