Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Lake-Effect Snow days and jewelry class

One of those things you must get accustomed to in Cleveland, Ohio is lake-effect snow in the wintertime. This year, thanks to the incredibly unseasonably warm temperatures that were present through early January, Lake Erie has yet to freeze over. Thus, when cold air passes over the lake, it picks up massive amounts of moisture, and if the wind is coming out of the North or NW, we tend to get hammered with snowfall. This has been the case for the last few days, and is forecast to remain the case for the next day or two.

Needless to say, I have been getting a workout shoveling snow. Today I have already been out shoveling twice, and it is not even 1pm. I'd have to bet I'll be out there shoveling a couple more times before the day is over. I do own a snowblower, though I rarely use it. For one, I don't like wasting gasoline or contributing to pollution just to save a bit of time shoveling, and I also don't mind getting a little bit of forced-exercise. Now, if this was heavy, wet snow, I'd give in and get out the machine -- I'm not trying to kill myself shoveling! But, so far, the snow has been the lighter weight fluffy type.

I haven't really done much baking the past couple days either, though Laura has experimented with another batch of gluten-free breadsticks. This time, she created a batch and put them in the freezer to see if we can come up with a way to mass-produce them without worrying about them going bad before I can eat them all. We'll probably take a batch out of the freezer to test-bake later today or perhaps tomorrow. I can't wait! These breadsticks and baguettes have been excellent, and if I can have them anytime I want just by pulling a few out of the freezer, thawing them, and then baking them, that'd be wonderful compared to making a batch and not being able to eat them all before they go stale.

Next, we've both been busy with a jewelry-making class. Our (college) alma mater has a series of metal jewelry design classes, so we signed up for an alumni-audit program (very affordable way to take such classes). In addition to being affordable, we have a very talented instructor - Dave. Dave and his wife (she is quite a jeweler too) have created multiple anniversary-gift pieces for Robin Williams and his wife, and has been commissioned to create custom jewelry for Ben of "Ben and Jerry's". They have exhibited at the Smithsonian as well (they are this year too). I'm rather impressed to say the least. It's amazing how a little college like Baldwin Wallace College in Berea Ohio has this level of talent on staff! (on a barely-related side-note, a recent BWC graduate named Kate is a finalist right now on the "Grease - You're the One That I Want" TV reality show.)

It's been an interesting class thus far, and we've learned proper technique for sawing out very fine pieces from sheets of copper, brass, and silver, and then how to use an acetylene torch to anneal the metal and silver-solder pieces together. I'll post some pictures soon showing our beginning pieces. I'm pleased with our progress, and I was amazed how wonderful Laura's second piece came out -- she created a leaf-pendant that has wonderful shape, color, and texture. She really seems to have a talent for this.

I've always wanted to know how to create metal jewelry, and I'm definitely enjoying the creative processes involved. I do find my eyes getting a bit tired after a few hours of focusing on tiny pieces of metal that I am working with though. That's probably the biggest challenge. When we were soldering these "jump rings" (the loops you put on a pendant through which a necklace will be threaded) closed, I can hardly even see the tiny gap in the loop that I am soldering. I think it's time to go get some of those magnifying-eyeglasses or a jeweler's loupe!

Sorry I haven't had much celiac / gluten-free specific discussion to offer today. I'm finding myself a bit distracted by other things, but I think a bit of a break from the norm is a good thing once and a while. I'll be reporting the outcome of those gluten-free breadsticks once they emerge from the freezer and are baked - probably just a day or two from now.


Ashlee said...

Hi Mike,
Thanks so much for your comment. I haven't been on the site for a while due to being very busy with school. But thank you for the encouragement and I'll be checking out your site from now on. Kudos on the jelwery working. My Dad used to do that and he made my parents wedding bands, good luck!

Lynn Barry said...

You guys sure are multi-talented.
I think it is great to have a wide variety of interests and I say that having a small variety of interests which makes me a hypocrite but that's ok...I still think it is a good idea. Breadstick with a metal ring around it for a napkin holder. Just a marketing idea.
Ben Gay for the sore shoveling shoulders. :)

Mike Eberhart said...

Ashlee, great to see you on the site. And, I don't mind infrequent visits -- school is certainly FAR more important than this blog. That's sorta cool how your dad made the wedding bands. We have yet to learn how to make rings, but hopefully by the end of the semester we will be educated enough to give it a go.

Lynn, I'll keep the breadstick in mind, though I doubt I could fashion one in metal that would look at all like the real thing. I need to get pictures of what we've done online, then you may reconsider the "talented" comment (he he he). Actually, they are "OK" for beginning works I guess. As for the Ben Gay or Icy Hot, well, so far my youth keeps me from feeling the pain much. I do have wrist-pain, but it's mainly from aggrevating my carpal-tunnel (much, much too much keyboarding since I was about 13!). Darn these computers - can't live with them, can't live without them!

Lynn Barry said...

I hear ya, Mike. That is, about the carpal stuff. Sometimes I can hardly use my hands and then I am fine for a long time. I have those wrist braces and should wear them at night but well, you know...happy shoveling and all that.:)

Mike Eberhart said...

Lynn, I knew someone that tried the wrist-braces and had no luck after months of it. They finally had surgery which they say fixed it. As odd as this may sound, the period I had the least carpal tunnel issues was when I was rock climbing on a regular basis. Sounds counter-intuitive, but for whatever reason it really fixed up my wrists for a few years. The down side was it moved the pain into my finger tendons from the extreme stress put on them when hanging by one or two fingers. So, I more or less retired from climbing a couple years ago... fixed up the fingers, but wrist issues are back. Can't win it seems.

Lynn Barry said...

Maybe you should hang your hands over the top of a door and stay that way...Maybe reaching upward is what helped you. I am laughing at the image of a person hanging their hands over the top of a door. It is a visual like one in a comic strip. Forget that. Do you think you might have the surgery one of these days? I don't think mine is at that point.
How about those bread sticks? Any report yet?

Mike Eberhart said...

Lynn, no plans for carpal tunnel surgery. It's not that bad, except for when I abuse my wrists doing things like shoveling.

Gluten-free breadsticks: 10 minutes away. Posting results now! :)