Saturday, August 28, 2010

Wegener's Update

It occured to me recently that after all I wrote about my Wegener's Granulomatosis last April, I haven't said a thing about it since.  Usually I don't like to bore people with my aches and pains and whatnot, but since you all were so wonderful sitting through my whining that month, I thought I'd let you know what's been going on since.

I have found a local rheumatologist who is awesome and is working with my Boston doctor well.  My first local rheumatologist was a strange chick indeed and didn't play well with others.

I have been trying for months to get off of prednisone with no success.  Everytime I'd get down to a low dose, the arthritisy pains, especially in my hands and wrists, would come back.  Then I went on vacation to Prince Edward Island and ran out of meds.  I don't know if it was the relaxation or what but I didn't hurt.  So I just kept not taking the prednisone.  Now, about five weeks later, I have some morning stiffness, especially in the wrists and elbows, but generally I'm feeling pretty good.  Naprosen seems to take care of the occasional little flair.  I've also stopped doing my inhalers and, knock on wood, I can still breathe okay.  My new rheumatologist has suggested that I can try to go without the singulair and see how I feel.  That would be another pill down.

I recently went to Boston to see my doctor down there and as long as I'm still feeling okay come December, I can start tapering off the methotrexate too.  Yay!  That one is what keeps the immune system from attacking me but it also causes me to get some really lovely infections.  Or rather it stops my body from fighting off infections, so I get everything going.

So all in all things are going well.  I hope now that I'm off prednisone I can lose some weight.  My ultimate goal is to get to a point where I've only got to take a multivitamin, some vitamin D and maybe my antidepressant.  That's the one pill I don't think I'll ever be rid of.  Or at least I don't want to.  Every time I've tried over the years has been a very bad scene so in the interest of my sanity and that of those who have to live with me, I'll continue on that.

So that's my update.  For the moment, the Wegener's is being kept at bay.  If all goes well when I taper off the methotrexate, we may be looking at the R word (remission), but I don't like to say it too loud yet, just in case.  Don't want to jinx anything.  I know I'll have some bad days, but hopefully they will be few and far between. 

Friday, August 27, 2010


Now through September 8th I am having a sale in my Etsy shop.  It's 20% off everything in the shop.  Even things that are already marked down - and there are a bunch of them scattered throughout the shop.  I will refund the 20% via PayPal.  And check out my Facebook page for something special!

I'm also very excited to announce that I will be in a week long class at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts next week.  An entire week to play and experiment with PMC will be heaven and I can't wait!  I will be home at night and so will still be able to check my Etsy shop and messages, though.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fast Fire BronzClay - My First Look

I have had a packet of Fast Fire BronzClay sitting on my bench beckoning to me for a week or so, but I haven't been able to sit down and try it.  Finally, I was able to make some time.

I have not used the regular BronzClay due to the long firing time required.  Turns out my kiln, which is a fiber kiln not a fire brick one, is probably not ideal for long firings like that anyway.   I have tried both of the copper clays:  ArtClayCopper and CopprClay and the jury is still out on them.  I haven't been able to get consistent results from them like I have with PMC.   PMC3 will always be my favorite, I think.

I had read that the new BronzClay feels like marshmallow.  I can't compare to the old, but I can say that I do see why people would say that.  It's got a lighter, less dense, feeling than silver or copper clay.  I kind of liked the feeling.  It didn't seem to dry out too quickly and took a texture quite well.  I only bought 30 grams, which didn't go very far because I made a fairly large and thick piece from a butterfly metal stamping.

Once dry, the BronzClay feels more flexible than silver and copper.  Silver, especially, is fairly rigid when fully dry, but the BronzClay was bendable and I was afraid I would break it.  It feels softer when filing it as well.  Wet clay seems to stick well to dry so it's easy to fill cracks and holes.

I fired it in carbon for two hours at 1525 degrees as per the directions.  I put it in the kiln before I went to bed and just waited until morning to take it out.  It was covered with a crust (oxidation) that wouldn't easily wash off in running water (although the instructions said that it would).  Pickling removed some, but polishing with my 3M polishing wheels removed it better (I started with the yellow wheel and moved up). 

I am not entirely happy with the finished product.  The bottom of the butterfly's left wing has lost some detail and also has some pitting, and it was hard to remove the crusty stuff from the pits.  I bent the wings a bit to put the butterfly in a bit of a curve and it separated from the part of the body that I had added to the wings.  It does seem to be sintered all the way through, though.

Here is a photo of the bronze piece (right) beside the metal stamping I used for the design to illustrate the shrinkage, which is significant.  Even though they look the same color in this photo, the bronze butterfly is a nice warm gold, but polishing did not get it as shiny as I expected.  I did not try tumbling it.

All in all, it might be worth trying again.  Like the copper clays, I think I will have to experiment a lot before I can rely on it to do what I expect every time, like silver clay does.

One final note:  I found when first working with copper clay that I must be sensitive to copper, as my hands itched and I sneezed a lot when working with the dust.  Unfortunately, the bronze clay gave me the same reaction, which only stands to reason since bronze is an alloy that includes copper.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

New Gallery Pieces

A while back I mentioned that I was accepted into a gallery and I have been working on pieces for them ever since.  I'm very excited to announce that today I sent a package to Trinket & Fern in Portland with some new pieces made especially for them as well as some pieces chosen from my inventory to compliment the rest.

With an eye toward Fall, I made some leaf pieces with autumn colors.
Maple Leaf Necklace

Autumn Leaves Post Earrings

Autumn Leaf Necklace

As well as a more subdued set.

Leaf Impression Necklace
Leaf Impression Earrings

My favorite piece is this Sea Urchin Necklace with a champagne cubic zirconia in the center and a sterling silver chain that was hand-knit by me.

As I said, I have also chosen a few pieces from my current inventory, including my Copper and Silver Flowers and Leaves set, a bracelet and a butterfly necklace.   To see the whole collection and for some alternate views, you can click here.

Also, a reminder:  I will be at the Winter Harbor Lobster Festival this Saturday from 9:00 to 4:30.  I will have some new pieces for that show in nautical and botanical themes.  I hope to see you there.

Lastly, some news:  For those of you who have been interested in taking one of my classes, but cannot during the day, I am working on something in the evening.  I'll post more information as I have it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Time Flies When You're Having Fun (?)

Wow!  Has it been a week already since my last blog post?  By this time I had planned to have a blog post all written about the new Fast Fire BronzClay I received, but I haven't even opened the package yet.  I'm itching to, but I have been busy... Mostly I've been busy being sick with a nasty non-strep throat infection.  Thanks to the medication that keeps my autoimmune disease from attacking my body, other organisms can sneak in and wreak havoc.  I'd like to say I've lost weight because eating anything felt like swallowing razor blades, but I'm sure the high calorie ice creams I managed to choke down made up for any calories I might have lost.

But I've tried to keep busy.  I have been accepted to a gallery in Portland for which I am making new pieces and a show this weekend as well (Saturday: Winter Harbor Lobster Festival).  I am working on pieces and displays for that.  I have been able to procure some more louvered closet doors (cheap!) and I'm expanding the upright displays I first tried in Belfast.  I'll post photos once I'm done.

In the meantime, a sneak peak at what I'm putting in the kiln.

And what has been out of the kiln and is in various stages of finishing.

And don't forget to check out the first ever giveaway by the Metal Clay Heads going on right now!  It's going to be awesome!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Couple of Little Changes

I'm always trying to make my life easier, especially when it comes to updating my website.  A while back I made some changes so that my blog feeds directly to my site so I don't have to put important things in manually.  That saves a ton of time.  Another time saver has been linking my website to my Flickr page so I don't have to manually make new pages for photos every time I want to add new pieces to my gallery.  Now I just upload to Flickr.

And now I have discovered Google Calendar, so instead of just having a list of upcoming events, I have a calendar which I update on Google and then it's automatically updated on my website.  There are also some tools for my followers, too.  You can go into my calendar to get more information on an item (I think you might even be able to map it with Google maps, but I haven't tested it yet).  The calendar is also searchable and can be viewed in several formats.  For those who want to be reminded of events on my calendar there is a button for that, too.  And for those who want to add my whole calendar to their calendar or get a feed of my calendar, you can do that as well.  I was thinking the search tool might be useful for those looking for upcoming classes.  Here is the page:

I have also put a feed of my upcoming events on my blog and you can click on any of them for more information.

For those of you on the Etsy Maine Team, I am trying to work on something similar for our team site so that everyone's events, shows, etc. will be on there and easily searchable.

Probably many of you who are more tech-savvy than I will have known about this for a long time.  I have known for a while that there was probably a way to do it, but I just hadn't taken the time to investigate and figure it all out.  I hope that this little change will be useful to you and time saving for me!