Monthly Archives: March 2014

Clay vs Jewelry and the Bayou Art Festival.

So I think I escaped.

The sketches I did got me too excited to pass by the jewelry bench, so I managed to avoid the clay room.

I did have to buy myself a little consolation prize though.

Just to get me through you understand.


Ryan Myers

It was a little tricky, and I did feel somewhat guilty about the clay, but the sketch book won.

Did I mention that I’d bought a new batch of stones?

One day I’ll show you them all, but I’m worried your computer will explode.


In’t they cool :)

Here  are some of the sketches.


Tiffany Stone


Crazy Lace Agate




Crazy Lace Agate


Indonesian Coral Fossil


The Tiffany Stone again

Not all of them work for me, but they were enough to get me started.



In-between starting and finishing this piece I went to the Bayou City Art Festival here in Houston with a friend.

Like I needed to go to get any more ideas.

I have come home excited.

And I had to buy a few things.

Mostly I bought some stuff for my girls, but this is mine.


Bad photo as I was too impatient to show you.

Here’s her photo of it from her website.

Jennifer Cavan

Jennifer Cavan

You can click on the image to go to her website, but I warn you, you may never be the same again.

I’ve wanted one of her paintings for over ten years now.


There was a lot of good stuff, and some blah stuff, at the show. I took some photographs of the pieces that caught my eye, but kept forgetting.



Susan Clayton


Estella Fransbergen


Mark Orr

And these guys are so cool.


Sugar Post

That’s it I’m afraid. Sorry if I got you all excited.

So, on this fine Sunday, I will leave you with why I need to get a new washer upper. P has (once again) chipped a vital tea mug.

Just can’t get the help nowadays.


Off to paint now.


The pottery bug has hit!

I wondered when it would happen.

It’s been lingering in the back of my consciousness for a while now, but even though I was really trying hard to resist it, it hit with a vengeance last night.

Help me now …

I’m really hoping that it will be too hard to pass by the jewelry bench to get into the clay room.

Good grief. It’s all just too much.

I was thinking perhaps I should separate my day into sections so that I can do it all, but I don’t work like that.

It’s full immersion for me, or nothing.

So there you have it.

The paintings are calling to be finished,



Cornelius is on hold.

You can see one of his entries – here.

And now the ceramics.

My only hope is that I drew up a couple of sketches for the new stones that arrived yesterday.

(Don’t ask why there are more stones arriving. I almost have my own quarry now, I’m surprised the shelf can bear them.)

So that might overshadow the clay.

I can only pray.

The ponders of it all.

I had to get up early today, because someone rang the door bell at 8:15 and, thanks to N.P.R and their interview with the police people yesterday, I just knew it was burglars checking to see if anyone was home before they broke in.

So I quickly got out of bed and into the shower, because you have to be clean to deal with burglars. It was too late to tidy the house, so I had to let that one go.

Well, turns out it was the lawn spraying guy, who obviously couldn’t sleep this morning and decided to do his rounds early, but now I’m up and raring to go.

In fact, I’ve already been in the studio and have just come in for lunch so I’m in good shape.

I can’t help being a late riser. I have to do a lot of pondering in bed in the morning and it takes up time.

I check the news on-line to see if I’ve missed anything while I’ve been asleep. I browse the web for inspiration. I write my blog, even if I have nothing to write about, because I’m very generous that way.

Then I get up and ponder some more.

Important things like.

What shall I make today. Will I ever clean the house again. Can I throw away those magazines I have dated back to the late nineties. Why am I a magazine hoarder anyway. Why do my houseplants die. Is Willow going deaf. Is going deaf better than going blind.

And so on.

Sometimes it’s early afternoon before I can cope with doing anything.

It’s all so overwhelming.

But, not today. Today I’ve listened to Diane Rehm interviewing Jane Fonda instead about being a teenager, sex ‘n all. And I don’t have to worry about that anymore as my kids have moved beyond the teenage years.

Now, if it was a book on young adults finding their way into the real world of work and independence, then I would have to worry.

But, thankfully, not today.

I will leave you with my bunch of flowers, which I had to buy myself  (hear that P?), to cheer you up if you have teenagers that still keep you worrying about sex ‘n all.


(Love them because they will leave soon.)

And a new necklace I made.


Which I don’t really like.

Off back to the studio.


I got it figured.

And not a moment too soon.

As you know I’ve been having a bit of trouble with the Sneak Peak.

First off, you should never sneak peak anything because then you’re committed, and once you’re committed it all starts to go terribly wrong, and once it all starts to go terribly wrong, you’re stuck with having to come up with something. And, if you’re me, you can’t let it go and it starts to niggle you all day, every day, and begins to wear you down until you can’t think straight, you can’t sleep, (you can still eat though so you know that, even if you do go out of your mind, you won’t starve to death). You even decide that you would be willing to sell your first child just to solve the mystery of the non flowing solder. But you just have to go on alone as none of your children live with you anymore, and the one time they would have come in handy, the ONE time, they’re not available to sell. Darn it.


Yes, it took me almost a week of fret and tears, but I did it!

I won the battle.

(Told you I would.)

So, if you remember, here is the Sneak Peak from hell.


I had all good intentions.

I was going to show you my process, from the initial sketch through to the end piece.

And, it started off fine.

Drawing the design.


Fitting the bezel wire around the stone.


Soldering the bezel wire.


Sanding the bottom flush.

(Don’t look at it!)


Tracing the design onto the clear sticky back paper stuff.


Sticking the clear side to the silver sheet,


and cutting out the base.


Sanding the base,


Soldering the collar onto the base.


Twiddling and soldering the wire to make the stem.


Cutting out the other little bits of the design.


Until they all fit perfectly




Oh yes everything seems fine and dandy until –


Eventually I had to give it up, not forever you understand, just for a brain rest.

So I got out a new design, because I am, after all, a sucker for punishment.

Here it is.


I found it a stone.


And made it a collar.

But, the darn collar wouldn’t solder to the base!

That’s when I started to get really ticked. I’ve been soldering for ages now, and haven’t had this much trouble but once before – with the Amethyst, which is now banned from the studio.

I cleaned the silver. I pickled it, I sanded it, I filed it. I agonizingly worked it until the collar was so flush with the base that the bottom of the stone would never see the light of day again. I did ALL of the things you’re supposed to do, but the solder just wouldn’t flow. I tried all the different fluxes I’ve got. I threw away my pickle and made some more. I nigh on nearly went bald from pulling my hair out. I even dreamt about the darn thing.

The only difference I could see was that the pieces I’m making now are bigger.

And that’s when I had the hallelujah moment.

When I first started to make jewelry I bought myself a small head for my torch as the one that came with it was like a gigantic flame thrower, and, during my student phase, sizzled up every bit of silver it even looked at into a sorrowful blob mess. And the smaller head worked great …



So, I changed the head back to the larger nozzle, the flame was now able to evenly heat the larger surface of silver, and, oh for heaven’s sake, the solder flowed like a dream.

So simple.

So annoyingly simple.

So here they are.

The nightmare pieces.


Mexican Agate cabochon


Indonesian Coral Cabochon

I don’t ever want to look at them again!

Oh good grief!

I’ve just figured out how to change my photos from the bottom to the top in iPhoto.

I usually have to scroll down through five hundred trillion photos to get to my latest downloads, moaning and groaning about why they couldn’t make it so that the new ones were at the top of the page.

Well, it only took me five thousand years, but I suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, found the eureka button click thing, and now all my latest photograph are right there waiting for me when I open iPhoto.

On top!

Of course iPhoto had thought of it before me.

It’s remarkable what you can discover if you bother to look at all the drop downs in the top bar.

P comes home today. Finally. He only goes for a week at a time, and he does get to see his mum which is very good. This time he even went to see my dad and sister which kind of made me jealous, but I got over it.

Either that or I’m holding it all in in a psychological grudge.

I’d hate to see what I’ve got stored up in there.

So I’ve finally made it through another traumatic P leaving trip, and I’ve even recorded the football for him so he can see his team, West Ham, be thrashed by Man U as a welcome home treat.

(The game hasn’t started yet, but even I know what the outcome will be.)

Will West Ham ever beat anyone?

Who knows the secret?

I suppose I’d better clean up the place before he gets here, otherwise it might look as though I haven’t.

Which I haven’t.

Instead I made this.


(See how quickly I uploaded this as my photo’s are now at the top and I don’t have to search forever for them!)

If you remember it started with this.


Because the Sneak Peak was giving me trouble.

The Sneak Peak is still giving me trouble, but I am bound and determined that it WILL NOT WIN THE BATTLE!

I’m even dreaming about how I can get it to come out right.

God my subconscious is full of junk!

So that’s it. Another day to fight the Sneak Peak, (after the cleaning of course). I can almost taste its defeat, and when you finally see it you will say, ‘Good Heavens! Such a simple thing to have produced such anguish.”

And I will say, nothing, because the whole thing has ticked me off and I never want to think about it again.

Until the next time I try it.

And there will be a next time.

I’ve gone into a decline.

P is gone.

Pickle’s blood feud with Willow is escalating.

(Look how shattered she is from all the tension.)


The sneak peak is still on hold.

And I very nearly cut my finger off with the saw.


(I’ve made the photo small so it doesn’t upset you too much.)

And don’t tell me you can’t see it. Look. It went right through my nail. Could have been disastrous.

I knew something was up with my state of mind when I broke four saw blades in a row. I hadn’t broken one for years up until then.

But I soldiered on.

Through the misery of the n.p.r. news station which talked of all the distressing things in the world.


Going to the bank to sort out the card fraud thing with the nice Croatian bank man, who I just knew, after he began to tell me something about my birth date but stopped suddenly shaking his head awkwardly, that my birthday was the same as his mum’s.

Oh god, getting old is sooooo not cool.

At least he felt something like compassion for me.

Don’t you think Tom is a strange name for a Croatian? Kind of takes away his identity having to change it for us foreigners.

Oh well.

So I plodded on, further into my decline, which will probably last now until P returns from England, where he has gone without me – again.

Because I’m feeling super sorry for myself and drama queen-ish.

Don’t judge me.

But I managed to make these.




And my new venture into Wrist Words.


I can’t show you B’s because it’s got a naughty word on it.

OK, alright.


This is what P used to tell them when he dropped them off at school and they were having a bad day.

I thought it might get her through some of life.

It’s not easy being alive.

So, I’m off now, either to put some things up on Etsy, or to go and make some more stuff.

But it’s a beautiful day here today in Houston, maybe I’ll just go outside and suck in the beauty of it all.

Ordinary Newman and the Variscite Painting.

I’m having a bit of trouble with the sneak peek and had to walk away from it for a while so that I didn’t have to pull all of my hair out.

So I started another one.


These stones are some of my favourite. Nevada Variscite.

(Yes, It’s from a new stash, not the other new stash. I might have to get help soon.)

So I worked a little on the variscite pendant until I got interrupted once too often by P who wanted to know what account number we were getting the bank’s fraud call on.

Like I know these things.

So, after the second time he called to ask I had to hang up my torch to go inside to find the numbers of all the accounts we have, and try to call him back, even though he’s in England again, without me, again, and I don’t have international calling on my phone and don’t know his number anyway.

Yes, I know, you’d think I’d know these things.

To be fair, he does tell me but I think I forget to listen. He does write it down, but I put it somewhere safe.

I just have too much other stuff going on to keep track of his stuff as well.

So, that was it for the jewelry which was probably a good thing because, at this point, I was just hitting my head against a brick wall.


Instead I worked a little more on this.


Which kind of bothers me as, as if I haven’t belaboured the issue enough, the painting really upsets me because I can’t do it.

No, don’t talk to me about it.

Eventually I came inside, (it was evening time anyway, 7pm), made myself a nice salad which had too much dressing on it and hurt my mouth, watched the end of, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,


(go Paul you sexy thing you),

and then tried to watch, Ordinary People, although Wally didn’t want me to.


Which was O.K. because it made me cry a little bit.

And Wally doesn’t like crying.

What’s on today’s table?

Well this has been hanging around for a while now.


And this is a newbie.


(Don’t ask me about all the other newbies.)

And this,


Is a sneak peak of what’s to come.

Now I just need to get out of bed and get with it.

It’s alive! It’s alive!

Young Frankenstein boyish face

And it’s really not that ugly.



O.K. so it does look a little War of the Worlds-ish here I suppose.


Like it’s sniffing me out in the basement, but, all said and done, I’m quite pleased with it, and after setting fire to a piece of paper to see if it really works at sucking those fumes up and away, I had to have a cup of tea to celebrate.


magpie pottery

She’s away at a show now, but you can get one of her mugs – here.

As is always important, this is an ideal mug with excellent tea drinking qualities. Essentially, the size is good, unless you’re drinking because you need to get a grip, (needless to say this is often the case in my experience), in which case you may need a larger cup. The aesthetics is pleasing, see colour and bird, and, most importantly, the rim is of an optimal thickness for an ideal drinking experience.

I know these things because I’m English.

Don’t question me.

So, I’m very happy that, The Beast, as it shall be known from now on, has arrived.

I’m still recovering from the, albeit (probably) hypochondriacal symptoms of fume poisoning. Very scary if you’re me and just can’t cope with the worry of it all – see Florence Nightingale. But apparently, according to the nice doctor at my check up, my thyroid’s off again so, who knows, it could be the fluoride thing again.

I’ve been trying not to use it. I’ve searched out all the flux and really only the use the fluoride one occasionally. O.K. so quite a bit just recently. So back to being good about it again.

The fluoride flux is henceforth banned from the studio or else it will have to answer to The Beast.



I braved the studio even though the fume extractor hasn’t arrived yet.


Regency Plume Agate

It all started when I thought that I’d just prepare a few stones for their collars.

Nothing more dangerous than that you understand.

I’ve been ordering some more stones you see.

It’s called addiction, and I’ve got it.

PicMonkey Collage PicMonkey Collage1

PicMonkey Collage2

And I have a feeling that I’ve forgotten some.

A punishment somewhere awaits me.

Although the top two stones look o.k., they’re not as nice as they seem from the photograph, which was a bit disappointing.

I should have read more carefully how they described them.

‘The top is Regency Plume Agate applied to composite turquoise (ground up turquoise with an added stabilizing agent), giving a 3D effect.’

In other words.

They are backed with a bright turquoise plastic-y kind of stuff, for substance no doubt, and the top is polished to such a high sheen that the whole thing looks artificial and not like a natural stone.

But as I’m not yet an expert stone purchaser, I forgave myself.

And plodded through and made something anyway.

P.S. I’m really disappointed with this bezel setting. The silver balls at the bottom are attached to the collar which made it difficult to push it over evenly.

Just so you don’t worry about it I’m going to have another go at it when I get home today.

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