A chronicle of the meanderings, false starts (which in retrospect, while sort of embarrassing turned out to be highly instructive), epiphanies, selective apathy (still evolving), wild mood swings, opinions (subject to frequent change), and life lessons of an inveterate dabbler (and her latest dabblings).

Monday, December 21, 2009

Accessories for the Serious Man-Eater

Leopardskin jasper is THE thing to wear this season when you're Going on a Man Hunt. It really does evoke the coat of a leopard, but in sexy shades of brick red, crimson, and coral. And black. Pair this with your favorite four-inch stilettos and leopard print catsuit and teeter around like your Bad Leopardess Self. Or maybe just sit.

The necklace features hammered copper washers linked by figure 8s in copper (check out Sharilyn Miller's "Ethnic Style Jewelry Workshop" DVD for instructions), brecciated jasper, hematite, mahogany jasper, copper beads (check out Sun Country Gems for awesome solid copper beads) and hand-forged chain in a twisted figure 8 pattern. It has, of course, a detachable extender chain so it can be worn long or short. Without the extender chain it's just shy of 21" long, and can be adjusted to shorter lengths; the extender chain is 5 and 3/4" long and is also adjustable.

Because of the hematite, you will be ever so slightly magnetic. If your significant other/prey-of-the-day has a pacemaker, you might want to take this off before you jump him.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

More Word Verification Gems

Been collecting these for you:

cronchbo--fizzled successor to Tae Bo involving only Kegels.
traddl--like straddle, but with a harelip.
scrinc--the sickening sound of your keys falling into a sewer grate.
insier--"my belly button is insier than yours is."
schin--shin, in Germany.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Every Day

is Bead Porn Day at The Cerebral Dilettante. Because I'm just not that organized.

Today is devoted to Pewter Porn.

I stopped by the knitting shop (finally) to pick up some pewter buttons because Erin Prais-Hintz dared me to use a button in something. (Because I mentioned I really needed to learn how to use buttons). FINE. Here they are:

No, they're not terribly button-like. I'm starting out slow with the button thing.

And I got another dang email from Happy Mango Beads about another one of their silly pewter sales so I had to buy these pewter totem beads:

Pictured clockwise from upper left are an owl (upside-down, sorry), an orca (also upside-down), a frog, a raven (again, upside-down), a salmon and another salmon (both naturally upside-down), and two suns in the middle. I'm thinking a bracelet or two, maybe some simple knotted necklaces. Not sure I will be able to resist the impulse of turning the two suns into earrings. Really heavy earrings.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I Know What I'm Doing This Weekend

Making bead caps!!! My doming block set came today. And I have my copper and brass sheet and my metal punch and my pin vise drill. Going to have to fire up the tumbler with some Dawn and the stainless steel shot I got and see if that will clean up the burrs I am sure to have on the edges of my discs before I dome them. Eventually I will get around to trying out the tumbler for polishing, but I've read so many different accounts about mystery deposits on metals and black sludge that I'm chicken to try. I am going to be seriously pissed if this bead cap thing doesn't work. I don't have room for all this crap I bought.

If I've made some fatal conceptual errors regarding making bead caps this way I'll have a giveaway and YOU can try it!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Purple Cactus Studios

I stumbled across this clay artist on Flickr the other day when I was uploading photos to the 88 groups I'm in. I was just blown away by her work! The colors seemed electric! And the patterns in her clay are just phenomenal. Psychedelic! I've never seen polymer clay quite like that. Like my most favorite fluorescent Crayolas. In her blog she also explains that she works as a muralist and faux finisher as well. I asked if I could feature her on my blog and she said sure. So here are some of my favs from her Etsy shop! You can also follow her blog, Purple Cactus Studios. I did.

This is a bangle! Looks like it was made out of a psychedelic snake!

Isn't this AMAZING? I just love it! The background for the photo makes me think these are little mushrooms you definitely don't want to eat. Or definitely DO want to eat. Depending on the kind of, ah, experience you're looking for.

Look at all these individual little petals!

And this is just way cool:

I could put like 40 more photos from her shop on here but Blogger won't let me. (Her Etsy profile indicates there are TWO artists, Amber and Laurence--one makes the clay beads, the other turns them into jewelry.) Bravo! Drop by for a visit!

P.S., you can also visit her website where you can see photos of her mural and faux finish work.

My Best Inanimate Friend

This is my beloved little mini vise. I call him Hermann. Hermann
fits in my purse better than a chihuahua. It's $7.99 at Jewelry Supply. (How many people can say they have a vise in their purse? Or eggs?)

Here is a picture of Hermann in action, holding a pendant ready to be wrapped with wire.

Hermann really is MINI. The opening only goes to 1 and 1/4", and the table top you see (it's one of those cheapie laminate desks from Staples) is pretty thin and that's about the limit for that vise, it won't fit on a heavier table top. And as you can see, it isn't very deep either--the pendant that's pictured there is pushed all the way down and that's as far as it goes. For larger items you would need a bigger vise. But I've never found I needed anything bigger for jewelry. Best $8 I ever spent. It's amazing how much better my wrapping turns out when I have TWO hands free--I can use one hand to hold the loop at the top steady so it doesn't twist when I start wrapping, and I can use the other hand to wrap the wire. I can wrap a briolette or pendant really fast with Hermann. With no cussing.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Color Inspiration!

I've really been knocked out by the copper pieces Esther of Mes Illusions Baroques and Mary Jane of Maire Dodd have been doing, with lots of rosy tones, peaches and lavenders, so I decided to haul myself out of the green-and-copper rut. Rifled through my bead stash and found some stuff I forgot I had bought (hmm, bead "blackouts", might have a problem)--really loved this peach aventurine (I got at a 75% off going-out-of-the-bead-part-of-our-business sale) with the copper, and then just had to stick the garnets in there. Couldn't bear to leave any unadorned links. I've really loved the purple-pink-peach-copper palette so many other artist bloggers are doing, HAD TO COPY IT!!! I really hate wrapping briolettes, so this was my desensitization therapy. I wrapped 8 of the little bastards. Rule No. 1: Always use a mini vise. Unless you have three arms. (But from what I've seen, third appendages tend to be more decorative than functional. Even if you have three arms you'll probably still need a vise.)

Made the chain yesterday while I was pretending to watch football (go Griz) with the BF and his offspring. It's like knitting. Except with a hammer.

OK, off to make earrings to go with this before my brio-wrapping-aversion reasserts itself.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Look Ma! No Symmetry!

This is my first attempt at an asymmetrical necklace. (Sorry, no buttons yet.) It is essentially monochrome (tone on tone)--I couldn't do multicolor AND asymmetry in one piece. Maybe later.

It features matte finish (which I guess is the natural finish) Crazy Horse Stone roundels, garnets, and big fossil agate rounds. The lead-free pewter pendant is from Happy Mango Beads. Hand forged, oxidized chain and S-clasp. The round silver beads are a gift from a customer--she sends me the most amazing stuff for my stash! Available in my Etsy and ArtFire shops.

Alas I could only do one asymmetrical piece. That's all I have in me right now. The First Bank of Asymmetry is empty. Come back later. I was able to do this, though, with a big steel washer I've been carting around forever, and my new favorite stone, apple green howlite. Well, Co-Favorite with red sponge coral. I really like this necklace. The wire is all annealed steel, hand polished; little sterling daisy spacers add a little sparkle. The stones are apple green howlite and serpentine.

The necklace includes a 9" removable, hand-formed steel extender chain which matches the chain on the necklace. With the extender chain attached, the necklace can be worn as long as 28". The extender chain is adjustable. Without the extender chain the necklace measures about 19" and is also adjustable. The necklace can be worn at virtually any length between 16" and 28".

I coated all the steel with Future acrylic floor polish. Inhibits rust and adds some shine. Smells good too.

P.S., Harbor Freight shipped my doming block set early! It's on its way! Yay!! And I have my copper and brass sheet and my other tools, so hopefully handmade bead caps by moi are right around the corner. Decided to go with a pin vise drill with itty bitty drill bits for making the center holes (but of course I also got a Fiskars hand drill just in case), we'll see how that goes. A bientot!

Saturday, December 5, 2009


I made it to the front page of Etsy this AM at 8:00EST!!! Thanks fifthquadrant for putting me in your Treasury! Oh God, I can't go anywhere today--I have to stay by the phone because Oprah's going to call now, I just know it.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Untamed Nomad

And her jewelry. This was given to me after I quit NASA by a Tuareg chieftain when I was living in Mali with the Berber for twenty years studying the nomadic lifestyle for my postdoctoral cultural anthropology dissertation. It was a really long dissertation. It was my third one. Dissertation, not Tuareg chieftain. He wanted me to marry him but I had a boyfriend back home. And a dissertation to finish. I won the Nobel Prize for it. And a Pulitzer and a Howitzer. And Hollywood made movies out of my other two dissertations. Remember Gorillas in the Mist? That was me. Then NASA wanted me back after that but I already had a top-secret national security gig with the CIA. (Can't say any more about that). And a movie deal about my climb to the summit of Mount Everest. By myself. With no gear. Or food. Or coat. That I did right after I won Wimbledon. Again. Anyway, it was a really cool necklace:

Unfortunately I have to sell it to raise money to pay the mortgage on my Scottish castle that I bought from Sting. Totally furnished. I'm letting him live there til he and Trudy and the kids find a new place. You can buy the necklace HERE. It'd really help me out--hey you can come over when I move in. There's a hot tub.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Painted Desert

Burning red rocks, incandescent tangerine sunsets, delicate coral sunrises, and cool lilac shadows. I love the desert! I think I was a lizard in a former life. I love lizards too. Someday I would like to live in the desert. Or rather near a desert in a town with good infrastructure. In fact I could live near the desert RIGHT NOW. This set below was inspired by the colors of the painted desert. It includes brecciated jasper, yellow jasper (in the bracelet--at least I think that's what that is), garnet, carnelian, moukaite (LOVING that stone), golden jade, Czech pressed glass and table cut glass, a little bit of Indonesian glass and lots of rich, warm brass. The necklace includes removable hand forged extender chain so it can be worn anywhere from 17" (or shorter, actually) to 24". Pewter cross with brass overlay by Happy Mango Beads.

For your alabaster, or ebony, as the case may be, swanlike neck:

For your graceful ballerina wrist:

For your fairylike translucent earlobes:

Please note the bracelet is asymmetrical. I'm working up to an asymmetrical necklace. And a button (I swear it, Erin, really).

Accidental Bead Porn

I went to a little bead store near my office looking for (only) this:

I came out with this:

(loads of magnesite in green and turquoise, and these cool little blue glass beads)

and this:

(sponge coral in orangey red--SIGH, my new favorite material--tiny tiger eye rounds, little crazy horse stone rounds, couple glass beads in red with pink flowers (don't know what seized me there), a strand of yellow turquoise and some ultra cool carnelian tube things. Plus the little Swarovskis. This stuff was 50% off, and it was already pretty dang cheap. None of these strands was over $5. DO YOU BELIEVE THAT SHIT? I went and bought up a bunch of magnesite, and one sponge coral donut. Drove to the park to do a little work, got distracted pawing through my stuff, and was seized with the conviction that I HAD TO GO BACK AND BUY MORE!!!! Who knows when I would find a sale like this again? So I immediately fired up the jelly bean and raced back to the store. The clerk looked inquiringly at me when I blew through the door. "I need to buy more," I said. "Oh GOOD!" she replied. And I bought more of the coral (like 5 smaller donuts and the big barrels), the tiger eye (so many colors? cool), and the crazy horse stone.

I have old bead porn from Happy Mango that I never shared. I've been hoarding it between the mattresses and I take it out at night when I'm alone. But it's time to share. This weekend.

My First Etsy Treasury!

I've been featured in my first Etsy treasury, entitled "My Cranberry Crush" by Esty seller Fifth Quadrant (check her out, she has some really fun vintage stuff):

My item is the Crazy Horse stone earrings at the bottom. Don't you love the felted scarf? Going to have to get myself one for Christmas.

More stuff to share soon! Just trying to get my sh!t together. It's a big job.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

More Art Exchange Booty!

Just when I thought that was all she wrote, ANOTHER PACKAGE! This time from Traci Patena. She was all mysterious not enclosing a business card or anything but I Googled her and found her Etsy shop. And her blog. You can hide, but you can't...hide.

She sent me some nifty old-fashioned sort of Currier and Ives style Christmas coasters:

Now I have to buy eggnog--and rum--so I can use them. And some nice furniture. (Coasters are a bit laughable at our house).

She has some ultra cool stuff in her shop. Check this out, happy retro coasters!:

These are business card holders featuring Amy Butler papers:

These are "matchbook albums". I have no idea what you do with them (put your really tiny pictures in them?) but they're cute:

Check out Traci's shop and her blog!

Thanks Traci!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Little New Stuff, and an Identity Crisis

I have added a few new bracelets to my shops. I mean necklaces. I mean bracelets. OK, wait--one bracelet, one necklace, and two others which are both. Or either. But not at the same time.

I wanted to call this one--of course, how trite--Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, or Your Smoke Is Getting in My Eyes, or That Smoke Is Bothering My Eyes, but I figured Google Base would flag me as trying to sell cigarettes to little kids so I settled for It's Really Smoky in Here. "Smoky" seems to slip past the censors.

You can wear it as a bracelet, or attach the coordinating extender chain and it becomes a necklace that sits in the hollow of your throat. Most of the beads are glass, the smaller smooth rounds are smoky quartz. The brass chain is hand forged, both the eyepin extender chain and the modified "money" chain that forms the base of the bracelet section. CLICK HERE for more information.

Same story with this one, which I called "Early Autumn" (which seemed a little less prosaic than "Red Yellow and Green Bracelet"):

It features apple jade, which apparently is also known as soochow jade (thanks KJ), pistachio and sage button pearls, some dark red glass beads I cannibalized from some of my own jewelry, a few copper beads and lots of copper wire. Same money chain as above. CLICK HERE for more information.

Then I got off the fence and made this bracelet that really is just a bracelet. Although I guess if you really wanted to wear it as a necklace you could. You could attach a paper clip chain to it, or a shoelace, or your favorite silver chain and just go for it. But I chose to just let it be...The larger green roundels are serpentine (I was thrilled to find a couple on the strand that had some turquoise tones in them), the smaller are apple green howlite, and the remaining turquoise beads are Czech pressed glass in a Picasso finish. CLICK HERE for more information.

And finally this necklace is...just a necklace. I'm sort of stuck on this turquoise/lime green thing. I love this magnesite I got at the bead show (what a great alternative to turquoise for us tight wads), and I just can't use enough of this howlite. It was a loooong strand so you're going to see a lot of it. CLICK HERE for more information about this item.

And here it is on my lovely model, Ivory:

I like Ivory's collar bones, but her color is getting me down. I mean, is anybody really that color? Usually?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Scored Big

Sandra at Marbella Jewelry Designs invited me a couple weeks ago to do an Art Exchange. It was sort of chain-letter-style, rather than draw-names-style. I was a little skeptical because of the chain letter thing, but I thought for heavens sake don't be such an old woman (sorry, old women everywhere, about the stereotype thing). What's the worst that could happen.

Well I have to say I rather hit the jackpot--not in terms of quantity, but quality. And I discovered two new artists!

I received these lovely sodalite and sterling silver earrings from Tammy Easterling--she has an Etsy shop, Tammy's Treasure Chest, and a blog. Her jewelry is GORGEOUS. She is a metalworker--ha! I scored jewelry from a metalworker!! She made the little ball headpins on these earrings herself, of course. (This is my first project for when I get my torch. And when I have money for fine silver wire. I think I will start out with something I will call "blob headpins").

Check out these other earrings (I've hearted them in her shop)--aren't they FABULOUS? So delicate and ethereal. For more info or to purchase from Tammy's Etsy shop, CLICK HERE.

And look at these (I'm leaving like a dozen out that are AMAZING):

I ADORE sunstone. And aren't these the coolest earwires? To see this in Tammy's shop, CLICK HERE.

And as if that weren't enough, I also received a fabulous, OOAK matted photograph from Julie Magers Soulen, a professional photographer (ha! scored an art photograph from a professional photographer!!! I LOVE photography! I must have been less bad than I thought...) She didn't enclose a business card, but I tracked her down anyway. You've been stalked, Julie. You can visit her Etsy shop, or her blog. The photograph she sent me is of little butter yellow crocus peeping through a layer of spring snow--the photograph is entitled "Spring." The image is no longer available for sale so I landed an exclusive item! I know just where I'm going to hang it! I sort of can't share it with you because that would involve photographing it and I don't think that would work out very well. With Julie's permission, I share some of my favorite photos from her shop below:

Gorgeous, no? Makes me want to build an addition to my house so I can have more wall space. But it would probably be cheaper to take down all my Leif Garrett and Shaun Cassidy posters, they're kind of faded now anyway. I just can't quite bear it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bringin' Out the Girls

No, not THOSE girls. THESE girls:

Ebony and Ivory, my new jewelry models. Aren't they pretty? (although I wish they were people-colored). Look just like me, except without heads and arms. Or a backside. And the boobs are about four inches higher than mine.

It's a nice, nearly matte plastic finish. I didn't want shiny. I do so wish they were less literally black and white though, and more people-colored. Anybody know a good paint, one you can mix, for plastic? I doubt Krylon spray paint comes in Western European and African American.

I was going to get a very nice cloth covered one, but that would have been about $100 all told. I might still one day. But these were only $5.95 apiece, figured I'd give them a shot. I love that they have collar bones! And that little hollow at your throat. Of course they'll be modestly, but chicly (is that a word?) clothed.

If they don't work out, they'd be great for a chip bowl at a Superbowl party.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I've Been Featured!

I'm the featured artist today at Notes from the Handmade Highway! Check out my interview where I bare my soul and share the secrets of my success. I mean my secret success. The secrets of my secret success. It's so secret even I don't know about it.

Notes from the Handmade Highway is a blog developed by Lori (sorry Lori--I don't know your last name!) of Risky Beads, devoted to showcasing various handmade artisans around the globe, and providing a venue for buyers, artisans and fans of handmade to find each other. The blog includes a directory of artisans, with special notes about who does wholesale, who does custom, who wants to do giveaways, etc. Lori regularly posts interviews of new artisans so the Highway's followers can get to know them. Today was my turn! Thanks Lori! (I'm a big fan of Risky Beads--LOVE the Three Bean Salad Bracelet. I was doing the groupie thing today getting all happy when I got a convo from RISKY BEADS!!!) Check it out and hitch a ride!

I just love the spotlight.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

You're Going to Laugh, Lorelei

OK, Lorelei asked me how I set up my light box. Normally I prefer to use daylight, but there isn't any anymore where I live. Not until May. Just kidding. I'm just never home during daylight hours, and even then, the weather is often so dreary it's too dark indoors to take pictures, and the light is a bad color outside. And it's cold. So here is what I do.

The base of my light box is a translucent storage tub from WalMart. A big one. I cut a hole in the bottom for my camera lens, and flip it upside down over my jewelry display. (This is for straight down pictures, like the one in my last post.

Then I drape it with thin white towels, like flour sack towels. I got four of them at the Dollar Store. For a dollar.

Then I position my full-spectrum daylight bulbs (60 watts) wherever--lately I kind of like the light coming from the side, but you can do it any way you want. Just experiment. I've tried all kinds of bulbs, and the "full spectrum" ones seem to have the best color--i.e., they don't distort the color of the item/background as bad as other bulbs. Usually. Sometimes it changes depending on the angle of the bulbs. Go figure. Physics I guess. I seem to get the least color distortion when I use them on the sides.

For angled pictures, I put the tub on its side and position my item as pictured. Of course you need a tripod of some sort for these pictures.

I'm kind of liking the side-lit pictures. I've been laying the lamps on the floor actually. Kind of turns out all mysterious and dreamy.

This one was side-lit and I like the results:

So there you have it. Including the lamps, you should be able to do this for under $35. You probably already have lamps you can use. You could probably forgo the towels if you have a more opaque tub. I've heard some people use styrofoam coolers but I've never tried that. I've used the tub without towels but the light is a bit harsh and the seams in the tub tend to cast funny light patterns on stuff.