Wednesday, September 11, 2013

So, It's All Diana Nyad's Fault...

So, it's all Diana Nyad's fault.  I'm sure you have heard of her spectacular achievement of big thing...just swam solo from Cuba to Key West without a shark cage.  Oh, and she's 64.  So...there's THAT!

 Anyway, her conquest of this particular stretch of ocean was many years in coming, and one of the many obstacles she had to overcome presented itself in a deceptively small package.  A small and potentially deadly package.  I'm talking about jellyfish.  Jellyfish that have caused her to abandon the swim on more than one occasion.  If you have never been stung by one, it's so hard to describe the pain.  I grew up in South Florida and have been swiped by a jellyfish or two...never anything major, just hit by a trailing tentacle and BELIEVED I WAS BEING CONSUMED BY LIQUID FIRE.  Now imagine swimming into a school of dozens of jellyfish...face first.  HOLY CRAP.  That is what Diana Nyad has done...more than once.  And she still gets back in the water.  Damn.

So, with all this in mind, and feeling so PROUD for her that this time she MADE IT, I was inspired to make a jellyfish pendant for her.  I call it "Nemesis of Nyad".  Hand constructed out of copper, brass and enamel copper, with pearls.  It should be in her publicist's hands about now, and I anxiously await Diana's reaction.  I hope she likes it!

 This design is now rooted in my brain, like, with tentacles or something.  I'm making a few more in silver and brass.  It's such an organic, flowing shape that lends itself to so many design possibilities.  I have a ton of ideas brewing.  One of which was to make a jellyfish bangle bracelet.  I imagined all those tentacles flowing around my wrist and figured this would be a relatively easy design to create.  WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.  What a nightmare.  It began so well...creating the jellyfish body, then laying out the tentacles, getting the flow, then trying in vain to wrap that mother around my bracelet mandrel.  My fatal flaw(s) was impatience (I didn't think ahead enough to plan for the placement of all the wonky tentacles), and not really knowing how long I needed the tentacles to be to create a standard 8-inch bangle because of all the bends and curves, which I created sort of as I went.  Well, after the initial failed wrap around the bracelet mandrel, I realized that I would need to solder the tentacles together in spots, as some were shorter than others.  I used 14 gauge nickel silver wire-- I wanted the bangle to be stiff to hold all the bends and curls.  Having forced it around the mandrel once, I had to hammer it flat again, and with all the flow, curls and bends that was basically impossible.  Sigh.  I went at it anyway, spot soldering where I thought I needed to in order to hold the tentacles together.  Here is where the swearing began.  The first spot solder was perfect.  Moved on to the next and as soon as the solder flowed the first join popped.  Fixed that and the second guessed it...POPPED.   At this point you're thinking, "binding wire, Karen".  Well, I have never used it and don't have any so SHUT UP!  This went on for about 75 years.  Okay, maybe not that long, but it sure felt like it.  Nickel silver is great to work with but the more you heat it the more brittle it becomes.  I won't bore you with all the grisly details, but by the end of it all I had created an amazing contraption using ceramic tiles, a third hand, and ceramic bead trees stacked together to cage this beast of a bangle so I could FINISH THE DAMNED THING!  And here it is.  I don't know if I love it or hate it.  I do know I will NOT be making another one like this.
 And, as I said in the beginning, it's all Diana Nyad's fault.

Seriously, I love you Diana, and I congratulate you and your team.  Hope you like your pendant, call me!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

I Need Your Vote...PLEASE!

Hi All!  I made this video last night, explaining why I am so crazy to win the Martha Stewart American Made contest.  Please watch, then consider voting for me.  I would so love to share this with other artists in my community, and need your help to do that.  You can log on and vote six times a day between now and Sept 13th.  I know it's a long shot, but it would be so FANTASTIC if I won and could share this with my artist friends.  Thanks in advance...