Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tucson Artist interview: Rameen Ahmed

For a new subject, I thought it would be interesting to introduce a few of my Tucson Artist friends!
The following is a short Q&A with my friend Rameen Ahmed.

MBZ: Rameen and I met while working at Krikawa, a local indie jeweler here in Tucson- where we worked as goldsmiths together for a few months. We have kept in touch over the years and have been able to enjoy time together recently as roommates at the 2012 SNAG conference. I consider her to be a good friend, and a fine metalsmith- her designs are whimsical, architectural and modern.
Here is her interview:

Me and Rameen at the SNAG conference in Scottsdale last spring

MBZ:How would you describe what you do as an artist?
RA:I take what I have learned in art and architecture and give it a 'wearable form'.

MBZ: what inspires your designs?
RA: Ideas, materials, mental acrobatics with form

MBZ: how long have you been involved in this type of making? (how did you start?)
RA: 10 years. Recent recollection of a long ago question, "What do you do with dolls?" Answer, "Play with them!" Mystified and proceeded to take apart my metal belt and making doll jewelry at age 7!!

MBZ: where are you located?( email if you want to share, or city/town that you live in)
RA: Tucson, Arizona.

MBZ: do you have a website?
RA: yes, it's at

MBZ: what other ways do you market your work?
RA: Trunk Shows, Art Shows, Juried Submittals, Galleries, Membership(ADC, SNAG), Online Membership (LinkedIn, FaceBook, Crafthaus), Snailmail Postcards... working on making FB work page! (MBZ aside: Wow! that's great Rameen! you have to help me get more organized!)

MBZ: do you teach? if so, where?
RA: Mostly visual arts, architecture/landscape design. Part-time at Tucson Museum of Art, elementary & middle school - local Montessori & Rameen Ahmed Designs.

MBZ: Rameen, do you have any sage advice for newcomers that you would like to share?
RA: Yes! Let your passion lead you...

MBZ: where do you envision your work going in the next year? (artistic direction)
RA: Fearless deliberation, I hope!! By that I mean pushing ideas that are/have been percolating.

MBZ: anything else you would like to share? (your choice-how we met? What you wish for as a holiday gift? any good jokes? you can even put your flickr/twitter/blog links here too)
RA: One of the best parts of working at Krikawa was connecting with you and other 'benchers'. I do appreciate the opportunity to have improved my technical skills quite a bit at the bench there.
What else, let's see... I'm terrible at punch lines! But, here's one of my favorite quotes from the Dilbert Principle, "Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."
MBZ: I love Dilbert! Thanks Rameen! :-)
Ciao, and May the Flux be with you! - Maureen

ps- yes, it was funny to work with someone who has a name that sounds like an echo of your own...Rameen, Maureen! LOL it's all good

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Horse Shoes

Annoying kid watches
a farrier
shoe a horse.
Asks way too many annoying questions,
irritating the farrier,
who is busy
hot forging a horse shoe.
Farrier puts the shoe down
to cool
and the boy immediately grabs it-
then quickly drops it.
(with a grin)
"what's the matter kid, that shoe too hot?"

" nah, just not very interesting."

ba dum bum

Chronic pain and depression

I've got to fight the depression that is presently trying to invade my head. It is very hard to remain positive when I am having constant intense pain every waking moment.
 I've dealt with depression before- and know that it can really take a hold on me- making life more miserable than anything. I really don't want to go there.
So- I'm scaling back on some things- trying to type less and rest my hands more (I have numbness and pain in both hands these days....constantly) I will be doing more artwork and less production jewelery. My time has become more precious.
And I have to cut this post short because my hands are going numb while typing. Once numbness kicks in the pain starts to descend...
It's a terrible cycle- I'm going to break it! It cannot break me!
don't worry, I will slay this Dragon
Peace, Love and Gratitude- Maureen

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bountiful desert garden

How can I tell that it is fall in Tucson? Our Pomegranate bush is filled with HUGE ripe fruits. I like them- always feel like I am "doing something good for my body" when I eat them. My 10 year old son LOVES them, and can devour an entire Pom in 10 minutes. I think that is why he has such amazing eyelashes...:-)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Musical Cure

Once again a post about my health issues.
(but I'm giving you a great song to listen to and watch while I whine) :-)

I am a new-ish chronic pain patient- people who have read my posts have been hearing of my issues for a bit less than 2 years now.

I am working on getting my 4th and 5th opinion- today at the new Neurologist, then in 2 weeks at a Dr who is known as a "fabulous diagnostician."

Everyone says the same thing- I am now a "chronic pain patient"- my pain is due to severe nerve damage due to years of compression from bulging discs and compressed vertebrae. It is Nerve pain- not muscle, (which I have been saying all this time) and that really there isn't much they can do other than burn off the nerve roots every year or so and manage my pain with meds, exercise and good nutrition.

I'm the perfect model of a medical marijuana patient as well- It is a badge I have no shame about- and I am open about my status with anyone who counts. I have to use whatever works- and MM is one of the only things I've found that helps me find some comfort- Without killing my stomach. I never smoke before driving or being with my son or his friends. Responsible is really my middle name.

Yes, I know what kind of pain I have. I know my talking about my pain in the neck can be a real pain in the neck.  I'm sorry, I just can't help complaining- especially when the pain gets this bad. Like today, where I haven't slept a full night in 5 days.

I try to keep it positive by scheduling things that I will look forward to, like concerts!

Last night I at least had a respite from the agony, and went to a fantastic concert by the Shins, one of my favorite "go to" bands. Here is a video of them performing "Know your Onion" at the concert last night. (link is here too:  Shins Concert- "Know your Onion")

A special shout out also to my date for the night, Eric Fest- my BFF's hubby who also happens to be a friend of mine too. Eric is a big alt music fan too and is filling in the gap that is left by my hubby Guido's refusal to come to any concerts with me. In Guido's defense, he has a hearing condition that makes going to concerts with electrified instruments particularly painful.
Hey, I KNOW about pain. I get it- you do what you have to do to relieve yourself of the pain- including leaving concerts. (I know now not to spend the money on a ticket for him- I get it for a friend instead!

So I'll just keep on looking at coming attractions- I know that the Rialto theater in Tucson is scheduling some great concerts- Tegan and Sarah are coming in a few months, as is Sleigh Bells and Aimee Mann. (I think I'll go to T and S)
I promise to not bore you too much about my nerve pain- or, at least when I complain I'll also post a pretty picture or video to balance out the whine :-\

thanks for all of your support!
ciao- Maureen

Friday, September 28, 2012

Graffiti clean up in Florence!

on the side of the Brunelleschi cathedral, Santo Spirito 2009
Well, it's about Time! a group that is working on cleaning up Florence's (Firenze) horrible problem with graffiti!

Fiorentini! e' tempo di comminciare a reprendere la citta'! E' da troppo tempo che i muri communali sono stati disgraziati da graffiti! Adesso che questo gruppo che e' dedicato di pulire la citta..hanno bisognio di piu persone! :-)

If I was still living there I would be part of this program. I have been disgusted by how degraded the city streets have become in the last 5-10 years. (and have written about it at least a few times in this blog- the latest time here: in "Florence, choked with graffiti" I only hope that this can continue to be funded, and they can get a handle on the graffiti problem.

Oh, and before you go and give me hell about not appreciating graffiti, this shit in Florence is just cut rate tagging...and it is on historic buildings! it's a real tragedy.

e' una vera tragedia.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

update on the Wheat free

So it's been a few weeks now that I have been wheat free (mostly- I cheat with black licorice, which to me is a staple food and it has some sort of wheat product in it, but not like it's a dinner roll)

I honestly can say that going off wheat has been much easier than I had anticipated- My biggest worry was my Italian husband, who is a total bread fanatic. I mean completely over and above bread love, it's become obsession. Thankfully, we have Barrio Bread co. here in Tucson so we can pick out our favorite loaves every Wednesday at Cosmo's school (Yay Waldorf!) Anyhoo- that's completely off point....well, not completely, but note that Guido + Bread = LOVE.

So- the Wheat free lifestyle, well, it started with a trip to Trader Joes. I went to my fave TJ's (we are spoiled with multiple Trader Joes here in Tucson) and I bought a whole bunch of gluten free/wheat free items. A few of my friends were working there that day so I got lots of helpful suggestions. (thanks guys) I bought corn pastas, Udi bread, lots of fruits and veggies and gluten free cereal (Barbara's Puffins).

I already eat a very good diet full of most of the things I've mentioned, so it was no stretch for me to simply substitute bread, cereal and cookies (like I need any cookies!). I noticed the lack of dietary "glue" sticking things together... the bread had a good flavor, nothing compared to Barrio bread, but passable for toast and sandwiches. The pasta was OK- we tried a much better gluten free pasta made from Quinoa...oh, and I found out that I like Quinoa now! Other than the substitutions I was all set. Once I figured out that I could eat popsicles and kettle corn everything was A- OK!

Oh, I will admit I DO miss very much my Bob's Red Mill musli- (one thing that is certain to be re-introduced asap). But other than that I'm fine.

What? How do I feel? Oh, yeah, that IS pretty important. You can figure from my writing that I'm in a good mood today- really good, actually. I still have my pain, nothing really has changed on that part- but I feel Deflated. I HATE feeling full, so I eat just until I am satisfied...but always would feel puffy and kind of pushed around by my food.
I notice a calm- I feel simply fine- the medicines are doing their jobs, as long as I remember to take them in time, and I am waking up feeling rested in the mornings (something I've NEVER experienced before!) My insomnia is still showing up every once in a while- I've been sleeping on the couch much less lately.

that's pretty much it for my update- I'm sure there are more things I will remember but my hands are hurting and I need to stop typing!
Ciao for now- Maureen

Friday, September 7, 2012

Wheat free? Me?

After having 2 years of intense chronic pain (and going through a myriad of painful treatments and surgery) my Dr finally told me to try wheat free.
OK, I'll fess up- She HAD mentioned it before, a few times but I resisted mostly I thought it would be difficult (as I am married to a real life in the flesh Florentine Italian who is truly in love with his pasta and bread...and is thin as a rail at 50 years old) Plus she hadn't really told me to do it- she had just suggested.
Honestly, I am very diet resistant due to my lifetime of always being a bit on the pudgy side (unless I was starving myself, like one year in High School that I actually became skeletal and sick) At 5'1" a pound doesn't have many places to hide- Over the years I had pretty much resigned myself to thinking that unless I really suffered and dieted I was always going to be shaped like a Pug, never a Whippet.
Well, back to the Wheat free- I am so desperate to feel better that I've decided to really give wheat free a good try. I stopped eating wheat since the moment my Dr told me I should (about 8 days ago)
And I'm honestly surprised at how easy this shift has been for me.
I think having a few friends who have wheat allergies/Celiac disease Does help me. I have for years kept mental notes about new gluten free stuff I see and now (that I have my nifty Iphone) I often will shoot them a photo of a great gluten free Menu. I have in effect already done my shopping.
AND I've done my shopping. First day ASAP I went to Trader Joes and did a Gluten free shopping trip. Piece O'(gluten free) cake! My friends had told me about the "only good Gluten free bread out there" Udi's bread (it's not bad!) and I found many other good alternatives- for Cereal and pasta too.

I have always had a terrible time waking up- I would fall back to sleep in a second- deep in a hazy waking slumber. But today I woke a full hour before my early morning alarm- with a refreshed feeling that I don't ever recall having in the morning. EVER! Oh, and then I went about my day on MINIMAL pain medications (until 5 pm when the day's activities took their toll). Do I think it was because of the lack of wheat? Honestly, I'm too much of a cynic to jump on the bandwagon so soon...but I'm cautiously optimistic about this change in diet. Oh, and if I start losing my pudge? I would be OH SO SOLD on a wheat free future.
Stay tuned- I'll surely revisit this topic again in the near future. Meanwhile, I will be reading a new book that I just bought on the interwebs: "Wheat Belly" by Dr William Davis . I'll do a review once I've read it. (warning: I am a slow reader- I like to savor and digest what is written. For current reviews you can check the book's Amazon page: )

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New BLOG Title and address!

Hi there everyone-
I have decided to change my blog's name and address-
My new name is MBZ Metalsmith
and the new Address is .

I just decided that since my work is becoming considerably less about my production line (aka: Cosmo's Moon) and more about my artistic choices, that I should change the name to reflect the point of view.

Nothing is really changing as blog fodder however- I will continue to write about a variety of things that are important to me as an artist, a mother, an Arizonan, an eccentric and liberal practicalist.
I hope you all enjoy my posts- I certainly enjoy reading your comments!

thanks- Maureen

ps- pain update? the spinal cord stimulator did not work. I'm at the crossroads again and am looking in a few different directions to see if we can find an explanation for the pain and hopefully an end to it as well.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Metalsmithing Org (no dot)

As many of you know I am out of commission right now due to a painful nerve condition in my neck and shoulder. I AM going in tomorrow for the installation of a test for the spinal cord stimulator which is supposed to be a very successful treatment, so we are very hopeful that I will find relief and be able to get back to my life soon.

newly bundled student tools and some tools awaiting the bundling.
I love this fab Mexican Oil cloth - totally easy to clean and great to look at!
One of the things I am looking forward to doing is Teaching. I have not had a class for a few years now, and I really miss it! One of my big problems is getting a larger class together on the time frame that Tucson Parks and Rec has scheduled (Monday mornings?!!) . It's not an easy time to fill, and I totally understand, I think I would not want to take a leisure class on early Monday morning either!

I've decided to take my show on the road and offer much smaller classes (3-4 students) on a much easier time commitment (whenever it fits into your schedule- for 4 hours at a time, within 5 miles from the U of A in central Tucson-). I will offer these mini classes to my friends and Facebook friends- They are meant to be fun activities for you and a couple of your close friends to get together and try over a glass of wine and loaf of bread.
Have a short class, make a pendant, chat, visit and learn something new.

Meanwhile I'm on the threshold of healing from this awful pain- I get a trial run of the spinal cord stimulator tomorrow and possibly will have a full install within a month or so.  While I am working on my health and re-gaining my strength I will be organizing my tools in preparation for my next phase of my career in metalsmithing.
This week I spent sewing some tool folders and color coding my tools-
Blue red green yellow are student tool packs.
Orange? Pewter.
White? studio tools.

Lime Green? Those tools are MINE!! (keep yer filthy mitts off of them!)

Ciao, Arrivederci, so long, fare well...
May the flux be with you

Thursday, August 2, 2012

a Garden behind the house

Guido and Cosmo a few years ago with some peaches from one of our trees. YUM!
Just recently I've come to realize that I've become a gardener. I mean, I've always loved to be outside and dig in the soil- have had aspirations of living off the land...but didn't think about it becoming reality until lately. Actually, my husband (Guido) is the real gardener: I simply waltz in and do a bit of weeding watering and harvesting. (I have an excuse, not really able to do much because of my injured neck)
Me and Daisy in our back yard- the garden is behind me
and it's looking appropriately shaggy for monsoon season.

I'm one of those people who really enjoy raking and pruning and digging. In fact- my current injured status was in part due to a "freak gardening accident" where I over did it one day, making the garden look nice for an up coming Open Studio...and ended up stressing my bulging discs in my neck so much by the vibrations of the weed whacker that my discs decided to pack up and move out of alignment with my spine. oh, and just for fun pinch the hell out of my nerve on their way out.

anyways... we garden.
W live in Tucson, so we are a bit limited to what we can grow. Currently we are harvesting tomatoes daily, our Nectarines are just finished and our zucchini is on it's way out. We have at least 10-15 cantaloupe in the near future (break out the Prosciutto!) and delicious watermelons close after. Also our pomegranate has about 50-70 fruits ready in late August. I'd say we do pretty good for a mini urban veggie patch.  You just don't want our water bills- trust me. (it is truly worth it)

My sister is the one with the great soil- in Hood River OR. I think they have about 30 acres- mostly fruit orchard. and those cherries I've been talking about lately? like nothing you have ever tasted before.

How about you? do you have a garden? (ps- I believe potted plants indoors counts as a garden too! I know what it's like to have no yard as an apartment dweller. It's one of the reasons why we live here, instead of Florence Italy, where the family home is smack in the center of the city and NO balcony, let alone a yard. I just can't do that right now. I NEED DIRT PEOPLE!! LOL, mini rant, over and out)
Tell me about your garden- do you have a favorite crop? (don't incriminate yourself of course)
I'd love to hear your garden stories!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

the cat story- on Creative process

On creative process- one of my favorite stories.....
Joseph Campbell
had a story that he would share about a calligrapher that was commissioned to do a painting of a cat......
Every month, the client would go to the artist's studio and ask if the piece was ready and the artist would say no. finally, after many many months the client went to the artist studio and demanded that the painting be produced for him or he would arrest the artist. The artist then calmly took out paper brush and ink and in one fluid motion created a sublime painting of a cat. The Client, aghast at the beauty of the piece, turns to the artist and asks, "Why did you make me wait so long?" The artist then turns around and opens a cupboard, and thousands of drawings of cats come pouring out.
I relay this story to all of my students- it illustrates perfectly the hours of meditation trial and errors that every artist goes through when making their visions come to life.
I hope you are all having a great summer and are making lots of sketches for your cupboards :-)
ciao- Maureen
ps- if you aren't familiar with Joseph Campbell I strongly urge you to click on his name, which takes you to the Wikipedia article on him- he is one of my favorite mentors on living a creative and blissful life. <3

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dog of a lifetime

You know that mythic dog?
the one that is your best friend?
who loves to play catch, do tricks, go for walks and snuggle?
That Once in a Lifetime
Best dog in the WORLD
Your friend through thick and thin?
Lucky me!
I found Daisy.

My "Bull Whip" half Pit half Whippet rescue miracle.
God I love her. I am thankful every day that she ran in front of my car!
We've been together a little more than 2 years now- she has been incredibly helpful to me too- Comforting me through my pain- Enthusiastic walking partner and fellow morning sleeper.
Thank you,
Wag, bark- Maureen

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cosmo's summer research project

My son Cosmo is 9 going on 10 in a month- he is a Waldorf kid- enjoys his school and really believes in many of the principals of the Waldorf culture- all except the limits on computer games- specifically his favorite game (and only game) : Minecraft.
Cosmo loves Minecraft - it is a game of creation- of building his dreams. He basically builds his own environment out of blocks of various (computerized) materials. I have to say, it's pretty cool.
Florence Italy's famous red dome of their Duomo
Cosmo's dad is from Florence Italy, home of the jewel of Renaissance architecture, the Florence Cathedral also known as the duomo. Home of the Ponte Vecchio, the old bridge, with it's gold merchants and its elevated private corridor.
Cosmo loves building so much I thought I'd use it to encourage him to learn about his father's culture.
His summer project?  Cosmo has decided that he wants to build all of the famous cathedrals and buildings of Italy. He can do it on minecraft, his favorite game. It's a HUGE project, filled with history, engineering, architecture and Italian culture- a Huge project, and he's super excited about it.
Win win!

Cosmo wants to write about his Minecraft experience:
"Well I love minecraft and we got an idea.We said you can make a place, a castle, and why not Italy?"
We will be keeping a blog journal of this project, updating you about the completion of different landmarks. So far he has completed a version of the Ponte Vecchio (Florence) and is working on a copy of the Spanish steps and basilica (Rome) I will post pictures of them when I figure out how to get a jpg capture of his work.

Buon Viaggio! ciao- Maureen

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hairdo malfunction....

One of my friends has an adopted daughter from Ethiopia- She's gorgeous and funny and smart---and she has Ethiopian hair. My friend has straight hair. And this has proven to be very challenging. Anglo and Black hair are really two completely different creatures all together!

I know her mom is really trying everything she can to make it as pain-free as possible but Miss M has a very sensitive scalp, and a great set of lungs! Scream and scream my sweetheart baby girl does, every time she has her hair done. (I tell her mom it's great practice for her eventual career as an opera singer)

I'm wondering if any of my friends and readers could give some advice on the care of African American (Ethiopian) hair? I'll pass along any pearls of wisdom- Melkamie and her Mom thank you :-)

Metalsmiths Unite on the (internet) radio!

I'm going to be interviewed by Jay Whaley on Blogtalk radio Metalsmithing Benchtalk THIS THURSDAY at 3pm pacific time.
(I think this will be my 4th full interview- the other ones are archived in the Whaley studio channel on Blogtalk radio.)
This time I'll be talking about my metalsmithing Facebook group " Metalsmiths Unite" and how it has developed over the past 3+ years.
 I'd really love it if MU members came to the chat room during the interview- to ask questions, talk about Metalsmiths Unite/ Metalsmithing or if they just want to say "Hi." 
Please use the official chat room here:(this is the link to my interview)  
Don't be shy It's a lot of fun and a great way to connect!

Ciao for now- Maureen

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

symbolic musing

I'm a glutton for embellishment,
all kinds.
Like this asterisk for example
Isn't it lovely?
all circular and bursting
like a snowflake or
twinkling star.

Do you read symbols
words or Ideas?

I love the Italian word for
"Chiocciola" (keee-oh-cho-la)
It always reminds me of a
tropical nut.
or a topical nut.

anyhow- My friend Kristy gave birth to her beautiful
baby Boy "Kai" yesterday!!!!!
that deserves some exclaimation!!!!!

and one to grow on
<3 MBZ

Friday, June 1, 2012

Kikka the Showgirl RIP

I'm pretty tired now- came back home from the SNAG conference to find my elderly cat had broken her hip, and I had to put her to sleep. Oddly enough I'm not too upset about it- I am certain it was her time to go-
She was a rescue from the kill cages at the humane society 7 years ago- she had been labeled "unadoptable" because of a stage 4 heart murmur. (her thump thump thump of her heart sounded more like swish swish a laundry machine) She had arthritis in her hips and suffered from being de-clawed (not by us) in her front paws.
She was a very sweet kitty, loved to be cuddled and brushed- we have lived with her knowing that she could "drop dead at any time" (according to numerous vets)
Well,  she's lived far beyond any vet's expectations- I believe adopting our dog Daisy also gave her a boost- I actually thought she was a goner a few years ago, when she was becoming less mobile, and watching her eyes grow more and more unfocused with cataracts.
I held her and petted her as they administered the overdose of barbituates- within seconds she was gone- no fanfare or terror- only an end to her pain.
We love you Kikka! Rest in Peace <3 MBZ

another MRI

Well, I'm back from the SNAG conference in Phoenix, (which was amazing) and am faced with a long hot summer.

Tucson reached 107 today- a cloudless sky, hazy with smoke from nearby wildfires.
It's a day when motorists know the rules have changed...we notice our fellow drivers with their windows down and know that they are driving without air conditioning.
Summer in Tucson rule #1- Cars without a/c get the right of way.
I was driving around town today - dropping Cosmo off at his performing arts camp, going to starbucks, driving to the pain institute- noticing the desolate landscape of pre-monsoon desert. Dusty, searing, sparse.

At the pain institute I am a new patient. After a short exam and discussion the latest theory on the origins of my pain is that I have ruptured another disc or two in my neck. My insurance company is going to be so thrilled to see that they have requested another MRI- this time a post surgery MRI on my neck.
This means that I will not be able to go ANYWHERE this summer and beyond- until we get to the bottom of this dismal chapter in my life.
yee haw.
:-p I'm earning my way to a nice vacation after this is all done. Maybe I'll come to see you? LOL you never know when a shrimpy metalsmith will come knocking at your door.....
ciao- M

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Heading to the hand/shoulder
expert on Monday-
cross fingers they will figure this out
Meanwhile, it's ice
every night and most of the day.
I believe I am turning into permafrost
or the tundra,
but where are the stinkin' reindeer?

Maureen Brusa Zappellini
Creative jewelry for creative people

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Friday, April 27, 2012

Made By Survivors

In the spirit of giving back to the community I have donated a portion of my Orchid / Ganoksin
Rio Grande raffle winnings to a wonderful organization "Made By Survivors"

I first learned about this organization through my friend Dianna Badalament- a talented and lovely metalsmith from California who is a metalsmithing instructor for the program.
Please take a moment to check out their website to see this incredibly valuable mission that is empowering victims of human trafficking and slavery. And while you are there, maybe make a donation...a little bit from everyone can really make a difference! ♥ M

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Drinking Ironic Tonic

Well, the universe has a sense of humor. You may know that I've been struggling with chronic pain in my left shoulder and neck for the past year and a half, and how I've recently decided to try taking a break from the studio in order to really search for a cure and give my shoulder a break...

Now, I will admit, keeping me from the studio has proven to be almost impossible- One of my great joys in life is the hours of studio time I fit into my day. (In fact you could say I fit my days into my studio time..) I have come to realize that in order to keep from getting too depressed about my condition I really NEED to be in the Satori mind- the creative process and creative spirit support me: they are as vital to my health as breathing.

So- I've been puttering around my studio, but only doing no impact (no hammers) work....I was starting to think, "I can just make things that my body will let me make" and have been putting together a group of 8 pieces, which are almost finished..(image shows one of the pieces) I made them with almost no handtools, because my shoulder won't let me do much with my left hand.

Then, very unexpectedly, I won the Orchid Raffle!

What is Orchid?
Orchid is the social media (email q+a and discussions about metalsmithing) of one of the original metalsmithing websites, " "- I have been using this site since '98, when I first discovered it (I looked up how to make granules for granulation, an ancient metalsmithing technique)
Ganoksin is an incredible resource for the metalsmithing and jewelry community- It must have close to a million pages by now.... If you have never spent a few hours looking through Ganoksin I encourage you to try it- It's packed with information and eye candy.
"Orchid" is the name of the email forum in Ganoksin. 

Every year they raise funds by having a raffle- and every year I buy one or two tickets. I really love the metalsmithing community and believe in supporting our core services. This year I bought a ticket "early", in November, when flooding was at it's worst in Bangkok, Ganoksin's base. And this year...I won!

I ended up winning the grand prize, a very generous gift certificate for Rio Grande - one of the largest sellers of tools and supplies for the metalsmithing world!

And I still am in pain, and I still cannot do hardly anything- Whatever tools I get with the winnings are going to have to take me to a no impact studio. I'm thinking electro forming and torch- No stakes for me- I cannot use them now- (not even to kill vampires)

All the tools you want and no ability to use them now?
Karma is feeding me a little Ironic Tonic.
In any case, I am truly thankful for my incredible luck. The raffle winnings are a dream of any metalsmith- I am filled with Gratitude. Thank you Ganoksin! Thank You Rio Grande!!
and Thanks to my friends and family who have been so supportive
ciao- Maureen

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

X Ray

Well, I've won x-rays for my shoulder. Had to point out to my Neuro that nobody had done that yet.
what's going on??
There are a few theories...simplest being that there is something going on in my shoulder (that's making it crazy hard to concentrate on anything but pain....) The possible red herring is that I have carpal tunnel (which I have known for years, and haven't really been bothered by it) Dr said that it is rare but possible that the nerve is "backfiring" into the shoulder, causing pain that originates from the wrist but is active in the shoulder..
So- I'm going to go get another dose of radiation, and hopefully they'll look at my xray and say
fingers crossed xx

Monday, March 26, 2012

Taking a break from jewelry

Hi there friends-
most of you know that I am currently dealing with nerve pain issues in my left arm/hand/neck. I have been fighting for 1 1/2 years with intense constant pain in my neck, left arm and hand and have been pursuing conventional treatments in western medicine as well as alternative methods for pain treatment.

After over a year of therapies and failures I had surgery on my neck in December, to fuse three vertebrae and remove ruptured discs. I have a titanium plate now that keeps that part of my neck stable. The Neurosurgeons told me that the surgery would resolve the pain issues and I would be back on my game within 5-6 weeks, tops.

Well, unfortunately the pain is still there, and in fact has become much more intense. There is no posture I can take to find relief, and the pain is constant, beginning in the morning 2 hours after I wake, continuing until I finally fall to sleep late into the night, if not at dawn.

I am literally having to drug and heat and ice myself to sleep.
(you can see the scar on my neck in this pic)

One thing I had never thought of before- It is almost impossible to fall asleep if you are in acute pain: Your brain feels the pain and signals a flight response from the body- You tense up, ready to flee- which of course you cannot do, as the pain is coming from the inside. I just had never encountered this before- never have had such a constant ache. At this point I figure I've not had a pain free moment for almost 4 months. It's nuts!
LOOK- I'm not writing  this to be dramatic or scare anyone- I'm just trying to capture what I'm living through, so that people can try to understand chronic pain. Oh, and yes, I know I'm a "Newbie" in the chronic pain community- I believe this gives me a way to write in the contrast living with/out pain; it's New to me, so sometimes fresh experiences are particularly focused.

One thing that I'm really struggling with is that I have a really strong desire to work- and I find that I cannot work in my studio for more than about 1/2 hour without having a flare up of intensity to the pain.
So Sadly, I am coming to the realization that I have to take a break. At least until I find some solution to this pain. I am slowing down my studio practice to a snails pace, and will only do minimal metalwork, if any for the next ?? period of time, until I can find a way to work pain free once again.

This decision is brutally difficult for me- I have cloaked myself in metalsmithing for 25+ years, creating in the studio on a daily basis. However, I can't continue at the same pace, and believe that I can find satisfaction in shifting directions in my creative life.

So- for now at least- "Working small" in traditional jewelry is slowly being put on hold, and I will be looking into other paths to satisfy my need to create. I have an open book ahead of me, and a bunch of crazy ideas and design explorations that are taking shape. I will be on walkabout in my wilderness.

And what is in stock in my etsy shop is pretty much going to be all of the traditional jewelry I will have for sale. I'm not saying it's over- I just need a break.

Thanks for reading- I'll keep posting!
ciao- Maureen

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Artisan's Marketplace

I've been making a bunch of silver pieces to sell online - Augmenting my etsy shop with new designs like my Celtic Cross pendants and my new sugar skull designs... Preparing for the next big show, which happens this weekend!

I will be showing my work at the Tucson Museum of Art Spring Artisan's Market from 10-6 this weekend (Friday Saturday and Sunday) at the Museum of Art in downtown Tucson. I will be showing a wide assortment of beautifully made handmade jewelry, "with Artistic edge and Western Soul".

Come downtown this weekend (its supposed to be great weather!) and see me- I will be in booth #24, which is in the small courtyard off the side of the museum.

I hope to see you there!- Maureen

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Second street school auction 2012

Going to the 2nd street school silent auction at the Hotel Congress (Tucson) on Friday night?
Look for 2 items from Cosmo's Moon- a sweet brass Snail necklace
and a Gift Certificate to use as you please in my etsy shop, "Cosmo's Moon Jewelry"
Second street is a wonderful Preschool here in central Tucson. The school teaches in the "Reggio Emelia" approach- the children have a huge outdoor area to spend their days exploring their world, and the teachers are wonderful in their helping these wee ones learn how to navigate their world...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

If wishes were horses

Just found this pic while looking through an old notebook- This is a picture I took of my horse in Italy (Polish Warmblood mare, named "Schilla") I had her on half lease for the first year and a half that we were living there. I rode almost every day (in this setting).

 This pic was taken about 2 months before I had an almost fatal burst appendix.

 I ended up in the hospital, and then was in bed for about a month. During which time I made the concious decision to concentrate on my metalsmithing, and basically leave my love affair with horses for a while. It was a BIG change of direction, as it was incredibly difficult to say goodbye to this sweet and beautiful mare.

That was 1998- she was 14 then, so I imagine that she is now in her big pasture in the sky now. I hope it is as beautiful as this image.
xo- OK, I'm going to go cry now- :-) sniff- M

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Metalsmithing Class- register now!

Anyone interested in taking a Metalsmithing class with me can sign up now for the next session of classes through Tucson Parks and Rec.**

I teach a Metalsmithing Basics class at Randolph center (on Alvernon, just S of Broadway)

Start your week out fun! Class is held Monday mornings from 9-12. 

The session starts on March 11th and ends May 5th.
sign up now, here at the Parks and Rec website-
I hope to see you there!- Maureen

Monday, February 6, 2012

Metalsmith Fashion
One of the things that I've been working on while I'm recuperating is making T shirt designs for my metalsmithing group "Metalsmiths Unite 2.0". (If you are a metalsmith and on facebook you may want to check out the group- it is really hopping!)

I've been enjoying this change of medium, and now want to share them with you- here is a link to this design, "Hammer Time"

The shop is called, "Metalsmithstees" and it is on . I am adding new designs, and announcing the new designs on the Metalsmiths Unite 2.0 wall. I have enjoyed having them to wear to the studio, and to the Tucson Gem show. (where I got some beautiful beautiful stones!)

Go check out Metalsmithstees at: (and stay tuned for more designs)

ciao- Maureen

Thursday, February 2, 2012

P. I. T. N.

OK, I just have to say, this adventure with chronic pain is kicking my ass. Ironically, it's not a pain in the ass that I have-- it is (literally) a pain in the neck.

Theory is that I must have started the neck damage as a little pixie- I must have knocked my neck out of alignment when falling off the sneaky little ponies that I clung to  while learning how to negotiate cavaletti and crossrails (it's a horse thing, poles on the ground and a little jump)

I had spinal surgery Dec 8- to repair the damaged discs and cluttered vertebrae that have been plaguing my well being for many years now.  I was under the impression that this was a much faster healing surgery than it now seems like it will be. I'm miffed. I really feel lied to- I was told that I'd be 5-6 weeks tops out of regular activity, then I could play tennis or whatever. Well, don't laugh, I do actually play tennis- (I suck getting to the ball on time, but have a pretty good backhand)

I digress.. So, it's now almost 2 full months past surgery and I'm STILL in more pain than before the surgery. I'm getting a taste of living with chronic pain. and it ain't purty.

The worst is at night- when you are just there alone with your thoughts, trying to fall asleep..... and then reeee reee kreee kerreeeeek! your shoulder starts zinging and your arm shoots with electric pulses from shoddy pinched and frayed nerves. It's like that mosquito in the cabin, or the drip drip drip of the faucet... it's crazy making. And it keeps you awake.

So, you lay there thinking, "hmm, is this just a temporary pain, will it go away?" and "is this really that bad? (why am I tensing up so much?)" which ultimately leads to " I probably need to take some pain meds- get ahead of the pain....but, do I really need to?"

this conversation goes on and on, you get up...walk to kitchen, have water- get ice pack- back to bed, icepack in your neckbrace, oh that feels better, I bet I fall asleep now.....ok, sleep time, get the right pillow, move the dog over, pull up blankets... shhhhhhhh.......

reee reee reeeh hkerrreek kreee......

Oy vey.
This really is a pain in the neck.

I'm laughing, otherwise I'd cry. Thankfully, my family is really supportive, and I don't have to go work for anyone else (though I've had to cut down on the goldsmithing for hire jobs for now) I can't imagine having to deal with this AND try to hold down a 9-5 job. Don't get me wrong- I'm still working daily in my studio and office- but I make the rules, #1 being that I call the shots, and if there is a day when I need to goof off, I goof off. Oh, and if I had to deal with the general public everyday I think I'd be the nastiest bitch on the face of the earth. (count your lucky stars)

So- in summary...
Ponies are sneaky.
Surgeons lie *cough* stretch the truth re: recovery rates.
Yeah, I play tennis and I'm 5'1"and no, you really don't want me as your doubles partner.
Chronic pain is butt ugly.
and annoying, especially at night.
Your thoughts go to 11 when you are contemplating sleep strategies while in a bout of insomnia.
Nerve pain feels like electric shards and aching rivers of green sludge.
You should be happy I'm no longer a barista.

and with this, I've taken up another few moments of the witching hours where everyone is asleep
(but me)

Buona Notte, Sogni d'Oro- Maureen

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

When is too early to FB?

I have a modern dilemma- one of my son's little buddies wants to "friend" me on FB. I'm! (or at least not until I get my privacy settings really fine tuned.)

Anyhow, I'm thinking 9 is awfully young to have a FB account- (thankfully my 9 year old has no interest in Social Media, yet...but it's coming!) What do you think? is there a "magic age" when social media use is appropriate? 
I almost always err to the side of keeping my child innocent as long as possible, limiting computer use is at the top of my list.
Nooooo, I'm not saying that using computers is bad (that would be pretty hypocritical of me, FB group girl) I'm simply trying to get an idea of how my son's generation is digesting modern technology.

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Metalsmiths Unite Tees!

after thinking about it for a very long time I finally sat down tonight to create a Tee shirt design for my group "Metalsmiths Unite".

(if you don't know what Metalsmiths Unite is...the abbreviated version is that it is a metalsmithing community that I founded in 2008 on facebook. It's become a really interesting and dynamic community- one that merits cool tee shirts!)

Here is the link to the listing:

I've got the design up on my new Shop I've opened on called "Metalsmithstees". I will be posting more designs soon! (including one with the original Metalsmiths Unite Bench Pin avatar!

ciao- M


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