April 3, 2014

Soldering Mistakes & Flops

It's been a few weeks since I sat down in my studio space and started working on anything.  We spent a week in Washington D.C. where I experienced my first real snow.  I've played in the snow a couple of times at Mammoth Lakes, just south of Yosemite, but the snow had fallen long before we arrived and the sunny skies were melting it quickly.  In this case I went to bed at the end of a sunny day and woke up to about a foot of snow.  It was beautiful!  We tromped all over the city and were stunned to find nearly everything closed because of the snow.  The streets, sidewalks and parking lots were clear.  If this Southern California girl can stomp a few miles in snow, I'd think the locals could drive to their jobs and open things like the Library of Congress :-(  In any event, I did get to nail my husband with many, many snowballs.  After a while, he got a bit annoyed and suggested perhaps he'd had enough.  I suggested he move along a little faster.  Bahaha!

Got him!  And look at all of that ammo coming up on the left ;-)

There were a number of people sledding on the little hills of snow alongside the Capitol building
So I'm back in the studio and decided that in order to get better at soldering, I've got to practice.  Usually, I'm one of those people that are OK realizing that it takes a while to get good at something, practice makes perfect, and all that rot.  There are some things about which I wonder if any amount of practice will ever result in my getting good, forget perfect.  Those things are cooking and soldering.  I can cook OK, but I think it's just OK.  No one has died yet and I was going to say no one has ever spit anything out, but there was that veal scampi I made a couple of years ago with what turned out to be nuclear-like pucker power.  My daughter spit it right out on her plate and has refused to eat that dish ever again.  It really was tart, I'll admit, and I've learned that lesson and have made the dish a few times since with significantly better results.  Did I mention that she was a college grad at this point?

Before (the other side)
The soldering is another story.  I took pieces that I made a while ago and tried to fix them.  I use the term "fix" loosely.  If I were to go back and re-read the books or articles I've explored in the past, I'd probably find that I did everything described as a "common mistake by those new to soldering."  The sides are lumpy and, no matter how hard I try to make them smooth, all sides are inconsistent in terms of thickness.  If I try adding solder to a side that has what looks to me like too little solder, it drips down the sides or flows over the back (too much at once?) or liquifies and thins out further (too much heat on one spot or moving too slow?).  This is going to be an expensive learning curve if I keep plowing through the solder at this rate of speed, but there is no other way to get better.  I will NOT repeat the same class I've taken twice.  If at first you don't succeed, don't keep doing that thing that didn't work over and over again.  It looks so darned easy when I watch those darned YouTube videos. 
The "after, but not finished" versions
 This is when I want to sew.  When I sew, I know what I'm doing.  Sometimes I make a mistake, but I know what I did wrong, know how to fix it, and enjoy the almost meditative state of mind that comes with cutting, sewing, cutting, sewing. 

Tomorrow I'll give it another try.  The inexpensive glass I bought when I picked up those cheap picture frames at a discount store will help reduce the cost of learning.  There's no point in using less expensive solder - poor quality supplies will result in a poor quality finished product.  I have learned, however, that cheap magazine pictures or scraps of wrapping paper make a perfectly suitable insert.  There's no need to waste an original little painting.

Since I did not at first succeed, I will try again.  Sigh.