Thursday, May 26, 2016

Bark bark bark bark

Have I mentioned that Gozer is barking at night? Sometimes she only barks a little at around 1am and then around 5am, and sometimes she barks a lot - the night before last she barked continuously from 11pm until 7am - but she barks at night. It's exhausting for all three of us.

I don't know exactly when the barking started - I'm too tired to remember much - but I do remember it was around the grooming before last, which was a couple of weeks after we got the new bed. The new bed is higher than the old one so it's possible that part of the problem is that she could no longer see us at night. It's also possible that something freaked her out at the groomer's (they put her in a crate for part of her visit there). It's possible that her cataract is bigger, which means she's not seeing as well at night. There are a lot of possible reasons for the barking. I think something - any one of those possibilities, or something I haven't thought of - triggered the night barking and now we're in this terrible cycle that we just need to break somehow.

It's not like we haven't tried to stop the barking. We've tried:
- moving her crate into a different spot in the bedroom
- moving her crate into the living room (where it was when we first got her)
- playing doggie sleepy music
- putting a thundershirt on her
- keeping a light on
- keeping the lights off (including closing the door on the pepper seedling lamp)
- tiring her out with a brisk walk before bedtime

Nothing really helps. She just keeps barking: barkbarkbark pantpantpant barkbarkbark pantpantpant barkbark in this frantic barking and panting cycle all night long. Ian's parents succeeded in shutting her up by playing late-night talk shows but that required them to also be awake and that's not a long-term solution.

I took her in to see the vet today because we're at our wit's end. All three of us are exhausted. The vet thinks thinks that there's a separation anxiety component to this and that we need to stop it as soon as possible. Therefore, we're going with a multi-pronged strategy involving pheromones, drugs, food, and training.

The pheromone is Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP), which is a synthetic version of the one mommy dogs send out to calm their pups and that has apparently been shown to calm some dogs. At this point, I figure it's worth trying because maybe it'll work with Gozer. I bought an Adaptil plug-in diffuser that we're putting near her crate, a spray that can be used on both her bedding and thundershirt, and a collar for when she gets to stay somewhere else.

The drug is Clomicalm (clomipramine), a tri-cyclic antidepressant, which will help to reduce anxiety in general. I don't love giving Gozer drugs but it's clear that she's distressed and unhappy and I want life to be good for her, too. We'll wean her off this drug as soon as possible after the situation is under control.

The food is Royal Canin Calm, a food that boosts serotonin production and that should help to reduce anxiety. It's the same manufacturer as her current food and is a urinary-reduction food like her current food.

The training is separation-anxiety reducing training, which means that I need to work on getting her less attached to me, getting her more independent and more confident by practicing more basic training (stay and come, for example), and to break the associations with bedtime. Normally with dogs that have separation anxiety if their owner leaves, the owner breaks the associations with leaving by doing parts of the leaving routine out of order or without leaving, and then leaving the dog for longer and longer. So we'll (or I'll) need to practice the bedtime routine all out of order and at weird times of the day. This is not going to be easy, because she barks when we leave, too. But let's get the night barking problem under control first.

The vet also suggested moving the crate back into the bedroom and to raise the crate so that she can see us at night to eliminate that part of the equation. We're trying that tonight.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Metal forming classes

I spent the last week in Albuquerque at Rio Grande, my favourite jewellery supplier, taking classes forming metal using miniature stakes. The classes used the super-awesome Fretz hammers and stakes and were taught by Bill Fretz himself! That probably doesn't mean anything to you but he's one of the "rock stars" of the business, and the hammers and stakes he's designed are the best. The opportunity to spend a week learning from him how to use the hammers and stakes he designed to form metal was just too good to pass up.

Albuquerque is located in a high-altitude desert and it was very hot and windy. The plants were quite different from what we have in Southern Ontario - I had no idea that yuccas grew so tall! - but they were beautiful in their own way. I spent my last morning there at the local botanical garden in the Southwest US section but those are pictures for another post.

Today I want to show off what I made during the week. We practiced on circular tubes of varying widths and diameters; most often, we sawed the finished forms open to make cuffs. We used brass for almost everything. Almost all of my pieces still need polishing - but these were metal forming classes, not metal polishing classes, and I wanted to make the best possible use of my time. I can polish things at the studio if I want to.

In the first class, Forming metal with miniature stakes, we learned how to control the hammers - not only to hit what you're aiming for, but how to hit with the right amount of force - then how to make concave forms, how to make convex forms, and how to add fluting (ridges).

Chantelle's projects made in Forming metal with miniature stakes class
Back row, L-R:
- learning hammer control by planinshing (hammering lightly using overlapping blows to smooth out the metal and harden it) on a cuff made from a 7/8" wide by 2" diameter blank
- a concave (also known as anticlastic) cuff made from the same blank
- a wider oncave cuff made from a 1 1/2" wide by 2 1/4" blank
Front row, L-R:
- a large convex (domed, also known as synclastic) unopened cuff made from a 7/8" wide by 2 1/4" diameter blank
- a small convex ring made from a 1/2" wide by 1" diameter blank
- a convex fluted (ridged) unopened cuff made from the 7/8" wide by 2" diameter blank
- a small concave ring thing whose sides have been completely folded over made from a 1/2" wide by 1 1/4" diameter blank
Not shown:
- a wiggly convex fluted form (I forgot to bring it home)
For reference, the background plaid has a repeat of about 5 1/8" in each direction.

Whew! We did a lot in those two days!

In the second class, Continuing metal forming, we focused mainly on fluting: adding it in different directions, to different shapes, and we used fine silver for a couple of pieces.

Chantelle's projects made in Continuing metal forming class
Back row, L-R:
- a concave fluted unopened cuff made from a 7/8" wide by 2 1/4" diameter blank
- a 2 1/2" diameter bracelet made by closing this wiggly 1 1/4" wide by 8 1/2" long blank into a ring, making it concave, and then folding the sides over to meet
- a wide flat unopened cuff with fluting running around the cuff whose sides were flared upwards, made from 1 1/2" wide by 2 1/4" diameter blank
Front row, L-R:
- a 2" diameter disk that is domed and then fluted
- a slightly convex fine silver cuff made from a 7/8" wide by 6 1/2" long blank that is closed, formed, and then cut open
- a wide convex fine silver form with fluting running around the piece and the sides flared upwards made from a 1 1/4" wide by 6 1/2" long blank that is closed, formed, and then cut open
For reference, the background plaid has a repeat of about 5 1/8" in each direction

We didn't do as many pieces over these three days because the fluting takes quite a bit more time to do than it does to make a convex (synclastic) or concave (anticlastic) cuff.

I loved these classes, although I found the week exhausting. Hammering and learning are both very tiring! I really, really, really love the process of forming these pieces and I will be purchasing the equipment to continue learning. I may end up practicing in copper instead of brass, just as I've been doing with the foldforming. I don't know exactly where these techniques will take me but I am bursting with ideas and I'm excited to get to work on realizing them.

(updated to include starting blank measurements and background repeat, as well as formatting).

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Met Gala 2016 Red Carpet

The Met Gala is the annual fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume. Each year the Institute hosts an exhibition based on a theme, and the Gala is the opening night for the exhibit.

This year's theme is Manus x Machina: Fashion in the age of technology. Now that's an exciting theme, isn't it? Technology plays an integral role in clothing production but at the couture level, technology is less present. This exhibit "will explore how fashion designers are reconciling the handmade and the machine-made in the creation of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear." according to the exhibit home page.

Anna Wintour chairs the Gala and determines everything from the guest list to guest arrival times; see this article for an excellent description of what she does. People from Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada are also involved in the event and therefore, many attendees wore Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Prada.

Many of the Gala attendees dress to the theme, although some choose just to wear a formal outfit. Many appeared to interpret the technology theme as either "futuristic" or "armour" and so there are a lot of silver sequinned outfits. Others clearly stuck to the "fashion" part of the theme, and many of those outfits sport a lot of feathers. Apparently nothing says "fashion" like feathers.

Regardless of the adherence to the theme, the outfits worn at this event were so interesting and unusual that I wanted to comment on them. I didn't include every outfit that appeared on the red carpet; a celebrity wearing a pretty dress is just not so interesting to me, especially when there are so many other interesting and unusual outfits to look at.

See the ones I included in this picture-heavy post after the jump.