Monday, March 20, 2017

Adventures in making handmade fused dichroic glass jewelry: the great glue debacle of 2017!

I always try to take safety precautions when making jewelry... but sometimes, well, shit happens. Take my recent mishap, which I call the "Great Glue Debacle Of 2017."

When making wire wrapped jewelry, I never solder the pieces together: they're all attached with handmade findings and jumprings. However, I can't put metal in my microwave kiln so I simply glue my findings onto my glass pieces. I simply use Krazy Glue -- nothing expensive; nothing special -- and it does the trick. A little bit goes a long way and keeps my necklace and earring hooks, etc. intact.

Gluing my backings is usually the easiest part of the process; I squirt on some glue, attach the backing, let it sit. No sweat, right? Theoretically. Unfortunately, everything went pear-shaped this weekend and I ended up with a big mess.

I'd purchased a brand new tube of glue and gently squeezed it, intending on squirting out just a small dab. This tube was defective, though, because a giant wad of glue spilled out. It got all over the pendant, all over the table ... and all over me. I quickly went to clean it, but my stick hand attracted another pendant and a ring that were drying... and now glue was on these pieces. Ugh!

I keep a bottle of nail polish remover on hand for these situations, so I polished off as much of the jewelry as I could. Then when they dried, I gently peeled off the rest of the glue. But this stuff would not come off my fingers. I dipped them in the acetone, rinsed them in warm water and soap... nothing. So much had gotten onto me, it just stubbornly sat there.

People often ask if it hurts to get such strong glue stuck to your skin and no, it doesn't. It's just annoying. It gets in the way when you're trying to do something that requires precise finger coordination... like, in my case, play the flute. It doesn't hurt or burn, though. I do tell my students to rinse it off immediately so there's less chance of it sticking. I just spilled so much onto myself that some stayed.

The glue is finally peeling off today and my fingers are getting back to normal. I try not to get too upset over these things; really, all I can do is roll my eyes and laugh at myself. I mean, hey, Julia Child made a whole career for herself by showing off her cooking mishaps!

I've always been a perfectionist, but have gotten more relaxed about making mistakes in recent years. Being a jewelry designer has definitely gotten me to loosen up because you just can't expect perfection on the first run. It's all about trial and error, and practicing -- and part of the fun of it is in learning new techniques. I enjoy playing "Mad Scientist," even it means spilling glue on myself every so often.

I like to tell my students that there isn't a wrong way to do something; that it's just one more step to doing things the right way. I'm trying to take my own advice.

Check out the rest of my handmade fused dichroic glass, wire wrapped and enamel jewelry at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

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