April 24, 2003

Thursday Stuff

Attention Women: Worried about breast cancer? Well you should be worried about heart disease instead, because heart disease kills more women than all of the cancers combined each year. Time Magazine has a good article about women and heart disease here. READ IT! And I'm not just saying that because I have a heart condition. I'm saying that because I think the breast cancer industry has done woman a huge disservice by inciting fear and diverting precious research dollars away from the things that are actually killing women (and that's 1 in 3 women for heart disease compared to 1 in 8 women for breast cancer). Breast cancer is one of my "hot topic" buttons. That and John Ashcroft. Don't EVEN get me started on John Ashcroft.

I had my final jewelry class tonight. I finished my project just in the nick of time. I'm really pleased with how it turned out, especially since it was my second try at the same thing. The first was terrible and I just melted it down again. I took a casting class where I learned how to make things out of wax and then turn them into metal. It was challenging and fun, and I realized that while I am creative, I'm NOT an artist. Then again, I'm NOT an idiot like some other people in my class.

For example, I am apparently the only person who can properly use a torch. It's really very simple. There are two little knobs and they are gas and oxygen. You turn on the gas very slightly and light it (mistake #1--turning the gas on full blast and nearly lighting up the room, thank you Rebecca). Then you turn the oxygen on only until the yellow flame goes away (mistake #2--turning on too much oxygen and blowing the flame out, thank you Amnon, who did this like 5 times until the teacher took over). Then you turn the gas up a little bit, then the oxygen (see mistake #2 above). Then you heat your metal and PAY ATTENTION so you don't melt other things (mistake #3, thank you Ralph). Then you turn off the OXYGEN first and THEN the gas IN THAT ORDER. If you do it the other way, that's mistake #4 and it makes a very loud popping sound, thank you Rebecca, Larry, Amnon, AND Ralph. For more commentary on my jewelry class, read below:

This guy Amnon (it's a name from the bible, he says) was a complete weirdo. The teacher explained that you can cast anything that will burn and this completely fulfilled his greatest dreams. First, he takes one of those spiney tree things--you know the ones, they look like brown ping pong balls with a thousand spikes. He wants to turn this into sterling silver. The teacher tells him he has to fill in all the holes with wax or else the casting won't work. "But," the teacher says, "it won't look anything like it does now once you fill those holes with wax." Says Amnon, "I'll take a chance." (I forgot to mention he has a very strong German accent) It takes him 3 weeks to fill the thing with wax while the rest of us are making pendants (I made quite a lovely silver pendant with an amethyst). Once done, he's set to go. Makes the thing in silver, but when he's done it looks nothing like what it started out. Surprise! Now he's got a big old ball of silver with spikes. Worse--he spends another 2 weeks sanding and polishing it! Someone asked him (in a much more polite way than I would have) why he did this and his explanation was "I like to bring nature indoors." This would prove to be true later.

Next he moves on to a small plastic horse. Turns that into solid silver. Polishes it. Whatever. Then, while the rest of us move on to carving wax into rings, he goes forth with clock parts. He's got one of those little travel alarms with the plastic hands and he wants to turn the plastic hands into silver. He asks "will this work?" and the teacher says "you can turn it into silver but when you reassemble the clock the second hand will be too heavy to turn." "Well," says Amnon, "I'll take a chance." Makes little silver hands for the clock. Reassembles the clock and is holding it flat on his hand and watching with delight as the hands tick away. He proudly brings it to the teacher and says "Remember how I took a chance on this? Look! It works!" The teacher holds it upright and watches at the second hand slides down to 6 and feebly twitches. It works if you keep it on a horizontal surface, dimwit.

While the rest of us are filing, carving, melting, and sanding our wax rings, he moves on to leaves and something unidentifiable that fell off of a tree. "what is that?" the polite person (not me) asks. "I don't know but it fell off of a tree" is the response. He holds up the thing, "Can I cast this?" "Yes, but it will be almost impossible to polish" (this is critical because when things are cast they come out with a dull finish which must be sanded and polished away). "I'll take a chance." He asks the same about the leaves. "Yes, but you'll only have the detail on one side and the other will look flat and weird-shaped." "I'll take a chance." I'm thinking someone should send this guy to Vegas. Anyway, he casts both and SURPRISE, he has trouble polishing the unidentified object and the leaves only look like leaves on one side. Completely undaunted, he then solders the unidentifiable object to the leaves. "Oh that's interesting" says the not-me polite person. "Is that a pin or something?" "No, I just like to bring nature indoors." In sterling SILVER? Why not get a nice houseplant or something? It's cheaper and far less work. Throughout the ENTIRE class he makes not ONE thing that would be considered jewelry.


Posted by Shelby at April 24, 2003 10:46 PM

you are so right about the heart disease!!! How easily I remind women to get their mammograms, yet I meet far too frequent resistance in treatment of hypertension/hyperlipidemia etc...Even though I quote the same stats you did, they still just don't *get* it. It's a frustrating thing....
I'm glad you've been feeling well! I didn't know about the jewelry class. Too cool! ARe you going to post pix for us somewhere?????

Posted by: Tori at April 27, 2003 08:08 PM

And Tori should know--She's a doctor!

Posted by: Shelby at April 27, 2003 09:51 PM
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