Thursday, 2 December 2010

slightly obsessed

just finished my "Möbius" bracelet.

since i made that Byzantine bracelet as a school project, i ve been a little obsessed with making jumprings and weaving different chains.

this one is something i saw in a magazine, and quite liked the look of, so here it is. if i may say so myself, i also like the way the toggle clasp worked out.

next one is a Jenspind chain... and then a spiral chain, a Turkish round and an inverted round... and someone will probably then tell me the combinations are endless!

ps. was a bit nervous this week, so i postponed further work on the entourage.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

almost lost it there (or how to make an entourage ring)

last week i started work on the 'entourage' ring (project nr 2 at school). so once again, melting, casting, pulling thread to 1.2mm size and 0.9mm. then had to make tiny tiny rings which had to be soldered together to make the base.

as i always do with a 'first-time' piece, i take pictures of the different stages of the work, which again, i did with this one...

however... back home, i showed Sam some of the pics, then we watched tv for a while, and i went to bed.

when i came downstairs the next morning and picked up my camera to stow into my handbag (where it resides all the time, ready for any kind of photographing) there was a note:
"so sorry, i wanted to take a look again at the pictures but i seem to have erased all of them, once again, so sorry!"


don t panic, is what i think, i had this once before too and the pictures were still there on the sd-card, but still i m a little worried... so as soon as i got to work, i checked.


ok. so i had just finished reading EPL by Elizabeth Gilbert and thought to myself; it s not such a big deal, so what if you lose a few pictures, take a few more. stay calm!

but i was still pretty frustrated, my camera is not one of the most sophisticated ones, but i had taken some good pics of the 'entourage' and instead of re-taking pics, i actually just want to WORK on the piece!

plus, i had taken some really nice photos of Sam s father s gravestone (he passed on five years ago) which we don t get to visit often. and i hadn t uploaded them yet...

so, back at work, i tell my colleague what had happened, and he goes: don t do anything! i have a program that ll find them!
but, i d just formatted the sd-card, thinking that i might as well, since i lost the pics anyway.

still, to make a long story short, this colleague of mine, would you believe he was able to recuperate about 1/5th of what was on there? ALL of the 'entourage' pics, as well as a few of the gravestone! the rest i had luckily already stored on my pc.

lessons learned re picture-taking:

1 never ever let anybody handle my camera ever again
2 always upload pics immediately the day i take them
3 stay calm if anything does happen
4 do not format the thing, unless absolutely certain nothing s on there
5 ask colleague to check if anything is really lost for good or not
6 and if pics are really gone, don t fret, there s more important things in life to worry about
7 zen

anyway: here s what i ve been doing at school (just so as to not lose these again)

ps. i think it s time i told Sam that i got some of the pics back... poor guy...

Thursday, 28 October 2010

broadening horizons

sometimes it s hard not to feel insignificant.

and sometimes everything just falls into place, and you realize that not everything s in vain.

take yesterday. it was the last day of school before Fall Break, i had made some new wire to start the next project we have to make, which is an entourage setting, and i d been talking to Diane, who is now doing the beginners course (the one i took last year). she s an extremely spontaneous and enthusiastic lady, very bubbly and i realized we share the same kind of passion for stones and jewelry.

later, when classes had finished and i was talking with another student, Miwa-san, Diane joined us with Frank, also a student at the TNA, and it turned out that Diane also has a website; STONED, where she showcases her jewelry, and Frank makes beautiful beautiful (i say this twice cuz it s the truth, i checked!) glass beads, and here s his website; HIERONIMUS GLASS JEWELRY.

i cannot tell you how much this excites me, to share thoughts and ideas and techniques with like-minded people!

i am happy!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

expo 70

working with little spheres is addictive... i want to get the technique right, and it s not easy, it s a little scary, but oh so great when it works!

here s what i call my expo ring, plain band with a domed circle carrying 5 tiny silver balls in the shape of a flower, which somehow reminded me of the Tower of the Sun during the Osaka World Exposition in 1970 and its logo... it must have been in my subconscious. i even believe my mom and i went to see it, because we were in Japan during that time, but i don t really remember much

i posted a pic on FB too, and a friend of mine said it also had something of the Atomium here in Brussels

so there you go, my expo ring, matte and shiny finish for more contrast:

am thinking of other ways now to work with those spheres, might make a series, variations on a theme... hmmm

Friday, 15 October 2010


allow me to gloat for a few moments:

two days ago i finished my Byzantine bracelet!

so happy with the results... although, i ve been surfing the net a bit and realize that it s not such a big feat apparently (what with all these expert jewelers around) except for the fact that i did solder the jumprings one by one, and my teacher said that i did do a good job, hehehe

also made the toggle clasp myself, so now i have a bracelet, completely and truly handmade

i really felt like a little kid in school when i took the bracelet out of the polishing tumbler, all shiny, a big smile pasted on my face that i just couldn t wipe off even when i got home (Sam thought it was all very funny)

amazing feeling, to think that i only started metalsmithing last september... and so much more to learn! YAY!

i have an idea for another ring now...

Friday, 8 October 2010

bubbly ring

home alone:

housework done, what else to do but practice on soldering and fusing techniques while making another ring... since i m pretty mad about rings anyway ;-)

so made a corps, fired up some tiny little balls and started to work... after some mishaps: balls just dropping off, i think because the solder wasn t quite thin enough and the work not hot enough, i finally managed to keep 9 (symbolic number for me) neatly fused to the ring and started polishing...

found out i ll need a few more gadgets to polish between the little bubbles though, but so far i m pretty happy with the result...

on to my next one!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Byzantine bracelet

finally, the new school year has started... and how! no exams! for the first time in the past 6 years i will not have to pass a specific exam, although the practical work i do in the classroom will count for everything...

whoever would ve thought i would enjoy going to evening classes this much, i was so tired of going to school in my teenage years!

no worries though, i am enjoying myself immensely, mp3 player on, and concentrating: first school-project: a Byzantine bracelet.

which means: making the silver alloy, pulling round thread to 1mm diameter, making 4mm jumprings, weaving and soldering the rings one by one... i m taking my time, the soldering still makes me a bit nervous, but it seems to be working, can t wait until Christmas (although today it feels like summer) so i can wear it.

can t wait till tonight either so i can get behind my workbench!

Friday, 25 June 2010

website bis

FINALLY.... my gosh, it has taken me since this morning 7 am till now 12.30pm to get everything in my picture maps on my pc cleaned up and uploaded on the website again. good thing i didn t have to work today.

to be honest, i am no computer freak... meaning; i know how to type in word, i can use excel, i know how to upload pictures from my camera sd-card, i know how to use an usb-stick, i can surf on the net, i can write my post here (thanx to, i can go on facebook and post pictures, or youtube and download videos...

HOWEVER, getting thru to my provider and uploading pictures using ftp (please don t ask me what that means) can be very frustrating when you have to find out for yourself that the map on my pc has to correspond EXACTLY with that pubwww map over there...

jeezes, thank god i don t have to use html (don t ask me what that means either) on top of it all!

oh well, it has worked so far. i m still pretty pleased with the lay-out, which is still very very simple. i only ever wanted to post pictures of my work in a very comprehensive way. so i don t quite feel the need (yet) to design a website with jingles and jangles ;-)

for the moment, making jewellery is not my main source of income, although it is my vocation. and i m sure that, serendipitously, interest will grow.
however, i m quite happy, thank you very much, with my (full-time) job as a receptionist.

but that s beside the point, i m on my journey and i m happy.

so, once again, website is up and running... have a look and let me know what you think!

Monday, 21 June 2010


yiiiihaaa! finally i had some time to start on a ring i had been thinking of the past few days...

and did it feel good to be at workbench again. the ring was an excercise on filing in a curved line... and i m pretty pleased with it, although if my teacher saw it he might only give it a 7.5/10...

still, i think it s cute and i call it my 'daisy'-ring:

the first few filings

slowly getting its shape

after a first good sanding

and a final polish

and now i m off to the store to get some stuff for dinner!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

more inspiration in Tongeren

yesterday Sam and i went on a drive to the other side of Belgium, it is a small country, and usually we d go west towards the North Sea, but this time, we decided we d go east to Tongeren in the province of Limburg which is very close to the Netherlands - German border.

i had heard of the Gallo-Roman museum a few times, and it often is a destination for school study trips, but since i grew up in Japan for most of my schoolgoing years, this was a first for me.

the drive itself took about an hour, as i said, we live in a small country, and it takes about an hour to get to the seaside, so it didn t seem long at all, especially because the scenery is quite different from what we were used to. the area is very famous for its orchards and even for a few vineyards.

statue of Ambiorix in the center of Tongeren

however, our destination was the museum, where one can experience a walk through the ages from when the first nomads came to settle here, to the Eburone Germanic and the Roman periods. it was quite fascinating to see what we humans were already producing then... and incredible to see the workmanship as well.

as you would expect, i was most interested in the type of jewellery they wore, which, i learned, was at first more to protect against evil spirits (like, even now, many nomadic tribes do ie. wearing talismans to protect against the 'evil eye') and slowly but gradually became more of a status-symbol like we wear these days...

but the craftmanship of the goldsmiths of those days! to make something as beautiful and lasting without the means and the tools that we have today is simply amazing. the simple (some might say 'naive') but at the same time wonderfully complex designs, that still baffles someone living in the modern world like me... wow.

if i can find, somewhere inside myself, a little bit of this gift that these craftsmen/women had, i will count myself very lucky indeed.

i took only a few pictures of some pieces just because they spoke to me, but i have included a link to the website of the museum.

a pair of earrings in English jet

remember Commodus? if you don t remember your Roman history, he was the son of Marcus Aurelius, and depicted as the anti-hero in the movie Gladiator. this gold seal ring depicts him carved in the lapis lazuli stone

you will find a better picture of this ring on the website

Friday, 18 June 2010


i am having trouble getting my website updated... have a few new items that i want to upload, but the program i use is a bit out of date and since i changed the location of my picture map, i ll have to redo the whole thing!

oh well, i have some time this weekend, so might as well do it right.

also tried working with WIX but then i ll need a whole week to work out the layout and everything...


oh, by the way, last week friday we got our results for the whole schoolyear, and apparently i passed with 80.29%... i was quite pleased with myself... hehehe

Sunday, 6 June 2010

testing out the Delft casting method

now for some fun

remember i wrote about going to the wholesaler last week and that i d bought a casting set? it contains an aluminium mold, very heavy clayish sand, and a dvd with instructions... gosh, it all looked so easy, and since ofcourse it had to start raining again, Sam and i said we might as well try it out... i also wanted to test if my gasburner was gonna give off enough heat to melt some silver for casting

here are some pics:

preparing the mold

melting fine silver and copper

slowly getting there

will it, will it not?

NAAAAAH, just got these little blobs!

and the reason it didn t go well, is because i just couldn t get the heat high enough for the silver to remain fluid enough to pour...

must admit though, it was fun and pretty exciting to be able to do this at home. can t wait for the next few free days when i can try again. Sam did say he had a burner in his atelier that s a little more powerful, so we will try it out.

i must find a way to get this right, because, as ever, practice makes purrrrfect...

Monday, 31 May 2010

start of the summer holidays

wow, this is so strange, to know that this evening i don t have to go to class.

yesterday was open door day at Bijou Moderne, a wholesaler of jewelers materials near Rotterdam, about an hour and a half s drive from Antwerp. it s totally overwhelming to see all those tools and materials in one place! and the catalog is huge!

Sam came with me, and although initially i only intended to look around and not buy anything, since i figured i have enough stuff to work with already, the demonstration of the Delft casting method ( blew us both away. casting in compacted re-usable sand just looked totally ideal if you don t have that much work-space like me. so, after some deliberation, i did buy a starter set and i can t wait to work on some ideas. and ofcourse i also had to get myself a little soldering gadget... it s so cute, but i don t know whether it works well... i do have a ring in waiting...

now i only need some time! LOL

(and some sunshine, please, it s the last day of May... will summer ever really get here?)

oh, by the way, i passed!

Friday, 14 May 2010

e-day + 2

phew, it s over.

studied, took the exam, and, yes, just a little apprehensive about the results.

i woke up yesterday morning suddenly thinking: ofcourse you don t use W15 solder to repair a white-gold ring, you use either W10 or even W5 depending on whether the piece has been repaired before!!! stupid me, that s what happens when i have to take an exam, i get my facts mixed up, and here i confused the white gold solder with the yellow gold solder hardness, i know this! so i wrote down the wrong answer which means a lost point. and there were a few other things i wasn t quite sure about. but i did answer all the questions, which is good, and if some are wrong, i will never forget the right answer again.

anyway, it s over. another two lessons, and this schoolyear will be completed.

it s leaving me feeling both happy and sad somehow. happy because i did accomplish something i never imagined i could actually do, and sad because i know i will miss the classes... until next september. oh well, i have my workbench at home, so i can keep practicing, working with what i ve learnt, trying some new techniques. and hopefully we ll have a good summer; it s always fun making my beaded jewellery at the table in the garden; quiet, secluded and warm.

yesterday Sam and i went to the seaside, about 100km from where we live, and even though inland it was cold and gray, the sun was out there, and the light was full of promise.

so, all in all, it was a great schoolyear. the main thing is that i ve realized, as the cliché goes, no matter what age one is, it s never too late to learn something new. and boy, it does make one so much more self-confident, no matter whether you make a silly little mistake on a test. the point is to keep trying, and persevere in the pursuit of growth!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

final exam this schoolyear

today is saturday... next wednesday is our final exam. i have only read the textbook twice. which means i have to really get my head down and concentrate. there is a lot to remember: which solders to use, what pickles to use, the different alloys, organic materials, the Belgian law on hallmarks, melting temperatures etc.

last time in january with our mid-term i was extremely nervous. i always get anxious when there is any kind of test i have to pass, but this time i m trying to be quietly confident, just so as not to panic... otherwise i get heart palpitations, and i start hyperventilating!

nah, just kidding, it doesn t do for a woman my age to overreact right?

still, it s quite a huge amount of information i have to absorb and never forget again.
thank god the practical work counts for 4/5 of the total... and our teacher did say all of us would surely pass because of our work during the whole schoolyear. YAY!
i will still be extremely glad when it s over, so as to concentrate on actually producing some work.

so... H2SO4 - sulphuric acid, HCl - hydrochloric acid, HNO3 - nitric acid... uh-oh, what was the formula for borax again?

Tuesday, 4 May 2010


yesterday in class, being confronted with an excercise on precision, i again banged straight into a wall!

ofcourse i ve only been doing this course since last september, ofcourse i m still only a beginner... but when my teacher showed me how to get a facet filed completely straight, i felt almost devastated! big word right, i know, but that s how it felt yesterday. i want to be able to file straight facets, i know i can, i ve been practicing long enough, but still i m worried about taking away too much, and sometimes i just need to go for it.

oh well, conflicting thoughts... that is the problem with perfectionism... in my head i can do anything perfectly, no mistakes... but when it actually comes to action, my hands won t do what my head is saying. lame excuse...

anyway, i am a perfectionist, i get upset when something doesn t go right, or as i want it to. BUT, at the same time i m pretty lazy, my house doesn t really have to shine, as long as everything s in it s rightful place and there s some order (has to be order, with all the stuff we ve got)...
i can take it easy, and just let things be... but not when it comes to something i m making, or cooking...

now, on to perfecting my style of writing (uh-oh, i REALLY need to work on this),
and my faceted ring... it WILL be done... perfectly (or quasi...).

Sunday, 2 May 2010

rainy sunday

got up this morning, jeez, ofcourse i did, but it was early, and it s sunday, and it s raining, so here i am:

Sam is working on the layout of his blog. he s a painter (did i mention that?) and he s trying to get some pics of his work uploaded but it s not going too well...
however, i should mention he s quite a perfectionist, and if something s not going quite as he wants, he becomes a teensy little bit nervous. kinda like me, i guess, if everybody says blogging is easy, don t believe them... however, maybe it s because we re both beginners and all these possibilities are still like a maze.

ok, i should be doing some housework now, and i should definitely be studying for my exams, which are on the 12th... but i would rather be working on my last practical project for school, which is a 7-sided ring for Sam (and a smaller one for myself).

oh well, a good full-time working mom (hahahaaaaa!) should be able to organize (NOT) which i will now attempt to do.

posting some pics of this project:

new beginnings

so, where to start...

a little more than a year ago i was contacted via Facebook by an old schoolfriend of mine,
YangHwa Hiroko Koh Pugsley... i remembered her only as Hiroko, she s a few years younger than me, closer to my brother, but we all went to the same grade school in Kobe, Japan... plus i hadn t seen her for a little more than 30 years, so, let me tell you, it was strange but very exciting to suddenly be in touch again...
anyways, i m not going to tell the whole story here, unless anybody really wants to know, but i m sure you don t.

ok... i d been making beaded jewellery for a few years by then, just playing around, mostly making things I wanted to wear and could never find, or was just too expensive when i did find something i liked, and i posted a few pictures on Facebook.
this got the ball rolling, YangHwa was the first to encourage me to set up a website, which i like to keep very simple, and i started studying silversmithing at the TNA here in Antwerp last september! LOVING it, totally engrossed by it, and now i ve also applied for a home course in accounting so as to be able to start up a small business.

i ve had so much encouragement and support ever since, from my partner, my son, my friends both here and via FB all over the world (what an advantage to have been raised multiculturally)!
and so, now this... my diaries... it s another chapter in my journey towards becoming a little more me.

once again, thanx YangHwa, now i ll be stuck to my pc as i said... hehehe... you better be following this too!