Sunday, February 24, 2013

Dental Work, Happy Hour, Rocking at the Rock Shop, and Making Chain Mail, (the Idiots Delight)

I simply can’t believe how fast time flies by! It’s been over a week since I have updated the blog and I guess it’s been because we have been so busy. The past week has seen us busily preparing for the Gulf Coast Gem and Mineral Show, feasting on Happy Hour ribs and brisket, getting caught up on my dental work, and making chain mail,(and yes the pattern is called the Idiots Delight which kind of tells you something).

So let’s get the bad news done first. Last fall I went outside to take a picture of the moon, poking its way through the smoke filled haze. As I was taking images with my mouth open I sneezed and of course my loose dental crown fell out. We spent the next two days looking for it as it fell into gravel, with no luck.

Knowing I now had to plan a trip to Mexico to replace the crown I was so overjoyed that I put it off until my tooth became worse. Deciding that it was time to visit a US dentist, Renita called and found one that had crowns for only 595. So we spent two days driving back and forth from here to Corpus Christi and I had a wonderful time with an extraction and a root canal. Suffice it to say it was more than 595……

The rest of the week was much more pleasant. Our happy hour group had a brisket and ribs cook off and so we all gathered on Friday and enjoyed the work of chefs Jim and Gerry. I of course was restricted to soft food so I concentrated on the desserts. Lois made her carrot cake, (which drew a marriage proposal from one of the men,) and Jane made her homemade and handpicked blackberry pie. They were both to die for!

Saturday we went to the rock shop and I sawed rocks as Renita ground a stunning charoite cabochon As we were working our friend and mentor Dick showed up and gave us his usual expert advice. He told me my beautiful blue chalcedony was dyed and he told Renita her cabochon was asymmetrical, he certainly doesn’t mince words! However at 88 years old he knows about ten times more than we do and so we both thanked him for his input.

Finally I have come up with a design for making chain mail. It’s actually from a silversmith book. I first made a mandrel to form the rings from a piece of straight round wire, then sawed and trimmed each ring, before joining them in a weave pattern called, the Idiots Delight. Now the book says it’s named that because you may feel like an idiot trying to figure it out and suffice it to say I definitely took a while to get it right.

Of course I made my first two in brass and copper and then ordered premade rings from our supplier for one in sterling silver and one in 14k gold filled wire. I really would like to make my own rings from gold and silver but my saw isn’t good enough to cut the rings without a lot of wasted metal. The purchased rings still required me to handle each one three times in preparation for the chaining.

Regardless, I love making the chain mail and the modified necklaces and Renita says I do tend to sit there and grin while making them, hmmmm. Clear skies.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentine’s Day, At the Beach of Course!

Valentine’s Day arrived and of course the age old dilemma was here, what to do? Candy is out and restaurants rarely have a balanced diet so……Lets go fishing at the beach! I mean doesn’t every women want to don her waders, dress warmly and fish for pompano and whiting?

So Renita made a picnic lunch and we headed for the Padre Island National Seashore. It’s one of our favorite places to fish and beachcomb as there isn’t much pressure. There had also been an article in the newspaper saying that the pompano had been biting and we both love grilled pompano.

It’s a bit of a drive from here, about fifty miles, and it involves riding the ferry so an hour and a half later we reached one of our gps fishing spots. Setting up two poles Renita quickly had a bite and reeled in a whiting. Now whiting are a good white meat, fish so into the ice chest it went.

I added another and then had a good hit that turned out to be a pompano, yeah! For the next three hours we had bite after bite, and had to stop fishing so we could eat lunch. The wind increased and the tide started coming in so it was almost time to leave. We had a dozen whiting and three nice pompano so it looked like dinner would be fresh fish!

The drive home was a lot quicker,(Renita was behind the wheel), and now for the fish cleaning. Renita and our friends all helped. Some even threatened to snatch fish fillets off of the cleaning table. I had to yell at one of the brown pelicans who was almost touching me, and the gulls oh well they are gulls after all.

It didn’t take long and I was soon dipping the whiting fillets into beer batter. Nothing like fish and chips, along with Loretta’s Southwest salad to complete the meal. It was a perfect Valentine’s day, a picnic  on the beach, fishing and a seafood dinner! Clear skies

Friday, February 8, 2013

Rain, Rock, and a Small Show

We taught a wire wrapping class and then it was time to get ready for our shows. So besides going to the shop, for more sawing, we also did some wire wrapping, and getting our display items priced and ready.

Somehow we have reached the point where we have too much stuff. I had a nice talk at the lapidary shop with our friend Mark about the difference between collecting and hoarding and we decided it’s not hoarding if you sell items.

I was actually able to finish sawing the British Columbia and Alaskan Jade and the juror is in. It’s mostly crummy jade. Yes I will be able to make some pieces and yes we do have one piece that is head and shoulders above the other rocks, but for most part the northern jade is simply too fractured, I refuse to wax and buff the jade, which hides the flaws and is what is done with all the Chinese made jade figures sold in Alaska and BC).

Renita did make several beautiful pieces on the grinding wheels, her usual stunning red jasper piece and several leopard skin jasper cabs that are almost too beautiful to sell,)ok we will sell one but only if the price is right).

Back home,(remember we live in a fifth wheel), I made a beautiful 14k gold filled wire/charoite bracelet that we are listing at $495, and that’s a good price for stunning charoite as the others on Etsy at that price are sterling silver. I also wrapped a charoite pendant to match, also in 14k gfw, and priced it at $165.

The morning of our rv parks arts and crafts sale came and so did the rain. Molly and I went for a walk and the rain hit so hard and fast that we got a free bath. It poured as it only does in tropical areas and soon the streets were flooded, (rain amounts were recorded at 3-4 inches in less than three hours.

The rain finally slowed and we were able to set up in the recreation hall. We really didn’t have a lot of hope but it was good for us to practice our setup before our big show in March, (there we have four tables reserved). Both of us were a little surprised as we filled two ten foot tables with ease, and that was just with our cabochons and custom made jewelry, (yep we made it all here in the USA and its hand made one of a kind wearable art).

A few people showed up but we did sell some pieces and we did have more people request another wire wrapping class and so that’s good.  We were not allowed to advertise outside the park as there is no parking here, but that’s ok as this really isn’t our market. Our market is at juried arts and craft shows and gem, mineral, and fossil shows,( did I mention we are also now selling fish fossils, mammoth and mastodon teeth, and even fossil horse teeth from the Peace River in Florida, not collected by us but bought from an estate sale).

So we still have some samples to saw and polish, but for the most part we are show ready. We do hope to have some more success here and we are looking forward to the coming summer in Wyoming. Now if I can just figure out how to make a five piece tiger eye pendant and matching neck wire before we get there….. Clear skies

ps, there is some ok jade in BC but its all sold to China and  the BC jade mine wouldn't sell us any. Plus even the best in Alaska and Canada is not as good as the stunning quality Wyoming nephrite jade, and you can take that to the bank!