Sunday, December 6, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Sorry it has been so quiet here lately at "Notes from the Bench" -- my hobbies are getting in the way of my hobbies! Despite having 4800+ photos from a vacation this fall that still need to be edited, I have ignored them in favor of working away at the bench on holiday gifts for family, friends and customers. I've actually missed the hands-on, tactile, griminess of jewelry fabrication -- as I was reminded last evening as I was brushing large amounts of black polishing compound out of my hair and scrubbing the dust off most of my exposed skin.

As you can see above, I am rolling out new branding and packaging. I had wanted a cleaner logo for years, and finally took the time to mock something up. A new website will be rolling out early in the new year.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fire Agate Ring

Finally! I finally finished something new. I wasn't happy with the inital setting for this fire agate, so I dismantled the ring and made a new setting. This time I used 22k bezels, 22k gold balls, and added a trillion cut peridot. The Argentium mokume gane ring band is the same one I used for the early version of this ring.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Say cheese

While on the Worldwide Photo Walk yesterday, the counter rolled over on my camera (much like an odometer does). That means that I have taken 10,000+ photos in the past year. That's an average of 27 shots a day.

Looking back at my post from last year, I guess I am well on my way to becoming "that person" again.

(This is from today in my parking lot garden.)

Saturday, June 27, 2009


I find I'm always more excited to get to work if I have a clean workspace waiting for me. Unfortunately, I'm much better at generating clutter than I am at consistent cleaning. Today was a day to put all the tools back where they belong and scrub all the surface down. I keep the table to the left of my bench covered in paper (old pages from my Stendig calendar work well). The is the area where I do all my polishing and use the flexshaft. When I have made a gigantic, dusty, grimy mess polishing, I simply replace the paper for easy clean up.

I cleaned off my soldering area as well. Somehow, everything manages to get covered in dried flux after a while. Periodically, I like to scrub down the kiln shelf and get rid of all the grime.
Now it's time to actually finish a piece of jewelry . . .

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Creating Space

My mother came to visit recently, and upon looking at some wasted space next to my deck, she asked "why don't you do something with that?" What a wonderful question! I had carved out a garden when I lived on the other side of this warehouse complex -- but that was space with actual earth. This was a corner of a paved parking lot.

So, following Mom's great idea, I have transformed this:

Into this:

31 planters full of 57 plants. Vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers -- you name it! The only drawback is that I have been spending so much time in my new 'garden space' that I haven't been inside to work on any jewelry!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Heat Zone 2

I took a remarkable class this weekend, and feel energized and inspired to get back to work at the bench. It was a class on advanced torch soldering techniques and tips -- and while 16 hours of lecture and demos on soldering may not sound appealing to most folks, it was actually a fantastic way to spend a weekend.

Out of the Blue

There was an envelope waiting by my door Saturday that contained a lovely surprise. It seems that Hi-Fructose magazine had a giveaway for active subscribers, and I was one of the lucky few.

“And The Choir Sings Quiet” by Brandi Milne.
Giclee print on Hahnemuhle Museum Etching paper, hand signed.
8" x 10"

From the artist's site:
"95 prints from the edition of 100 will be inserted randomly in subscriber copies of Vol. 11 of Hi Fructose [or apparently mailed separately - PCH] for lucky followers of the magazine to find and award new homes to. That issue will also have me in a featured article/layout.
The final 5 of the edition of 100 will be part of a special contest held on (details to follow soon)"

I got print number 95 out of the 95 given away. It's just a delightful image and I feel lucky to have received it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Due to some as yet undetermined (& bizarre) neurological issue, I've been struggling with compromised dexterity and distorted vision for a few months. This meant that not only was I unable to make any jewelry, the rest of my rather tactile hobbies were put on hold as well - from knitting to blogging.

The symptoms seem to have cleared up a bit in the last couple weeks, and I'm thrilled to be able to spend the day firing up the torch, and picking up on projects that have been gathering dust on my bench for the past quarter.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Wounded mermaid

When I was in Key West eight years ago I was just beginning to fall in love with glass. This was before I had even thought about working with glass, or owning a kiln, or anything of the sort, but I was just mesmerized by it. There was a glass gallery there, Glass Reunions, that I haven't been able to get out of my mind in these past eight years. Years ago, the gallery had several adorable small blown glass mermaids that somehow did not manage to come home with me. I've thought about those mermaids too in the time since then.

Fast forward to current day. We purposefully wander down Duval, and the gallery is still there (although apparently it had moved next door). And though it seems that mermaids are no longer in fashion, we spend a good deal of time looking around.
We are literally headed for the exit of Glass Reunions as Larry looks up and points to something that has caught his eye. Half a dozen or so blown glass mermaids (and anatomically correct mermen) dangle from the ceiling. These aren't the small whimsical baubles I had seen years earlier, but large, flowing elegant sculptures. One of these eventually did make it home to me. Unfortunately, however, she was damaged in shipping and her arm was sheared off. I only hope they can track me down another one with similar coloring -- I'm now in love with a mermaid.

You can't see in the photos, but her face is clear, in front of her purple hair. She can hang by either hand, or by loops on either side of her tail.

Update: The beautiful (repaired or remade?) mermaid made her way back to me in mid-April. She was more delightful than I even remembered.

Best. Gift. Ever. (Part Two)

My friend larry got me a rather interesting gift for Valentine's Day. It's a cleaver. It's a rusty cleaver with a human heart painted on it, as a matter o' fact. and i love it.

I can't imagine many folks who would really welcome or appreciate a rusty personalized miniature cleaver, but luckily larry knows his audience well. It did take me a little while to figure out that it's not just a heart painted on it, but a human heart. All the better.

It came in a cute hand-decorated box as well. Elizabeth McGrath is the artist and her work is amazing. It's funny -- I was familiar with her sculpture from my Hi Fructose subscription. It wasn't until I went to her site while writing this post that I realized it was the same artist. Makes me treasure the little cleaver even more.

Best. Gift. Ever. (Part One)

I have been meaning to post for a while about a remarkable gift that a friend got me for Christmas.

Anyone who has read earlier blog posts will be well aware of my fondness for margaritas. My friend Robin went to the time and trouble of researching if a lime tree can grow indoors, and she tracked down this adorable dwarf citrus tree. It is a Bearss Seedless Lime tree, and will yield full size fruit. In theory. My track record with plants is less than stellar, so I am really trying to pamper this guy. I got him (or her?) a moisture meter, and he has some new growth, so we seem to be getting along well so far.

A Jaunt to Key West

We took a short trip to Key West last week, and while it was fresh in my mind I wanted to make sure I noted where we dined so I'd have it for reference. It was a lovely short trip, and I was sad to leave on Sunday.

The food*

The Cafe: A "Mostly Vegetarian Place" with excellent sweet potato fries with a key lime curry sauce.

Mangoes: I had an excellent meal here about 8 years ago, and after seeing very mixed reviews online, I was worried that I might be disappointed this trip. No worries -- our meal was very good and so was the service. Fresh stone crab, tropical drinks, a beautiful patio.

Bagatelle: a mid-afternoon snack of shrimp and tuna 'sliders' with incredibly tasty rum runners. I must learn what is in those.

Blue Heaven: Breakfast with the chickens after we walked in the sand that morning on the tiny southernmost beach. The food was excellent - even better than I remembered. More tropical drinks.

Cafe Solé: Best meal of the trip. More stone crab, Angels on Horseback (dates stuffed with garlic, wrapped in bacon), and a fantastic artichoke dish.

Nine One Five: Might have been able to usurp Cafe Sole for the "best meal" if I had been feeling better. It was an eclectic meal - we actually ordered french fries and pate as one of our courses (and had more Angels on Horseback).

Fogarty's: Better food than I thought it would be -- just a quick spot to grab lunch. Offered a great view of the hubbub on Duval.
* I find it bizarre that only two of these restaurants have web sites . . .

We stayed at the Gardens Hotel -- once the largest private estate in Key West. The place is quite popular, and with only 17 rooms we had booked our stay last May. The gardens offer a few winding paths with some fantastic art and sculpture throughout. The Master Suite was a sight to behold, with a large sitting room, two fulls baths, jacuzzi, sauna, and large private balcony. It's no wonder I wanted to extend our stay!

I can't get the flickr badges to work in blogger to save my life today, so instead here is the link to the rest of the key west photo set.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Feeling like Goldilocks, Feb 11, 2009

Feeling like Goldilocks, Feb 11, 2009
Originally uploaded by paigeh

Working from home with an assortment of laptops lined up across the breakfast bar I was feeling a bit like Goldilocks, just missing my porridge . . .

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Transparent Desktop

I recently ordered a Stendig calendar to hang by my desk. I had one in my college dorm room many, many years ago and had thought about getting another one ever since. I love so many things about these calendars: their scale (3ft x 4ft), their contemporary look, and their age (the calendar and I share the same year of birth).

Unfortunately the two widescreen monitors on my desk obscure much of the calendar. My wise friend Larry suggested that I make a desktop that looks like a transparent monitor so that I could "see" more of the calendar. About an hour later, this is what we have. I took photos for January and February, but the challenge with the calendar, of course, is that the desktop needs to be changed monthly. We'll see if I carry on in March . . .

Thursday, January 1, 2009

How I spent my summer vacation

Well, really how I spent most of my vacations. Ever in search of the perfect margarita, this quest has necessitated several trips to Santa Fe (and other spots in the southwest) to do days of "research". A couple years later, I believe I have finally learned to make the close-to-perfect margarita.

For Christmas, I told my brother-in-law I would share my secret recipe with him, and made him this video. Yes, he also got all the fixins to make his own. You, on the other hand, just get the video . . .

[Note: this video used to have the song "Tequila" playing in the background, but that was vetoed by Google video. You can just hum it now instead.]

Perhaps a later post will center around the choice of tequila . . .