Getting things started costs $

Why must all new endeavors be so freaking expensive?
*sigh*
Working on compiling a lampwork shopping list. So far: Devardi Glass Advanced Starter Kit ($193 or $199, depending on where you order from. Contains:  @5 lbs/80 rods of Devardi glass, 10 3/32″ mandrels, 1 3/16″ Pandora-style size mandrel – feh, 6 1/16″ mandrels, 8 Pandora inserts – double feh, 3″ x 4″ aluminum marver, handheld marver, lampworking torch – I already have one, purchased for enameling, but hey – the more the merrier – with stainless bracket – not sure what that is; maybe to hold the aluminum marver on the torch?, double-ended rake, bead release, cooling fiber blanket, 5 oz. of frit in random colors, aluminum heatproof desktop protector, 4 sets of tweezers, glass rod warmer to prevent thermal shock – a.k.a. you put your rod near the fire and it goes ‘splody, which, hey, seems like a good plan – stainless rod rest, instructional DVD which wasn’t well reviewed), rod rack for rod warmer, $5, Devardi Glass Mini Annealer (currently out of stock. Which is fine, because I currently don’t have the $ for the $200 starter kit, much less the $76 + ?$ shipping for the annealer, and the next two items on the list! That said… It’s a lot less than a $600 kiln PLUS all this stuff), ACE didymium over-glasses safety glasses ($53. They cut out the glare while lampworking while still allowing you to get a decent read on color. Supposedly. Dunno, we didn’t use them on Saturday), and various marvers to smooth the beads, and make them certain shapes/add grooves/make them groovy – $18 – $30 ea.
If the mini-annealer were in stock, we’d be looking at $352.48 in startup costs.
Again… if I were to remove the mini-annealer and pop in a real kiln (which I STILL hope to do, someday), it’d come to $882.48. That makes $352.48 seem positively affordable, in comparison, but it’s still high.
So!
Decisions, decisions.
This is me, we’re dealing with, here – I’ve learned something new, which I both enjoyed and had pretty much immediate aptitude for (all but my very first bead, which is to be expected, and my very last bead, where I got ambitious) came out really quite shockingly well. Like, I would use these beads in a sellable product, well (if they’d been annealed. Which they weren’t. Which pretty much makes them shiny ticking time bombs, because they WILL shatter. One already has, and one is visibly cracked. ANYWAY…). This, predictably, makes me want to BUY ALL OF THE THINGS.
The voice of reason, quiet though it may be, says, “Do I REALLY want to do this? It’s a lot of money, and a lot of work. Will I USE this stuff/skill? I didn’t move forward with polymer clay.”
BUY ALL OF THE THINGS voice: “I’ll use it! I will! I spent $9 – $12 PER BEAD for lampwork beads at the last Innovative Bead Expo, for use in the kumi stuff I’ve been working on. OK, yeah, there’s an initial outlay to get started, but wouldn’t it be more FUN to be able to say that ALL OF IT was made by me, instead of just, y’know, ASSEMBLED by me? Plus… FIRE! MELTY GLASS! COLORS! SPARKLY THINGS! COME ON!!!!!!!”
Voice of reason: “You started off well, but then… way too many exclamation points. You know that, right?”
“Yes. But you’re also having a conversation with yourself, so it’s not like this is the thought process of an entirely sane person.”
“…Solid point.”

So… yeah. As per usual, a shopping list of shinies. As per usual, no $ to get them. Really – no $. Between the stupid %⅞ç{ing deck and the stupid %⅞ç{ing HOA payments, I’m tapped out, probably till August I can use a little $ here and there in the interim, but not enough to do much.
3 months. 3 months to forget everything I learned, & start over again. That worked out well, with enameling. *headdesk*
At least it gives me time to really work on the craft room (y’know, where all of this is supposed to end up going).
Patience is not a virtue I’ve got a whole lot of. *sigh*

Let’s hit things with sticks! Yaaaay!

It’s been a good long while since I’ve been bitten by the MUST MAKE STUFF NOW bug. Even now, I feel the urge may leave me when I get home, for the simple reason that my apartment is too cluttered to find a clear spot to work on. But… such predicaments, we must forge ahead – I’ll clean something off. At least a corner of something, anyway. Because tonight… we DAP! Dapp? We take bits of metal and HIT THEM WITH HAMMERS!!! YAAAAAAY!!!

Why?

No real reason.

I was preparing for an uncharacteristic attempt to go to bed early last night, and passed by my stainless steel table with casters, which was originally purchased to hold my wee little kiln. Kiln got shipped back for replacement, and table became, as expected, a catch-all for crap. On the up-side, it’s all jewelry-related crap. On the downside, it’s still just a pile of crap. I now have a new kiln, but it’s still boxed up, and likely to stay that way for the time being.

Sticking out from the pile of crap was a package of copper washers, purchased at Harbor Freight on April 4th.

http://www.harborfreight.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/i/m/image_15873.jpg

And even though I’ve passed them a gazillion times since then, this time, they caught my eye. And my brain said, “Wow. I’ve had those for over a month, and haven’t done a darned thing with them.”

Thereby followed a long, meandering train of thought:

Well, that’s because I couldn’t enamel them. I didn’t have a kiln, and torch firing them seemed impossible to do, at least in this location. So what else was there to do with them? I could’ve used the dapping tools I bought at the same time and domed them, I suppose, but then what?

Then came the, “Ooh, shiny,” lightning bolt to the head:

I BOUGHT ALCOHOL INKS.

Oooooooooooh.

Now, I didn’t have any intention of dapping or inking anything last night; it was already almost 9:30, and even the ADD part of my brain knew better than that. But I also knew full well that the dapping set was covered in lubricating oil; how much time could it take to get that off, really?

The answer: about an hour or so, via Kirkland Signature Household Surface Wipes, Orange Scrubbing (smooth side).

So, there I was, at 10pm last night, happily standing in my kitchen and rubbing away disgusting quantities of what appears to have been motor oil, and installing it in its little storage block.

*squee!*

Yeah, so I’m easily entertained. It’s a useful skill.

So now, I’m at the job that actually, y’know, pays me. And all I can think of is stopping at Michael’s on the way home to pick up a varnish to seal them, and then… POW!

I’m also currently a bit obsessed with soldering. Which is interesting, since technically I didn’t do very much.

Had a class, weekend before last. Was supposed to learn soldering. And I did, a little teeny bit; I soldered bezel wire. I fried the first one; the second one took the join. But I didn’t get to finish the piece (solder it to the rest of the piece), and I didn’t get to rivet anything, and since a) we used my torch in the class, and b) people were still at it when I had to go, I left my torch behind, there’s very little point in my being obsessed with soldering. That has not, however, prevented me from assembling carts at several different stores such as Rio Grande, Amazon.com and Harbor Freight, of tools to help me further my obsession with soldering. I already ordered the adjustable chuck and teensy drills for my Dremel on eBay… which I can’t use until I complete my Rio order, because that’s got the bur/saw lubricant in it. By careful picking and choosing, I’ve got that cart down to about $122. Harbor Freight is $44. Amazon is $36. So that’s about $200 I don’t really have, for something I don’t feel comfortable doing in the place I currently live.

I must exercise patience.

…I SUCK AT PATIENCE.

If I had my torch, I could at least rivet things (it starts with balling headpins). Actually, I suppose, if you want to get technical, I could use already balled or flattened headpins, and do it that way.

Picky, picky. Don’t interfere with my acquisitiveness.

Thing is, even when I have my very own home, there will be obstacles to me doing this sort of thing, not least of which being that I’ll be paying for it (which means I very DEFINITELY won’t have $200 to spend on this stuff).

*sigh*

I’ll figure it out. One way or another, I will do all sort of nifty things with fire and heat.

But that will not happen today.

Today… I beat things with hammers.

And I may then turn them mottled pretty colors.

I may even wrap them with wire and dangle sparkly things from them.

Yaaaaaaaay!

No enameling – denied!

So I was all sorts of enthused about starting up with torch-fired enamel. It’s fantastically fun, and easy, and hey – fire! That’s always fun! Or, y’know, not – mostly, fire scares me. Wisely, I feel. But because it was pretty much stationary, I didn’t find it as daunting as the creme brulee torching of metal clay. Plus, it’s over in moments, instead of it taking (at least in the case of ArtClay Copper) a significant chunk of time.

Then I actually bought Barbara Lewis’s book, http://www.amazon.com/Torch-Fired-Enamel-Jewelry-Workshop-Painting/dp/1440308861, which mentions, among other things, that you want to work in a well-ventilated area. It recommends doing a search on how lampworkers ventilate their work areas.

My work area (which is to say, my apartment) is not particularly well ventilated. This is predominantly because I never open the windows. Ever. So unless a closed HVAC system counts as ventilation, this is not good. When I did the search on lampworking ventilation, and my brain exploded. There is simultaneously a huge quantity of information out there, and a complete lack of what I feel, in my case, is actually useful.

I have simple needs, I think: I need something non-permanent and inexpensive, that will allow me to hook it up, do my thing, unhook it, and put it away, while keeping myself safe and not setting my home on fire.

Some people recommended getting materials from hydroponics companies, but the information on how to actually set it up was a bit sketchy (I saw one with what looked like dryer vent tubing hooked up to a hydroponics fan, set up on cinder blocks, and stuck poking out a barn door. Since I’m lacking in barn doors, and wouldn’t leave one open, anyway, that’s a no-go. Plus, I don’t recall seeing how the part you actually sit near and use the torch by should be set up). Others were downright dangerous (make a fume hood with foamcore board covered with aluminum foil. FOAMCORE?! Can you think of ANYTHING more toxic and flammable?! It’s STYROFOAM and PAPER, for the love of…!?) Some had oven range hoods vented to the outside, which of all the available options, seems the most feasible; most of the comments regarding those systems stated that they didn’t accomplish nearly enough in the way of venting, and that they might cause a backdraft explosion in your freaking furnace because fresh air isn’t replacing what gets vented. Some seemed to have seriously complex ventilation systems, and others, just fan in a window.

I am very confused.

I don’t particularly want to fill my lungs with copper oxides and flaming silica and whatever all else is going to fly through the air, during torching (or firing in a kiln, for that matter). I’m not in a position to cut a hole in the wall and hook a duct up to it. On top of that, even if/when I do move to more permanent housing, I was planning to move to a townhome or condo; these sites implied that the HOAs in such places would be very unhappy to learn of torch or kiln use. Which, when you get right down to it, makes perfect sense. I wouldn’t be happy to know that my neighbors were using open flames in their apartments, either (even if they are really small ones. The flames, not the neighbors). This… is kind of a game-changer, I’ve gotta say.

So I will now be extending my search to stand-alone, single family housing. Preferably with… no yard. At all. Whatsoever.

I don’t particularly want to own an actual home (as opposed to a townhome). It opens a whole ‘nother can of worms, and it scares the bejeesus out of me. But I don’t want to be confined to wirework for the rest of my jewelry-making career, either.

The only other option I can think of is finding a studio space to rent, outside the home, where I can keep my torches and kilns and implements of destruction. Problem being, I can find no such place, and might not be able to afford it, even if I could. It looks like there ARE such places in existence; they’re just in urban areas, e.g. Newark.

So… yeah. Feeling kinda discouraged, just at the moment. All revved up, and, quite literally, no place to go.

More as it develops. IF it develops. *sigh*

The importance of learning new techniques… or the importance of coasters.

I just ordered 6 DVDs on wire-wrapping techniques from http://createapendant.com/.

For whatever reason, though I’ve been doing wirework for a decade or more, what I know as far as technique hasn’t progressed too much from the first class I ever went to, where I was taught to follow patterns on a WigJig. Now, I’ve since learned to make a couple of different ring patterns (got one out of a magazine; extrapolated the other from a ring I’d bought), and that’s about it. I’ve always WANTED to learn how to wire wrap a cabochon, donut or large bead, and I’ve bought a couple of printed tutorials on the topic, but in the process, I proved something that was true of me as a child, and has apparently remained true into adulthood:

I stink at learning things from a written tutorial.

You can show me how to do something once, in person or on video, and I will be able to do it very well, almost immediately (it’s one of the reasons I’m good with computers; I don’t know HOW they work, I’ve just seen other people fix them. Also, if you’ve seen one Microsoft program, you’ve seen ’em all). But if you make me read step by step instructions, I will invariably mess whatever it is I’m doing up, get frustrated, and stop trying to do it.

So! When the opportunity came along to purchase step-by-step VIDEO tutorials, by someone who does some seriously gorgeous wirework… yeah, I went for it.

Even though I’m supposed to be saving money.

Yes, I’m feeling really guilty about it. And there’s a nagging doubt in my mind that says I’ve just purchased the world’s most expensive drinks coasters; why would this guy create tutorials teaching the competition to do what he makes money doing? That would be foolish, surely?

But… well, I’ll keep you posted.

If you see me suddenly making jewelry with all sorts of nifty wire swirls and coils and such, you know it was a successful purchase.

If not, I’ll have a safe place to put cold drinks.