Wednesday, July 30, 2008


It will probably eventually have its own blog, but our Renaissance group got a name yesterday: The LLORE. It stands for Lords and Ladies of Renaissance Entertainment. We'll be performing Renaissance dancing, skits (which will probably include live steel swordplay) and a Human Chess Match at events local to the Upper Cumberland Tennessee area. We'll also be running a food booth (staple: funnel cakes) at several events, and we decided last night that we may spontaneously break into song: The Singing Fryers. The dance troupe (formed last year with White County Middle School Renaissance Club) will still be known as Two Left Feet, and this year will be incorporating some script and comedy into its repertoire (wish me luck writing it!). This is my baby -- I get to teach the dances, choose the dances, write the dialogue. Last year we did a questionably authentic renaissance dance, Korabushka, to Flogging Molly's Devil's Dance Floor in practice. We may make that a public spectacle this year.

Stay tuned for the LLORE blog, because I suddenly like flinging my life before the world in blog form :)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Cup of Joe: Etsy Finds Week of 7/21/08

Since I'm waking up and settling in with my trusty morning cup(s) of coffee, I thought I'd do a coffee feature this week. I like mine sweet and creamy, a flavored cafe latte, or on a hot day a good frozen mochacchino.

Coffee Bean Soap By Naiad

I haven't tried handmade soap yet, though it's on my list of Etsy buys I must make. This soap by Naiad has a stiff dose of your morning joe for the shower, before you ever stumble to the coffeemaker. I think it would really make me want my coffee, and it'd better be made when I step out all soapy and precaffeinated :)

Coffee Quote Cards Set by BBesigns

Handmade cards with a hand written message by you are so much nicer than glitter-covered, lousy poetry, store-bought cards. BBesigns obviously appreciates a good cup of java. This set of 6 cards is more or less all-purpose with quotes like "Man does not live by coffee alone. Have a Danish," but there are occasion coffee-inspired quotes as well, like "Retirement is one great big giant coffee break," and "Thanks a latte." For those tea drinkers among you, there are cards for you, as well, and champagne, and other stuff that's just cute.

Coffee Cozy by Recycled Jeans

There were lots of coffee cozies when I searched "coffee" on Etsy, and I really hadn't planned on including one... somehow some crocheted fuzzy thing around my coffee doesn't work for me. Besides, they have those sleeve thingies at the coffee shop.
But when I saw this one I had to include it, because it's just really pretty work, and if I wrapped this around my java I'd actually be making it cooler. But still keeping it hot. And it's upcycled stuff. How nifty is that?

Coffee by Barbed Wire

I like the collage, it's coffee, and it reminds me of a Monty Python cartoon somehow. The strip along the bottom is a coffee-stained definition of coffee. Coolness.

Pair of Mugs by KH Phillips/Mudstuffing

I also looked at a lot of coffee mugs in my search for this feature, and these were easily my favorite. I love the rich coffee color, the depth of the glaze in the swirls, the nifty little feet. Plus, he's got a crazy cool slogan: He throws, he sews. Love it :)

Friday, July 25, 2008

What I'm Working on

I keep running out of rings :) This past Saturday Brandon and I made a choker sort of similar to Rhiannon (see my shop) in bright aluminum with a red inlay diamond, a celtic cross pendant, and red Swarovski beads along the bottom. It came out really pretty and was made as a birthday present for our friend Mary Ann. I wish I'd had time to get a picture of it but I didn't... maybe I can bug her to get one of her with it on, with her gorgeous red Renaissance costume dress. However, as a result I'm out of 3/16" BA rings and can't do the Dragonscale belt I planned on... back to TRL.

I bought the pretty ceramic leaf pendant above from Etsian Hannahfaerie a month or so ago (go visit... her work is beautiful). I originally intended to mix this with titanium and crystal, but I really didn't care for working with titanium, and the aluminum green was closer to the shade I wanted than the niobium was (and cheaper!). And the 4-in-1 drape I intended didn't hang the way I wanted it to, so I went with Japanese, with copper linking rings and a Swarovski leaf (sheesh those are expensive). The leaf-ish shaped unit pictured above will be duplicated on the other side of Hannah's pendant and probably hung from a copper chain, but... is it too much? The more I look at it the more I think it sort of overpowers the pretty ceramic. Maybe it'd be better if I did the maille in all green. Love to hear innocent bystanders' opinion on this so please comment if you don't mind ;) If this turns out cool I will probably submit it to Belle Armoire.

Beyond that, I've gone a little hog wild buying cabochons from a really cool supplier, some of which I will resell and some of which I will use to practice wire wrapping. Stay tuned for pics of that. Seems like I haven't had much time for crafting the past few days, and the near future isn't looking too good either. I think I will steal a few hours Monday.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It's Time for a Renaissance

So, have I admitted before that I'm a Renaissance junkie? :)

Last night I met with my fellow plotters for a new local Renaissance group. This as-yet unnamed group will be touring the upper Cumberland Tennessee area at local events, performing Renaissance dances, skits, and if we have enough bodies, a Human Chess Match. I am the designated dance consultant, since for the past two years I have worked with the middle school's Renaissance Club (sadly not operating this year, but this group has grown out of it) teaching the kids Renaissance dances including French Bransles and English Country Dances. I'm hoping to do some cool stuff this time around, interspersing the dances with some dialogue and humor. My co-conspirators consist of Kris and Sherry, designated seamstresses, and Carrol Lee, who is coordinating. There are several others we will bring in, including Brad the Music Man, but he was working with the jazz band. Our performers will range from ages around 14 to *cough* not saying.

Along the way we hope to raise awareness of the period and get the community interested in history that isn't the Civil War :) Any effort in cultural directions is a good thing " 'round these parts." I'm also the group's tech person so I'll be setting up a web site in the near future and will blab more about it when it happens.

The picture above is from my own Renaissance wedding 2 1/2 years ago. Does Russ not look adorable in his poofy pants? ;)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pure Poetry: Etsy Finds Week of 7/14/08

This week I decided to do Etsy finds based on one of my favorite things: poetry. I love poetry both classic and modern, from the Bard to the Beats (although I've neglected them here... alas, poor Kerouac! I knew him well....). With that in mind, here are a few things from Etsy that struck my fancy.


"I myself but write one or two indicative words for the future,
I but advance a moment only to wheel and hurry back in the darkness."
-- Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, "Poets to Come"

Friendship Card by Bunkleberry Studios

This wasn't listed this week, but I was looking for something Whitman because he's one of my favorites, and I thought the quote printed on this cute card was quite appropriate for a friendship card (for me, anyway!). Bunkleberry studios has a variety of quotes printed this way, all well chosen, as well as jewelry (my favorite: make coffee, not war). Check them out!


"Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy."
--Guillaume Apollinaire, French poet

French Subject Cahiers by A Quartzy Life

Yay for upcycling! This is a set of three handmade journals (and they're so pretty!), geared to be for note-taking for various subjects, but they could just as easily be used for your daily musings, and then for display. Since I'm a journal junkie, this was the perfect item for me to list here. Poetry finds its way into my journals quite often since I'm a poet at heart, and I can envision my words in one of these so easily.. it's just a "fit," if you know what I mean. I think they'd fit your words too, and you need a place to put them, right?


Was it the proud full sail of his great verse
Bound for the prize of (all too precious) you
That did my ripe thoughts in my brain inhearse
Making their tomb the womb wherein they grew?
Was it his spirit, by spirits taught to write
Above a mortal pitch, that struck me dead?
No, neither he nor his compeers by night
Giving him aid, my verse astonished.
He nor that affable familiar ghost
Which nightly gulls him with intelligence
As victors of my silence cannot boast
I was not sick of any fear from thence.
But when your countenance filled up his line
Then lacked I matter, that enfeebled mine.

-- William Shakespeare, Sonnet #86

2009 Shakespeare Calendar by Immortal Longings

I found her Hamlet print first, and was going to feature that, when I discovered that you can get all of these lovely prints in one place with this calendar! You really must visit the shop if you care for the Bard at all, and browse the paintings that are included in this calendar. They evoke the mood of the scenes they're meant to depict so masterfully, in pen and ink and watercolor. I may need to pick up one of these before the year runs out!


"In visions of the dark night
I have dreamed of joy departed -
But a waking dream of life and light
Hath left me broken-hearted."
-- Edgar Allen Poe, "A Dream"

Nevermore Mixed Metal Asymmetrical Earrings by Sunny Skies Studio

These are so cool! Most of us read Poe's short stories in school (Tell Tale Heart, Cask of Amontillado, etc.), and most of us have had exposure to The Raven. These earrings inspired me to go back and read it again. It seems to me that Poe is far more revered for his spooky short stories than his poetry, but his imagery is so powerful: "each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor" but I bet, like me, you don't remember much more about it than "quoth the Raven, nevermore" -- seriously, here's a link for you, go read The Raven:

Okay I'm done obsessing about the poem. :) The earrings, though, do a great job of crystallizing the poem, and are some nice metal work, to boot. If you dig ear cuffs (and I do), check out their other items, they have some really cool stuff. (and I'm jealous that they're a husband and wife team doing metalworking together... wonder if mine can be persuaded.....)

Till next week, happy creating, shop handmade, and love one another.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Paperback Swap

I'm going to bounce off-topic a bit for a few here and talk about Paperback Swap.

If, like me, you have piles and piles of books lying around that were waiting to go to either Goodwill or until we "finally have that yard sale," and you still love your books (3 shelves and counting here), you might want to take a look at Paperback Swap. Use the link to the right, and let me know you did -- it'll give me credit for your joining and listing books, and I'll be sure to friendlist you there.

Here's the deal. You type the ISBN on the back of your book -- doesn't have to be paperback, can be any book, fiction or non -- into the system, and list the books you don't want. If someone requests your books, you mail them to that member at your expense. PBS will credit your account with a book credit, which you can then use to go shopping for books that you DO want. All books are 1 credit except audiobooks.

You can print out your shipping label right from your computer and be instantly credited when you ship a book off, and you don't have to drive to the post office every other day, just print and stick it in your mailbox with the flag up.

Here's the best part. If they don't have a book you want in stock, you can add it to your wish list, and when they have it they will notify you and you just say "yes, I want it!" and you get it. Free. Even if you shop discount book stores, you're saving a ton this way, and it's fun. It made me wish I was still homeschooling so we could see where we were sending books and where they were coming from on a map. :)

And while it seems like crafting books are among their most-wishlisted, they do have them, and I have gotten a wire wrapping book or two, and have a pile more still on my list. For a while I was browsing their lists all the time but ended up with some "meh" books, so I decided to let the credits pile up and get my my wish list books. The ones I really want.

I love this thing. Anyone who loves to read should join. You get 2 free credits when you do, so just for signing up and listing 10 books you get 2 books free. Totally free.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Win Free Stuff!

Since there's only one comment on the post (mine), I'm going to plug Rachelle's blog here.

Visit my shop:
and then visit Delavande's blog:

Post a comment on her shop feature entry, saying which item you like the best in my shop, and be entered to win any item in my store $5 or less, or $5 off any item in the store. If you creatively mention the word "crimson" in your post there, I will make you a keychain (if that's your item of choice) in your choice of colors or in stainless steel. If you like the d20 keychain, I'll throw that into the mix of free stuff too (if you mention "crimson"), and I can do it in your choice of colors (or in stainless steel) with a d20 in your choice of colors, or a pretty marble if you prefer. Happy to work with the winner on that, IF you say the word.

Go vote, someone's got to win, and if you're the only person there, guess what! You win!

FAE Auction to benefit one of our members

I'm now an official member of Fantasy Artists of Etsy (FAE) street team. :) As a member, I want to plug an auction for a watercolor painting (that I love) that is being auctioned to benefit one of our members.

Brief Respite was painted for Nora Blansett,by Valorie at Battlemaiden Studio, fellow fantasy artist and a member of the Fantasy Artists of Etsy (FAE). Nora recently underwent surgery, and FAE got together and donated a beautiful art doll to auction and make this time a little easier on her and her family. The doll is receiving her finishing touches by one of our talented members right now, so in the mean time Valorie will be auctioning this original watercolor painting, and all profits will be sent on to Nora as well!

Brief Respite is an original 9x12 ink and watercolor painting. Bid here:
I'm SURE the current bid is for far less than the painting is worth, so you may get a heck of a bargain in the process. Definitely go check it out.

The auction will end at 11:59PM July 15th. At that time, Valorie will list the painting on Etsy for sale to the high bidder. Shipping to the US is $5. To win, just on the blog linked at the bottom of this message with your bid. Be sure to check back and make sure you haven't been out-bid. Be sure to include your E-mail address so she can contact you if you're the high bidder.

Monday, July 14, 2008

WYSIWYG Beads is open :)

New shop opened, take a look:

Brandon and I are going to try to go for a little hike this morning, and I have work that's overdue to squeeze in, so I haven't listed everything yet, but will be working on it over the next couple days.

I also have my Etsy finds of the week picked out, I just need to write the accompanying article, so come back later today!

In other news, Rachelle at (and shop has kindly featured my shop on her blog this week, and we're having a sale and contest giveaway in celebration. Check her blog and my shop for details!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Celtic Magic: Etsy Finds Week of 7/7/08

This week I chose a love of mine as a feature theme for our Etsy Finds of the Week: Celtic items, especially knotwork. Knotwork is incredibly fun to look at and much more difficult to draw than it looks. On to our finds...

Celtic Knot Cross Pendant by Tara Greer at 3Rexes Jewelry

There was a whole lot of jewelry that had knotwork on it to be found on Etsy. I chose this one because it's beautiful, and because the seller designed, carved and cast it herself. That's impressive. Not only that, but the photography on this piece is outstanding. That makes me think I need to do some info on photography at some point.....

Stone Celtic King miniature carving by CarltonARTfactory

The Celts were amazing craftsman. When the vikings raided Ireland, they loved to plunder the monasteries for their silverwork and stonework. Stone being rather durable, many examples of Celtic stonework exist still. This fellow does a great job of conjuring up such master craftsmanship and looks like he could be an artifact out of an ancient site, but in fact he's been carved out of a river rock rather recently.

Celtic Knots Woodburned Book Box by Sixth and Elm

The choice of beautiful silvery wood on this box is fabulous. It looks like a book but when opened is a box. The knotwork, too, is great. Five stars :)

The White Horse by Emily Balivet

If, like me, you're a fan of the Renaissance, fantasy art, or mythology, you must visit this shop. The prints are reasonably priced. My walls are filling up with tapestries, swords, iron sconces and woodcut knights, and one of her prints would look right at home. They evoke Renaissance painters, and the colors are so vibrant. I had a hard time picking one to feature, but I thought this one fit my "Celtic" theme rather well.

Miniature Sword Pendant Necklace by Knights' Swords

This piece is the reason I chose the theme, although originally I was going to go with a Renaissance theme. Visit the shop; they have a couple of sword pendants, and some shields, all insanely cool. Most of the sword pendants I've seen have had a cast, "fantasy" look about them, not like you could pick it up and charge into battle if you were six inches tall. I'd love to make this the centerpiece of a chainmaille jewelry design for myself. Maybe someday :)

If you're a designer I highly recommend keeping your ideas in a sketchbook that you keep with you at all times. You never know when inspiration will strike. As you can tell from the page out of my sketchbook here, you don't need drawing skills, either :)

One thing that's fun about it is seeing the difference between the sketch and the finished item; often the design doesn't work out quite the way you wanted it to, the material has a bit of a mind of its own, and you just want to refine it a little bit. You can also go back through the pages of your sketchbook when you're stuck for a little inspiration.

Three of the sketches on this page have become actual items, pictured in the order described. The first became "Sylvan" and since I didn't have a donut, it got a charm, and some chains, and a little bit of a change to the weave. Actually the sketch looks more like "Aurora," (not pictured) which I did later. The second picture became "Matsuri", although I have another sketch that looks more like it, and I may do something like what I have pictured there, as well. The third is a work in progress, and the last is "Dervish", which came out pretty much as is. The little picture to the right on the bottom didn't work out at all; I didn't like the weave.

These days I tend to keep my sketchbook open in front of me while I'm doing my medical transcription work. Anything repetitive and mindless is good for third-brain brainstorming, and
transcription qualifies once you get going. While I'm not recommending sketching while driving, that's a good activity for brainstorming too since if you know where you're going your brain goes into automatic mode and can focus on other (right-brained) things while the left brain takes care of the repetitive task. Working with a sketchbook in front of me isn't all that conducive to getting lots of work done, but it does seem to be when I do my best thinking.

(someone pointed out to me that it has the added advantage of proving that your designs are your own, if anyone every questions that for any reason)

And if you're obsessing about design like I tend to, you'll be thinking about it all the time anyway, and when inspiration strikes the sketchbook will be there. When you see a sea and sky picture in a magazine you can clip and paste. When you see a pattern in the sky, in a spiderweb, on... heck, even the jewelry someone's wearing, the sketchbook is there to record it all so that it can come to fruition later. You might even keep a little journal recording what you were doing when you thought of the idea, or other odd little details about it.

If you don't use one, definitely try it. You might find inspiration striking at more odd moments than it used to, because you can take it to the bench when you have the time to create.

Friday, July 11, 2008


"Upcycling" is a term coined by William McDonough and Michael Braugart in their book Cradle to Cradle. Basically it means taking something normally disposed of (especially post-consumer waste) and creating something new out of it.

I'm doing my bit of upcycling today. Well, to be totally honest, it's not quite upcycling in the officially official sense of the word. I pick up "trash" jewelry from yard sales (single earrings, broken brooches, abandoned pendants, loose cabochons) and put it in my "stash" of things from which to create. I hit a few yard sales today and fortunately one person was wise enough to put all their "trash" jewelry out in bags. I think most people assume no one wants that sort of thing, but I did, and I bought it, and came home with a few things I'm kind of excited to use: some filigree items that would've been quite at home at; a couple of cat's eye glass cabs that I plan to practice wire wrapping on; a few cute little charms, some of which used to be earrings; and 3 bracelets worth of beads that I will definitely make use of, including one that is either carnelian or red agate ovals and very pretty.

In true upcycling, people take things that most people consider trash -- cereal boxes, milk cartons, plastic shopping bags -- and make things out of them. Lots of this stuff is "kitschy" and really not my taste, but here's a listing for an item I LOVE:

Water Lily Lamp by Roselover 2

This beautiful thing is $7 in her shop, made of recycled milk cartons, and.. well geez, what more could you want!? Be friendly to the environment, go support her upcycling efforts, and put this as a nightlight in your kid's room or somehing. So pretty :) Go look, that's a link!

Anyway, if you're interested in doing a little fun upcycling yourself, here's a link to a site called Upcycle Art:
They've got soda bottle lamps, plastic bag rope twining (stuff made this way can be found on Etsy too... if I ever get a chance I plan to do an Upcycling Treasury), milk carton CD case and more.

While I'm on the subject, my goal for the month is to stop throwing away my plastics, and take my reams and reams of plastic bags to Wal-Mart. Make this a green month and do one thing to make the Earth a little happier. And maybe create something cool in the process.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

It's boring, but it's there.

Peer pressure! Just cause Rachelle has one meant I had to have one...
So I made a website on weebly. As if I have more time to waste with web-things, when I should be doing work, and I'm already spending lots of time blogging, forum-ing, shopping (Bad Dee!) and general surfing. And doing graphics for all of the above. And searching for inspiration, which is to be had all over the place. And looking at free tutorials. Anyway, the Officially Uninspiring You've Got Maille website exists but is incredibly bland, for now. Darn you Rachelle! :) I may put helpful articles there. I may feature Etsy and chainmaille artists. I may.. write complete nonsense and make all the pictures upside down.

In other news, I got a message from someone at Belle Armoire magazine asking me to submit pieces of my jewelry for consideration for publication. :) I'm pretty excited about this but am having a hard time deciding what to send, or if I should make something new... I have a pretty pretty ceramic pendant from Hannahfaerie and lots of ideas for it (but no rings, alas... they're en route), and I think I may send that when it's done, if it comes out the way I hope it will. I definitely need new snazzy photographs. Therefore my plan is to construct a light box to take pictures of... something. I'll keep you posted on what goes on with this opportunity; apparently if my jewelry is chosen, I get to write an article about it, as well. Sweet!

Why the gnome? I dunno he's cute and posts are more fun with pictures, and I'm in a good mood because my son Brandon's coming home day after tomorrow, after 7 weeks with his dad. And he's gonna make chainmaille stuff with me. What do gnomes have to do with good moods? Definitely depends on the kind of gnome. That is a good mood gnome, trust me.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

History of Maille, Part I

I never noticed that maille was mentioned in the Bible but it goes back apparently to Moses' time (13th century B.C.). These were the instructions given to make garment for Israel's high priest: "And thou shalt make the robe of the ephod all of blue. And it shall have a binding of woven work round about the hole of it, as it were the hole of a coat of mail, that it be not rent." -- Exodus 28:31,32 [American Standard Version, 1901] It is mentioned again in the well-known tail of David vs. Goliath, Goliath being clad in a coat of mail.
The oldest found pieces of maille are in
the graves of Celtic warriors, dated about 400 B.C. It was probably from the Celts that the Romans discovered it, and quickly added it to their own armor. The method of making the rings then was much the same as now: steel was drawn into wire, wrapped around a mandrel, and cut; although they likely used a chisel, and we have more sophisticated methods of cutting the wire now (although a hand saw isn't really all that much more sophisticated).
The weave that the Celts used was the same European 4-in-1 that is most commonly thought of as chainmaille today, and its purpose was to deflect a weapon and make it slide off the garment. Because it was made of many pieces, repair was a relatively simple thing (compared to plate, for example). It was also lighter (although a steel hip-length shirt weighs approximately 35 lbs., which is not something you frolic in).
Oriental maille had quite a different purpose, apparently. It was not woven in whole shirts but used at the joining-points of armor (European maille was often used similarly, especially when plate mail came into vogue). Also, pieces of it were added to armor that had edges meant to catch a weapon and give the armored warrior the second he needed to return a blow while the opponent's weapon was caught. From the images above, maybe you can see how the much more rigid Japanese weave might do this. The weaves pictured are regular European 4-in-1, and a Japanese web weave.

Stay with us as we follow maille (hopefully) from protecting a Phillistine giant to the mainstream jewelry business and hobby with rings in high-tech niobium and titanium or in glittering sterling, and all the places it's been in between.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tips from Experienced Jewelry Artists

I thought the tips, advice and humor in these posts from Etsy's forums were so good that I had to put them somewhere they wouldn't get buried under the horror avalanche that is Etsy's forums. So I present to you: wisdom from those who have gone before. Enjoy. It's long but worth it. Not sure what's up with the spacing =/

  • You will make many, many, mistakes. Don't waste them; they are valuable if you learn from them.

  • Artists create because they have a need to put their thoughts, ideas, and imaginations into something concrete. They create because they need to express themselves. They create because they have to.

  • Not everyone understands us or why we are so passionate about the creative process. (That's OK because I don't understand why golfers get so excited about what they do.)

  • NEVER, EVER eat popcorn or for that matter, grapes- when working with beads.

  • You will never have nice fingernails again!

  • You will burn your fingers from time to time.

  • You really should wear a dust mask.

  • Your bench will cry out to you at all hours when your not there.

  • You will forget to eat...and must remember to feed your children!

  • I suggest taking a break when you have more than one problem with a peice. Walk away and have some water, come back when your head and hands are clear.

  • DONT solder when you are being rushed.

  • When learning something new you will never know where it will take you. don't be afraid to try an idea, even if what you try doesn't work, you will learn something from the process
  • Don't buy the tool you found at Harbor Freight (or somewhere else). There is a reason it is so much cheaper. Buy the very best you can afford - it will save you money in the long run.You will become a late-night or very early morning person, because this is the only time you know you won't be interrupted by spouse, children, neighbors or phone calls.
  • You will get annoyed whenever the phone rings and soon you will learn to check caller ID every time it does.
  • You will begin to consider watching television a waste of valuable time.
  • Don't be overly critical of your work. sometimes you need to put it down, walk away from it and look at it with fresh eyes later on.
  • Your dogs (or kids or cats) will know, somehow, just when you have your hands full of beads, or have something you're running through the rolling mill, or just as you have the torch on and are almost at the anneal point ... and they will absolutely positively need something RIGHT NOW!
  • If you plan on working with wire, just bite the bullet and buy yourself a pair of Lindstroms. Any Lindstrom (cutters if you can afford nothing else, collect them all if you can).
  • Recognize that the ideas you may have (however original), may have been thought up before you and not to become discouraged that you are not an artist because someone designed a piece shockingly similar to yours, before you did. Conversely, accept the fact that not every piece of jewelry out there posted after your own, is someone else copying you.
  • Keeping doing this for as long as it makes you happy.
  • Believe in yourself and don't look at other's works too often as it may become discouraging. Admire, but know that we are all artists at different parts of our journey and a year from now, your work will evolve as well as your skill levels.
  • Don't produce 15 of the bracelet you're so in love with until you've test marketed it.
  • Don't underprice your work.
  • Don't just drop in on a business owner with your work in hand. Make an appointment!
  • View other jewelry artists as friends and members of the same community you reside rather than "the competition" (unless of course, you've found out they've been copying all your ideas!).
  • Always...and I mean *always* tie your hair back, when soldering, if your hair is past shoulder length.
  • Your dreams will now be full of beads and tools
  • When vacuuming you will hear rattling from all the beads you've lost in the carpet
  • Your husband / wife / significant other will become jealous of beads and your jewelry pliers
  • You will fall in love with the freedom, creativity, and pure joy that creating jewelry brings you :)
  • Never bead in bed or you (or your significant other) will get wire, beads and all other manner of oddities stuck to your backside and some are very sharp
  • To go fast, go slow. (IE, to finish a project in the quickest way possible, take your time on it- you'll make fewer mistakes.)
  • Every now and again, take stock of what you have in your stash, and force yourself to hold off on buying anything new until you've used a good percentage of it.
  • Always test wear your creations...It might be beautiful but it might cause a permanent slouch, poke, or cause general discomfort
  • DO NOT casually toss anything in the pickle pot. PLACE it in carefully. Not that I know anything about it but-- the "remedy" for getting acid (pickle) out of your eye in the emergency room hurts more than the pickle. You need your eyes to make jewelry; take care of them!
  • Listen to your body. Even if you are up for a 12 hour creative session your body might not be. RSIs are so easy to ignore at first and can take over your life if you let them by ignoring them.
  • If you spend to much time marketing in whatever format you will also dream about this. ie: flea market, farmer's market, craft fair, etsy forums. Take breaks. Take a day off. Find a balance between creating, selling and life.
  • Be generous. To your collaborators, family and friends. Also with yourself. Give yourself time and permission to enjoy your craft.
  • View others as colleagues with whom you have much in common. Competition is for those I might wholesale my work to, finding a niche in which to thrive amongst colleagues is much easier on the psyche.
  • Just because you are unhappy with a piece doesn't mean somebody else may not love it. I've sold a few that I had been planning to take apart. You never know...
  • Be nice and encouraging to those who are just starting out. That used to be you
  • You never stop learning your craft. There is always something new to master.
  • There are no mistakes- only future new techniques being discovered.
  • When your creativity feels "out to lunch" do mileage, something tedious but necessary like re-drilling pearls, or making head pins.
  • Believe in yourself and stick to your guns regarding your pricing. Many a jewelry artist has said that if they have an item that isn't selling, they raise the price rather than reduce it and...Voilà sells. The old adage "you get what you pay for" is true.
  • Stop. Stretch your back. Go back to being hunched over.
  • Shiny beads and wire are addictive. Soon you'll be spending more for stuff to store them in that you spend on undies for a year.Wire jammed into skin next to your fingernail can cause infection, even if it doesn't bleed. Keep peroxide handy. Yes, I found this out the hard way.
  • You'll need to purchase tv trays to eat on as the kitchen table will always be covered with works in progress.
  • You will be told many times that jewelry is not 'real art' - its best to ignore them for their lack of understanding.
  • Every so often, check the couch cushions. It's like pirate booty under there!
  • Sons do not appreciate the HAMMERING whilst sleeping. Even if it only takes two minutes.
  • Don't work with beads over a thick carpet, they WILL spill, that is a fact and a guarantee.
  • Don't ever underestimate the power of silver or resin dust. Wear a mask. If you are not comfortable in one mask, try another brand or design. The minute it takes to locate and put one on is far easier than dealing with a bad case of inhalation pneumonia.
  • Anneal! Anneal! Anneal!
  • Be prepared - you WILL get some really strange custom requests that leave you going, "huh?!".
  • Buy the best tools *you* can afford. Don't let a lack of fancy tools hold you back. Top-of-the-line is great if you can afford it, but what counts is what you do, not what you buy. People have been crafting awesome jewelry for many, many years without access to bank-busting tools-- if you want to, you can too!
  • Make what YOU love, not what you think others will buy.
  • You do NOT have to say YES to every custom order - even if you CAN make it that doesn't mean you HAVE to (counts 2x for family and friend requests) Every custom order you do that is simply a "can you make this like this" order takes you away from your own creative vision and your time is precious.
  • Keep a knee high stocking handy while beading - put it over the end of the vacume hose and you can easily pick up everything you drop (or spill).
  • When you feel your head ready to explode, put your hands in the air and walk away from your workbench.
  • Don't pick up just made head pins with your fingers even if they have stopped glowing red.
  • Hide the sales flyer for tools from your husband, only one of you can afford to go the sale and if he doesn't know about it he can't go.
  • I bought one of those plastic carpet mats you see in offices for under my desk so when a bead hits the ground I can now find it 50% of the time. The other 50% are gone forever.
  • A really good way to force yourself out of the box is to open a container of beads and make yourself make at least three different things without opening another container. It also helps you use up some of that huge stash.
  • Don't use a torch near curtains with the window open. Better yet don't use a torch near curtains at all.
  • Oh and throwing your torch across the room when things are not going well is a really bad idea.
  • Doing chainmail with black rings is no harder than with silver, IF you have three times as much light.
  • Don't be afraid to color outside the lines.
  • Sometimes there is a "better way", sometimes not.
  • You're going to need a bigger hammer. Actually, several.
  • Don't buy headpins, clasps, earwires or bead caps when you can make them yourself.
  • Take 2 days off a week, just like a normal job. It will give your some perspective & maybe even some new ideas!
  • Oh, when you are cutting wire, you get itsy bitsy slivers of wire in your fingers that you can never
  • Don't let one negative opinion (be it about a piece, your prices, photography or anything else) make you change the way you do things. If you get a TON of negative feedback about something, maybe it's time to consider other options.
  • I dunno if someone has said it yet, but dont string beads in front of a cat!
  • Something I learned from a friend of mine: Never leave your thread and needle out if you have cats, it can result in an very costly vet bill.
  • Look to nature for inspiration. You will become more aware of color combinations, lines and curls, lighting, etc. You will begin to see that you don't always need symmetry to have beauty. Lack of symmetry or balance can stimulate interest in a piece. Who says everything has to match anyway?
  • Ive also learned to not try and trap myself into one particular style of jewellery, I find every time i try and do that, I change my mind, so I make what comes from my hands/heart and soul!
  • Hey, if you saw, instead of snip, your wire, it won't go flying AND you'll save major time/ effort/ waste by not having to file down mushed, pinched ends. Cutting a wedge out of your bench block gives you a place to rest the wire while sawing so that the wood, not your fingers, are behind it.
  • If you don't have a bench block but need to saw something, put on a pair of rubber gloves...the metal won't slip and your fingers won't cramp up from trying to hold it in place.
  • Measure twice and cut once!
  • Take advantage of the 'happy accident' - some of my favourite pieces came out of mishaps or unintended results... and never ever throw unfinished pieces out!
  • If an idea hits you-try to draw it out first, think of a color palette for your design and please when ordering new stock-ALWAYS double check your bead sizes and wire gauges.
  • Always save your scrap - you can sell or use it in the future.
  • The soldering gods are not always on your side, when this happens - make an offering to them, then leave for an hour or two, then when you come back they may be happier.
  • Don't get nitric acid on your hand your skin will turn black for a week.
  • Don't leave a turned on flexshaft armed with a drill bit hanging by your knee, you just might stand up on the pedal and drill a 2 inch hole in your leg.
  • Always protect your eyes and your lungs.
  • A magnet is a handy thing to have around to pick up scraps!
  • Open faced sandals aren't just a nono in the kitchen. Ambient glass particles will settle and silently snuggle into your calluses where they hide until that fun day when you discover your stowaways.ry to set yourself a budget before setting foot in a supply/bead/tool/gemstone shop... or be happy to live on pasta and plain rice for the next month or 6...
  • Always have access to more than your budget for supplies/beads/tools/gemstones as you will always find something that you just have to have... rice is good for you after all...
  • Children are better than you at finding lost beads in berber carpeting. They have young eyes and small fingers.
  • If you have a dog, don't drop anything or they will grab it and race out the door, leading to a fun game (for them) of catch me if you can!
  • patience, patience, patience! If you rush at all, you will end up with
  1. firescale
  2. melting
  3. burns
  4. lost beads/bezels/findings/mind
  • Never keep beads next to Advil

  • If you have cats, just go for full scale bead/string/cord/chain mania 24/7. They will eventually get overwhelmed and give up and be disgusted with your lack of organization. I can leave an incomplete, half-strung project out for days and they don't even come near it b/c they can't find it! Of course, I wandered out of my bedroom to get something to drink the other night, and they were both working on their own line of earrings--in the dark, you know, because they're cats. When I confronted them about it, they just looked at me and said, "Oh hey, welcome to 'Frisky Beads.'" I didn't know what to say; I was so hurt. Finally, I just held back the tears and said, "You guys can't use my camera. So there.

  • Keep your sheet solder marked with a sharpie and well separated from your silver sheet. It makes terrible bezels! (Same as for your silver wire, and wire solder!)

  • A bench pin is a necessity, no matter how much you think you don't need one. If you use it one time, you'll wonder how and why you didn't get one right away. Mine is a combo pench pin/bench block that can be temporarily screwed to the table.

  • Never skip filing solder seams or solder blobs, it always shows (even if you hammer the piece).

  • You will always think..."hmmm I just need this/these few items, then I will not purchase any new materials for the next many months"....RIGHT!

  • Repetition improves your skill level. You can make something once easily, making the second one that looks the same is a the test.

  • Don't forget to "play!"

  • If you can, work in a room with a door, have a note or sign on it when you can't be disturbed, and CLOSE it!...but make sure you open it before the day is over!

  • Something always happens to your machine three days before a major show

  • Not many people understand passion when it comes to your handmade product

  • Always think of working for yourself, and the rewards it will bring

  • Don't think people are out to "copy" you. You are but a drop in the ocean of fellow jewelry artisans and companies like Ross Simons, Sundance, etc. Instead, just do your thing, don't worry about anyone else, and focus on refining your technique. THAT is what is difficult to copy because it is like a fingerprint of your style, unique unto you. And your technique is what people will remember and be drawn to.

  • If your sister-in-law never says a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g about what you do; not even "that looks like s**t", it is a true giveaway of her feelings of envy. So, don't get mad, feel sad (not really but it rhymed), and make her something you know she will love. You will feel better about yourself and...she will feel like s**t - OK, leave the last clause out...:(

  • Find your own voice, its worth the trouble.

  • You can NEVER have enough beads/stones EVER

  • Do NOT blow off extra enamel, it tends to do more harm than good

  • Look at your feet from time to time. If you don't recognize them, you have been sitting too long and you may not be able to even go to the grocery store because they are so swollen that your shoes won't fit.
  • It can be inspiring to let your 8-year-old niece dig through the glass beads and come up with combinations you never would have thought of -- as long as she's well past the pretty princess/everything must be pink phase.
  • Try not to let the women in your office who sell Lia Sophia jewelry (and love it) get you down, even when they only whisper about it around you and don't invite you to lunch because they know you will harangue them on crappy materials and child labor. :)
  • If you work directly on hard wood floors, a plastic mat is a must to protect your floors from your crafting frenzies…I learned the hard way!
  • When buying supplies, always make sure that you take the measurements correctly so that you will have no surprises once your goods reaches you. Cm, mm, inches, it can get confusing! Recommended bookmark:
  • Keep solid books. A basic Excel spreadsheet will work wonders. I keep my revenues and expanses in separate spreadsheets as it allows me to track all the details; sales on etsy, private sales, craft sales, boutiques sales. I do it rigorously so that I can have a clear portrait of the financial health of my business at any time. Plus, it makes my life so much easier when tax season comes around!

  • Be nice, be true. With the Etsy community, with your fellow artist at craft sales, with your loved ones. When you are good at heart it shows and it will take you a long way! :)

  • Price your goods well. Being an artist is wonderful, but in the end it’s all about the profit margin. You have to make money to survive and the buy more supplies! ;-) Recommended link:

  • If you decided to do consignment, a legal contract is in order with selling terms of your goods in consignment, including an inventory signed and dated. Make sure all your pieces are photographed and numbered so that it will be easy for you/boutiques to keep inventory up to date.

  • Listen to your clients. They are the voice of wisdom when it comes to know what works and what doesn’t it your creations. Adjust accordingly. Take notes of what sells in craft sales, so that the next time around, you’ll have more than one piece on hand to meet demand.

  • KNOW YOUR MOOD before you get to work. Some days are better HAMMERING days than soldering tiny intricate pieces days.

  • Don't work with beads/stones over a CERAMIC TILE floor, either! You will hear the pitter-patter of bouncing components, if you drop something. I would suggest a low lying area rug under your work table and chair. And periodic treasure hunts.

  • Also: wear samples of your jewelry (made for yourself, to keep as display) whenever you go out. Keep business cards on hand for people who admire your work.

  • Take jewelry rolls with you to restaurants or whatever. If you roll the pieces out, it's not uncommon that you sell them - or at least attract attention for card distribution.

  • Love what you do. If you find, at some point, that it's more "work" than joy or creative expression, then you need to take a break - because your muse might have already done so.

  • Believe in yourself and your work. As long as you make it the best you possibly can, and strive to learn more and improve, then you're doing what you should ☺

  • Never be jealous of sharing what you have learned with others. They will express it in their own way, and the world will be a better place.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

"Worth a Chuckle" Etsy Finds Week of 6/30/08

This week I thought I'd present a few finds that made me laugh. Some are cute, some are subtly funny, some are downright LOL.

Carnival Style Goldfish in a Bag Soap by Sugar Booger's Boutique

Back in the day (and I think still) you could go to any county fair, toss a ping pong ball in a goldfish bowl, and take the sad creature home with you. Man, goldfish have a bad lot in life, now that I think about it. We had a pair of fish, my brother and I, that were fair wins. They lived in fishbowls for maybe a year, and then we decided we needed an aquarium with African cichlids, and Goldie and Silver got to live with the exotics. Let me tell you, goldfish poo can clog an aquarium filter. As I recall it, the cichlids all died because I couldn't keep up (well, maybe I was a little lazy, I was 12), and Goldie and Silver lived on in the green water, and ultimately went for a swim in the creek behind the house. I think they lived with us for something like five years, and no doubt survived the creek, too. Tenacious things, those mini-carp.
Anyway! let this adorable soap stroll YOU down memory lane as you free the little fishie from his soapy prison, and get yourself clean in the process!
Have You Seen My Balls Black Dog Tee by Molly McB & Company

Yep, this one made me laugh out loud. Did you know that they now make a product called Nuticles, which are prosthetic dog jewels that your veterinarian can put on your dog so that, even though he hasn't got the goods, it looks like he does?
That costs a lot of money, though, and this t-shirt is funnier.

Cupcake Hat by Knittin Mama

If you're gonna sell baby products get a cute baby to do it, and Knittin Mama definitely has :) I wanna PINCH those CHEEKS! And, oh man, think about being able to pop open the photo album on prom night and show the girlfriend with the nose piercing how cute Junior was with a cupcake on his head! Priceless.

Instruments of War T-Shirt by Michael Phipps Art

There are lots of people who don't "get" my sense of humor. I suspect the person whose mind generated this design would. I like my humor subtle, wry, a bit on the dry side. Duelling pluckers, happy polka people... THIS MEANS WAR! Love it.

Second Store Opening!

Well, I've taken the plunge and ordered items for sale in my second store, WYSIWYG Beads, which will open when my stock arrives and I have time to photograph it. The premise behind its name is that in shopping for beads I'm getting tired of seeing reams and reams of beads in the picture listed, only to find out that what is being sold is ... 2 beads. Or when I'm buying an assortment of beads or findings, I want the picture to show EXACTLY what I'm getting. So my plan is to photograph exactly what the buyer will receive; What You See is What You Get (WYSIWYG). Unfortunately it doesn't apply to the photo here because I don't have the actual beads yet :)

Stock in my first shipment will include a variety of semiprecious beads in a variety of shapes, some glass beads, a random finding or two, and some unique focal items, spacers, etc. I have the suspicion that pretty much all beaders and jewelry makers have a secret addiction, and I'm fast heading down that path. I decide what I want to make, pull out the bag with the beads in it (yep, I'm still working out of a gallon Ziploc but fast outgrowing it) and decided I definitely don't have enough beads. I figure this way... I can buy wholesale, share some of the savings, and maybe make a few dollars for further addiction funding in the process.

When opens, you'll find the news here!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

News, New Look

Bear with me while I tinker, searching for the look that is YGM. I have a lot of goodies that have gone missing from the side column. They get deleted every time I change the template. I'm settling in.

In other news, I'm contemplating opening a second Etsy shop for supplies. Okay, I confess that part of the reason I want to do this is because I want to get my OWN supplies at wholesale cost, and this way I can buy in bulk and share good prices, and maybe fund my addiction in the process. Stay tuned; I'm not going to use any family money for this venture, so it will happen when I make a decent sale.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tools of the Trade

I can't live without this little doohickey. Do you other chainmaillers use one of these? It's a jump ring opener, you wear it on your off hand (left, in my case), and with a pair of pliers stick your rings in it and twist, and you have a nice, even open. I'm finding that I frequently bend rings beyond repair when I do the two-plier method, especially copper rings.

Now, I'm sure this wouldn't be handy with 12 gauge steel. It's got varying slots that fit 20 ga probably up to 14 or so? The BEST thing about it is, you're in the middle of a tricky weave, and you're holding it so the next ring goes right THERE, and then you go "oh crap I'm out of open rings...." You don't have to drop it with this, you can hold on to your work in progress, pick up a ring with your pliers, twist your hand around a little, and open a ring without letting go.

Indispensible. Paradise Beads has them. Fire Mountain has them. I'm sure Rio Grande does, but not 100%. Your craft store might even have one. I accidently picked mine up in a 'how to do byzantine' kit and have been in love with it ever since. Panic ensues when I start mailling and I can't find it, so I'm planning on buying an extra three or four, and a big ring so Brandon can try it out, too, cause my little dinky one doesn't fit his big fingers :) We're not talking major investment here, either: under $3 in most places.

Issue #2: I've worn out a pair of chain nose pliers in a month. They were $5.99, The Ring Lord brand. No, I'm not a big spender. But I figure if I'm going to be doing this on a regular basis I need to shop for 1) comfort 2) durability. Love to hear what other maillers are using. I'm planning on springing for a pair of Wubbers, or maybe even Lindstrom. Then I am going to replace the round nose and wire cutters too. Eventually.

Oh, and is anyone using Tool Dip? Do you find it necessary? I'm scratching very few anodized rings EXCEPT when I have a tight spot and can't use my handy ring thingy and can barely get 2 sets of pliers in there.. that's when I slip and scratch, which causes great sadness and trauma, because that's when trying to put another ring in there makes me say $#!#!@&(*@! And other nice things.

In other news, I have a recommendation for Lime Away for copper cleaning. That sounds like anodization eating product, to me, but I may have to try it. I may end up not being able to mix things that oxidize with things that are anodized. That would make me sad.

And that's it for this week's episode of Things That Make Me Sad. And now I want a cappuccino.