The Midlife Makeover

Me…and a rock……in the desert.

I turned 50 in 2017. Never being one for big celebrations, my birthday came and went with little recognition from anyone. In my own mind, however, I had made a sketchy plan of where I had wanted to be in my life by the time I turned 50. Looking at that hazy dream, I realized that very little of it would ever be attainable. My health really put a wrench in the monkey works. But I had a new plan. I ALWAYS have a new plan!

My husband and I had been collecting rocks as a serious hobby since 2014. We ventured farther and farther from home and soon realized that , if we wanted to make the most of a three day weekend, we would need to purchase a trailer. So, in 2015, we bough a small, simple, jacked up trailer and followed our curiosity beyond the borders of Oregon and into Nevada and California. By 2016. we had acquired an 18 inch rock cutting saw and we started slicing into many of the rocks that were now forming piles around our property. Steve enjoyed this a lot, but since the beginning, his interest was focused, primarily, on thundereggs. While he was out-rigging our truck with a winch, stronger suspension and some serious off road tires, I was daydreaming about cutting my own stones to add to my jewelry designs.

So, on my 50th birthday, when we just happened to be a the local rock company buying a truckload of gravel, I wandered into the back garage and started eyeing the lapidary equipment. There was a new trim saw, a few larger old saws, two sets of grinding wheels from the 1950’s and a new, large flat lap. At the time, however, most of it was completely foreign to me. When the only mobile employee finally had time to answer my questions, I only had one. I wasn’t sure what a flat lap was for so when he told me that it was usually used for polishing thundereggs, my mind was made up. I rejoined my husband in the front, sales room and told him not to pay for the gravel just yet.

In the end, I purchased a combo grinder with two silicon carbide wheels, and expanding wheel and a flat sander, a 10 inch trim saw and, to my husbands near giddy approval, the 20 inch flat lap. Happy Birthday to me…and him.

Two days later, there was an ad in the local paper. Someone only two miles away was selling another combo machine but this one had diamond wheels. The price was more than reasonable. When we went to pick it up, the gentlemen who were selling it decided to get rid of all of the slabs they had as well and threw them in for free. NOW, I thought, I was ready to embark on a new chapter in my life. We were all set! I was going to figure out how to cut rocks. There was only one problem, however, we had no place to set up all these wonderful machines….yet.

It was a chaotic mess at first.

Life is a Journey

Life is a journey, not a destination. If life were a destination, however, I would like for it to be here. We are now miners as well as claim owners. We have two claims in the McDermitt, Oregon area which are for chalcedony primarily (in the form of thundereggs) and a gold mine in the Denio, Nevada area.

The gold mine was never very productive and has been abandoned since the 1930’s. We are finding a lot of silver but primarily, we chose this site for the copper minerals. There is lots of chrysocolla as well as gem silica and small amounts of azurite, malachite and cuprite. Occasionally, we get a little bit of gold as well.

There are a few folks who are not happy about our claiming these areas. They have been written about in books and many rockhounds believed that they were simply areas made available to the general public for collecting. In truth, all of these areas were discovered by miners who staked a claim and, once they were done with it, left it for someone else to claim. We came accross them, the same way that most rock people do but we realized that the bulk of the good material could not be accessed without the use of power tools and that we wanted to sell the material we found. I have a suspicion, that most people who go out and collect rocks, are unaware of the limits they can legally collects and that no matter how much they bring home, it is illegal to sell or even trade those rocks without having a claim. Power tools can only be used if you have a claim as well.

I will not make it sound easy to juggle three mines, two businesses and a home because it isn’t! My original shop, Tangible Imaginings, is being redesigned right now with the intention of reopening (online) on the first of the year. Our new business, SG Lapidary, is in it’s infancy and I am learning a great deal by default.

McDermitt is a 5 hour drive from our home and so is Denio. They are over one hour apart so even traveling between them can be quite a trek. My husband has a day job as a sheet metal fabricator for an HVAC company. It comes in handy especially when we need to redesign equipment. So, during the day, he is at his job while I am busy cutting rock, cabbing, lapping, washing (a lot) stabilizing, designing jewelry, fabricating and selling EVERYTHING!!

This blog is more a way for me to remember all that has happened on this journey than it is to enlighten any of my readers. That being said, however, I welcome any questions and hope you enjoy what you read. As you can see from previous posts, I am an illustrator but arthritis and EDS have taken my hands so I am no longer able to work in the detail I enjoy most. I also have Essential Tremor. So far, I have found ways to still make jewelry but I doubt that will be for too much longer unless I can get the surgery I need to stabilize my thumbs. Who know what the future may bring!?

Happy 2020. Lets hope this year lives up to its name and we all find a little clarity along the way!

Welcome to the New Year, AGAIN.

I know that I have said this before, but this time I mean it! 2019 will be a year of transition for me. A number of things transpired in 2018 that have drastically altered the landscape of both my business and personal lives.

My health and the health of my adult children have taken the front seat on this journey around the sun. My time is split between being a caregiver and finding unique ways to make money; mostly by selling what we don’t need. In between, there is art. There will ALWAYS be art.

Just like the dots on this apple, life is made up of uncountable moments.

What we do in those moments will shape who we are and how we impact others.

Being conscious of your actions and thoughts will help you reach your goal, even if you are not exactly sure what that looks like.

Every dot, every moment, every connection, every person, is required to make the idea a reality; a “Tangible Imagining” if you will.

My daughters and I are facing a somewhat difficult and unknown future. But, as it is with all things, if we focus on what we want from life and we execute each moment with care, eventually, it will become a reality.

I draw with dots because I cannot draw lines well anymore. We adapt, if we want to.

Here’s to a new year. I hope you can adapt and keep your eye on the goal!

Making and Making More

I promised my two youngest nieces that I would make each of them a new sweater for Christmas. That, of course never happened. So, instead, They each got a hat and an IOU. Now I am frantically trying to get two sweaters done before the intended recipients outgrow them or summer arrives. The problem is, that I make everything without a pattern, so my ideas have a way of growing and growing to the point where I feel like I have bitten off more than I can chew, sometimes. Here is the youngest niece’s sweater….12654262_1118210181545667_6805026182586991575_n

The only problem is that it STILL isn’t finished. After this photo, I decided to add an under layer of yellow to the bottom hem and the when I had it all washed and pressed, I realized that I had moved the hem a full 2 inches off on one side. My husband said to send it any way but I can’t….so…….snip….snip…….sigh.

 

Happy New Year 2016

It is finally here. 2016 is the year that I crank everything into high gear and make my shop what I have always wanted it to be; successful!

I have set up my jewelry studio and am hard at work creating new pieces that will be posted to my Etsy shop at the beginning of the new year. I have made several new pieces that have been given as gifts this Christmas, just to make sure I am “up to snuff”. It is amazing how quickly your hands loose the dexterity needed to work with such tiny pieces, but it is equally amazing how quickly you can regain the skills.

Turquoise and fire agate

This turquoise and fire agate necklace is for a friend of mine who is going through a divorce. Her birthday is in December (turquoise) and she said she was oddly drawn to orange recently, so what better than a fire agate!

Quartz and brass triangle

Thus far, most of my work is simply compiling things from around my shop. I am not doing a lot of fabrication…..yet.

 

Brass and blue agate earrings

Copper and natural blue agate. I enjoy working with complimentary colors like blue and orange but hope to get to some contrasting combinations like blue and yellow.

Tribal bead and lemon quartz

Slowly Getting Ready to Get Back to Work

I have not been posting much content recently for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that I currently do not have a studio. We moved out to central Oregon permanently at the beginning of 2015. It took us several months to finally get my entire shop and my husbands wood shop packed up and moved. In fact, there are still odds and ends needing to be collected from our old house, which is going on the market this week.

In the meantime, I have been making do on our big front porch, piled up in yarn on our sofa and using an old card table in the laundry room as a place for the messier affairs. Most of my supplies are tucked up in an attic over our garage and I spend far too much time up there contorting myself to see what might be in a tote or digging through various boxes. It is not an ideal way to feed the creative monster and in fact, my productivity at least jewelry wise has all but screeched to a halt.

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We do not have the funds to build a full studio yet and with winter fast approaching in a very cold climate, we have simply run out of time to set a foundation this year. So, my husband is enclosing our back porch to give me a space that is out of the house but still small enough to heat economically. ┬áThe full studio will have a wood stove when it is built. This porch has a window that we can open to let the house heat (also wood stove) in….or is it out? Worst case scenario, we have a small electric heater for additional “oomph”.

Back to the Painting!

I worked on the painting in a series of two hour blocks and then took a photo. After I had blocked in the basic composition, I started to add the layers of color. I do this by squinting at my subject and trying to replicate on the large blocks of color that I see, ignoring the details.

Aspen tree image 2

Most painters apply layers and layers of paint and I am no exception. I use thin coats of paint so that, even though you might not notice, hints of the previous color affect the top coats. There is so much going on in this scene, color wise. that when you focus on it long enough, it becomes trance-like.

Aspen tree image 3

I adhere very strictly to the idea that you must paint what you see and if you are true to what you see, it will all come together accurately in the end. My daughter, who is a graphic artist told me she had no idea that painting took so much time or was done in so many stages. I guess, unless someone had taught me how to paint, it would never have occurred to me either

Aspen tree image 4

I have waited 20 years to paint again because for me, it is something that requires 100% of my brain. It is actually exhausting, which is why I try to work in two hour blocks. I could not find this kind of isolation while I was raising my family.

I hope to get this mostly finished this weekend while my husband goes pheasant hunting in Nebraska.