Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spring is here!

With every end of the month I take inventory and ask myself what I most want to accomplish before the next month sets in.  It's about completion and feeling good about myself.  March winds seemed to blow hard on us symbolically here and brought chaos and changes that were not expected.  Even though last weeks Bad Business was a nightmare, it held within it the opportunity to spend longer moments with my passion.  Interrupted too often with endless aggravations, concentrating on taxes was out of the question.  So, I worked on jewelry.  Not only did it keep me calmer and more in control, but it was possible to finish a piece I began several weeks ago.  
I have been lusting over the idea of a lime green bracelet for ages and this little birdie sang an inspirational song to me.  I can hardly believe that I created this piece because it is so very different from anything I have ever done to date.  I used new skills that I picked up in Stephanie LeBaron Lee's Homesteaders Metalsmithing e-course.  There was such a wealth of information in it that I have barely touched the surface yet.  Just get me through taxes and will I ever have fun!!!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Bad Business!

Last week really was!  ...Naughty, bad hospice company!

Some of you know that I am a caregiver for my mother who has Alzheimer's Disease.  She is now bedridden, and is in a bad way mentally and in rapid decline, but her nearly 99 year old body is still pretty healthy.  Anyway, I had been very dis-satisfied for a few months now with the hospice company that has been providing services for her.  They changed over leadership, and have been so corrupted by greed that they were making good, solid experienced employees leave and the others were fired, and have hired less satisfying employees to replace them.   Care has been a chore with the new people, and supplies were not brought in sufficiently or appropriately.  So, last week I decided to change to a new company.  Well, there is huge $$$ in hospice care.  Medicare pays an average of $150 per day for patients and my mother requires so little additional care that they only met the basic requirements of one nurse visit per week and one social worker visit per month and a re-certification visit each 60 days.  That means for around 4-1/2 hours per month they get about $4500.  Do I wish that the government was putting all that in my pocket!  My mom is a "cash cow" in other words.  Minimal care and cost and maximum $$moola$$.  Long story short:  they made all the trouble for me to switch that they could, including withholding transfer forms and trying to get Mom bumped out of the system  They wanted to pick up the bed and all her equipment the very next morning at 9 AM.  Considering she sleeps about 20 hours a day now I had to tell them I was not home and wouldn't be able to accommodate them until later in the afternoon.  Luckily, the new company jumped through a lot of hoops and we had a bed and other equipment by 7:30 that evening.  I don't think Tidewater is done with me yet, as I plan to let a few people know like the referring doctor, Medicare and the Better Business Bureau.

Friday, March 21, 2014

I Played Hookie..

Yes, I played hookie knowing full well that this time of year is ALWAYS devoted to getting taxes done.  For me, it means forcing my focus into unavoidable paper sorting, shredding, QuickBooks and TurboTax, and gathering various forms to fill out.  I have no time to dream of creative pursuits, yet ideas and inspirations  seem to flood in on me and will even wake me from a deep sleep.  So, this morning I gave in and allowed myself to whip out a few more of these Tribal Gypsy bangles that I did pre-taxes. They provided just the relief I needed!
I got the recipe from FancifulDevices on etsy.  I love Marina's work and ingenuity.  She is my latest jewelry heroine.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Bling Looks Better When the Sun Is Out

I just had to re-post these two stack-able bracelets.  The sun came out gloriously brilliant this morning and I wanted better photos.
I have been overwhelmed with the Homesteader's Metalsmithing e-course.   What a storm of information we got and WOW! I have a lot of practicing to be doing for a good long time.  If I can just master the torch, I will be in metalsmithing Heaven.  I had to go so far as stepping myself back a little so I did  not feel so overwhelmed/clutsy/incompetent/and plain pure DUMB.  SO, I did something far more at my level but added a few touches learned in the course...
It's just a simple yoga type stackable of red coral nuggets with a wire wrapped tassel and a charm I forged of molten solder. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Filled with unusual challenges and a whirlwind of life, the new year has had me in a mire of confusion and fatigue.  My health has been challenged as I recently found that I have arthritis in my back.  After injuring my back last fall and the continued lifting/pulling/pushing/carrying my mother around, I ended up at the doctor who sent me to have an MRI.  OMG!!!  All 40-ish+ young women need to take bone supplements!  I thought I was the healthiest thing around, and didn't need any of that stuff.  Now, I am starting after the fact, and will have to work at this challenge from several angles. 

Anyway, I have been sidetracked with my mother who has advancing Alzheimer's and in sharper decline than before.  My brain has been befuddled and my creativity has been hugely effected.  Lack of proper sleep and rest have left me in a brain fog with little energy for all the demands of every day living.  Still, the creative side of me struggles to stay active.  It's that magical "thing"that keeps me going.  I managed to put together a few more bracelets. Nothing very involved, just me messing around with some fabric and wire wrapping with beads, and some fancy pewter bling beads with aurora rhinestones I found on sale at Michael's.


Spicing up the daily grind, I am venturing into a new e-course to boost my metalsmithing skills. Not content with stringing beads, I must be a bit on the crazy side to enjoy the brutal art of metal manipulations.  I have yet to see a jewelry artisan who has nice hands.  We all have short, broken nails and sore-looking hands.  ...And they do get sore cuz metal is tough and sharp.  so far, the course is not turning out gorgeous to-die-for results.  I am used to using a solder iron but not the torch to solder.  Big difference!  Unfortunately, there is no immediate feedback or communications with the other participants in this course.  So it really is going it alone.  At just a week in, and three to go, I have learned a few things, but I am holding my judgement til all is said and done.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

French Script Candles

Here it is as promised!  These candles are reallyeasy and so lovely to look at.  However, and this is a BIG however, they must be used with great care.  Because they are wrapped with tissue paper, they are a danger for fire flare, and wax can burn in a very combustible way.

Take careful precautions!

So, here I am, warning you before you go any further, because this is a "use at your own risk" kind of thing!  I absolve myself of any dangerous results of burning these candles!!!!

 What you will need:
  • candles  ...cheap candles usually have a higher flammability factor, but I actually saw a beeswax candle catch fire once at a friend's party and believe me, it flared up fast.  Use the best quality candle you can afford
  • white tissue paper
  • a printer!
  • something to print.  Go on a Pinterest or Google image search and you can find lots of great things to print: French script, music pages, recipes, small flowers or other shapes
  • a hair curling iron
  • scissors
  • tea bags

What to do:

Prepare the tissue paper:  Use a few tea bags and pour boiling water over just to cover and release the tea.  Next, tint your paper irregularly by gently dabbing and brushing it with the wet tea bags.  The paper is very fragile, and can tear easily when wet, so be very light handed.  Allow paper to dry thoroughly.  If you are as impatient as I am, you can use a hairdryer to speed this along.  Cut the dried paper into 8 1/2" X 11" pieces.  Tape a piece to a regular sheet of printer paper along the lead edge (the top).

Prepare the image:  If you are using text or any image that has a right side view, create a mirror (or backwards) image.  This can be easily done in the Paint  software that is installed on most computers.  Simply copy and paste your image there and use the "flip horizontal" button.  Then, take your image back to Word, and paste it on your page.  I set my page layout to have 1/2" margins and then dragged the image out to fit the entire printable area.  The candles I used are very tall, and so I wanted to use the full length of the page.  Place the paper with the tissue side down, and print your page.  Sometimes this is a fiddly procedure, as printers are often finicky things and refuse to print or eat the page just to be spiteful.  Keep trying!   I was able to wrap three candles from one printed page, just determine how many you will need.  I printed an extra one just in case.

Prepare the paper:   I trimmed the top margin off the paper by cutting irregularly and close to the script.  I could have torn it, but since the edge becomes invisible this is not important.  Just get fairly close to the script.  Also, trim the left margin away.

HOORAY!!!!  Now the fun part!

Making the candle:  

Heat your curling iron.
Line up the candle alongside the paper making sure the script is right side out, and not upside-down.  Top of page faces the top of the candle, about an inch down from the top of the side of the candle.  Roll the paper with the candle until you can line up the lines of script, creating a free flow for the image.

Holding the tissue in place, begin to slowly run the curling iron over the edge of the paper.  The candle surface will start to melt and adhere the tissue to the candle.  You will see that the tissue takes on a translucent look and disappears into the candle when it is properly adhered.  Continue to burnish along the candle until the paper is well-adhered and you have nearly completed encircling the candle.  You may occasionally have to slow down and let the iron reheat.

Use your scissors to cut the tissue, allowing for a smidgen of overlap.

Next, burnish in the edge to complete the adhering process.  Inspect your candle to make sure it is evenly burnished and the tissue is translucent throughout.  As a final touch, Press your curling iron into the bottom of the candle to adhere the tissue to the base and fluting the edge slightly so it will fit into a candle holder more easily.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas to all of you and my very intent wishes for all of us to have a fantastic and wonderful New Year!

I have had my hands full this past month, but I have a special project all lined up to share with you that I think you will like.  Stay tuned for my next blog on how I made these French script candles....