Who do you think you are?

30-something mother, wife, lawyer, writer, design junkie, craftaholic, cook

likes: clever tools, snazzy colors, working for justice, kid wrangling, Meyer lemons

dislikes: inefficiency, civil discovery, most shades of purple, Tori Amos

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Entries in silver (2)


Three Birds

Three Birds © 2009 Cameron Blazer
Some people have a vision in their minds eye of a drawing or a design, and they can sit down with pen and paper and produce what's in their heads. I have spent most of my life wishing I had that gift.

Instead, I design and draw the way wind and water carve channels and figures out of rock—through relentless effort. And more often than not, what I set out deliberately to create gets left behind in favor of what has serendipitously taken shape.

I guess that's a metaphor for the way I live my life, too. I've been known to strike out intentionally on a nutty path, only to wind up, miraculously, more or less unscathed on a different route, accidentally doing what more or less always made sense. My life is a catalogue of dubious decisions that have turned out unreasonably well.

When I signed up for the silversmithing class I took last month, I was determined that I would try things I have read about for years but never been able to try. But by the time the class started I had fixated on the idea of the ginkgo leaf. And, really, there was absolutely nothing about making that leaf that was on my list of gotta-tries. On the last night of the class, with about an hour to go, I finished up my leaf (having worked about 5 hours total on it), and I still had a half a sheet of silver left. I started cutting out leaf and petal shapes with my saw, thinking I could make some components to use in earrings. But after I'd cut the first three of them, I realized I hadn't soldered a flipping thing, which was the whole reason I had wanted to take the class in the first place. So I quickly changed plans, cut out a base rectangle shape, filed and sanded feverishly, and took the pieces to my slightly annoyed instructor.

As I set the pieces into place, I knew that when I heated the flux (which is a wet paste that helps the solder flow), they would probably move out of position a bit, but I fiddled and tinkered to get them just right anyway. Sure enough, as soon as the flux heated up, two of the pieces started sliding around. I poked the first one back into place, but the second one looked better where accident had made it land than where I had planned, so I left it.

It was only as I was sanding and polishing my little piece that I realized that it's a metaphor for my life, too. There weren't any petals or leaves in the end. Just three birds, each flying a little off-center,* together.

And it's a reminder, too, that though I am not the gifted artist I have often wished I were, I do have a talent for making do with what the talents and skills I do have and letting serendipity do the rest. I'm okay with that.

*If you know my husband and my son, you know who the other two off-kilter birds are in this equation.


Ginkgo Industrialist

Silver Ginkgo © 2009 Cameron Blazer
So, unless you are having this read aloud to you while you recline with cucumber slices over your eyes, sipping daiquiris and being fanned with palm fronds, you have probably noticed that I like ginkgos. And while I'm guessing that every expert treatise ever written about world blog domination has a chapter about "synergistic branding" or some such, my love for ginkgos is in no particular alignment with the subject matter of this blog, and I haven't ever much cared.

But now. Now, I can say that I am a cottage industrialist who makes ginkgo leaves.

For as long as I have been making jewelry, I have longed to escape the limitations of bead store tools and materials and to control the design process from the raw material stage to completion. I finally had the opportunity over the last few weeks to try my hand at the basic tools of silversmithing (yay, Redux!), and I am, just as I expected to be, smitten. There's just something so satisfying about taking a flat, dull sheet of metal and cutting, hammering, and folding it till it starts to feel and look like something alive. And while I'd love to have access to a full bench of jewelers' tools, I was careful when designing this project to choose something that I could replicate at home without needing to buy too many new geegaws. A rare example of supply restraint. I will be patting myself on the back for that one for quite some time.*

What about you? What have you longed to try but stopped short because the tools or the skills seemed just out of reach?

*Though if my as-yet-nonexistent-personal-art-patron is reading this, there is a lovely outfit of tools (in my size, no less!) available from Rio Grande...think...free silver ginkgos for life!**

**Apologies to Prof. Carolyn Matalene for my shameful misuse of the ellipsis. Yes, you did teach me better than that. And yet.