The theory is that people are smarter than the materials they are working with.  The last couple of days have had me questioning that idea AND my sanity.  But I am getting better at bead setting.  I feel like I am right on the cusp of mastering the basic maneuvers involved.  I did managed to chip a CZ.  That, as it turns out, is why my graver had been getting repeatedly messed up.  That is a far better and somewhat more avoidable situation than what I originally thought.  Bill said that we might have to re-temper the graver which would have been a colossal pain in the rear.  I discovered through MUCH trial and MUCH error that I was starting the beads too close to the edge of the stone and then trying to push up enough metal to make an effective bead.  I think I have figured that one out now.  I am also working on making the alignment of the beads as pretty as possible.  One of the grade projects for this skill set is a close-set group of nine stones that need to be as close to perfectly aligned as possible.  I haven’t tried that yet. 

We continue to prepare for the move up the street.  Angie says it should be within the next few weeks.  I also had a new idea, hilt wise that is quite different than any of the ideas I have explored so far.  When I get a worthy illustration done, I might post it.  It basically involves 4 strands of damascus that spiral in unison around a tube of gold or silver or whatever, with stones set into the metal beneath in the crevices between the strands.  I am still working it out conceptually.  Bill said that would be relatively easy to fashion and actually told me how.  I may do a trial run with basic copper wire tomorrow.  Or at least sometime in the near future.   I got the idea from a Christmas ornament that I purchased at the Janesville Farmers Market. 

My ball burrs are getting a good workout with all this setting practice.  I hadn’t really made much use of them till now.  They are indispensable for this sort of thing.  The white stuff is cut lub which helps cutting and helps to protect the burrs from damage while they are doing their thing.  I have had trouble with the prescribed technique for using the flexshaft.  Bill, Missy and basically everyone else hold the head of the flexshaft in the palm of a closed fist.  They say that it offers better control.  I have done consistently worse holding it that way.  I prefer holding it like I would hold a pencil and using some of the fingers on my right hand for support and steady-ing (not sure that is really a word….).  I am doing alright with it so far.  There is definitely no shortage of challenges to be had, but I am feeling more and more confident in my abilities.