Assets and Limitations

In July I’m part of an interesting show at Fuller Lodge Art Center in Los Alamos. The show is called (This) Ability. The show description reads “our struggles and difficulties are often what makes us stronger and force us to forge a unique path. They take us down a new road by acknowledging and working with limitations”

My particular involvement in this show stems from recent experience:

Over the last several months, I’ve lost a substantial amount of arm and hand strength on my left side.    I have gradually realized that there are some jewelry related tasks that I no longer have the strength to do.   I can use my right arm and hand as a substitute for certain tasks, but I am left handed and the fine motor skills I have on my left side are not nearly as well developed on my right.

Ring-silver 4 wire spiral ringMy problem has been identified as a badly torn up left rotator cuff and I had it surgically repaired in early June.   Once healed, surgery will be followed by extensive physical therapy.

I had not realized that the “rotator cuff” is the name for a series of tendon attachment points for various muscles. The rotator cuff is actually a group of four muscles and their tendons that wrap around the front, back, and top of the shoulder joint.

I love designing and creating jewelry, so I hope that my limitations will be relatively short lived and that I will regain a lot of my lost arm and hand strength through therapy.   In the meantime I have a new and very personal insight into what it means to have a “disability.”
Titanium coated desert rose Zia pendant 4My back story is not so much about each piece in the show as it is about needing to learn “work arounds” – some new ways to create the jewelry styles I love to make.   In each of these three pieces, I’ve employed techniques that don’t involve “brute force strength”.   While I’m still able to create a wide range of designs, I am now using more equipment to help me out with some things.  For example, a rolling mill to create new textures instead of doing lots of hammering and punches for cutting certain shapes rather than sawing everything out of a sheet of silver.





  1. Stephanie West on June 26, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    I just love how you are making lemonade from lemons. This inspires anyone experiencing a challenge. Finding the ‘work arounds’ and using creativity. What a winning combination!

    • Diana Kirkpatrick on June 26, 2015 at 3:29 pm

      Thank you – hope everything is going well for you. Surgeon was very positive when I saw him last Wednesday. Stitches are out and PT is set to get underway on July 7, so we are off and running soon!