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Don't give up your favorite hobby

Everyone thought I was crazy to sign up for a welding class. I really wanted to learn to work with copper, but I couldn't find a copper-working class. So a local artist friend recommended I take this welding class. At the first class, my classmates & I watched a video detailing the risks of welding, and I was terrified I'd blow us all up. When half of the original class didn't bother to show up for the second class session, I figured I wasn't the only one who was frightened.

I'd gotten my Parkinson's dx less than a year earlier. The clinical trial drug I was taking made me very tired, and my left hand was weak and had tremors. But my instructors were very accommodating - helping me to manage with one good hand and allowing me to leave class early every day. But to be honest, I was scared every minute of every class session. So about midway through the semester, I brought in a soldering kit and asked my instructor if he would show me how to use it. He did, and that was my last welding class.

I create flowers by cutting out pieces (petals) of lightweight copper or brass, shaping and wiring the the petals together, and finally soldering the petals and leaves to a copper "stem." I switched to a small butane tank for the soldering because its small size was easier for me to handle. Even so, sometimes my tremor interferes and the flame doesn't always hit the mark.





jean's tools

extra "hands" in Jean's workshop


copper rose

one of Jean's copper roses

Dealing with Parkinson's and trying to work with metal can be discouraging, and sometimes I have felt like giving it up altogether. But my husband came up with a creative solution. He set up a special work area for me in the garage bolting a pair of large, iron "hands" (clamps) to my work table. These extra hands help me tremendously when I'm wiring or soldering my flowers. Having the use of an extra pair of hands gives me the ability to continue to make my flowers, even with Parkinson's disease.

I must admit, though, even with two extra pairs of "hands" for me to use, I am lousy at soldering. (I can't blame everything on PD - no matter how much I may want to....)

Jean's signature


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