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  • (Near Miss) Adventures of a Soldering Ninja

by Kristin Cooper February 24, 2018 2 Comments

Today I am on fire in the studio, like a jewelry ninja. I feel different and I can't quite pinpoint why. Sharper, like I've had a big cup of coffee, but I don't drink coffee (doctor's orders). The bookkeeping obstacles holding me back are resolved, and I feel FREE to create for the first time in a long time. My soldering comes together seamlessly, and the times it doesn’t, my fixes do. I am enjoying my “ninja-ness” when my favorite torch runs out of propane. Not wanting to stop my momentum by switching tanks, I grab a bigger, hotter torch within reach. This baby requires an even sharper focus, as it can more easily melt the sterling silver and ruin my work. Feeling confident and adventurous, I am up for the challenge.

On the second try the torch ignites, and I switch up my soldering station and try some things I haven’t tried in a long time … soldering gymnastics … (kids, do not try this at home). Chris is gone, and I’m listening and singing loudly to disco. (Don’t judge me. Oh, heck, go ahead and judge me. You may even want to join me. Nothing gets me out of the pressures of “real life” into the mindset of PLAY like music, especially songs from my early childhood.)

I’m raising the heights of my soldering stands and adjusting the angle of the torch accordingly. In the split second between, “Ba-Ba-Ba Boogie Fever” and “Boogie Fever Ba-A-BAY,” the metal is getting that “almost perfect” look. As I take an extra blink to clear my vision, the solder suddenly flows. “Yesss.” Perfection. I shut off the torch and then to my dismay Piece A shifts and slides, settling into the wrong place on Piece B, cooling faster than I can react. My heart rate spikes and with a British accent I say out loud, “Oh crap.”

Soldering on raised tripod

Most days I would stop and walk away to regroup rather than push it and risk ruining the piece. Today, as any warrior ninja would, I do not accept defeat. I adjust my stance, settle my nerves with a deep breath, ignite the torch and start heating again. I reheat and prod – NOT easy with a bigger, heavier and hotter torch in my left hand, unable to touch the fire-hot metal with anything but a soldering pick in the right hand, (the same tool I am using to nudge Piece A while simultaneously NOT moving Piece B). I lean in close ... a little closer, and reheat and prod again. All the while unconsciously holding my breath until Piece A nudges finally just … to … the … perfect spot. “Ahhhh,” I exhale. Victorious.

Relieved, admiring my skill (luck) at keeping the solder contained (and not ruining the surface of the piece), I snap off the torch. Then it dawns on me just how close the flame was to my hair. 

<< Insert the sound of crickets drowning out disco here. >>

I swallow. There’s nothing quite like realizing you almost lit your hair on fire.

A horror movie flash of what could be mixed with adrenaline makes me shaky from head to toe. I take a breath and a wave of relief calms my nerves a bit ...

then gratitude ...


GROUNDED. Yeah, it’s a grounding realization. One I imagine I will think about for a good, long while.

The irony of my words settles in. “IN THE ZONE” is starting to sound much better to me than “I am on fire today” … muuuch better.

Rubbing my temples, I vow to choose my words more wisely. I kind of laugh out loud, realizing how freaking lucky I am, and my next thought is of my dad. I wish I could sit with him and share my soldering tale. He’d drink his "Kris, it-was-on-a-helluva-sale!" canned beer and tease me about my “froo-froo” gluten-free pale ale. I can see his big grin and his blue eyes twinkle. I almost hear him laugh, and it makes me smile.

I know he’d understand taking risks doing what you love. He showed me again and again, it's the LIVING that makes life fun.

Compelled, I sit down with my laptop and these words flow like water. It’s around 4:00 p.m. and it hits me like a truck. A fever, complete with the flu.

-- I am finally posting this a year after the fact, and I'm wondering ... do you ever get a big rush of productivity when you are about to get sick? Am I the only one? Anyone ... anyone??




Kristin Cooper
Kristin Cooper


2 Responses


April 04, 2018

Thank you for sharing. I felt every moment of your experience…dancing…thoughts of your dad. Sorry about the flu. xoxo


March 07, 2018

I would totally join you on the disco singing!

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