Tag Archives: workbench

Lead a Life Truer to Your Dreams – TED Talk

Wouldn’t it be a better world if we could all live a life truer to our dreams? Jane McGonigal thinks so, and has the science to prove it. I first heard Jane on an episode of Morning Edition on National Public Radio as she talked about a traumatic brain injury that resulted in a healing and helpful video game called SuperBetter.  Then tonight I ran across a video of her on TED, giving a talk on the value of playing. She’s a gamer. Oh, yeah, a video gamer. She convinced me why it is important to engage in fun, games, and living your dreams.

I especially like what she has to say about living longer and be healthier by taking breaks every hour. My fellow metalsmiths who are in the flow at the bench every day – take note!
I love bringing dreams to life in metal, and no matter what the business end of this sometimes solitary and demanding life brings, knowing that I might be lengthening my life and improving it just by doing what I love is rewarding to the extreme. Plus, maybe if I stick with the tiny tasks the video game sets out for me, it will cure my perpetually stiff “jeweler’s neck”!

Willa’s Journey – Part Two

In yesterday’s post, I wrote Part One of Willa’s Journey. Here is part two…

Now for the making of Willa’s Journey, the pendant (of course, it wasn’t named that yet!). Inspiration started with a small group of three precious, beautiful torch-enameled disks. I loved them, and knew they were good. These have been on my workbench every day for months, looking at me. Waiting for inspiration. One disk set in silver would be just fine, seeing as each disk took me several hours to make – torch firing isn’t like regular enameling. Each layer is sifted on and fired in the flame individually. You cannot fire a large grouping at once using this method. The beauty of it is that you get to see the ground glass melt before your eyes, and the artist has a bit of control as to how far to push it. I lost count as to the number of firings in the disk that I used for Willa’s Journey, but I would guess at least ten trips to the torch.

Willa’s Journey, progress photo by Nancy Lee

Then I was lucky enough to receive from another artist a box of brass clock parts – these are precision clock guts made in Germany. One small little thing might be wrong with the clock, but the whole gearbox would be replaced rather than waste time repairing it. Goodie – rescuing beauty and precision from the dumpster! So one day I spent a few hours taking apart a gear box, smashing my thumb in the process, and spread the gears before me on the workbench…and glanced over at the disks. While my thumb throbbed I picked up a disk, and set it on a gear…and I was off! These disparate pieces were just waiting for one another.

Please read more in tomorrow’s post.

Epiphanies, Routine and Boss of the Dustpan

Epiphanies can arrive at the most mundane times. A small moment of surprise in an otherwise routine day. For many years, the corporate grind was my routine. Perpetually sleep-deprived, a well-oiled routine allowed me to function. Disengage brain – engage routine. This quotidian way of life became both comfortable and numbing (yeah, there’s a Pink Floyd song in there somewhere). Unemployment awakened me from this self-induced coma and forever freed me from dreaded routine. Woo-hoo! Be my own boss! Something like that.

Handmade Willow Earrings, Sterling and Etched Copper
Handmade Willow Earrings, Sterling and Etched Copper

Fast-forward two years to the present, and to a daily routine that continues to be purposely fiddled with. Even though warning bells sound if too much routine wriggles in, a certain rhythm has lilted into the daily music of my life. It’s rather sweet. To that, add the recent ping of an epiphany. Unannounced, of course, as these things will do.
It happened in my studio while cleaning Big Ben, a 10-foot long monster of a workbench, built for the ages using two by fours reinforced with angle iron. Ben was adopted from an old suite in the industrial complex where I now work. He was wrangled into my studio a year ago (which is a whole other exciting, death-defying story) and he’s probably going to be there forever. Big Ben was being prepped for a Big-Ben-worthy copper etching job.
While in the midst of a routine activity – sweeping debris from Big Ben’s surface using a shop brush and dustpan – my little epiphany arrived. Ping! I was my own BOSS. No one made me sweep and reorganize this work area. No one was timing me. Yes, routines, responsibilities and deadlines do exist. But this thing, this project, and this life, are of my own making. I own it and everything within it – good or bad. I CHOOSE this life. That was my little epiphany. I choose this life. And I love it. Three seconds later, with an inward grin, I begin sweeping again.
What do you choose to do with your time? Do you dream of a different way? If you could do anything, what would it be?