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Sunday, February 10, 2013


Thursday, April 14, 2011

BIG blog is moving!

Why hello there!

Bet you thought I wasn't around anymore, eh?

Well I am, and I'm here to tell you good news!

I have a brand new website!

Up until now, my domain name just redirected you to my Blogger site but now, my domain Second Surf is actually a website! Pretty cool, eh? What I'm most proud of is that I've done it all by myself! ~well, mostly....with a lot of help from my amazingly talented, patient and handsome technology director ;)love you Mr. Mike!

Here's a little sneak peek!

What this means for you:

*If you currently subscribe and follow me on google, blogger, or another feed burner, you'll need to update your reader. all you have to do is enter into the little do-hicky in your reader and that should do it!

I won't be posting anymore on my blogger and I've moved ALL of my posts & comments over to the new site! YAY!

It is still a work in progress and I'll be adding more functionality over the next few weeks but I was too excited to hold back anymore! There is also a shopping cart on over there and that's fully functional, although a little empty, but I hope to remedy that very very soon!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Art studio on the cheap.....vol.2 Torching on a budget

my ghetto metal smithing set up. ceramic tile, paver, worn out tweezers and home made earth-friendly pickle all on my kitchen range.

Today, in Art Studio on the Cheap we're talking about a cheap torch setup.

Yesterday, one of my jewelry peeps posted a funny update on Facebook about her fear of soldering. I commented with a reference to Stephanie Lee's Homesteader's metal class and semiprecious salvage book of whom/which I am a big fan. I facetiously called what I do not even homesteader's metalsmithing, more like ghetto I thought I would show you my ghetto metalsmithing set up. This is a great set up for those just beginning or with limited space who want to whet their appetite before investing into a larger setup.

When I was in college, I took two basic metals classes. The professor I took for both, who was a former Buddhist monk (just an interesting side note there) advised us once, when we were complaining about wanting to continue our metals studies but without being jewelry majors, we wouldn't have access to the studio if we weren't enrolled in a class. He told us a very simple setup could be obtained in one's own kitchen.

Okay: here is the disclaimer to this post. Please don't take what I am saying as gospel, because I'm not an expert. Please wear safety goggles when torching and remove basically anything that might catch fire in the immediate area. Tie back long hair and pull back long sleeves and wear normal clothing that won't get caught or in the way. This isn't the time to be wearing flippy-floppies and loose fitting shifts. Save that for the beach. Please be safe, you're using fire and heating metal to a red hot state. This is nothing to fool with people. Use this tutorial at your own risk and safety.

When you torch, you need several things:

1) your torch. I use both a simple propane unit obtained at any hardware store with disposable propane tanks or a butane micro torch (kitchen model).

2) A kitchen range with an exhaust hood. This is essential for propane because the flame produces carbon monoxide, which is toxic and can kill you and you need lots of venting. I usually also open the window too if I'm involved in a lot of torching that day. If I'm just doing a couple of headpins or annealing a small piece, I just turn on the range exhaust on high.

Alternatively, you could do this outside or in an open garage or carport. Save it for a day when it's not too windy. Wind isn't good for torching. Remember, fresh air is good when working with gases.

3) You will need a fire safe surface as well as a fire resistent surface. There are lots of commercial firing surfaces. I bought a paver at Home Depot for 43 cents (the torching I do doesn't require much heat, I mostly just anneal metal and make headpins) and I grabbed a piece of tile left over from when the kitchen was tiled as the fire resistent surface. DO NOT use ceramic tile for torching. It will take a bit of warmth but will EXPLODE if you torch on it. The tile will act as your work surface and the paver or torch brick will act as your torching surface. This is a cool setup because you can move it when your done and make dinner. :)

4)Pick a spot on your kitchen range and/or surface to light your torch and make that the spot where you will always light and turn off your torch. You are in a living space that probably has cabinets and other flammable objects nearby. Form an early habit of always lighting the torch in the same spot, away from cabinets and flammable things. Remember this is a hot flame, people, you need to respect it.

5)ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS clean your torching area BEFORE and AFTER you torch. I mean like you would lick it like a lollipop clean. This is easy for me because I keep an immaculate kitchen, but if you fried fish last night and haven't cleaned your range, you could be headed to a full on 5-alarm fire. When you're torching, you're often using flux which contain nasty chemicals that you probably don't want to eat. Keep it that way. CLEAN BEFORE AND AFTER.

6) A bowl of water to quench your metal pieces.

Like I mentioned above, this is ghetto metalsmithing. If you've never worked with a torch before, you should take a class someplace local first. Don't do this if you've never used a torch before. But if you've taken a class or two, and don't have a setup at home, this is a very good way to start, especially if you have limited financial resources.

I also make a home made metal pickle. This is a great recipe for kitchen metal torching, because there are no nasty chemicals to mix up. I use a recipe of 1 Tablespoon natural (pickling) salt to 1 Cup distilled white vinegar heated up in a microwave safe container. That is in the picture above but it needs to be changed. It shouldn't be blue. That is a result of putting a verdigris patinated copper piece in the pickle after the fact. When I'm ready to torch, I put the pickle in the microwave for about 3 minutes to heat it up, do my torching (making sure to quench my pieces) and throw them in the pickle. Make sure you rinse them with water after you remove them from the pickle or else you will get a green verdigris finish (on copper) hence the blue pickle above. :) My pickle is blue because I threw the ones I forgot to rinse back in.....

So, I hope this helps those out there who want to make some headpins or anneal a piece without fear that you need to invest in a $1000 torch area. This serves me very well doing simple annealing of copper, brass and sterling and making sterling and copper headpins. All for about $25 or less if you can scavenge some things around the house!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Breaking out, try again.....

dream big. a painting from last year....

BE prepared for a large dose of brain vomit here.....and proceed with caution....

As you may or may not have noticed, I've been scarce around these parts lately. I'd apologize but I have no intention of misleading you by posting crap in an effort to get you to visit just because I blog everyday.

I've been hunkering down and doing a lot of thinking....The world at large has me contemplating so much lately. The devastation that has happened and will continue to happen in Japan, the ongoing clusterf*ck in the Middle East and northern Africa. My basic need to worry about the world's problems and how I can better serve the world.

So I've had a hard time verbalizing what is going on with me and how I feel about it. I feel like a tool posting new things about my shop (not that there have been many) when people have had their entire lives and families ripped away in one foul swoop of mother nature's awesome power. Hey! Tens of thousands just died and there's an impending worldwide nuclear disaster! wanna see what's new in my Etsy shop???

Anyway, I digress....I hope in a good way. I've taken the several weeks off to contemplate all that is my business....whatever that is, because I'm not sure I actually know. I get glimpses sometimes about what it is, or what it could be, and what I do or do not like about all of those things.

I dislike production. and I don't want to feel like a bead making machine. Because that isn't enjoyable. Etsy, as of late, has really started to disenchant me. I love Etsy, from way back in 2005 when I first listed a few paintings and low and behold, after 3 months, I actually sold one. However, to become a successful shop and seller, there is a rote that I have become very uncomfortable with in order to keep selling. I love my customers. Please don't misunderstand me. But the constant production, the constant marketing involved with listing, social networking, blogging. It is exhausting and I know many of you can relate. If I am making handmade things, and the efforts exhaust me to the point where my joy is negating the actual pleasure of making them, what makes me different than any garbage you can buy at a big box store that comes from exhausted workers in third world countries who work ungodly schedules to provide basic sustenance to their families? Because in essence, that is what I'm doing. I'm constantly robbing Peter to pay Paul and deciding if we'll have a decent dinner.

In this vein, I constantly question capitalism and if it's really the answer. I research blogs, I find successful artists who are making it. How have they become successful? Have they enjoyed a lucrative licensing deal where there goods are then mass produced overseas? Many times this is the case.

This point hit home for me today. A few weeks ago, while visiting family, we were perusing gift shops. An artist I truly admire, who has a very successful licensing career, was prominently displayed in this gift shop. I had this moment, where I said to myself, HOW DO I GET TO THIS PLACE? Span forward, to today when I was at the Goodwill, and I saw one of said artist's mass produced items in the fray. Is that what I'm seeking? A piece of the pie? To be rich and find my stuff discarded at the Goodwill? After some reckless consumer has decided it's no longer their taste?

Not always, but a lot. And I'm not comfortable with that. I want to be at home, with my craft. I want to inspire others. I would like to write a book someday. But I want to be true and that is the reason for the break. I'm thinking about all this and where I fit the grand scheme of things. of these things we call art. and how they are all just things. how they could all be wiped away in the blink of an eye and how they figure into this grand thing we call life.

If you read this far, thank you.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Thank You....

I just wanted to thank everyone for helping support the auctions I held for Bead Soup Blog Party. Whether you bid on the auctions, helped by spreading the word, and just left me words of encouragement, I am truly grateful.

Thanks to the generosity of two very special people, I was able to donate $50 to Beads of Courage! Your jewelry is in the mail!

According to the Beads of Courage website, that is enough to provide two children with their amazing program. The Program is a resilience-based intervention designed to support and strengthen the protective resources in children coping with serious illness. Through the program children tell their story using colorful beads as meaningful symbols of courage that commemorate milestones they have achieved along their unique treatment path. To read more about this program visit this page. I have been so moved by the unique approach to supporting the psychosocial health of children battling serious illness and believe the work they are doing is so very vital to children's emotional and mental health during their unique critical fight.

I received several encouraging emails from the folks at Beads of Courage and I hope to continue to raise money for them in the future. Stay tuned for more info about that!