Repurposing and Reclaiming tools

As a jeweller, repairing, repurposing, designing and making tools is an invaluable skill.
I have had my old peg for about three years, and after a series of intricate cuts, it had worn down a fair bit.

If you’re new to sawing, you may wonder how that happened. All the tutorials tell you to hold your saw steady and move the metal to ensure straight rather than bevel cuts, save your peg, and so on…
True, but to cut a long story short, after a while that becomes a load of cack (Sorry, I couldn’t think of another word)! Moving the saw around, as well as, or in some cases, instead of the metal, can actually provide better control, and certainly saves plenty of time – especially on those tight corners. The price for that speed, and unbroken flow is a that a bit of the peg is often sacrificed. Well, worth it in my opinion.
Now that ramble’s out of the way, today’s fix.

Although a new peg arrived a few months ago, it’s been stuck at the bottom of my drawer because it just doesn’t feel right. At the same time, the chasm between both ‘legs’ of my peg made it increasingly difficult to cut those tiny 5 – 10 mm pieces in a reasonable amount of time.

Enter the redesign. Here is my peg pre interference. The plastic bag is my makeshift bin.

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The green lines represent the redesign I had in mind. The steps on the left serve no real purpose but I rationalised them as providing some kind of rest when I need to cut jump rings.

The hole in the centre helps when making internal cuts in large pieces, because they can be centred better.

The heroes of this story are my 4 in saw frame, a 21tpi saw blade for the scroll saw, some cut lube, engineering files, 150 grit sandpaper and renaissance wax.

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Here is the saw doing its thing. At this point, the ‘hold the saw perpendicular to the floor’ rule applies. Last thing you want is a bezel cut, because it will have an impact on how you cut blanks too.

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By the time I got to the circle, my bicep was a little tired, and the discomfort of the dust mask was beginning to grate. The circle thus became a semi teardrop – large enough for my saw to move around freely but small enough that internal cuts in the smallest pieces would still be a breeze.

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The engineering files made quick work of the sharp edges and a little renaissance wax on 150 sand paper ensured a smooth finish.

Just as I was about to walk away, I decided to add a groove to support tube. I have designed a series of etched tube pendants but as they are still at the trial stage, the expense on a tube cutting jig cannot be justified.

I forgot to take a photo but I started with two parallel lines about 8mm apart. I started with the line closest to me, and  slanted the saw as I gradually cut, increasing the gradient until I got to the centre, and a depth of about 4mm, then reduced it until I got to the second line.

One last file and polish, and the new repaired and repurposed peg is good to
go.

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Next tooling post will hopefully cover designing and making some steel punches.

See you soon ๐Ÿ™‚ xx

Soul Musings

This post is going to stray slightly from the focus of this blog. However, because all of me comes from the same place deep within, it is just as much a part of my journey. If you do take anything from this, let it be that we all have a talent, we can all use our talents for good, we all face difficulties and if we resist the urge to panic, more often that not, things turn out okay. And if they don’t, we must stand up, dust ourselves off and keep ploughing along.

Omni medallion - from the AW13 Collection, THAM THEU

Omni medallion – from the AW13 Collection, THAM THEU

It is not unusual to wake up some mornings, feeling completely lost and unmotivated but it is especially difficult if you are self-employed in the creative industry. You don’t have a boss to please, so finding the zeal to get up and moving can be quite a challenge. Over the last few weeks, as I have tried to rev up marketing for the holiday season while streamlining and expanding ViJouX’s product base, I have noticed an increasing lack of focus and drive.

When I woke this morning to a gloomy day and feelings of loss and inadequacy, there was only ever going to be one place I turned to; my Bible. My faith is a big part of who I am even though I am not religious. Too many denominations have used dogma to try to win psychological and political control and that just doesn’t feel right – but that is a topic for another blog. I go to Church often but my faith lies in the quiet and unshakeable trust and belief in God, deep in my soul. I have done and been through enough to be convinced of His existence and bow to His superiority but lately, I have felt dissatisfied.

I want to wake up full of joy and laughter but all I feel is loneliness and sadness. Church is good but just doesn’t seem to reach the corners. I had not read my Bible in a while and figured it would be a good place to start. I said a prayer and then dug out an old Church dairy and got stuck into three readings.

The first said, if you do something in doubt or something that causes your brother to sin, it is a sin. You must live right and help your brother to live right. It doesn’t hurt to forego something you think is right, if it isn’t too important. That was okay. There are a couple of relationships that need to be tweaked and I can do that.

The second said, you must be still and have faith. Know that I am God and that I will bring you through whatever I bring you to. This hit home because as hard as I work, I do not see the return I expect, yet! But if my difficulties in life have taught me anything, it is patience.

The third said, as a child of God, you have been chosen to bring His word to others and win souls for him. This scared me so much, I began to cry. I am not an evangelist or a speaker. I do not want to talk to thousands of people I don’t know and be persecuted for my beliefs. That’s not me, I told God. And then I was reminded of the second lesson. Be still and have faith.

Next, I went on to facebook and found a clip by Croix Sather, posted by the Female Entrepreneurs Association. In it, Sather talks about living your purpose without fear and aiming for the big time, rather than sitting in the cheap seats. And then it hit me. God wasn’t saying I needed to ‘start a Church’; He was saying I needed to use what he gave me to his Glory. I needed to work hard, rest enough, live right, trust Him and stay humble and my life would be a beacon to others.

I have come a long way from where I used to be, physically and mentally, a few years ago. The road has not always been easy but there is no doubt that I am moving forward. The right people have come into my life to teach, help and push me in the right direction but lately, as the pressure piles on, I have forgotten to stop, take a step back and review so that’s where I am going to start; give myself permission to take a break and simply enjoy being, recharge my batteries, gather my thoughts and inspiration, and then power up to go again.

I must tell you, I feel so much better ๐Ÿ™‚

To watch the excerpt from Croix Sather’s address, click on the link below:
http://femaleentrepreneurassociation.com/2013/10/do-the-impossible/

Introvert freelancer, extravert freelancer

Hi guys,

If perchance, you are in introvert, like me, this blog post is pure gold. And if you are not, it still is gold.
The article hits the nail on the head, explaining what people like myself are often unable to articulate properly, providing another perspective.

Lesson 1: Introvert artists – Don’t think all is lost because you are uncomfortable around people.
Lesson 2: Investors/Buyers – Don’t ignore those emails because some great minds live behind them!

Enjoy!!

Introvert freelancer, extravert freelancer.

Computer vs Face-to-Face

Many artists and crafters, me included, are very shy. Our art is a way of expressing thoughts and emotions which are often too complex to be explained logically; an artist can never really explain their inspiration. We all hope that once you experience our work, it will evoke some of that emotion in you but inspiration and translation is a post for another day…

Today, I’d like to talk about marketing. For me, this is the most excruciating part of the process – I have made this beautiful thing and want the world to know all about it. To do that, I must tell the world that it exists.

Where do you find the world? OUT in the BIG BAD WORLD!!

Somewhat confusing isn’t it? To me, any place outside my flat is uncomfortable; I love being at home. However, that is completely at odds with experiencing what nourishes my soul. I love looking at and taking in the swathes of riotous colour in a garden of exotic flowers. I love the movement and control in the body of a dancer. I love goosebumps and spine-tingling emotion aroused by an operatic aria. All these things happen outside my home. They all inspire me and I know that their impact is more potent when experienced naturally and not through TV. Even then, I have never been to the opera!

I was in my second year of university when I bawled like a baby all the way home, after my lecturer announced he had moved me to a new coursework group. I had never spoken to or noticed these people before and it was as distressing a time for me as any I can recall in my teens. But failure was not an option, so rather than wait for them to approach me, I wrote a draft essay which I presented to them the next week. What an ice-breaker! We went on to work together all year and earn good grades.

In much the same way, it is easier to sell an idea or product, when you meet your buyer face to face. Things that are not fully transmitted via email and telephone – the beauty of a product, passion, commitment, confidence, calm urgency, and a general ‘feel’ of the person you are dealing with, can be exploited. This is one of the reasons why most artists will not make it. Not only is it ridiculously difficult to meet decision makers face to face, many won’t even try. I have been tempted to stick to doing nothing more than send emails but my most fruitful interactions have been face-to-face meetings and this has completely changed my perspective. Plus, it gets easier the each time.

So, you see, it’s not about what you can and cannot do, it’s about changing your perspective.

A quote I read recently, comes to mind. ‘Marketing, is nothing more than an extension of your creativity so don’t be afraid to go out and express your art’. Being told ‘No’ is an integral part of business. Not everyone you meet or approach will want what you are offering. That is no reason to hide behind your computer. Get out and be creative about selling your creations. If a situation does not work for you, turn things around so you work for it.

On that note, I am off to make a few calls and send a few emails.

We’ll leave the visits for another day. It’s Friday and the weather’s miserable. I wouldn’t want to talk to me right now, no matter how great the idea is!!

Healthy owner, healthy business

Before I launched my business, I can confidently say I was one of the unhealthiest people I know. Not because I ate like a pig at every opportunity I got but because my existence is very much sedentary. I am either sat at my work table crafting or at my desk, typing. Occasionally, I stand up to make a fresh cup of tea and to make the school run but that’s about it.

Unfortunately, I am not blessed with the best health and taking care of myself was never high on my priorities. Then 5 weeks ago, right in the middle of a creative flush, I was hit with one of the worst bouts of anaemia I have suffered in a long while. Although, my diet is iron rich, my stores always seem to be depleted every three months or so. On average, it takes a week on iron tablets to get back to reasonable functionality and a month to get back to normal. This time around, it took three weeks to get to the point where getting out of bed wasn’t a pain filled exercise as my joints refused to work without pay.

Then I remembered a training session I had attended at Blue Orchid. On that occasion, we were discussing the process of transitioning from ideas to reality. One of the exercises we had to do was to complete a personal SWOT analysis. I was done in record time and felt quite proud of myself as I was confident that my skill set was reasonable, with my biggest failing my lack of marketing skills.

At the end, none of us had considered the impact our health would have on our business. During my three weeks of incapacity, accounts remained incomplete, crafting was put to the side and planned visits, emails and calls were forgotten. In business terms, three weeks is a very long time and can mean the difference between success and limited success and in the worst case scenario, failure. Imagine missing a crucial meeting or event which could potentially change the profile of your business; just like that, the opportunity is gone. There is also the burden we put on others as we to ask for help completing tasks that we cannot escape.

Of course, I am not referring to situations where illness cannot be helped. Rather, situations where we are negligent about steps we can take to keep ourselves a little healthier. Simple things like washing our hands, eating balanced meals, scheduling tasks, getting enough rest (or as much as you can manage) and staying on top of chronic conditions. In my case, all I needed to do was take one tiny pill once a week to avoid so much downtime.

Needless to say, I have since been very good about taking my iron tablets and almost back to full fitness. Three weeks ago, I added a few sit-ups and crunches to a weekly dance routine and I am reaping the benefits. My body feels stronger than it has in a long time!

So, whether for tackling administrative duties, exploring new ideas, looking for inspiration, or looking after your physical and mental health, make a reasonable plan and stick to it. You may only need to make little changes; don’t put it off any longer. Get healthier and watch your business performance become healthier too.