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Archive for August, 2012

Superstars TONIGHT!

Here’s a sneak peek:

blue dandy toggles – look for us and the rest of the gang tonight! Click us to get to the Superstars page.

click me to get a full sized view of what a butthole I am.

And while you wait, get a load of Nelson. I walked into the dining room yesterday (photo room, actually – we can’t eat in there because the floor is way too slanty) and saw Nelson’s eyes were greeny amber and enormous from the drawn blinds. I just about melted. It was a very short-lived melty moment, as most Melty Moments With Nelson are… Fred must have gotten wind of the unfiltered sun everyone was enjoying, and the moment he walked into the room Nelson dive-bombed him. Nelson sure is turning into a handsome boy, but at least three times a day he does something so obnoxious that I want to punt him out into the yard. I only take so many photos of him because he lets me. Fred sees the camera and swiftly leaves the room.

my chirpy meepy-peeps and my big nose and eyes are the only things that keep me in kibble and out of the rain.

I’ll see you guys later on! I’m gonna sneak a little snack so’s I don’t fall over.

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Slow start…

z-beads sterling stuff, august 2012

But I completed almost everything I started! As I’ve been obsessively toiling away on these pieces, a realization dawned yesterday… has it been almost an entire WEEK since I took a bath? Gross, but probably not quite as bad as you might think, since the weather has been unseasonably pleasant. Thank goodness I haven’t had anywhere to be.

After I excitedly cleared the glass off of my main work table for my soldering supplies, I proceeded to cut pallions of easy solder into my hard solder container. Bah.

Then I decided to go ahead and try soldering copper and brass to sterling. I’ve read rumblings here and there that it was difficult or impossible, brass in particular, so I did a little e-digging and found a few articles, all of them advising to use easy solder. I’m not a fan of easy solder, especially on the first join. The problem with easy solder is that it gets brittle and eventually cracks if you heat it more than twice. I was reminded of that on the first experiment, which was the copper. So I decided to go ahead and try brass (nu gold, actually) with hard solder, and it worked just fine. It seemed to take a little longer than usual, but maybe I was just nervous. I was joining two flat pieces, so I sweat soldered the top piece (brass), then joined it to the bottom piece (sterling) and it didn’t fill the edges in all the way so I hammered those down and put small pieces of hard solder on the edges. Worked like a charm… maybe you’ll see the results of that next time. I got distracted by something and promptly forgot about it.

for me

Let me tell you about this ring…I’ve been dreaming of this ring for a while now. I love scarabs and this is the perfect vintage lapis color – sort of a periwinkle backdrop with deep lapis spots, likely a Czech revival piece. I used a James Avery band I already had (from a previous, er, weirdness, and that’s all I’ll say). I sawed it, stretched it out a bit, and that made a nice wide shank for a rather large cabochon. It’s sort of heavy, but quite comfortable! This imagery takes me back to my younger years… Dad likes scarabs too, and I think he likes scarabs because his parents may have had a bunch of Egyptian revival stuff around when he was a kid. In fact, I think they knew one of the guys associated with the raiding of King Tut’s tomb, but don’t quote me on that. Grandpa played saxophone in big bands in New York and they met all sorts of interesting people. Including Russel Stover. The story in the family is that Mr. Stover was so charmed by Grandma that he gifted her a 3lb box of chocolates. Don’t quote me on that, either. I don’t necessarily believe everything I hear. My folks on that side of the family tell vivid stories. I do know I can take or leave Whitmans, but I might die without Russel Stover chocolates at least once a year.

I was hoping to get around to buying a guillotine shear before my next metal go-round, alas, I didn’t. One of the things I’ve struggled with, as I’m sure most budding metalsmiths have, is getting a clean, tight join on my bezels. Sometimes I use pre-cut strip, but when I can’t, it would sure be nice to be able to have a very straight strip of metal to work with. This time it occurred to me to use my cutting mat – duh, it’s covered with perfectly straight lines!

For the pre-cut strips, the ends are the all I need to worry about. Metal curls up a bit when cut with snips, so after the lengths were cut I made sure to hammer them completely flat, paying close attention to the edges. I have a tiny plastic hammer that works very well for this. At this juncture, I lay the strip down on the cutting mat and often find that the ends are not perfectly straight. Then I can conservatively snip and file, saving myself a good bit of time and waste less metal by just eyeballing it. (Eyeballing works just fine with glass, and I’ve grown too accustomed to being able to do that.) If the top and bottom edges of the bezel are a little off, I can true them up with a file.

for mom

Another aspect of glass that I’ve grown too used to is the instant gratification. How many hours is too many hours to spend on ONE piece of jewelry? Really, do you know the answer to that question? I’ve already picked up some speed with practice, but geez louise. Surprisingly, rings are a breeze and one of my favorite things to make. Stone setting is one of my stronger suits (at least I think it is, after measuring my expectations of difficulty against the actual results) but I could still use a good bit of practice on that… Perhaps you have noticed that I have mostly limited my stones to glass. I don’t mean to do that, it just happened that way. I have a nice selection of natural stone I’ve collected over the years but haven’t really used too many of them. I think maybe I just like glass… and I know that if I screw up one of my beads or a vintage cabochon, I could probably replace it fairly easily.

for YOU

And pendants. I’ve put off many of my ideas due to the lack of a way to set the stones. But I found this stuff called Jett Sett… this stuff is remarkable. For about $30, you get a decent sized can full of plastic pieces that are shaped like Tart N Tiny candy. You put them in a dish, boil up some water, pour it over them and they melt and form a glob. Then you can pick it up with a spoon, pull pieces off and shape it any way you like. It hardens as it cools and forms a very firm plastic, but it takes a while to harden up so you have plenty of time to mold it. It’s also good for making protective tips for your delicate tools… just be sure to apply a thin layer of oil to the tool first, or the plastic could get stuck and cause a momentary nuisance. And Jett Sett is reusable! So maybe next time I’ll have a pendant or two for you. And I hope next time is sooner than 6 months from now…

one of the many, many things Jett Sett is good for

Get a load of my new flex-shaft kozy! (or is it spelled cozy? whatever, anything this silly deserves to be spelled wrong.) This is probably one of my most frivolous whims and Mom was kind enough to humor me. Instead of putting it away in a box for long term storage, I thought this would be a fun way to keep the house dust out. It has a little slit in the back to allow for the power cord. When the tool is in use you can just pull it up, away and let it rest further back on the hook. Tell me, do you need a muu-muu for your Foredom?

mom made a muumuu for my flexshaft!

I also updated my website gallery! Start here. If you have a hankering for something, you know what to do… I’m planning a Superstars sale for next Thursday August 30th. I spent more time on the jewelry than I originally planned to, and still didn’t manage to make everything I wanted to make… so wish me luck on getting some good bead sets made.

Thanks for reading!

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ETSY!

Wow, it’s been a while. I’m surprised I remembered how to do it all.

Click HERE to see my entire shop, or the thumbnails below for each item.

Simple Hana Testers:

Midnight Avocado Sandwich:

Colorblast Hana Seascape:

Allright, I hope you guys like everything! I’m gonna go get my grub on, and later, my solder on. Thanks for reading.

 

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The pickle pot sat high up on the top shelf of the wire rack for 6 months. I thought it was empty. Imagine my surprise when I took the lid off and saw this:

Like buried treasure! I knew salt and vinegar pickle could do this, and I’ve discovered little salt cube things in there after the pickle sat for a few days. But this was unexpected, and is one of the best things I’ve ever seen. I already loved my salt and vinegar pickle, but now I could easily be talked into marrying it.

Now, if cool sciency stuff like this happened to me every day, I’d have more to talk about. By the by, if you’re interested in a salt/vinegar pickle recipe: (in case you’re new here and clueless, this is for metalsmithing, not cucumbers)

1 cup of distilled white vinegar
1 tbsp of table salt

This is where I found this recipe.  After some more browsing today, I found that you can use plain white vinegar without the salt. This pickle does smell, and it’s even more intense when warm – and it works better when it’s warm. Just place it by your ventilation fan and that will take care of most of the smell.

dig those crazy squares

Can we talk about the heat dome? I don’t know about you guys, but before the summer of 2011, I had never HEARD of a heat dome. I watch the weather as often as I can, and on the big US map, there’s usually an “H” that moves around. Then the state map pops up with temps and little arrows here and there… then the main attraction finally hits, which is the 7 day forecast. See, I know what I’ve been seeing and hearing, and I’m telling you, I never heard anything about a “dome” in connection with the big do-si-do’ing H until a year ago. Mr. Sarah said he had heard of it before, but last summer when I googled the “heat dome” phenomenon, I couldn’t find much of anything about it. My theory is that they only recently gave this horrific thing a name to humanize and legitimize it so that we don’t all hunt it down and roll it in an abandoned parking lot at 3am. They’re throwing out any pathetic excuse for the obnoxious, oppressive heat and lack of rain… such as the heat spikes leading up to the cold fronts that conveniently never arrive. Yes, let’s blame the cold fronts for the heat, not the heat dome.

KFOR’s Mike Morgan and his Severe Weather Tie (lifted from thelostogle.com)

I’ve decided that being a weatherman isn’t just about looking at meters and glorified windvanes and passing on their best guesses to us – there’s a good bit of smoothing things over when they’re completely wrong and instilling hope into the viewership. It helps to wear a funny tie. Around here, any more, if there isn’t a tornado, there’s a blizzard, and if the blizzard never comes, we’ll probably just fry like hamsteaks indefinitely on our flowered’y living room sofas. These poor meteorologists find themselves in the awkward position of convincing us that any one of those things is better than any of those other things. Because apparently, mild weather is more difficult to come by these days. So I’m doing my best to avoid that frying thing… like working in the dead of night. But after those 3 days of 113 degrees, the day after that went away all I could do was sleep for 13 hours. I certainly couldn’t sleep comfortably during that, it was like sleeping on a heating pad since the lows never dipped below 85 degrees on the Death Valley days.

So here I am, awake during the day again. Since it’s cooled off quite a bit, I can work comfortably. But leaving the house? No. Not comfortable at all. I haven’t been able to figure out if there’s a higher concentration of stupid driving during the day than there is after 10pm, or if day people are actually worse drivers than night people. They’re either cruisin’ for a bruisin or herpin’ for a derpin’ at 3pm. There’s no sane, civilized good driving compromise in between. The highway patrol is pushing the seat belt issue around here, with fancy graphics of a seat belt clasping together on the big highway marquees. As if people not wearing seat belts was the problem. The problem is that people are talking and texting on their cell phones while they’re making left turns at busy intersections, or writing novels on their laptops while they’re driving on 1-35 at 80-mph. Telling people to wear seat belts so that they’re less likely to die from being plowed into by someone who is practically making love to their cell phone is akin to putting a dot bandaid on a sucking head wound. (Remember, this is coming from someone who doesn’t have a cell phone or a laptop and would rather my passengers not talk to me while I’m trying to muddle through the derp.)

So, hey! As promised, here are the after-bling !BLING!s. You’ll notice that there are a few less than in the before photo. That happens. Blings sometimes go awry, or the new idea doesn’t really work, or I just say frig it, I already have too much blinging to do.

after !BLING!

 

A couple of new Etsy listings are in the works. I’ll be back later on… thanks for checking in!

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Like, the entire cake.

oh, right. this is why I always make cupcakes.

All the good stuff that happened:

I finally have a firm grasp on what the “step” in step-parent means. It means you’re going to step into several piles that someone else squatted down on the floor and pinched out. And you’re going to be stuck cleaning them up now because the squatters can’t be bothered to clean them up until later and by then they’ve been tracked all over the house and then it becomes too much of a chore to take on all by their little lonesomes. And then someone’s going look at you like you’re nuckin futz for tactfully suggesting that everyone use the toilet instead. How’s that for a metaphor for the last 6 months of my life? Whatever. I can honestly say I tried my best, and I must accept that reciprocation is too much to ask of some people.

olympic paint: herbal green

Spawn got a place with several friends and let’s hope it works out, because it didn’t exactly work out here. We got the majority of her belongings out on Monday, and on Tuesday I began the process of moving my computer and beads back into the room we cleared out for her… the room she herself probably spent a grand total of two weeks in, while her piles of stuff she neither cared about nor could stand to part with lingered on for months afterward. (If you’ve gotten this far, it’s likely pretty clear that I’m done being nice. However, this is about as un-nice as I’m going to be, as I have more positive things to get on with.) I decided that the room needed to be painted before anything else happened. I say “i decided” but actually, it was a fact that no one could deny. A fresh coat of paint hadn’t been applied in years – when we moved in 10 years ago. I went to Lowe’s and picked out “herbal green” which was a lighter green that was neither too yellow nor too blue. I started in on the walls with the rollers and it ended up being a lighter, slightly less intense shade of crayola sea green. It matches the sample perfectly, but is most certainly a bluer green than I anticipated. It’s more herbal and less sea with the overhead light off. Painting is such a pain in the ass. I’m not complaining because it beats that awful matte hunter green, and the room seems much bigger than it did before. So my spacious computer table, my bookshelves full of beads, and everything else is back where it belongs. I didn’t realize what a sour mood I’ve been in around my edges these last several months. Scooting away from my desk and bumping into the coffee table every time was beginning to take its toll.

Another thing I reluctantly got rid of to make room for Spawn was my beloved sofa. I bought it in 2006 or thereabouts – it was a long, slender vintage affair, in extremely good condition with a $12 price tag on it. One of its legs was garfed up so we had to be careful about plopping down on it or moving it away from the wall. It replaced a horrible, smelly, hot mohair thing we found on the curb a few years earlier. Now that our living room could be a living room again, we agreed that a nice futon would be just the thing. I stalked craigslist for over a week, we made a call on a $300 cherrywood jobbie with drawers underneath, but it was already gone. A few days later I found a listing for a decent all wood mission style futon with a medium yellowish finish for $50, with a faded, lightly stained mattress. It was much bigger and in much better condition than we expected, so the guy had himself a deal. It smelled like garage, but the cats didn’t seem to mind. I made a concoction of perfume oil and water and sprayed it on and aired it out a bit. I got a washable cover for it and we’re just thrilled. Up next: Mr. Sarah picks a fight with me so he gets to spend the night on the new futon.

I suppose all things happen for a reason. Having to vacate my office space and giving up my sofa really blew chunks at the time, but it all worked out for the best.

Toodles, Olympics! The only thing I get out of the Olympics is that being the best at something has its rewards, but it also has its prices. Unless you’re eating at Burger King, I can’t imagine that consuming 12,000 calories a day leaves much time open for massive bong hits. Jeesh. It would be really nice if all things Olympics were limited to NBC. I can’t escape the snarky gossip and other stuff NBC is kind enough to allow the other guys to yammer on about. And thanks to the Olympics, Days Of Our Lives hasn’t been on for two weeks. I didn’t die or anything, but they left a mighty explosion cliffhanger hanging, so we know someone died. So instead of Days, I’ve been watching General Hospital. I’ve never watched that one, but it was fairly easy to catch on. And in September they’re moving to One Life To Live’s old timeslot, so I can get all the soaps (and Roger Howarth) my five brain cells can soak in.

Can you stand this 7-day forecast? In August!? I certainly can. (lifted from kfor.com)

August is nearly halfway over! The cicadas sound more desperate every evening, the grackles are perching on streetlamps and phone lines, and the sky just has that look about it. While this summer hasn’t been quite as bad as last year’s, we had three days straight of 113 degree high temps week before last, amongst the slightly more tolerable 100+ degree high temps. Wildfires abounded, and they suspect most of them were set on purpose. The news folk made sure to clarify that this declaration was due to the burn ban – that any fire had to have been set on purpose because we weren’t supposed to be burning anything. I’m not sure I agree with that logic since the air was so dry that I shocked my cats’ noses when I reached to pet them, so it stands to reason that a few were accidental. We do know of one guy driving around in a pickup and throwing burning trash out the window, so there’s that. When December 21st hits, I hope it’s an epidemic that only takes out those sorts of people. Although, I’m not sure how many people would be left after that.

Mo is back to using Nelson as a bowling ball, so we know she’s well again… and now that the relief has worn off somewhat, it’s more like “Calico, if you’re going to insist on eating those old pickles out of the drain, your death or survival officially becomes a matter of natural selection and is no longer any of my business.”

 

before bling… you’ll see the after results soon!

This week: blinging and metalwork! And maybe some beads. I’m thinking about adding a few things to my Etsy shop. I wanted to do that last week, so it’s high on the list of things to do these next couple of days.

Thanks for checking in – now that things have returned to normal and I’m in a better mood, maybe you’ll be hearing from me more often. Onward and upward!

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Everything happened last week!

And none of it was bad, for a change. Things are looking up!

I’m on my husband’s computer and he doesn’t have an ergonomic (Princess Sarah) keyboard, so this will have to be quick. I will give you a full update in a day or two… but I wanted to pop in and say that things are great and that I owe several folks an email. Once we get my computer back online, I’ll be all over all of that.

Thanks for checking in!

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