Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Gold Wicked Heart (named by my wicked friend Suzi).

One of my pendants was featured on a blog that showcases newer sellers on Etsy. What a nice surprise on the first day of my shop! The blog is called Remember Love and features handmade art of all kinds. My shop was also mentioned in an Etsy Treasury, which are member curated shopping galleries. Check it out here. Thank you Michelle!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


One of the pieces in my Etsy shop.

I finally got some pieces photographed for my Etsy shop. I don't know why these things take me so long to do. I'd rather sit at the bench and work or think about working or daydream about the places and things that inspire me, anything other than the business side of jewelry. I finally got a few things in there and I'm happy to say I had fun doing it. In the next few days there will be more finished jewelry added. Please take a look if you get a chance by clicking on the SHOP photos to the right.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


A beautiful summer sky somewhere between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids (don't tell anyone, but I took this photo with my iPhone while driving!).

Queen Anne's lace.

Black-Eyed Susans basking in the sun.

Independence Day fireworks.

The Wapsipinicon Mill and dam in Independence, Iowa in a more normal year. I grew up just south of town.

The Mill on Saturday, July 24th 2010. The dam is nearly obscured by flood waters.

Water pouring out of the windows of the old mill with flood waters breaching the lower floors.

The dam at Fontana Park, north of Independence. The road is beginning to wash out and hopefully wont undermine the dam.

Summer is supposed to be carefree and relaxed. The last couple of summers have been anything but for many people here in Eastern Iowa. I was in Independence (where I grew up) over the weekend celebrating my sister Jamie's birthday. The day before, areas north of Independence in the Wapsipinicon and Maquoketa river basins had 10 inches of rain in one night. The flooding that's resulted is nearly as bad as what we had here in 2008. The dam at Lake Delhi, also in northeastern Iowa broke yesterday due to excessive pressure on the dam. 200 houses were destroyed and 1100 were damaged. It's especially cruel because many of these areas are the same ones that had damage 2 years ago and lots of people just finished rebuilding.
I know that there are normal fluctuations in rainfall and temperatures from year to year, but something is simply different with our weather than it used to be. What's happening here and in other places simply can not be explained by normal fluctuations. I hope our politicians and others who have the ear of the powers that be listen to climate scientists soon, before it's too late to get a handle on.

Monday, July 19, 2010


A set of beautiful pliers designed by Alan Revere.

Well, if you read this blog often you know that I LOVE tools. A while back I started having pain in both hands, especially when using pliers to bend metal. While I was at the orthopedist I met with a physical therapist who wanted to look at some of my tools and watch the way that they're used. He suggested that for some kinds of work, especially when bending rings or heavier sheet metal, that I might try shorter pliers without padding as it would be easier to feel how hard I'm pressing. The idea being that this ability to "feel" the metal would prevent me from putting too much pressure on the area of the hand between the palm and the thumb. I normally use longer Swanstrom pliers, which I love. I love the longer length and I just love the quality of them. I suspect that I won't be giving them up anytime soon, but I recently saw these and I was intrigued by them. They're designed by Alan Revere, Master Goldsmith and founder of the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts. They're hand-made and hand-finished with knurled, non-padded handles. I'll let you know how they feel this week when I finally get to try them out, but in the mean time, they sure are purdy to look at!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Copper pieces, with Mehndi designs ready to be etched.

More Mehndi.

Not Mehndi patterns, but I think these will be fun too.

Sorry about the lack of posts. I haven't been feeling too great lately, but I feel better today. I'm still working on some acid etching projects (you know how obsessed I can be). I've always admired the beautiful patterns found in Mehndi. Mehndi is a temporary henna "tattoo" applied to the hands and feet of people in celebration of weddings and other events in areas of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sudan and some parts of Central Asia and the Arab world. It's a very ancient art form that may originate with the Egyptians and I've always found it really interesting. I once was lucky enough to have an Indian friend apply Mehndi to my feet. I thought it was really beautiful and I didn't want to wash my feet! Even with washing, it lasted most of a week.
I decided to use some of the patterns to acid etch a bracelet. I cut out all of the pieces in copper, filed and sanded them and applied the designs. Tomorrow, (today, actually!) I'll give the pieces a bath in some ferric chloride. After that I'll drill some holes and solder on some jump rings and a clasp and hopefully it will be really cool. We'll see. Unless of course, I decide to just make a bunch of earrings out of them instead! I'll let you know what I decide to do and post some pictures too.
Read about Mehndi here.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Please take some time to think about this. I think it's a great idea. We've already lost some really wonderful places to eat and shop in my community in the last year between the economic downturn and the floods. Think about the places you'd really hate to lose and act before it's too late. Please read more here.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Lily's first day at her new home.

Whatcha doing?

Sleepy girl, napping with the Ugly Dolls.

Lily and Sophie watching cat t.v.

Lily and I the night we came home from the Bead and Button Show. Both of the girls were so happy to see us.

It's hard to believe that Lily is already one year old. What a sweet girl she is. I'm so happy that she's here.


I hope you're all off doing something fun today, eating great food and enjoying all of the good things in life. I will be and I'm so grateful that I'm free.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Touring through the sunflowers in Provence. It's one of my favorite parts of the Tour.

It's that time again. I love the Tour de France. In fact weirdly, I love pro cycling in general. I keep up with it as all year as best as I can. It's not easy, because here in the U.S., Lance Armstrong not withstanding, it's not too popular. There are ways to keep up. Sites like the Daily Peleton and Cycling cover all of the races leading up to the Tour, like the famous one day races like the Paris-Roubaix over the cobblestones in the country side and the spring Grand Tours of California and the Giro d'Italia. All of those are great, but they are only the opening act for the most famous bike race in the world. I got interested in pro cycling, as most Americans probably do... Lance Armstrong. And did so enjoy seeing him win that first time, and then again and again and.. well you know, 7 times. But the July after he retired 5 years ago, I realized "Hey it's time for the Tour!". I had somewhere along the line become a real fan. In spite of all of the bad press and bad seeds that the sport has had, I had grown to love it. It's loaded with beautiful things. The mountains, the countryside, the cute boys on bikes and the beautiful athletism of the sport it's self. I don't think most people realize how brutial a sport it is and how well trained you have to be. One of the things I like best about it is that most of the best riders aren't young (except for last years winner, Alberto Contador, who was 24 when he won his first Tour in 2007). There's a lot of strategy and team work that goes into winning the Tour and no one does it alone.
This year should be amazing. Armstrong has a new team (Radio Shack) loaded with stars who are loyal to him and there in part to try to help him win. Contador is on the same team (Astana) he was on with Armstrong last year. Astana has few other great riders, and maybe none who will be trying to help Contador win. I admit, I'd love to see Armstrong at almost 39 years old, win one last time. Either way it will be Lance's last Tour de France. No matter who wins, it will be beautiful and it will be dramatic.
The Tour runs from July 3rd-July 25th and you can watch all 3642 miles of it live (if you can get up that early!) or replayed in the evening, on the cable sports channel Versus. Live feed of the race will also be available on Twitter if you don't have Versus.


Chinese calligraphy.

An archaic version of Arabic.

Ancient Greek text from a stele near the Parthenon.

Copper tablets etched with Latin passages from the Book of Kells. Paul and I saw the Book of Kells at the Trinity College Library in Dublin. It's a truly unbelievable work of art and of faith.

I have some shows off in the distant future (funny how the distant future sneaks up on you!) for which I'll need plenty of interesting earrings. So today, I spent my time doing some acid etching. I photocopied ancient texts that I found on the Internet, onto PnP paper (PnP paper is an acetate used for printing circuit boards), then using an iron, I transferred the images onto copper pieces that I had earlier sawed into tablet shapes. I touched up areas where the toner didn't quite transfer with a Sharpie. After all that, I submerged the pieces in my acid etching tank filled with ferric chloride and left them alone for about an hour. Before anybody starts to give me hell about the ferric chloride, when handled and disposed of appropriately (which I do!) it's a very safe chemical. I think they came out pretty cool. I made bunches more, these are just the ones that I got cleaned up so far. Now I can patina or enamel them or whatever else I can think of to make them more interesting. I'll try to remember to post pictures when I make them into earrings.
I like the idea of written language as a work of art. It's nice that the words have meaning, but I'm almost more excited by the visual aesthetic of them.