Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Just a Little Cabin in the Woods

the old cabin
 Sometimes I get obsessed with an idea that just stews in my brain until I do something about it.  For months now, I have been obsessing about Amanda, the grandmother I never knew.  One of the things she accomplished was to supervise the construction of a cabin built in the "Endless Mountains" in Pennsylvania.  Long ago, Native Americans named the a portion of the Appalachian Mountain chain as the "Endless Mountains."  Building a cabin had been a plan that she shared with my grandfather before he passed on, and in her strength, she saw the plan through so that the family would have a place of respite.  It was a time when people still rallied together to raise a home for a family, and she was fortunate to have "Great Uncle Barney"  to help out. Great Uncle Barney was a builder of barns, and he knew how to put strength into a cabin.  It could have lasted forever.  I say "could" because we lost the cabin several years ago.  A fraudulent contractor, who was hired to put new shingles on the roof, left his old faulty truck to  catch fire and sent the cabin into destruction.  Since then, a new cabin has risen in the old one's place, but the memories and the feeling of the original will be with me always.

My favorite view in all this world ...from the cabin porch swing
I loved nothing better than to sit on the front porch swing and "zone" as I gazed out into the beauty of nature.  It is a bountiful view full of life and sound.  A shallow creek flows by, happily gurgling it's way over rocks as the sunlight sparkles over it.  Damselflies with the deepest iridescent indigo or jade green bodies and lacy black wings dance off it's surface.  Crows add their voices in disrespect of the peace and quiet as they call back and forth, asserting their territory.  Beyond is a field of tall grasses occasionally dotted with scarlet-red bee-balm, delicate white Queen Anne's Lace and daisies.  Across the old dirt road, deer visit an old gnarled apple tree (it's in bloom in the right center of the photo) in the field where I gathered mint, yarrow and other wild herbs.  I would harvest them in the early morning, wash them and then hang them in bunches over the kitchen's old wood-burning stove to dry.

It has been many years now since I was last there.  It used to be an annual two week stay when my mother was living nearby.  Over a decade ago she sold her home and has been living with me, my sister, and now me again.  Her health and my care-giving will not allow for travel.  So, I travel in my mind to this haven of peace and regeneration.

Recently, I took into my head to honor both the cabin and Amanda with a soldered pendant.  My first effort at soldering leaves much to be desired, but I am making the best of it, as is.  After all, there is a sense of acceptance in shabby chic style, and the cabin exemplified that.  I was in too much of a hurry to play to take photos throughout this project, but it was easy to do.  I had the scanned ancient photos of the cabin and of Amanda on the computer, and scaled them to fit in between two glass slides from Micheal's craft store.  Making sure that the glass was thoroughly clean, I placed the trimmed photos back-to-back between the glass.  Then, I used copper foil tape (Micheal's) around the outer edges.  It needs to be pressed down smoothly with a burnishing tool to avoid any lifting or seeping of solder into the frame.  Now the fun begins!  I am no solder expert, and encourage anyone interested to search out good videos on the internet to learn this skill.  I fluxed the foil and then applied solder to it's surface until it was coated.  Then, I fumbled, wishing for  a few more hands, until I managed to add the rings to the top and bottom edges.  I will not lie, I ruined the tip of my soldering iron, and had to re-do the piece a few times before it was acceptable.  Now, I am playing with making chain and beads of old buttons, rhinestones, glass beads, and old nylon curtain cord that I had dyed the perfect shade years back.  I love it when I can use old things I have lying about.  I am making the chain of galvanized steel.  It has a tendency to rust, so it's aging will be interesting.  I do plan to coat it with a sealant when the piece is finished.  Not in this photo is an old key from the old cabin that is sitting in some salted ammonia to age it with patina.  This necklace has a  way to go yet, but I will keep y'all posted!


  1. Oh how wonderful it must have been to have such a cabin to visit.. and hopefully you can return again (to the newer cabin) again one day. I love the sentiment behind your piece... I have never tried soldering with an iron before...I love the look of the frame around the picture... so suited to the old photo.I love a piece of jewellery with a story, so special.

  2. Thank you for the thoughtful comments Jenni. I love your jewelry, and you have progressed so much from our class with Deryn Mentok. This project was a great way to get used to soldering and all my mistakes just added to the rustic appeal. It is very forgiving and does not need to be perfect. Give it a try but make sure you have good ventilation. I have been holding out for better weather to take this outdoors, but have decided that I could use a small bathroom that has a window. If I get a small fan to exhaust the fumes, I would be able to do this indoors without concern. Soldering fumes are very toxic and can cause organ damage in the body. This is also true of several patina solutions when they react to metals.