Monthly Archives: January 2015

So there I was. In the studio.

Minding my own business.

When in the space of one swallow I had a sore throat.

Add that to the constant runny nose and it’ll not be long before I need my face mask for more than just keeping the dust out.

Actually I’m wondering if I shouldn’t put my pickle farther away from me as I work. I think I’m going to try that because I think the fumes might be getting a little too intense and perhaps it’s burnt my throat and soon my lungs will drop out.

Just another studio freak out waiting to happen.

I had a great week last week, in spite of the runny nose and burnt lungs.

I made over $1,000 and I’m still wondering if it hasn’t all been a terrible mistake on the part of the people who purchased my things.

Here’s the run down.

I sold this.


And this.


This one.


And this.






And two charms!


That’s a little too good for anyone to not feel worried about.

I am very grateful for all the people who did buy my jewelry. I hope that they like it when it arrives.

Anyway, yesterday I made this.



But I am beginning to wonder if they aren’t all a little too much.

I love making them though.

And I sketched up a design because I’m thinking maybe the quilts are calling me again.


But again.

Even the quilt designs are getting a bit out there…

It’s all making me feel a bit like Willow did yesterday.


Bless her.

O.K. so don’t tell anyone, but

The other day I had a bit of a moment with tool buying.

It was just me, Ani, and paypal, and we had a whopper of a good time.

Well, it was good for me anyway.

I finally broke down and bought me a


With which I am hoping to do a bit of this


Starting from a bit of this


Of course, to do some of that I also needed one of these


But that’s just between you and me.

Of course I told P first, but as he was rushing out of the door at the time I think he just said o.k. to shut me up.

A girl has to do what a girl has to do…

It is my great honour, and privilege, to present to you today.

The joy and anguish of my life.


In all its grubby self.

To take my mind off it being in the same room as me I bought it some new friends.

The Optivisor…


I got a 2x and it’s brilliant.

I was a bit doubtful at first, but it really is cool. I have to take it off when I’m soldering because it bumps into the fume extractor, and once or twice I pulled it down over my cheapo target magnifying glasses and had a little vertigo moment, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it.


Don’t buy one if you don’t want to see every single mistake and botch up you’ve made on your jewelry.

It will send you into a funk.

I’m too excited to get the funk right now, but I’m telling you, at any other time I might well have given up making jewelry forever – again.

I also got a pair of half round pliers.


A special little wax stick thing for picking up stones.


A different kind of ring clamp.


Only it wasn’t the different kind of ring clamp I wanted.

I wanted a different kind of different kind of ring clamp.


One that holds the ring on the inside.

I’ll be checking out where to get this little gem later.

I also got a few different sizes of bezel wire to play around with, and some chain.

So that was my excitement for the day.

Here’s the better photograph I told you I’d take of my latest piece.


All finished and up on Etsy.


And a little something else I’m interested in doing.

Remember those charms I made using some of my left over silver.


Well, the left over silver just won’t stop coming.

I’ve a whole bowl of it just hanging around waiting for something to do.

I knew I could send it back to Rio for their recycling programme, but I wanted to do something special with it and the charms seemed perfect, but I also thought the charms needed their own role in life.

I’m happy to say that they have finally found their purpose.


A little school in Kenya :)

So while I’ll continue to send the money I make from selling my jewelry to the larger charities, all I make from the charms will go to the Roko 20 Academy.


Oneupmanship or, why I might never have been born.

Yesterday I told my dad about my scary torch adventure, and wouldn’t you know it, he had a better one to tell.

First off you have to understand that my dad is a 1930’s Londoner, and we all know that back then, in the dark days, things were a little different to how they are now.

But, really!

O.K. so he wasn’t exactly a Londoner, that was my mum, but he was a Dagenham boy, which is as close as maybe.

He told me that when he was 14 he started work at Samuel Williams, a dock distribution company on the River Thames, just up the road and round the corner from where we grew up.

His story was that one day he was told to get a new oxygen tank for a job he was doing. It was a big bottle, about six feet tall, so a little bigger than my 40 cubic foot bottle, and that he had to roll the empty one all the way to the storage shed to get a full one.


And there I was worrying about keeping mine upright in the car.

So I said,


And he said,

‘Straight up. I do not lie’.

And I said,

‘O.K. go on’.

So he told me that he rolled it all the way to the shed, got a new one, and then rolled that one all the way back to the workshop.

So I said,

‘Really? And they let you do that?’

And he said,

‘Well you know, back then they didn’t care as much about all this safety stuff.’

You think!

But that wasn’t the best bit.

Then he told me that at one point during his rolling the full one back he had to roll it over a railroad track. They had these tracks around the dockyard to carry coal, etc.. When he got close to the track the cylinder started to roll as the ground sloped slightly at this point.

He had to try to keep up with it and was nudging it along the way with his foot to try to keep it level!

But this wasn’t the best bit.

He went on to tell me that as he’d been kicking it, he had inadvertently opened the valve slightly and that the oxygen was escaping.

It was at this point that I called liar on him only as he’s my dad I said it a little more respectfully, like,

‘you’re pulling a fast one on me dad, it’s all porky pies’.

But he swore it was true.

But that wasn’t the best bit.

The best bit was when he told me that he managed to get the bottle over the first rung of the track, and was struggling to get it over the second when a locomotive started to come down the track.

I was like –

‘WHAT! NOOOOO! You’re making it up’.

And that he had to leave it there in-between the tracks as the locomotive and about six cars went over it.

Come ON!

This time I did call him a straight up liar.

But he swore it was true.

I said,

‘Isn’t oxygen explosive under those conditions, or at least can do the projectile missile thing?’

And he said,

‘Well, I don’t know, I don’t think so’,

And I said,

‘What about the sparks from the locomotive wheels against the track?’.

And he said,

‘Don’t know.’

‘Or if the underneath of the locomotive had caught up onto the valves?’

I could hear him shrug, so I said,

‘You’re having me on,’

But he swore it was true and went on to tell me that the bottle didn’t last very long after that as most of the oxygen had escaped.

He laughed when I said, so I might not have been born then with you blowing up and everything.

Like that wouldn’t have really ticked me off.

Even if oxygen bottles don’t explode, which I’ve read they don’t, I still can’t get over how blasé the whole thing was.

One thing’s for sure, he won’t be helping me refill my tank if he happens to be here next time it’s empty.

My dad :) God only knows how he made it into the army...

My dad :) God only knows how he made it into the army…

So I made it.

I found a welding shop a little closer to me and bit the bullet.

Before I left I did find an online shop which would deliver a tank of acetylene to me the next day. I didn’t use it as I’d lost my wrench (i.e. someone took it) and couldn’t get the regulator off. As it happens the man in the shop had a lot of trouble with it also so I doubt I would have been able to easily exchange my empty tank with the delivery man anyway.

They appear to deliver to most places in the U.S. (sorry back home folk and other not here people) and they don’t charge for shipping, just a $10 handling fee. Which seems a pretty fair price to pay for them to possibly blow up instead of me.

So to all my soldering friends out there who are weenies like me here’s the link.

H D Supply

This just takes you to the acetylene page, but I’m sure they have other exciting inflammables also.

And I’m sure there are many more companies out there willing to risk the lives of their delivery men if this one doesn’t work for you.

Here’s what I learned from picking the brains of the nice acetylene shop man.

The acetylene is mixed with acetone and if you let the tank run empty there’s a risk that the acetone will be drawn from the bottle.

Apparently this is bad.

“Acetylene is dissolved in acetone in the porous filling of the tank. It is NOT stored as a compressed gas, because if that is done it can/will explode at any pressure above 15 psig. If you draw more than the 1/7 of the cylinder size per hour, acetone from the tank is drawn out and may damage the regulator, hoses and seals. The flame will sputter. If too much acetone is removed, the tank can explode when subjected to rough handling after use. Acetylene is a dangerous material and needs to be handled with respect.” 

So, I won’t be doing that again, and perhaps neither should you Penny :)

Another thing he said was that after soldering you should turn the tank off and run the gas out of the hose. You should also open the pressure thing completely until the next time you use it.

I usually run the hose empty by lighting it and using the flame to ball up small pieces of silver to use later. I do this until the flame just goes out on its own, but I haven’t heard that you should open the pressure gauge before, and although I listened very carefully I’m still not completely sure why.

Sometimes I don’t even run the gas out of the hose :/

Here’s another compressed gas safety link.


I might have to stop reading all this stuff now as it’s beginning to make me feel nervous.

Things I did know are.

Don’t run the thing with the pressure above the red danger line.

I did for my first tank because I didn’t really think the red line was talking to me.

Sometimes ignorance is bliss, but not any more.


See that big, obviously important, red line there on the left dial. The arm shouldn’t go beyond there. In fact the man said that I shouldn’t need for it to go beyond the 5, but I found that the flame wasn’t doing its job at that pressure so I upped it until it was soldering better.

Not above the red line though.

When the arm is at the bottom as shown in the right dial, it’s empty, and not just pretending to be, so get it back to the shop before you blow up.

Or have the nice delivery man come.

If you do have to take it in your car, keep the tank securely upright and crack your windows slightly as, according to the shop guy, sometimes the gas can escape,

and. you’ll. d.i.e…..

(O.K. so he didn’t say that but I thought I’d add a little more drama as I’m sure we haven’t had enough. Something equally bad will probably happen though, so crack your windows…)

Oh, and don’t flip the car over or smoke while you’re driving home.

I thought that was his best tip.

Thoughtful though.

End result after a fraught day.


Just a little more cleaning up and on to the next thrilling adventure.

Maybe cleaning the microwave…

Oh god no! Or, where the hell is Scotty when you need him!

Again with the empty tank!

Just when I finally seem to have recovered from my last, fraught with danger, danger, Will Robinson, acetylene tank refill trip, the darn thing’s empty again!

What’s up with that!

Surely I only just changed the old one out for the nice fire truck red one.


I thought I was safe for at least another six months!

Yes, there was a slight indication before Christmas that it was empty, but I just couldn’t believe it.

I thought the gauge was wrong. That just because it read empty it didn’t really mean it. That it was just playing with me because it knows how distressing the whole driving it down to the gas shop is for me when I could almost nearly blow up driving there, but more likely probably blow up getting home.

In my itty bitty Mini car which, let me tell you, doesn’t like it either.

Now it seems that I have to be even more super duper distraught because apparently you should NEVER (getting a bit distraughtier now) EVER run your tank when it says empty.

Why though?

The flame is still burning. How empty can it be?


What the hell is burning when I turn it on?

So things came to a head yesterday when I was trying to make this.



And the soldering was just being completely, annoyingly, uncooperative.

I could have listened.

I could have saved myself a whole afternoon of trying to ignore the signs.

But, and let me ask you.

Why, if you’re heating the silver, and in fact you’re even keeping the flame exactly on one spot for the whole time and nothing’s happening, would you stop?

Why, when ordinarily the silver would melt into a blubbering heap just for even looking at the flame, would you say to yourself, hang on, something’s not right here?

Why wouldn’t you just give it up and save yourself a whole bunch of frustration and anguish of just knowing that you’ll never ever be any good at this whole soldering thing anyway so why not take up mahjong instead.

There must be a mahjong club somewhere nearby.


Because I’m bloody mindedly stubborn is why.

So this is where I ended up.


The bottom is not attached yet because of the small problem with the tank, and I’m not so sure I want to put it on there anyway as I feel I’ve taken a beautiful stone and surrounded it with my hideously bulky bezel design.

But that could just be my imminent death issues talking.

Why didn’t I think to make more friends with benefits instead of shutting myself away in the studio. Surely there’s a nice one out there with a truck who’s willing to risk their life for me.

Maybe that neighbour man with the car shop in his garage, won’t mind me giving him a quick chat up.

He knows who he is. I’ve seen his tank…

So again I say my farewells, my nice knowing yous, and I know that you’ll share my regret that even though a lot of the gadgets on Star Trek are now in popular use they never have yet caught on to the notion that a beam it up machine would be particularly handy for some of us, let’s say, more fragile souls out here.


Once upon a time I said I’d show you my doodles…

But that I was afraid your computers would explode as I doodle all of the time.

Well buckle up, and perhaps you’ll want to steer clear of any electrical outlets…









This was when I was having a little brain funk.


















Working on my font skills.




Now, you might say that they’re all the same, and you’d be right, so I don’t have anything to say about that, except that this is just a fraction of a fraction of doodles in about a couple trillion sketch books.

Before the jewelry was the pots.

Books and books of ceramic doodles.

And yes, even those doodles were similar to the jewelry ones.

It’s kind of nice to see a thread through all of my work, jewelry, pots, quilts, etc., even if they are all of these strange wacky images.

So I think you can see some of my jewelry in these doodles.

This is going to be today’s attempt.


Oh, and this was yesterdays.


But I’m hoping not to make anything like that one again as it’s horrible.

Onwards and upwards people.

We have a world to save…


I am back in the saddle.

If you’ve forgotten, here is a view of the central control station.


Where all of the good stuff happens.


And some of the bad.


All nice and tidy and ready and waiting.


I keep thinking I would like to get myself a proper jewelry bench.

I like the idea of getting a benchmate system, and having my work right there in front of me with an area to catch all of the droppings.


But, I like my table, and I don’t think I necessarily want to do everything at shoulder height.

When I do want to do things more at eye level I have my super eye level descending chair to fall back on.


With its cunningly clever descender lever which can instantly take me from this


to this


in the blink of an eye.

A much cheaper solution.

However I might soon have to invest in a more expensive super eye level descending chair as the one I purchased from target for $25 is beginning to adjust itself whenever it chooses to, and I find that unbeknown to me I’ve gradually been lowered at an imperceptible rate until I’m at a, hang on what’s happening here, height to the floor.

Which always surprises me that I haven’t noticed until either P comes in to bring me a cup of tea or, more likely, ask me when the h*@# I’m coming in for the night, or suddenly something just doesn’t feel right.

It’s at this point that I feel either supremely proud of my clever improvisation, or slightly embarrassed as it seems I’ve unwittingly become the height of a small elf…

Here’s the run down on my first day at my table.






If you’re wondering, I’d put too much flux on the piece here.

Veritably flooded it actually.

Oh well… life goes on.




Now, where were we…

The MIL has gone.

She left on Saturday and has returned home to the freezing cold and fog of London, but at least we had half prepared her for the weather as even here, in Houston, it’s been a bit chilly.

By the way, fog is one of my favourite weathers.

I love it.

You feel all safe and muffled.

Well I do anyway. Of course, you wouldn’t want fog all of the time, but it is kind of comforting, walking around in your own little bubble of nothing.

In my book fog is up there with mushrooms and parsnips.

That’s as far as my cold riddled brain can think right now, but I think I’ll compile a list of my all time favourite things.

Just so I know.

Yep, I have my yearly cold.

It’s been lingering for over a week now, but I’m only feeling a little sorry for myself as half the time I can’t be bothered to be bothered about it. I’m looking forward to too many things to do much wallowing right now.

What else?

The Christmas decorations went down yesterday with some lingering on for today. The MIL, P and I were arguing about exactly when they should come down. P and I said the 5th and the MIL said the 6th. Somewhere in there the 7th was bandied around, but I can’t remember why although I think it might have something to do with the Wise Men getting lost.

So I looked, and what’ya know the MIL was right.

Hate it when that happens.

Turns out I was including Christmas Day when we should have started counting from the day after, on Boxing Day.

Unless you’re Church of England when the twelfth IS considered the 5th – (or vise versa). In which case she was wrong.

Love it when that happens.

AND she was double whammy wrong as she’s Church of England also.

Not cool MIL. Not cool.

Twelfth Night


Well, as it happens, I’ve been taking mine down on the 5th ever since I’ve been decorating, because, and don’t ask me why except the nice people on Wikipedia know but aren’t telling, it’s bad luck for them to be up for even one day over.

And I’m not into bad luck, but…

 and I’m very sorry about this for all concerned, getting back to the 7th, it seems that, according to one telling, all this time I’ve been hindering the Wise Men from finding their way home…



Not that wise then, if you ask me…

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