Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Still Polishing That Bronze

Came home from work tonight and Gabe had a friend over (I know, will wonders never cease?).

They're in the living room (aka: my work room) playing a video game, so I've relegated myself to the computer corner.

I spent the last several hours polishing the rest of the bronze: steel brush, 100 grit sandpaper, 240 grit, 320 grit, 500 grit. Whew! What a job.

There something I very much like about bronze, though. Much more than copper, almost as much as silver.

I'm up to chapter five in both my books (Ayn Rand and Lilian Braun).

Finished the first episode of The Lost Room. I'll try a couple more... see how it goes. The first episode didn't captivate me... not the way Fringe did.

Mon's plane gets in at 11:30 tonight. Blah! I think I'll have Gabe drive.

Well, it's only 10pm, but my brain already feels tired. Well, normally at this time, I'm crawling into bed to read for an hour then fall asleep. Hmph!

Okay, I'll see if I can get some photos tomorrow.

Hand-forged stuff is very time-consuming. Heh

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

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

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bronze Clay Project

Well, it's not a project so much as just getting back to practicing.

Here's my pile of green goods, ready to be filed and smoothed.



And here's the weirdness that comes out of the kiln.



Came home from work tonight, went to the gym with Gabe, ate dinner, and started polishing the bronze.

I did make one "thing" by the time it was 8:30. It took hours. I am definitely at the beginning stages of working with cold connections.

Anyway, got the pendant done (no photos yet), but there wasn't room left for the jumprings or chain so I am using a wire... which means finding beads tomorrow and finishing it.

Then I snapped a few more photos and uploaded them.

I'm REALLY tired, so going to take a shower now and hit the hay. Hopefully I'll wake more refreshed. Hopefully my daughter will remember that when she calls me at 8am, it's 5am California time. ;-)

TTYL!

Monday, July 26, 2010

FEATURED ARTIST: AMBER VAN METER

BRONZE CLAY REVISTED

Yes, I finally broke out the metal clays again. Yesterday, I made a few small beads/components, dried them, filed them, and did the first firing. Tonight, I’ll do phase two in the kiln and hopefully I’ll have something tomorrow to show for my efforts.

I didn’t do any big projects… I was just kind of getting my feet wet again.

Now, speaking of metal clay, I’d like to remind you of Hadar’s blog with awesome tips and techniques.

One entry of particular note is “compatibility chart for firing different clays together”: which metal clays can be fired in one piece, in one firing, and at what schedule. The chart also shows which metals can be fired together in more than one firing.


FEATURED ARTIST: AMBER VAN METER

Today I’d like to share with you the work of someone who, to me, epitomizes the word “organic” when it comes to lampwork beads. Truthfully, she does way way WAY more than organic, but her work is the first that comes to my mind when someone mentions that word.

I was going to blog about Amber several days ago, but I got caught up in other things and never blogged at all. So… the auction I was going to show you is already gone, but you still HAVE to see these beads (click the pic for more info).



Sorry guys. They’re sold… but, here are some other goodies that I simply must share with you:





I love this next one too… reminds me of a canopic jar.



Oh, and for the record, Amber is one of the nicest people you will ever ever ever meet online (probably in person too, but I only know her online).

Thanks for letting me share, Amber!


FOR THE TOOL HO IN YOU

Ran across this today…



I’ll save for it. Looks pretty neat.


FOLLOW-UP TO MY BOOK RANT

So, I settled on two. I’m (re)reading one of the Cat Who mysteries (surprisingly still interesting). And I’m reading my first Ayn Rand… sort of cheating… it’s just a novella, but it’s a start.

Thanks again to everyone who recommended books for me. I will go through the list and let you know how it goes.


HOCKEY

For the record, I really miss it! I miss going to watch my kids play. I miss talking to the cool moms. I don’t miss driving to practices, but it shouldn’t be so bad this year with just Monica.

Mon’s on the ice as I type this. They won their first game and have one today and one tomorrow.

No update on Gabe yet, but I am on my toes for last minute notice if we have to send him somewhere.

Well, I’d better go… TTYL!

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

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

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wee Little Update

Just got back from the aiport. Monica will be in New York for the next week at the National Select Camp for girls ice hockey. What a cool thing to be able to play with and against the best in the nation. Two of her former teammates are there too... Bridget Baker and Lexi Romanchuk.

I'll let you know of any updates.

Okay, Gabe and I have a date to watch Morgan Freeman's Through the Wormhole.

'Night!

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

Monday, July 19, 2010

Dora Schubert Lampwork Artist, New Listings at Bracken Designs, Seafood Watch

BTW, those redwood photos were taken with my phone. I think I’ll actually take my camera next time and see what I can come up with.


SEAFOOD WATCH

Sometimes, wasting time can lead to cool information.

Today I popped into Facebook briefly and in scrolling around looking at some of the messages, I saw one that pointed to this great resource:
Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch

I clicked on the red “updates” icon and then printed out the pocket guide for the west coast. Very cool… helps to keep me informed of which fish I may want to select and/or avoid when grocery shopping.


NEW LISTINGS

Did get a few things up over the weekend.

Got three more of the new “quad” necklaces up (and today Monica’s working on purple and blue!). Click a pic for details.



Then we got two more sets of Monica’s beaded beads up:






FEATURED ARTIST

With the kind permission of the artist, I’m going to share some AWESOME lampwork beads with you.

If you purchase SRA lamwpork, you probably already know the name Dora Schubert. But every once in a while you run across something on the internet and go, “OMG, I have to share this!!!”

Today was one of those days. Check out this (click a pic for more details):





Some of my faves that are already sold include:



Thanks, Dora, for letting me use your links in my blog today! :-)


Well, that’s it for now… talk to you all soon!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Redwood Trails, Podcasts, More Grill

FOLLOW-UP TO BOOK LIST

I’d like to thank all those who cared enough to send me book recommendations through my blog comments, through email, and through my facebook. It’s very much appreciated and I will let you know the follow up as I begin my selections.

BTW, I didn’t mention the Twilight series of books in my last blog post because I didn’t read the books, but I loved the movies (much to my daughter’s chagrin) and have no doubt that I would have loved the books.


REDWOODS

Our new thing is taking Bear for walks in the Redwoods parks here.





I’m not in the greatest physical shape… yet… but I’m getting better all the time. Getting to know which trails are more level and which ones are all hill.


THE OFFICE

Turns out our building did get hit during that night of downtown Oakland protests... well, vandals, really... I think the violence had little to do with the protests.

These windows are two stories tall and about an inch thick... or were.



NEW LISTINGS

I actually have stuff to put up, but I’ve been occupied with other things (as you can tell by the scarcity of blog posts). I’ll try to get to it tomorrow, though.

Also on the schedule for tomorrow is taking Monica clothes shopping before her New York trip.

Gabe’s taking her to X-Sport tomorrow to buy her some knee pads (with his own money!).


COMPUTER

So, what’s been taking up some of my time lately? Part of it is just getting used to the switch in everything computer-oriented… new monitor, new software, new operating system (Windows 7), and transferring only the necessities over to the new harddrive. Setting up the printer, setting up my postage software, remembering a million logins and passwords, etc.

I’m not complaining… just letting you know why I didn’t blog for a few days. Everything seems to be working great… I’ve printed postage, printed documents, edited photos, etc.


THE GRILL… AGAIN

I’m still lovin’ this indoor grill. We use it about five times a week. My best purchase last year was the skinny drawer craft cabinets and my best purchase this year is the indoor grill.

Mahi, squash and onions…





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

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

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

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Boring, Self-Indulgent Post about Books (but I wanted to store the info somewhere)

Why can’t I find something I enjoy reading?

I tend to inundate myself with non-fiction books, so once in a while I like to break it up with a novel. But I’m having a devil of a time finding something I enjoy.

I took two recommendations from the internet (The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe and Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison) and hated them both. “What is wrong with me?” I think.

BTW, if I’d have written: “What is wrong with me?” I think to myself.

… isn’t the phrase ‘I think to myself’ redundant? I mean, who else would you be “thinking to”?

Anyway, back to books. There have been things in the past I greatly enjoyed: Mary Stewart, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Dorothy Gilman, Stephen King, Clive Barker, J.K. Rowling, Agatha Christie, etc.

But I have no desire to re-read anything.

So I went to Amazon to see may or may not be wrong with me. :-) I looked at the reviews of these books.

Although the overwhelming majority of people like or even love “Dead Witch Walking” by Kim Harrison, it’s nice to find some words I am in total agreement with:

Kim Harrison is an author with a lot of good ideas but absolutely no idea how to translate them to the page. If there was ever an author in desperate need of a ghost writer, here she is. The plotting, description, dialogue and action are disasters. The first third of the book goes by with next to nothing happening. And by the time something does happen it's far too late for the reader to care.

That this series has got so much attention is a complete mystery to me. It is no better than most of the obscure fantasy series from emerging authors out there, and yet somehow it has found rather a lot of fame. Why? What makes this dragging, poorly-written story so appealing?


Well, all this talk about fiction and my inability enjoy it anymore still has me wondering if it’s me… like when your taste buds change or something.

Or maybe I’m just one of those people who doesn’t like to read (except that I don’t know it yet).

Let me look back on books I’ve read and really enjoyed.

The very first book I remember reading at all was “The Black Stallion”. I was in sixth grade. I loved the book! But I was eleven, so don’t trust that recommendation for my present age.

The next book I remember reading (and when I say “remember reading”, it means things that I remember… not always an easy task… but certainly doesn’t mean the books I’m mentioning are the only books I’ve ever read) was Moonchild by Aleister Crowley. I don’t recall my opinion of it, so we’ll pass on that.

At fifteen, “The Hobbit” I swallowed practically without breathing… but the following trilogy wasn’t something I could get all the way through. I think I made it to the middle of the middle book… what’s that, The Two Towers?

At sixteen, a friend recommended “The Crystal Cave”. I loved it and read it many times after that, along with it’s three companion books (although I think it should have been two).

Apparently I really liked Mary Stewart’s writing, because as a teen/young adult I also read all her romance novels. At the time I didn’t know they were “romance novels”. Upon learning that, however, I decided to try out other romance novels and gathered the ones with the top recommendations. Hmph! Not my cup of tea.

My sister turned me on to Robert Heinlein. I read his “young adult” novels as a not-really-so-young adult and loved most of them, “The Door Into Summer” particularly. Throughout the years, I’ve read a few more, here and there. Just read “Stranger in a Strange Land” last year, as a matter of fact.

Although I’ve read a several Heinlein novels (The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag, Farmer in the Sky, The Puppet Masters, The Door Into Summer, Have Space Suit Will Travel, Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, and Podkayne of Mars), there are a ton I haven’t read. Maybe I should look into this.

At 30, I realized I was one of the few adults who’d never read “Catcher in the Rye”. So I read it then but couldn’t tell you one thing the book was about. Apparently it didn’t leave much of an impression on me. I don’t recall fighting my way through it, though… that’s good.

In my early thirties, when I told my dad I loved the short stories of Arthur C. Clarke, he recommended the “Rama” series by Clarke and Gentry Lee. I enjoyed those.

My mom turned me on to Dorothy Gilman’s “Mrs. Pollifax” series (along with Agatha Christie and Carlos Castenada). Loved those (the Pollifax books), but now it’s getting kinda… meh for me.

Over the years I’ve read a lot of H.P. Lovecraft, but mostly short stories, I think.

At the recommendation of a co-worker, I read some of the Lilian Jackson Braun’s “Cat Who…” series. I enjoyed them, but just like most series, I tire of them eventually.

Same with Sue Grafton’s alphabet books. Loved the first half a dozen or so, but now… not that interested.

I like the occasional Stephen King novel, but they can be so hit and miss. I liked Insomnia and The Green Mile. Monica swears by “Cujo”, but I can’t fathom the idea of reading a book that is about a woman (and child?) trapped in a car with a rabid dog outside. Then again, the premise of Gerald’s Game wasn’t any more elaborate and I remember enjoying that.

I can’t remember which Agatha Christie books I’ve read, but maybe I should try something along those lines next.

In my twenties, I read some of Carlos Castenada’s books. Fiction… non-fiction… ??? I may revisit those… I really don’t remember in the slightest what they were about.

I remember thinking “East of Eden” by James Steinbeck was brilliant.

Which brings up my list of authors I’ve only read once or twice:

Sight Unseen by Audrey Erskine Lindop (which seems to be the only book she’s ever written)
My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
The Firm by John Grisham
Shards by Tom Piccirilli
Prey by Michael Crichton
Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice
The Great and Secret Show by Clive Barker
The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum
Intensity by Dean Koontz

When the kids were six and three, I started reading J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series to them. We’ve all loved those books.

Well, I’m sure there are others, but that’s all I can think of at the moment. Sort of a pathetically thin, way too diverse bunch.

I was considering maybe trying “Illusions” by Richard Bach.

I feel like trying some Ayn Rand, but not just yet… I need something light first.

I think I’m gun shy, though. The last two “light” novels I tried bored me to tears. I’m afraid the trend will continue. And no, this doesn’t mean I need depth to my reading. Ha! Look over my list of previous “likes”… there’s plenty of shallow there for everyone. I do, however, like to be captivated.

I know this isn’t like one of my usual blogs, but it serves a purpose for me. I’m blogging it so I can remember authors I’ve read and enjoyed and maybe revisit.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Etsy Top Sellers, An Unhappy Shopping Experience, Copper Patinas, Gabe's Photos

ETSY TOP SELLERS

So I had a look at a list of Etsy’s top sellers (top sellers in volume, not profit). Not surprised in the least to see it is overrun by sellers of supplies.



Too bad I have no interest in selling supplies.

If you keep scrolling, you eventually get to some who sell jewelry only. The top sellers of jewelry sell massive amounts, of inexpensive, trendy items. The profit for these shops is in the volume, for sure. My hat’s off to them as I’d have to work 80 hours a week and have a couple of assistants to do what they do.


AN UNHAPPY SHOPPING EXPERIENCE

I had put off buying from two large online shopping sites because I don’t find their prices very tempting. One is MonsterSlayer, the other is Thunderbird.

But Thunderbird had a sale weekend a little while ago where you got the volume discount price no matter what volume you bought. Seemed like a good time to try them out.

So I get my order and get to work right away on some bracelets I need to get out for a custom order.

For these bracelets I only needed basic sterling silver ring and bar toggle sets.

I made about four of the bracelets, and on the fifth one I noticed that one side of the bar part of the clasp was very sharp.



Oh, that won’t do. So I get out my file and start to file the sharp point into a something appropriate for jewelry. In doing this, I put a bit of pressure on the clasp and to my shock discover that the soldered ring on the bar has come apart.

Well, that makes that clasp useless for me. I don’t use open jumprings with beading wire… the wire can slip right out of the opening.

But as I’m dismantling the bracelet I make a discovery… every single ring and every single bar that I purchased in that design (yes, the bars and rings were sold separately) actually has an open ring rather than a soldered closed ring to attach to the body of the bracelet.

Now, I’m not saying there’s no use for such a thing. But *I* have no use for such a thing and feel the listing could be clearer about the open rings… like maybe even mentioning them.

The item description never mentions that the rings are open and the item photo is too blurry to discern at a glance the possibility that the rings are not soldered. Going back now, I can see the split in the ring… if I look closely at the enlarged photo and if I am looking for it.

But I do wonder why the photo doesn’t show the sharp point of the bar… each of my ten bars was identical. The photo in the listing has two smooth edges. I find that disturbing.

In over a dozen years of buying findings online, I have never seen an open ring not stated as such. If ring is not soldered closed, the photo makes it very clear… not by a ½ millimeter twist, but an actual separation of the two sides of the ring so the customer knows what they’re buying. I’m not saying Thuderbird is out to deceive anyone; but I do think the listing is careless.

Anyway, either one of those is enough to turn me off (maybe I’m too harsh, whatever). But look at this sharp bar… would you really want your customer wearing that? All ten bars were cut like that.



Now here’s a photo that is blown up to about twice the size of reality. In this blown-up photo, can you tell that these rings are open, without scrutinizing?



Well, maybe I *am* too picky, too harsh… but still… it’s like going to a restaurant and getting a bad meal… kinda puts you off that place, know what I mean?


COPPER PATINAS

Well, it was actually a three-day weekend (again). Our office building was closed Friday due to Thursday night’s riots (after the Mehserle verdict).

I started a couple of completely different projects on Friday… continued them today… was disappointed with the progress, but am not giving up.

I’ll show you pics when I’m done.

Today was “creative day”… so I’m not happy that the fruits of my labor didn’t ripen, but that’s how things go sometimes when you’re an experimentalist.

Part of one of my projects involved copper. I decided I might want patina’d copper… which got me to thinking about all the different patinas I have (I had spent some of Friday sorting out my “things”).

So I decided to do something that may also help future projects. I lined up all my patinas, cut six pieces of 22g copper sheet, cleaned them, added texture, then put a different patina on each one, brushing off half the surface patina for comparison, drilled a hole in each piece and hung it onto its corresponding bottle.





The fifth bottle has a soaking time of 24-48 hours, so I don’t have a photo of that one yet, and the six bottle turned out to be a primer and sealant, not a patina at all.


UPCOMING

Well, tomorrow’s clean the apartment day and photo day… hopefully I’ll have photos of something new to show you.

That’s it for now.

Oh, except that I started to put some of Gabe’s photos up… it’s only a small start (compared with how many photos he’s taken over the last year or two) and there are no explanatory labels yet because Gabe’s not here this weekend, but one step at a time (otherwise I never do anything).

Gabe’s photos

TTYL!

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

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

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

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mehserle Verdict

Just a quick note to say I'm fine, holed up in my apartment, staying off the streets until the unrest... rests.

I'd like to thank everyone who texted and called to make sure we were okay. :-)

Monday, July 5, 2010

The July Sale Items, Scams Targeting Jewelry Makers, Quiet Holiday Weekend

I think I forgot to show you the four 30% off JULY items (first come, first serve and sale prices end on July 31st!).



I also added some more necklaces (click a photo for details):




SCAM

If you get an email from Veronica Smith (smithveronica@live.com) keep your wits about you.

It will most likely read something like this:

Hello,
I am Veronica smith, an American but I live and work here in AustraliaThis message is to make inquiry on the below question.1- Do you carry overseas? (though i already know of a freight forwarder thatwill pick my packages from you,since they ship lesser than any other courierand they are so effective in shipping my goods to me here inQueensland,Australia is estimated to be 3-4days) I have used their servicesin the past and it was splendid.2- Do you accept credit card for payment(my U.S.A Master and Visa card to beprecise)? Kindly let me know your comments on these, before i send theitems i am interested in purchasing from you.
Veronica.


And then there’s the continued warning about scam spammer Kevin Sanderson too… ugh.


JUST HOME NEWS

Had a nice weekend with the kids. Monica and I found a gift card with money on it so we went to the movies Sunday morning. There weren’t any fireworks at Jack London this year… I’m sure that’s fine with Bear.

Today we hiked a couple trails in Redwood Regional Park… Bear too.

Gabe thinks his car needs a new starter. I’m assuming he’ll try to take care of that this week.

The kids are off to play tennis tonight (at 9pm). I think they do that so they won’t have to bother with sun screen.

Well, I’m going to finish editing my jewelry photos, then I’ll start on Gabe’s vacation photos.

Talk later!

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

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

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