2012 ended with a little mishap in the kitchen.  I sliced off a small piece of my thumb with a mandolin slicer.  Wow those things work great and not just on veggies.  So on New Year’s Eve our afternoon was spent at an Urgent Care getting my thumb wrapped up by a very nice doctor who obviously specializes in something else entirely, and our evening was spent at the ER getting the first ridiculous mess corrected.  

You know you're in trouble when the ER nurse and doctor bust out laughing at the handiwork of your Urgent Care doctor.  

This is the part I sliced completely off, nice and clean.  Clearly stitches were not an option.  Thank goodness the mandolin was set at 1/8" and not 1/4" right?

You're welcome for not posting my actual bloody thumb.  If you want to see one, Google away... there are plenty posted out there.  

Why share this?  

According to the ER, this often happens around the holidays when people are cooking more (you know, those of us who rarely cook otherwise) and in the summer when we're pruning in the garden.  And some of us here are metalsmiths who use jewelers' saws and metal shears year round.  So it seems right to share a few tips, obvious as they may seem, since they would  have helped me.  

Let's get my idiocy out of the way.

Tip #1:  Don’t use a mandolin without the blade guard.

(To be fair, I should relay that the ER would love to have everyone throw these into the trash.)

Tip #2:  Stay focused.

Don't get distracted when using sharp tools. Stay aware of where your fingers are.

Major arteries of the body from MedicalLook.com
This image comes from Medicalook.com

Tip #3:  You don't have to dig very deep to find major arteries in your fingers and toes. 

If the bleeding doesn't stop quickly, you may have hit one.

Tip #4:  Listen to the doctor.  As in listen actively, critically, and logically.

At least I knew right away to see a doctor.  We chose a nearby Urgent Care because the issue seemed minor / routine but also urgent, as in continuing to bleed.  I'm not saying that all Urgent Care facilities would mess this up.  I'm just saying mine did.  In my opinion.

These are some red flag quotes (paraphrased) from urgent care personnel to me:

Nurse:  "I don't mind a lot of blood, that doesn't bother me, but I don't like to see cut skin."
Doctor:  "This one is a real bugaboo."
Doctor:  "Since stitches are not an option, the only way to stop the bleeding is with a compression bandage."
Doctor:  "This will be a real headache for 3-4 weeks.  If the bandage falls off while you're sleeping, when you wake up your bed will look like a crime scene." 
Nurse:  "You want to be really careful changing the dressing and keep an eye on it so you don't bleed out."
Me: "How do I know if the bandage is too tight, cutting off the circulation?"
Doctor:  "It's a fine line.  This type of bandage usually doesn't do that.  You can come back tomorrow if there is a problem."

So I did listen with a bit of healthy skepticism.

Tip #5:  It's usually not good to cut off circulation to a body part. 
(Careful with this tip.  There are obviously some injuries that require a tourniquet.)

The doctor wrapped my thumb very tightly with some gauze and nine band-aids, then sent me home.  It felt tight but didn't hurt much at first.  After about two hours my entire hand, all the fingers, wrist, and arm up to the elbow started throbbing.  It just felt so tight.

We went to the ER to get a second opinion.  Thank goodness.

ER personnel were very entertained and couldn't stop laughing at all the band-aids.  "Are you sure you didn't do this yourself?" they asked.  Then, "This looks arterial." And, "Of course we have ways to stop the bleeding."

Yes, every bit of pain disappeared when the band-aids came off.  I mean, the cut is really not that big.

Tip #6:  There are some good medical products and procedures that really do work, if you know about them.  

The ER nurse applied a gelfoam dressing that stopped the bleeding within a few seconds, then added a wire cage covered in a sock-like tube.  The cage comes off in a few days and then band-aids might be appropriate.

Tip #7:  Just because a doctor is nice doesn't mean he knows what to do.  Be your own advocate.  Question everything.  If it seems wrong, it might be.

Well that's my Happy New Year post, folks :-D  Everyone have a very safe, healthy, and happy 2013!

Disclaimer:  This post is based on subjective experience and some Google searches. I'm no doctor and this is not offered as medical advice.   Please do your own research to determine any course of action.  These are my opinions based on an isolated occurrence that may not accurately reflect the medical skills of those involved.
Very best wishes to everyone this holiday season!  We're just kicking back now, enjoying family and a few new treasures.  

Guess what I got today?  A kitchen blender system that actually works! You know how the stuff on the bottom of a bad blender just shifts around while the stuff on top sits there doing nothing?  Yeah.  I've been wanting to try some healthy green smoothies but have never owned a decent blender.  Today I threw in these ingredients and whipped up a really delicious smoothie:
2 peeled quartered granny smith apples
4 big kale leaves (curly kale, stems removed)
1/4 t fresh grated ginger
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup orange juice
couple dashes of Stevia
a few ice cubes

Don't be scared of the kale.  It was awesome.

With the last 1/4 cup-ish of smoothie (along whatever was stuck on the inside of the blender), I poured in about 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil and maybe a little less than 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar, along with a garlic clove, salt, and pepper.  That all blended very quickly into a great salad dressing.

Oh gosh I love Christmas toys.

Anyway just to keep to my regular theme, here are a couple photos of recent gifts/orders.  It's been awhile since I've done any wire wrapping so it was especially fun.  This first necklace was a gift for my daughter Lindsay.  Made from copper, turquoise, jade, and mother of pearl, it's an ocean inspired color palette.
This is order was particularly fun to make.  The crystals are emerald, opal, and pearl birthstone colors.  
I literally had no clue or design plan before making either the earrings or the pendant.  They just evolved from thin air, somehow ;-)  I love when that happens.  
Well that's it for me today.  Time to curl up with family and a holiday movie. I wish all of you a very happy, healthy, peaceful holiday season and New Year!   
Today is my daughter Kathy's birthday.  This copper and sterling silver flower pendant, corrugated earrings, and foldform cuff are all for her.  I am so delighted how the patina turned out :-)  Anyhow, I held this post until after the birthday celebration.  Fun evening!!
Happy birthday, Kathy!! :-)
These are a few new foldform cuffs I've made recently.  Two styles of ruffle and a thin 1" wide synclastic design.  Cuffs are really satisfying to make.  It's a chance to pound out a pretty substantial sized piece of copper so to me, it borders on sculpture... which is a place I'd like to go with this at some point.

I'm really curious about your reactions to the ruffling.  Do you prefer the tighter ruffle or the loose wavy one?  Comments appreciated!!! 
And as for baby pics, here is the little guy keeping me busy three days a week -- my grandson.  He's taking me off task for sure, but how can I complain?  Yeah I'm partial but isn't he adorable?

It takes all my willpower not to splash him all over my blog every week, but these recent photos are just too darn cute to pass up.  
Don't you just want to pinch that chubby cheek? 

Thanks for stopping by and see you next week...  :-)

Do you want to learn foldforming from Charles Lewton-Brain, its inventor?  You can!!  He will be at Center for Metal Arts Aug 3-6.  I'll be there again this year... why not you too?  Click here for the invitation or leave me a comment and I'll hook you up.   Still not sure?  This video will give you a little taste...   http://youtu.be/_0Noad96KsI  ***And here's a new development -- for a special discount, say that Sue Lacy sent you! 
(Hmmm, note to self...  when my post jumps around like a cat on a hot tin roof, type some headings in a bold font and act like it's organized.)

Plumbing pipe gets a makeover
A couple weeks ago, I started experimenting with foldforming using copper plumbing pipe.  That post is here, if you want to see.  The original idea was just to play, not to make jewelry, but some of the pieces looked like beads to me.  So I went with it and made the set below.  The earrings and all the beads on this necklace began life as various-sized plumbing pipe.  
A photography tip
If you're an artist (any type of artist, not just jewelry) you might want to check out Time Tank Labs here in Columbus for photography.  Their Meghan Kwast shot these great photos for me.   If you've been following my blog you've seen the jewelry before, but Meghan is a great find worth sharing.
Blog hours
Where is my Wednesday-post discipline?  Out the window for the summer, it seems. Wednesday has been turning into Thursday or Friday, and I hate to be late!  So the solution --for now -- is to change the text on my home page to "I post weekly."   (hehe, if you can't follow the rules, change them.)
Getting away
Just two days but I'll take it!  Looking forward to a little getaway with friends and family this weekend.  We're planning to check out Warren Dunes in Michigan... can't wait!  Here is a photo I found online.  Doesn't that beach look yummy? 
Do you want to learn foldforming from Charles Lewton-Brain, its inventor?  You can!!  He will be at Center for Metal Arts Aug 3-6.  I'll be there again this year... why not you too?  Click here for the invitation or leave me a comment and I'll hook you up.   Still not sure?  This video will give you a little taste...   http://youtu.be/_0Noad96KsI
Yes, I kind of skipped my blog post last week.  I was in Denver for a 5 day, one-on-one workshop with the wonderful Lexi Erickson, a contributing editor for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine.   Her work has graced the cover five times, and she is a regular writer for Jewelry Making Daily.  Originally an archaeologist, Lexi's pieces are influenced by her love for those artifacts, making her pieces interesting as well as beautiful.

I began learning from Lexi via her popular how-to videos.  I started with the set about soldering jewelry and instantly loved her.  Not only was it full of great tips, but watching Lexi was like meeting a friend.  Her personality comes through along with her infinite patience and insight.  And in person, Lexi was an absolute delight.

These are the pieces I made last week under Lexi's most enjoyable supervision:
And now I'll tell you the real reason my post is late.  I didn't want to post photos until after I proved to myself that I brought more than jewelry back to Ohio -- that I brought the ability to create it independently, too.  So I made this onyx and aventurine pendant at home yesterday (yay!):
It's all hand cut, soldered, and set... and between you and me, it was pretty exciting to use Lexi's tips and tricks in my own studio, successfully.  The only piece I still wonder about is the large two-stone copper pendant.  I'll try setting stones on copper soon, once I buy the right flux (Prips).
Tips from Lexi
Lexi's workshop was packed with great jewelry-making tips.  Here are some of my favs:

1. Roll your wire solder at the tightest setting of your rolling mill before using it.  It will stay in place better, flow faster, and you'll be less likely to cut too much for the join.
2. Cut a long thin strip of sandpaper, attach it in your jeweler's saw in place of the blade, and use it to sand tiny inaccessible areas like the inside of your pierced shapes.
3. Cut the handle off a plastic tooth brush and use it as a bezel pusher.  It's solid enough to push the bezel over, but can't scratch your stones.
4. Buy your supplies at Allcaft Tools (and by the way, Charles Lewton-Brain had the same advice.)  You have to know what you want, but it's the go-to place for quality products at competitive prices.  Call 800-645-7124.
Sue Lacy Lexi Erickson
Sue Lacy and Lexi Erickson
What a fast and fun week! 
April 26th was "Take your child to work" day here.  My 11-year-old daughter Kara didn't have far to go.  She spent the day with me in my home studio and we had a blast.  At first she was going to make a boat, but halfway through Kara decided it would make a perfect sushi plate.  This is a photo with the heat patina still on it-- so rustic and pretty at this stage. We did remove the patina and shine up the copper so that it could be used for food.
The original copper was a flat 4x10 factory cut sheet, so the only cutting necessary was to round the four corners.  I did the cutting and annealing (torch work) but Kara did 99% of all the hammering (shaping, texturing) and finishing (filing, sanding, burnishing.)  Not bad, I think!!

Last year was Kara's first "take your child to work day" in my studio and that was equally fun.  She made this copper and gemstone necklace.
For the necklace, the jump rings were already cut but the connectors holding the beads were not.  Kara cut the wires, loaded the beads, and learned to loop the wires / connect the chain.  By the end of the day Kara was a pro and all I needed to do was go through and tighten up some of the pieces.  Kara also cut the circle, dapped it (made it concave) and stamped it.  

It's funny, she is really into metal work on these school scheduled days -- really had fun -- but during the year it's not on her A-list.  So it's doubtful she'll be following in my footsteps, but I know we'll both look back on these days as some of our best times together.
It was fun to design a pendant for such a pretty piece of turquoise.  It's made of recycled, hand stamped sterling silver with a foldform copper bale.
Yesterday I promised a story...

Harry Reminick, memories and inspiration

My Uncle Harry lived in San Diego, CA while I was growing up in Cleveland, OH.  He would fly back to Ohio every couple of years to visit family.  It wasn’t nearly often enough, but when he did, it was a big event.

Uncle Harry was everyone’s favorite relative.  He was fun and funny, outdoorsy and creative.  He was a kind, gentle peacemaker; the type to carry a spider safely out of the house.  In fact I remember him rescuing a few from me.   He was an artist – sculpture, painting, a bit of jewelry – and worked for the San Diego Art Museum.  The profession seemed surreal to me and unbelievably cool.  I enjoyed his penchant for sharing art and culture with the family.  He helped shape the way I see the world today.
I was recently delighted to find a poster by my uncle that’s out of copyright and currently available for sale at various poster supply houses.  I didn't know he had made it into pop culture!  As part of the Works Project Administration's Federal Art Project (FAP), he was commissioned to create a poster for the theatre production of the Emperor’s New Clothes. 
"The WPA's Federal Art Project ... brought the avant-garde into small-town America, and started an aesthetic revolution ...  FAP employed 5,000 artists across the country... They created murals, sculptures and paintings, taught community art classes to millions, and produced 2 million posters from 35,000 designs..."  (Civilization Magazine, Apr/May 1997) 

A Library of Congress (LC) write-up features 16 of those posters, one of which is his.  The LC record for it is here.  The piece is dated Sep 7, 1937, so he was just 24 years old at the time.  
Harry Reminick Sep 7, 1937
These beautiful pieces of jewelry were created by Harry Reminick over the years too, and are my keepsakes to remember him by:
I love owning these few pieces of his jewelry and I often wonder what he might say about mine.  I have a long way to go, but I think he would be pleased to see me working at it.

Although he is long gone, I still feel close to him as I enjoy things he shared with me.  Listening to the Nutcracker Suite.  Reading Desiderata (attached for your enjoyment.)   Watching birds at my backyard feeder.  Last winter I was able to visit the San Diego Art Museum and stand inside the place he worked for so long.  It was a nice little connection across the years.  

Harry Reminick
1913 - 1981
My goal today was to make a large, bold statement piece that could also be elegant and feminine.  Ideally, it would be equally appropriate with jeans & sweater or with a little black evening dress.  That in mind, I came up with this large foldformed copper curl on a semi-rigid neck wire.  The focal piece is generous, about 2 3/4" wide and 2.5" high.  There are two sterling silver bales on the back holding the neck wires. 
It was really hard making this foldformed shape without opening it up.  It would have curled nicely, but for this I needed it flat.   Here are a few more shots...
1. the whole thing, 2. me (yikes where is my beautiful daughter Kathy when I need her?) and 3. a look at the back.
I planned to make the neck wire from sterling silver, so this copper one was meant as a dry run.  Now that it's finished, I might like it as-is.  Can you help me with a couple of decisions?  
  • Would you like this better with a sterling silver neck wire?
  • Would you prefer this in an antiqued patina or should I leave it shiny like this?
In other news...

It is a completely beautiful, warm, sunny day here.  Today's piece is finished and I'm in a great mood.  Things didn't start out so rosy, though.  This is how it went...

I wake up, drop my daughter off at school, make a great cup of flavored coffee, and start to clean up the kitchen (yes, still messy from dinner last night.)  The sink is full of dirty dishes and the dishwasher needs unloading.  I put a clean glass in the cupboard, top shelf, and guess what?  One of the pegs holding up the shelf is broken.  Glasses start tumbling out... I push them all back but miss at least two.  They go crashing down, break in gazillion pieces all over the counter, in the sink all over the dirty dishes, inside the garbage disposal, into the dishwasher full of clean dishes, and onto the floor 4 feet in all directions.

Oh. My. <expletive deleted>

In fact, quite a few expletives if truth be known.

It took me a good couple hours to get that mess all cleaned up.  And one of the casualties was a pretty little punch glass circa 1963 :-(

So when I picked up my daughter from school this afternoon, we headed straight to Bad Frog, the new top-your-own yogurt place here in town.  Yum.  Misery loves dessert ;-)  And look at this weather forecast!  I mean, can I really stay in a bad mood?  
Don't forget, please give your opinions on today's piece.  See you tomorrow!
Happy New Year, everyone!

Since I am still on a short jewelry-making break, I thought it would be fun to show you some Christmas ornaments I made years ago.  These were for my first tree in my first house, and many of them were made while I was expecting Michelle, my first child. 

I wasn't making jewelry yet, but these ornaments definitely helped set me on a path leading to jewelry design.
I realize it's after Christmas, BUT the reason it's perfect to share on New Year's Day is because I photographed them WHILE PUTTING THEM AWAY.  Yes, Christmas got packed up today at my house.  Good start for a couple of my top 2012 New Year's resolutions... get organized and don't procrastinate!
__They are styrofoam balls are covered with fabric, trims, pinned beads, and my favorite magic ingredient -- vintage jewelry parts.  Vintage WAY back then, so triple vintage now.  The kids all had their various favorites, but they all agreed on one thing -- the WORST one.  Scroll down to the very last ball, the one affectionately named "DorfBall" by my sweet little children.  Every year we would hang our ornaments together, and they would trick the littlest sister into hanging the DorfBall... the one no one else wanted to hang. With four sisters, they all got their turn before wising up.

Over the years, the kids and I have made lots of different ornaments for our tree.  We only hang candy canes and handmade ornaments.  It's been a fun rule.  These are some that the kids made:
And these are two that Michelle made for me later, when she was older.  Pretty sweet.
This is my Wednesday post a couple days early.  Everyone have a wonderful 2012!!