Sunday, January 24, 2010


Sentry Fume Extractor.

The fume extractor set up at my soldering bench.

All the safety equipment in the world apparently doesn't protect you from a slip of the pliers!

Safety is such a hot button issue in metalworking, as it should be. Nothing is as important as our health. I think a lot of what we do involves common sense, but it's easy to convince ourselves that what we can't see won't hurt us. Recently, I started getting a bit more serious about safety in my studio for my sake and for the sake of my students. I got flashback arrestors for my new torch, better respirator masks for enameling and most importantly (and most expensively!) a fume extractor for cleaning the air of my workspace. I got the fume extractor from a company called Sentry Air Systems. I did a lot of research on how best to extract particulate, soldering fumes, and solvent fumes form the air. This system uses either an industrial Hepa filter or a carbon filter, depending on what type of material you're trying to extract and a pre-filter to catch larger particles. It's fairly quiet, quite portable and really seems to be doing the job well. It's not fun like a new torch or a hammer, but I think it might be the best money I've spent in a long time. Check out Sentry Air Systems here.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Sandra, Alice, Mary Lynn, David, Pam and Bonnie, all concentrating hard.

A pile of toggles, still wired together from their spin in the tumbler.

PMC pendants with fine silver bails.

Unfired pendants with slide bails on the backs.

I had an all day PMC class at Bead Haven today. We did a sort of mishmash of techniques including toggles with riveted toggle bars, pendants with a big jump ring of PMC fired onto them and pendants with a slide bail attached to the backs. We had a full class and a lot of pieces to get done in just one day, but we did it and had fun as well. After class I drove home in a cold, windy, torrential rain storm. A trip that usually takes 20 minutes took me nearly an hour. I was cold and wet when I got home, but was greeted with such enthusiasm by two of the world's most beautiful, fuzzy cats, that I was instantly warmed. At least my heart was, if not my toes.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Sleepy Lily.

Lily and Sophie.

Lily tries to wake up Paul.

Lily had to spend a few days at the veterinarian hospital this week. She was being spayed. We all missed her so much while she was away. The house was so quiet without her. How did this little thing get into my heart so fast? After Max died, I really wasn't sure I had anymore room in my heart for another Kitty besides Sophie. I still miss him so badly, but Lily, who is so different from him (yet alike), does fill a space that I thought was closed off. I really don't understand how people can live without a cat or a dog. She's bouncing around like nothing happened to her!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


A photo of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti
Photo from the BBC World Service

The images coming from Haiti the last two days are horrific. There are far worse pictures than this one from the BBC , but I simply couldn't bear to post photos of injured, dying or dead people. I know that I'm not alone in my sadness over this situation. We have so much in this country. When bad things happen here, even the worst things like hurricanes, earthquakes, floods etc., we have resources to care for the injured and the displaced. Sometimes, after disasters like Hurricane Katrina and even the floods that occurred here in Iowa it sometimes seems that we don't. Of course, as awful as these things were and as mismanaged as the federal government's reaction to them may have been, if we are honest, we all have to admit that those situations pale in comparison to what's happening now in Haiti.
Maybe I'm naive, but I never cease to be amazed at the reaction that some people have to tragic events like this. Today when I read comments from hypocrites like Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson I really couldn't believe what I was reading. I know I shouldn't be surprised at the hate and venom that these two fools are capable of spewing, and yet I was. Shame on both of you for using the deaths of tens of thousands of people who already had so little, to feed your own filthy agendas. Shame on you both. I don't often use this space to to vent, but today I felt that I needed to.
On the other hand, I know that most of us are decent and caring human beings who are grateful for what we have and saddened for others who are in agony. If you are looking for something to do to help, here are some great places to start.

Friday, January 8, 2010


I wanted to mention here that I will be teaching a new class at Bead Haven in February. It is a class on cold connections, in other words connecting metals without soldering. In this particular class we will be concentrating on nail head rivets. We will be using copper and brass cut-outs and copper and brass vintage-style stampings. We'll also have time to play with the torch to heat patina our pieces as well. It will be lots of fun and you'll learn a skill that you'll use over and over again.
The class is on February 18th. Contact Bead Haven if you're interested. I promise it will be "riveting"! Sorry. I couldn't resist.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


IOWA 24- Georgia Tech 14

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Tonight is the Orange Bowl. The Hawkeye Nation is excited. Ok, by that I mean we are excited at my house! Paul can hardly contain himself. Actually, the buzz in our part of the state, anyway, really is all about football. We couldn't go to the game this year, but we did go to the Orange Bowl the last time Iowa went and it was crazy! There were 50,000 Hawkeye fans in Miami. People who didn't have tickets went down just to party. It was a little overwhelming for South Florida I think. We're having friends over to watch the game and I've made goodies (as if any of us need more food after the holidays!) including a yummy orange cake in honor of the Orange Bowl. Keep your fingers crossed for us and Go Hawks!

Friday, January 1, 2010


I haven't blogged in a while, I guess I blame the holiday slump. When I read this today on Gail Crosman Moore's blog, I knew that today was the day to come back to it. Michele Goldstein is a wonderful lampworker and an even better soul. I've gotten to know her from the Bead and Button Show and from the Bead Fest and she's a really special person. Please read on from Gail's blog.

"In my ego-centric world things aren't going so great, but my plight will be relatively short lived. I'm going to follow sage advice and bring your attention to my/our dear friends plight....Michele Goldstein is caring around the clock for the dying father of her children. (There is no time for their family to prepare for the end of his life. Steve's sickness was unexpected and the cancer is moving quickly through his body. His death is imminent, and it's only been three weeks since he was diagnosed.)

If you know Meesh, you know that she is the kindest of souls and is always generous and puts others first. She would never think about asking for money from others. That is why her friends are asking you to think of sending her something.

In looking at the dawning of a new 'age', a new year, I want to start it right and send a loving message of direct help to one of us who is in need. Meesh has been unable to work, has needed to cancel shows and is looking at an uncertain future for herself and her two young boys.

It is my hope that we could take some immediate heat off of her situation by laying down a little padding to her nest. Could you help?

If you can help, the most direct route would be through her Paypal account.( If you could forward this to anyone who might be interested in helping, please do!

We will be following this up with an interesting auction of donated items, if you would like to become a part of this please contact either me at or Anne Mitchell at to develop a trust for her children. "

Please help with a donation or an item to auction.