Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My Heart's Desire

As I alluded to in my last post, I spent last Sunday afternoon learning something new. I didn't mention what it was to be, however. Allow me to blog on about something I am very passionate and excited about. It has been my heart's desire to learn cabbing for going on 15 years, so excuse me if I gush. Also, excuse my extreme blog fail for forgetting my camera.

As I have said, I met Randy on eBay when I bought a very nice cab from him. It turned out we are from the same area. After many emails and meets on a forum for all things rock, we met in person, at the local rock club. I was disappointed to learn that the last day to learn cabbing with the group was the day after the meet. I had to be in another city with the grandkids to attend the rare event of an open house at a particle accelerator-- I rarely miss a chance to explore anything science related. So, sadly I had to miss the cabbing. But, not to worry, Randy stepped in and offered to teach my husband and I. I almost literally jumped at the chance. Randy is known to be a great cabber and a very genuine all around nice guy. I'd be hard pressed to find such a great teacher!

The following Sunday, finally rolled around. I had spent the week eagerly anticipating the day. I felt pretty confident about it, but the saws did cause me some anxiety- this coming from someone who has actually used the jaws of life to peel open a car!! LOL!

We pulled up to Randy's house. Randy introduced us to his wife, daughter, puppy and snakes. We felt right at home and very welcome. I was relieved to feel so relaxed right off the bat. (As I've said before, I'm pretty shy and not a great people person. Hey, at least I know my faults, right?)  We chatted for awhile and saw some of the cabs and jewelry he had been working on. He is an OUTSTANDING wrapper. I very much like his style, which few do well, but when done well is the definition of delicate beauty. You can see some of his work here.

Randy, like all good rock junkies, has quite a stash of rocks. That was our next destination. He told me he had a lot, but I wasn't prepared for the motherload he had. Have you seen the movie, "Borat"? I felt like Borat going through the cheese aisle. What is this? And that? And this? This? My eye caught something interesting with every movement. They were everywhere! Oddly, one of my favorites was a plain white agate. I had never seen one before, but it was a clean, bright white agate, not quartz like, at all. But, he had some much coveted and lovely Victoria stone, too. That stuff is the bomb!

After being so horribly teased by all those rocks, I was ready to cut some up. So, we talked about tools and safety issues and I picked a slab (a thin slice) of Outback Jasper from Australia, which I had never seen before.It is really nice patterning and contrast.

First, we used a template to outline on the slab, with marker, the cab to be cut. I tried to pick 3 different looking patterns in the slab. One pattern was pretty cool, but ended up being sanded out. (Note to self...)

We then followed Randy to the saw used to rough out the cab. It is lubricated and kept cool by a basin of water. This is the one that I imagined would take off my fingers. However, the saw blade is safe to touch while running. I mean, you shouldn't do it, but if you were to accidentally bump it, you probably wouldn't lose a finger. I was a bit intimidated, nonetheless. I cut one and then the second was much easier. My husband jumped right in and had no reservations. He did a great job! Mine were so-so. But, the final forming wasn't done at this stage, anyway. (I would have inserted a picture here had I brought my camera.)

Our last destination was the cabbing machine. The one we used is called the Genie. There are 6 wheels and one on the end for final polishing with diamond paste. The idea is to work the cab shape down the grades of grit wheels to a final polish. This is the machine that I want to buy, there are others, but I am thinking this is the way to go.

The cabbing machine makes quick work of the job. I discovered that I will have to keep short nails to do this. I also learned that the wheels take off skin. Nothing too serious, though. It's also messy as it is done with wet wheels and a constant spray of water. I'm not made of sugar, so I won't melt.

I found out that doming a cab is way harder than it looks. My husband's cab has a nice dome. One of mine is rather flat and one is low, but domed. I also discovered a partially healed fracture in one of mine. I don't mind, though. It is my favorite one and I will be making it into a pendant to be proudly worn as my first cab.

Randy was an excellent teacher throughout the day. He was charming, informative, patient and interesting as hell. When we left, we were invited to come back, which we will be doing. Having been properly introduced to cabbing, I am now hopelessly addicted. I could have written all day about the adventure, but in deference to brevity, I'll just conclude with some pictures of our proud accomplishments.

The first two are mine, my husband's is last.

See the nice shine and bezels? :)

My favorite with a small fracture line.

My husband's- see his nice dome?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Mary Ellen Jasper: Pretty Name, Gorgeous Stone

I just finished up the first Mary Ellen jasper that I've had the pleasure to work with. When I first saw this online, from a very good and reputable dealer, I got a little breathless. I wondered if the red was as red as it was pictured. I had to wait for a sale to get it and hoped that it wouldn't get snapped up before then. In the end, however, it became mine.

I opened the box that it came in with more nerves than I had anticipated. I was really afraid that I would be disappointed after wanting it so badly. I bought two red stones (I've been on a hunt for red stones.) The first that I saw in the box was a Sonoran Plume agate, which was a muddy red. Then I saw the Mary Ellen jasper.

Love at first sight!!! I was more than happy with this yummy stone. It is really red, but even better is the background of black to smoky gray with a mirror like play in the light. That red really stands out against the black. And, if that wasn't enough, the pattern of red, which is actually fossil algae or Stromatolites- the oldest fossils on earth- the pattern looked like red roses to me. Sweetness!

It didn't take me long to decide what to do with it. I traced around it on some paper and started doodling. What I came up with is my idea of a trellis. Yeah, it's a little avant garde maybe or even far fetched, but I designed it and that is what influenced me.  :) I used silver and will not be doing a patina.

Am I the only one who can get so worked up over a stone? LOL!

Speaking of stones-- On Sunday, I am going to go learn something that I have always wanted to learn. I am more excited than even getting a Mary Ellen jasper in the mail or a new purse. Stay tuned- phase 2 of Tela's love of rocks is coming to a blog near you.

(Ignore the reflections in the pictures.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Once Perfect Purse

 This is for you women- men just cruise on by cause I doubt you'll want to read this.

There is no way to put this delicately:  I love my purse the way I love my favorite bra. They both fit me perfectly, they hold my junque just right, they aren't too big or too small, they are never cumbersome or obtrusive and they are fashionably black without being flashy. It has always been my luck, just as it was Peg Bundy's luck in "Married with Children", that when it comes time to replace one, I find it has been discontinued.

Arguably, 15 years or so is probably too much work for a bra, but my purse has reached maximum perfection and the coveted status of extension. It has ME written all over it. Yes, the rips and worn out spots are a reflection of me and of the times we've had together. But, the important stuff still works. The zippers have NEVER failed me. The zipper pulls are as reliable today as they were when new. The one lone, overworked pocket has no holes. The lining is in tact and the straps- though repaired and rusty- are still there. However, I have come to the decision, after long and careful deliberation (and research on how to mend suede) that it is time to get a new purse.

I am no slave to fashion. Never have been. I know that as a good woman I should have lots of shoes and purses to go with each, but dang it, I just want what works and is comfortable. If it will suffice for 90% of the time, then that's good enough for me. I don't want a purse for every season, I want my trusty purse that I can hang on my shoulder or hold by the handle. It doesn't have to hold a lot, just slightly more than my pants pockets will do. Hell, I don't even carry a big wallet. I have an old change purse from the dollar store. It has 2 dividers- one for money, one for cards. (The little snaps still work, too.) My purse has my change purse, my gum, assorted paper scraps, a pen, a few business cards and whatever else might be essential for any given day. So yeah, it has to be relatively small, but not too small. It has to be just right.

My purse is hopelessly out of fashion. Therefore, I haven't had any luck finding a replacement. I've tried. Though I loath shopping and dread malls like a zombie plague, I have tried. I even had a soul searching moment where I asked myself if I were deliberately avoiding picking a new one. It took a long moment for me to decide that NO I really was trying hard to be satisfied. I can't keep lugging this old bag around. There I am with my nice new purple print skirt with my really cute purple gradient tee with lavender camp shirt over it, and hanging from the ensemble is a ratty old black suede bag. Not cool. Let's not even mention how it makes my jewelry look. But, I love it so! I am almost in tears thinking of getting rid of it, though I know it must go where all good purses end up- in the trash.

So, here is my bag. Please- and I mean this from the bottom of my heart, if you have ever enjoyed my blog, please do me the favor and tell me if you have seen one like this somewhere - preferably a chain store that I can locate locally or online. I will be forever grateful. Seriously. :)


I hope I didn't torture you with my plea. If you made it this far, here's a new piece to look at. This was inspired by Art Nouveau rather than Art Deco. It is an angelite cab, aptly named I think. :)

Aren't you glad I didn't bring up how my favorite sandals need replacing?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Must be Spring

I hope you all had a great weekend. I did. You ever have one of those weekends that felt like eternal Spring- even in the dead of Winter? That's what it was like. Maybe, it was just my mood. :) I devoted a lot of time to jewelry and didn't let any other issues cloud my enthusiasm. Not even the kids' bickering and the thought of the web work, which I still need to finish, dampened my spirit. I'd love to say that I finished up 3 of the best pieces that I've ever done, but, nope I didn't. I think I only completed one. But, I got organized. I played with my rocks, I went through my bead stash, I fine tuned some older pieces and made tons of earwires. I was ever so happy doing it. I feel like I accomplished something very important, though truth is, I didn't. Anyway, that was my weekend.

The last pendant I posted was cut by the woman, Susan, whom I've been sharing rocks and wraps with. I asked her if she would like me to pass on her email address and she said, sure. If you would like to talk to her about checking out her cabs her email is  susand24224 (at) yahoo (dot) com . Just turn that into an email address. She doesn't have a store and is a hobbyist, at this point, just like most of us. She is fairly new to cutting, but she has a good eye for it. You can see that for yourself by my posts with her stones. :)

Here are a few more she cut.

Imperial Jasper

Petrified Wood

The piece that I finished this weekend was probably the most unique and challenging to do that I've done, to date. The story behind this stone:  I was looking at a forum where a guy was posting some rocks that he cut by hand. He is primarily a carver of stone, but these were cabs that he cut. They were all humungous with really awesome, unique shapes. I commented that the stone pictured below was calling my name and wanted me to wrap it. I was only half kidding. Lo and behold, he contacted me and wanted to send it to me. How awesome is that?? That was so nice of him. I'm always amazed when perfect strangers are so willing to reach out with kindness and generosity. It restores some of my faith in humanity, which has taken a hit in the last 10 years or so- but enough of that talk....    

He sent three big, beautiful rocks all the way from Hong Kong where he resides. One, I wrapped right away. It was an experiment gone wrong. I tried to do it completely off the cuff, with no idea where I was going. I wanted to try to channel the artist. I think the wrap did a good job with that, but as a lark- I beat the hell out of the wire, to distress it, before I used it. I took a bastard file to it, a hammer, a chisel you name it. It was really distressed 18g wire. As cool as the wire looked, and it did, it didn't really work once it was transformed into a wrap. 

You're curious aren't you?? Nope, ain't gonna show it. :) But, here is the one that I will share. It is done with pattern wire and I am leaving it raw to age naturally. This is Bruneau Jasper. The stone has a chiseled edge on the bottom.

LOL! I guess, I'm pretty chatty today- go figure, Spring must be in the air. :) Thanks for reading. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

To Sell, or Not to Sell?

I don't know how many of you readers out there are selling or are thinking of selling. It remains really high on my jewelry making distraction list. You'd think it would be the grandkids, but no, they are easy compared to the tedious work of running a webstore, the never ending promoting and learning something vastly new everyday. I bring it up not to whine, though I sure feel like doing it sometimes. I bring it up because it is something I am facing and it is effecting my jewelry making. Anything that interferes with making jewelry is a relevant topic in my book.

So, if it's such a whiny problem, then why do it? If it really encroaches on my jewelry time so much then why do I allow it? Well, I'll say it plain. I have too much jewelry. As you know, I love my stones. I am always picking up a stone here or there that I just love. I have to have it, then I have to design around it. It inspires me. It becomes jewelry and then it sits.

This began as a hobby. It would please me to no end if it could stay that way. But, I am a practical woman, not given to frivolousness. Sell, I must.

Of course, money is nice, I won't lie, but that isn't the main reason that I want to sell. I do want to support my habit/hobby, though. I know I won't get rich doing this. I mean, it would be nice to get rich, but I'm a realist, as well as being practical. I'm content just to support my habit/hobby and to find new appreciative homes for some of my pieces. It's pretty simple, really.

What is my point? Well, I have been working myself to death and stressing to no end over selling and I had to stop and ask myself- why? and is it worth it?. I have decided the answer to both questions is:  yes. I'm working hard, but I am learning so many new things and I love learning new things. I have goals and deadlines which I like. I also believe that any job worth doing, is worth doing well, so I have been giving it my all, which is very satisfying.

My ramble is just my way of setting to paper, so to speak, my feelings on the matter. It's my way of maybe making some of you ask your selves the same questions. This is just some food for thought. Nothing more or less.

On the selling front:  Ruby Plaza has announced they will be closing. The announcement came like a day after I closed my shop with them. The reason they are closing and the reason I closed:  no traffic. Hey, we live, we learn. It wasn't a total waste of time. :)

Here's a piece I finished today. (In between code wrangling.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Up and Running

I don't want to bore anyone with the trials and tribulations of trying to get a website up. So, I won't. Maybe, after time, it will be less painful to think about and I'll be able to tell the tale.... naw- best to let it die a peaceful death and move on. But, if you click the makeshift "shop" button at the top right, you can have a look and let me know what you think. In the meantime, I have a better story to tell.

I met up with some cabbers. What a great group of people!! So, down to earth and friendly. I offered an open invitation for anyone to shamelessly approach me with their wares. And, they did.

I already mentioned one guy whom I had an arrangement with. I haven't mentioned the lovely woman, Susan, who supplied me with 2 boxes of rocks to pick from. The first were smaller stones. I laughed because she mentioned they may be too big. Clearly, she hadn't noticed my penchant for big, stand out stones. The second box was full of larger, yummy cabs.

Before I post a couple pics of the pieces I managed to get done while building the site, let me say that Susan thinks of herself as a newbie. I gave her some feedback concerning the minor troubles with a few and told her as I am telling you, if these were the work of a newbie, you're off to a great start! I don't think of her as a newbie, at all. In exchange for the rocks I picked, I wrapped a few for her. It was a really fun deal.

The first is a stone she called a ghost. I saw it and envisioned an owl. A stylized owl. This is a great polka dot agate.

Update: Sad for me, but good for him, he has found a new home.

The second that I managed to get done was a great fancy jasper picture stone. The colors and contrast in this stone are incredible.

Picture Stone Fancy Jasper Pendant
Clicking this image will take you off site.

That is just about the extent of the wrapping that I have done in the last few weeks. I did wrap some for Susan, but I didn't get pictures and I have a pietersite and petrified wood done, too. Besides some minor tweaks and data projects for the site, I'm done with it. I need a break to sit and wrap a few days. I need to work on some stones from a man in Hong Kong who just sent me some stones out of the goodness of his generous heart, but that's another story.

If any of you have twitter accounts, leave it in the comments. I finally got an account, YAY! Now, all I have to do is figure it all out. I'm really terrible with these things, but my daughter is helping me out. :)

Notice how I haven't mentioned the whole etsy thing? Here's my short 2 cents. I don't sell on etsy. Don't know if I ever will. Hell, I don't even like shopping there. But, I support the growing protest. If one claims to be something and stakes their honor on it, then they damn well should be that.

If you are reading this, thank you so much for hanging in there with me. It was a lot of time and hard work to do the site and I have really missed the blog and my friends here. I should be back to normal soon.