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Enamelling classes online? a survey

Hello everyone!

I've been pondering about this for a long time now. I got the idea due to the very positive response I got to the videos I posted to Grains of Glass (all of the videos I took at the time are here in my website).

09P: Shading enamels from Mer Almagro on Vimeo

Even though my purpose when filming them was more illustrative for potential customers than didactic, I got many thank-yous and people telling me they had learned from them. I also got a lot of questions. I did answer the best I could within the scope, but I also saw that the videos had a great potential to actually teach, reaching people anywhere in the globe, which is not possible for me to do locally.

Of course in order to do this properly I would have to spend a lot of time and effort, so it would become sort of a... job? My idea is not to be the sole teacher but to have guest contributions as well. I have also contacted people in other fields (sound, image, coding, etc) that would offer their knowledge in order to create a professional product.

Before jumping head first I thought I should probably make a survey. I made one here:


If you would be at all interested in enamelling classes online, at any level, it would be very helpful to me if you could take a moment to fill it in. You can also forward the link to anyone you think could be interested.

The survey is anonymous and all questions are optional.

Perhaps together we can make this possible.

Any other suggestions are also welcome, here through the forum or directly to my email: mer.almagro@gmail.com

Many thanks to everyone in advance!

Bronze Age Vessels

Champlevé Bronze Age vessel pieces on Etsy


Coat closet

I am not a fan of post with no pictures... no pics it didn't happen, right? but well I don't have pictures. It is not all that interesting anyway.

So well, I am all sore and achey today. Yesterday I worked a lot at home.

We have very little closet space. We actually have a tall, 1.5m wide, 3 door closet from Ikea, and that is all.. actually I may have a picture of it somewhere? let me check... yes:

That was 2007... those boxes on top of the closet, now they are on the floor next to it, and have reproduced to a total of around 6. I put winter clothes away in summer and so on. I also have my fancy clothes in a box (because I barely use them) and some other stuff that doesn't get used also lives permanently in a box.

Pim used to have very little clothes, some jeans and some t-shirts, one pair of shoes and one coat. Well, for the last years he has bought some clothes (shirts!) and shoes and jackets and a coat, and well, I cannot have the entire closet for myself anymore :D plus, I have been regularly bringing more and more stuff from my old appartment (I never throw away clothes, I use them until they disintegrate! I am wearing a t-shirt from 1994 right now). I do not buy many clothes at all, but they do end up piling up.

The stuff plainly doesn't fit in there anymore. We had thought of getting another closet, but it doesn't really fit anywhere well. And we sort of didn't have the money for it I guess. The clothes ended up unironed (where to hang them??) in yet more boxes, the closet full of coats, and more coats hanging from various hooks, gathering dust in the hall.

Yesterday I got pissed off and decided that if we are not gonna get another closet, we can as well build one.

This thing here is some sort of walk-in clutter closet in the hall. The door is closed to protect your sensibilities:

We keep suitcases and all sorts of crap in there. It is a long and narrow space under our neighbours staircase. To the right of the door there is was some crappy self-made (in the 60s of so) shelving. I dug around in there, and found a sturdy towel rod that was previously in the bathroom. It just fit transversally in the space to the right. I removed a load of crap to throw away, reorganised the stuff to keep, removed three shelves, and planned to screw this bar to it to hang clothes on it. But the shelf was about to fall off under its own weight. At this point Pim came to help, and he could just put the support out with his fingers, it was just nailed to the wall! we improvised new supports with bits of wood and unused curtain hardware, screwed the bar to the shelf, and we had a new closet!

I put in there ALL of our coats :)))) also some long dresses I do not use. Our bedroom closet was now almost completely empty. I reorganised the clothes in the boxes, reorganised the closet drawers, ironed some stuff (still LOADS to go, two grocery boxes full), and this and that... this took the entire day and I was so sore! even my nail beds are sore.

But it is so satisfying... :D


I really have been neglecting my journal.

I've tried to read now and then... been neglecting that as well at times. The truth is that I really need to cleanup my friends list, I have loads of random stuff in there and cannot find the friends entries anymore, become lazy about it... etc. It is such a task, though :( but I have to do this.

Anyway. I haven't been updating. Not much has been happening.

Loki has been growing up (slower lately, I think he will just be a small cat anyway, like his mom), and kept up, or multiplied the naughtiness! He is hyperactive. But oh so adorable. He sleeps in (as in IN) bed with us everyday, purring away.

I have been working a bit more in the workshop. Little by little, trying to make a habit out of it. I need physical training for this, especially my poor joints. So I have to be careful not to overdo it, especially the hammering for long periods of time.
I have ordered a comfortable bar stool, that can be regulated from a pretty low to a very high setting. This will help in the workshop, mostly for repoussé. I will take pictures when it arrives.

I also have been baking... what the hell!? I am not at all a fan of sweets... but I have been baking these cakes... they are not too sweet at all, spongy and nice. I have been making coconut and almond cake, I will post the recipes if anyone is interested. Very easy, you use a yogurt as measure, so it is really easy to memorise.

Hhmh, what else. Ah, yes, I have started designing and publishing my own knitting patterns :) this is very exciting. I have three patterns for sale, and they have generated much more attention and sales (still very modest though) than I expected.

Yesterday I uploaded my first free pattern, already so much people have favourited it, and even 3 people have cast it on!! :O
I wanted to upload free patterns first, but in the end that is not how it turned out... so I have now three paying patterns (two pairs of mittens and a cowl) and one free (a shawl):

Click to go to my Ravelry store.

I also have my patterns here in my knitting blog.

This is really so exciting! :D


My tools are here!! (delivered to the billing address ¬¬ but hey, we were home...)

I am SO excited, I gotta pee! and now I have to go to work. ARGH!!!

I put some quick pics in FB: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=258860&id=673554686&l=f88562083d

Workshop Woes (not really)

Ok, here goes.

I haven't posted here in a long while, and workshop it is gonna be. I seem to be using Facebook (oh noes) for menial stuff most often. I guess this is a good thing. That stuff better be forgotten.

I have a feeling this is gonna get long. Perhaps I should cut it already.Collapse )


Back to repoussé. I have being practising it on plasticine, with a mismatched set of wooden and metallic punches, and the wrong kind of hammers. Still, I loved it, and the results, though far from good, are better than I expected with these inadequate tools. I have uploaded the pics to Facebook, here. Truth is, I should upload to my own server, but I have been lazy to resize and upload by FTP... it is so easy to stick the card in the reader and let FB do the rest. Lazy :/

Anyway, here are the couple I have worked on:

So, plasticine is working very well for raising (sinking?) this very thin copper. The chasing on the right side, however, is not working well at all. Reasons are no good support, and the punches are all sorts of wrong, methinks. Or incompetence ;) In any case these do look better on the inside, heh.

I took the soft pitch in my order. In the workshop I took we worked with a very soft pich (it melted off the ball in the Barcelona summer >_<) and it was more than hard enough for me I think. I don't think I am going to go for very fine detail anyway, I may just raise my copper bases for enamelling, I may end up shaping nearly all my coppers for jewellery enamelling this way. Total freedom! so many possibilities...
I may even make dimensional pieces to enamel ronde-bosse-y (like this poppy), and too much detail may get lost. We shall see.


I finished the shawl :) such a quick and satisfying project! A lot of pictures are here.


I bought this yarn, one of my favourites, so soft... 80% angora. I thought this colourway would be similar to Loki's fur, from pics online, but it was a lot more pink:

So I have dyed both balls, one darker and the other lighter. And the third ball is an off-white of the same yarn, matching his belly:

I will knit a striped shawl, as soft as cat's fur :)

Rain and fog

 It has been raining for a long, long time, floods all over Belgium, a very thin and constant rain, the soil was so saturated that the water just started raising. This is so very odd to me. I am used to sudden torrential rains and water gushing all over the place when there are floods. The water here has nowhere to gush to.

It seems that, like people, even the weather is cold blooded, but similarly the final effect is almost the same.

The soil was so saturated, that earthworms were coming out onto the pavement everywhere they could. I have never seen this before. I think they were drowning in the earth. Unfortunately they come out to get stepped on. It gets dark so early that half of the time you can't even see them.

Yesterday it stopped raining, and even The Cloud (here in Belgium, most often it is just one huge cloud covering the entire country) broke in pieces for a while. The pavement almost dried up. Today, the cloud has descended, and there is a thick fog.

I actually really like the weather in this country. There is often a weather to speak of. At some points of the year the uneventful steely monocloud sky for what seems like months on end gets as boring as the southern sunny skies. But unlike those, the steely skies do not last for months on end, and the rest of the time the weather is entertaining and sometimes spectacular. Not as spectacular as torrential rains and thunderstorms, but these are so short lived anyway.

3 new

Had a few days off, and finished three pendants :) Falciot was enamelled (and posted) before, but I made the setting for it. I enamelled a series of three pendants with mistletoe motif, still one to make setting of. I wanted to do this one today as well, but didn't have time... These are a bit different than my usual style, I even sifted the backgrounds! So here they are, if you click you go to blogger where there are a lot more pics and details:

The three pendants are available for quite cheap ;P

Rolling mill

So well, I think it is about time that I get a rolling mill. It is very frustrating to have to work with sheet that is either 0.8, 0.5 or 0.2 mm. I would so much like 0.4 and 0.3!

I have two options in this website, and I really doubt. I don't think I am going to be needing to roll out wire, not for the time being. There are these two:

Sheet up to 3mm thick, 75mm wide
Reduction gear: 1:3,6
Weight: 18kg
Size: 21 x 24 x 24 cm (without crank and knob)
Price: 190€
And the rollers can be changed (it is a supreme pain in the ass, though), to wire, half round, and textured (set of mill with all rollers for 260€)

Sheet up to 3.5mm thick, 100mm wide
Reduction gear: 1:4
Weight: 41kg
Size: 38 x 33 x 19 cm (without crank and handwheel)
Price: 377€
The rollers can not be changed, if you want wire rollers, you buy another rolling mill :P

There are other rolling mills available here, but the cheapest is 500€, and this one is really nice, but hey there 1500€ (I know, I should't be so outraged when I spent 1000€ in a camera...), they even have a retro one, how cool is that?

So, pros and cons:

Pros: smaller, lighter (perhaps a con, but I have limited space), rollers can be changed (but would I ever use them?), cheap.
Cons: smaller sheet working size, this is bad because I make big stuff. Smaller reduction. Obviously less solid, weighs less than half.

Pros: bigger working size, seems more solid, perhaps more quality, but you never really know just from weight and price... Bigger reduction.
Cons: price, rollers can't be changed (perhaps that's for the best...).

Argh! I don't want to buy something that is overkill for my workshop and how little I produce, but I don't want something shitty either...
And I guess there is always the option to save for some months and buy a nice one from Fischer.

Vacation pics installment 7: Islas Cíes

44 pics to be seen here. Boat trip to the Cíes islands. A wet, WET, cold and windy day. We were not dressed for the occasion but it was fun anyway.
Eucaliptus trees, seagulls, and rain. And wind. Only Pim with his Northerness didn't get chilled to the bone by the end of the day. This was with Marta, Adrián, Pim and me. In the last pic of the album you can see how my hair gets after an entire day of rain and strong wind. It was probably more impressive in person.


It's been a hard few days. In fact I feel like I have been mourning for a long, long time, since Mino had been sick for many months and I have been trying to prepare for this all this time, in a way saying goodbye every night. So there are equal parts of sadness and some strange sort of feeling of relief.

Mino was my baby. I nursed him since he was only a couple of days old, he has always been with me, and he died in my arms, I still feel his little heart beating with decreased strenght on my fingertips.

He was very independent, sometimes a bit grumpy, always such a sweet, patient, good natured cat.

I try not to anthropomorphise him, but it's difficult. I'm human, I make these things up in my mind.

His weekly treatments had gotten quite miserable, and he had good moments but he also had many bad ones, and he was often in pain. It was hard to have him convulsing in my arms with some sort of attack, but it was brief, and then he was unconscious, I believe, and not in pain anymore. I really don't know what happened, and it doesn't really matter anymore. It was clear that it was irreversible, and that his time had come. As ends go, it wasn't very traumatic.

It is too easy to fall into guilt, wondering what have I done right or wrong all these years, but this is pointless and I slap myself out of it. One things is certain, he wouldn't have lived such a long and peaceful life without my intervention, and he gave me so much as well. He was there in very difficult times for me. It is all good, and I cherish all these years we spent together.

A part of me can't believe he is not there anymore. I guess it is the part that is out of time and will always (as long as my brain works, anyway) have him present. It is still very hard to come home and not have him come to the entrance to greet me. Yesterday Loki did this for the first time (Iris very rarely does). It made it easier and more difficult at the same time.

I am grateful to the pet clinic where Mino died. They are such nice, considerate and affectionate people. And knowledgeable, really great vets.
Mino is gone. He didn't suffer.


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March 2013

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Entries starting with "pj:" are personal entries, entries starting with "wj:" are workshop entries. Entries under "wj" are all entries that show in my website.



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