Sawing dies is too hard to do all the time, more than a few hours at
a time, or more than a few days a week, long term. So I must find
other ways to amuse myself, besides starting more dies or finishing
off the ones I sawed out.
That would mean working all the time, and a person, this person,
needs to play sometimes to stay sane. Jewelry making was how I
occupied myself for years, as a hobby and a real occupation, but I
got burned out working in factories, so I have made very little in
the last 25 years.
Recently, however, my wife has gotten some ideas for rings, poking
around online, and of course I’m not going to have her buying jewelry
when I can make it. I tell her "I could just make that " a lot, and
I’m F. O.S., or pulling her leg, as often as not, but with jewelry I
can actually back up my boasts (unless it’s diamonds, which I never
have dealt with, or casting, which I don’t have gear for anymore).
Actually, all I’m really good at is fabricating/smithing, and I am
really, really good at it, just horribly slow, now that it isn’t a
job and I’m out of practice. But it is like riding a bike, so there
I was banging on some 1/2 rd. wire, beding it sideways, smashing it
thin and tall on one end, flat and wide on the other, then bending
the whole ‘S’ -shape around into a nice little ring (or three).
Filing and sanding and polishing ; making bezel cups (nostalgia and
deja vu from the years spent at a bench doing production soutwestern
silversmithing and modelmaking). But there’s a huge difference
between churning out generic pieces day after day, and the
occasional, inspired, spontaneous bit of handywork for my sweetie.
More pieces made already this year than in all of the last 20 years,
but I’ve still got it.
But I do have piles of dies to make, so there I was a little later,
tackling the 4" turtle, cut in a piece of 3/32" tool steel.
The kind of die that stares back at me, intimidating me for days,
daring me to start, knowing it will reduce my arms to mush. Well,
maybe not, but one of those in a session and I’m good until after a
nap, and after two like that, it’s time for physical therapy and a
Or just one of those, and on out into the outer shop to fiddle with
the bearings, shaft, and mounting bracket for the giant kitty
’hamster’ wheel I’m going to make. It’s an idea that’s been floating
around for a few years, bumped up to the front burner the other day
after I went and priced some online. I showed my wife the prices for
the 36" diameter ones ($500 !) and she said "you can just make one of
those… after you make me some rings ". I said something like
"you’re darn tootin’ " but much more descriptive. So, after some
silversmithing and some turtle sawing, I was scrounging around for
parts in the hoarder area (storage room full of all kinds of metal,
collected over my whole life). I tell myself there’s a difference
between hoarding and saving things I might use to build something
cool with someday ; I believe it, but my wife has some serious
doubts. Regardless, a few hours later, and with no small amount of
cleverness, I had pieced together the shaft and bearings and mounting
components for a giant kitty wheel. Oh yeah, while keeping an eye on
the turtle and a few other dies in the kiln.
Full, with variety.