November 7, 2010

Jungle Love - the start of a long relationship with wire working!

"Jungle Love" a mixture of glass and sterling silver

I love working with wire!  And I never thought I'd be shopping in the Sears tool department but there I was yesterday, hunting down for a good pair of needle nose pliers and wire cutters!  I remember one Christmas my Dad bought me a tool box with an assortment of tools.  It was the year that I became single again.  When I opened my present, all excited at what it could be, maybe a bread machine or a photo box to keep my tons of memories in!  To my chagrin, it was a bright orange tool box.  And anyone who knew me then - orange was my least favorite color athough now I like it mixed in with a hue of yellows and browns.  It's like when you just detested pea soup or corn chowder but as your taste palate changes as you get older - you now love what you truly hated as a child.  It's sort of like when someone insists you will like it, you rebel because you want to claim that decision yourself.  I do like fresh pea soup now but still can't get into the corn chowder groove.   It's the New England substitute if you couldn't afford to buy clams or real cream.  And that was the only thing I felt my momma didn't make well because she would stretch that chowder which made it watery.   She had a large family to feed and then there was my brother to feed.  He could scarf down a whole loaf of bread and a gallon of milk in one sitting.  I kid you not, I watched him do it with peanut butter spread between the slices of bread no less!   And he was skinny as a rail for as long as I could remember!   My mother always served us, no family style (none of us girls would get anything if that happened!).  And for some strange reason even unknown to her to this day, she served my brother first.  We were a family of  seven - four girls, one boy plus parents.  Eight if our nanny stayed with us, which she often did because my grandfather needed a break.  So when my mother would finally fill her plate and just sit down, my brother would ask for seconds!  We were still picking our plate and he done clean his until it shined!  My mother would say "Don't you ever chew your food".  My brother would just stare back.  The ONLY food he "chewed" was soup.  Yes, soup.  He hated soup and the more liquidy it was the longer he took to chew it.

I took a class in intro to wire work yesterday at Tatnuck Beads Westborough with Diane who owns the sister store in Worcester, which was the first store to open.  She gave a history and explainaton of the tools, and components of wire working, which was very helpful.  Needle nose pliers and wire cutters are basic essential tools for jewelry makers.  And although there are also basic techniques on shaping wire, once you get those down pat, you can create as endless as your imagination can carry you.

I used needle nose pliers to shape the silver pieces and then with a mallet and metal block, I hammered each piece flat.  If you use the ball part of the hammer, you can give your flatten piece a distressed look.  I opted out on that to save for another design.  The beads were flat as opposed to the square box glass beads our instructor provided.  I felt this bracelet should lay flat against the wrist as opposed to the chunky look, which is also nice but gave a different textured look. 

I called my piece Jungle Love because the pattern of the beads and the shades of brown against black reminded me of lions, tigers in a endless jungle.  The silver "squiggles" reminded me of doodles on a page like when you are talking with a loved one perhaps a new love - doodling on a pad, writing their name over and over.  Or perhaps writing what they are saying or just a subject word that encapsilates what the topic of conversation is at that moment.  The doodling is never meant to be a distraction just a factor of being fully engaged in a momentus conversation, which either can break or strengthen a relationship.  Being an incurable romantic myself, I'd err on the side of strengthening!

I wanted the earrings to conplement the bracelet which I felt needed to be showcased more so I elected to do only one "squiggle" at the top using a long silver head pin instead of cutting wire.  Same technic was used. 

November 6, 2010


Well I can hardly believe it is November and since my last blog I was very busy with work-related stuff - overseeing production and video for the WICT New England - Evening of Excellence held in Norwood, MA.  It was like planning a wedding.  I had only the production piece to plan which would be the nuts to the soup partt.  It was a most rewarding experience, but as like a wedding - after the months of planning the day went by in a blur of a moment.  But what a night!

Momma's Diamonds, in progress
So you ask - now that the mad dash and rush of adrenalin is over with - what will I do for down time?  Well, it's back to creating jewelry and needlework. 

I am still working on the afghan for my momma but got stuck so I put that project on hold.  Valuable lesson number 1:  If you stop your knit after a row - note on your pattern sheet which row you stopped on!  I didn't and forgot which row of the pattern I was on  so there is a rip and restart in the near forecast!  Nothing wrong with that - but it's a lesson learned that I wanted to share with you.  Here's where I am at so far - isn't it beautiful?   I'm using two colors to make a variagated look.  This is my Christmas present to my momma, who thankfully, for now, hasn't read my blogs yet - she's boycotted her computer and reduced her viewing only for the occasional new exotic recipe.

My mom is great cook and she puts all her love into her cooking.  You can feel it at first bite.  I used to live across the street from her before I remarried and when I got home from a long day at work, she'd ring me up and say "I've made too much food - have you eaten yet?"  Each time she called me, the excuse for the meal surplus was she is so used to cooking for an army.  I wanted to point out that she hasn't cooked for an army in over 10 years since my sister Kelley took over the focal stopping point for Christmas dinner.

When  I wasn't too tired from a long day at work, I'd walk across for a home cooked meal and a glass of wine - or two.  She always has a bottle of wine chilling for me - even though, once I pointed out  that red wine tastes better at room temperature.  And when it wasn't chilled, she would always ask - with or without ice cubes.  I wondered how she knew I was home because each time I'd just get through the door and the phone rang across the room.  Later when I asked, she said she would watch for my lights to turn on.  Her living room, which she always refers to as "The Parlor", faces the street.    Love is rarely spoken from her lips, but, imagining my momma, even now, sitting in her chair by the window, watching for the lights to turn on.  That anticipation touches me like no spoken words can.

My momma has always been a caregiver.  If it wasn't us, it was her momma and dad, my stepdad, and her older brothers - one who she cared for lovingly while he was in his last weeks with terminal liver cancer.  The other, who lives one floor above her, and never married, while he recouped from pancreatic cancer treatment but thankfully recovered.  But yet, she still watches over him, even though she is the youngest.  And at work - the job she retired from as a nurses' aid in a convalescent facility and now, to make ends meet, at an elementary school where she is known as "The lunch lady" by the children. 

This past summer, we were on a plane to Orlando and behind her one of the children called out "Lunch Lady - it me, Paul!"  Paul's mother looked at us with bewilderment so my momma explained to her in lengthy narration as the parent nodded with a smile.  And on that same vacation at Epcot Center, she received a tap on her arm - another child who recognized the Lunch Lady within a sea of strangers - over 1200 miles from home.  I think it is my momma's nature to take care of people.  It gives her a satisfied purpose in life and validation of who she is.  I suppose she has always known who she is - not like our generation, where we are always trying to find out who we are. She says, pointedly - just look in the mirror.  That's sensible New Englander talk - why don't I have that?

I know this knitted afghan will be a great surprise for her.  She loves hand-made things, who doesn't? And the next time I  stop by, I will know where to find her.   Passing the kitchen where a dinner will be warming on the stove and walking through the dining room where a chilled glass of Merlot, ice on the side,  sitting next to the table setting, and then into the connecting parlor where my momma will be, watching for me through the window, with her afghan on her lap to warm her knees.

courtesy Tatnuck Bead Company
Well, I got a little off topic - that's what happens when memories set in.  But today, I am off to learn wire working.   I've been wanting to work with metals for long time now.  It looks so fascinating and intricate.  This is the introductory class that Tatnuck Bead Westborough offers and every time it has been scheduled, I was unable to make the trip up to Westborough.   Since I was already staying in Massachusetts for the weekend, the timing was perfect to take this class.  Next blog entry, I will talk about my experience with wire and a photo of my first creation! Tata for now!

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