Thursday, April 30, 2009

Digital Sentiments

This past week my son had to do a family tree project for Spanish class with pictures of his various family members, and it occurred to me...

I don't have hard copies of pictures anymore.  Everything's on this computer.  If I don't back up my pictures on CD, I am one virus away from losing all those memories.

Not only that, but there's something real and sentimental about an album of pictures, whether they're attractively scrapbooked or just stuffed in an album.  My printer sucks for printing photos, but I can upload them to Wal-Mart's site (I assume other retail developers have something similar, which I will look into because I'd rather not give Wal-Mart business if I don't have to) and get prints made for not that much money.

All my music lives on this computer, too.  Well, not all.  I am old enough to still have that stockpile of CDs, though I've ripped all my favorite ones.  (Hell, I still have cassettes.  No vinyl or 8-tracks tho.)  But if I buy music these days, I'm usually buying it online and downloading it.  Again... one virus away from losing that investment, unless I've burned them to CD.

For the most part, I think this is all great.  For one thing, it cuts down on trash.  Sending me email instead of a letter means I'm not tossing a paper letter.  I'm not throwing away unwanted CDs (AOL doesn't send them anymore!).  The photos that didn't come out don't end up as landfille,  just another file in the recycle bin on my computer.  So there are benefits.

On the other hand, I'm not likely to save that email in a scrapbook.  Clicking through pictures doesn't mean as much as flipping through a scrapbook, somehow.  And I definitely have to rethink my backup plan for the data that is on my computer right now.

I still prefer to journal with a pen in a pretty blank book.  And an e-card will NEVER replace a Hallmark with a handwritten sentiment.  What about you?  Do you like hard data or is half your life on a hard drive?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What is Niobium?

Electric Rainbow Earrings at You've Got Maille

This weekend I sold a pair of these earrings online and a pair at the Renaissance faire. Last night, as I worked on an argentium and niobium choker, I decided I needed to talk about niobium.

It's my favorite metal. It's cooperative to work with (it won't break your hands like steel or titanium and it closes seamlessly without an argument). It anodizes in glimmering colors no photo I seem to be able to take does justice. Unanodized, it's a grey-silver color with just a touch of a glimmer that gives no hint of the iridescent rainbow it can become.

This is a relatively "new" metal, having been discovered in 1801. It's used in alloy with titanium and steel for lots of technology applications, including the space program.

The glory of niobium is the color. When it takes color, it takes it in a subtle range. I get a packet of multicolor rings and for some projects sort them into colors, and often there's no clear division - for example the bronze has purple highlights and the violet has gorgeous blue. As a result, you can get a beautiful gradient effect when weaving it into chainmaille.

The other tremendous benefit is that the stuff is as hypoallergenic as you can get. While a few people react to niobium, it's extremely rare. As a result it's used extensively in body piercings. So if you've got sensitive ears and you haven't tried niobium hooks, try them. A search on Etsy should turn up several. Niobum and titanium alloys, unlike surgical steel, should be free of nickel (which causes most metal reactions).

As I said, a search on Etsy should turn up quite a bit of niobium, but if you're a jewelry maker you're probably wondering where to get this great stuff. The suppliers I know of include The Ring Lord, Blue Buddha Boutique, and Spiderchain, although I cannot attest to their niobium because I haven't bought it from anyone. I bought first from someone on eBay but since the rings were "snipped" niobium wire, they had rough edges that weren't colored.

Every bit of niobium I buy now comes from C&T Designs, and I'll tell you why. One, customer service is the best. Secondly, Curt takes great care in winding, cutting and anodizing his wire, so you end up with very few "trash" rings (unlike TRL; I haven't bought the niobum but sometimes I'm disgusted with how many aluminum rings I have to throw away). The ends are carefully anodized and the color is gorgeous. Third, as far as I know, C&T is the only place you can get "rainbow" niobium rings, where each ring has 2-3 colors on it, and this makes for some beautiful stuff, and even prettier ear hooks. And finally, he does custom rings and custom anodizing so pretty much, if you can imagine it and he can manage it, he's up for it. Prices are really reasonable, too.

Niobium Ear Wire Selection from C&T Designs (rainbow bottom center)

I really love the mostly circular shape, they hang very nicely.

People seem to like "cheap" earrings so I'm still using surgical steel wires. If I had my choice, though, I'd go to all niobium and to eliminate reactions, although sometimes they don't look right on silver earrings. Also, if anyone knows of a good supplier of niobium or titanium posts with loops, I'd love to hear about it. I've found a few here and there but no reliable supplier.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Some Poetry For You

Coffee Haus Photograph print available at Karmabox

Inspiration by neon

and the dusk beyond
fueled by a double decaf
nonfat latte
and an urge that's been
driving me sane
all day.
This temple,
the place where amidst noise I grow
and seek out the
divine silence
in me.
The hush
that vibrates in gentle waves
that lap,
eroding the shore
of everything I thought I knew.
And all I can do is stare
at the far
and long for what gifts
tomorrow's waves
deposit at my feet.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

SO busy...

Inventory, rehearsals, PR stuff, display... my head is spinning.

This weekend is Dragon Days Renaissance Festival in Cookeville, TN. Not only do I have a booth full of chainmaille and wire goodies for fairegoers to peruse, I'll be calling the moves for the Human Chess Match, themed Robin Hood this year - Nottingham side (yeah, the bad guys). My son's the sherriff. That's him being vaulted over last year as one of the Vikings in a 13th Warrior themed chess match. Besides that, my troupe of Renaissance Dancers aged 6th grade to adult, named Two Left Feet (appropriately sometimes, I'm afraid) will be performing. So if you're local, come out and see us Friday or Saturday. You'll get to see Johnny Phoenix, too, which is a treat.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Weekend in Knoxville

Been away for the weekend. I took Brandon to his interview for Tennessee Governor's Academy in Knoxville. I've decided I like the town - big city convenience without a big city feel. I think Bran did pretty well and he's really excited about the opportunity - he'll get to choose a research area and work with a researcher as a mentor at Oak Ridge National Labs, if accepted, live on campus with 23 peers in an environment designed to encourage inquiry and learning. I think it was made for him, really. Fingers crossed - we'll find out May 1 if he was chosen to attend.

While he was interviewing and testing I paid a visit to University of Tennessee Gardens and traipsed their greenways, discovered the amazing Young-Williams Animal Center (oh my goodness, what an amazing adoption facility!! Check out the link. If Bran goes to TGA he needs to volunteer there, and I'll be jealous) and a really cool store called Aimee's Bohemian Jewelry and Gifts. Something really cool about having a few hours of completely free time in a new place and just discovering it - not something you often get to do close to home, or even on vacation.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Team Picks of the Week

More team awesomeness for you!

There's so much stuff you can do with a little mobius unit, but I don't think I've seen this done before. Besides, I adore that color.

Wire Artisans' Guild: Little Green Tree Frog Brooch by Sonseeahray

I don't even know what to say about this except it's full of awesome. Not that many cool brooches on Etsy, either. He needs to live on your lapel. Before you go buy him though, you should check out Sonny's equally adorable fishie brooch.

Fantasy Artists of Etsy: No Ring On This Finger Lillith Print by Carapace

There's so much here... the story behind it (see the listing), and an obvious dark goddess drinking coffee out of a mug that says #1 Mom... put this print in your living room, it's guaranteed to generate conversation. Got to love art based on mythology.

Etsy Bloggers Team: Camouflage Handmade Vessel by Rosebud 101

Put a tiny amount of essential oil in this (neroli is soooo good) and you don't need to put perfume on yourself!

Etsy Twitter Team: Calm Me Lavender Soap by Soap Rehab

I know, I know, I can't resist putting soap in here. This looks like fancy marbled paper to me and is one of the prettiest soaps I've seen. I always hated lavender scent in manufactured soaps, but lavender scent that actually comes from lavender is dreamy. Literally.

Artfire Chainmaillers' Guild: Chainmaille Purse by Chains n Maille

Someone runs up to you and tries to steal THIS purse, you THWAP 'em! Besides, it's completely cool.

Tennessee Artisans on Artfire: Ring of Fire by Firepit Art

This falls into the "Oooooh, I want I want I want" category. Who needs a dinky little chimnea when you can have open fire!

Blogfire: Pico Seeks You Print by Nature Manipulated

Not sure this little guy was prepared to have his picture taken, but he sure is cute!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Puppy Intrigue

Really, now. People are accusing the president of "planting" this dog in a home, which would subsequently say the dog didn't work out so it could look like they adopted a rescued dog, and that the dog was intended for the Obamas all along. Don't people have anything better to do than speculate on what the Obamas have for lunch and their supposed PR plots? What's next? Will they be accused of "sneaking" pesticides into their "organic" garden?

Barack was quite clear in saying they'd prefer to rescue a shelter dog, but had to take Malia's allergies into consideration. As a result, they've adopted a Portie (Portugese Water Dog) courtesy Ted Kennedy that is a "sort of" rescue dog since he was taken out of a home where he was no longer wanted, and they have donated generously to the Humane Society, to boot. Seems like a quite responsible way to go, to me. Have any of the other First Dogs (or cats) been rescue animals? I'm not really sure. What I am sure of, is that all the coverage of the ins and outs of the White House these days are starting to look like our weird obsession with England's royalty, only tenfold.

All this silliness DOES highlight the need to consider a shelter dog when adopting, which can't be a bad thing. Oh, and, I know I've said it before, but don't add to the problem. Get your pets spayed and neutered.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy... Tax Day?

Rolling Stone Pendant at You've Got Maille

Not sure if it's because I've been listing daily, or because spring is in the air, or the economy is picking back up, or people are getting tax refunds back already, but sales have been pretty good for me lately. So there ARE some people out there with some money!

On an entirely unrelated note, my son Brandon's made it to the final round of consideration for Tennessee Governor's Academy (see THIS POST if you don't know what I'm talking about, and you care).

So in honor of all this good news, I propose...


If you've been contemplating buying from me, head over to either store to browse. With any purchase, a second item of equal or lesser value will be 40% OFF!! That's from either store, and if you want one thing from YGM and one thing from SR, go for it, I'll adjust your shipping and your totals, just send me a convo before you pay. Also let me know you saw this in my blog, since I haven't decided yet whether I'm going to make this a blog-exclusive sale.

This will last through April 20. I'll be out of town Friday and Saturday while Bran interviews for TGA, so anything ordered this weekend will be shipped Monday.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Morning Coffee

Deep Blue/Chocolate Coffee Mug by GardKoizumiArt

K, I'm not going to talk about my morning coffee (since I'm writing this with insomnia for the last hour and a half at 5:00 a.m. and hoping for a little more sleep and thinking about morning coffee would just be torture... creamy goodness... steaming hot.... anyway). If I WAS going to talk about my morning coffee.... well I think it'd be really awesome in this gorgeous mug from Gard Koizumi Art. I've decided when I have a few extra dollars I'd like to start a handmade coffee mug collection so my morning hazelnut bliss is even better. Something awesome about drinking out of a mug you really like.

But that's NOT what this post is mainly about. I discovered a Firefox add-on called Morning Coffee. Basically, you tell it what websites you want to visit on a regular basis, then click the icon in your browser toolbar and poof! there are your websites for the day. You can put in daily websites, or certain ones certain days of the week.

How does this help you the crafter? Here are a few ways.

1) Have it open your blog once a week or a couple of times a week or once a day so you remember to post.

2) Have it open your social networking spots so you remember to do all that awesome promoting on Facebook, myspace, Indiepublic, whatever. Twitter is a different story.

3) This is the one I'm most excited about. Are you juggling several selling sites? Want to update them and/or relist on a regular basis but never seem to get around to it? I've got it opening Etsy and Artfire for daily listing and relisting, and a few others (Winkelf, 1000 Markets) that I have a more casual presence on once or twice a week. Since I have a heck of a time keeping track of what's what, this is really a huge boon to me.

4) Have it crack open Google Analytics, Craftopolis and Heartomatic so you can see how your stuff is faring in the wild world of teh Interwebs, and who's noticing.

5) Get an RSS feed to the blogs you want to monitor on a regular basis and put Bloglines in your daily routine. Throw in your Teams sites, and any forums you want to keep up with, maybe a news site or two so your friends don't think you're completely obsessed with your craft (yeah right!).

Now click, and you're off! Daily online business promotion in one handy click!

I also think the name is just the best, since morning Interwebs routine and coffee seem like a perfect match to me. Of course, you can do this with your evening nightcap too, if you prefer.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Go Teams!

Way Awesome Cool Stuff From You've Got Maille's Way Awesome Cool Teams
(decided to include Artfire teams this week)

Etsy Chainmaillers' Guild:
Long JPL Earrings by Mailled

I have a thing for JPL, and in sterling, with labradorite... magic.

Etsy Wire Artisans' Guild:
Victorian Miss by Follow The Red Brick Road

When you're done ogling this gorgeous pendant, go look at Marcy's other amazing creations. Sooo much detail there. Only problem is causing people to stare at your chest so much. ;)

Fantasy Artists of Etsy:
Floating Fairy House by Centaur 1201

This is positively dreamy. I imagine having an enclosed patio to put this on... maybe some day. It looks like a glowy fairy lives inside.

Etsy Bloggers:
Mel Marry Jack Puppets by Mia Rae

Are these not adorable!? You could do Sesame Street at home!

Teacher's Apple Beaded Paperweight by Red Bess Bonney

If I was a teacher, I'd totally want one of these.

Artfire Chainmaillers' Guild:
Flowers and Byzantine by Nightmaiden

She shows just how un-geeky chainmaille can be. A garden for your neck!

The Tree 2 Sided Stained Glass Pendant by Almond Tree

I see a lot of tree pendants but nothing quite like this!

Artfire Tennessee Artisans:
Cucumber Cantaloupe Soap by A Woman With Scents

Yum! This sounds so delightful. A reason to get out of bed in the morning.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Faire Season

Deutsch (will be available at Second Renaissance this week)

A lot of exciting things coming up in the next few months for us here in little Sparta, Tennessee. Here's the Renaissance Faire and Craft Fair schedule:

April 25-26 Dragon Days Renaissance Faire at Hidden Hollow, Cookeville, TN
May 2 Bobby Ray Elementary Spring Fling Arts & Craft Show, McMinnville, TN
May 8 White County Middle School Renaissance Festival Sparta, TN
May 23 Liberty Square Festival, Sparta, TN

As a result, I've been busily creating Renfaire-appropriate goodies mostly in maille. If you're local stop by one of the above shows and see us.

In other news, Fragrant Mushroom here in Sparta is opening a local art gallery and You've Got Maille will be participating with gallery display, classes, and more. More info on that as I receive it, but it's an opportunity to promote local artisanship that I'm really excited about. Besides, networking with other artists in a richly creative atmosphere is one of the most wonderful things in life.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Chainmaillers' Guild Contest

Hey, go to the Etsy Chainmaillers' Guild Blog and vote for your favorite entry in the spring Romance Blossoms contest, and you can win some really amazing chainmaille presents (pictured in the post below the entries -- some of those goodies are worth $40 or more!). You can win more entries by publicizing the contest. Of course, I'm not telling which is mine. :D

Good luck!

My Entrecard Buddies

So far, I believe Entrecard has done a heck of a lot to promote traffic to my blog. I've definitely gained some new readers. Has it been great for business? I don't think so, not really, although I've gotten at least one sale from my new readers. Still, I like it when people read and comment on my blog and I have made some great new friends this way.

Entrecard is apparently not terribly well-run. Recently they've started allowing people to sell things for credits, and now they're going to allow third-party advertising to take up space on my blog (originally they weren't going to let me say no to specific advertisers! but they've changed this policy). In general, I don't like where they're going, and as one friend said, "I don't want to pimp out my blog." I'm staying for now, but I'm not sure for how long. Apparently has banned them entirely. Yikes.

To my friends, and other friends leaving Entrecard for the reasons above, if you enjoy my blog and I've spent some time around yours (I have SO many favorites that I visit on a nearly daily basis and thoroughly enjoy reading), I'd really like to keep in touch. Drop me a line here and I will definitely follow and/or subscribe if I'm not already. Maybe at some point we can set up a blog ring so we can keep making the rounds. I think I'm following most of your blogs already, so that's one way to keep tabs. I'll pull my "follow me" box closer to the top of the page here, or you can subscribe via RSS and I'll do the same. I check my Bloglines blogs daily and I recommend them. There are definitely other ways to keep an eye out for blogs you enjoy.

If you're not following me already, I'm also on Twitter and usually post updates to my blog there. Well, I forget a lot, but I'll try to be better.

I'll miss you most of all, scarecrow! (geez, I'm getting all sentimental!)

Have a great April everyone. April Fool's Day is over so I can say that totally seriously now :)