Rants from the Crib

An Ob/Gyn gone mad

Archive for the category “Jewelry”

Super Travel Girl

The next 2 days will be insane. Today I will be flying home to Alabama from North Dakota via Denver, Charlotte, and Huntsville. But will I see my family?  Heck no!  My hubby and my daughter are in Philadelphia for work/ fun and won’t be back until Monday. I, on the other hand, am arriving at home at 11 PM tonight and will have to wildly pack for my next trip, which starts tomorrow, and for which I depart at 2:45 PM. I have to pack for TWO destinations – I am going to Milwaukee first for my fabulous jewelry conference, which I attend every year. I will be there for a week. Then I am leaving DIRECTLY for North Dakota to work, without pausing to go back home first. So I have to pack work clothes, and I have to pack funky clothes and jewelry supplies for my show. How will I fit all this in the suitcases I don’t know. It’s going to be interesting!  I am strongly considering checking 2 bags, which will be unwieldy and expensive, but the locums company I work for does reimburse travel expenses. Then I’ll have a carry-on and a backpack too. Yikes!  And I have to do it all in 11 hours!  Fortunately I did think to launder all the clothes from this trip at the hotel. So I can pack all the work clothes straight out of the suitcase. And I don’t even want to think what will happen if I miss even one connection. I will be totally screwed!  My first flight out of here is already delayed an hour, but I think I will make the connection. So, phew!  I’m just a little stressed right now. Craziness!  Wish me luck!

Super Travel Girl

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Happy Birthday To Me!

Well, I am 45 years old today.  Thanks to my recent regimen of weight loss and self improvement, I feel much younger than I have in years!  I bought myself a pair of size 6 jeans last night, and I was sooo excited!  I have been enjoying doing a lot of jewelry making and bead weaving recently as well.

I was woken up this morning by my phone blowing up – I just updated Facebook yesterday and it apparently reset my notifications so my phone alarms for every incoming facebook post to me.  Wow! I am very gratified to have so many well wishers, but that phone exploded this morning.  Then my husband texted and my mom phoned and I knocked over my Coke over trying to get to the phone.  Sigh.  My husband also forgot to wish me happy birthday this morning.  Maybe I can work that for an extra good birthday present!

This is the first time in 7 years I have not had to be on call on Memorial Day weekend.  The last 7 years, I have gone to a jewelry show called Bead and Button, which takes place in Milwaukee every year, around the first of June.  Ergo, I was always on call the week before.  This holiday weekend, I have nothing to do but lounge around and enjoy myself!  Loving it!  I do admit, I am a bit lonely as I am far away from home and without my family, but the work break is definitely welcome.  But I still get to go to my show next week!  I am terribly excited.

I am about to shower and dress up a bit and do a little shopping.  I have some shoes to return and a shirt they forgot to take the security tag out of.  How is it those things never set the alarm off when I walk out with my purchases?  It sure would have been handy for the girl to take it off while I was still in the store.  Then I’m going to look for a new belt – I sure could use one, what with my pants being all loose and everything.

Unfortunately, it looks and smells as if a thunderstorm may be brewing up.  I don’t think I want to go out shopping in one of those.  Hopefully it will be over soon and I can get to the mall – it’s small but it’s just across the street, which is handy.

So for my birthday, I am enjoying beadwork, an SVU marathon, and some possible shopping.  Pretty nice.  I’m waiting for a show I’ve already seen to take my shower, so I don’t miss anything.

So there you have it.  That’s my birthday.  I’m expecially excited to be off until Tuesday!  It sure is nice to have a big break and some well-earned downtime.  So happy birthday to me!  Middle aged me!  I’m good with that though.  My daughter is only 7, which keeps me feeling young.  A good day to you all!

Etsy

Carnelian Eni Oken Style Bracelet

I have thought of writing a post about Etsy for quite a while now, but something odd today really triggered me to write.  First, Etsy is a web site.  It is a place where handmade items, art supplies, vintage items, etc are sold.  Mass marketers are not encouraged to be there, so it is a wonderful place to find something unique!

I have had a shop on Etsy for three or so years now, since I make jewelry and I like to sell it, so I can justify buying more beads and jewelry supplies.  Jewelry creation is my real passion.  I do strung work, off-loom bead weaving (my greatest love), chain maille, wirework and metal work.  Everything I create is one of a kind – I’d get bored making the same thing over and over again.

Etsy is fairly affordable.  It costs nothing to create and open a shop.  What costs you money is posting photographs and info about each individual piece for sale.  Etsy charges you 0.20 for each item you place on sale, and this lasts for three months.  When items expire, you need to renew them, if you still want them sold, and they will cost you 0.20 apiece to renew.  I currently have 130 items for sale, so I guess that adds up.  My Etsy bill is probably about 5-8 dollars a month; you can pay with Paypal.

People can shop on Etsy with all major credit cards, Paypal, and Etsy gift cards.  Etsy sets the whole thing up for you and makes it really easy.  They have recently added the coolest feature EVAH.  From your home computer, you can type in the weight and dimensions of the package of merchandise that you wish to ship to the purchaser, and you can print out a USPS mailing label right on your home printer and attach it to the package.  For most small items, all you have to do is walk down the sidewalk and put the labelled package in your mailbox.  SWEET!  Etsy deducts the postage cost from your Paypal account.

I check Etsy every few days, to check merchandise and check if there are purchases.  Etsy automatically emails you if there are any purchases or communication, but it also seems wise to check.  Also, you need to manually check and make sure there is no merchandise you need to renew.  You can check your shop stats and see how many people looked at your site each day or week, which items they looked at, and whether anyone has favorited or “liked” your shop or a particular piece.

Here’s the weird thing.  When I checked on my Etsy shop today, there had been a MASSIVE amount of traffic in the last few days.  I had dozens of favorites of my shop and of items.  The really odd thing was, it seemed to be the same 2 or 3 items that were favorited, over and over again.  One of those pieces is the piece shown above.  Now the Etsy Home Page features selected items (I’m not sure how they select them) and it is said that you will have a massive surge in traffic if one of your items is featured on their home page.  The thing is, I checked the home page and none of my stuff is on it.  Maybe it was there a few days ago?  I can’t quite figure it out.

You can also pay extra money to advertise items through Etsy, either through paying to have little ads posted, or paying for a bump in their search engine.  Thing is, I’ve only tried advertising once, it was a long time ago, it didn’t do squat, and I’ve never done it again.  So, weirdness.  It would be kind of like posting a blog and suddenly having traffic leap up  by a factor of ten on one post, without being featured on something like Freshly Pressed.  I did notice that 40 hits came through the Etsy search engine, but I don’t know why.

I will of course have to make a plug for my Etsy shop here. I also want to make a plug for my friend Diana, because she does the most amazing Shibori tie dye EVER and I’ve bought like a million of her gorgeous pieces.  She uses the best quality shirt material, including bamboo, and you can machine wash without losing your color.  You can check her out here.  She has no idea I am doing this, so she may be similarly bewildered by a sudden increase in traffic.

If you create something you’re proud of, and you want to try to sell it, Etsy is a great place to get your feet wet.  And no, I don’t work for or with Etsy, and they haven’t paid me any money to write about this (although I think they should).  I have had very good experiences with Etsy, both buying and selling (and, yes, I have bought quite a number of amazing things off this site over the years).  I have yet to get ripped off or deceived, which is a pretty cool thing.  So check it out!  Surf!  Run a search!  And hold on to your wallet, because those cards are gonna be jumping right out of there!

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above

image

Since I am away from home, staying in a hotel, and I don’t have my camera but have my cell phone, I was feeling a bit silly and photographed my bracelets FROM ABOVE, in the bathtub.  I did make all the bracelets, so there was SOME creativity involved.  Hope this picture actually focused – I can’t tell from the size it is now.

My Jewelry Making Habit

I showed my mother my blog this weekend and she seemed pretty proud.  She was surprised, however, that I had not yet done a post about my jewelry making.  Actually, I think I might have.  It was just so long ago.  That’s the thing about these daily posts.  You just lose track of them after a while.  However, in case I forgot to do a jewelry post, here we go:

I started making strung jewelry.  This is pretty much looked down upon those who make other forms of jewelry making:  seed beading, wireworking, chain maille, bead embroidery, metal work, mixed media.  I have also tried all of these things, with fairly good results, but I love to make a good strung piece.  Stringing involves taking a piece of wire-reinforced polymer and placing beads with holes in them onto the wire in a select order, followed by the addition of a clasp at both ends.  Some jewelry makers may look down on strung pieces, because the execution is fairly simple, but I still maintain that it takes skill to create a pleasing strung piece.  Just throwing random beads onto a string just isn’t going to get it.  The arrangement of beads, stones, etcetera is tantamount and the piece must also be put together strongly.  You can’t sell someone a piece that falls apart!  Here is an example of strung work:

Pietersite collar

The next jewelry modality I tried was beadweaving.  This is performed with tiny beads called seed beads, which are held together with thread, usually nylon monofilament, in a variety of patterns.  I got quite good at this, and used to say that I could build an entire house out of seed beads if I wanted to.  Sadly, I have had to get away from seedbeading as my eyes have gotten really bad of late, and I have to wear huge magnifying lenses if I even want to see the beads.  Here is one of my better seed beadweaving pieces:

Cellini spiral

Next I tried wirework, which was a lot of fun for me.  I’m pretty good at creating pieces in a classroom environment but not so great at coming up with my own designs.  Wirework involves the use of wire, usually sterling silver, with beads or found objects to create an artistic piece.  Here is some of the wirework I have done:

Green lava rock Oken piece

Next I tried chain maille, which I find very enjoyable.  Chain maille is an ancient art that stems from using metal rings to create jewelry or cloth, and is what the body armor was made from centuries ago.  Many beautiful jewelry pieces can be made by using these patterns.

Byzantine chain

Metal work is the most exacting jewelry work of all, and I am a rank amateur.  I have managed to make a few pieces that I am reasonably proud of and I keep trying to get better.  This is my latest skill acquisition.

Fold-formed copper cuff

Now I will make a shameless plug and state that over a hundred pieces of my work are available for sale here .  Hope you enjoyed your jewelry tour!

My Life With Beads

I have been making jewelry as a hobby for a long, long time.  Since college.  I don’t even want to tell you how long ago that was. 

I got started by spending time with a friend.  He was a geology student from Columbia and his roomate was dating my best friend.  Therefore, he and I were thrown together quite often as our respective friends spent quality time together. 

He had a little sideline business:  he made strung bead jewelry and sold it at local rock concerts.  He and I would settle down contentedly with frisbees full of beads and bottles full of beer and make necklaces, which he called “snecks”  (snakes).  He would then take them and sell them to drunk college students.  I kept the ones I made.  That was what got me started with the jewelry; then it was just stringing but later I got into beadweaving, wire work, metal work, chain maille and enamelling.  It all started wtih the snecks.

I started dating a guy who played Ultimate Frisbee and that just went hand in hand wtih homemade jewelry.  I always had a tacklebox of beads to put together at all the tournaments that I went to with him.  Unless I had to play.  Which was always a nightmare, and I longed to get my beads out instead. 

I made necklaces and gave them away to my friends amongst the players, and sometimes their children.  Other players did jewelry too and we would swap.  I have an interesting collection of jewelry made by my friends!

When I moved to New Orleans I added lampwork glass beadmaking to my repertoire.  I sucked at it, and I made the ugliest little beads ever but I got to learn the fun of playing with a blowtorch out on my bedroom balcony.  I continued to make jewelry and one of my friends even found me a venue to sell some of it.  I didn’t sell much.  But it was worth a shot. 

There was a bead store there that I started to frequent.  I went to the French Quarter and made a friend who sold old African trade beads, which I bought in abundance.  I also bought antique Mardi Gras beads, which were actually real glass beads from Czecholslovakia.  I have a whole collection in a bin up in my attic.

When I moved to Atlanta for my first real job, I also had my first real money.  I spent thousands of dollars at the local bead stores and hundreds more on lessons.  I learned seed bead weaving, which is still one of my great talents and loves.  I learned peyote stitch first, and by God, I peyoted everything that was vaguely circular that would sit still long enough to stitch it.  I started taking classes from national masters who travelled from city to city teaching.  I met a lot of big names and learned a whole lot of great stuff. 

I moved to a small town in Alabama, to be closer to my parents since I got married and my husband and I planned to start a family.  My jewelry making lay dormant for a couple years, since the nearest bead store was 45 minutes away, and I was occupied with my first house. 

I picked back up the beading with a vengeance when I got pregnant though.  I guess I feared (correctly) that I wouldn’t get to do it much once the baby got there.  I made tons of pieces, both strung and beadweaving. 

After my daughter was born, I picked up a new habit.  I begin to attend the Bead and Button show, which is the largest retail bead market in the world, and which bosts hundreds and hundreds of classes from the finest instructors the world has to offer.  I’ve been every year since A was born.  The trip is a several thousand dollar proposition, since it lasts a week and two weekends, and I fill every single available moment with classes.  I’m not going there to sit around, no way!  At Bead and Button I picked up wirework, metalwork (in a primitive form) and enamelling. 

I also taught myself chain maille from an online store called Urban Maille, run by a wonderful woman named Aislyn who sent out fabulous kits with great instructions.

For several years, I went to many local craft shows and sold my jewelry there.  I even had my own tent and lighting and table setup.  It was big stress getting all set up and broken down, but the part in between where you got to man your booth and sweet talk everyone who came by was a blast!  My husband actually seemed to enjoy it too.  I had to give that up when my partner and I had to go on every other night call because we had to fire our partner, who was a bonafide sociopath.

This last year I went through a beading frenzy and made many dozens of jewelry sets and many more dozens of earrings.  I began to photograph them all and put them up for sale on Etsy, which is an online shopping system for artisan made goods.  I must confess, I have not made all that many sales.  My husband’s friend has been one of my best customers.  I check Etsy every day to see if I have made a sale, and I very rarely have, but I keep checking.  I keep adding new pieces in case something catches someone’s eye. 

I have been enamelling everything that doesn’t melt or catch on fire, and putting the enameled pieces into jewelry. 

Basically I have been a confirmed bead addict for the last twenty seven years, and I have loved every minute of it.  I anxiously await the day that I can retire from my day job and spend all my time making and selling jewelry.

Enamelling

I attended the Bead and Button conference for the 6th year in a row this year and I learned an exciting new skill.  Torch enamelling!

That was the most fun class of the year.  We showed up for class with our closed-toed shoes and our hair pulled back per the rules of the class (the instructor did neither) and were ready to roll!

We were given initial instruction on how to place the iron beads onto the heat-proof mandrel, how to heat the beads in front of the torch, how to roll the red hot beads in the little pots of enamel powder, and how to reheat the beads to melt the powder and add additional layers.

Then they turned us loose with hundreds of iron beads; as many as we could use in a full day class, and we were told to enamel as many as we wanted to.  My goodness!  There was an orgy of torching and melting and heating red hot as everyone tried making every color of bead imaginable.  No one managed to set themselves (or anyone else) on fire.

We took a lunch break that was way too long – we all wanted to get our mittens back on that enamelling torch.  We did a quick tutorial on enamelling flat discs (pendants) and adding millefiori, and off we went again!

I did all the colors of beads in pairs so that I could generate a pair of earrings for sale from each set.  At the end I counted, and I had done over a hundred beads!

For several days I pondered bringing home the technology to do enamelling on my own.  I finally talked myself into it; the starter kit cost only a hundred dollars and contained the torch head, a pulling station with mica for pulling the hot beads off the mandrel, a starter pack of beads, a clamp to attatch the gas tank to the work station, 3 mandrels, and 3 of the most popular enamel colors.  All I needed to add was MAPP gas from the local Home Despot (intentional misspelling).  I excitedly brought home my new kit.

I got my husband to help me hook up the cannister of gas after checking two different places for the MAPP gas.  I set up the pulling station and put the enamels into metal tins that could withstand heat.  I got the mandrels and the beads lined up and I was ready to go!  I fired up that torch, and boy, did I get to work!  I enamelled everything in sight.  I even tested old metal beads with a magnet in hopes they were made out of iron.  When they weren’t, I tried enamelling them anyway.  They melted.  Copper can be enamelled and I enamelled every copper bead and decorative copper piece that I had.  I even bought copper refrigerator coil and cut it into cylinder beads that I enamelled.  And I made earrings, earrings, earrings.  I made my own copper head pins and used copper leverback earring posts for a rustic look.  I must have nearly a hundred pair of enamel earrings!

Then I took my habit on the road.  I went to the local bead store and discovered that they had an iron mix of little charms and findings.  I bought two bags of those.  Then I went to Crazy Mary’s (a hoarder with a variety shop that includes LOTS of beads) and discovered that she had strands of the iron beads for sale!  I bought several strands and I was ready to go again!

I encountered some snags.  I was putting 4 layers of enamel on the beads to ensure that the color showed well; two layers of white with two of the color on top.  This was making a sticky mess on the surface of the beads and the bead holes were closing (permanently) when I withdrew the mandrels.  I experimented with different numbers of layers of enamel.  Two was too few and the color didn’t show up.  Three was just about right!  I am still getting some closing holes on some of the beads, and I am not sure how to put a stop to this. 

As I was enamelling a little copper charm that I had made, the loop it was hanging off the mandrel from vaporized in the torch and a red hot piece of copper hit the floor.  Instantly flames leaped up from the carpet!  I was stupidly not wearing any shoes, so I could not use my feet to put out the fire.  I grabbed the roll of copper refrigerater coil and scrubbed it vigorously over the fire until I put it out.  Boy, was DH going to be mad.  There was a fifty-cent piece sized smoldering molten hole in the carpet.  My daughter came upstairs and saw it and said, “Ooooo, I’m going to tell Daaaaaaddy!”  “Go ahead,” I told her, “I’m going to tell him first.”  So I had to fess up to the giant hole in the rug.  DH was not pleased, as predicted.  He wordlessly went out and bought an industrial floor rug to put over the carpet in my work area.  Now I wear shoes at all times when I melt those things.  And I don’t heat anything on tiny loops.  And I have prepped the fire extinguisher by cutting the plastic tab protecting the pull pin, so it is ready to go. 

I have backed off on the enamelling a bit lately.  I don’t know if it is fear of setting fire to myself or running out of new and different things to enamel.  (The iron beads and resulting earrings are now beginning to look a bit alike, all one hundred pair of them).  I’d better get back on the horse, so to speak.  I do have the little iron charms and findings to coat, although I am concerned that they will not pull off the mandrel well in the pulling station, which was made for larger beads.  I would also like to order some new enamel colors and they are not cheap (like $18 for one color in an appropriately sized tin) but I am afraid I will feel guilty if I then don’t use the new enamels as much as I should.  It has definitely been a fun diversion, but I will have to come up with some variations if I am going to continue doing it!

Trim the Tree Beading Contest

Today’s note is about Happy Mango Beads and their trim-the-tree contest.  Happy Mango Beads is a happy little bead store with a charming Facebook page that I actually look forward to reading.  They are sponsoring a contest – you are entered in the drawing if you blog about the contest!  Easy enough?  Certainly!  Happy Mango has posted some delightful and thought-provoking links to articles about the beading world, a Christmas bead slide show that is guaranteed to inspire, and has many cheerful quotes and pictures that they post to read every day.  I am delighted to do business with Happy Mango because of their cheerful commitment not just to their business, but to the world of beading.

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