17 Nov 2012

Making the best of a bad job

I must apologise for my blogging tardiness of late – it’s been a combination of not actually having much to say, little enough time for getting everything done and finding the new Blogger interface to be tedious to say the least.  I have started posts on several occasions, but after 20 minutes of trying to post one photo, my boredom threshold is reached quickly.  After all, I could be making something instead which, as we all know, is way more fun.  If I can get it to work, I’ll salt a few photos of my recent work within the post, as to be honest, I don’t have much else to show you at the moment – I haven’t had enough quality time with my camera recently either.

A large circle link bracelet in antiqued copper.

My last post was about the flood we experienced in August and the significant volume of mud it had dumped in our cellar.  As an update, the mud has all now been removed, the cellar deep cleaned and sansitised and an industrial capacity fan and dehumidifier installed to dry out the room.

Being a cellar, the external walls are below ground level and the floor is large stone flags onto what amounts to bare earth, so as the water table has been so high since, it has been necessary to make significant efforts to dry everything – the flood water was over 30″ deep and well and truly soaked into the walls.  And the flood caused an assortment of structural movements that have left us with some of this below-ground wall area structurally compromised, so when it rains heavily, the walls seep water.  So until the structural repairs are done, the insurers have said to leave the drying equipment in place to ensure it remains as dry as possible.

A Sterling silver horseshoe pendant, highly polished and worn on silver snake chain.

Unfortunately, the repairs are taking some time to even get started.  Obviously the repair work is being funded by our insurers, but in their enthusiasm to ensure that it is all done properly and to check all the problems thoroughly, we’ve entertained a number of surveyors, engineers and technicians.  And unfortunately, they have been sufficiently thorough in their investigations to uncover a number of problems, unrelated to the flood, that we now have to fix.  They haven’t said it in so many words, but the implication is that they must be done, now we know about them, to ensure future buildings cover.  So whilst we’re fully insured and it will cover all of the actual flood damage, we’re now faced with a considerable repair bill and upheaval on top of mitigating the flood damage – for other matters that we would have been quite happy to remain blissfully ignorant of. 

Antiqued copper squiggle earrings with long drop Czech glass beads with a Picasso and lustre finish.

On the plus side, we did get a full settlement for all of our lost contents, so have been gradually replacing the items that we need to do so and using the opportunity to do things just that bit better for the future.  When we bought the house, the cellar was already home to some of the departing-occupants junk, stuff that they seemingly couldn’t be bothered to move with them.  So over time, we just added more of our junk to it, so that space was never anything more than a rather untidy storage space.  We’re determined that it won’t end up the same with our second chance down there.

A Sterling silver version of my square chain link earrings.  Mr Boo calls this design my ‘Space 1999 earrings’.  I can certainly see that they have a very retro feel to them, but looking at photos from Space 1999, I don’t think earrings were a big feature of their futuristic and rather utilitarian uniforms. 

In an effort to start thinking more positively about the area, Mr Boo declared that it would no longer be referred to as ‘the cellar’ the very word suggests a dark corner somewhat out of sight, but will in future be referenced simply as ‘downstairs’.  It’s such a large area that it would be a shame, when starting with a new blank canvas, not to put it to better use.   When it was first empty and clean, we stood there marvelling at what a large space it is and how much it would cost us, even if we had room to do so, to build an extension of a similar footprint.  We perpetually complain about not having enough space, so squandering one large room would clearly be silly.

I wanted to make some ‘party’ earrings for the festive season ahead.  These are Sterling silver with faceted crystal rondells.

So we’ve decided to use some of the content settlement funds to have the whole ‘downstairs’ properly wired – at present there are no wall sockets for power at all and only two inadequate light fittings at the bottom.  I’m sure that once the stairs themselves are lit and all of the walls painted white (there were once, in the dim and distant past) and additional lights it will look even larger and considerably more cheerful.  I’m going to have one corner area as an additional work space, where I will do metal clay, polymer clay and enamelling work.   

My greatest sadness about the flood was that amongst the contents lost was my grandfathers woodworking bench and a trunk of his tools – nice quality chisels and the like that no amount of money would truly replace.  We looked to see if they could be salvaged, if only for sentimental value, but they really were damaged beyond rescue and the insurers condemed them.  So I have decided that the best way to do those items justice and in a manner that my grandfather would approve of, is to buy myself some tools that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford or justify and to use it to the best of my ability to make things with.

I’ve made a few necklace and earrings sets which might prove good for gifts  – these feature a hammered copper ring hung with a selection of Czech glass Picasso beads.

He was a great and skilled maker of things with his hands so I think he’d think this a worthy solution.  So I ordered a kiln for my metal clay work and take delivery of it on Monday.  I’ll have to use it temporarily in my normal work area until the wiring is done, but I somewhat selfishly bit the bullet and ordered it before the repairs swallowed up the funds I’d allocated and the opportunity was lost to me.

Unfired clay pieces waiting for a session in the kiln.  Whilst they look somewhat metallic at this stage, it’s purely because I’ve smoothed the surface to get them as ready as possible before firing.  The bottom pendant piece with the recesses will hopefully contain some coloured enamel in the not-too-distant.
I’ve been a bit besotted with sculpting flowers on everything recently.   I have a lot of ideas for more sculpted pieces when I will have the means to fire larger pieces, including hollow forms using cork clay.

So in anticipation, I’ve been working on a few slightly larger pieces that I couldn’t fire with my torch and hope to get these fired in the next few days – once I’ve figured out how to drive it.  I have a head so full of ideas to make with metal clay – and enamel – and maybe even fused glass – that I could do with stopping time for a while whilst I tinker with them.  If only!  {{{{ sigh }}}}

7 thoughts on “Making the best of a bad job

  1. Thanks for the kind words Alex.

    Blanch, thank you also. Apologies, I have no immediate plans for any jewellery tutorials – for a variety of reasons.

    My next blog will be about my first forays into kiln firing my copper clay pieces with my new kiln and will be perhaps a little more informative. I struggled to find much useful information myself, so it’s only fair that I publish some of what I’ve learnt, for others looking in the same way that I have been.

  2. Love your jewelry. I can tell you take much time and effort to make sure your jewelry is perfectly finished. I make jewelry also and hope someday mine will turn out as beautiful as yours! I would appreciate it if you could post more about how you make some of your jewelry. Love, love, love it!!!

  3. As a jewelry maker also, I love, love, love your jewelry. Would you ever consider putting up tutorials on how you make some of your jewelry.

  4. Thanks Jenni – I know in the long run we’ll be happy with the results, but I’m just frustrated at how long it is all taking – I’m not good with upheaval and I certainly don’t like tradesmen in my house. We painted the top of the ‘downstairs’ stairs today and it’s already made a huge difference.

    Thanks for the suggestion Claire – it doesn’t look like it will be suitable for my very old computer. But in fairness, after earlier frustrations with the new Blogger interface, it did actually work well for this post. But I appreciate the tip, thank you.

  5. Such huge upheavals (not to mention costs) but I look forward to the day you blog about you amazing new ‘downstairs’! Love your work…
    To make blogging easier and to avoid the dreaded new interface, try Windows Live Writer if you are on a PC. Someone who reads my blog told me about it so I try and pass it on to people who express frustration with blogger. You can put photos exactly where you want (side by side etc) and you don’t have to upload them to blogger! Just be sure you preview first, and you will see your post exactly how you laid it out in Live Writer!

  6. Glad to hear that life is kind of getting back to normal after the flood and that you are able to fix the area and use it agin. It will be great when all fixed up even better than before!Sorry to hear there are additional areas to be fixed, but glad you have got new kiln and heartened to see you are making gorgeous jewelry again.

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