Monday, October 24, 2011

Ali Lately

One of my favorite chill-out-post-studio-madness activities is to watch Chelsea Lately. I am sort of surprised I like her program (and her!) so much, but I do. Why fight it? I've long accepted that I like trash tv, so in comparison to something like Cheaters or Coco Loves Ice, I suppose Chelsea Lately is highbrow...

Anyhow, it is the perfect thing for relaxing after a crazy week, which this one was without a doubt. I had late nights in the studio at school (3:30 and 4:00 AM), late nights at my home studio (2:30 AM) and plenty of early mornings in the mix.

I got both of my projects done, which was a good feeling. One was a 5-piece suite for Production that was loosely based on vertebrae and done in silver with gold hinge pins (I made a bracelet, long earrings, a pendant necklace, a chunky ring, and stacked thin rings) and a personal identity piece for Jewelry 3A that involved a bejeweled floral/coin piece that fits into various objects. Hard to explain in a nutshell, but I'll post on it (and the production suite) once I get it back from my professor and have a chance to take photos.

There were several earthquakes last week. Two on Thursday that were the biggest I've felt since moving here (4.2 and 3.7, I believe, but these figures may have been modified by USGS). I distinctly felt rolling/shaking, which is different from the "a huge truck just hit the building" feel of the previous earthquakes I've experienced here. I actually got under my jeweler's bench at school for the second quake on Thursday. The epicenter was a mile away in Berkeley and that thing was scary. Jangled nerves, thankfully no damage. There have been several aftershocks, and I've felt all of them. I feel anxious, like I'm anticipating and can almost feel the next one before it actually happens. I guess the best way to describe it is that I feel sort of seasick, like when you get off a boat and can still feel the swaying long after you're on firm land.

I've been trying to counter all the stress with exercise, which is my go-to stress management solution. Running, cardio dance classes, personal training, and today I tried rock climbing for the first time with some girlfriends from school. We did bouldering at a rock gym in Oakland, and I can honestly say it was better than I'd anticipated. I am somewhat afraid of heights and don't enjoy climbing, but it was good to do a new activity and get out of my comfort zone for a while.

So that's what I've been up to lately. I'm really looking forward to getting a couple of days off during Thanksgiving. I'd like to sleep a lot, hang out with Rico and the cats, and do a whole lot of nothing. :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I am turning thirty tomorrow.

Everyone is full of advice, ranging from how your thirties are the best years of your life, to how I should have babies soon because I'm getting old, to how I should really be using sunscreen daily because serious wrinkles are right around the corner.

I'm excited, not really feeling any of the crisis OH MY GOD I'M OLD stuff at all.

I am happily married and living in a house and community that I love. I am near family. I am in the best shape of my entire life, having become a Runner about a year ago. I am in art school perfecting my skills as a metalsmith. I'm a working jeweler. I have friends. I love our cats. I am happy and excited to be turning thirty, but not sappily idealistic about what the next decade might hold.

If anything, the one poignant lesson that I've become more aware of at this age is that we really don't have that much time. I can imagine that those of you reading this who are in your sixties are just shaking your heads, thinking Oh, she has no idea. But I do have an idea, if only a small one.

In my twenties and teenage years, I was privileged to travel a lot. I always had the feeling that those places, those people I connected with on my travels would be part of my life again. I went to Roraima and felt like it was no big deal to go back. I went to Greece and had no doubt I'd visit again. Same thing with Cuba, Zimbabwe, Vietnam, Argentina. It seemed so easy to just hop on a plane and go. Time seemed infinite, and travel was one of a select few ways to use my resources.

I was sure I'd see them again, the people that touched my heart over the years. Hannah, Lambros, Gaby, Angel, the Yamamotos, Perry. The list expanded exponentially with living in Mozambique. I felt certain I'd reconnect at some point with all of these special people. Jenny, Kelly, Zahra, Anel, Claudia, Helen, Marcos, Bruno. There are too many to name, really, and now I wonder when, realistically, we'll ever cross paths again.

Time is short, energy fleeting, resources divided amongst many worthwhile dreams and goals (not to mention practical obligations). It is challenging at best to connect face-to-face with those we love. We are lucky to visit twice the places that make our hearts skip a beat. We are envious of those who do what they truly love because we recognize the risks that often go into those decisions.

We must make choices, many choices.

I hope that I choose wisely in the decade to come.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Custom Jewelry: Cornflower Sapphire Set

Here is another one of my custom jewelry designs from this summer. A client wanted me to make some jewelry for his wife's birthday. She happens to be a friend of mine, which is great because I know her style. She wears very small, minimal jewelry and is somewhat conservative in her taste. She loves the color blue and only wears white metals. These were basically my only guidelines.

Here is the set I designed, plus the original sketch. I bezel set sapphire cabochons on a sterling silver backplate that looks like a cross between a cornflower and a cog wheel. I'm happy to say everything was a hit, and my minimalist friend is using these pieces frequently.

Sunday, October 02, 2011


We did it! Our only New Year's resolution* from 2011 can now confidently be ticked off the list. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I'd be able to run for more than an hour without stopping. Even crazier is that I love doing it.

*I had a second resolution, actually: to paint my nails more often. Doing well on that one, too. :)