Saturday, October 31, 2009

Jewelry, Books, and TV

JEWELRY

I finally used my flexshaft for the first time. It seems very convenient… but I’ll admit my foot doesn’t have the fine motor coordination to find and/or stay on a steady pace… at the moment it’s kind of all or nothing.

And I think I’m sorely lacking the right kind of dremel bits. I dunno… gotta do some more research. Or maybe I’m just lacking the knowledge of how to use them.

I’m kind of into the oxidized silver look these days so I’m LOS’ing just about everything.


BOOKS

Did I mention that I gave up on that book I was reading? I gave it a good go, but… sigh… just couldn’t get into it. Didn’t like the story, didn’t like the writing.

So I read a couple of Arthur C. Clarke short stories, then went on to a non-fiction book called something like, “A Short History of Nearly Everything”. I’m enjoying it. Gabe wasn’t impressed. Shrug.

Someday soon I’d like to find a captivating book… the kind you don’t want to end.


TV

Monica and I have no problem watching cooking challenge shows. They’re mesmerizing.


Oh… gotta go… TTYL!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Catching Up and a Very Good Article on Silver

Yep, the longer break I take between posts, the harder it is to come back. I really must try to stay "in the flow" even when I'm running around and away from home.

I woke up this morning thinking it was Saturday. Ha! Oh well, Friday's almost as good.

This weekend, Mon has a game and a goalie session. Gabe is working with some classmates on a school project, and he only has a practice, no games.

I've got some butternut squash tamales and a nice bleu cheese salad so all I have to do is pick up a bottle of dark beer and I'm set for the evening.

Now, what will I do with my one free evening? Oh, the possibilities.

I'll probably "make" stuff tonight and then I can photograph tomorrow or Sunday (although I'm really anxious to show you my one good silver piece).

I think I'll finish some bracelets I've been working on… nice chunky things with heavy silver wire and lots of lampwork. Then tomorrow I can maybe do some clay.

I want to make a trip out to the Sacramento area soon, but finding a big enough section of free time is difficult.

I guess now that I have a logo (did I mention that yet? That I made a logo… did I even SHOW you yet?) I should update my banners on eBay, Etsy, ArtFire… and my own website.


SILVER

Here is an interesting article on silver I'd like to share with you. It's called "A Silver Primer" and it's written by June Culp Zeitner.

Now, I realize this was a short entry, so I'll try to have a LOT more tomorrow.

TTYL!

Friday, October 23, 2009

End of Weekend Rambling and some cute videos

Busy day for Gabe… mid-school day he has to leave for the team's first CAHA weekend in Valencia…. From there he goes on to his goalie instructor and then flies home Sunday evening.

Monica and I will have a much quieter weekend. We have all Saturday to ourselves, then she has a game on Sunday (the team's first NorCal regular season game) followed by lunch in San Jose with Alex (it's been way too many weekends without).

Maybe I can get some metal clay stuff done on Saturday. It's certainly been long enough… a month or so.





Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Jewelry (including one more in the Law of Attraction line) and upcoming hockey

The problem with so much time between posts, is I forget where I left off.

Four hours have passed since I wrote that sentence. Wow, how exciting I am. Ugh!

Sold like ten of the Jewelry Pricing Calculators today (I think it was on ArtFire's homepage). Monica's money for her upcoming Thanksgiving trip. I think she's going to make some more jewelry this weekend, too… there's already another one of those color-changing lampwork bracelets almost ready.

I had a good and interesting lunch today. Peach ice tea, cream of chicken soup with wild rice, and a Waldorf chicken salad sandwich with cranberry chutney on whole wheat bread. Now I won't be hungry until very late tonight.


Jewelry

Okay, here's the new stuff. I'm pretty happy with it all.

You can see all of it here

















And Monica brought in a box we just got from Lord of the Rings (I think… the one in Canada?). Anyway, I have forgotten pretty much everything I ordered from them, but I'm sure we'll have some fun experimenting this weekend. I know one of the projects I want to set up for Monica is a mosaic.


Hockey

Gabe's team has their first CAHA weekend this Saturday. I hate not being there, but someone has to get Monica to her game. That's okay… I'll go to the rest of his CAHA weekends.

Very lucky this year in that all the parents from both my kids' teams are very nice… so are the team managers and coaches.

Gabe has a cold right now so he didn't have a very good practice last night, but we're pumping him full of vitamin C and Airborne… hope he's 100% by Friday.

Well, I'd better go now. Maybe I can get into the swing of posting every day again.

TTYL!

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Just end of week chit chat

As hard as it may be to believe, I am once again watching Pride and Prejudice on tv. And it’s my favorite version, too (not that I know how many versions there are).


Broken Toe

So, I will, for the first time ever, actually tape my broken pinky toe. Last night, I got it caught on the bedcovers twice during my sleep. Ugh! I’m not sure WHAT I’ll tape it to (it’s sort of there on its own)… I guess I’ll just tape it to my foot.


Jewelry

My jewelry seems to be flying off the shelves lately… how exciting. I’m totally grateful.

Although I *should* straighten the apartment (after a week’s worth of laziness by everyone in the family), but I think I’ll just carve a spot for myself on the coffee table and make something new tonight (I feel like beading). Then tomorrow I can clean the apartment.


Hockey

Poor Mon is lamenting having no games this weekend. Gabe will be making his first trip down south for some goalie fun… I’ll have to get Monica down there with him some weekend.


Photos

After my debacle of a photo session last weekend, I’m kind of nervous to try again. But I’ll have to… getting into kind of a routine here… make stuff when I can, shoot on the weekend, then list throughout the week.


Book

I finished my last book (a non-fiction book), so had to pick a new one. I like to mix it up, so this time I chose fiction. Not only fiction, but a book I’d never heard of before.

It’s called The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe.


Well, I’d better get to work now so I have something to show you.

Here’s a great story about a pigeon who helped take care of some orphan bunnies.


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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Most Jewelry... new listings and such

Jewelry

Finally got some new listings up.



And... finally got my gratitude reminders listed.



I am grateful I have such a beautiful and willing model to photograph our jewelry on. Thank you.

Had great fun with my clearance sale. All pieces were purchased by previous customers. Yay!



Hockey


I don't think Mon has anything this weekend, but Gabe has two games. He goes to his first CAHA of the season weekend after that… and Mon's team starts the NorCal season.

Watching the Sharks (early game) now/tonight… then Supernatural.


I will try to catch up more tomorrow.

Oh, did you go to my other blog (Going Green Jewelry) to see the info I posted about my new photo set-up?

Some new listings using old beads

Thanks Tina, for posting a comment about the size of photos on monitors!

Okay, let's see… what green things have I done lately? I haven't done too much of anything, green or not, because hockey has occupied me for many days in a row. But I should have some time this weekend to work on more projects.

And I have a package from Thompson Enamel at the leasing office… hope I remember to pick it up after my walk home (I'll be listening to the Sharks game on the radio). I don't really remember what I ordered, but I'm sure it will be fun. I also need to find my actual enamels.

Well, at least I got the "Large Handcrafted Bronze Textured Earrings" listed.



And then drawing from my bead stash, here are other new listings...

Faceted Amethyst and Citrine Large Beads Necklace with Sterling Silver



Turquoise and Sterling Silver One of a Kind Necklace


Bracelet of SRA Boro Lampwork Beads in Green with Blue Accents and Swarovski Crystals


Bold SRA Lampwork Glass Art Beads Bracelet in Red and Black with Bali Sterling Silver


And I got started on the listings for my new idea.

Oh, here are two large silver beads I made… they are sub-par so I'm keeping the bracelet for myself, but I do plan to try this some more. I like big beads.



Okay, I'll be back later with more updates of green stuff. TTYL!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Color Correction in Adobe Photoshop (and/or Elements)

Melanie-Pearl said... oh geez! you have downstairs neighbors? haha. it's a good thing you stick with metal clays! if you get a stump be sure it was cut awhile ago or leave it out to dry for awhile. otherwise it will mold on your floor.

thanks for all of your photos ideas and for sharing your secrets! i would never have known what a difference this stuff makes without seeing it illustrated on your blog. i am still amazed.

as usual, one hobby leads to another...guess I get to learn more about color correcting, etc. now.


Well, I’m glad I have something that I can share with people. I’ve picked up so much from the internet, books, classes, etc.

But wow… that photo on your October 8th blog entry. What a gorgeous creation!

Anyway, here’s a bit of how I do my color correction.

As mentioned in a previous post, I put a small, stark white piece of “something” into the frame of each jewelry photo I take (in the example photo, I used an earring card).



I have done nothing to the above photo other than make it a size that fits here. Otherwise, it’s raw, straight from the camera.

I do CTRL+L, which brings up a “levels” pop-up box. If it’s in the way, you can just grab the top and move it over out of the way.



You can see three eyedroppers on the right-hand side of the pop-up. The left eyedropper represents black, the middle one is gray, and the far right one is for white. White is the one I use most often.

Click on the white (far right) eyedropper, then click on an area in the photo that is supposed to be white. I often try a few different spots, while keeping my eye on the jewelry, reminding myself that what I’m after is for the jewelry to be the same color and shade in the photo as the jewelry that is right there next to me at the computer with a good light (preferably OTT) on it so I can see it clearly and accurately.



The rest is just cropping and adding a watermark, etc.

Here’s what before and after look like together.



The concept behind “color correction” is that you are putting something into the photo that you can tell the photo software exactly what color it is. So instead of having to tell the software exactly what shade of yellow that bead is. You just say, “See that? That is white. Make THAT white and everything else will become properly colored according to it.”

Make sense?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

More Details on My Photo Set-Up

Melanie-Pearl said... Wow! What a remarkable difference! It looks like a totally different bracelet. Did you take that photo on a plain piece of paper---Hope you don't mind me asking--- or is that some effect that makes it look mirrored?

Thanks, Melanie! And no, I don’t mind you asking at all. I love sharing techniques for doing things.

The top photo was taken on my usual gradient paper (which I’ll explain in a second)…



... while the photo underneath it was taken on an actual stand (details to follow).



The thing that impresses me, though, is that the bracelet itself seems to have better focus on the bottom photo.

In this photo, you can see the entire sheet of gradient paper.



So, the details…

I made the gradient paper myself (after months of searching in art supply and craft stores… I probably should have tried photography stores).

Here’s the URL for it if others want to try printing one off quickly.

http://srajewelry.com/Blog/gradient2.jpg

It may look “weird” on your computer monitor… but I think if you right click on it and save it to your hard drive before printing it… well, I don’t really know… maybe it works either way just fine.

Anyway, I print on glossy photo paper.

The second item I shoot on is a slightly reflective “stand”. Let me go see if I can find the vendor….

Ah… it’s the “silver riser” from Table-Top Studios.

BTW, that’s a great idea in your about the tree stump. I just realized my downstairs neighbors probably have no clue what I’m doing on “hammering nights”. Eek!

A Harold Cooney Listing, Metal Clay, Driving Lessons, Jewelry, and a Short Survey

Hi everyone.

I have a short survey for anyone who doesn't mind answer 2-3 multiple-choice questions (we're talkin' seconds here). I'd really appreciate your help as this survey has to do with my upcoming (maybe even tonight!) gratitude jewelry.

The Survey

Thanks!!!


Jewelry

Tonight's hockey has been moved to Friday, so I will try to get some photographs done tonight.

In the meantime, entertain yourself with my clearance sale.


Driving Lessons

Gabe's getting more and more driving in, but I told him yesterday that he won't have a clue how to drive during daylight. Ha ha ha! Seems all we ever do is go to hockey practice. But he should be able to get some daylight hours in this weekend. He can drive the whole five minutes from our apartment to the Oakland Ice rink. Heh… He'll probably also opt for the 7am drive to San Jose Sunday morning… VERY little traffic.


Metal Clay

I got two silver beads out of the kiln this weekend, but the jewelry I wanted to make around them isn't coming together quite yet. Hm…


Update… now that it’s 8pm and I’m starting to drag. Ha! I’m SOOOO a morning person. Okay, I just don’t feel like taking pictures tonight. Sorry. Maybe I can get them in tomorrow before Gabe goes to hockey practice.

I made (as in COMPLETED) three of the “Gratitude Reminders”. Not sure how they’re going to be received. I mean, looking at them, you would never get the impression they have anything even remotely to do with… metaphysical or “feel good” type stuff. They don’t have positive mantras stamped onto them or anything like that. Hm… hope I didn’t go too “out there” this time. Well, I like ‘em and that’s all that matters. :-)

Rather than do photos tonight, I’m going over to those two pieces of silver I made and I will tell my beads to help me make the bracelet I’m envisioning. I mean, how hard can it be, right?


Something neat…

I thought this was rather cool… different…

A Harold Cooney (I’m probably spelling his name wrong, though) Lampwork bracelet (sort of).


Well, I’d better go… or even that simple soon-to-be bracelet won’t be happening. ‘Night!


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Monday, October 5, 2009

Lots of Enameling Questions and Thoughts

So… I wanted to finally try enameling. Not the kind I'd done before (on glass beads), but on metal… like my own metal creations.

So this weekend I made some bronze bases that I will try enameling on. I know copper is more traditional, but is there a REASON bronze wouldn't work just as well? I will research this before trying it. (ETA: So far, the only reason I could come up with for not preferring to enamel on bronze is that the translucent enamels might get cloudy… but I think that was if there's zinc in the alloy… if it's just 90% copper and 10% tin, this might not happen anyway. Now, seeing as how I favor the opaques, I'm going to continue on with my experimenting.

Here, btw, is a photo I took of one pair of earrings that came out of the kiln this morning. The photo is with my phone… I'll take a much better photo before listing these (unless I decided to experiment with them instead of sell them).



It's a small(ish) photo because I was trying to make the picture the same size as the earrings.

But while we're on the subject, I'll ask a question: will a fixed sized photo be the same size on everyone's monitor? Like, if the beads in those earrings are 1¾ inches tall and I make my jpg so that on MY computer, the earring beads in the photo measure 1¾ inches on my monitor… will they ever be NOT 1¾ inches on someone's monitor?

Anyway, back to enameling… I did want to try torch enameling prior to kiln enameling for two reasons. One, I didn't want to ramp my kiln all the way up to 1500 for a few minutes of work at a time… and two, I really need to be able to SEE the enamel so I can get a feel for how long to fire it.

I was happy to see that my Messermeister culinary torch goes up to 2700 degrees. That's what they say, anyway. Shrug. Maybe a little kitchen torch is okay for tiny pieces. We'll see.

Some basic questions I have about enameling probably seem ridiculous to seasoned enamellers, but they are just things I either don't get or want to be sure of.

Like… you do multiple sets of coating/firing. If you're not doing counter-enameling, do you just leave the back side black until after the final firing or do you have to clean it between each firing?

Also, if different enamel colors require different firing times, then I'm assuming you don't put all your colors on and fire them all at once, right? But you also can't do each one separately because when you go to fire color 2, you'll be messing up color 1, won't you?

The Jewelry Sale, Cellphone Charging, Upcoming Bronze Earrings, and White Tea

White Tea

This product is great!




Weather

I am freezing. That's very unusual for me. I do realize the temperature has changed in the last few days here, but … I'm just not used to being cold no matter what. I think I'll take some Airborne and Vitamin C when I get home… can't hurt to try boosting the old immune system.


Bronze

Oh, if you want to see a quick and dirty photo of some bronze earrings I got out of the kiln this morning, have a look at my Going Green jewelry blog.


Cell Phones

I don't quite have the hang of the new charging routine yet. When we went in to the Verizon store last week because I had fried my battery, we were told the following:

1) Let the battery run down to one or two bars before charging it.
2) Then, only charge it for between 2-4 hours.
3) Car chargers are for emergency charging only, not routine charging.

I've been out with my phone two or three times now when I ran out of battery because I didn't plan ahead. Shrug.


Hockey

Gabe's team had no ice this past weekend and their scrimmage for the coming weekend is cancelled. Yikes!


Jewelry

I have a batch of bronze that came out of the kiln this morning, but I'm still experimenting with the pieces. I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, just to liven things up… I put six of my items on eBay with starting bids of $9.99.















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Sunday, October 4, 2009

End of Weekend Wrap-Up

The perfect ending to a perfect(ly relaxing) day… Sense and Sensibility with no commercials.

Monica also had a good weekend… a game Saturday and then a fun day with her team on Sunday.

Gabe didn’t get any hockey, which doesn’t please him, but that happens sometimes.

I changed one detail about my Gratitude Necklaces, and we’re much closer to getting them listed.

Earlier in the weekend, I finished some small bronze projects… they’re in the kiln right now (but I kinda blew the firing portion of it… ugh!).

Oh! Very exciting… I sorted out my work books. After cataloguing them (so I quit buying duplicates!), I sorted them by groups (glass, pc, metal clay, color, gemstones, metal techniques, wire, chainmaille, ethnic jewelry, art nouveau jewelry, vintage jewelry, Egyptian jewelry, etc).

Heavens! It’s 11pm!!! Darn! Gotta go to bed now. TTYL!

Oh, before I go, heads up on a clearance sale of a few of my eBay items…. Boro, Vermeil, Sterling Silver, Etched Lampwork, etc… all starting at $9.99 with no reserve. Have fun!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

More about my do-it-yourself photo cube

Due to the overwhelming positive response to my last entry, tonight I’m going to expound on the photo cube a bit.

Here are two photos of the same bracelet. The first photo was shot with my previous $100 photo cube:



The second with the new cube:



The difference may appear slight, but to me the second shot is MUCH closer to what I’m after. I wasn't happy with the inability to achieve very fine focus with my previous tent... and I think it's because it was so large that the light sources were too far from the object, thus messing up the focusing ability of the camera (I can't use manual focus because of my weird eyesight… don’t ask).

So a clear photo is all I care about, really. The low price of the new photo cube was just a bonus.

Lampshades come in all shapes and sizes; I may pick up a second one for a slightly different effect. The only thing I had to make sure of was that the metal crossbars were flush with the top of the shade...

Like this:



Rather than recessed like this:



Here is one of my shots, without any photo-editing yet... this is just how it comes out of the camera... so you can see my set-up.



The camera is on a tripod and I shoot pretty much straight down into the lamp top.

The piece of paper in there is regular 8x10 inch.

I use something dead white in the shot (you can see it next to the earrings) so that I can color correct.

My camera lens, although set to macro, is still a good 10 or so inches from the earrings.

But because I can get my lights so close to the earrings, here's how the photo turns out...