Thursday, January 31, 2008
I came home early from work because 2 kids are sick and we have an impending snowstorm. (The kids phoned me and begged me to come home. Why did I bother? When I got home, they were either asleep or engrossed in the computer. Sigh.)
So now the kids are fed. I played cards with them. My husband is still working and I'm holding his dinner for him. He won't be home for a while so I'll thought I'd post in the blog. Here goes:
I started these earrings last night and there wasn't much left to do to get them finished today. The gemstones are wonderful; really large faceted lemon quartz that I bought a couple of months ago and never got around to using: I took the photo on a window ledge to take advantage of the last bit of the winter's light. Otherwise, it would have meant me taking the photo in the dreaded "light box of doom". (Da da da DUMMMMMM.)
Day 3 is already planned. Stay tuned!
I made these earrings last night, although I had been thinking about this design for a while. In fact, I bought the pearls this past weekend with the intent of making these particular earrings.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
"Your challenge is this: make something new every day for a month. You can continue on for longer, of course, but the idea is to create a new design, however simple, every day for a month. Often I get so caught up in selling my work - taking photos, packaging, shipping, updating my website - that I forget to just enjoy creating. Hopefully this group will help me - and you - do that. :) "
OK, I guess I'll take this challenge. And between 3 kids, one birthday, two planned business trips, a couple of gymnastics meets, and a full-time job, let's see how long this will last.
Anyone want to take bets or make some guesses?
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
A zombie made out of socks is better than an ACTUAL zombie in so many ways! I mean, can you put an actual zombie in your backpack?
Sure, but just that one time.
First thank you to Tizzalicious for mentioning me in her blog!
Monday, January 28, 2008
This is NOT your mother's crochet. If you want to see doilies, go elsewhere.
"I'm not really sure how I came up with the Hyperbolic Caterpillar Of Doom, but I'm glad I did. He turned out pretty neat. He has a lot of caterpillar personality for not being able to move or eat anything. He's great at starting conversations, hanging from the wall, or quietly guarding your coffee table. He also likes to be hugged, even though his name might not make you think to hug him. His one eye will gaze at you lovingly for all time and he likes to be given as a gift too. He's totally one of a kind. "
And then there's the Singing Land Siren.
As Granma says:
"She’s lured in many a biker, weary from being on the road, riding with the wind in their hair. Her melodious voice can be heard from miles away and to each man she sounds a little different. They are entranced by her beautiful melodies and never see the end coming, while their bikes continue down the road, less the men riding them, until they crash and burn somewhere on the shoulder.Singing Land Siren is crochet out of cotton yarn and thread. "
I think the extra eyes on top of her head and the beaded tentacles are a nice touch, don't you?
KnotbyGranma's shop can be found here.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
No matter how many beads I have in my stash, I can't resist a few more. When a local bead shop got a new shipment, I just couldn't help myself. In the picture of my new purchase, below, the faceted grey beads are quartz, the blues are chalcedony, the orange-red beads are coral. I just fell in love with the coral. The colors in the beads range from yellow to orange to red, with amazing striations and a matte texture. They have such a contemporary look that I knew I had to create an earring to match that modern feel.
I didn't think the coral needed any accompanyment because I thought that they could speak for themselves. The earrings I created have a simple, elegant, but edgy feel to them. And the sleek shiny silver contrasts with the matte beads.
But you have to admit that they are an incredible contrast to the earrings I posted yesterday!
JANUARY 28 UPDATE: The coral earrings were just listed in my shop today.
I've got tons of beads that I have stashed away in boxes and bags. Right after Christmas my local bead shop had a sale on all briolettes (teardrop shaped beads) in the store so I bought even more: some gorgeous bright chalcedony, peridots, and bi-color lemon quartz. My favorite was the quartz. The gemstones are wonderfully faceted and an interesting shade of brown/grey and pale yellow.
I pulled out the strand and starting sorting out the quartz. When I bought them, I didn't realized that there was a lot of variability in the beads. I expected differences in color since they're bicolor quartz. But there were subtle differences in size and cut - some were rounded teardrops, others were almost marquise shape. It took me a while to sort them into matched pairs (with a few unmatched singles).
I was happy to find that I had a couple of elongated stones that matched up. They were so pretty that I knew I would have to make earrings that would emphasize the stones. No fancy wirewrapping for them! So I decided to try a style I had never made before: gemstones hung from chain.
These are 2 inches long and are quite a departure in style for me, but I really like them. Very elegant, don't you think?
Just to show you the differences in cut, I have a pair of stones that are almost triangular! I just started these but realized I didn't have any more silver beads to finish them. Aren't they a cool shape!
Check my online shop for these earrings. I'll be listing them once I get some decent photos. (Photography - hate it, it takes forever to get a shot good enough for a listing!)
BTW, if you'd be interesting in subscribing to my blog and receiving it by e-mail, just click Subscribe to Contrariwise ramblings by Email.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Well, somebody wants to make it easier for you to do so.
I don't know if you noticed, but the color scheme of my blog has changed. The background color used to be white, but now it's black. Why?
It's my daughter's fault. She suggested that I would be saving energy.
She showed me a site called Blackle. Now every one has heard of Google. But have you heard of Blackle?
In January 2007 a blog post titled Black Google Would Save 750 Megawatt-hours a Year proposed the theory that a black version of the Google search engine would save a fair bit of energy due to the popularity of the search engine. Since then there has been skepticism about the significance of the energy savings that can be achieved and the cost in terms of readability of black web pages.
How is Blackle saving energy?
Blackle saves energy because the screen is predominantly black; a given monitor requires more power to display a white (or light) screen than a black (or dark) screen."
How can you help?
Set Blackle as your home page ( set ). This way every time you load your Internet browser you will save a little bit of energy. (Remember, black is the new green!) You will also be reminded about the need to save energy each time you see the Blackle page load.
Take a look at their energy saving tips page for ideas on steps you can take to save energy.
There are a lot of great web sites about saving energy and being more environmentally friendly. They are full of great tips covering the little things that we can all do to make a difference today. Try Blackling "energy saving tips" or visit treehugger.com a great blog dedicated to environmental awareness.
"Blackle.com - Saving energy one search at a time".
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
I've always enjoyed folk sculpture. It's just someting about the naivete and whimsy in the pieces that makes me smile. Yesterday I stumbled upon a new seller in Etsy whose amazing folk sculptures brought a smile to my face.
His shop is called Crescent Hill Designs and this is what he says about himself in his profile:
I am a self-taught artist from Nacogdoches, TX, drawing inspiration from such great artistic minds as Tim Burton, the great animators of Aardmon Animations (Wallace and Grommit), and anything ranging from childhood naustalgia to the mystery of the unknown. Anyway, I feel that I have always been an artist at heart, but my passion for it really began to bloom shortly after my highschool graduation. Before I graduated I preferred acrylic painting to anything else, but now I have settled into the joys of sculpting from polymer clay and paper mache. I can't imagine a life with its absence.
Hmm, folk sculpture influenced by Tim Burton. Maybe that's why his sculptures struck me as being so interesting.
This one on the left is called Cat and the Fiddle. I think this one is my favorite.
I love the almost maniacal grin ( I think I can see the Tim Burton influence coming through here), the way his whiskers have become a moustache, and all the wonderful details. This kitty is made from polymer clay, wire, metal, and wood, and is painted with acrylic paint, varnished, and coated with sealer.
The "Sunday Pendler is a long-legged chick enjoying a peacefull sunday ride on his unicycle. The detail, once again, is remarkable. I haven't worked in polymer clay, but I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to make the unicycle in this medium. The chick reminds me of those made with antique chocolate molds. (Have you ever seen them? Most of the molds were made in the late 1800s and, because they are so unique and detailed, have been recently used as molds for chalkware figuringes. )
The little green fellow on the left is called "Frog Hair Tea". There's got to be a story behind that name. (I don't know where the name came from. But maybe it's because frog's hair is so fine you can't "see" it. In other words it's so fine as to be non-existent. Uh oh. I'm rambling again.) But look at his face! What a whimsical almost bemused expression he has!
Anyway, I thought I would share these sculptures and wish Crescent Hill Designs and Lance Perry, the artist behind these work, the best of luck with his shop.
Go visit them if you have a chance and take a look at some of the other sculptures. I'll bet you'll be amused with them as much as I was.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Remind me not to buy these clothes:
So maybe I'm behind in the times, but it's only been lately that I've discovered amazing tiny little artworks call ACEOs.
Monday, January 21, 2008
This is a story of serendipity.
I bought some amazing Karen Hill Tribe silver cones that I just fell in love with, but never got around to using.
Then I bought remarkable large faceted opalite briolettes.
I put them together and what did I get?
Aren't these wonderful!
I have one pair (I had 2, but I brought them into work and sold one immediately) and haven't listed it in my shop yet. I'm still tinkering with the photos and deciding on a name.
I originally thought that the earrings reminded me of seashells - the opalite added to the nautical feeling.
But when I showed them to my 12-year old daughter, Emma, the first thing she said was that they looked like unicorn horns!
I like that.
(If you have a suggestion for a name, I'd love to hear it. Once I get name I'm happy with, I'm going to list them.)
Jan 22 UPDATE: These earrings are now available in my online shop. You can find them here.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
I just hit a big sale at a local jewelry store. All of their briolette (teardrop) gemstones were half-price! So I had to stock up. Among the stones I picked up were some gorgeous deep purple amethysts and some really unusual octagonal peridot. It's so much fun imagining what kind of jewelry you might make with them and playing with new purchases. (I'm like a kid who just hit the jackpot in the toy store!I thought I would try something different. Usually I create a bead cap on teardrop stones by wrapping wire around the tops. (See the pink earrings above. )
But I've already done these before and there are lots of jewelry sellers on Etsy doing similar earrings. (Although I don't think you could ever find this style in retail stores across America. I know I never have.)
So I started playing around with some of my new amethysts to see if I could come up with a variation on this design. After a couple of disasterous results, I came up with these.
Although I liked the design, I was afraid that these earrings would not be good enough to sell - the relatively thin and soft wire I had to use (those holes in this gemstone cut are so small!) was easily bent out of shape. I decided to give them a spin in the tumbler to harden the wire. After a couple of hours, they came out and the wire was nice and hard. Great!
Although I like the bright silver, I decided to oxidize it to make the amethysts pop. The amethysts are suspended and hang freely on the earwires. (It's not that easy to get them to hang perfectly balanced BTW.) I think they almost look like they're swinging on a trapeze. So I decided to name them "Swinging Amethyst Earrings".
I made a few pair and with each pair, making them got a little easier. Maybe I could add another gemstone to the top? This was a little more challenging and I threw away a few early attempts, but I finally came up with a peridot and citrine combo. I was pretty pleased with them.
I listed both sets on my online shop and waited to see if they would sell. And waited. And waited. (I don't want to create a ton of earrings in a particular style if nobody wants to buy them. Been there, done that.) Finally I sold a pair of the Swinging Amethysts....then a pair of the Swinging Peridot and Citrines.
After no more interest for a while, I suddenly sold 4 pairs within a couple days! OK, this was a sign that I should make more.
And that's where I am right now. I made a couple of new swinging gemstone earrings but not yet listed, and more in the works. It'll probably take me a while before I have a chance to take photos that are good enough for my shop, but I thought I would share the earrings here first.
I have a pair with Orange-red and blue cubic zirconia - the faceting of the CZ is just unbelievable! (I also need a name for them. What the heck do I call this shade of red??) And I have partially finished earrings with rose quartz faceted stones and amethyst CZ.
Let me know what you think. Are these keepers?
Look for them on my Etsy site. I should be listing them later this week.
JANUARY 22 UPDATE: I just listed the orange-red/blue earrings in my online shop. You can find them here.
Friday, January 18, 2008
When I create a new jewelry design, I'll often only make one piece. I might wear it to see if there are any problems with it. (Will the clasp hold? does the necklace hang properly? ) Before making multiples of the same item I might show it around to gauge interest or list it on Etsy to see if it sells .
When I'm finished I photocopy the jewelry. Unlike a photograph, a photocopy will give you a better idea of dimensions since it's at the same scale as the jewelry.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
I just had to share this.
This is an actual letter from an Austin woman sent to American company
Proctor and Gamble regarding their feminine products. She really gets
rolling after the first paragraph. It's PC Magazine's 2007 editors'
choice for best webmail-award-winning letter.
Dear Mr. Thatcher,
I have been a loyal user of your 'Always' maxi pads for over 20 years
and I appreciate many of their features. Why, without the LeakGuard Core
or Dri-Weave absorbency, I'd probably never go horseback riding or salsa
dancing, and I'd certainly steer clear of running up and down the beach
in tight, white shorts. But my favorite feature has to be your
revolutionary Flexi-Wings. Kudos on being the only company smart enough
to realize how crucial it is that maxi pads be aerodynamic. I can't tell
you how safe and secure I feel each month knowing there's a little F-16
in my pants.
Have you ever had a menstrual period, Mr. Thatcher? Ever suffered from
the curse'? I'm guessing you haven't. Well, my time of the month is
starting right now. As I type, I can already feel hormonal forces
violently surging through my body. Just a few minutes from now, my body
will adjust and I'll be transformed into what my husband likes to call
'an inbred hillbilly with knife skills.' Isn't the human body amazing?
As Brand Manager in the Feminine-Hygiene Division, you've no doubt seen
quite a bit of research on what exactly happens during your customers
monthly visits from 'Aunt Flo'. Therefore, you must know about the
bloating, puffiness, and cramping we endure, and about our intense mood
swings, crying, jags, and out-of-control behavior. You surely realize
it's a tough time for most women. In fact, only last week, my friend
Jennifer fought the violent urge to shove her boyfriend's testicles into
a George Foreman Grill just because he told her he thought Grey's
Anatomy was written by a bunch of drunken chimps,Crazy!
The point is, sir, you of all people must realize that America is just
crawling with homicidal maniacs in Capri pants... Which brings me to the
reason for my letter. Last month, while in the throes of cramping so
painful I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my uterus, I
opened an Always maxi-pad, and there, printed on the adhesive backing,
were these words: 'Have a Happy Period.'
Are you f**king kidding me? What I mean is, does any part of your tiny
middle-manager brain really think happiness - actual smiling, laughing
happiness is possible during a menstrual period? Did anything mentioned
above sound the least bit pleasurable? Well, did it, James? FYI, unless
you're some kind of sick S&M freak girl, there will never be anything
'happy' about a day in which you have to jack yourself up on Motrin and
Kahlua and lock yourself in your house just so you don't march down to
the local Walgreen's armed with a hunting rifle and a sketchy plan to
end your life in a blaze of glory.
For the love of God, pull your head out, man! If you just have to slap a
moronic message on a maxi pad, wouldn't it make more sense to say
something that's actually pertinent, like 'Put down the Hammer' or
'Vehicular Manslaughter is Wrong', or are you just picking on us?
Sir, please inform your Accounting Department that, effective
immediately, there will be an $8 drop in monthly profits, for I have
chosen to take my maxi-pad business elsewhere. And though I will
certainly miss your Flex-Wings, I will not for one minute miss your
brand of condescending bullsh*t. And that's a promise I will keep.
Austin , TX
Ok, I'm sure I'm not alone in this, I just love Johhny Depp - especially in his pirate personna. He could come and sweep me off my feet and carry me off to his ship anytime.
His most recent movie is Sweeney Todd, a musical/slasher movie directed by Tim Burton. The only other person in my house that wanted to see it, or was old enough to see it, was my 20 year old son. So it was just him and me. (You may find this hard to believe, but he wasn't embarrassed by going to the movies with his mommy. At his age, I think I would have been aghast at going to an R rated movie with my mom, so I was pretty impressed with this .)
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Having grown up just a few miles from the ocean (Long Island Sound, actually, but that's close enough), I have many fond memories of playing on the beach, making sandcastles, chasing and catching minnows, and drawing in the sand.
One day as I was browsing through the many shops on Etsy, I came across a shop called CaptureCapeMay, that offered photos of personal messages written in the sand in Cape May. Wow, I remember doing that! Here's someone who took something so commonplace, looked at it with a fresh eye, and created a great new concept. This is just genius!
Friday, January 11, 2008
I have 3 pieces that were accepted by Bead Trends and they will be published in the March/April 2008 issue. I just wanted to let everyone know that Bead Trends is now accepting submissions for their July/Aug issue.
Bead Trends is a brand new publication! Bead Trends is a series of beautiful idea books published six times a year, featuring a great variety of incredible jewelry and bead creations.
Bead Trends (July/Aug 2008) CallBead Trends Magazine is currently looking for designs with the following themes for our July/Aug 2008 issue
Big & Bold
Fast & Fabulous
Sweet & Simple
If you would like to submit your work to this publication, please e-mail a photograph, the name or title of your piece, and contact information to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Last fall I found a gorgeous strand of smooth rock quartz crystal beads. They were really unusual because they were drilled on one end rather then through the middle. They really looked like large drops of water! As soon as I saw the strand, I had this vision of exactly the kind of earrings I'd make with these beads.
Even with the vision (no, schizophrenia does not run in my family), it took me a few tries before I got the earrings how I wanted them. This is what they ended up looking like:
I thought they turned out well enough to list in my online shop. But I still needed to name them and write up a description.
I generally have a hard time writing descriptions of my jewelry. My tendancy is to list the materials and dimensions and not go for any cutesy descriptions and not over-embellish. My husband, who is a writer in real life, offered to write it for me. And he came up with this item description:
"Wouldn’t this be a wonderful pair of earrings for the holidays! The quartz crystal stones glimmer and the red crystals add the festive color of the season -- notice the little silver spacers on the tips of the red swarovskis -- don't they remind you of snowflakes!Be sure to wear these under the mistletoe!"
Pretty good, huh. After he wrote that, what else could I do but name the earrings, "Christmas Kisses".
Well, I don't know if it was because of the earrings or the name or the description , but during the holiday season, I ended up selling quite a few pairs of my Christmas Kisses. (My husband, of course, claims it was his description.) But now it' s January and it's time to put away all the holiday decorations - as well as my Christmas Kisses.
So earlier this week, I was going through my stock of jewelry, wondering whether or not I should bother creating some Valentine-themed stuff, when it hit me! Why not rewrite the description of the Christmas Kiss earrings and rename them Valentine Kisses!
And if this works, after Valentine's Day, maybe I'll rename them Summertime Kisses!
(In my 9 to 5 job I work with a lot of people in marketing. I like to refer to them as "The Dark Side". With what I just did, I guess it indicates that I must too be turning to the Dark Side. )
Oh, and meet the latest addition to my listings, the Valentine Kiss (soon-to-be-Summertime-Kiss) Necklace:
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
If you sell things on the internet, you know that good photos are essential. To improve your digital photos there are programs that you can buy like Photoshop (which I have but really don't know how to use) and programs that you can download for free. For example, I use Photofiltre which is relatively easy to use. (Read: 'idiot proof'". ) But even with these programs, pretty much all I can do is lighten up an image that's too dark, crop it, or make it sharper.
While manipulating photos has become relatively easy, to do it well is not easy and not that many people have that talent. Therefore, I am pretty much in awe of people who are great at it.
If you want to see some really great photoshop work, go to Worth1000 . People display their photoshopping skills in contests with different themes. Examples of contests are on Woorth1000:
Supersize it! <---Really huge food portions You Are What You Eat 3 <---turning people into food Surreal stories <---Putting a Salvador Dali slant on the world Here's one more great link on photoshopped animals .
The people who participate in these contests are really good. I mean really good. Either they're professionals or they have an awful lot of free time on their hands. I mean, most of us can barely take a reasonable photo let alone touch it up.
There are a number of people on the internet that can create photo montages for you. One person that creates custom collage portraits is 6timemomma. (That name comes from the fact that she has SIX KIDS all under the age of 11!)
She can take an already cute picture of your child
And create it into a fantasy image a la Anne Geddes:
<--I guess this is where babies come from.
And what little girl wouldn't love to have a photo of her as a fairy!?
I can just see this hanging my my daughter's room and her getting ooohs and ahhhs from all her friends.
Here's another one of her works; I love the composition with the mushrooms.
6timemomma also does serious photography. She's exhibited her photos, they've been published, and one of them was even selected as a Betterphoto First Place winner out of more than 23,000 images!
You can find 6timemomma's online shop at http://www.6timemomma.etsy.com/