Thursday, May 22, 2008

Don't get me started

I'm sorry! I honestly didn't realize it had been so long since I wrote. And on such a bad note.

Someone sent me an email this afternoon that she was worried about me, and had emailed Bob to be sure that everything was okay. Everything's fine. I took some pretty heavy duty pain pills for about a week, also muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories -- my doctor doesn't mess around. The muscle relaxers (I think) made me feel kind of weird -- almost like I feel when I take cold medicine -- dry mouth, kinda spacy -- but other than that, it was blessed relief from the pain.

I haven't taken the pain pills now for a couple of days, and I just took the last of the cycle of anti-inflammatories, so I think I'm okay for now. It's made me kind of tired, though, and I've also been working a lot. I seldom get home before 8:00, and when I do get home, I'm not much in the mood to do anything but eat something and sit down to relax for an hour or so before I go to bed and get ready to do it all again the next day.

I went to the PMC (Precious Metal Clay) class at the bead store on Tuesday. I enjoyed the class a lot -- it was nice to sit around for a couple of hours with other women and talk and create something. It felt very peaceful to me to have a space of time when I wasn't really worrying about or thinking about anything else. I wasn't crazy about the things I made, but I was really glad to have had the experience of working with it.

You press the silver-permeated clay into a mold which is patterned, and which forms the back of the piece.

You roll it to even it out in the mold, then use a stamp -- like a rubber stamp -- to form the design on the front.

The pieces are then dried with a hairdryer so that they will pop out of the mold, then they're fired in a kiln, then cooled and tumbled in a rock tumbler. After that, you polish the pieces, antique them, polish them again, and voila! handmade silver jewelry.

I made those three pieces out of one package of clay, which costs about $18. So, not horribly expensive if you compared it to the cost of buying silver jewelry already made, but not exactly cheap enough to play around with. Last weekend I was playing around with clay, but the normal, somewhat cheap polymer clay.

I used a half off coupon to JoAnn's to buy a pasta machine, which makes using polymer clay much easier. The clay has to be "conditioned" before you use it, which means warming it up and working it with your hands until it's soft and pliable. That's a big reason why I stopped working with it a few years ago -- my hands just couldn't take it. But with the pasta machine, most of that work is done for you, you just run it several times through the pasta machine. (You can't make pasta with it, though, after you've used it for clay!)

I made a couple of practice pieces:

After the class on Tuesday, I went by Michael's to get a couple of packages of clay, and all of their polymer clay was on sale. There are several brands ranging in price from $1.99 to $2.79, but they were all on sale for 99 cents. So I bought $10.00 worth, and I went back last night for another $10.00 worth. I need to have enough so that I don't worry about using it. One of the things I'm trying to work on is not being afraid to make mistakes.

If you wait until you know exactly what you're going to do, and try to ensure that you're never going to waste anything, or make something that isn't exactly what you want, you'll never make anything. So I played around and made those two pieces, and got kind of excited about the possibilities again. Those two aren't very good -- I tried an interesting technique I read about where you melt embossing powder in a pan on the stove and dip the edges of the pieces in it, but then I decided I wanted to fire it again and the powder melted. I knew it would, but by that time I just wanted to see what would happen.

I have kind of fallen by the wayside in The Artist's Way work ... Last week, with my back, I was so miserable, and this week I didn't get started on Monday, so I decided to take this week off and start again next week, and re-do Week 2. It's a process, and it's not foolproof, and I knew it was going to take work.

Part of Week 2 was accepting "coincidences" as not being coincidences -- I hadn't talked about this, but toward the end of Week 1, I received a big Etsy order for five pieces from one person, and one of the guys at work asked me to bring jewelry in for him to pick some pieces for his mother. I ended up selling about $100 worth of stuff to several people.

So it's pretty evident that when I actually focus on making things work, things happen. But I know that there are a lot of psychological things going on; I don't think I'm afraid of success, but maybe in some small part of me, I am. Or afraid to take a step off the edge . . . I don't know. All I know is, it's interesting, and nothing is set in stone.

Wow, when I get started, I just don't shut up, do I?

Here are some poppy pictures that I found in the camera when I took off the jewelry ones.

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