And, I got married!

13 Jan

I make that sound so simple, don’t I?  Well, it wasn’t. 

First, we got engaged, planned a wedding, things started to unravel and not feel right, and then we cancelled the wedding.  We fixed stuff, then we got engaged again (at which point Matt asked, “Geez Paul, how many rings are you going to give her?”  “Until it works,” Paul answered. I love him).

The second time worked, and so we had a wee tiny wedding.  Karen officiated, but unfortunately not in Klingon (she would not even consider it!).

In some ways I’m sad that our first wedding didn’t work out.  The pretty garden setting on the fourth of July, the menu, the guests.  But things weren’t right.  Where we were as a couple was not a good place to cement, and we felt that getting married at that moment would put a stamp of approval on something that wasn’t as it should be.  We were under a lot of stress last year, our cracks had started to show, and we weren’t handling those cracks in a way that made us and our future stronger and better.  We called off the wedding, got dirty and raw, drew lines in the sand and fixed that s**t.  I’m strangely proud of us that we called it off.  We are big grown-ups and we are not having any nonsense.

And so, on October 12th I married a wonderful man who worked really hard to make things right for us.  There are not enough words to describe how much I love him, admire him, and cherish him and the family we’ve made.  He butters my biscuit.  He flips my flapjack. He rocks my little world. He is my sweet babboo, and now I understand why people like being married. 

My wonderful Jake was signing the marriage license, and also too mature to photobomb.

My wonderful Jake was signing the marriage license, and also too mature to photobomb.

(My poor sweetheart looks a bit tired in this picture, doesn’t he?  It had been a long few months, and we are both much rejuvenated and MUCH hotter now, of course.) 

Well. My goodness.

12 Jan

Darlings, I must start writing again.  With the five children and the career and the husband and the life swirling around me, my concentration is not good.  I’m very much doing that whole young family thing all over again, but now I’m old enough to know how well my head can work when all these wonderful, beloved people aren’t constantly around me.  I’ve been waiting for my ability to concentrate to come back,  but I don’t think that is going to happen any time soon, and I miss blogging.  I miss life outside of this new house and studio, I miss Karen, and I miss the way that writing centers and clears my head.  I want something back that’s always been and always will be mine. I’ve been waiting until I get my feet under me, but I am constantly finding and losing my feet again and again in this new life of mine. It might not be grammatically correct or even make sense half the time, but post I will.   Seriously, it’s like my brain is like a puzzle that has a different piece missing everyday.  Yesterday’s missing piece might be back, but SURPRISE! A new one is gone!  So ok, I promise it won’t be grammatically correct or make sense half the time; that should be exciting.  You can rate my ability to think on a one-out-of-ten scale in the comments. First, I’d love to show you what I’ve worked on lately, ok? Ok.

Initial pendant.  I wanted a heavy, rich, medieval feel, and I am really tired of stamped initial pendants. I wanted something more personal.

Initial pendant. I wanted a heavy, rich, medieval feel, and I am really tired of stamped initial pendants. I wanted something more personal.

Moonstone in 18k.  Did I show you this already? Hmm.  This already sold, but I'm making more in this style: the buff top cabochon, the lip, the jumpring.

Moonstone in 18k. Did I show you this already? Hmm. This already sold, but I’m making more in this style: the buff top cabochon, the lip, the jumpring.

This was a custom engagement ring.  I went through a lot of garnets before we found one that didn't go dark in the bezel setting she wanted.

This was a custom engagement ring. I went through a lot of garnets before we found one that didn’t go dark in the bezel setting she wanted.

Moons!  I have made an awful lot of these!  14k, 18k, silver, different quality and sizes of diamonds.  Each is a completely unique mold and cast, and I'm glad people are buying them because I love making them.  I want to say this is about 15mm, 18k.  It's over on Etsy.

Moons! I have made an awful lot of these! 14k, 18k, silver, different quality and sizes of diamonds. Each is a completely unique mold and cast, and I’m glad people are buying them because I love making them. I want to say this is about 15mm, 18k. It’s over on Etsy.

'Nother 18k moon. This is a big one with larger stones.

‘Nother 18k moon. This is a big one with larger stones.

Big honkin' ruby ring.  One of the few treated gems I will use.  Only a few mines are producing rubies right now, and those produced tend to be highly fissured.  Those that are not fissured are thousands per carat.  This is a fissure filled...5 carats, I think?  Check the Etsy listing for details.  Really beautiful, and today's fissure filled holds up as well or better than  untreated stones.

Big honkin’ ruby ring. One of the few treated gems I will use. Only a few mines are producing rubies right now, and those produced tend to be highly fissured. Those that are not fissured are thousands per carat. This is a fissure filled…5 carats, I think? Check the Etsy listing for details. Really beautiful, and today’s fissure filled holds up as well or better than untreated stones.

Lat for the day, and then I must get into the studio.  A pretty pink tourmaline in an 18k setting.

Lat for the day, and then I must get into the studio. A pretty pink tourmaline in an 18k setting.

Back to work! But, if any of my old readers are out there?  I would love to hear from you!

Blue Sapphire Ring

1 Jul

There is so much I want to tell you.  I want to tell you all about sapphires, and I want to respond to Crystal’s comment saying that she’d like to hear more about my new blended family, and I want to tell you all about what I am doing in the studio.  But I am working like a crazy woman to get Vaka rolling again, and I am cooked.  I kinda love this working so hard I fall into bed at the end of the day thing, though, so I’m not complaining. It feels so good to be working again!

So here is a ring I finished today (are you sick of looking at jewelry yet?).  It is a lovely 5 x 7mm cornflower blue sapphire set in 18k.  And, as usual, I am fickle and so this is now my favorite piece. 

Look!  Look!  Are you looking?

Image

I love emeralds

28 Jun

To view beautiful emeralds is to fall in love.

If someone said to me, “Katie, if you could make for yourself ANY piece of jewelry –regardless of cost– what would it be?”

Go on, ask me.

I would, my inquisitive friends,  make myself a big ole’ emerald ring.  I’d get an enormous emerald-cut stone (big enough to be truly vulgar. As big as a baby’s head.  A really big fat baby.), and I’d set it in 20k.

In the meantime, while I wait for a baby-head sized emerald to fall at my feet, I made this!

Image

This stone is 5mm, and I don’t think I’ve ever set a 5mm stone that pops the way this does.  The 18k certainly plays up the green, but emeralds have a vibrancy and luster no other gem does.  So full of life and joy; how can anyone be sad wearing an emerald?

Today I also touched up the bezel on the granulated garnet ring from yesterday.  Take a close look, and see if you notice the difference.

And with that, my darlings, I think it’s time to get my weekend on.  I hope you all have nothing but the best of weekends!

Image

Look at what I made!

27 Jun

Look!  I’m quite pleased.  4.18 ct pyrope-almandine garnet in a handforged, granulated 18k setting.  Sometimes a photograph spotlights tiny trouble spots better than one’s own eye can, and from this photo I see that the inner edge of the bezel needs burnishing a bit.  I’ll do that tomorrow.

Today, I ALSO made an emerald ring. I’ll shoot that and post images tomorrow.

I love working with higher karat gold, and if I weren’t so tired from making pretty things all day then I would tell you why.   

DSC01178

A day’s work

26 Jun

Hello, my darlings!  How was everyone’s day, today?

I had a wonderful day, because I now have air conditioning in my studio!  It was lovely and cool in my fortress of solitude, and the new air conditioner emits a slight hum which blocks the sound of the children’s voices.  I did NOT die of heat stroke, and I also did not have to listen to most of today’s heated sibling debate: who would most own the dog we are not getting.  They were arguing about a THEORETICAL dog, while our perfectly good real dog lay nearby, ignored. I really love them.

And while I was in the cool, quiet studio, I made this: 

Image

I’ll finish up the setting and set the garnet tomorrow morning, and then I will show you the finished piece!

Fancy Shmancy Diamond Earrings

25 Jun

Earrings!  Let’s talk about these, shall we? We’re going to learn, and learning is FUN!

Diamond and 14k gold earrings, cuttlefish bone cast.

Diamond and 14k gold earrings, cuttlefish bone cast.

I cast these earrings using cuttlefish bones.

“But Katie,” you might say, “However did you get the cuttlefish to hold still and help you make these lovely earrings?”

You crazy kids, the cuttlefish were DEAD!  They had ceased to be; they were no more.  They were EX-CUTTLEFISH, so don’t be daft.

Cuttlefish are in the same family as octopi and squid. Unlike octopi and squid, the cuttlefish possess a soft, porous internal structure which helps regulate their buoyancy: a cuttlefish bone or cuttlebone.  Cuttlefish bones often wash up on beaches, and are also harvested when cuttlefish are caught for their meat.

These bones have been used as a tool by metalsmiths for thousands of years;we saw them in half, carve them to make molds, and pour molten metal into them. The cooled metal retains the texture of the cuttlefish bone, which looks a bit like wood grain.  That texture can be played up or down, and for these earrings I played it up.

And because diamonds can take the heat of molten gold, I cast these champagne diamonds in place.  Stuck them right into the cavity I had created, and doused them with gold.

TBI and hand forging don’t go well together, and so I experimented with casting while Riley was sick.  The cuttlefish bone technique is a keeper.

Hey!  Here are some pictures of Matt using cuttlefish bone to cast a piece of silver.  He forged a spoon from this piece.

Carved cuttlefish bone

Carved cuttlefish bone

Two halves have been bound together with wire, and molten silver has been poured into the cavity.  Matt is now removing the binding wire.

Two halves have been bound together with wire, and molten silver has been poured into the cavity. Matt is now removing the binding wire.

Silver ingot and burned out cuttlefish bone mold.

Silver ingot and burned out cuttlefish bone mold.

Pretty cool, huh?  I think so.

And now for some new pretties

18 Jun

But, before we get to the pretties, I suppose I need to tie up loose ends. Ready? 

Image

OK. We good? Alright then, do you want to see the new pretties?  I’ve tried to keep things simple while I let my hands and brain remember their jobs.  I’ve also made some SILVER pieces!  I should get a sticker for being such a good sport and making a new friend of silver. 

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Starting over is scary and happy and exciting.  Well, it was more scary than exciting until I sold that ruby ring within a week of listing it.  Now it is much less scary.  

I was foolish when I stopped working 2+ years ago, and shut down the Etsy site.  Sadly, I couldn’t get the name back.  You’ll find me under Vakastudio on Etsy, and these will soon be listed on my regular site: Vakadesign.com.

And now I must stop uploading images and go make dinner. 

Cinderelly, Cinderelly!

Make the jewelry, Cinderelly!

Feed the children, Cinderelly!

It’s not a stroke

3 Apr

I think this is a good idea; how could it not be a good idea to educate children about the symptoms of stroke?  After all, the faster a stroke is recognized and treated, the better the chances of recovery,  and so more people in any household knowing the signs of stroke is better, right?  Right,  in theory.  In actuality it only helps if  the people educated on the symptoms of stroke are of sound mind, and I think we can all agree that middle school-aged children are not of  sound mind.

Novant Health: arming 6th graders with too much information.

Any parent could have told Novant Health that the result of educating eleven year olds on the symptoms of  stroke was going to be, well… Blogosphere, I’ve been diagnosed with stroke symptoms several times in the past few weeks.  It’s just all-stroke, all the time.  And I don’t want to make a joke of this, because what if I do have one someday?  I’ll be lying on the kitchen floor, the stroke damage becoming more permanent with every passing second, while my children navigate around me, saying “Oh, Mom’s just messing with us again.  Whatsa matter?  You paralyzed, Mom?”

And so, with every muscle spasm or foot fallen to sleep, I submit to Matt’s stroke test.

“STOP!” Matt commands. “Smile!”

I smile.

“Hold it, hold it,” he says, as he checks first one cheek and then the other, comparing them for symmetry.

We go through all the steps of the test, finishing once I’ve clearly enunciated the words  “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

I’m hoping that Matt will mellow once this information is no longer so novel, much as he did after going through the school’s D (drug) A (abuse) R (resistance) E (education) program last year.   After his D.A.R.E. education, and newly armed with more knowledge of illegal drug use than your average flophouse junkie,  it took a year for that program’s effects to fade.  A year before I could pour the occasional glass of chianti and not have my son react by looking at me–a haunted, crack-baby look in his eyes– and asking, “Moooom?  Are you an alcoholic?”

On the other hand, many parents are probably unaware that their children have been involved in Novant Health’s stroke awareness program.  Were they to know this, they  might appreciate a bit more concern as they are lying paralyzed on their kitchen floors, thinking: “I’m lying paralyzed on the kitchen floor and you’re asking me for more ice cream? Did you not learn F.A.S.T.? Do the T, child, the T!”

I’m just saying that perhaps the people at Novant Health, when they decided to sponsor this educational unit in the local schools, were on drugs or something. Because there are good reasons why we don’t put eleven year olds in charge of our major medical decisions.

I like liberty!

1 Apr

“Why don’t you guys come up for dinner?”  Karen asks.

“Oh, that would be great, ” I say.  Karen’s Dad is in town, and it will be nice to see him. ” What can I bring?”

“A ring.  You can bring a ring. ” says Karen.  “A solid gold ring, with the Bells of Canterbury on it.”

“Piece of cake,” I say.

“And I want the bells LIFE SIZED–“

“Oh honey, I was going to run to Canterbury to get you the ACTUAL bells, and mount them right on the ring for you.”

“Well,” says Karen, “that would be nice!”

I am thoughtful when designing my pretend, ridiculous jewelry.

“Or!” I say,  “Or!  Maybe the Liberty Bell, instead?  It’s closer.”

“Ohhh, I like liberty,” says Karen.

“OK, then.  I’ll go get the Liberty Bell, and I’ll mount it on a ring for you and bring it to dinner.  Anything else?”

“Yes,” says Karen, “I want the word ‘LIBERTY’ written on the ring.  On the outside.”

“No problem.  In big letters?”

“Yes, an inch high.  And, I’d also like the poem from The Statue Of Liberty inscribed on the inside of the ring.”

“The ‘bring us your poor, your huddled masses‘ poem?”  I ask.   I need to be clear about what poem it is that I’m inscribing.

“Yes.  That one.  The whole poem.  On the inside.”

“Sure!  I can totally do that!  Anything else?”

“I want all the ‘i ‘s’ dotted.  With diamonds.”

“OK.  So.   Gold, Liberty Bell, the word ‘LIBERTY,’ the huddled masses poem, diamonds for the dots over the ‘i ‘s’, by dinnertime tonight. Is that all?”

“Yes,” says Karen.  “And I’d like you to deliver it on a white horse.”

“Naked, a la Lady Godiva?”

“Yes.”  Says Karen.

“And your price range?  What’s your budget?”

“Five dollars.”

I think that’s fair.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 52 other followers

%d bloggers like this: