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I started beading ten years ago and remember spending considerable time searching for an appropriate way to store, yet have available, the many beads in my stash. At that time I had no idea that my hobby would eventually require so many different tools. While stringing beads requires several tools, working with wire and metal in jewelry design takes many more. Today, I spent most of the day rearranging my studio and realized just how many great tools I’ve acquired. Most of these came my way as a result of generous gifts from my family and friends. (Thanks!)
I’m not a big tool buyer. I try to make do with what I have, but have learned several lessons lately about how having the correct tools can make things easier. This, of course, doesn’t just apply to making jewelry, but to many other things.
For example, yesterday I visited my mother at the nursing home., I meant to take my good scissors because she has been considering having me cut her hair since before Christmas. I put it off by saying, “Let’s wait and ask your granddaughter.” This seemed to be a good idea and it worked well until after the holidays and everyone, including her granddaughter, went home. I had my nerve up to cut her hair this week, but forgot to take the needed tool – my sharp scissors. When I told Mamaw, she announced that SHE had scissors. “But Mother,” I said, “ those are for paper”. “Well, I don’t want to be butchered up,” she replied. To show her that they wouldn’t work, I took her scissors and whacked through the nearest thing I could find – a Kleenex. Unfortunately, the scissors worked great and we took on the task of cutting her hair with the old pair of scissors meant for paper. Now grey hair is not the same texture as a Kleenex, but by the time I thought of that, I was worn down and resigned to my task.
We started with a towel around her shoulders to catch the falling hair. She couldn’t see how much the towel was catching, but she could see the tiny pieces of hair that kept falling on her sweatshirt and so she kept wiggling as she flicked them off. Eventually, we removed the sweatshirt, but that didn’t help much. I hooked up her hairdryer and used it to blow the hair off of her, but she insisted that it was “too hot.” She hollered once when I got the comb hung in her earring and we had to stop to remove them. We stopped again to remove her hearing aids since she was sure I was going to cut them and another time to move her glasses (I thought this might help if I got the hair a little crooked, but it didn’t help at all. That woman has great eyes for spotting uneven hair whether or not she’s wearing her glasses.)
A couple of times I thought I was finished, but when she looked in the mirror, she found places that needed more whacking. She was sure one side was longer than the other and I was unable to convince her that her head was just leaning. When I thought I was finished, she still complained about her fly away hair, full of electricity due to the full-blast heating of the room. Thinking I could cure it, I used hair spray and announced her complete. Then she took the comb and, of course, when she ran it through her hair, it flew away again. Eventually, we agreed that we would stop for the day realizing we could always cut a bit more since she had her own scissors. I donned my coat to leave only to see her looking in the mirror and pointing to her neck. Yes, I had left a little long hair that was now showing. I whacked it off and exited quickly.
With the right “tool”, I’m sure I could have done a better job cutting my mother’s hair, but we might not have had such an interesting time. Part of the problem was not the tool, but rather my lack of expertise in cutting hair. I guess you can have the best tools in the world, but without technique and practice, you can’t be an expert.
While I don’t plan to become an expert at cutting hair, this Mamaw episode does bring light upon my wire work. I have good tools, and creative designs, yet much of my work still looks quite amateur. Those great Lindstrom tools that I bought just can’t do it all by themselves. So I guess I’ll keep asking questions of my expert friends and keep practicing. I used to try to teach my highly creative students that they couldn’t get by on just great ideas. They had to learn how to bring them to fruition and that takes practice. Now I need to practice what I used to preach.
As for my wire and metal work, I believe there is hope. Besides, now if I need to really find out how my designs look or whether the wires are even, I’m just going to ask Mamaw, with or without her glasses.