Studio Today

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Dear Visitor,
Hello to anyone looking in. It has been a very long time and a few significant life events in the family have altered my focus. So, to sum up, I have advanced into torch tasks (soldering, annealing) with sterling silver and copper. It is the very newness that I love which is frightening and exciting all rolled into one amazing jittery feeling.

sterling cobalt ear

I recycled this sterling silver from a ring that I thought would have a better life as a pair of sterling silver earrings featuring lovely cobalt blue glass orbs.


Interested? They will be found on Etsy.





A New Crusade – Rage Against the Bully

Bullies seem to be in style now – we all have our Trump.  And I have my own bully, my own personal bully – the kind one finds in a workplace.  Research teaches me that this is not my first one.  I simply have not recognized them.

In this new age of bullies – ones that torture children at school and through the internet, ones that get elected to high office, ones that lurk around the workplace – it felt reasonable to do a little online research to see if any of the pieces fit my situation, if any of the boxes could be checked.

All of the boxes could be checked for me as the classic target of a classic bully.  Oddly, the discovery is liberating.  I mean, even if I don’t escape the “attentions” of this person, I will still be free of the effect of those attentions.  With time, opportunity, and careful cunning, I may be able to convince my tormentor to move on to some easier target.

That may sound cold-hearted – wishing the bully onto some other poor soul – but, nothing will ever stop the bully from being one. Sadly, there is no guarantee against picking up another one – like I said, I recognize that I have had at least 2 in the past 3 years.   All one can do is shake them loose.  Fortunately or unfortunately, both of those encounters resulted in a job loss for me.  By the way, being the target of a bully in the workplace usually does result in the loss of your job according to research.

It’s not important to display details of this very stressful , insidious, and personal torture.  Bullies come in all shapes and sizes with all manner of psychological influences and motivations.  That one latches on to me (or you) is only a matter of matching up profiles.  It is almost neither person’s fault.  It is import to realize, also, that bullying is not illegal – it cannot be viewed as harassment unless it is clearly based in illegal discrimination.

The important thing for the target of the bully is to recognize what is happening and call it by its name.  That simple gesture alone will relieve a lot of unhealthy stress and put one in the productive mindset that will enable escape from any further damage, professionally and emotionally, by the bully.

I’m still learning and I will share an important website :

If you suspect that you have become the target of workplace bullying, check out this very helpful website.

Studio Today

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Dear Visitor,
April, my favorite month! Yesterday I completed the cutting and fitting on my current glass project.


un-named project

Un-named piece – See the progress on


Had a little time to work on my new craft (I love it because it involves using a hammer – yay!) silver-smithing. I followed directions from experts online and distilled what I remembered into my own first attempt. When I feel comfortable with the craft and actually come up with a nice piece (other than the 7 earrings I’m wearing now), I’ll post a picture. I love April! Creative energy is in the air here on the coast . . .one just needs to breathe it in!

Loving the Sourdough

fourth and success

Here it is, so beautiful!  The crust is crispy, the crumb is well structured but not gummy or stiff.  This morning it was the same, no overnight morphing to tough leather like the last loaf.  I think my recipe is solid, but will do it a few more times to make sure.

Toast this morning was only one slice (instead of my usual two) and the crust baked under the oven broiler to a light crispy, interior of bread was heated through but not hard.  Lovely!

I can’t believe how satisfying one slice of bread can be.  I’m sure it’s the sourdough difference.  I feel nourished and full with only half the amount.

There have been times when I’ve been lazy.  I would go through phases of  just picking up a loaf of bread at the store – just trying to get the best I could afford without going crazy.  I always read labels and could not accept high fructose corn syrup.  Other than that, I just tried for being able to pronounce ingredients.  The most remarkable thing about using commercial bread is that, for me, I could go through a loaf in two days – by myself!  Not only that, I would still feel hungry.  What is going on with commercial bread?

At least making my own bread gave me a pause.  It has been more filling than any commercial bread, but I still eat too much of it – my body searching for nutrition.  It’s like being thirsty and trying to slake that thirst with fizzy drinks.  Doesn’t work, does it.  You just end up more thirsty.

Now, with sourdough, I’m finding a serene satisfaction.  A half slice with a tablespoon of mascarpone and that can be lunch.  Hunger is gone for an appropriate amount of time.

Sourdough is touted to break down flour and make the nutrients available to human bodies in a way that commercial yeast home bread-making cannot do or does very incompletely.  Certainly the mysterious process of commercially baked bread with all its chemical dough conditioners and such and the for $ profit emphasis of those selling such bread is not even worth the time it would take to read the label.   Sourdough – worth a try, I said to myself.  The long run will tell, but it looks promising.  So far I’m loving the sourdough for everything it brings to the table.

I’m in love with the basic sourdough bread, but I’m an experimenter.  So, onward.

Free Range Yeasties

third sourdough

This is my third try.  A bit dense, but great flavor and crust texture.   A little chunk of heaven with butter on it.  After cooling this loaf down for an hour, I sliced off the end piece and buttered it.  The crust was delicate and crispy, the bread was tender and springy and it made me happy to chew it.

But, still work to do.  The next morning the crust was a bit less crispy and the loaf was an exertion to slice.  Looking at a lighter loaf,  I adjusted the recipe in two ways – one by accident and one by plan.

As i weighed the starter, 150g became 178g.  I thought, divine intervention!  Then I thought, uh oh, this will make the dough too wet.  So,  I adjusted the water by half the difference.  Explaining – starter is roughly half water and half flour (in my inexperienced estimation), so reducing the 250g of water by 14g might work to keep the moisture level right.  This all remains to be seen.

The intentional planned adjustment was as follows: instead of 250g of white flour and 250g of whole wheat flour I added 15g of gluten, 135g of whole wheat, and 350g of white flour.  I always think I need to put at least a little whole wheat in a loaf of bread; otherwise, it’s just cake.  I’m hoping this will lighten the loaf a bit.  It is proofing now;  I’ll give it an hour then drop it into my cast iron dutch oven, give it a small slice on top and put it in my 450degree oven with the lid on.

So, now you’re wondering why is this post called “Free Range Yeasties” anyway?  Well,  this morning as I reached on top of the fridge to get my starter, I found a huge overflow of the wonderful stuff having a big ol’ time across the front corner of the appliance.  I’m not sure why, but I felt exhilarated as I gathered the starter up onto my dough scraper and rinsed it down the sink.  I think it just felt like success knowing how happily bubbling and frothy my starter had become.  I need a bigger glass jar or decide to ask it to live in the fridge instead of on top of the fridge.  It sounds weird, even to me, to think that I’m going to make the starter less happy if it has to be subdued.  I think I’ll go in favor of give it more room to roam – my free range yeasties.




Feeeed Me, Seymour, Feed Me!


Sorry.  When I saw the loaf of bread, my second try, that slash in the center reminded me strongly of Audrey II in “Little Shop of Horrors.”

Seymour texture

This loaf is dense, chewy, very heavy, not as risen as I hoped.  Not very much like my commercial yeast loaves.  It did smell great as it baked and it does taste pretty good.  But, My third try is autolysing as I write this.

So, what happened here?  I did not follow the suggested, very precise recipe amounts.  After all, I’ve been making bread for a very long time;  I know what a bread dough is supposed to look like.  Right?  Well, this was humbling.  I went back to the internet for more tutoring.  Ah, I didn’t scroll down far enough.  There it is, the perfect combo in grams of everything to put in the bowl first.  Yay!  I’ll give it a try.

I like to learn new things and especially things that transfer to learning other new things or perfecting skills that I’ve only half learned to that point and so on.  For example:  learning patience as I perfected my glass-working skill sets (subtle and profound) became a skill (yes, for me , patience was and continues to be a learned skill) that transfers to many other aspects of my life.  Come to think of it, patience is included in just about every skill set I’ve acquired in my life – customer service, natural and cultural history interpretation, cooking eggs and so on.

Preparing and baking sourdough bread is all about the bread.  There may be transferable skills that are being learned in acquiring the skill set of making sourdough bread (I will know them in the fullness of time), but what I am seeing most strongly is that I need to apply universal skills that have been learned in other ways to reach the desired level of expertise I am seeking.  Maybe that’s what my unwitting mentors mean when they say sourdough bread is the “holy grail” of bread-making.  Maybe what I will learn is that there is only the making of sourdough bread and no further to go, nothing that is transferred to other tasks.   Uh oh, there’s the Buddha floating in light above my eyes as I feel my mortality looming just ahead.  Enlightenment is a perfect loaf of sourdough bread.

Mending My Bread-Maker Ways

My first effort at sourdough baking.  Looks very flat, but tastes good.  It can only get better (I hope).

My first effort at sourdough baking. Looks very flat, but tastes good. It can only get better (I hope).

I’ve baked bread for 37 years and always used commercial yeast for leavening. I make lovely, high-rise, whole wheat loaves that have great texture and slice well for sandwiches.

Then, one day, I stumble on a series on food history by Michael Pollan called “Cooked.” I am astonished that the bread I’ve been making for years has no hope of providing health and vitality. Not only that (if it weren’t enough of a jolt), it, by my own calculations knowing a bit about the role of sugar in obesity, has probably played a part in my own struggle with extra pounds. The bread I have made is only the home-made version of balloon bread. Sure, it doesn’t contain the chemical soup of commercial food-like substances, but it misses one crucial process required to break out the nutritional value of wheat and make it available to human bodies – fermentation.

Not one to dwell (very much), I am on a new bread-making path. This is a story that I’d like to share not only because of the importance of spreading the enlightenment I’ve stumbled upon, but also to encourage anyone looking on. I read somewhere on the internet that sourdough bread-making is not for beginning bakers. But, I disagree. If one is to bake bread, one must start doing it correctly from the beginning. Or else what’s the point?

On to my next try. With my first try, one of the mistakes I made (which my second try will bear out I hope) is that I worked the dough too close to baking time. I got impatient with the process, decided to change the shape of the dough, then, as soon as the oven was hot, I put the dough in the oven. Result: it stayed flat, spread out a bit, baked to a hard flat “paddle” shape (as you see above).

The Studio Today

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Dear Visitor,
Will be at the gallery in Nye Beach on Saturday. Nothing special, just my normal volunteer gig. I’m curious to see how the wind chimes are doing. I sliced some curves of padauk, a South African hardwood, for the chimes. Large stone and ceramic beads for the “clappers” and jewelry quality chain for the cording. The padauk has a very sweet sound when clapped against the stone or ceramic and against each other. I’ve used faceted glass crystals for the “wind catcher” to add some sparkle and rainbows. Between the chimes and my tiny glass winged humming birds, I should be busy with sales from this gallery. I put a few draw string bags on Etsy.

Always busy. I have fava beans and peas emerging in the garden. Looking forward to new baby chicks this year.
I’m gathering stones and tumbled marble cubes for a decorative pad that will be a remembrance construction for our dog, Dalai La La, a beautiful pit-bull cross with piercing green eyes, who died suddenly last year. My heart is still broken, as any dog lover would understand. The pad is an arc connecting two of the arcs that shape my herb bed. When the pad is finished I’ll make a rain drum to sit upon the pad. I’m hoping for more inspiration, but at this moment the idea is to use a large ceramic pot with a snare drum skin stretched over the opening and held in place with a clamp that will be hidden behind a wrap of sisal or jute.

I can feel spring and see it in the fattening buds on my Montmorency cherry tree and blueberry shrubs. Not only that, my mind feels in renaissance. Lots to do. Gotta go!