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My left foot


No, I’m not talking about Daniel Day Lewis’ movie. I’m referring to
my own left foot.

Over the 24 years that my studio at UCSD was in a wooden building
with a rough concrete floor, I developed a curious talent with my
left foot. Any piece of jewelry I accidentally dropped on that
concrete floor usually ended up with a dent, scratch, or even a
chipped stone, if I was really unlucky. Because of that, I developed
an unconscious habit of sticking out my left foot as something is
dropped, and 9 times out of ten, I manage to break the fall with my

This “foot catching” trick of mine is now so automatic, that
literally anything I drop gets that quick movement of my left foot,
with the dropped object bouncing off the top of my foot. I know it’s
an unusual trick I’ve developed, but it’s prevented a lot of damage
to dropped work.

The problem is that I can’t stop my foot from trying to catch
anything I drop, and in the kitchen, a dropped knife can be a
problem. ( no knives sticking out of my foot…yet!)

Anybody else got a unique skill like the one I developed?

Jay Whaley


My great talent is a variation of yours. I have amazingly prehensile
toes; I pick up everything with my ten gifted digits. The only time I
failed was with a 10mm chrysoprase cabochon. The dog grabbed it and
swallowed it before I could get to it.


Hi Jay,

I do the same thing, most of the time. It also tends to be my left,
but I think that’s largely because I tend to stand with most of my
weight on my right, most of the time. It’ll be the right if I happen
to be standing on the left at the time.

Check to see if it’s a function of being ‘left footed’, or if has
more to do with which leg is least loaded at any given moment. (This
all comes down to a series of things that are influenced by which
side is dominant.) I think it’s a not-uncommon habit among jewelers.
We drop things, and we tend not to like the results. Thus…


That is so funny Jay…

When I drop something, it is usually in my lap…I quickly clasp my
legs together and it usually works, I always were jeans or slacks -
no skirt! Wearing an apron might help more like a basket, but the
quick clasp really does the trick. And sitting at the work bench is
the only place I have this habit!!!

Rose Marie Christison

Hah! I can’t look at anything without trying to pull down the front
brim of what ever hat I may be wearing at the time as if it were my
Optivizor. We can be hiking miles from anywhere and if Tim or I picks
up something to look at I just automatically go for my phantom

-Jo Haemer

Heh heh heh, I’d love to drop a packet of ball bearings off you
bench ;-). Sometimes you can see the horns sticking out of my head

No jewellery related skills… yet. I do pick up and move around
burning charcoal, just to make people cringe… working in a forge
you get a little heat insensitive.

Regards Charles A.

Ok, this is Nuts! I thought I was the only one to do that! Lol,
Except I do it with everything, Wait till you try it with a large
canned good! OUCH!! LOL.

Steve, Arista Designs

I have the same habit but with either my right or left hand (mostly

Jay … I have some sage advice … don’t drop an anvil :slight_smile:


My habit is that I will hold my breath. It took me until this year
(64 of them) that this habit was a problem. Holding my breath
meantthat I hurried whatever it was. It does not matter on something
like dropping something, but it does matter on other things. I
foundout that I consistently rushed things through because of this
habit. This is a great posting and I enjoyed all of your comments.
blessings pat

My unconscious ability is to slam my thighs together when I drop
something. After doing that with a barrette needle file & ending up
with it sticking 1 inch in my thigh I’ve learned to let stuff drop
(my bench is on a relatively soft surface) & my beloved husband
crawl under my bench & find my dropped objects-he’s quite good at it.


I LOVE this post and got a great gaffaw out of it!

I have also developed a habit when I drop things. It has so far
gotten me out of trouble once, in a restaurant, and involved a very
hot plate of cheese enchiladas.

I wear a work apron a dear friend sewed for me out of very supple
thin leather, so it is light weight yet protective. Most anything I
drop that misses my catch tray (which is really just heavy art paper
folded and taped up to catch filings for scrap), ends up on my lap in
my apron between my legs but usually when this happens the dropped
item then rolls out of the apron and onto the floor. I HATE to have
to search. I have developed very fast thighs, they snap closed so
quick that my husband has a joke about it.

The unfortunate problem in the aforementioned event occurred last
fall in a Mexican food establishment. The waitress brought a very hot
plate of enchiladas, but her towel was slipping and the plate went
right into my lap and SNAP closed my legs. Fortunately I have learned
through years of working with molten glass as well as with hot
metals, that I am very fast handed too! I grabbed up the hot plate
and dropped it onto the table with relatively no spill of hot cheese
or sauce. Of course the joke about the clam shell snapping shut was
shared with all.

Amazing how fast your reflexes learn to get! I would definitely not
want to stick my foot out for a dropped knife though!


Rose- I used to do that until I dropped a very expensive and sharp
ended 1/2 round escapement file. I slammed my legs shut just a
millisecond too slow. I drove the sharp end into my right thigh with
my left. It took two hard pulls to get it out.

Yup. I don’t do that any more. I just keep my bench pan pulled out a
little further now.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer

Anybody else got a unique skill like the one i developed?? 

Well Jay, my skill is not so unique to me but i’ll share it
nonetheless. I occasionally work in a small town in India named
Bhuj. It has a centuries old silversmithing tradition. There, almost
all, metalsmiths work barefoot while sitting in the floor. There are
a few distinct advantages to this. One is when you do drop something,
it does not bounce away so far as it only fell a few inches and not a
few feet. Secondly I have a full set of 20 digits to work with
instead of the usual western ten. I find a ring mandrel can be held
nicely with your toes when forging. When I’m in the west i do work at
a generic bench with a bench pan but in Bhuj i tend to wear a long
apron and use it like a sweeps drawer…

Mark Kaplan

I had to laugh at Jay Whaley’s account of his unusually skilled left
foot because it reminds me of my own left foot, and right foot, both
hands, and both knees. Whatever appendage is closest to the falling
object is automatically scrambled for instant takeoff on an
Immediate Aerial Rescue Mission.

It’s a serious undertaking, requiring lightning fast reflexes and
superior coordination, but such missions sometimes end in comic
tragedy. Sometimes lightning isn’t fast enough, and the hand smack
the falling object and sends it way across the room. Sometimes the
automatic hand (not to be mistaken for Laurie Anderson’s mom’s
automatic arms ) is a little too automatic, and smacks itself hard
against something dangerous. Automatic knees that clamp shut are
usually successful, as is the ubiquitous right or left foot,that at
the very least softens the fall of breakable things, with only the
rare kick across the room. It isn’t just the fall onto a hard
surface that’s dangerous, because small items are also easily lost in
the dense jungle below. Some never see the outside world again.


I have bruised the tops of my feet catching cans (and hammers,
screwdrivers, cell phones,.etc) more times than I could count as a
result of this crazy habit. I also continually reach up to adjust my
visor no matter where I am. Just finished up a baguette piece. Last
week I embarrassed myself at the supermarket by instinctively bending
over and reaching under a vegetable display to pick up a piece of
stuff (?) that for a second or two looked for all the world like a
wax covered baguette. People standing around must have thought I
spotted a $20 bill or something.

Dave Phelps

You’re just channeling your inner footballer… I do the same. Once
in a supermarket the customer in front of me dropped a glass bottle
of catsup off the conveyor and my foot shot out instinctively. I
caught the bottle just right and it popped straight up into my right
hand. Mostly just lucky, it looked the business.

When I drop something, it is usually in my lap...I quickly clasp
my legs together 

Not recommended if you’re a guy sitting down :wink: CIA

My fingers were not made to handle very small things.

To solve the problem of dropping small things I lay a large baking
pan on mylap and work close to it’s surface. That way if I drop
smithing it does not have enough energy to bounce or break.

I do grab dropped things between my legs. Apparently natural
survival instincts take over when I drop something sharp. In that
case my legs automatically move away from the sharp object.

Lee Epperson

Love that Jay! We need a little light relief. My ‘skill’ is a bit
different from yours… actually, it’s a thumping great handicap,
and one I know is shared (to lesser degrees) by most Orchidians.

It’s the ability to lose stuff. All sorts of stuff, from decent
sized tools to all those nasty little bits of jewellery that fly out
of my hand. The bigger things invariably end up being under my nose
all the time - but they don’t show themselves until the whole bench
is tidied up.

My knees are calloused from crawling on the floor, searching with a
torch for something that should, by rights, shine when the light hits
it - but it doesn’t for me. I have to call in my ‘spare’ eyes, which
belong to a very impatient son who gives one quick glance around and
says ‘there’ then goes away muttering about blind old bats. I blame
encroaching old age, and my eyes inability to change from very short
focus to distance focus.

Beethoven wrote a marvellous short piano piece called ‘Fury over a
lost penny’… and how aptly it describes my frustration in trying to
deal with my handicap.

Does this resonate with any of you???

Jane Walker