Thursday, July 30, 2009

So if it works on disks . . .

. . . why wouldn't it work on wire? At least that was my thinking. Always trying to push the envelope. Here's a scan of the product of my latest light bulb moment:

No time for photos, gotta run!

The Further Adventures of the ADDA

Yes, the ADD artist strikes again. My long-suffering spouse and close family members know that I have been taking several classes these past six months at our local art guild. First there was the encaustics class. Finished two pieces and dropped out, it just wasn't my thing. Have since donated whatever supplies I had to neighbor Amy.

Some time ago I posted the first of my lost wax casting foray. Not done posting about that one yet, but today is not the day. Then there was the fabrication class. Have to write a post about that one as well. Again, not today.

Today I am much too excited about the results of my pottery class. Several people asked whether I was making pots or other containers on a wheel. No, I wasn't interested in "throwing," as it's called. Maybe another time. This time I wanted to work in porcelain and make a few personal trinkets and some pieces for jewelry. I have a few larger items in the works over at the guild; one in the kiln and two that still require glazing and a final firing.

Our instructor, the very knowledgeable and talented young Jacob Grant, has provided me with a firing schedule for finishing small pieces at home in my glass kiln (it doesn't get hot enough to fire the larger items). I just brought my first few pieces up from the kiln and I'm pleased with the way they turned out:

Please keep in mind that they are a bit dusty and that the photo doesn't capture the gloss finish on all the pieces. The teardrop shapes are also not quite finished, more on them later.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The beautiful thing . . .

. . . about being an ADD artist is that I've amassed a rather large collection of tools, supplies and materials. What this really means is that when I decide to try a new and different (for me) technique, I often already have most of what I need. I've been wanting to try enameling on metal for quite a while and recently moved forward by purchasing a sample set of enamels. With a viable soldering station at the ready and plenty of copper sheet and wire, I could get started.

Although I often think I'm the laziest person in the world, I'm beginning to see that at least some of the time it is more a matter of my not being patient. My excitement on receiving the tiny jars of enamels was somewhat tempered by the fact that they have to be "cleaned." Enamels are powdered glass which, due to the manufacturing process, come to one in an ever-so-slightly contaminated state. They have to be dumped into larger containers, each color by itself, and mixed with distilled water. The enamel particles fairly rapidly settle what are called "fines" suspended in a now milky-looking water. This water is poured off into a container lined with a coffee filter -- not good to fill the drain with glass! The watering, mixing and pouring off procedure has to be repeated until the water is clear.

If you're thinking, "Yeah! Now I can get on with the enameling!" you are incorrect. Next you have to spread each container of damp enamel on sheets of paper, each color by itself again. And now we wait for this to dry. Since, in my case, impatience is the mother of invention, I dragged out the old electric food dehydrater, inserted the trays of paper and glass powder, and not so patiently waited for the enamels to dry.

All in all this process took approximately 24 hours. By Sunday afternoon I was chomping at the bit, as they say. It was time to pour the dried powders back into their original (but now cleaned) little containers.

The rest of the process, to make an already long story longer, was to cut and dome copper disks, cut copper wire and solder it to the back of each disk. Next the disk has to be scrupulously cleaned which basically means a soak in hot acid (the pickle pot) followed by wire brushing and a bit of sanding to give the surface to be enameled a little tooth.

Now we brush on an even coating of the enamel adhesive and immediately sift a layer of enamel powder over it. This, then, has to dry. Are you beginning to see the necessity for producing more than one pair of earrings at a time? Hurry up and wait.

Finally, the enamel coated disks are positioned (level) on the wire grid of a soldering tripod. The torch is lit and heat applied from below so as not to scorch and ruin the enamel. Here's the final product:
I've very happy with my first attempt. Learned a few things and now I'm ready to go on. Any requests?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lately I find myself . . .

. . . being disappointed when the blogs I follow regularly haven't been updated in a couple of days. Actually I'd like to see new posts daily. Is that asking too much? Some of them are stretching past a week at this point. Then I signed into my own blog and I see that it has been TWELVE DAYS since my last post. My, how time flies!

There are a few things I need to post here but this is what I have for today:

Today's Harvest
It's great to be able to step out the back door and snip fresh lettuce! It tastes entirely different than the store-bought kind. We've been inundated with cucumbers and I've taken to hiding them in other dishes. Today it was the egg salad I prepared for lunch. If it looks like the green beans have been let go a little too long it's only because they hide from me until they're really big.

One of the miracles of the universe that I'm thankful for -- that the tiny seeds I so hopefully started in April have begun to provide us with wonderful fresh food! Now if only we could grow our own seafood . . .

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Just let go.

Remember the lost boxer we recently found? I'm happy to say she was reunited with her owner the next day. Before that, though, I emailed my children to let them know there might be a new pet available for them. My daughter's response went something like "I'm not sure I could be responsible for a dog."

I'd like her to imagine getting a dog. Of course she'd have to clip its nails, take it to the vet once a year, make sure the food and water bowls weren't empty. In return she would have a non-judgemental companion, one who would happily greet her with wagging tail each time she returned whether she had been gone for five days or only for five minutes. A furry friend to cuddle with whenever she wanted, one who would be there to provide unconditional love 24/7. And should she raise her voice over some misbehavior the dog wouldn't go away and sulk or turn and say "I hate you."

Now I'd like her to imagine that she's had this dog for about ten years or so when it runs away or dies. I really think in no time at all she could "just let go." Right?

After the motorcycle incident reported in my previous post my daughter sent me a photo of herself that she said represented her "satisfied mind." When I asked if that meant the racing around on the bike was now out of her system I got another email. This one said something like "Mom, I'm doing what I love. Learn to just let go."

So we've talked about responsibility for a pet. Now let's imagine we're responsible for a tiny human. Yeah, you'll have to clip this one's nails for sure. And you'll have to take it to the doctor maybe multiple times each year. It won't be able to feed itself or move itself to a safe place. And oh, by the way, it won't be able to clean its own butt.

Imagine you sit by the little one's hospital bed when she has to have tubes put into her ears or have the cyst on her neck surgically drained. There will be a sunny day when the sounds of her playing outside change just enough to make the hair stand up on the back of your neck and you'll know she needs you. You sit with her holding ice on the golfball sized lump on her forehead and hope that what you know is coming won't -- two black eyes.

Next, you send her off to school. You hope that she won't be scared, that she'll get along with the teacher and the other kids. You're unexpectedly allowed to be proud when the local newspaper shows a photo of her (on the front page, no less) reading a book to her peers in kindergarten. You diligently make the Halloween costumes every year and pay attention to what she's hoping Santa will bring. You make sure the Easter Bunny shows up. And don't forget the birthday parties.

She's gotten older and now can trim her own nails and wipe her own butt, although you still have to take her to the doctor every now and then. You have to fill in the blanks left by her teacher and her friends when it comes to the "birds and bees." You're responsible. You worry about her academic progress and you participate, like a good parent, in the high school marching band's activities. As if Girl Scouts wasn't enough, camping and selling those cookies . . .

High school graduation comes along and you feel lucky she made it through; the divorce has taken its toll on both of you. Still, she's a lovely young woman with good friends and now has her first serious relationship with a young man. You work with her on making the decision whether to go to college or find other appropriate work. You probably shouldn't still feel responsible, but you do.

You take the time to look at housing possibilities for the happy couple. Maybe you donate some towels or a blanket to their effort. Over the years you've had a couple of ambulance rides with her but she's come out all right; this time there's no ambulance but her hurt is very real and you take her home hoping her wounds will heal. Maybe they never will.

She's grown into a woman capable of taking care of herself. She's moved out of state, bought cars, found jobs -- become self sufficient. You're not responsible any more. Chicken pox, strep throat, flu, braces, a dislocated knee and bad hair days. It's probably a good thing you were there. Now she's bought a motorcycle and wants to race around a curvy track at speeds in excess of 100 mph, but you're no longer responsible. And she's doing what she loves. So come on, mom, "just let go."


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Why Mothers Worry

My daughter.
My daughter on speed. The two-wheeled kind.

Need I say more?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

You never know . . .

. . . when a seemingly ordinary weekend will turn slightly less than ordinary. Friday evening while cooking steaks on the grill we noticed the Red Baron buzzing around the sky over the Illinois River. He was doing loops, stalls, dives and being generally entertaining. It served to remind me there was to be an air show this weekend at the airport; we took a ride over to check it out on Saturday afternoon.

Great timing -- we arrived and found our spot just before the US Air Force Thunderbirds put on their show. I can't recall ever attending an air show before and assumed I would be bored. Not the case! Words can't describe the experience of watching (and HEARING) these F-16s do their thing. I was blown away by the fact that you don't even know they're coming until they're right on top of you. Although LOUD doesn't come close to describing the noise from these birds, it apparently trails behind them due to their warp speed. Were they to drop a bomb on us, we'd only hear their sound from heaven.

It was an incredible show and I highly recommend that anyone who has the opportunity to see the Thunderbird's demo should GO. It is unbelievable.
Today's excitement began typically enough as I was sitting at the computer checking out my favorite blogs, none of which had new posts, by the way. You know who you are. Something caught my eye in the front yard outside the neighbor's house; for a moment I thought it was a large fox I was seeing through the trees. On taking a closer look I realized it was a dog not walking its human. When it showed up again in the same place a few minutes later, I went out for a closer inspection.

She was a youngish-looking boxer with tail docked but ears not cropped (thank you). I took our leash and a bag of treats out with which to entice her to be captured. She wasn't having it. She took off and circled the block again. On the fourth circle when I encountered her once again, she took off, obviously not wanting any part of the treats, me or the leash.

The spousal unit was by now in the car so I jumped in and we began to follow her around the neighborhood. Each time we would catch up to her and try to get her to come to the car, she'd throw us the "stink-eye" over her shoulder and run off. At last she was trapped in a small yard and Jim was able to hook her up to the leash. She still wouldn't accept a treat but hopped into the car quite readily.

Wearing a collar and current rabies tag, we're hopeful the owner(s) will claim her. If not, is there anyone who'd like a sweet, docile, lovely little female boxer?

Now that I'm coming off of the weekend's excitement I can devote the next 24 hours to worrying about my wild daughter madly racing her motorcycle around the Elkhart Lake race track tomorrow. Wish us luck!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The bombs bursting in air . . .

. . . reminded us once again of our freedom, something we take for granted. For me, a jewelry artist, the fireworks display we attended reminded me of something additional. I saw glittery gold pieces falling from the sky. And rubies, emeralds, sapphires and diamonds. I SO love the bling! I never get tired of the fireworks -- does anyone?

Earlier in the day the spousal unit and I went to the local farmer's market to score more of Harry's delicious hydroponically grown tomatoes; it's too early here for the REAL ones. Still, Harry's tomatoes actually TASTE like tomatoes, a real luxury for us.

And since we're on the subject of produce, here's an update to my efforts back in April to start plants from seed. Basil . . .

. . . and lettuce . . .
growing in boxes attached to the back porch railings. Our very first cucumber of the season . . .

. . . growing on neighbor Amy's side of the fence. Can anyone tell me why they're ALL growing on that side? Pretty purple posies . . .

. . . Morning Glories. And don't forget the green bean teepee . . .

. . . where Moon Flowers have yet to bloom. And last but not least, our first hopeful tomato.

The finale feast of the fourth of July weekend? Chicken marinated in Italian dressing and grilled on our wonderful new grill (thanks again, Heather!). Sliced onto a bed of our fresh lettuce and basil with mozzarella in balsamic vinaigrette and accompanied by grill-toasted bread from Avanti's. Yum!
And finally, time to relax in front of the TV with the spousal unit and my BFFFF before bedtime.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Have a Safe and Happy 4th of . . .

. . .