Tuesday, 28 May 2013

More rain - new project

May 28. More rain. Indoors again

Our burst of early summer has been replaced with a normal Vancouver spring: clouds and rain. Rain and clouds. The slugs are eating my lettuce but it's too soggy out there to deal with that now.

Stuck indoors, we finally tackled the mess left when we stripped the oh-so-70s gilt-marbled tiles from our entryway.

They were quite a sight. Some clear and gilt-veined; some BLACK and gilt! Looked like entry to a tacky disco. Before we even moved in, we took them down and were left with a wall of 1980s panelling where the tiles had been and torn wallpaper below.

I had thought removing the paper would be a dreadful chore (been there; done that. In this case, it was simple and quick. Onward!

Above is the entry stripped and ready for priming and re-papering. To the right is the finished area. We used plain textured paper (we may paint it when we re-do living room) on the walls. As the area has always been quite dark, we also installed an LED light fixture. Accessing the power was simple: there was an outlet in the old wall. We opened the other side (it's in the pantry, thank goodness), faced the outlet into the pantry for the dust buster and wine cooler and mounted a light switch and outlet behind the silk flowers in the entry. Running the wires left the pantry wall looking as if a giant mouse had been at work but, heck, if someone inspects your pantry, do not invite them again!


Feeling quite smug about the entry project, I figured I had earned time at my bench. I finished the earrings I was working on and prepared them for sale on etsy. I also got the bench cleaned up (sorta, it is a work bench!) and began roughing up another pair of copper earrings.

The patina treatment these pieces got produced a range of colors from a green-gold to a brilliant red. I think they will be quite spectacular. What do you think?

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Working with Copper

May 22, 2013

A few weeks ago, I attended a workshop on how to patina copper and brass. One of the squares was done by putting the metal into a coffee can full of dry leaves and pine needles, then setting them on fire and closing the can. That piece turned out with some lovely colors and I wanted to do something with it. Decided to cut long strips for a pair of earrings.

Challenge: how to attach a post. Can't solder it on because the heat would destroy the patina. I thought I could solder the post to a "clean" copper square and connect the two with a ring. Seemed a workable solution.

Here are the elements. A copper ring would have been better but I lacked copper wire. So I took a couple of silver jump rings and treated them with liver of sulpher to blacken them.



Here are the finished earrings. I like the way the squares took on some color from the soldering heat.

Once the pieces were assembled, I treated the earrings with a special wax to stabilize the colors.

I quite like the effect. I plan to do some more work with copper soon. Lots of people like it and it is way cheaper than silver. Expect to see some in my etsy shop later this summer!

Friday, 17 May 2013


Blog #2

May 17, 2013

I think I've managed to get the blog over that ALL CAPS nonsense. Technology can be so annoying!

We spent most of the past week building a planter at the end of our driveway. It's a great "patio" area but it is a bit like sitting on the street. I'm hoping, as the plants take root and grow, we will gain a bit of privacy there. When we bought this home last summer, the exterior was pretty stark, especially along this side. It's getting better.

New raised stone planter and low wall.
The cedar hedge at the north end helps shield us from the street and there is a cool green space behind it for really hot summer days.

This place is an interesting exercise in judgment. We want to make it pretty -- and functional -- so that we can enjoy being here but we have to avoid the trap of investing more that the place is worth ;-)

It's also a bit odd to own the house but lease the land. This park is owned by a BC government workers' pension fund and a management team operates it. I find it strange to have to apply, in writing, for permission to make outdoor improvements. It also feels a bit like a fishbowl after 20+ years in a floating home with almost total privacy and, before that, 23 years in a heritage farm house in the midst of two acres.

Let's face it, no matter what we build or plant, we will never equal that view. I fail to understand why people do not leap at the chance to live on the water. Modern floating homes are not any different -- comfort-wise -- from any other home. We built ours with 2X6 walls, fully insulated and with double-glazed windows. The barge is reinforced concrete and it would take a torpedo to put a hole in it!

So, why on earth did we leave? My beloved's arthritic knees found the ramp access and the two-story floorplan trying. We are living level now, but I sure miss the swans.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Blog #1

May 14, 2013

My first blog. Adapt or die, they say.
With spring upon us, I am aware of the difference between living on the river and being on land. We moved at the start of winter and, living mostly indoors, the contrast was less clear. 
On the Fraser, spring would mean watching the eagles rebuild their nest high in the cottonwood tree across the river. By now, I'd be waiting for the yellow water iris on the bank behind our house to come into bloom. I will miss their glory, backlit by the afternoon sun, each May. I will also miss the swans bringing their cygnets to our back deck to be fed and the geese parading their young. It's like a sail past; all in single file with dad leading and mom bringing up the rear. I know Canada geese make an awful mess in Vancouver's parks but they are really good parents.
Here in south Surrey, spring brings different interests. For the first time in more than 20 years, we had to buy a lawn mower. Also, since the raised bed is there, I have planted a vegetable garden. Some of the radishes are almost big enough to pull and the first crop of lettuce is developing nicely. If the weather is decent this afternoon, I will take tomatoes from the greenhouse and plant them in the garden. On the floating home, I used to have three tomato plants in pots on a roof deck — two stories above "ground" level. Here, on the ground, I will have to deal with slugs, snails and heaven knows what else. Bother!
 Of course, all this gardening is taking time I would have spent at my jeweler's bench. The bench itself isn't even quite a proper bench yet but at least I managed to make a few things over the winter. This pendant is abalone with an amethyst suspended above.

It was fun to get back to making some jewery. The wee house we bought demanded quite a bit of TLC over the fall and winter. I rather like DIY flooring and painting and all but I was getting restless for something more intensely creative.
I am frustrated that sales in my etsy shop <https://www.etsy.com/shop/DixSterling> have dropped off badly year over year. Suppose I did neglect it a bit while so busy but think all the changes etsy has made could be the main reason. I may try another site like ArtFire and seee if that works better for me.
Enough for now -- it's voting day here. Duty calls.