Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fixing IE8, In the Kiln, and Friends

FIXING IE8

Forgot to tell you about fixing one of my computer problems.

On Internet Explorer 8, if a photo (or image) is used as a hyperlink (thumbnail, etc) the default is for it to not show up. You actually have to go in and change the settings.

It’s TOOLS, INTERNET OPTIONS, ADVANCED, scroll down and click on “Show image download placeholders”.

All I can say is, thank god for google.


IN THE KILN

Here’s a question: Do I face my pieces in or out? I have six one-sided bronze-copper pieces in the kiln at the moment. When I load them in the charcoal pan, I have three in front and three in back (both those positions are closest to the heat). I currently have all six facing the front of the pan… but I wonder if I should have all their “backs” facing out and “fronts” facing in. Hm…

Well, it turns out I should pay more attention to all the details of how I load the kiln, marking the pieces so that afterwards, like when I’m sanding and discover that one or two of my pieces didn’t sinter… ahem… then I can see where they were in the kiln. Sigh…



Anyway, this is a shot of the six pieces when two of them were sanded and the other four were just straight out of the kiln.



Speaking of kilns…


FRIENDS

I had a really nice day with a friend today. We went to lunch then went shopping. I got… are you ready?... tada!... a stainless steel pan with a flat lid! Yay! I hope to try it in the kiln tomorrow.


OTHER

Sorry to cut this short… I’m tired.

Tomorrow, I’ll show you pictures (if I remember) of the new photo set-up. And with a bit of luck I’ll also have some new jewelry listed.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

THE CONTINUED EXPLOITS OF A METAL CLAY NEWB

But before we begin...

P.S. Forgot to mention a jewelry contest (followed by more!). No time for me to give you all the details... just follow this link and good luck!


THE CONTINUED EXPLOITS OF A METAL CLAY NEWB

Went to Hadar’s last night. Showed her my “rock” progress. She put the rocks in her hand and let out an “oh” (and not the good kind of “oh”). Eek! What did I do wrong?

“I thought these were fired already,” she said.

I stammered, then mumbled, then admitted I hadn’t had time during the past week to do a firing. As a matter of fact, I’d only sliced the final rock while at my desk in my office yesterday, mere hours before heading to class.

Yeah, well, someone has to be the slowest student in the class, right?

Anyway, Hadar showed me how to make the outside of the rocks as smooth as possible (or at least as smooth as *I* can make them). I did that, then went on to have some more attempts at my current favorite thing which is copper inlay on bronze. I guess I should be over there sanding those down now rather than here typing, but the longer I put it off the more time I have to not feel like I screwed it up again. My last ones were paper-thin by the time I decided my sanding wasn’t yielding any results. Did I ever post pictures of that? I think I’m behind on pictures.

So this morning (after getting only six hours of sleep… what’s up with that?), I decided to do phase one of the kiln (for my rocks only) and take Bear to the dog park. Since I wasn’t happy with my previous firing experiments, I’m going back to 1000 for 20 mins and 1480 for 2½ hours.

When I began to make holes in the rocks, I pointed out to Hadar that I’d never be able to get any charcoal into those teeny holes. We then discussed various ways of firing the rocks to make up for that. Firing them without anything else was the first step, then Hadar added that I should do phase two twice.

In the end, I decided I didn’t feel like experimenting right now so I just made the holes big enough for me to put charcoal in them. Hollow forms fire better when partially filled.

Took me a few mins to figure out the fastest way of getting the charcoal into the holes. First I tried picking up a pinch and laying it on top of the hole… but I don’t think anything was going in at that point. Next I tried sliding the rock around in the pan of charcoal (like a seed bead spinner). I think the rocks still remained empty. Then I got my tweezers and began picking up one piece of charcoal at a time and placing it into the hole. Successful but dreadfully slow. Finally I found something that works well enough for me: I placed the bead at an angle in the pan of charcoal and used the tip of my tweezers to push bits of charcoal into the hole. I had all six rocks done in five minutes. Yay!

Got the rocks planted into the charcoal pan and placed the pan in the center of the kiln’s octagon (or is it a hexagon? I’m too lazy to go look at the moment) on two kiln stilts, no lid, phase one on.

I would like to pick up a FLAT piece of stainless steel for placing on top of the charcoal pan for phase two of the firing. That indented lid (see below) takes up way too much important room in the pan.


I’m also checking out my local Smart & Finals to find a stainless steel pan in a better size for my kiln (large).

BTW, I noticed that the top of the charcoal pan seems awful close to the top of the kiln. Since the heating element is along the top portion of the interior of the kiln, it makes sense that I want the items in the pan to be about that level too, but I am a little concerned that the kiln lid is actually touching the top of the pan once I close the lid. If that’s the case, I might not be getting enough oxygen to my pieces during phase one. I’ll try to have a better look at this later today.

I need to order some more drill bits. This means I have to remember my Rio Grande log-in and password. D’oh!

Hours later…

Okay, got back from the dog park and shopping. Kiln is cooled down. But what’s this? I open the lid and see no ash! Waaa! That can’t be good. When I add the lid for phase two, I see maybe why… the kiln lid isn’t closed all the way.

Sigh…

Okay, so I try to shorten my kiln stilts… by smashing one with a hammer… holy cow! They’re indestructible. Okay, next idea? I take my stainless steel tea strainer and yay… each half is shorter than the kiln stilts. But oops… the pan won’t balance on the curved tops of the tea strainer halves. Back with the hammer… I flatten the tops and yes! I have my new set-up… or at least until I see the results and then have to change it again. Ha ha ha!



My main concern now is… if something isn’t right at the end, will I know WHERE the next change should take place? I mean, I’m thinking now maybe I should have redone phase one. ARGH!

In case you can’t tell, btw, my blogs are usually written along the course of the day the blog is posted.

So, phase two finished and has cooled. I just donned my dust mask and poured the charcoal (is it charcoal or carbon? I feel like I’m calling it the wrong thing… hm…) into my sieve. OMG, the colors! Sigh… Since I’m not making bronze pieces for the colorful patinas you CAN achieve during the firing, I’m not sure how to feel about this. The plan was to polish these up. I’ll feel a bit sad losing the beautiful iridescent blues and oranges. But then again, I don’t think they’ll last for a long time anyway, so I wouldn’t want to give the impression (since my job is selling jewelry) that this is what the beads would look like forever.

But… does anything really last forever?

Oh dang… what a moronic dilemma.

Anyway, I’m going to switch gears here for just a minute (I may set up the photo studio later to shoot some jewelry and I’ll snap a pic or two of the bronze rocks (pre-finishing).

See the white spots in this photo (this is copper in bronze before firing… and for the record these are STILL too thin… ha! Next time I go REALLY fat with my base)?



That’s binder. That means I didn’t roll out my clay enough before shaping it. I don’t know yet how it will affect the piece during firing. I’ll let you know.

Okay, just started firing phase one of batch number two (the inlay pieces).

Y’know, I was so excited about the colors of the bronze rocks that I forgot to check for… imperfections. Just looked. No blisters or cracks and only minimal pitting.


DEPRESSING OR REALISTIC?

One thing I like about Hadar’s Friday night classes is that we talk about things, often that have to do with the business… of being an artist (or of trying to sell art… yeah, I have issues with semantics and stuff).

Anyway, Hadar is very much a realist, I think.

Since I’m not nosey, I have no clue what other jewelry makers get in the way of profit for their pieces or what price they get for teaching or books they write, etc. But I get the feeling that even the cream of the crop aren’t “rolling” in dough.

Where does this leave me? Two things. One, I say first and foremost I make jewelry because I really enjoy making jewelry. Whew! And two, I don’t know what I’m going to do when I retire. But retire I must because I need something different in my life soon.

Can I put my faith in the universe? Might as well… seems as good as any of the other advice I get.


FRIDGE NOISE, NOT TAOS HUM


My fridge is REALLY loud. The buzz is atrocious. I need to deal with it somehow.

Other than that, however, I was really happy last night. I got home late. And I wasn’t tired or sleepy, so I stayed up and did some stuff and it was just so cool to be able to stay up if I wanted without worrying that I’ll be tired the next day because I have to get up at a certain time. Weekends like this are good!

Of course, then I go and get up at six in the morning. Ha ha ha! I’ll probably fall asleep early tonight. But that’s okay. Tomorrow morning (but not too early), I’m heading to San Jose to have brunch with Alex and maybe catch one of Monica’s scrimmages.

This is a link to making cool reptile like skin effects in polymer clay.

Okay, I’m going to go set up the photo studio. I’ll post this now and I’ll be back tomorrow with (hopefully) new jewelry listings and photos of the bronze rocks.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Dragon Guardians, Artist Commune, Jewelry/Beading Article, Bronze Clay, Copper Clay, Silver Clay, Internet Browsers

INTERNET BROWSERS

Y'know what irks me? How I can't get a given website to look the same on any computer and with any browser.

Here's the deal: sometime last year, I was having trouble seeing the new changes on pages I uploaded to one of my websites. I was told to clear my cache (temporary internet files), reboot, etc). I did all this, multiple times. Finally, a friend (thank you, Katherine!) advised me to load FireFox (I'd been using Internet Explorer) and voila! I now saw my new pages instantly.

Okay, that's fine for when I have to see pages that I'm working on… but how does it help the general public that may be using IE to look at my websites?

I am at least aware of step #1: setting your computer to always show you the most recent version of the internet page you're on.

TOOLS ->INTERNET OPTIONS -> SETTINGS -> "Check for newer versions of stored pages: Every visit to the page

Although I admit I don't know the difference between that option and "automatically".

It's also not a bad idea to clear out your stored temp files every so often.

TOOLS ->INTERNET OPTIONS -> (middle section) TEMPORARY INTERNET FILES -> DELETE FILES (can take several minutes; be patient)

But given that, I still see the older versions of the pages even after doing all that then opening a fresh browser window (in IE, I mean).

I guess I just don't know enough about computers to figure this one out. I need an IT expert to join the SRAJD team pro bono. Ha ha ha!

Let's take my most recently updated webpage. It's the gallery page of my bracelets.

I uploaded the page and…
On computer #2:
1) Could see the update on IE (version 6.0.2800.1106CO) after 24 hours
2) Could see the update on FireFox (version 3.0.10) instantly
On computer #1:
3) Could not see the update on IE (version 8)… saw the new page, but no pictures are showing
4) Could see the update on FireFox instantly

This will not stand. I must figure out this mess. These are not fancy code things… these are (trust me, my knowledge of html is bare bones) simple things like photos and hyperlinks.

I've heard: "A good programmer will develop a site that will look and work exactly the same in ALL engines, but these programmers are few and far between." Hmph!

Well, I'll keep trying to work on this… until someone comes to my rescue.


BRONZE CLAY, COPPER CLAY, SILVER CLAY

I go to Hadar's tonight. I've got six bronze "rocks" (yes, actually shaped the bronze clay onto rocks, let it dry, cut the clay off the rock, stuck it back together, cleaned it up, sanded). I'll ask Hadar to critique them before I proceed further. I'm guessing "further" is drilling holes in them, filling them with charcoal, and firing them.

If I can't think of anything else to do at class tonight, I may add copper and silver rocks to the mix… make a multi-metal rock necklace. Shrug.


JEWELRY/BEADING ARTICLE

I'm going to get back into a little non-fiction article writing here. Have an upcoming article on beading wire. To make my final touches, though, I've just ordered something to measure the exact thickness of some of these wires we use on a daily basis (I'll explain why in the article). Excited to get this one finished and see which mag shows interest in it.


ARTIST COMMUNE

Those who know me well, know I've often mentioned my idea of wanting to start an artist commune. But then those who know me REAL well know that I kinda go through life wearing rose-tinted glasses.

Therefore, I'm thinking that instead of jumping right in with a commune, I may first see how it goes running an artist retreat. A place where people can come to embrace their creativity for a weekend or a week at a time.


DRAGON GUARDIANS

Wanna see something cool? In Seattle's Chinatown district there are ten massive dragons set up on poles as guardians of the city.


THE USUAL
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Thursday, May 28, 2009

MOTIVATIONAL QUOTES and JEWELRY

THIS WEEKEND

I'm excited about this weekend. I want to do some metal clay stuff. I need to remember to order some dremel things. Can't remember off-hand what I need, but I need to get back to experimenting with FINISHING my projects instead of just learning new ways to START projects.

Tomorrow I need to make some flight arrangements. It used to be that you'd get a better deal if you called early. Now you seem to get a better deal if you call at the last minute. Eek! I wonder how long before the kids have to fly that I should do this. I've got Gabe going to L.A. twice, Mon going to Vegas once, and Gabe and I going to New Hampshire once. I think (hope) that's it.


JEWELRY

Here's a new one that I haven't listed yet 'cause I need to get some decent photos of it.



I guess we'll call today "sneak preview". Here's a pair of earrings I haven't listed yet…



... and ...




MOTIVATIONAL QUOTES

I know, they sound trite. I realize that. But really, they are (IMO) so important. Get past the schmaltziness of them and listen:

"It's hard to beat a person who never gives up." Babe Ruth

"Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors." African Proverbs

"A man is not finished when he's defeated; he's finished when he quits." Richard M. Nixon

"A goal without a plan is just a wish." Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"The reason people blame things on the previous generations is that there's only one other choice." Doug Larson

"Each player must accept the cards that life deals him or her. But once in hand one must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game." Voltaire

"When it's all over, it's not who you were ... it's whether you made a difference." Bob Dole

And here's one that seems to be about me (ha ha ha!): "Responsibilities gravitate to the person who can shoulder them." Tom Stoppard

I hate responsibility yet it seems to follow me like a shadow. Is that because I actually DO things?


cat lineup
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

i sense danger
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

traitor
see more Lolcats and funny pictures


Oh, here's a quote that's not motivational but it IS something I feel strongly about…

"There are no facts, only interpretations." Friedrich Nietzsche

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Blog Exit Pages... and a Bracelet Gallery

WHERE ARE PEOPLE GOING ONCE THEY READ MY BLOG?

Here's something interesting. I was looking at the stats for my blog and wanted to see where people go when they're here.

The overwhelming majority go to my website… whew!

Then about 20% go to the Art Beads jewelry carrying pouch that I talked about awhile back. (10% go to the Art Beads enamel link.)

Third on the list at nearly 15% is the page on peri-menopause symptoms. Heh

A bunch of people go to my blogger profile, but I don't have anything there… sorry.

The rest is divided up with: polymer clay tear-away sheets, Hadar Jacobson's site, Gaffer Girls, Rana Mountain Studio, and the Woman Resource (another of my websites).



RANDOM QUESTION

Does anyone know why kittens often have splayed eyes until they get a little older?


HILARITY

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Karen Hardy finds the coolest stuff… You have to click on this link and then hit play… it's wild.


COMMENTS (referring to my earlier blog on "mondegreens")

ChezChani (Elayne) writes: From the Broadway sensation Miss Saigon, the real words are "I eat too much ice cream." What I hear is "I eat too much. I scream."

Ha! I hadn't heard that one before. I love it! BTW, happy belated birthday. Sorry to hear you don't have any great memories of past ones. Come to think of it, I don't either. Maybe it's a Cancer thing… wait a minute… is Roz the Cancer? 'Cause we're still into Gemini now. Or are you just thinking ahead?

Mike Bracken writes: Don't forget your other classic, beat the meatball. :p

Yeah, but I don't remember what that was from. What were the real words?


THIS WEEKEND

I am going to have more adventures in metal clay and photography. Whoohoo!!!


GALLERY

Oh yeah! Almost forgot… I got ONE of my gallery pages up. It's "bracelets".

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

SRAJD Updates

FOOD

Breakfast today was a new one. I made a bowl of oatmeal, but I had to think of some way to make it palatable without the use of sugar. I sliced up a mango and added it to the oatmeal and it was perfect!

That held me for my walk to work, and once there I had some raw almonds and watermelon.

Yes, I'm eating more fruit than I probably should be at the moment, but it's WAY better than eating all the sweets and other things that provide my body with ZERO nutrition.


SRAJD

Aside from processing memberships today, we added a new article and are finally starting to organize the chapters.


JEWELRY

Got some ideas brewing.

This one (that I never got around to listing) is gone. Hope the new owner likes it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bronze Clay, Mondegreens, and Healthy Eating

BRONZE CLAY RESULTS

Did I already mention that what came out of the kiln was less than stellar? I had three small bronze tube beads… two of them opened up at the seam. That doesn’t surprise me. I felt like a dweeb when I was making them. Hadar was really nice, showing me some tips and tricks, but I still felt I was doing a really bad job at them. And I guess it turns out I was.

One piece that survived the kiln was something that was GOING to be a pendant bead with holes on each side… holes that I forgot to drill before firing the piece. Argh!

One piece that didn’t survive was a plain pendant. It cracked down the middle.

Oh, and my pieces had blisters on the backs… this is the first time I’ve had blisters. Shrug… I thought that was a sign of over-heating…. But I didn’t have a higher temp.

I obviously still need a lot of experimenting to do.

Then there were two pieces that are too thin (IMO) and I did something stupid… It was going to be bronze textured background with copper inlay, but I forgot that if I don’t push the copper through the hole that I made (for the jumpring finding) it will bake in place. D’oh!

I didn’t polish anything yet. Y’know… it’s sort of anticlimactic. Maybe I’ll do the inlay ones and see if they’re salvageable.


HEALTHY EATING

Today is day five. I still have massive sugar cravings, but I haven't really caved. Not with sugar anyway. I did have some tamales with cheese in them. I'm not going to wig out about some things here and there that are still healthy but not exactly part of what I am doing at the moment. To me, it's still better to eat energy-giving food so I'm okay with things like cheese, a little fatty meat, a piece of bread… stuff like that.

There's been dark chocolate and cookies and stuff like that at the office this week. I haven't had one bite.

I also didn't eat one chip after the kids opened a big bag of cheddar potato chips to go with the hamburgers.

I'm not used to having will-power so I'm pleased by this. Hope it lasts.


MONDEGREEN

Do you know what a mondegreen is? It's when a word or phrase is misheard or misinterpreted. Like instead of "it's a dog eat dog world", the person actually thinks the phrase is "it's a doggie dog world". Or thinking "for all intents and purposes" is "for all intensive purposes". There are a TON of lyrics that get misheard. One of the most famous is the Hendrix song, "Excuse me while I kiss the sky..." misheard as "Excuse me while I kiss this guy…"

See… they sound pretty much the same. It's all about interpretation.

The word "mondegreen" was coined by Sylvia Wright (a writer in mid-20th century America) because as a child she was read a poem that went:
Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
Oh, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl Amurray,
And laid him on the green.
But what her mind heard was:
Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
Oh, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl Amurray,
And Lady Mondegreen.

Some more good ones…

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life (Psalm 23)
Becomes
Surely good Mrs. Murphy shall follow me all the days of my life

Half a league, half a league; Half a league onward," (The Charge of the Light Brigade)
Becomes
Haffely, Gaffely, Gaffely, Gonward

Stand beside her and guide her through the night with a light from above (God Bless America)
Becomes
Stand beside her and guide her through the night with a light from a bulb

The girl with kaleidoscope eyes (Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds)
Becomes
The girl with colitis goes by

Then there was the 1943 backwards mondegreen song by Drake et al…
Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey; A kiddley divey too, wooden shoe
Was a clever play on:
Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy; A kid'll eat ivy too; wouldn't you?

And I guess I should admit my own…
"I'm a loser baby so why don't you kill me" (Beck song)
I swear (swear Swear SWEAR) that if you listen carefully it sounds much more like what I thought he was singing …
"I'm a lizard baby so why don't you kill me"


PHOTOS

Did I mention I got a new photo cube… and tried it out (sort of)? I'll probably explain in my next entry. I hope to be able to shoot tomorrow night.

TTYL!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Healthy Eating, Changing My Metal Clay Firing Schedule, and a Haircut

HEALTH

I want to get back to it. I’m incredibly unhealthy at the moment, so I’m making a few changes.

I already gave up my parking space at the office and now I walk 25 mins to work and 25 mins back to home each day. I also walk Bear once a day or so. I will add a routine with small weights soon and/or yoga (particularly yoga breathing).

So I went out this morning, armed with a couple recipes, to my local Whole Foods (which is more expensive than Trader Joes but they have more variety).

Tonight I’m making Lamb Curry… except that I don’t really like lamb so I’m using beef instead. I don’t really like beef either, but if I try to go vegetarian I’m afraid my choices will be too limited and I’ll revert back to “easy” food. So this “lamb” curry involves: meat, onion, spinach, lentils, ginger, garlic, and a bunch of spices.

After shopping, I came home, had a bowl of low-sugar granola with oat bran, then spent the morning cleaning the apartment. Doing that threw me off any kind of “eat six small meals a day” thing, so now as my lentils are pre-cooking (I got raw, organic everything… no cans, no packages, etc) I’m munching on a snack of what I’ll refer to as my “cheater foods”.

Cheater foods are things that don’t fit the strict curriculum of my healthier eating choices, but are still very far from the really nasty stuff I was putting into my body. For example, right now I’m dipping Lundberg Brown Rice Organic Lightly Salted Cakes (yes, although I’m a salt-junkie… everything is now low sodium) into La Cascada (a local taqueria) Spicy Eggplant Hummus (garbanzo beans, eggplant, garlic, lemon, olive oil, peppers, cumin, salt). It is an AMAZING snack. It’s really, really good.

I’m not exactly sure why I consider that “cheater” foods… maybe it’s the salt. Shrug. If anything, the breakfast was cheater food… I mean, the cereal may have been low sugar, but it still had SOME sugar in it… and raisins. But I’m not going ballistic on this. Just watchful and judicious.

Oh, I should make some brown rice to go with my curry… also a salad. Here’s my dressing recipe: olive oil, lemon juice, kelp powder (dang! I forgot to get that), sea salt, and tahini (diluted with warm water). I got a large container of organic mixed greens. It will last me a week or more.

Supplements I’m taking now include: B complex, psyllium, acidophilus, maca, and Chlorella (I may add Spirulina someday).

The basic “don’t eat” foods include (a lot of white stuff): simple carbs, sugars, vinegars, fermented foods/ liquids, processed foods, condiments, coffee/tea, fast food, and starchy veggies.

The basic “do eat” foods include: high fiber low starch veggies (most of my diet), healthy proteins (second most), complex carbs (next most), fruit (least… like maybe a dessert or with breakfast).

My intuition (helped along by such symptoms as: sugar-cravings, lack of mental sharpness, lethargy, sinus issues, etc) tells me to go back on this sort of diet that keeps the “bad” intestinal bacteria at bay. This is also a diet good for those prone to hypoglycemia (which I am).


METAL CLAY

Went to Hadar’s last night. The “Friday Night Ladies” are very nice. I’m enjoying my time there (when I’m not all stressed out and intimidated about my skill level).

Anyway, I showed Hadar some of the photos on my blog so she could see the set-up I’m using for the firings. We’re trying a few changes this time.

Since my heating element is so high up in the kiln and the interior of the kiln is so big, Hadar suggested I try to get my pieces only very close to the heating element. So until I can find a larger “table pan” (that’s what they’re called at Smart & Final… went there this morning but they didn’t have the size I need), I will only load the back my current square container and will set it back (like it was) close to the heating element and away from the bead door.

I will also place my pieces higher in the square, to align with the heating element more.

I removed two of my kiln stilts and now balance my pan on the edges of two squares in order to have an optimal amount of the underside of the pan open to heat.



Notice how the only place that “ashes up” is in the back… closest to the heating element. That seem indicative.

So here’s how I did my new layout:



Just to get a fresh start, I threw out my old carbon and started with a fresh batch.

I increased my phase one holding time from 20 to 30 minutes.

I decreased my phase two holding temperature from 1480 to 1470 and increased the holding time from 2½ hours to 3 hours.

The kiln is currently in phase two. I should have results and new pics tomorrow.


HAIRCUT

BTW, I got my hair cut Thursday night. I plan to get a better picture later, but at least you can tell from this (photo in a mirror with flash… ha!) what length it is. I totally love it!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Firing Metal Clay, Bronze versus Copper

METAL CLAY

Well…. An interesting turn of events.

I fired copper and bronze together (not pieces that were copper and bronze together, but copper pieces and bronze pieces… see the pic from my last blog entry).

When I began sanding the first piece (just happened to be a copper hollow bead), there was a spot on the top and side that wouldn't sand… it just remained black.





Anyway, I went on to sand my identical beads in bronze, and although they're pitted and a smidge concave, they at least seem to be fully sintered.





Then I picked up the next piece, a copper tube bead. And same thing… there was a black bit that wouldn't sand. But just before I removed the dremel, that part of the bead collapsed (disintegrated).



This made me wonder... does copper need a slightly different firing schedule (for my kiln, anyway) than does bronze?

As you can see by the rest of the pieces, the bronze seemed to fair just fine.



BTW, the one in the middle row on the far right IS copper, but it's very thin. And if you're wondering what it is… ha ha ha… I don't blame you.

When I was at Hadar's penultimate class, I was killing time while waiting for my project to dry so I decided to make a copper bead cap. Since I wasn't overly fond of how my bead caps were coming out when I molded them onto round objects to dry, I had the brilliant idea to make flat bead caps and just hammer them into curved shapes after the firing. Heh… Hadar informed me that baked metal clay isn't as sturdy as metal-metal so hammering after baking should be used to fix slight imperfections rather than for complete shape alterations.

So yeah, now I have a flat bead with a hold in the middle.

In the next photo, you can see how the bronze hollows went a bit concave on me.



And when I looked at these three beads lined up for my photo, something struck me as wrong. Then I realized what it was. These pieces were all made from the same pattern, so were identical in size in their green state. I'd completely forgotten that copper doesn't shrink as much as bronze so I forgot that the copper beads wouldn't end up the same size as the identical bronze beads I made them to go with.

Now in the next photo, you can really see the pitting.



I see I have a lot more work ahead of me than just figuring out how to make things out of clay.

I put my beads into the firing square (still don't know what to call it) vertically.



Hadar asked if I'd put charcoal into the hollow beads. I hadn't. The holes were small and I couldn't get it in. But maybe I should have tried harder and at least got a few small pieces in.

Interestingly enough, lots of charcoal WAS inside the beads because when I began sanding it all started jumping out. (That's the black stuff you see in the background of all these photos.)

I'll go back to Hadar's for class Friday, but I'm curious to know if I should try upping the temp or increasing the hold time.

I'll keep you posted.


POOR LITTLE MONICA AND HER BEAUTIFUL HANDS

Yes, many of you know Monica as my lovely hand model.



Anyway, she managed to slam her hand in a car door and I took her to the doctor. One broken finger.


HOCKEY

Two very intense NHL play-off hockey games last night.

Oh, speaking of hockey, remember that blog post from a few days back about having faith in your hockey teammates? Well, on Saturday, Gabe's team was losing zero to three and they came back with five unanswered goals to win that quarter-final game.

During the semi-final the next day, they had a one-zero lead over the undefeated Padres all the way until the last five minutes. Unfortunately they didn't come out on top, but losing one to two tells me it really could have gone either way. Good job boys!


COMMENT RESPONSES

Alex: eBay fees have gotten out of hand...they're not working for me either. I pay them more, and am getting less for my beads...and sadly they're still the biggest dog in the neighbourhood or I'd go elsewhere....

Sorry to hear eBay's not longer good for you either. And yet, they ARE still the biggest dog in the neighborhood. Gggrrrrrr!!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day, Mirrors, Metal Clay, and Movies

MOTHER'S DAY FOLLOW-UP

Here's the lovely card I received from my daughter (although when I asked who "we" were—because inside it says "we love you"—Monica informed me the card was from her and Gabe… my guess is Gabe probably didn't even know about the card).



I asked Mon how she made this and she said she pressed the flowers in her Math book. I find that completely endearing.


JEWELRY ON MIRROR

BTW, here's a photo (it's mine, so I can rag on it all I want) that is a perfect example of what I was talking about the other day. If you take photos of jewelry on mirrors, I think you give a completely erroneous impression of what's for sale.

In this photo, you can be told that it's a two-strand bracelet, but the photo itself imparts a much more substantial visual impression on the brain of the viewer.



Agree or not?

If not, I may do an experiment soon where I show jewelry both ways. You will see how much "skimpier" the reality jewelry looks compared with the "fluffed up" photo of it shot on a mirror.

But then… this leads us (or me, anyway) to…

If that's visually deceptive (subconsciously speaking), then isn't it also deceptive to show an enlarged photo of an item? You can TELL the buyer how big it is so they don't get the wrong impression by the enlarged photo, but it still sets a subconscious "visual image" into the buyer.

Yep. I stand at fault of that.

I guess we have to pick and choose our battles. I won't shoot on a mirror, but I will show enlarged photos of my work for sale.

Never throw stones. Hee hee…


METAL CLAY PROGRESS

So I woke up this morning to the realization I never heard the kiln beeping when it finished last night. Monica said she heard it… and spent five minutes trying to figure out how to turn her alarm clock off. Ha ha ha! Sorry, Mon.

No fab patinas, but in case you haven't been following my blog, I'm not getting attached to the patinas because I know they're not permanent. I'm not sure how transitory they are, but I don't want to market something based on a color subject to rapid fading.

One of my hollows changed shape slightly and came apart. I'll show you when I take pics. I'm anxious to get home tonight so I can start sanding and buffing (or whatever it's called).


MOVIES

We finished all our NetFlix… sending them back today. One was a Mystery Science Theater. I usually watch those on the weekends without kids. Then Mon and I watched Patriot Games and yesterday the three of us (yay Gabe!) watched Field of Dreams.

I know Mon put some stuff in the queue. I want to get back to my seven up series. Next is age 21.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Metal Clay and Mother's Day

METAL CLAY PROCESS

The one day I can actually RUN the kiln and I can’t ‘cause they’re “power-washing” the windows in my apt complex today… and I run my kiln out on my balcony. Hmph! Oh well, just makes the anticipation grow even more. And it COULD give me a chance to make a few more things to throw into the kiln.

Since I only have 6 leetle tiny silver bead caps, I s’pose I ought to make s’more silver stuff.

Well, I didn’t. I went to Hadar’s Friday night and in my completely inarticulate way tried to explain what I wanted to make. Sigh… although my explanation sucked and Hadar ended up showing me something else…. A) I like the “something else” and B) I can use what I learned with this technique to try to make the thing I had initially tried to explain.

Turns out, too, that the way I was going about trying to make this “thing” on my own was incredibly not practical. That’s the think about classes… you learn little tips and tricks for whatever it is the class is about.

Anyway, here is a copper hollow in its raw form. This is after making it and drying it.



Then this is a photo after I filed down the roughness.



I made three bronze and three copper hollow beads. Here’s what the try looks like after I filed all five.



Then I drilled holes into the dried beads and popped them (along with the pieces from last week) into the square thing (does it have a name?)…



It’s 9pm and I just started step one of the kiln so I might not be able to run step two until tomorrow.


MOTHER’S DAY

I got my mom something but I won’t be at her house for a couple of weeks so she’ll have to wait for it.

Monica woke me up this morning and gave me a beautiful handmade card. I’ll show you a picture tomorrow.

Mon then make pancakes for me for breakfast before we left for hockey. I’m guessing it was her first time making pancakes. She wouldn’t let me help her (and I know the importance of letting someone do a task by themselves) so I waited in the living room. She went through a couple of rounds before getting it right, but eventually we all had nice hot pancakes with boysenberry syrup.

Then it was off to San Jose for Gabe’s team’s semi-final. It was an impressive game. The other team won (2-1), but wow did the Cardinals make a great showing. The game really could have gone either way.

Yesterday’s game was amazing. We were down 3-0 and came back with five unanswered goals to win that quarter-final. NEVER give up.


MISC

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Oh, here’s a good one for Mother’s Day…

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Friday, May 8, 2009

eBay's Raised Fees... and other stuff... TGIF!

EBAY

Oy! Or should I say, "Ouch!"? When did eBay's selling fees go up to 12%? Granted that's for fixed priced listings, but still.

Auction style is almost 9%. No wonder people are talking about the eBay fees killing them.

I haven't really been paying attention to all the changes in 2009 (or was it earlier?) because I don't sell on eBay as much as I used to. Through no fault of my own, mind you. I still list there.

I hope their changes are working for someone 'cause they ain't workin' for me. And I barely work for them anymore. I used to (happily) pay eBay hundreds of dollars in fees each month but now it's like $10-$20. Whatever switches they made, they must be getting money from someone other than the independent artists now.


MISC

Here's a cutie pie!

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

fail owned pwned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures

I got an email today that stated someone had put my link up on their site and now required a reciprocal link (theirs) be put on my site. Um... no.


TRIVIA FOR THE DAY

What is the difference between "simile" and "metaphor"?
The simile makes a comparison where there are shared attributes between the tenor and the vehicle ("He is like a snake"). A simile contains "like" or "as". The metaphor makes a direct equality, or identification, between two things ("He is a snake"). Frequently, the metaphor will contain a form of the verb "to be".


JEWELRY PRICING CALCULATOR

I've temporarily stopped selling this since about one out of ten people who buys it asks me to send them the formulas used in the excel file. I obviously need to make myself clearer in the item description. I'm not selling the formulas… I'm selling a file that calculates the formulas for you. It took me years of work and research to come up with those formulas. Sigh…


COMMENT RESPONSES

Chris
I cracked up over the cellulite comment. It's not cellulite...it's texture. It adds dimension. :) I wonder if you tried flattening the jump rings into ovals if they wouldn't be so overpowering?

Regarding the photographing on shiny black, did you line the top of your cube with something black? The shiny black surface will reflect the top of your photo cube.


Ha! Chris, I don't mind making "cellulite jewelry" once I've mastered the ability to make smooth jewelry. I've always felt it's more than okay to take massive liberties with any form of art… once you have learned the basics. I'm so far from learning the basics it's not even funny (regarding metals, anyway).

I love your idea about the jumprings. I will try that!

Yes, I did (previously) line my cube with black, but truthfully it seemed like quite the PITA set-up. Actually, just yesterday I ordered a white photo cube (my current one has a black top and white sides). I may find it easier to work with.

I also think I will try using a different angle for the shiny black background photos and save the gradient background for the straight overhead shots.

BTW, your new heart pendants rock on so many levels. First, I love the design! You are so innovative… I love that!!! Second, kudos to you for supporting a cause you care about. (And your children are lovely and exude happiness!)

Hey! I went to buy a heart and put a link here. You're all out!!! Waaaaa! Gonna have more soon?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

TAKING BEAD AND JEWELRY PHOTOS and IS IT WORTH LISTING THIS PIECE OF JEWELRY

TAKING BEAD AND JEWELRY PHOTOS

Today we revisit my angst over photography.

Although I'm tempted to get a new camera, the ones I want are very pricey and I'm not convinced I'm currently taking full advantage of what I already possess. And so I go back to experimenting (also known as practice, practice, practice).

But rather than going over the same old ground, I must try some new things. I'm investing (finally) in a metallic riser and a macro light for my Nikon, as well as a couple of different lights. Switching from Tungsten to CFL… and the new lights will be able to adjust in height.

BTW, I'm listing two online places where you can get a lot of photo tips:
http://www.shortcourses.com/use/
http://www.tabletopstudio.com/HowTo_page.html


IS IT WORTH LISTING THIS PIECE OF JEWELRY

And all of this makes me feel like taking the time to design, make, photograph, list and ship anything that has a price tag under $25 isn't worth my investment. I hope that doesn't sound odd, but time is a most precious commodity to me.

Let's say I have some earrings…



... These are sterling silver posts, sterling silver chain, six 4mm Swarovski bicones, six vintage Swarovski circle pendants, and a bit of 22g sterling wire.

That's about $9 in materials. Say it takes me about 30 minutes to get all the components gathered, measure and cut the chain, and wire-wrap the crystals onto the chain (that's being generous; I'm a very slow worker in reality).

Next I have to figure out what I pay myself per hour, or what I'd pay someone else to make these for me. Since this is something Monica (my daughter) could do, I'll go with her hourly rate (mine is too high). I pay her $15 per hour. Keep in mind, we live in the San Francisco bay area. We have a very different cost of living than most other places and therefore get paid a higher hourly wage than most places.

Okay, so 30 mins at $15 per hour is $7.50 of labor costs.

Overhead (listing fees, paypal fees, etc) is $3.50.

Okay, so we're up to $20 of our expenses… the cost to us to make these earrings.

Now the problem is, what would you expect to pay for this pair of earrings. Yes, at a fancy Hollywood boutique, I'm sure SOMEONE would buy them for $50 or more. But I object to that on a few levels (that I'm not going into right now).

Back to what the common man would pay for them then… I'm saying $25. I probably wouldn't pay more than $25 for them, but I can't look at them without seeing them broken down into MATERIALS + LABOR.

It's like when I look at a totally captivating lampwork bead… I may have no clue how simple or how difficult it was to make. I can only go by how much I like the bead. So it's hard for me to guess what someone would pay for these earrings because I can't see them with unbiased eyes.

Anyway, here's my point. If I list those earrings for $25, then I'm saying I'm perfectly happy to make $5 profit for taking a photo, editing the photo, making a listing, spamming the item around the 'net a bit, then packaging it up, printing postage, and shipping it off. Oh, don't forget emails and feedback.

It's totally not worth my time. But I still enjoy making jewelry like that. Luckily for me, I have two options.

The items whose profits would garner less than $10 may not be worth all the trouble of photographing and listing, but they are worth making and selling in person. No overhead and no time-related expenses. Tada!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Photographing Jewelry, Bronze and Copper Clay, Funny Cat Pictures

BRONZE AND COPPER CLAY

Okay, time for s'more info.

This (btw, all these photos were with my cell phone... sorry, I haven't been home in days)…



... is a bracelet I made that has many flaws, but it was a learning experience.

You may recall, these are what the sections looked like straight out of the kiln…



They are bronze with copper inlay.

So here are some of the things I learned:

1) The inlay parts need to be more pronounced and/or more prolific. An especially bad design flaw is that one of the center pieces (most seen) barely has any copper on it at all.

2) Because of the way these types of bracelets are, the main way to connect the segments will be very large jump rings. If your segments are small (like these) they can be visually swallowed up by the jumprings. Look at the bracelet… don't you think the jumprings totally overpower the segments? Will make larger segments next time. Monica made one, but I haven't gotten any photos of it yet.

3) I really have to work on … what's the word?... ending up with a smoother finished product.

Take a look at a close-up of one of the bracelet segments…



I have no desire to have my metal clay pieces look like cellulite. Where can I do the refining? Before baking, after, both? Most likely both.

I wonder if I should just throw a bunch of scratchy texture on these pieces, kind like it was before I did the sanding…



Anyway, this is what the bracelet looks like on. See what I mean about the jumprings?



Remember those pieces of Monica's that I showed you (in the background) in this photo... this is after baking but before anything else.


I finally got some tools and we got to sanding.

This is (sorry, again a photo taken with my cell phone) what it looks like now and Mon's given me permission to list it for sale (after I take decent photos).




PHOTOGRAPHING JEWELRY

Those who've heard me gripe for years now, know that taking photographs is one of my downfalls. I do need to spend more time experimenting with other techniques, but sometimes I don't even know what to try next.

I have a lovely necklace ready to list… except that I can't get decent photos. For me, necklaces are one of the toughest things to photograph, second only to earrings.

Here's a picture of the necklace on my mannequin…



I'm not thrilled with this photo, but it will do because when I show my jewelry on a model, it's more so the potential customer can get an idea how the piece lays and what it looks like on. This can be very different than how a piece of jewelry looks when it's flat on a piece of paper. Jewelry has to be more than a combination of nice-looking beads. It has to have balance, instant aesthetic appeal, comfort, etc.

This is the only salvageable photo of the necklace not on a model…



It's not terrific, but it's passable.

Dreadful, however, is what I ended up with when I decided I wanted a shiny black background to photo this necklace.



I typically use (recently, anyway) a black to white (gradient) background. Not overly shiny.

But when I see something (else) I like, I want to try emulating it. Actually, there WAS something I could purchase as a background, but I was taking the shorter (faster… and apparently more disastrous) road instead. I went to Tap Plastics and had them cut a few options for me. I have not gotten one decent photo on any of the backgrounds. Hmph!

In this photo, the focus is completely off. I can't seem to ever get ALL the dust off the background. The top of the photo cube reflects in the background. The colors are dreadful. Anything metallic gets totally washed out. ARGH!

The only thing I like about it is the one reason I wanted to shoot on shiny black in the first place. See how the reflection is pretty prominent? I like that. I do NOT like when people photograph on mirrors, however, because that makes the jewelry look like twice more than what it is.

I'll obviously keep experimenting. I have to reshoot that necklace.

These earrings…



These earrings...



And... a bunch of other stuff. Sigh…


IT'S BEEN AWHILE

Since I've shared some of my favorite cheezburger cats with you…









funny pictures of cats with captions

funny pictures of cats with captions