Monday, March 30, 2009

My disastrous second try at Bronze Clay

BRONZE CLAY

So…. My second session with BronzClay netted pretty disastrous results. Upon looking at what I fished out of the charcoal, my first thoughts were that everything disintegrated.

What happened, technically, however is much more interesting to me. Without knowing what HAPPENED, I don’t know what to change.

BTW, I am using Rio Grande’s ready to go (not powder) BronzClay.

I guess I’ll try the obvious first… was my holding temp too high? Since my kiln tends to run hot, I went with 1516 (close to Hadar’s 1520 suggestion if you see blistering) rather than the package recommended 1550. I was ramping at 365 per hour. I’ll lower that to 280 for starters.

The backs of my first pieces were definitely bumpy… like the sixth photo here. But then maybe this is what pieces look like if they don’t get high enough heat. Seems like everything could go either way. Ha ha ha!

Anyway, here is a pic of what’s left of experiment #2:


I had a thick piece in there as well as thinner pieces. It broke in half as soon as I lifted it from the charcoal and doesn’t resemble anything metallic.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

SRAJD, BronzClay, Jewelry, Friends

SRAJD

Well, I just realized that tomorrow is a holiday for me and the kids and Monday is when I do my SRAJD stuff. I didn’t prepare for this ahead of time. Darn! Will have to do my portion of the processing on Tuesday and hope no one is really bent out of shape that we’re one day behind.


BRONZCLAY

Did another batch of bronze clay attempts. I say “attempts” because I didn’t feel overly confident with the process. The clay was crumbly. I don’t know why. I mean, it was leftover from two weeks ago, but it was wrapped tightly in saran wrap and put in the fridge. Shrug.

Anyway, I dried the pieces and put them in the kiln today. Will let you know the results tomorrow.

I really wanted to do something worthy of joining with the excellent enamel pieces I got from ArtBeads.

Maybe I’ll try silver this weekend.


JEWELRY

I did list some jewelry on eBay and I think I forgot to show you. The first three are on sale for $9.99 starting price. Click on any picture for more details.














QERAT

Thank you for bringing a smile to my face with your memories of Connie. And that is a beautiful chair! I also love the photos in your blog.


Alex… yep, I get the feeling Connie will be missed by many people who were very lucky to know her in one way or another.


ZOYA! Thanks for finding me. Now I can keep tabs on you too! :-)


IN OTHER NEWS…

Gabe’s new team had two games this weekend. They are now 0-3-0. The season may (okay, I know it will because I know what a couple of the other teams are made of) get harder but really… this team looks good. It also looks like a team that has had some really good coaching. Not sure where all the kids are from… it may be a mix.

Monica’s team from last season evidently had their year-end party today. We didn’t go because we didn’t know about it. Apparently the email list that was used didn’t include us so we never knew about the party. If I sound a bit bent out of shape about this, I am. Because of Mon spending time this past season in the hospital and then being on activity restriction for a couple months, it was REALLY hard for Monica to have even a modicum of bonding with her teammates. And now her teammates get to think she snubbed them and blew off the party. Sigh… I realize it was an innocent error, but wow… for a kid on the team to not know about their team’s season-end party. Yikes!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Friend Passes...

I got an email today from the sister of one of my favorite customers. My friend had passed away. I knew her health was fragile, so it wasn't a shock, but that doesn't seem to make it any less sad for those of us who will miss her.

This morning, as I was walking to work, I was thinking about how I'd love to be the kind of person who inspires others. My friend was that kind of person.

Aside from being generous, down-to-earth, positive, and one of the nicest people I've ever met, she inspired me.

As I look through the pieces of jewelry she purchased from us over the years, I feel I can remember each time we had a conversation, each time we talked about our families or something we were working on (she also made jewelry).

By the way, one of the first purchases this friend made from us was a piece by Monica (who was 11 at the time). It was Mon's first online sale. Looking back at that bracelet… wow… such vivid memories. I remember when Monica was stringing the bracelet and was rushing from the living room to the computer room to show me her design… and how she somehow let go of the wrong end and all the beads fell to the floor. We managed to find them all and she put it back together. And she was SOOO excited when the bracelet sold on eBay. Then the customer asked if we could make a pair of earrings to match the bracelet, and so Monica then had her first commissioned piece. Talk about nerves. Ha! I think she went through about three different variations before deciding on a design. She made the earrings and sent them and was paid too handsomely for them. But this encouragement inspired Monica to continue making jewelry.

This wonderful person also bought jewelry that featured many of my very first (and very pathetic) lampwork beads. Instead of feeling like a kindergartener among creative geniuses, I was made to feel like a worthy artist.

I owe a lot of my creative inspiration to this fantastic woman. I am a better person for having known her.

CS… thank you!

"The record of a generous life runs like a vine around the memory of our dead, and every sweet unselfish act is now a perfumed flower." — Robert G. Ingersoll

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Walking, ArtFire, Copper Sale, Books, Metal Clay

WALKING

I was feeling kind of good about all the walking I'm doing these days (about 90 mins per day on the weekdays, maybe 30-60 mins on the weekends)… but then the kids and I were talking about exercise and Gabe informed me that (other than standing) walking is the lowest form of exercise. Hmph! I don't think he meant it quite the way I took it, but geez…

Since my initial 10 pound loss, there haven't been any more pounds missing, but I think my legs are maybe a tad (a very small tad) thinner due to the walking. I actually feel muscles in there these days.


ARTFIRE


I offered my services to the ArtFire admin to assist them with the gemstone category. They acknowledged my email, but I've heard nothing since. There are a lot of items being sold in their supplies category that do not meet FTC regulations.

Truthfully, I wish places like ArtFire and Etsy had NO COMMERCIAL SUPPLIES available anywhere on their websites. Handmade only… what a nice concept.

If someone could come up with financial backing and/or some technical resources (I don't know how to set-up/program a huge selling site), I'd quit my day job and head up such a pipe dream. And I rather miss the auction option… sometimes those are still fun… but not everyone wants to sell on eBay anymore.


QUOTE


I wish this were on every hockey coach's door:

Flatter me, and I may not believe you.
Criticize me, and I may not like you.
Ignore me, and I may not forgive you.
Encourage me - and I may not forget you
-- William Arthur Ward --


COPPER SALE


ArtBeads is having a 48 hour sale (sorry, I got the email yesterday).


BOOKS

I'm taking stock (again) of my beading and jewelry books. I don't know for sure what I have and I hate buying repeats.


COMMENTS


Thanks Alex. :-)



METAL CLAY


I'm ready (mentally) for another round of metal clay experiments. I picked up some liver of sulfur yesterday, along with some brass rolo chain. At the checkout, though, I actually made two hefty impulse purchases. They had a whole STRAND of Tom Boylan beads. And all their lampwork is currently 40% off. Thank goodness I've been to enough bead shows to know a great price on a TB bead when I see one. I wish I could have gotten more, but I don't want to be greedy. I also picked up a bead from an artist I don't know… I mean, THEY didn't know either. If I take a pic, maybe someone can identify the maker for me. My only guess is Kristan Child.

Anyway, I have some bisque beads on the way and today I just ordered some cork clay. There's no need for me to wait for those, however, since there's still plenty to do and learn and try before they ever get here.

Mostly I want to relocate the kiln and replace the kitty stink fiberglass blanket bit with non-kitty stink fiberglass blanket bit.


NEW LISTINGS

Dang it! I ran out of time. I'll have to show you the new listings tomorrow.

TTYL!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bear Sleep Gifts Logo Friends Movies Strangers

BEAR

I wonder if Bear knows it’s Saturday, and I’m not really going to work when I leave the apartment today, but instead I’m sneaking off without him.

I’m going to a friend’s house to help her pack for a move and I don’t think it would be good for him to tag along, but I feel like I’m cheating on him.

It’s like when I come home in the evening. Once I’m there, I’m his… I have to take him with me if I go anywhere from that point on until the next morning.

Summer might be rough. Right now, he CAN go most places with me because it’s not so hot he can’t stay in the car while I’m running my errands.



SLEEP

And what am I doing up after having had only five hours of sleep?! I guess I’ll either go to bed really early tonight or I’ll have a… a… a nap? Moi!?!?



GIFTS

Have you ever given someone a gift but you don’t want to be there when they open it ‘cause you’re kind of embarrassed by it? Sigh… I have one of those. About to give a classy lady something very hokey. I hope she’s one of those “It’s the thought that counts” kind of people. Heh.



LOGO

Read an(other) interesting book on color. Decided to finally take the plunge and design one logo for our company and try to stick with it. Will definitely have to contemplate the color scheme some more, though.


FRIENDS

Got to see a lot of my friends today… a LOT. From both the hockey world and the beading world.

There were sad undertones to lunch, but that’s mostly because I’m going to miss my friend who’s moving. Tomorrow is her birthday. Happy Birthday!

Then I went over to Logitech, watched a bit of the championship games, and had a few chats with friends. It’s nice seeing people I haven’t seen in months. And I got to hear about an incredible last-three-minutes come-back by the Oakland Bears Midget team. Great going, boys!


MOVIES

I’m watching Seven Up. This kind of documentary fascinates me.


STRANGERS

Yesterday, at different points in the day, four complete strangers engaged me in very lovely conversation. I was surprised, but it was pleasant. I wonder if the stars were aligned for this kind of thing. It certainly SEEMED out of the ordinary.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Little Bits Here and There... Customers, Gemstones, Metal Clay Books, and Quotes

VERNAL EQUINOX

Tomorrow is the first day of spring. I don't know why, but I've always liked recognizing the equinoxes and solstices.


HEALTH ACADEMY

Mon was accepted into the Oakland Tech Health Academy (her brother has one more year of the Engineering Academy there). She was very nervous about making it in, so this is a big relief to her.


CUSTOMERS

I had a really pleasant day interacting with some of my favorite customers today. I love learning about what people like and what they do in their lives.


GEMSTONES

Stumbled onto this site (Rana Mountain Studio), which seemed to have decent prices, but more importantly they really tell you about their gemstones upfront. I like how they even mention that Green Amethyst is heat-treated. So hard to find honest vendors who disclose anymore.




METAL CLAY


I ordered Babette's book today (Metal Clay Beads: Techniques, Projects, Inspiration A Lark Jewelry Book by Barbara Becker Simon) . I can't wait until she starts blogging again.



QUOTES

I like quotes because they make me think… hopefully they help me remember, too.

Do more than belong: participate.
Do more than care: help.
Do more than believe: practice.
Do more than be fair: be kind.
Do more than forgive: forget.
Do more than dream: work.
-- William Arthur Ward

Art is the imposing of a pattern on experience, and our aesthetic enjoyment is recognition of the pattern.
-- Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947, British Mathematician, Philosopher)

Did you ever notice how difficult it is to argue with someone who is not obsessed with being right?
-- Dr. Wayne W. Dyer


COMMENTS

Thank you, Christelle, for the very lovely comment! I'm waiting patiently for you to publish a book. Well… c'mon!

Dave! Oh my gosh... I haven't been to a Rings-n-Things show in forever! I guess I'd better get on over to the website and see when you'll be in town. I'm almost out of my 1000 foot roll of Accuflex!!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

BronzClay Results, Jewelry Photos, and Crimp Covers

Exciting day.

Remember when you were a kid? Which day of the year was it never a problem to get up early? Christmas (assuming you celebrated Christmas). The anticipation sprang you right out of bed without one hint of morning sleepiness.

That's the same feeling I had back when I was torching. Oh heavens, the excitement of seeing your beads from the kiln for the first time. Wow!

And now, we have that back… tada!!! Metal Clays!


BRONZ CLAY: EXPERIMENT #1

Maybe I should call it "experiment #1a" since our FIRST real experiment with BronzClay was at Kathy's class last month. But this is our first solo experiment and the first time for us firing the clay.

Background Info: First, here's a refresher of what we made in class with Kathy. Mon made a necklace pendant with a square base and bird cut-outs adhered with slip.




Mon has since given the necklace to me and with her permission I want to shine up the birds to their natural bronze color.

Now, I finally got a picture of what I created in that class. I'll show you, then I'll explain something.



To decorate my circles, I used a technique referred to as "tear-away". Here's a link to the description of "tear away" technique and kudos to Elaine Luther for giving props at the end of the article.

Anyway, it turns out that, although you can get really intricate designs onto your clay via the tear-away method, the impressions are fairly shallow (aka: subtle). I can see how this effect would have been better with a different design and I will definitely use it in the future. But for my charms, it was just a little too faint to be effective. Here's a close-up. You can see my intentions… but go back to the photo of the whole bracelet and you'll see it's just lost.



For what it's worth, though, the bracelet makes wonderful "jewelry music" when worn. Ha ha ha! I love that in a bracelet.

Onto the making: Since we didn't want to make anything until our kiln set-up was ready, Mon and I did have a few excruciatingly long weeks before we got to do our first solo experiments.

From my understanding, BronzClay is sensitive to the air (can dry out quickly) so when we're not working with it, we keep it tightly sealed in saran wrap. It took Monica about an hour to "prepare" the cards. She used the same method as our teacher, Kathy, which may be the regular method of all PC and MC artists… but since we've never done anything before we have no clue what's "normal" and/or "standard". Anyway, she took the two cards with a number "one" on them (we were using an UNO deck, so there wasn't an ace) and set them aside. Then she took the cards with a number "two" on them and put another card behind it and taped them together. So now, the card showing a number two is two-cards thick. And so on up to seven cards thick. Lot's of preparation but we can now use them for a long time to come and we'll always know the thickness of our projects (as measured in cards, anyway).

This can be important, btw, when it comes to firing times.

Anyway, Mon wanted to make a bracelet like we'd seen made in class. She also wanted to embellish it with two koi fish which she made then added with slip.

We seemed to have some issues with our slip so we'll work on that more next time.

I made two large square pendants and six small charms. I knew the clay shrinks in the firing but I guess I didn't really realize just how much… I need to make my charms bigger next time. Heh

Drying: So we made our pieces, then placed them on the "drying rack". The drying rack is a griddle…



... that will not be used for food. Get them at places like Walgreen's, Long's, K-Mart, Target, etc. (we boycott Walmart, but if you shop there, I'm sure they have 'em too).

We had the temp in a 200-250 range. (I bumped it up to 250 when I saw how thick Mon's pieces were… then I lowered it again for mine so they wouldn't curl so much.)

We placed the pieces on baking parchment and wax paper and directly onto the griddle.

I had intended to buy a mug warmer and now I'm glad I couldn't find one… it would never have been large enough.

The pieces didn't seem TOTALLY dried out by the time I would have had to start the kiln so we decided to wait one more day rather than risk putting any moist pieces into the kiln.

I also wanted to be home for our first firing (yeah, I'm overly cautious that way) and we were going out that night, so after the pieces were dried, I placed them into the Baine Marie pan with the charcoal, put the lid on and left it like that until Monday.

Most of the "finishing" or "cleaning" work is done after drying. You can smooth the edges and make your jumpring hole (I couldn't find any cocktail straws so I bought a small package of eyelet rivets at Target…)


Firing: Got home at 4:30 and had the kiln turned on by 4:45. BTW, "kiln posts" was one item I didn't have (or didn't have on me at the moment… I'm sure they're somewhere, but the move has some of my items a little discombobulated). I asked on LE for a suitable substitute and was offered the advice of terra cotta pots or anything stainless steel.

I couldn't find any terra cotta pots at the two places I went so I headed to the kitchen dept of a large drug store and purchased two tea strainer balls…



I detached the chain, opened them up, and placed them open-side down on the kiln floor, placing the charcoal-filled pan on top of them.

Thank you, Amber, for always being there when I need help remembering how to program my kiln.

Since Mon's fish were thick (very thick), I went with an uber slow ramp up and a long holding time. Six cards seems to be the cut-off for the firing schedule options. If your pieces are less than six cards thick versus if they've more than.

My program was ramp up at 380 degrees per hour until I got to 1516 then hold for three hours.

Our firing ended at 11:30 and the previous seven hours were spent in utter torture since someone had sprayed on the fiber blanket part of the kiln that keeps the bead door from emitting the heat. Cat spray is retched. Cooking cat spray is hellish.

Thank goodness we awoke to no smell of cat spray. And some kind-hearted soul on LE took pity on me and is sending me a replacement piece of the white stuff so I can get rid of mine.

*shudder* Just THINKING about it makes me gag.

Results: So back to Christmas morning… I had no trouble getting out of bed this morning, despite the fact that I was up past midnight. The pan inside the kiln was warm to the touch, but not enough to require gloves. The stainless steel tea strainers did great… be forewarned if you haven't done this before… those things are now black.

Unfortunately, Mon's fish didn't make it… the one that wasn't attached to the bracelet with slip broke into three pieces, and the one that had been attached was fine but no longer attached. At first Mon thought the fish on the bracelet had "melted into" the bracelet because you could see his outline. Ha!

Monica reminded me of what Kathy said… that the first time you use your charcoal you may not get the rich patinas. By about the sixth firing, though, expect to see more range and saturation.

If you scroll back to Mon's birds, that was a sixth firing.

So, here is what came out. As you can see, we haven't done anything yet (I did, sandpaper my two squares, though, to bring out some bronze shine to the raised parts). Sorry the pic of Mon's bracelet parts is out of focus. These were obviously quickie morning shots… no fancy set-up yet.




BTW, found this cute photo I'd forgotten about while I was uploading the bronze photos. Aren't they sweet?!



So, I'll report more on our progress as we move forward with our experimenting.


JEWELRY PHOTOS

So, I've got some new creations to list, but I'm (still!) having a devil of a time photographing them.

That necklace (sorry, I forgot to mention it was a necklace) I showed you last night was shot in a photo cube on plexiglass… LOTS of reflections to watch out for.

So then I printed out a gray background and laid a couple pieces on the coffee table in the light of the setting sun through my glass door. Timer on, no flash (I don't think).



The focus isn't as good as I wanted in that one, but I admit to having a very hard time photographing necklaces. The focus and color are a bit better in this next one but that's probably because the area photographed was smaller.



Same set-up for this.



And this (but I moved in a little closer). I never know if people wanna see bracelets at an angle or from straight down.





CALENDARS

I *think* I mentioned the other day that I was given an ArtBeads calendar. And that it was perfectly appropriated (even though it's not March) because I actually didn't have a calendar yet for 2009.

I almost did. I was exploring the Beads of Courage website.

Did you know you can do something that donates money to Beads of Courage and doesn't cost you a penny? "Search online using GoodSearch and give to charities like Beads of Courage. Simply enter 'Beads of Courage' under "Who do you GoodSearch for? and monetary funds will support our foundation at no cost to you." Pretty neat!

Anyway, I had wanted to buy one of their calendars but they didn't have a checkout system right there and they didn't accept PayPal… and I know me… I'm really bad with remembering things like mailing checks to people. I am a bit embarrassed/ashamed of that, particularly in light of such a worthy cause, but I can't even remember the last time I did a check or money order… and then I'd have to print out postage. Yes, I'm sad… but sometimes things have to be easy-peasy for me.

So anyway, there was one thing I noticed in this ArtBeads calendar that had me puzzled. There are three months that feature photos of jewelry that clearly do not use crimp covers. I know, some of you are reading this and going, "OMG, is she for real?! Who cares if the jewelry has crimp covers or not?" Okay, fair enough. But obviously *I* care. I'm not saying it makes the piece any less worthy or pretty (although it may), but I guess my first thought was… this is a bead store… how could they not make sure the finishing touches were on the jewelry? Okay, just so's you know, I realize this is MY opinion and in no way reflects how anyone else feels about crimp covers.


MISC

BTW, I'm deleting some of the blog links I have (to other people's blogs… over there on the right… if you scroll down). I figure if they haven't posted in months, you probably don't need to be reminded of their blog every day. :-)

Since this was such a long post, I won't add anything else.

Oh wait, I lie! I wanted to add some photos of the cats from our visit this weekend. Bear missed his kitties.

Monday, March 16, 2009

My Creative Purpose and Metal Clay Links

WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO BE DOING?
I don't think I've yet found my "medium". I think beads and jewelry is a LOT closer than my previous attempts at creativity (music and writing), but I'm not sure exactly WHAT I'm supposed to be doing (or concentrating on).

At times I feel like a Jack-of-All-Trades, Master-of-None. I've tried my hand at polymer clay, lampworking, metal-smithing, etc.

If I think about what strikes me when looking through the work of other people, I'd say metal work… mostly. But I don't seem to have a burning desire to learn/do most of the things that involve metal work. Wow, that's a kicker, isn't it.

I've only just begun (as of last month) to explore the world of metal clays. That does seem more up my alley than sawing and soldering. Not that I never want to saw and solder… I just don't want to do it all day long.

Now, don't get me wrong, I like the fact that I'm multi-faceted in my exploration of jewelry design and creation… it's just that I don't feel I'm doing anything special yet.



WRITING

I've started an article about bead buying. Stay tuned…



METAL CLAY

Since so many of us are starting adventures in metal clay (okay, some of you are already kicking butt at it and the rest of us are just starting out), I wanted to share a few links to information I found interesting and/or useful.

This is Hadar's blog. "Hadar" is Hadar Jacobson… one of the front-runners of the PMC movement.

Celie Fago is the other front-runner that comes to mind.

Those two websites need much exploring. They are fantastic and very inspiring.

Here's an Etsy MetalClay blog. I'm guessing maybe it's part of a street team. Y'know, that thing that keeps eluding me even when someone emails me and asks me if I'd be interested. Ha ha ha!.

Anyway, if I get home early enough, I may get to do our first firing. Will give you an update tomorrow or…



ART BEADS

Got a calendar in the mail from them today (a thank you for agreeing to product test for them). The funny thing is, although it's mid-March, I actually didn't have a calendar yet for 2009. Pathetic, huh? Ha ha ha! But I love my new beadie calendar. Makes me want to make one myself. Geez… are all creative people like that (always wanting to try something they see)?



PHOTOS

I uploaded the ONLY pictures that came out decent from my last photo session (oh yeah, don't get me started about that.





I hope to have it listed sometime this week. Those are beads by Jerrisglass, btw.

And speaking of this week, I just realized I'm in the middle of a large custom order for someone in Texas. Hm… maybe I won't get to any listing this week.



SARAH
That was so nice of you to leave a comment… and such a nice comment too! Thanks!


Okay, TTYL!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Art is Important, Toxic MSG, Argentium

TODAY'S QUOTE

Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out. –Robert Collier


ART IS IMPORTANT

Now, as a segue to yesterday's segment (about why people feel the need to create or be creative), someone on LE posted this YouTube video. It is awesome. I hope take a few minutes to click on the hyperlink and watch it (with your volume on).


MSG

Mom sent me an article about MSG. Boy, was that eye-opening. I've always known MSG wasn't a GOOD thing, but I didn't realize just what a BAD thing it is. And in light of the fact that I'm not into being fat, I think that starting immediately I will eliminate as much MSG from my diet as possible. I'm guessing, however, that much like those who tried to eliminate "made in China" products from their household… I will find the task much harder than imagined.

After reading a few articles in PubMed, it appears MSG is in … ack… almost everything. I may have to go back to the Paleo diet and eat my food in its simplest state.

BTW, here are some things that may contain MSG and not actually spell it out on the ingredients list :
anything fermented
anything protein fortified
anything ultra pasteurized
autolyzed yeast
barley malt
bouillon
broth
calcium caseinate
carrageenan
enzyme modified
flavoring
gelatin
hydrolyzed oat flour
hydrolyzed plant protein
hydrolyzed protein
hydrolyzed vegetable protein
malt extract
malt flavoring
maltodextrin
natural beef or chicken flavoring
natural flavoring
olyzed protein
pectin
plant protein extract
potassium glutamate
seasoning
sodium caseinate
soy protein
soy sauce
spices
stock
textured protein
whey protein
yeast extract
yeast food


See what I mean?

BTW, did you know that MSG is what they inject rats with to fatten them up (okay, to make them obese) for scientific and medical research. If I'm not mistaken, it's how they cause Diabetes in rats.

Have a look yourself:
article1
article 2
article 3


BRONZE METAL CLAY

Anyway, our order came in today… Mon (if she remembers to) will pick up the package after school. We'll have to make time this weekend for some experimenting.

BTW, if you google "Bronze Metal Clay", Monica's necklace shows up on the first page of google images.


ARGENTIUM
Got my order of this too. Gabe and I were in the car, waiting for Monica, so I opened the box and showed him what I'd ordered. I asked him if he knew what it (the Argentium) was. His guess: "Silver". So I said, what KIND of silver? Of course he then guessed sterling.

So I told him about it… (very non-technical and probably not completely accurate) how they've replaced the copper with Geranium.

"You mean Germanium?" he corrected me.

"Yeah, that's it."

We noticed it appears a little "whiter" than the sterling wire we purchased at the same time. Does that mean the sterling already had a smidge of oxidation or does it mean the argentium is naturally a bit whiter than sterling? Shrug

Maybe tonight we'll break out the butane torch and if I can make a decent headpin, I'll have Gabe take over.


SIGN-OFF

Well, I'm gonna sign off now. I hope to have some thing(s) to show you soon.

TTYL!



Thursday, March 12, 2009

ARTISTS AND THE NEED TO CREATE

ARTISTS AND THE NEED TO CREATE

How many times have you heard the (possibly pretentious-sounding) phrase, "I create because I can't not create"? BTW, you can substitute any artist activity in there: "I write because I can't not write", "I paint because I can't not paint", etc.

So I'm walking to work this morning while listening to my MP3 player (note I said "MP3 player" not iPOD… and after shopping at Best Buy yesterday I am beginning to feel I'm one of the few people on this earth who owns a non-iPOD MP3 player). Anyway, I was thinking (which seems incongruous to what I'm about to say) about how when I walk to work and DON'T have music or something else to listen to (or otherwise occupy my mind), the walk seems to take longer and my mind tends to scatter in dozens of different directions.

That led me to thinking about how maybe listening to music (or even watching tv or reading books) sort of puts you in a meditative state. And if not "meditative", at least "focused".

And that let me to thinking about how I am when I make jewelry (or do some other type of creative project). I'm focused. Time passes quickly. I'm enjoying myself. All these things are good.

Maybe there is a really HUGE need filled by having a creative outlet. Maybe doing some THING that puts us in that state keeps us grounded, relaxed, etc. Maybe NOT doing some thing that puts us in that state makes us anxious, restless, unfocused… the way we are when we don't get enough REM sleep.

There could easily be other "things" our brain needs (like REM, food, etc.) in order to help us function at top capacity.

Maybe when someone says they have to "fill in the blank with your choice of creative activity", they are speaking the truth. They notice a difference in themselves when they DO create and when they DON'T create.

But to make this even more tangential… creativity can take many forms. If someone is really good at nurturing and/or raising children… that could be their form of creative outlet. Like cooking for some, working on cars for others.

I think there may be a primal need in each of us to do something that feeds that part of our soul/brain. So the next time you hear someone say, "I write because I can't not write"… instead of snickering at how silly that sounds, try to think about it in the terms I've just laid out. They're just being more succinct and less articulate. Would you rather they say, "I write because if I didn't I won't be fulfilling that piece of my soul that needs to listen to the muse and then create something that makes me feel I've done something even a bit worthy and I would probably start yelling at people more and picking at my scabs or pacing around the house and I'd always be impatient and I'd probably have insomnia or start smoking cigarettes or any number of other things that might not be very good for my health… yeah, that's why I write."


SWAROVSKI COMPONENTS

ArtBeads is having a 15% off sale on some of their Swarovski beads.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jewelry, ArtFire, Flatfish Lampwork Bead, and Vegetable Soup

JEWELRY

So the other day, when I was placing orders, one of the things I was looking for was larger sized smart beads. "Smart beads" are those stopper beads that are filled with a silicone gel and you can wedge them up against other beads on wire bangles or chain. Like this:





Anyway, I had to order the smart beads from somewhere I don't usually order, and I just couldn't fathom placing such a small order so I perused the online catalog. Found something that looked like fun and ordered a few (different colored resin beads).

We got the order last night and I couldn't resist. Grabbed the big black resin beads and ran over to my box of lampwork sets to see if anything sparked some creativity in me.

I hadn't on been planning to go "ethnic" with the piece, but then again, when do I ever plan to do anything.

The necklace turned out quite nice. It's not a show-stopped, but it's also no slouch… or at least *I* don't think so.

I have to run to Best Buy after work to replace the cord to my MP3 player that I'll no doubt find the second I lay out bucks for its replacement… but when I get home and after I deal with dinner, I'll try photographing my latest few pieces.

Yeah, I haven't been making much the past couple of weeks, but there have been a FEW pieces. I've got this black necklace (with matching earrings), a chunky two-strand necklace featuring Carnelian and lots of gold accents… I finally took off my bronze metal clay bracelet so I can shoot that… I can photograph a pendant necklace Mon made for herself last night with a bead Alex gave to her… Oh, there's a charm bracelet Monica made… what else… hm… well, maybe that's it. I will be trying out my new backgrounds. Wish me luck!


ARTFIRE

Made my first ArtFire sale. Heh… not jewelry, though. I listed the Pricing Calculator… and within five minutes it had been purchased. But that makes sense actually 'cause that's when it was on the front page of ArtFire as a newly listed item. After that… yeesh… I'm sure my stuff gets BURIED. Ha ha ha!

Continued from previous blog blathering…

So yeah, Patrice and Alex and I met up there last Saturday and had a really great time checking out the studio and watching Sharon Peters demo an "Oh Sh** Flatfish"… which was absolutely amazing.

I didn't even know Alex was paying attention that much to the tutorial (you see, I was yapping non-stop to Alex the whole time), but she went home and made the cutest freakin' little fish. I'm currently asking her permission to post a picture here so you can see. I'm sure she'll say yes… she's like that. But then she'll also make some disparaging remark about it which I'll have to ignore or give her a virtual smack up-side the head… but I have to be careful with those because Alex is rather a tough cookie and at times she scares me.

And tada! I knew Alex would let me show you.



Isn't he totally awesome!


EMAIL

Oh dear… one of my email addies is going bananas! I just received like 100 emails all at once! Is it because I cleared out a bit of space there earlier today? Sigh…

The thing is… they're from like last summer! Wow, now I get to see if I missed anything important. Heh…


FOOD

Being a tad under the weather this week (and last), I didn't really feel like a big lunch today. Actually, a smoothie sounded like just the ticket. So I went out to get one… and got side-tracked by a sign on a deli with today's soup specials. One was vegetable. It may sound weird but I find it rather hard to find good vegetable soup. Sometimes it's vegetable with meat/chicken, other times it's vegetable with pasta… and sometimes it's just awful soup.

So as I write this, let me tell you, I am eating a FABULOUS bowl of vegetable soup.

It's the little things in life… good vegetable soup really makes me happy. What can I say.

Speaking of food (sort of), I finally found a b-complex vitamin pill that doesn't make me want to puke throughout the day. It must release the b vitamin over the course of the day rather than the old fashioned ones that used to just dump all that nauseous-making b at once.








Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hockey, Jewelry, Pricing Calculator, Sharon Peters, Fish

Man, I am out of time, but I realize I haven't posted in days and I hate that, so let's see how fast I can do an update.


HOCKEY

Both kids' seasons are officially over right now. We'll have to wait and see what's on the horizon. My darling Monica would rather be a starter goalie on a B team than a back-up goalie on an A team because she just wants ice time. I have no clue where either kid will be trying out this summer/fall.


JEWELRY

I was looking over my past designs today and … good grief… I could barely find anything that made me go "wow". That's horrible. I mean, there's lots of "nice" stuff… but nothing that made me go "whoa, that's cool!". I'll have to work on that.

I also put a bunch of stuff on sale in the store.

I finally listed the pricing calculator on eBay.


SHARON PETERS

Saw Sharon demo her fish bead this weekend. Holy cow… amazing!!! I have got to take some classes by her. I'll put a link to her list of classes later (when I have more time).


Oh dear… when push comes to shove I can't think of ANYTHING to say. Argh! So sorry.

Maybe I'll work on some jewelry tonight and hit you up with something more entertaining tomorrow…. One can only hope.

TTYL!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Jewelry-Making Crisis, Argentium, Bronze Metal Clay, Pmc Guild

JEWELRY-MAKING CRISIS

Okay, had another jewelry-making mental crisis today. I was doing some online shopping, picking up my usual components like wire, jumprings, etc. The "bad" feeling hit me before understanding did… it was the same kind of feeling I get when I go to a bead show and see all the jewelry made from mass-produced imports and/or the nice jewelry designs that are on every booth there.

I think it makes me feel insignificant in the jewelry market. Not in a bad way, just in a "nudge" kind of way. Like… I've got to do something different, special, new… something that hasn't been done to death. Which is pretty much what I'm doing now.

Why? Because of time constraints. I sit down and say, "Okay, I don't have time to start a big metal-smithing project or a pc project, etc, so I'll just string some beads."

I'm not dissing bead-stringing. It still takes different levels of skill and creativity to: Select interesting beads, Design a nice piece, Craft the jewelry with skill and care for comfort and longevity, etc.

But still… it doesn't scream "I'm different… look at me!"

And so I have to think of ideas to change this.

Here are my ideas so far:

I think I'll destash some (a lot) of my beads. I still love beads and will never stop loving beads, but if I'm surrounded by a bazillion beads, it keeps me in the cycle of "creating easy".

I'll quit buying bunches of new beads. Heh

I'll list out the things I want to work on and plan out ways to get organized and break the process down into steps.

I think I get overwhelmed by the millions of things I want to do/create. It's like the internet… there's just too much… and I don't want to get caught in the headlights and just freeze up.


THINGS THAT AREN'T JEWELRY

There are other projects I want to work on, too, that have nothing to do with jewelry. I want to get back to notecards and wall pictures.

Would love to do some tutorials. In a way that's kinda scary, though. It's kind of like saying, "Well, I'm an expert at this so just follow along." I guess I don't feel like an expert at anything. The quintessential Jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none.

But I did sell another Pricing Calculator this week. I feel okay about that 'cause not everyone wants to write calculations in Excel. And $5 is a pretty good price for something that may be used on a daily basis for years to come. I should list it on eBay and ArtFire and in my store, too. I was waiting for a little feedback first, but I do offer money-back guarantee.


ARGENTIUM

I'm buying some for the first time. I'm getting wire and chain. Will let you know my opinion after using it.


BRONZE METAL CLAY

And I finally ordered the charcoal and kiln dish so Mon and I can experiment with BMC. I'd like to make components, for myself and perhaps for others. Rio seems to be one of the few places that has almost all the supplies you need for BMC.

I've ordered from four different places today. Wire and findings from one, BMC from another, smart beads and resin from a third, and chain from the fourth. Wheesh!


PMC GUILD

This place is awesome!


LAWYERS

Got the papers from the ex's lawyer. A glaring omission. I can't help wondering if it's another stall tactic. Argh! The kids will be 18 before the dumb custody paperwork goes through. I gave up asking for money… now I'm just trying to make sure the kids make it to their hockey events. Yeesh!


Okay, want to end on a happier note…





Thursday, March 5, 2009

Exercise, Hockey, Friends, Polymer Clay, Menopause, Mood Disorders, and Slipknots

Hm… I guess I'm sort of a dork. My boss wanted me to replicate a graph, but he wanted me to do it in Excel. I don't know how to make graphs in Excel so I made it in PowerPoint. But when I looked up importing PowerPoint data into an Excel file… there were a million articles… except for the other way around. Apparently everyone else makes the Excel file then imports it into PowerPoint. D'oh! Oh well.


EXERCISE

So I've been walking about an hour a day (half an hour to work, half an hour back). I really regret that Bear can't go on these walks with me. I mean, he LIVES for walks. What a waste to walk and not be able to take him. Anyway, I hope the walking makes at least a dent in my desire to trim down to a healthier weight.


HOCKEY

Did I already mention that Mon's team has their last two season games this weekend? It will take a miracle to get them a play-off spot, but I've seen crazier things.

Wonder what she'll do once the season is over.

Gabe's been assisting Chip with goalie coaching. I'm very proud of him. He's being responsible and helpful.


FRIENDS

I'll have lunch with Alex and Patrice this Saturday (either before or after the open studio). Too bad I don't have anything dynamic to show them. Haven't been working much on jewelry.


POLYMER CLAY

Wonder if I can find time to play around a little this weekend with some PC. I need to perfect at least a few basic skills. So far I'm pretty lame at it. Maybe I have to go into a project with more of an idea what I'm going to do. I mean, with jewelry, it's the opposite… I have to let my mind go blank and then I just start putting things together. But maybe that doesn't work for me in all mediums. Hm… okay, maybe I'll sketch out a little plan of attack.


ELAYNE

Sorry for the delay. Sigh… Anyway, if I'm doing this right, here's a link the B&B site forums page.

And yes, pricing my jewelry is often stupidly related to my self-confidence. This is one of the hugest reasons I prefer to sell online. Second to that, is selling in person but to strangers. God help me if a friend or relative wants to buy something and asks me the price. I usually look down and mutter something that is most likely less than the materials cost. D'oh!


MENOPAUSE

Although there are any number of things you can do and/or take to help ease a woman through menopause and/or perimenopause, I think sometimes it's just nice to know you're not alone.

Here is a link to an article about the 34 symptoms of menopause. I think it's a must read for everyone near or in menopause and those around us.


CREATIVITY AND MOOD DISORDERS

Here's an interesting (IMO) article.



SLIPKNOT FOR CORD JEWELRY


This is a cool YouTube video for those who want to see a tutorial on making slipknot jewelry. And there are many variations once you know the basics.

My big question is… how do you secure the knot from coming undone? Glue? 'Cause I know, eventually, my knots will come undone.

I'd like to work with this technique but make it more visually aesthetic somehow. Hm… will have to think on that one.


Okay, that's it for today.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Carbs, Jumprings, Open Studio, and Product Testing

CUTTING OUT THE CARBS

I get this breakfast occasionally from the café downstairs. It's the "no carb" breakfast. Supposed to be eggs with bacon and cheese, that's it. The first time I ordered it, the sweet lady preparing it must have decided it looked skimpy because she added two pieces of toast. I laughed and mentioned that it wasn't exactly a "no carb" breakfast now.

I ordered it again today and as she prepared it behind the counter, I was debating in my head how I would deal with the toast should I be faced with it again. If it's there, throwing it away seems like a waste. Yet, eating it defeats the purpose of me ordering a "no carb" breakfast to begin with. I'm sort of a carb-aholic, so I really do want to try to cut some out on those rare occasions when I seem to have some will-power. But put something in front of me and it's five times harder to resist.

Got my container, came upstairs to my office, opened it up… no toast, but a heaping pile of fruit. Heh Oh well… I'll just call 'em "healthy" carbs.

Let it be known, however, that this salt-aholic opted for pepper rather than my usual. I am TRYING.


JUMPRINGS

I'm re-thinking my earlier Nazi-ish stance on jumprings.

At the Bronze Metal Clay class, I made four charms. I attached these charms to some Bronze chain via jumprings. But here's the real kicker... I didn't have a clasp in class so I just put the bracelet on with another jumpring. I haven't taken the bracelet off since class. That means sleeping with it, showering with it, walking the dog with it... everything. Nothing has come undone. Wow!

I'll update you as to the gauge of the jumprings (once I get home and think of it), but for now let me just say I'm impressed and pleasantly surprised.

Oh, I guess if I take it off to measure the wire I could also photograph it. Ha ha ha!

Still haven't made it over to Tap Plastics, but I will probably have time in the next few days.



PRODUCT TESTING

Stay tuned as I test beads and/or findings from ArtBeads in the upcoming months. I love doing product reviews!


Now, I have more to say, but I must run... lots to do today.

TTYL!