Something weird’s going on

I thought everything had gone really well with my recent hysterectomy. I left the hospital and took it easy for three days. I used ibuprofen for controlling the pain because I don’t like the side effects of narcotics. What I noticed when I eased off the Advil was this funny feeling every time I emptied my bladder (how’s that for a PC euphemism for peeing?). Anyway, I thought it was probably a simple urinary tract infection since I had a catheter during surgery. At my two-week appointment, I mentioned this discomfort to my doctor who recommended collecting a urine sample. I had to wait over the holiday weekend for the results. On Tuesday, when I spoke with the nurse, I was taken by surprise that there was no bacteria and the culture came back negative but she said there was some blood in my urine. Really weird. And I needed to have an IVP test to look at my kidneys and bladder. I couldn’t get the test done immediately due to work-related two-day face-to-face meetings and a fun social activity Wednesday evening at Ponzi Vineyards (cool place, by the way). So this morning I went over to outpatient imaging for the test. It took about an hour and although I had an IV and some weird dye shot into my vein, it wasn’t bad. I came home and tried to work but after so much activity this week, I was exhausted and I had this dull aching pain so I turned off my work laptop and took some time for myself. When I called the doctor’s office this afternoon, they said they had no answer but ordered another test; Monday, I have an appointment for a CT scan.

Really weird. It’s not unbearable pain but isn’t pain a sign there’s something not right going on? My doctor thought maybe it was a kidney stone but seems too coincidental that it would have appeared immediately after the surgery. Besides, the pain I feel isn’t on that level. I know that there is risk for injuring the bladder during surgery but my doctor said he didn’t have to get near it. I thought maybe it’s just bruised or something but it’s not getting any better so I don’t know.

Needless to say, I haven’t been feeling very creative lately… I think I’ll live but it’s annoying.

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Junk Drawer: Stephanie Lee

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to take Stephanie Lee‘s Junk Drawer Metalsmithing class. The class was held at Diane Havnen-Smith‘s studio in Clackamas. Diane served a delicious lunch and the smaller class size provided a more intimate gathering. Diane has an amazing little cedar house in her back yard which was a heavenly place (I need one of those)! Stephanie shared so many of her techniques. I wasn’t feeling my creative best but I managed to fabricate a couple pieces that I am happy with.

My next tool purchases will be a quality butane torch and a bench grinder. I used a tripod in a class I took with Jane Wynn last year so I think I’ll need one of those too. That should allow me to do all the cool projects I have in mind.

Several of my yahoo charmster friends attended the class. It was great to put faces to names.

If you get a chance to attend one of Stephanie’s classes, I would highly recommend you do! Also, if you are thinking of taking a class hosted by Diane, you will not regret it!

I went back to work today. It was a long day.

A&S: Stephanie Rubiano

The first class I took at Hampton Art & Soul was Stephanie Rubiano‘s Perching Pixies. This was the first class of the week and I was excited and anxious to get started. I didn’t read the materials list as thoroughly as I should have and brought prints of my images, they should have been copies. Oh, well, I figured I’d use them anyway. I realized the down-side is that if you get adhesive on the glossy image, it leaves a matte mark on the surface. I tried to be careful and it worked okay. Stephanie shared a lot of little tips and tricks. What a talented and creative artist she is. The class was fun and her demos were great. The only negative was trying to get a secure hold with the bench pin to the table but it was good enough to get acquainted with the technique and tools. The biggest challenge was cutting without breaking the saw blade… there’s a trick to it, you know. I’m not sharing the secret, if you want to know, seek out one of Stephanie’s classes!

I used a picture of my daughter when she was about three years old. She was such a cutie. In the picture, she was holding a balloon so I attached a bird with a piece of wire to her hand. I am surprised it held because I was so impatient that I couldn’t wait until it dried to show it off. I had a little mary jane shoe that I attached with my pixie to a little crate.

I came away thinking that I would love to do more with this and started looking for photos of people that would work to make into little pixies. But I wasn’t having any luck at all. I decided to explore some ideas and found this beautiful vintage magazine online. I think some of the images inside will make cute little pixies. Not sure at what point I’ll add color to the images but I plan on scanning them and copying them according to the directions Stephanie gave in class. 🙂

Shopping therapy

I participated in some shopping therapy this weekend. Steve and I drove to the gorge on Saturday. The drive is beautiful and Hood River is such a quaint little city. Multnomah Falls is one of the most beautiful places in the state (though we didn’t stop). We really wanted to go to the coast but we both knew the beach would be CROWDED! Anyway, here are some of the things I found.

A vintage terrarium. I filled it with some of my gardening things. It fits perfectly in this little niche I have near my dining room.

Some old keys, a couple game cards, lead letters that spell BLISS, a couple tiny perfume bottles, 12 little shot glasses, and a little wooden hand. The glass will be transformed into jewelry and I’m not sure what I’ll do with the other stuff. I may save it for one of the Lisa Kaus classes I’m attending this summer.

A really old, wooden toothbrush store display. It’s really dusty and I’m not sure how to clean it up. Any suggestions?

A wire basket. I love wire baskets. I may take the shelf down above the terrarium and hang this basket instead.

A set of six teensy, tiny silver shakers. Don’t you just love the patina? Not sure what I’ll do with these either but I’m sure I’ll figure out something.

A whole bag of tiny sand dollars. Where do these little baby ones come from? The ones I’ve found on the Oregon coast are huge in comparison. I think I’ll use these in some soldering projects I have on my to-do list.

And here is the best deal I got: a roll of wrapping paper for $2! Nothing else was really a bargain but this definitely was!

I also found some really cool vintage jewelry things. They’re not stampings or beads or findings but little copper and brass pieces. They’re really cool.

I also bought some plants to put in the back yard. I’ll have to post a picture after I finish planting, pull some weeds, and clean up the patio.

Here are some of the stores I shopped at:

Stars Antique Mall
Patina
Al’s Garden Center
Antiques & Oddities
Ikote Bead Design

A&S: Susan Lenart Kazmer

One of the most fun classes I took at Hampton Art & Soul was Susan Lenart Kazmer‘s Uncommon Objects in Tassels and Fringe. I had some flashbacks from a jewelry class I took in high school art. I remember learning how to use a jewelers saw, a bench pin, and a vice but for the life of me, I cannot remember what the finished project was. I’m sure I got a good grade though—I had a great teacher: Ms. Knode. She instilled my appreciation of the process of creating jewelry. The most memorable project we made in class was lost wax casting.

Fast forward twenty-some years and I find myself still inspired to create jewelry. When I saw Susan’s pieces on the A&S description, I was excited to take her class. Incorporating fibers and beads with metal was very intriguing. In class, Susan gave several demos on how to use many of the tools. Then it was a free-for-all… everyone wanted to use the same tools at the same time. But with a bit of patience, I managed to create two pieces. Susan was great at offering assistance when needed. I was so pleased at the praise she gave me. I added the fibers and ribbons after class—it was, after all, an evening course. I see so many applications I can apply to my metal clay work. The tools I’m missing, I’m planning on buying.

I received Susan’s book in the mail yesterday: Making Connections. What a wonderful masterpiece. It showcases her work beautifully and she shares so many tips and techniques both in writing as well as pictorially. She must be proud of this book, which she self-published. If you have the chance to take a class from Susan, jump on the opportunity. And order her book; you won’t be sorry.

I misplaced the second piece I made… I’ll post a pic when I find it. 🙂

A&S: Michael deMeng

I took Michael deMeng‘s assemblage class Morpheus Box at Hampton Art & Soul. I was nothing more than terrified. If you’re familiar with his art, it’s pretty intense; filled with depth of meaning, strong passion, concentrated color, and interesting (not to mention strange) found objects. So far from my sense of style (think architectural pieces, serenity, le jardin, and a dash of vintage thrown in for good measure). I knew I was taking a step outside my comfort zone but I didn’t want to learn his style, per se. I wanted to learn how he chose his composition, how he got the pieces to stick together, how he created multi-layered color and texture. And I figured, he’s from Montana… he’s gotta be a cool guy.

As a formally trained artist, Michael’s patience with those of us who were not is, in my opinion, worth mentioning. The knowledge he shared about paint (he uses Golden) and tools and adhesives took much of my fear and apprehension away. His demos were not only informational, his humor made the class fun. Although it was a large group, Michael took the time to give everyone the attention they needed. The critique session at the end of the day was great. He honored each student/artist with sincerely positive words and admiration. Everyone’s project was unique. I’m really drawn to the work of my new friend, Leslie. I love the colors and the way she incorporated each element into a cohesive work of vintage beauty. The piece just exudes her creative energy, don’t you think?

Michael maintains a very busy teaching schedule including workshops in Italy and Mexico and Bali (in 2009 with his sweetie, the wonderfully talented Judy Wilkenfeld). I would definitely take another of his classes. Oh, and don’t forget to check out his latest book, Secrets of Rusty Things: Transforming Found Objects into Art.

I was so pleased and quite surprised with my completed project. Michael called it sacred and playful at the same time. My favorite elements are the color and texture; the sheet music covered with a translucent layer of roses; the key, frozen Charlotte, and the words on the spinner; the little cherub; and the tiny casters. I’ll be keeping this treasure for my personal collection.

A&S: Sally Jean

I took two classes at Hampton Art & Soul taught by Sally Jean Alexander and her husband, Brad: Little Pink Houses and Bottle-icious Broaches. I respect Sally’s no-photo and no-visitor wishes. These policies add to the value of the class as well as increasing the demand for her jewelry and classes and protecting her business (smart and savvy, don’t you think?).

Sally is very organized and professional. Each student is presented with the class materials in a neat package. Brad whom she affectionately refers to as her man-slave, is always there to save the day… he does much of the heavy lifting (glass cutting and such). These two are simply good people and it’s evident they have a great personal and working relationship.

In class, Brad demos glass cutting and grinding, and takes the fear out of using unfamiliar tools. Sally generously shares vintage ledger pages, other decorated papers, and cool little bits of ephemera. She seemingly effortlessly creates her mini-collages and puts them under glass sparking everyone’s creativity. The charcoal pencils are one of her finishing touches as is her signature Sally Jean blue paint—the recipe for which she so kindly shares. Her flair with a soldering iron is wonderfully beautiful; smooth and/or bumpy but oh so shiny and perfect!

Sally’s artwork is incredible and her booth is always the most popular at the vendor fair. If you have her book, Pretty Little Things, you know how wildly talented this woman is; if you’ve taken her class, you realize how genuinely nice. I was particularly touched by Sally’s family Christmas tradition—what a loving legacy to pass on to your kids.

Sally travels to many locations sharing her soldering secrets. She also offers smaller weekend workshops at her Portland studio (there are some spots left, I think). The ultimate would be the Cortona, Italy trip in the fall… oh how I wish I could go!

Here are some pictures of the pieces I created in Sally’s classes. I took away so many ideas for new things I want to create. My next purchase will certainly be a glass grinder!