Sunday, November 8, 2015

Updates coming...

It sure has been a long time!!

I have updates coming... in the mean time here are a few photos of pieces I've created - including a before, after and NOW picture of my last foster. 

This is Plum... now known as Sage - she came to our home a week after being
pulled off the streets of Memphis where she was living with a pack of dogs.
The pic on the left is her an hour or so after being caught at her first check-up
and the pic on the right is her a month and week or so later after her last
check up before heading north to live a wonderful life with her
canine sister and a great Mom and Dad.
She stayed with us from Halloween until early December.

THIS is Sage a taken 6 months later with her sister.
She is big, beautiful and LOVED.

Pieces currently in my calDESIGN Naturals etsy shop include but not limited to these -
EXCEPT the bracelet on the blue denim - which was a custom order. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

What I did this summer...
or the Wonders of being a Rescue Foster Mom

(Blog entry started 9/6/14...)

For a long time now I have been searching for a way to give back. I donate $ to specific charities, I give toys to toys for tots, mittens to the mitten tree, but still I needed to "DO" something. 

That something turned out to be joining Big Fluffy Dog Rescue as a "Foster Mom".
My first foray into this world was doing an emergency transport from Memphis to Nashville of two dogs that were rescued from Louisiana and were in need of a ride to get them from Memphis stop to Nashville vet for medical care and then foster/adoption process. Willa and Eric arrived in Memphis on June 28 and needed to go to Nashville (3.5 hour drive from Memphis) to the Animal House vet clinic for vetting and to start the foster/adoption process.

Willa - Senior Great Pyr
Transport from Memphis to Nashville
Rescued from Louisiana
I only have a picture of Miss Willa - she is a senior Great Pyr who had been buzzed and had bad back legs (come to find out the acls in both her back legs were blown - we were lucky she could move at all). Knowing Eric was traveling in an airline crate I set up a bed for Miss Willa in the back of my Rav - removed the two seats and made her a cushy bed of pillows (to fill the foot spaces), exercise mats (to cover the pillows and the metal hooks that the seats connect to), and a huge thick (30 below) sleeping bag folded in half. I wrapped a tent roll in the end of the blue exercise matt to give her a head rest. She needed comfort. And what a wonderful travel companion she was!!
Eric - 2 months later

I do not have any pictures of Eric as he was a mess. He had mange, was itchy, stinky and omg so skinny. I knew ahead of time that he had mange and got some gloves for my car. I took him out at a rest area about 40 mins outside of Nashville for potty stop and thanks to the gloves was able to give him the rubs and love he wanted so badly.

What I DO have is an "after" picture of Eric 2 months later... how beautiful is he??

Upon arriving home I got a call - "we have a dog in boarding undergoing heart worm treatment, that is not good with other dogs, is "ok" with cats (ahahah), and needs a fenced in yard" - "oh and I pushed your foster application thru so can you meet me at the vets on Wednesday to meet him and bring him home?"

Meet my first Foster - Koda

Big Fluffy Dog Rescue Foster Dog Summer 2014

Koda’s Story…

Koda came into the Big Fluffy Dog Rescue family as the result of an emergency pull at Memphis Animal Shelter when an outbreak of Parvo was detected. Andrea Adams of Big Fluffy Dog Rescue - Memphis & John Tower of Memphis Animal Clinic spotted this healthy looking dog with “cool” command training (sit, lay down, shake/paw, etc) and pulled him for his skills as well as good looks (I think. ;)) It was reported to BFDR that “Koda belonged to the sister of one of the shelter workers. Koda had been very neglected as far as upkeep on his beautiful coat and medical upkeep. According to the shelter worker he made his sister give up Koda because he was not getting the attention that he needed.”

DO NOT let this expression
fool you! OK yeah - he is
a gooba!!
I was informed that Koda is an Aussie mix and an absolute tennis ball hussy. He LOVES his tennis ball and will do anything to have you throw it. He would be an excellent agility dog or fly ball dog. Koda is 5 years old and HW+. That he isn’t great with other dogs and needs a fenced yard (which is why he came to me… new foster w/ no dogs + 6’ wooden fenced in back yard = place for Koda) and is “ok” with cats. (::grin:: let’s change that to ok w/ Van Morrison the cat.) 

Koda came to “Paradise” (as I call my humble abode) direct from boarding with heartworm meds, huge “freaked out dog eyes” (big eyes, whites showing all around… gotta admit as a first time foster and first time having a dog in the house in over 30 years – I was a bit freaked myself especially by his look of being freaked out), a tennis ball that never left his mouth or side, food guarding issues, warning not to “slap pat” him (thump pat vs stroke pat not ok) and was greeted by a feline household. Yep I have CATS. Plural... Four. OH… and he was afraid. Raise your voice (in this instance cheering for show on TV) and he would cower. There have been many, many times that I cursed the “sub-humans” as I have come to term them – that caused him to react like that.

This pic was taken about 3
weeks into his stay here -
note: NO Freaked out eyes!
FIRST I want to address the tennis ball… we had made a stop at Hollywood Feed in Cordova – BLESS THOSE GIRLS! They had hooked me up with a big honkin’ crate, a bed for it, food bowls, food, and balls… we got more balls. WHO THE HECK CAME UP WITH THE BRILLIANT IDEA TO PUT SQUEEKER IN A TENNIS BALL??? Probably a cat owner! <>

Thank goodness for that ball. I have since learned that the ball to Koda is like the blanket to Linus. When Koda was new here he had it all the time. We did not go ANYWHERE with out it. Potty (him or me), meal time, car rides… down the hall to my office (did I mention I work from home?) and the Studio (I make jewelry as therapy from the office job). EVERYWHERE there was the ball – a ball after all buy 5 for $5 and you got yourself a nice even half dozen w/ combined with the one he came with. Eventually we have gotten to the point where “I” have to remember to bring it with us if he’s going to the vets for shots. He doesn’t use it now unless it is to play with OR if he’s worried/stressed. In the early days I am CONVINCED that ball saved a kitty head once or twice. ;)

Cats... yep got a few! The Supervisor, The Apprentice, The Nanny, and The Diva. 

They all had to check out the crate and bed when it arrived.
The biggest open space in the house is in the middle of the Studio. 

The house was gated off – give him space, give them space with the ability to move into his area and back if desired. Koda was greeted by #1 resident feline who I firmly believe in another life was a dog.
Supervising Koda.

Nubbles (11lb grey/mix gorgeous boy) likes to ride in cars (pick up keys he runs to door to go), loves dog slobba (when friends dog comes over for doggy sleep over he is first to roll all over her just chewed on toys to get at the slobba), loves people (runs to meet newcomers at the door and hey if you don’t talk to him and tell him how gorgeous he is, he will stand up w/ his paws on your leg and make sure you give him attention). He truly believes he is a dog. WELLL… Nubbles was first on the scene. Walked right up to Koda and 11lb eyeball to 50lb eyeball he stared him down - or rather, he ATTEMPTED to. Hissed, cussed, caused quite the scene. I firmly believe that if Koda was accepted into a home with cats that DO NOT believe they are dogs… he would be fine. ;) First few weeks on Paradise were a trial for canine, feline and HUMAN.

Update - 9/18...

WOW it's almost the end of the month and that means it's just about time for Koda to head north for to find a "furever" home.

This is what I posted on my facebook page about him..

Folks I'm a little freaked out here. Koda is possibly getting on next Friday's transport list to head North now that his meds are done and he's good-to-go and he doesn't have a home to land in. I'm really worried and as much as he doesn't like my cats I feel guilty sending him North without a home!!!
What do you need to know?? besides what a beauty he is?
  • He has dog issues - as far as food and ball resource guarding issues make it worrisome to have him to be with another dog that has a love of balls.
  • He has cat issues - I have 4 and the last hold out who was actually trying to make friends with him was lunged at from both of them in laying down (not sleeping position but "down" position) approx 6" away from each other. She did not get hurt thank god but boy did she spray because of being afraid and did my house stink. A house WITHOUT CATS that want to be a part of every aspect of your life OR a house with DOG SAVVY cats would be good. (The only dog mine have been around is a choc lab that ignores them and they think all dogs will do that and go about their normal life when she visits.)


If you don't have another dog (or perhaps a dog that doesn't like toys and to fetch - maybe like a Great Pyr I hear they aren't much into plebeian activities) and if you do NOT have cats (or at least cats not wanting to be a part of your daily life activities like mind do) here is YOUR DOG. SPECIALLY if you like to run - something tells me he'd be a great jogging dog. But honestly I like him so much that between cat spats I was tempted to consider keeping him then I came to my senses again w/ the next spat.

He walks GREAT on leash, loves to play although it's been limited here due to hw+ treatment. He's gorgeous. He's WICKED smart - you can literally see the wheels turning in his head. He has a gait like a show dog in a ring. He loves car rides, loves walks, would PROBABLY LOVE TO RUN w/ someone. He grins at you w/ that creepy "gonna eat you" grin when he's being petted and it actually means he likes it (make sure you know the difference! LOL!!) he "growls" a low "mmmmm" like sound when you draw your fingernails down the top of his head.

And he loves treats (including Brown Paw Bakery cookies & trainers as well as apples, cherry tomatoes, blueberrys and froze raspberries). He sits, lays down, shakes his paw and will show you his belly. He could do much more but I'm a bad foster and worked on getting him healthy and giving him treats vs training.
He is a GOOBA dog.
He is not a lap dog but he is trying to be - god he's like 50ish lbs and to me that's a big lap full of dog - I know to most of you that's tiny! He loves to be with you. Gets sad when he's gated out of a room and will lay peering underneath while he is. He sleeps in a crate at night (for his, mine and the cats peace of mind) but would PREFER to lay by the bed. He hardly barks - unless it's fireworks (doesn't like), gun fire (can sometimes hear it from the police range and he doesn't like it), or creepy guys in a white van making noise across the street - OH and thunderstorms are not his fav thing either but the last one was far less of an issue ... it seems maybe as his comfort level in his surrounding increases the thunder issue decreases.
He uses his ball like we use a stress ball. He use to carry it everywhere he went because he was afraid and stressed and worried. NOW he only uses it to play with or in real high stress moments. If a cat comes into the room and he's "worried" he gets the ball. IF he see's something outside (across the street) and he doesn't feel it's right he runs and gets the ball and goes back to watch. It really is to him ... his stress ball and his toy. God how he loves to run for that ball. Here he has only been allowed 3 tosses when we go out due to restrictions but omg he could go on and on. I tried a frisbee - and I got a "flyer" but it didn't have a hole and he struggled to grab it (so he shredded it it's got a hole now!). BUT I got one of those Kong round frisbee thingies w/ the hole in it and THAT he can pick up but give him the choice... ball or frisbee... ball all the way!

OH and did I mention that he can amuse himself? 
He will stuff balls under the couch and then try and get them out. I introduced him to a small pink throw rug and he will put the ball on it and then dig and work like crazy to hide it and then he digs and pulls and finds it! over and over and over! (The rug can go north if needed! Along w/ 5 balls, a kong frisbee... treats. ;0) )

Tell me and then someone fall in love and omg. ::sigh::

OH OH... he smiles!
Well actually it's called a "grin" and it's kinda freaky til you get use to you. Honestly you think he's gonna take your darn hand off but nooo if you stop doing what you wree doing (petting him) he will pause then butt you with his nose to continue!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Nature... The ups and downs or
"Are You My Mother?" Mother Nature's version of the Dr. Seuss book

Mr. Cardinal
(yes, out of focus)
Yesterday I was distracted by a beautiful bright red male Cardinal visiting my bird feeder and the bird bath (about 20' from my home office window). What really caught my eye was not just his color and beauty but the fact that he appeared to be feeding a "baby" bird that did not seem to be a juvenile Cardinal.

Unsure if what I was seeing was correct I went and grabbed my binoculars and checked. Sure enough - it was not a juvenile Cardinal. But what was it... and why was Mr. Cardinal feeding a baby that wasn't "his"?

Mr. Cardinal & Brown Headed Cowbird
Open Wider!!
I kept watching off and on while working and this went on all afternoon - and noted that a SECOND "baby" arrived at the feeder both looking for food (yet both able to eat on their own). I was able to snap a number of pics of the "baby" even catching his shake-my-feathers-and-open-my-mouth "feed me" act on video.

One too many mouths!!
After work, I used the pics and the training my Dad and "Grammie Loug" gave me on how to ID a bird and first checked the bill - def not a Cardinal. My second guess was "could it be feeding a baby Mockingbird?" We have Mockingbirds in the back yard so "maybe"?? But knowing the pissy 'tude of the parents that fly thru the yard I can't imagine that he/she would "allow" another to feed their baby. Checked the bill again - nope not a Mocking bird.

Definitely not a Finch as it was tooo big as a baby. I know it wasn't a Robin - we have a baby in the yard and his/her parents are taking great care of it. We also have at least 3 baby Brown Thrashers - which are similar in size and shape to a Mockingbird... nope.

"Parasite" baby
Brown Headed Cowbird Baby
And then I thought... a parasite bird. I had had a discussion on Facebook with a fellow jewelry designer about a nest near her studio window and possible parasite bird egg in the nest "one of these things is not like the other" type of thing. And I looked up Cow Bird Juvenile. Sure enough - I was looking at the baby that was at the feeder.

The good and the bad of nature.

Mother Nature has for some reason seen to it that some birds will NOT nest. They lay eggs though but they do it in OTHER birds nests. Most
Mr & Mrs Cardinal and
Baby Brown Headed Cowbird
often they lay them in the nests of smaller birds which insures that "their" baby will flourish once hatched. They are generally bigger than the nesting birds babies and can beat them out for food. They have apparently been known to "oops sorry" knock the nesting birds babies out of the nest. That is what a Brown Headed Cowbird does. And yes, we have them in the yard.

Watching what I saw yesterday and then many times again today - made me sad and intrigued that Mr & Mrs Cardinal took care of these "Are You My Mother?" babies. Sad because I worry that the Cardinal's actual babies may not have survived. I am keeping my eyes open though - in the hopes that maybe it/they are still in the nest and simply haven't fledged yet. Mrs Cardinal was present a couple times yesterday but did not spend time feeding the faux "baby" much so my hope is she was attending to her true babies.

Brown Thrasher
Mourning Dove
Mocking Bird
 Also spotted in the yard today - a Brown Thrasher which although looks mature pulled the "feed me" act a couple times but then fed himself (something that the Brown Headed Cowbird babies (aka faux Cardinal babies) did. They are truly big enough and able to feed themselves - I watched them, but they would pull the "feed me" baby act every time the parents were there.); Mocking bird; Mourning Dove(s); House Finch; Mr/Mrs Robin and baby (lordy he was noisy under my office window!! Wish I had realized what I was hearing and gotten a pic!); crows and - of course - squirrels. I didn't see the brown bunny that has visited the yard a few times this spring - but possibly because the grass is so long I just couldn't see him! LOL!!

Preparing to feed the baby...
Going in for the pass...
And fed!

Although nature can sadden you - did the parasite babies (Cowbird babies) push out the true babies? It also really intrigues me that the Cardinal - which really must know that "this is not my baby" continued to feed them when they asked for it.
The Baby was on the bird bath and Mr Cardinal brought the food to it.



Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Not a Tattoo...

Initial starting design
A friend wanted to get a tattoo to memorialize her family members, but she knew her dad would not approve of a tattoo... so she asked me about making a butterfly bracelet. 

As we spoke about the bracelet I asked about her parents and grandparents and found the love of roses and irises were as strong as butterflies. She also wanted to include their birthstones on the butterfly.

An idea began to evolve. I instinctively leaned toward sterling silver metal clay - because that's my first go-to... and then I thought about my new classic metalsmithing skills and wondered about doing it in sterling sheet... and then it hit me - sterling sheet w/ enamel! I could add color to it to really bring it alive. We hadn't considered color in the initial discussions.

More discussion and I found it was yellow roses and purple irises. As I worked the design, filigree seemed to fit perfectly allowing the wings of the butterfly to be open and fragile looking like a butterfly wings would be.
The focal is less than 2" wide approx 1" tall and the spaces for the birthstones were very tiny so I opted to "create" the colors using my enamels. Turquoise, Garnet and Peridot - got those pretty quick, the opal concerned me but with some "fiddling" I got an opal I was pretty pleased with!

Some process shots ...
Layers cut from sterling sheet
Pieces stacked to test fit

Pieces soldered together, cell
wires added and filigree wing wires

Fired and pickled many times
in prep for enameling

Initial layers of enamel
Additional layers of enamel

Finished focal with enameled
Chainmaille bracelet w entwined
rings, birthstone dangle & mag clasp

Once the focal was finished we looked at sterling wire bangle, leather, ribbon and finally decided that it needed a silver chain - so I created a chain including two pair of entwined larger rings in a "love knot" style on each side of the focal to again incorporate the family members being remembered - I added a fifth one near the closure to represent my friend and dangled HER birthstone from the focal.

This was truly a labor of love and I used almost every skill I have learned and loved every minute of working it out. I am thankful that she allowed me the freedom to create this piece for her and I enjoyed sharing the process with her along the way - loving the "ohhhs and ahhhs" she gave me in return! 

So happy she opted to NOT get a tattoo! :o)
Finished piece on the wrist of a pleased
daughter and grand daughter

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Amethyst Squared... or rather Cubed! ;o)

Stepping outside my box - more into fabrication... what am I saying - TOTAL fabrication!! Some of my friends refer to this as "from scratch". :o)

I had two 8mm square Amethyst cabochons that I had put aside for a friends February birthday and they were yelling to me... MAKE SOMETHING!! I wanted to set them but lordy I have not set square cabs ... have never made square bezel... never mind a square bezel cup - sides and bottom!!

Out came the design book one evening, then transfer design to Photoshop (just something I do) and then I waited for Friday and for the work-work day to be over.

I have to tell you, something incredible happened Friday evening - the "Studio Gods" smiled on me. NEVER have I felt more in sync with materials, process, design. I felt like I was in an awesome groove. 
No melted wires, no messed up bezel cups, no waste, no bumped head!!
I started with "the hard part"... the bezel cups made from Sterling and Fine Silver that the gems are supposed to sit in. I figured... If I could do this, I could do the rest! Measure, wrap, measure again, cut, trial fit, file, clean, solder... sides! Place on sheet metal, solder, fit, trim, file, clean, retest fit... cup!! Now they were tall - prob 2x taller than needed. So I marked them, sawed off the excess, filed and cleaned up. DONE! ;o)
NOW For the base - thanks to my obsession with having to buy tools that look cool, different, "may need that some day" or "ohhh that's a good inexpensive version of what I "might need" let's try it til I think I REALLY need it"... I have a weird set of plastic stepped mandrels in different shapes. The largest size square was perfect for what I wanted for the base of the earrings. I formed the base using Sterling Silver square wire and the square plastic stepped mandrel - shaped, checked, pushed, checked, cut, checked, soldered... checked - sweeeet! ;) 

Then I cut two squares from the Sterling Silver sheet, filed the edges, rounded the corners a touch to keep from wounding anyone. Then I formed the twisted Sterling Silver wire to form the "ropes". I placed, checked and then soldered the "ropes" onto the base square, cleaned the piece and then placed and soldered the top decorative
square onto the base and "ropes". Cleaned again and then placed and soldered the bezel cups onto the bottom of the earring base. 

The two pieces went into the pickle pot to clean and I went to work forming the pierced earring post... I have a small (SMALL - like 1" x 2" MAYBE) steel draw plate that I use to make the posts. First I use a mini torch to ball the ends of a 1" piece of Sterling Silver wire (when you hold it into the flame it forms a ball and it slowly creeps up the wire forming a bigger ball). Once cooled I put the wire in the smallest hole it will fit in inside the draw plate (which is being held by my small (SMALL! ;o)) vice. And I wack the ball with a hammer. This flattens out the ball forming a flat top instead of a ball. THIS I have found makes soldering a post onto an earring back MUCH MUCH EASIER. The posts were then soldered onto the earring bases and the two completed but not set earrings were pickled one more time and I was done for the evening! 
::phew:: Nothing. Went. Wrong. STILL!! 

The next night all the cleaned and rinsed pieces were ready to have the Amethysts set. I still felt the cups may be a 'touch' to tall so I cut two pieces of PVC card to fit into the cups (1 each). The cabochon went on top and POOF perfect height. Slowly I pushed the edges (starting at the corners) in - moving the metal slowly and not scratching the stone. and finally... they were set. I cleaned up the pieces, burnished the cups and base pieces and then tossed them into the tumbler with stainless steel shot to harden and shine. The next day they came out, were rinsed off, the posts trimmed, scratch brush used on the top square to give it texture and a matte finish. A purchased Sterling Silver earring nut was added to both and they were complete. 

This was THE BEST project - I felt completely in sync with the materials and the project. Such fun pair of earrings and I'm very pleased with the outcome!

Size: 1.75" x 1.5"Stones: 8mm