Monday, June 29, 2009

Pricing Calculator Version 2, Collaboration, Etsy, Great Expectations, Metal Clay, My First Foray Into Silver Land

METAL CLAY, MY FIRST FORAY INTO SILVER LAND

Yes, it’s true… anomaly though it may be, I learned Bronze and Copper clay before ever even TRYING silver clay.

I have a friend that I want to make something for… big hole bead caps. So I tried yesterday, finally opening my silver and making, oh about a dozen or so. Two different sizes, three different patterns.



That’s my set up for drying them. The largest spheres I have are some massive Quartz beads. But they roll!!! It was a lightbulb moment when I noticed a tray of Alex beads sitting on my coffee table. Ah, perfect set up to hold my Quartz beads still. Then I just laid the wet clay bead caps on top of the Quartz spheres and let them dry. (Once they were dry like this, I moved them to the candle warmer.)

I looked up on the internet, and not taking it from ONE source alone, determined that I’d try a firing schedule of 1650 degrees for two hours. Almost all the websites said this was best. I’m talkin’ PMC3 here. Yeah, I know… the insert-recommended firing schedule is something more like 1250 for 30 minutes. But I swear, there were a million websites that said PMC3 should be fired at 1650 for two hours. Wwwwwwaaaa!

Darn… just remembered that my kiln supposedly runs hot. Argh!

Got up this morning, opened the kiln, and actually thought at first that my bead caps had evaporated. But no, they’d merely sunk into the aluminum hydrate (the stuff you use if you don’t want your silver to slump during firing… helps it hold its shape).

Everyone said silver comes out of the kiln white, so don’t be startled. Um… mine came out black. Or at least dark gray.

Please don’t laugh… here’s my disastrous results.



Okay, seven flat out broke. Three were intact (one is off camera), one of which has a gnarly edge and can’t be used… the other… meh.

Here’s the one I think is salvageable. I didn’t tumble it because it wasn’t ever white. Shrug. I did, however, LOS it a bit, then buffed it. I like the two-tone look.



My thinking is: either that firing schedule is really NOT appropriate for PMC3… or my kiln runs hot and I need to lower that a bit… or I just made my pieces too dang thin (I was idiotically trying to make my silver last).

Not all my pieces fit into the bowl of aluminum hydrate, so now I need to know…

Can my five leftover, non-fired caps be reconstituted?

Can anything be done with my icky, but fine silver busted bead caps?

Oh, now here’s something interesting. As I sit here and type this, I pause and pick up the quilted pendant. I turn it over and notice pitting.



But then it hits me! The back of this pendant is copper; copper isn’t supposed to pit. And then… I get an idea. I grab the photo I took before firing… the photo of the bits of binder in this piece. I make the photos match in size and I lay them one on top of the other. Then I make the top one translucent and start rotating it. There! I’d say those binder bits match up pretty well with the pits. Wouldn’t you? (The white dots are the binder; the dark dots are the pits.)




Oh, and great news! Monica’s pendant is selling tonight. Whoohoo!!!


PRICING CALCULATOR VERSION 2

Finally got it listed, in eBay, Etsy, ArtFire, and my website.


GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Saw Great Expectations the other night. The one with Gwenyth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke. What was up with all the green? Personally, I found it to be overkill. The point (whatever the point was) could have been made without hitting the audience over the head with green overload. Subtlety works too.


OPINIONS

Is it possible for me to go one day without voicing a single opinion? I’m considering this and may expound upon it at a later time.


ETSY

Watched an interesting thing on Etsy just now (which was last night). I listed a piece of jewelry, then went to the main page, clicked on BUY, then CATEGORY, then JEWELRY. Then I watched… and refreshed every few seconds. Within five minutes my listing went straight from oblivion to… the second page. Ha ha ha! It never even got on the front page… not of jewelry anyway. It did last a few seconds on the front page of the subcategory of necklace at least.


COLLABORATION

Here’s a sneak peak of a bracelet Mon and I collaborated on. She made the bronze clay pieces and I put the bracelet together.




COMMENTS

Cindy Gimbrone:
Thanks for sharing your bronze and copper clay journey in such rich detail, Laura. The mandala is beautiful! I don't doubt you'll sell many of those!

I love LOL cats! Sometimes I feel like I'm the staring contest :-)

Keep doin' whatcha do! It's all lovely!

Cindy


Thank YOU for reading my blog. Y’know, I go back to my posts all the time when I need to refer to something I’ve done or a setting I’ve used. It’s nice to think that anyone else reads about my metal education.

I agree with you about Alex’s mandala. She’s going to let me use it when I post the tutorial listing. Yay!

BTW, your most recent blog post comes on the heels of someone chastising me for having a blog with no focus. Ha ha ha! I’m supposed to have one “jewelry” blog and one “personal crap” blog, I guess. Far be it from me to ever do anything I’m supposed to, though. Besides, my jewelry IS me… I can’t separate them. Everything I do in my life is connected to everything else I do in my life. It’s all intertwined and would be really hard to pigeon-hole things into separate compartments.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Metal Clay Follow-Up

ARTFIRE COMPLAINTS

Yeah, I know they’re new and all, but there are enough people who’ve joined ArtFire to warrant ArtFire having enough hired personnel to deal with some of the consistently annoying issues on the site.

I can’t begin to list the things still being complained about by those of us trying to use the site that have NOT been dealt with. What a huge disappointment they are turning into.

BTW, this has nothing to do with my success or non-success in selling there. I’m talking about annoying things that have been mentioned to the ArtFire admins time and again that are not being taken care of. It makes me not want to list any more products there until they get their act together… but I’ve been waiting months and it’s still not happening. So sad.

I hear that it’s even worse if you try to use the site as a buyer. Ugh!


METAL CLAY FOLLOW-UP

Last night, after I posted my blog, I had one of those lightning bolt moments. During class Friday, when I was showing my “Orient Express” bracelet (so named because it’s a “mystery” to me what the Chinese characters stand for) around and Hadar had asked me if I’d done anything different that might account for the colorful patina. I thought back, and nope, nothing different. Even quite the opposite of what one might expect, as I didn’t even take the pieces out while they were hot… after both phases, I let the kiln cool down all the way naturally.

But then just before going to bed I remembered… I remember that icky moment I’d had with the kiln. During phase two, I was trying to look at the numbers on the digital read-out, y’know, see where I was progress-wise. During the day, if the sun is on this side of the building, you just can’t see an LED readout. I thought my kiln had stopped. So I began to push buttons. By the time I’d figured out that it was just the LED readout and not the kiln itself, several minutes had passed and I don’t even know if when I got it back going again with its program if it was starting the cycle over or picking up where it left off or picking up where it left off but ramping up fast to catch back up to wherever it was before I started messing with it. Argh!

And I think what a shame it is that I don’t remember exactly WHEN this happened (as in, what exact moment of phase two) and/or exactly what I did at that time. I’d love to replicate it if that’s what produced my colorful patinas.

So I wake up this morning and I’m laying in bed thinking, “It’s your birthday, you really should get up and do something.” And then I remember I have a kiln full of stuff to check out. Oh yeah, baby, THAT gets me out of bed.

Here’s the goods, straight out of the kiln.



Apparently it wasn’t my mistake from earlier that gave me the patina. Yay!

BTW, that black stuff is just charcoal powder. After the pieces sat for a second (and after I took the picture), I turned the pieces upsidedown and all the black stuff came off.


A PET PEEVE

I don’t like being asked what my favorite (of anything) is. I don’t have a favorite color, meal, movie or book. First of all, I have many “things” that I like in any given category, and secondly my likes and dislikes change.

Okay, that was no big deal. But I just wanted to get it off my chest.


COMMENTS

mclainjewelry: It was great to see your finished pieces in the bronze and the pot and the kiln. I love the raku look of the finished product. I don't think I will venture there, though ... so much schtuffz going on with charcoal and containers, etc! I think the bead mandala is fantastic!

Thanks, Cathleen! Y’know, I actually allowed myself to be intimidated by clay for years based on a comment from a lampworker about how difficult a medium it was to work in. I mean, I figured, heck if LAMPWORKERS think it’s hard, what chance would I ever have? Ha ha ha!

But it’s funny, because it’s the list of “things” that keeps me from soldering projects. The pickling and the flux and the polishing (not in that order). I need projects that I can do here and there, in bits in pieces. If I have to get a whole “set-up” going, well that just doesn’t work. I rarely (if ever) have a full day to spend doing something.

Meh, I’m sure those are all just excuses on my part.

Anyway, I agree, Alex’s bead mandala is fab! I hope she does more. If she put them on notecards, I’d buy them in a heartbeat. Maybe I can talk her into a partnership deal.

Alex: Laser cutters aren't generally available to the common man, unless the man has mega-bucks. It might have been cut with a plasma cutter, still spendy but the common man (with a few bucks) can get one. My guess is it was a purchased component... And cool bracelets!

Hm… plasma cutter. Y’know, my first thought was also “purchased component”, but after looking at the profile and other items for sale, I really got the impression this was a bonafide metalsmith person. I’m gonna have to go back into my history for that day and have another look. Hee hee.

And thanks for the compliment on the bracelets. 99.9% of the credit, however, goes to the glass artist (as in most cases with my jewelry). I hate to think I’ll be making less and less jewelry in the future out of Lampwork, but I just can’t put the prices as high as the pieces deserve and I feel it’s so disrespectful to both me and the lampworkers if my pieces (using their work) sell for huge discount prices (as in, materials cost or less… ugh).

There was a post in the LE bathroom yesterday where a lampworker showed a matching pair of beads and asked for comments as to her idea on price ($30). The general consensus was that her price was spot on. The beads were really nice and I agreed that the price was spot on. The problem with a jewelry maker, though, is that if I buy those beads and make earrings out of them, it’s unlikely I’d make a profit and I’d most likely take a loss when selling them. Why? Maybe it’s me… maybe it’s where I sell. Perhaps in a Beverly Hills boutique or given the right artist’s name, those earrings could easily bring a profit to the maker, but I don’t sell in Beverly Hills boutiques nor do I have a name that commands such prices.

So although I TOTALLY feel the lampworkers’ prices are fair to them as artists, I can no longer buy any Lampwork beads because it’s not a feasible component option for me as a jewelry maker.


mclainjewelry: Laura, I totally missed why you are going to Hanover (Dartmouth) Is Gabe gonna go to school there? You know I am just over 2 hours from Boston .. if he does end up going there on one of your trips East, please consider flying into Bradley (Hartford) and visiting me (15 min from airport.. I can pick you p) then driving north to Hanover (only adds maybe an hour to your journey and hey you can visit my mess and my kitties!!)

About the laser cutting ... Google : laser cut metal and you will see many links including Youtube videos. At its best there are some cool intricate results... but usually it is just used for kitsch.

Thank you so much for buying my pin... I have spent 400 dollars for car repairs in the last week (there goes my rent) so it REALLY REALLY REALLY helps! Now .. the other day you were pondering on how to maximize your Etsy ... um um the way to make money on Etsy is to hang in there and NOT spend all your profits *snark*... but thanks so much anyhooooo.

I feel sad when I see empty shops on Etsy or elsewhere... people do give up a bit too easily. I have had sales come out of the blue so I just keep on listing. I just finished a big batch of pins, so my photographing extravaganza is about to begin, then I will list. I also have a craft fair in RL 3 weeks from tomorrow and saturday. Hope the weather cooperates, that is all I ask.

Thanks again.


Ha! Cathleen, I don’t expect people to keep up with my ramblings. I’m going to Dartmouth in July with Gabe because he has a goalie camp there. I wish I’d known ahead of time about Hartford. I really didn’t have any preferences as to airports, once I realized there weren’t any big, convenient ones. Ha ha ha! I would have loved to see you!

Okay, I will google laser cut metal and have a look. Apparently I’m intrigued enough. :-)

Sorry to hear about your car repairs. I was just thinking that since mine is over the 80,000 mile mark I’d better stash some cash… y’know, just in case.

And no, I’m not giving up yet. Heck, I’ve been with Etsy practically since it began, why would I give up now? Ha ha ha! But now that I’m settled in, finally, after the move, I am making more items and trying to keep the listings going.


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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Astounding Ebay Discovery, Dreams, Weather, Friends, Bead Mandala, Bronze Clay Rocks Necklace, Metal Clay

METAL CLAY

Sold my second work in Bronze Metal Clay. Yay!!! It was the necklace earring set with orange enameled beads and textured bronze charms.

And, I got the most heart-warming letter from the person who bought (and just received) my first sold piece in metal clay. I swear, I have the best customers. They are just beyond awesome.

Went to Hadar’s class last night. And before I forget, let me tell you that the Friday night group of ladies are some of the most artistic, creative, bright, friendly, and innovative women I’ve ever had the pleasure of hanging out with.

Anyway, as usual, I’d done no thinking previous to getting there. Lucky for me, I forgot my already made clay (I mean, who thinks to look in the fridge for something they may have forgotten?), so I got to stall by mixing up a new batch. I think part of the problem is I’m just not an “evening” person. My brain is like off-duty after about 3pm.

So I mixed and rolled and I guess Hadar figured it out pretty easily. She mentioned that when people were learning silver clay from her, she’d usually start them on her… hm, does it have a name? The quilt pendant perhaps? I’m too lazy to go look it up, but it’s a pretty familiar piece if you know Hadar’s work.

As much as I thought I really did roll my newly mixed copper clay quite enough, I see now I didn’t. Here’s the back of my quilt pendant (as it was drying)…



See those white dots? Binder. Grrr… They’re not supposed to show like that. It means I didn’t mix the stuff up enough. I will say one thing, though… This bit of copper was at the end of my container of copper and when I mixed my first few batches from this container, I didn’t realize I was supposed to shake the container before pouring the powder into the bowl. So it could be I needed to roll WAY more because there was more binder at the bottom of the container (this I did notice).

These three pieces are newly made, dried, and currently in the kiln. The big bamboo pendant at the top is nothing special but I thought if it turned out I wanted to give it to a friend of mine and she could hang it somewhere weird where she’d see it every so often and maybe think, “Well, that’s not spectacular by any stretch of the imagination, but someone thought of me when they made it and I love sentiment.”



Then there’s also my quilt pendant and in the upper right is something I made just ‘cause I had nothing else to do while I was waiting for my quilt parts to dry and I didn’t have the time to start an involved project.

Here’s a photo of my new kiln pot. I can’t remember if I already showed you. It’s shallower than the old pot (which means I can raise it up on stilts and it doesn’t touch the lid of the kiln (as the old pot did). It’s also round, which makes it a better fit for even heating since my kiln’s inside is roundish. It’s larger in diameter than the old pot, so every part of the outside diameter of the new pot gets some kiln heat (the old one only heated one side well). And finally (and the best part), it came with a flat lid. Yay!



Here’s how I arranged my stuff.



At first, I was going to try the large pendant in a vertical position, but it really would have been close to the top and bottom of the kiln. And now that I look at it, I’m thinking, “Shouldn’t I have put it face down?” D’oh!

Here’s the position of the new pot in the kiln.



As I continue to learn and experiment with metal clay, I want to try to record most of my methods so that I can repeat things that work and alter things that don’t.

The kiln finished phase 1. I let it cool with the lid closed from 1000 to 556, at which point I opened the lid a couple of inches. I plan to let it get down a couple more hundred degrees like this then I’ll open the lid fully. After it cools all the way down, I’ll vacuum the ash out, put the lid on and start phase two so that I will have some finished project by morning. Yay!


NEW LISTING

Finally listed this necklace, btw, with the bronze rocks (another Hadar technique).



Next week I’ll put that and the two latest bracelets in the other stores (Etsy, eBay, ArtFire).


THE NEW PRICING CALCULATOR

I took a couple days off. I’ll get back to it… I already have many orders. Hope to have version 2 done by Monday.


THE MANDALA TUTORIAL

I had several people test it for me. I’ve gotten some good feedback. I’d like to thank my testers.

Here’s a sample of one of the mandalas that a tester made. I think it’s fabulous and have been given permission to use it when I list the tutorial.




FRIENDS

One of the most important things I learned through my divorce from the children’s father was that friends are a crucial part of life. It’s taken me a few years now, but I’ve built up a little mound of friends over the past ten years… and it’s really comforting. I think complete isolation can be a bad thing.

I’m still not a terribly social person, but I want to be there for my friends and I know they are (usually) there for me.

I recently called upon one of them. She dropped what she was doing and instantly drove an hour to see me. How special that makes me feel. I hope I can do the same when someone needs me.


WEATHER

The heat has finally set in. I’m not poking fun, but I will say that this will now bring on a slew of threads by lampworkers complaining (for months) about the heat and how it’s too hot to torch. Then a month or two will pass and they’ll switch to complaining about how it’s too cold to torch. It’s almost comforting to see these threads… sometimes consistency is soothing.

Anyway, yeah, it’s hot here, so I pulled the a/c out of the patio closet and got it into the window. Can’t start it up yet ‘cause the kiln’s running, but I will try it later. Wish me luck.


DREAMS

I dreamed last night that I was in a crowd of people and a large tree (well, I only saw the trunk) fell right smack in front of me. I remember screaming or gasping. I didn’t know, at the time, that it was a dream. It missed me, for which I felt fortunate, but it did fall on others. “To see a falling tree in your dream, indicates that you are off balance and out of sync. You are off track and headed in the wrong direction.”

I also dreamed I was staying at a sort of fancy commune or hostel-type place. But part of the agreement of being able to stay there for free was that we had to work, which was fine. We were supposed to wear a uniform but no matter how many I tried on I couldn’t find one that fit.


ASTOUNDING EBAY DISCOVERY

You can make the pictures in eBay bigger!!! Like, when you’re doing a search. I had no idea.


This first one, TOTALLY reminds me of Sharky…

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Mandalas, Pricing Calculator, Jewelry Kits, Threading Eyebrows

MANDALAS

I'm working on a Photoshop tutorial for making mandalas. I hope to have it done by today or tomorrow.


PRICING CALCULATOR

I am just putting the finishing touches on version two. People who already purchased version one can upgrade for $5, and version two will be selling for $10.


JEWELRY KITS

I've also been toying with the idea of throwing a few kits together. I was thinking how easy it would be for someone to have all the components to make what they wanted without having to go out and buy oodles of stuff and be stuck with all the leftover. And unless you buy in bulk for the best prices, there is always leftover. It you DON'T buy in bulk, you can end up paying outrageous prices. Ask me… I do it whenever I have a custom order and need just one or two specific things.


THREADING EYEBROWS

So, I wanted to see what the actual process is, and in looking around I stumbled upon a YouTube video of someone who actually shows you how to do it yourself. I thought it was pretty cool. I'm sure I'd take about 400 times longer to do it than the instructor does, but it was still cool to watch.


GABE

My son does NOT get homesick. I used to joke about how he went to a goalie camp in Canada when he was 13 and didn't call me once.

But here he is, doing it again. He's in L.A. for a two week goalie camp. He left on Father's day and although I did speak with him briefly on Monday, he hasn't called or texted since. I'm trying not to sound all clingy ('cause I'm not, really), but I guess I just want to know that he's enjoying the camp… so I don't have to worry about him down there having a terrible time on my dime. Ha ha ha!

Well, I'm taking the silence as good news. I will infer that he's just having so much fun he doesn't have time to get in contact with me.


COMMENTS

Melanie-Pearl: that last bracelet is amazing! it's really quite set apart from all of your other designs. wow!

Wow, Melanie! I'm so glad you commented. Well, thanks… first of all for the nice comment about my bracelet. But I got to check out your blog and your Etsy store. Both so interesting and inspiring! I love your metalwork.


mclainjewelry: This has been my slowest month ... Laura please don't judge by THIS month... try your experiment in October or November and I bet you will reap the benefits! It always works for me ... the more I list and relist the more I sell ... even if I cycle something 5 times that is still just a $1.00 listing fee ... really worth hangin in there!

First off, I don't know how you can sell your artwork for such low prices. Wowie! I couldn't resist. Although this one was also very tempting.

Anyway, thanks for reminding me that it's June. D'oh! I know that the summer months (particularly June) are slower for sales. That, combined with the current U.S. economy, is making sales, sellers, and buyers scarce, I guess.

And yes, I will continue cycling and re-cycling… When I gave Ruby Lane a "good shot", I spent a fortune in their in-house advertising blah blah blah. You can't say I didn't try.


Misty: Just thought I would leave you info. on the US version of "How To Look Good Naked". It is on lifetime. Here is a link to the page where you can watch past episodes. http://www.mylifetime.com/on-tv/shows/how-to-look-good-naked/video

Thanks for the link, Misty! I didn't know you could watch whole episodes.


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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Laser-Cut Metal, Favorite Sellers, New Jewelry, Dartmouth, Movies

LASER-CUT METAL

I saw a listing on Etsy today that caught my eye. I was impressed with how someone could sell such a meticulously cut out piece of metal for such a small amount of money. I mean, first you design the piece, then you have to saw the parts out that get removed, then you file and sand and polish. But in the description, it said it was laser cut.

This confuses me. Are machines that can cut a given pattern via laser readily available to the common man now or was this person just using a component they purchased somewhere?


WHERE DID ALL MY FAVORITE SELLERS GO?

Anyway, this week, some of my time was spent in market research. I had already known that many (okay most) of my favorite eBay sellers were not selling anything and probably haven’t been for awhile. If I go to someone’s eBay listings and they have nothing listed, it’s usually a while before I go back.

What surprised me, however, was the high number of my favorite Etsy sellers whose stores are empty.

Have a lot of jewelry sellers just stopped trying to sell or have they gone somewhere I’m not aware of?


NEW JEWELRY

I have some new stuff, but listing is a slow process… particularly when I’m watching Sense and Sensibility at the same time. So far I only have two bracelets up.



And…




DARTMOUTH

I (finally!) made the flight arrangements to Dartmouth. When I saw the sketch of the airplane during the “choose your seats” part of the process, I admit I considered backing out. Flying! *shudder*.

I even went so far as to rent a car for the week. No hotel yet… can’t do it all in a day. Heh

We’re flying in to Boston, then will drive for 2-3 hours to Hanover. I’m not rushing us. Gave us plenty of time on each side of going and returning in order to pretend this is a vacation.


MOVIES

Mon and I watched Slap Shot (I’d never seen it). I wasn’t impressed. We watched something else (that I wasn’t impressed with), but I don’t recall now what it was. Oh yeah (I cheated… and looked at our NetFlix queue)… Wuthering Heights. There was no one in that movie to sympathize with. Blah! A movie entirely about self-centered people.

Well, now I have to go pick some new ones.

TTYS!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Photographing Jewelry, Etsy’s Latest Move, and Today’s Listings

PHOTOGRAPHING JEWELRY

Set up the cube and got ready for some more experimenting. Eventually, I want to get back to taking one or two photos for my listings, but until I see what makes the best photo *I* can do, I’m trying various backgrounds and camera settings.


ETSY’S LATEST

Don’t know when it happened… I’m not very Etsy-savvy… but they added a thing where you can have your listing rotate among (I don’t know how many) other listings at the top of the category page for $7 a day. But good luck getting a spot. The few times I looked to see what it was all about, they were completely sold out. The Etsy admins must be very happy. I’m assuming the people who are paying for the extra advertising are also very happy… if it’s making a difference to their sales.

I’m not ready to go that far with my experimenting, but I am trying to keep the listings up there. Where? I’m not exactly sure. New listings seem to zoom off the front category page in a matter of seconds. Heh.

Anyway, I’ll keep this up (listing and renewing, several times a day) maybe until the end of the month. If I don’t see a difference, I may just close my Etsy store altogether. I just don’t have the time or inclination to have my one-of-a-kind designs in too many online markets. I mention “one-of-a-kind” designs, because I feel these are more time-consuming to list than anything I can shoot once, and list once, but have 10 or more in my stock to sell. With OOAKs, you spend all that time and when your item sells, that’s it… you have to consider that time to shoot, photo-edit, and list as part of the expense of that one piece.


TODAY’S LISTINGS

Got some bracelets up today.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Metaphysical Or Just Not Yet Common Knowledge? And… Another Fun Way To Donate To Animal Causes

METAPHYSICAL OR JUST NOT YET COMMON KNOWLEDGE?

I have a DS game I play when I need to kill a few minutes. It's an anagram game. I get five or six letters (I've played this game for a year and can't remember if it's five or six… how sad is that?!) and then I make those letters into as many 3-or-more letter words as I can before getting all of the ones the DS has or before I give up.

Anyway, sometimes (often!) I get stumped. There will be one or more words that I just can't think what they are no matter how long or how hard I stare at the letters. But I have found (through MANY experiments) that if I go away and come back later that day or even the next day, those missing words suddenly come to effortlessly. Eek!

This leads me to believe that some part of my subconscious has been working on the puzzle while my conscious mind is totally oblivious to it.

I would think this can't possibly be true and must surely be coincidence, but it's happened too many times to be coincidence.

Anyway, if it's true, it just goes to show that we haven't a clue of the full potential of our minds.

Remember the scarf thing? There's an old saying that if you lose something, tie a knot in a scarf and you will find it.

Here's my theory on how/why this works (because it DOES work for me, ridiculous as it may sound): believing that tying a knot in a scarf makes your lost object appear takes the pressure of your mind about finding it yourself. Because when you're frantically looking around for it, it's like that thing in my anagram game… I can't get it no matter how hard I try. But… if I "let it go" and let my subconscious take over and simply REMEMBER where I put the thing, then I find it apparently miraculously.

BTW, I tied a knot in a scarf this morning and within five minutes I found something Mon and I had been looking for for a few weeks, and a couple hours later I found something I'd been frantically looking for for three days.

I'm just saying…


HOCKEY

Tonight, I have to make sure the dog is walked and dinner is prepared so that I can sit in front of the tv for three hours and watch what I hope will be a good hockey game.


ANOTHER FUN WAY TO DONATE TO ANIMAL CAUSES

Here's a photo contest. Only $2 per photo entered. Think of it as a donation. Like, if you would be interested in donated $50 to their cause, you can submit 25 photo entries. How fun is that?! I'm definitely doing it.


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Thursday, June 11, 2009

How To Look Good Naked… and Bronze Clay

BRONZE CLAY

Alright, I concede. I'm going to take my few latest pieces and try to sell them "as is"… meaning with the colorful patinas on them. I'm sure my listings will be filled to the brim with caveats, though. Ha ha ha!

Sent out a mailer today letting some of my previous customers know about the latest creations I put on the site. Within minutes the items were already leaving the shelves. That's "yay" for me especially because then I don't have to bother listing these things on eBay, Etsy or Artfire. I really would love to be able to just list on my own site and not spend so much time doing the other stuff.


HOCKEY

Yep, the Penguins are making it a seven-game final series. How exciting! I am not going anywhere Friday night… will be riveted to the tv.



URBAN LEGENDS

I get at least one email each week from a well-intentioned friend trying to warn me or update me to the lastest "thing"… a warning, interesting fact, etc.

Invariably all I do is respond with the http://snopes.com URL pointing out the non-reality of the email.

Here is one, however, that I'd like to share that is NOT a hoax. This really happened. I'm only sharing it because, not only is it odd, but it had a happy ending.



Read more.



GABE'S ADVENTURE

So I get this text today from Gabe, "OMG, I missed my bus stop and I'm going to Alameda!"

Well, I guess that's what happens when you're the last stop before the tunnel under the estuary. He ended up getting off the bus at it's first stop once on the island, but had no money for a transfer or another ticket (OMG I am ALWAYS telling my kids to keep emergency money on them!!!).

The walk home (through the tunnel) took him about 45 minutes. Not too bad. I'm mostly impressed he could find his way home. This is a child who can look in the fridge and not see the gallon of milk in front of his face.


HOW TO LOOK GOOD NAKED

My eyes were opened to a new television show today… one that I've never seen and will now try to find. It's a British show called "How to Look Good Naked" hosted by Gok Wan.

It's no secret that being overweight is harder on your internal organs than not being overweight, but that doesn't equate with "hate your fat self". Maybe it'd even be easier to lose weight if you loved yourself, body and soul, unconditionally.

I was reading an article that mentions the "speed and drama" weight loss of the hit American show "The Biggest Loser". And the "torture tactics involving crash diets, liposuction, dental implants and hair extensions" of Extreme Makeover.

Shows like this seem almost violent when compared with Wan's "non-judgmental, sympathetic" approach. Apparently he teaches women, not only to love themselves but also how to buy and wear clothes that flatter rather than fatten them… and all without surgery or a teeth-whitening freebie.

One review calls it: "A really positive show that promotes happiness as opposed to making women strive for a media created look."

I'm definitely looking for this show. I love anti-drama.

BTW, there are plans for an America version of the show, but with a different host. Um… just saying'…

All that aside, however, I still want to be a healthier weight. But I'd like to think of these two things separately. Love myself unconditionally… and get healthy.

I have an idea about another project. Another project?! Are you nuts!!!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Gay Animals, New Bracelet Listings, Lovely Colors out of the Kiln

METAL CLAY ADVENTURES

When I go home today, I will have Christmas. Well, it FEELS like Christmas. I open my kiln and sift out the "treasures" from the charcoal.

What did I put in there and what changes/experiments am I up to?

I've got six copper in bronze charms. Although I'm getting closer in my progress to perfecting this skill, I still have much work ahead of me. I did make the bronze parts thicker. But a new problem has shown itself. I thought my molds (stamps?) were deep enough, but I think I prefer to find even deeper ones. The grooves left for my copper inlays are still so shallows. Maybe I'll play with forms rather than stamps next time.

I also have one larger inlay pendant and then my five re-fires (from like a month ago). They were the hollow forms that didn't sinter properly.

The good news is that I used my new tin (do I say "tin" if it's made out of stainless steel?) for this firing. It's a flan pan, actually… and I'll try to get some photos of it tonight so you can see. It's larger in diameter than the table pan I was using previously. It's more shallow and it has a flat lid. All the things I was looking for.

Well, I didn’t take a picture of the new container, but I am home now and I got a picture of my pieces straight from the kiln.




After seeing these colors, I wish I’d put that one pendant in. Well, maybe I can still pull some good colors with my next firing.

Again, very little (if any) ash. I’ll run some experiments and report to Hadar when she returns from her teaching trip. I think her kilns are very different from mine so we may have a new learning curve here.


NEW JEWELRY

Got some new pieces listed! All bracelets…



BTW, made my first bronze clay sale… thanks!!!


And Tango Makes Three

Today in LE, someone posted a recent article that mentioned a book I'd read once. It's the story of Roy and Silo, a gay couple, living in New York's Central Park Zoo—they are penguins—who adopt a fertilized egg and raise the chick as their own.

You may be surprised to find out how often this type of thing happens in the animal kingdom.

The book (And Tango Makes Three) is banned in many places. Why? Because of "the book’s homosexual undertones". I find the use of the word "undertones" funny. Not sure why… or if I can explain myself well, but my first thought was: "Why do they have to be undertones? Why can't someone just write a children's book about same sex relationships?" Well, I'm sure they do, but I guess "undertones" makes it easier to … well, you know.

And, I don't think the point of the book was to try to get children to be gay. Ha ha ha! I think the point was to tell the true story of an awesome, loving happening in New York's Central Park Zoo.

As quoted from National Geographic: " Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins at New York's Central Park Zoo have been inseparable for six years now. They display classic pair-bonding behavior—entwining of necks, mutual preening, flipper flapping, and the rest. They also have sex, while ignoring potential female mates."

Another interesting paragraph from that article: "The bonobo, an African ape closely related to humans, has an even bigger sexual appetite. Studies suggest 75 percent of bonobo sex is nonreproductive and that nearly all bonobos are bisexual. Frans de Waal, author of Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape, calls the species a "make love, not war" primate."

What if children's books on hetero-sexual relationships were banned? They could be because they are promoting the idea that only male-female relationships are appropriate. Why not either have nothing out there or have it all out there and let children decide for themselves as they get older and figure themselves out? Why make them feel disgusting and perverted if it turns out they prefer same-sex relationships?

Did they used to try to make left-handed people into right-handed people, thinking being left-handed was a choice and they were choosing wrongly and we must "fix" them?

So… all these arguments about homosexuality being a "learned" response… doesn't the fact that there is homosexuality in nature kind of negate that theory?

Playing devil's advocate, however, you don't want to go with the argument of, "Well, if it's good enough for the animals, it's good enough for me." There are many things that go on in the animal kingdom that are very NOT appropriate for our current society (and most likely never will be).

But I think the fact that there are homosexual animals (and bugs) does make one think it's more of a nature thing than a nurture thing. I don't think people can learn to be gay. I think they either are or they aren't… or they're both (bisexual).

Whether it's part of the natural "master plan" or some difference in the formation of the human/animal brain, this planet has homo- as well as hetero-sexual beings on it. Always had, and I would think always will.

Anyway, this was the latest article.

In 2006, a museum display "Against Nature?" opened in Norway. The display presented 51 species of animals exhibiting homosexuality. "The argument that a homosexual way of living cannot be accepted because it is against the 'laws of nature'" can now be rejected scientifically," said Geir Soli, project leader for the exhibition. "A main target for this project was to get museums involved in current debate; to show that museums are more than just a gallery for the past."

Did you know that: "Almost a quarter of black swan families are parented by homosexual couples."

Not everyone is hard-wired to procreate… and only procreate.


NOT EVERYTHING THAT'S GOOD FOR YOU IS GOOD

Ew… had (or tried to) something really nasty today. It looked good. But it smelled dreadful and didn't taste much better. It was Khichari (mung beans and rice with vegetables, spices and ghee). I'll stick with my Kung Pao Tofu salad instead.


GETTING READY FOR DARTMOUTH

Started looking at the cost of flights (and hotel and rental car) for our trip back east. Eek! Sigh…

Friday, June 5, 2009

Does My Purpose Have To Be Annoying People?

METAL CLAY CLASS TONIGHT

Yeah, it's Friday… and for now that means I go to Hadar's for metal clay class. As usual, I want to weenie out and say, "I can't go to Hadar's tonight! I haven't done anything this week to warrant taking another class. I ran the kiln once since I was last there. The last batch of things I made was a disaster." Etc.

But also as usual, I'll go. I just hope I don't sit there and wonder what to do next. I know I'm behind everyone else in technique, but I am (again and still) going to try copper in bronze until I get it right. Hopefully tonight's the night.

Then if I have time I can fix up my few silver things and fire them tomorrow… or whenever I see the apartment again. Don't see how I'll even be home at all this weekend.

Here's the schedule:

After work today, I go to Hadar's class (6:30-9:30pm)
From there I go to pick up Gabe from Engineering class (10pm)

Take Gabe to SAT testing Saturday morning at 7:30am
Then Monica has to be in San Jose at 9:45am for a Bantam scrimmage
Then she has 30 mins to rest before she does SJ Girls 16U tryouts
Then she and I will go to the bead show
Then back to San Jose for SJ Girls 19U tryouts until 8pm
Go home, get Gabe, and take him to Dublin for 10pm pick up
Get home about 1am

Mon and I leave for SJ Girls 19U tryouts at 6:30am
Gabe goes to work in SF at 7am on Sunday
Mon has SJ Girls 16U tryouts at 9:15am
We should be home around noon

Holy cow! Do we actually have half of Sunday free?!?!?! Yeeha!

I'm really anxious to do two things: 1) Run the kiln a couple of times and 2) Photograph my new bracelets.


BEAD SHOW

Mon and I will go between tryouts on Saturday. I have to pick up some Swarovski for a custom order. And… Mon and I have a couple hours to kill anyway.

Now I have to wrack my brain to think of any of those things I have stored in the back of my mind (never a good idea) that I could "pick up at the next bead show I go to".



DOES MY PURPOSE HAVE TO BE ANNOYING PEOPLE?

Sometimes I wonder if it's my lot in life (or if I *think* it's my lot in life) to try to show people the other side of things. Is there such a thing as a natural born devil's advocate?

I do it with myself… constantly… arguing many sides of issues that cross my path.

But lately I find myself being more vocal… and going out in public (well, on the internet) to explain some of these "alternative" ways of looking at things.

Some people think if you can see many sides to an argument, you are wishy-washy… a fence-sitter. Others think it's an admirable quality. (I see more of the former and not much of the latter.)

Today I voiced off a couple of my opinions on LE. I don't care what people think of what I think, but if I can feel that by all of us sharing opinions, some of us (and I do a LOT) can begin to see from different perspectives, then I think we're onto a good thing.

How many times have I read a post in LE and thought, "Wow, I never thought of it like that."

Of course, most of the time the reaction I feel when I post an unpopular opinion in LE is that (at best) I'm banging my head against a brick wall. And by that, I merely mean… anyone who understands my opinion doesn't gain anything by hearing it and anyone who can't share my paradigm doesn't gain anything by hearing it.

My sincerest hope is there may be one or two people who lurk (read posts, but don't respond) who read all the opinions and maybe say, "Wow, I never considered so many ways of looking at this, but yes, it is more complex and not so easily to pigeon-hole as I previously thought."… or… "I never really considered THAT point of view; I'm glad I heard it because it feels more acceptable to me than the previous way I was thinking."

Shrug.

It's not my place to try to jump in and convince people I have any kind of a better idea for them, but if I can share an opinion that opens someone's mind, then I do feel I'm being useful. And for me, that's better than most of what I do in a day.

And just to show you it's a two-way street (oh trust me, it's VERY much a two-way street), here's something cool I learned from someone on LE. Apparently this is a well-known analogy, but (typical me) I didn't know of it before.

We were discussing how it's actually a GOOD thing to not enable others… as in, if you just bail them out when they're in trouble, they don't learn what they needed to get through that situation.

Now, I'm not saying it's NEVER okay to help someone in need, but I do think it needs to be looked at from the perspective of: "Am I really helping them merely get out of a one-time jam because there's no other alternatives… or am I just putting a band-aid on the problem and within a few days (weeks, months) they will be in the same situation?"

Anyway, as quoted by the brilliant mind in LE, here's the analogy: There's a little boy who sees a butterfly struggling to get out of its cocoon. So, he helps it by removing the cocoon for it. Much to his surprise, though, the butterfly is swollen and cannot fly. It turns out that the struggle through the small hole was necessary for the butterfly to rid itself of the fluid in its body and to strengthen it.

Neat, huh? Remember this one, folks, so you can tell your young adult children why you're not going to lend them this month's rent money.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Dream Interpretation, New Jewelry, And Beads And Jewelry

EDITED TO ADD: BTW, forgot to mention… that thing you see in the lower right corner of the photo cube in the first pic of my last blog post… it's a make-up brush… an unused one. I used it to dust the lint off my plastic before taking a picture (the plastic backgrounds that I shoot on).


BEADS AND JEWELRY

So, as I'm putting things away the other day, I realize that I still have a HUGE stash of beads. Mostly lampwork and gemstones. What to do with them? I don't think I have much interest in just listing them on eBay for sale. How boring is that? So... for awhile anyway, I'm going to go back to just making simple beaded jewelry. It's lovely if not uninspiring to the beader.

In the meantime, I can work on my skills with metal clay.

But really... I'm looking through these beads, just oohing and ahing... and I hate to see them stuck in boxes never to see the light of day. They should be out there, running around on the arms and necks of socialites! Or something like that.

Last night as Mon and I watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix ... and waited for Gabe to be done with Engineering... I made a couple bracelets. Maybe I'll even photograph them tonight. I have to decide between that, doing some clay, or making more pieces.

Um... in light of the fact that I'm going to Hadar's on Friday, I think I'll make some clay tonight... or run the kiln... or both.


NEW JEWELRY

BTW, I put some new stuff on my website. I'll show you some little pictures here... you can click on them to go to the item if you like. Oh, and my summer prices (as always) are real steals!




There's also this one-penny listing (I think it's up to $10.50 now though) on eBay. It's my miniature Tourmaline briolettes necklace.



If I get a few more things up on the website, I'll probably send an email out to my friends letting them know that there are some new items, my old items are on sale, and I am letting the people who shop at my store have first and best "dibs" on my jewelry as I won't list it on eBay until it's been on the site for a week or two.


SCHOOL
A week from today is the kids' last day of school. Yay! They get to relax and have fun for a couple months and I get to have a smidge of freedom from getting us out the door in the morning.

Also, Mon is going to do most of the cooking for us. I will have Gabe do two hours a day on his driver's education until he is done (before June ends would be nice)… but he only has a week off before he leaves for Los Angeles for a fortnight.


DREAM INTERPRETATION

As one of those people who does not LIKE to dream yet remembers her dreams on a nightly basis, I decided to take the last few night's worth and see what the dream dictionaries say about what's going on in my subconscious lately.

So, taken in order, here's what I got:

In the first dream, the symbols mean I wanted to destroy the pestering and annoying people in my life. At first, however, I had them imprisoned, but then I realized that along with them was a new talent or hobby that will prove profitable for me. I did manage to let the latter out of confinement while keeping the former still locked up. Further symbolism denotes that I can overcome my obstacles.

In the next dream, I was involved in a situation that was complicated or troublesome. The passage of time was released upon me (in groups that signify an increase in my personal power and/or prestige) and I was trying to destroy it (or keep it at bay). My determination and drive in pursing my goals was tested repeatedly but I will accomplish my tasks with great success so long as I am careful not to be too forceful.

In the third dream, the symbols say I am starting to shed my shell or lose my inhibitions. I have a desire to fully express my emotions. There are aspects of myself that are dirty and negative and which I believe to be undesirable and repulsive. I need to acknowledge and express these feelings, even though it may be shameful. I need to release the negativity in my life. I am unwilling to let go of my emotions. And… I have anxiety over money matters and financial security.

The symbol in the final (last night's) dream represents contentment and peace of mind.

Quite the mixed bag.

And why do so many people have the same recurring dreams… or recurring themes in dreams? And is it cultural? Do people in other countries or other socio-economic situations have different recurring dreams than the ones I usually hear/read about?

The recurring dreams I've had since childhoold (recurring at different times in my life, I mean) include:

Losing teeth (was very young… maybe early teen years): Feeling similar emotions in your waking life to those you felt as a child. When you have this dream, ask yourself where, in your waking life, you are not expressing yourself, or where you are holding back from speaking out, or where you are not being heard or where someone is belittling you and treating you like a child, not respecting your views. One of these is likely to be the case.

Levitating/flying (as a slightly older teen): (I got bored of looking up dream interpretations)

Naked in public (sporadically throughout my adult life): If uncomfortable, indicates feelings of vulnerability about being exposed. Your naked dream may be telling you that you are trying to be something that you really are not. Often times, when you realize that you are naked in your dream, no one else seems to notice. Everyone else in the dream is going about their business without giving a second look at your nakedness. If this happens in your dream, then it implies that your fears are unfounded; no one will notice except you. You may be magnifying the situation and making an issue of nothing. Where in life am I feeling unconfident, embarrassed, unskilled? This type of dream is usually pointing out, by the fact that the other characters in the dream don’t really notice, that we are the only one viewing ourself this way, and usually mistakenly so.

Tornadoes coming (as a young adult): Tornadoes or any type of storm can be symbolic of one of two things: either your emotional state or a force with which you must contend.

Car with bad brakes (sporadically throughout my adult years): Is life too hectic, out of control? How could I slow down, act more peacefully and "enjoy the ride"? Is there an important choice (i.e. turn) coming soon in my life where I need to be slow in order to turn safely in the best direction (ideal outcome: driving well & within speed limits, walking peacefully, taking more quiet time to clearly contemplate important upcoming choices so that we don't go off track or crash)?

Back in school (sporadically throughout my adult years): Dreams about school indicate that the dreamer is reflecting on current events in real life and learning more 'lessons in life'. To dream of attending school, indicates distinction in lessons and work. If you dream you are young and back at school indicates a longing to go back to the time when you were happiest.

Crazy elevators (sporadically throughout my 30's): Usually, when people dream of being in an elevator, something goes wrong. You may press the up button and the elevator either drops or flies through the roof. The elevator can represent your progress in life or a certain situation.

Can't complete 911 call (sporadically throughout my adult years): (I got bored of looking up dream interpretations)

Watching airplanes crash (last year): Planes and helicopters generally mean that you want something to happen quickly.

One of the coolest things I remember reading about dreams went something like this: Dreams don't tell you what you should be thinking; they tell you what you HAVE been thinking.


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