Tag Archives: metalsmith

Happy 2012 to Friends, Neighbors and Metalsmiths Everywhere!

“CC Electro” Custom Logo Brooch with Black Pearl

It’s January 9, and this is my first post for 2012. Huzzah! It’s been a whirlwind fall and wonderful early winter, and I cannot thank my friends, family, clients and fellow metalsmiths enough. This summer was a difficult one for many reasons, but the past few months have more than made up for it. My faith in my ability to stay on this creative path has been renewed, and the New Year has served to energize me with enthusiasm that is fairly crackling!
Specifically, my dream journal is full words that have been translated into meanings, and meanings are translated into imagery. The birth of a new line, even a new direction in my work, might be taking place. Who knows where this will lead?
In 2012, I hope you are full of renewed enthusiasm as well, and inspired to rededicate yourself to your dreams, whatever they may be. I wish you peace, health, and all the energy you need to follow your path.
Please keep in touch, share your journey. Comments are welcome. That is what blogging is about!

Twenty-five years – a family journey

The best part of what I do is to help people bring their dreams to life in metal. Recently I had an opportunity to create jewelry for a special occasion within my own family – a 25th anniversary memento. But I was coming up dry…
The story begins with my younger sisters’ college graduation. She moved from home base in Central Illinois to a suburb of Chicago. A few months after she got settled, our mom decided a visit was in order, and invited my older sister and me to accompany her.  That was November, 1986.
Our visits since then have encompassed trips to Urgent Care, the ER, post surgical care, stories of marriages and children, dinner, deaths, lunches, brunches, cookies and Cosmos, and before you could say John Robinson, twenty-five years had passed.  To my metalsmith’s mind, a journey this terrific deserved a commemorative piece of jewelry!

With weeks turning into days, I hadn’t come up with an idea I was excited about. But that night, just as I was preparing for bedtime, an image of interlocking rings appeared to me. This was it! I quickly sketched it out and fell asleep.

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The night before I was to leave, I started on the intertwining circle pendant. Four pendants to be exact: one for my mother, my two sisters, and me. At the bench, our story unfolded in my hands.  Sixteen circles lay before me, each soldered into an individual, perfect round shape. But something was missing. Life! I grabbed my two-pound forging hammer and tapped dings and dents into each of the rings – bumps along life’s path.
Cut open again, the circles were then able to be linked into groups of four rings and soldered. One ring for each of us, four rings per pendant. No matter what happened we would always be welded together. The following morning, I added a triangular shaped cubic zirconium gemstone inspired by our mom, mother of three daughters, the spark that created us and keeps us together. No time to make a chain, so I threaded each pendant onto a length of white satin ribbon. Packed in tiny handmade paper boxes and little gift bags, I started my journey to Illinois.

That evening, we broke from tradition and had an impromptu dinner at my sister’s kitchen table. Gifts were busted out, and I am pleased to say that the pendants were a hit, sparking stories and emotions that will live with each of us for a very long time. Hopefully, forever!

Newspapers, Metalsmithing, and the Perfection Tattle

I glanced at the newspaper, still being delivered to our shrubs every morning like clockwork (even though we had canceled our subscription weeks before), and launched a thought spiral by wondering why it had ever been called a “rag.”  One thought led to another, tangents pinging into one another like bumper cars. “Rag?” Something to do with cloth? If grandma were alive she would know. Isn’t it sad that the newsroom was going the way of the dinosaur? Newspapers used to be the key form of news and information in communities large and small…yada yada.

My thoughts slowed as I warmly recalled the lyrical novel, “Winter’s Tale,” by Mark Helprin, in which the business of news became an integral part of the main character’s life. In this magical and mesmerizing story set in an alternative New York City, time becomes a flexible fabric as the hero, Peter Lake, searches for “a beautiful city that might be entirely just.” At one point in the novel, he finds himself homeless and nearly insane. He stares into the windows of “The Sun,” a newspaper, and realizes he is a mechanic. As his mental fog lifts, he asks the harried mechanics to allow him inside because he knows how to fix the broken machine he viewed from outside. They do, and he does.
After this, the mechanics decide he is worthy of a tour of the “many dormant machines that had puzzled them all their lives.” The pair show Peter a golden bell-shaped instrument sitting atop a steam engine, and beg him, upon threat of doing themselves in with a clock mallet, to explain to them its purpose. It had nearly driven them mad by screaming and releasing hissing puffs of steam at odd times, for no apparent reason, then falling silent again for long periods. They stare as Peter gives a name to the little instrument and explains the “perfection tattle,” which allows excess steam to be released when the engine reaches 100 percent efficiency. He further explains that there are more of these perfection tattles on other engines in a large operation such as this, and the whole business is like a giant puzzle with interrelated pieces.

To be the conductor,’ Peter Lake says with a grin, ‘you have to know every instrument. And you have to know the music.’

The perfection tattle tale, with its ripe imagery and story of redemption, painted a picture in my imagination that remains to this day, three Christmases after first reading it. Triggered anew this morning, I yearned then as I yearn now to create my own perfection tattle. A body of interrelated work consisting of several pieces of comely perfection. I aspire to be a conductor who knows her instruments and can create “music” with them.

To wrap thing up, what does the term “rag” mean, in reference to newspapers? My guess was partially correct. It originally referred to a type of high-quality paper known as “rag linen,” upon which newspapers used to be printed. Almost right.

Handmade Sterling Pendant, imperfect, by Nancy Lee

Do I still dare to seek “perfection?”