Friday, September 28, 2012

Toot-toot! Tutorial ahoy!

It occurs to me now that I must enunciate, or "Venice in Winter" turns into "Venison Winter".  Also cool, but not what I had in mind :)


 Samples of the kits!

Ok, the envelopes are dried, the earring parts are assembled, and it's time to take professional-looking photos for the Etsy shop.   I'll be posting technique tutorials with the listings to put any jewelry newbies at ease.  Oh, and I also have to make little tool lists to put in the envelopes. This is exciting!  I really hope some of these sell.  It's more work to gather the supplies and think of what another person would need.  I tend to take my ability and tools for granted, so it's a good refresher to consider what is really needed for even a simple pair of earrings.


Turning head pins into eye pins

Opening and Closing Jump Rings

Simple loops

Tammy Honaman's tutorial for Firemountain Gems

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Change of Plans

Ok, so a couple of days ago, I was all hot on tussie-mussie jewelry kits.  My prototype went well, but not well enough for me to continue with.  So what else?  I needed some small container for little earring parts.  I thought, why not make envelopes?  Goodness knows I did enough papercrafting for my wedding that I could churn out a template in a flash.

And I did!  I have 4 little earring kits, a pair a kit.  On the front, there's the ingredients, and on the back, a ribbon bow with a tag bearing the etsy store URL.  Not so bad for an hour and a half :)

I'll photograph the contents tomorrow when I have some daylight, as it's quite late where I am.  Also, my puppy dog has deemed it bedtime and who am I to argue? :)

Good night, everyone!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

While the Glue Dries....The Sunrise List and views from the studio

 I keep a little notebook with images pasted in to remind myself of where I'd like to go in life...


It was easy to put together: just pick locations that make yourself sigh with longing, especially at the thought of seeing the sunrise there....

A little book of dreams can keep you so centered!


Sometimes, I just collect words and images....celestial, silence, primordial...treats to the brain and tongue!

I try to do the same in 3d, making little islands of interest in my studio.  I keep the light low and the room cozy.  Each nook has somethign meaningful.  The little bottle above contains tiny seashells my husband gathered for me on our honeymoon, and the box to its right contains a mini photo of my great grandmother - I paired her with "The Empress" from a tiny tarot deck.

Even the lampshade must be beautiful!

I clean up my worktable so much that it looks a bit different now, but you get the idea of the magpie's nest where I work.

Sometimes I cannot resist a macro!

Beads get left out on display if their colors are especially beautiful...

I keep a portrait of Aunt Hazel in here.  She was my great aunt on my grandfather's side.  I never met her, so I only know her through stories. She was a Zigfield's Follies girl until she started her own costuming company.  She's one of the few female artists/artisans in the family, and certainly the only one (that I can think of) that made her living creatively.  She's a real inspiration!

I keep the finished products up on the walls so they don't tangle in drawers and trays...they're also instant decor!

 Small details mean so much....

There must be wild life in every room, even if it's pressed and dried to suit my inner Victorian!  I keep a summer's worth of pressed flowers in a journal that's never far from where make or write:

And, a parting piece of advice:

Always ask this before attempting anything :)

Tussed and Mussied!

Oh, have I got a swell idea!  I was nosing around a bunch of crafty blogs, and I saw advice on making kits for classes.  Now, I'm not in a position at the moment to try to teach a jewelry class, but I would like to lighten my bead load. 

I'm gonna make kits!  And they will be on Etsy!  And it will be grand!

I wanted a container prettier than a plastic baggie, as this is pretty much advertisement for my stuff.  So it has to be awesome.  I have a supply of scrapbooking paper I'm not using, so I thought "tussie mussies"!  At its heart , a tussie mussie is a small, conical bouquet of flowers.  It's a Victorian thing.

Googling TM's will find you a lot of wedding and crafts suppliers, and images of very pretty, highly decorated cones, often containing flowers or candies.  They're lovely and easy to make, and they look like fun to jazz up.  I'm going to head to the worktable now to make a prototype and see where it gets me. 

Hopefully this works out, since I really like the idea :)


Blogher's editors have deemed one of my posts feature-worthy!  I only put it on the network's blog, not here, but apparently it qualifies :)

Here's the link to "Friggin' Frugal: A Beginners' Guide" on my Blogher table.  The post also gets a badge, which I'm going to put up when the post is featured.  Because I'm needlessly conscientious like that.

So, off to get coffee with the Husbandpants and be happy the rest of the day!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Godless Gluegunning

What does it mean to approach domesticity from a godless mindset?

First of all, I think I need to define what I mean by domesticity.  I’ve taken to using it as a catchall term when talking about everything from housekeeping to crafting.  Any activity that takes care of the home, anything that adds a sense of warmth, anything that adds beauty to the home is domestic.  There are other uses of the word, of course, but for the sake of argument, let’s use this umbrella term as-is.
The fact that I am able to knock this out so quickly on my screen is a culmination of the miraculous gains of generations of hardworking feminists of all genders.  I am the recipient of this legacy, as well as genetic factors that render me a certain color, gender, and presentation.  I can pursue a graduate degree and knit doilies and no one will stop me!
Well, I won’t be knitting since that’s not my thing.  But still, no one is going to force me into “feminine spheres” either directly, or subtly.  I can pick up and put down domestic pursuits and chores as I see fit.  So why do I keep harping on this?  Why do I want to burden my quiet rounds of dishes, laundry, and jewelrymaking with greater import?  Can a headpin just be a headpin?

Why is it important to think of house work and crafting from a godless place? (Because Feminism, that’s why!  Because Skepticism, that’s also why!)

I’d like to start envisioning domesticity and its sub-headers from a godless point of view.  I’m surely not the first to do this, but it’s an important thing to do, so here’s my take.  When you remove the sociocultural programming of religion , the very programming that undergirds what are and are not appropriate pursuits for women, you have to make your own schema.  

Take this as an example.  Since I don’t have to listen to a pastor tell me to obey my husband, sacrifice my own activities for him, and infantilize him by taking care of “mundane” things, I and Mr. Spousalpants can divide chores in an equitable fashion, leaving both of us more time for our creative pursuits.  That brings in the crafting.

Making things requires work.  Drafting, practice, scrapping, restarting, and so on.  You cannot do that if you’re on some Betty Crocker/Lysol Commercial trip.  Any creative activity absolutely requires time and privacy.  These are not historically afforded to women.  You can still see this today, if you (for whatever reason) care to look at pop media.  Every magazine, commercial, billboard clamors for you to take more time out of your life and money from your pocket to fulfill someone else’s need, even if it’s disguised as empowering you. 

 I identify this endless demand as something based in patriarchal ideas which are rooted deep within religion, especially the Abrahamic traditions.  Keep working, keep busy, keep after everyone else…a convenient way to solidify a certain idea of gender roles, an idea that also conveniently props up religious status quo.

So much of this ties in with feminism.  For me, putting feminist principles into action is part and parcel with refusing belief and refusing the catalog of injustices perpetrated for the sake of belief.  I’m not the most rigorous of thinkers, I’m not a trained philosopher or scientist, but I do keep a fairly nice bullshit detector.  Rational inquiry, skepticism, and valiant attempts at clearheadedness are the appropriate tools to dethrone religion and belief from their overly high places in our culture.  These are also the same tools one uses to throw light on entrenched sexism.  Same tools, same ends: identify cultural mechanisms that cause bad shit to happen by shutting brains down and try to jam those mechanisms whenever possible.

So what the hell does any of that have to do with my gluegun or your pliers, or her sculpey?  In some small, subtle way, seizing the time and energy to make something, “high” art or craft, and refusing (among other things) the religiously-informed Calvinist underpinning of US culture – these are radical acts.  And to be Feminist, to be atheist, are incredibly radical acts!

For who-knows-how-long, art and craft were not separate.  Then they were.  “High” art became the province of those with the resources to be trained and practiced and “patron-ized” (and often funded by churches!)  “Craft” became more of a grey area.  Take the 19th century, for instance.  Industrial booms meant more stuff, but also more cash money to get the more stuff.  More people with more things, so more design and décor in more hands.  Who was going to paint all that china and wrap all those silk roses?  Men and women, of course.  But as time wore on, and the idea of separate spheres got popular, the china and the flowers and the baubles and gew gaws *and their making* became more and more “Female”.  Small-A arts and crafts (to differentiate from the similarly named movement) is still female-dominated.  

Barbara Welter’s venerable 1966 article “The Cult of True Womanhood” captures the reification of the “feminine” domestic sphere as contrasted with the “masculine” everywhere else.  Mind you, of course the paradisical view of home life and its attendant feminine activities was literally built on the backs of poor women and women of color.  But the image of the “hearth and home” remains powerful, even for those of us who are acquainted with the dark undercurrents therein.  

Small, relatively modest creative pursuits (such as my jewelrymaking) are troublesome, then.  Crafting as a pastime or business is related to the stringent limits of the past , when there were precious few ways a woman could express herself artistically or earn money by her labor.  Crafting is also related to more positive action, such as reclaiming old media and techniques, reimagining modes of expression, and making an active choice to resist corporately-approved esthetic.  And that’s just the feminism/crafting axis!  

Welter also discusses the ideal of female piety, which was braided into domesticity in the 19th century.  This ideal has changed form in the current century, but strong ties still remain.  Being churched is an example – this status is a shortcut to social respectability in pretty much all of the US.   Outside of mainstream religion, “women’s spirituality” (also a 19th century throwback!) has made heavy inroads into pop culture.  Any time I read “feminine intuition” or “ways of knowing”, or somesuch, all I see are Victorian conduct guides that at once cancel out a woman’s natural intelligence and “gift” her with an illusory set of social superpowers that somehow all revolve around separating the genders yet again.  A silken prison is still a prison.

So can you be domestic without being pious in any fashion?  The answer is a hearty yes, of course.  I do it all the time!  What I would really like to know is if there is a different “blueprint” for godless domesticity.  What do housekeeping, esthetics, design, décor, and handmade mean when you jettison the old scripts?  I don’t really know.  I can only answer for how I do my own thing,  but I’d love to hear from others, of all stripes, on how they do theirs.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Holy Cow, I'm way better at photos...

I tried to record another instructional vid....a hot mess it was.  Not as much as my first, but I'm *way* more comfortable taking pictures and adding captions.  Gah.  I'll try it again at some point in the future, but I need someone else helping me hold/manipulate the camera. 

Anyway, I have two new projects that I wanted to get out there, that I will put up here on the blog.  The first is the "Doctor Moon Earrings", which astute observers will recognize from Doctor Who.  Yes, I just watched "Forest of the Dead" again (I've been on a Tennant/Tate kick) and, simply put, the Doctor Moon is a guardian for a very special little girl.  I won't say any more than that for the uniniated - no spoilers!

Anyway, I just like the sound of doctor moon - and a little time spent observing the heavens is pretty healing.  So that's what was on my mind when I came up with these.  I used a silver/lavender palette, and some iridescent coin beads to mimic our Moon.

I made this image extra large so you can see the supply list.  Here's a closeup of the prototype:

Laying out tools is very important - saves hunting later!  For these I used wire cutters, round nose pliers, and some slightly thicker pliers.  These are my go-to tools and can be found at any craft store or online craft retailer.

This is an image of the anklet I took the dangle bells from.  I got this years ago at a ren faire and never really wore it, so now it's being parted out.  These can be found by the ton at faires, or faire suppliers, and I often see a variety of mini bells at places like Firemountain Gems.

Speaking of supplies, here's the bead board:  From top to bottom we have iridescent glass coin beads, a lavender glass "pearl", a clear glass round bead, and a lavender tiny round bead.  I included the jump rings and head pin in the array of parts so you can get a better idea of how these are assembled.

I work from the bottom up on earrings, so I assembled the dangle first.  Make a simple loop on your headpin if it doens't already have one, then open and attach your jump ring.

Put the bells on, then close the jump:

And here you are!  

Next, put your beads on the pin, starting with the bottom-most ones:

Close it off with another simple loop, then add your final jump ring and your ear wire:

And there you have it!  A finished earring!  These are about an inch and a half long when completed.  If you choose other types of beads, your length may vary!

And there they are on a happy crafter!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Ghouly Jewels!

A very modest, very rough instructional video of some pretty halloween themed earrings.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Giving it a little try

Of the craft blogs I browse, I have a handful that constantly inspire me.  One of those is Dawn Edmonson's The Feathered Nest.  Whether it's a new project, tutorial, or just some adorable vintage baby pictures, she always has something nice to look at and try!

In a recent post, she mentioned a formula for aging metal scrapbooky bits.  I wondered this morning if that would also work on some metal jewelry elements.  Thinking of yesterday's fixation on brooch bouquets and wreaths, I had visions of aging some long-unused metal elements and working them en masse into a new project.

These elements are a mishmosh - found objects, bits of scavenged jewelry, buttons, chain scraps - anything! I kept them in an old pyrex mixing bowl for ages and I would sift through them when looking for something metal.  But I tired of the mix.  I longed to downsize it and make room for some new goodies.  I try to be really frugal with craft supplies, but sometimes stuff just aint' gonna get used.  And I refuse to hang onto it, at least in its present form.  So if I can't use, repurpose, or donate, into the recycle bin it goes.  Or the garbage if it must.  I try very hard not to be unreasonably frugal or overly sentimental.

But!  These metal bits I had - it seemed a shame to cast them away wholesale, especially when I could experiment a bit.  So I sifted through them, picked out a handful of still-useful elements, carefully removed any truly sentimental bits.  Then I followed Dawn's recipe and set the bucket outside to let chemistry do its work.  That was about an hour ago, so in another hour, I'll go check on it.

Until then, I will sit here with the dogs, watching Cosmos, and trying to glean some sort of idea of the next Doctor Who episode.  It's a full night!

If the bit of alchemy on my front stoop turns out ok, or at least fascinatingly bad, I'll post a photo!

UPDATE:  Images!

Well, it's 11:00 pm my time, and I have just brought in the "experiments".  I did not expect such an evil-looking brew!  And boy, did it stink!  Stupidly, I put the ingredients together in the bucket *before* leaving the house, thinking that mixing chemicals late at night on the front stoop might lead to weird looks.  That was wrong to do, because that's a nasty mixture!  But after 2 hours, stuff happened.

All the bits, in various stages of patina:

Some things took it well - this used to be shiny brass.  But the little rhinestone trinket that snuck in there was untouched despite a chemical bath!

A lot of pieces revealed rosy hues under their coats.  This former earring, I don't know what metal it is, but it took an interesting color.

The formerly "silver" napkin ring in the foreground here got really nice and dark - that will look really cool with some beads!

Another former earring that got some character.  From boring shininess to rust in two hours!

A range of pieces, some changed, some not.  I roughed up a lot of surfaces first by filing, but not on all the objects, since not all had big enough surfaces.

Altogether a success!  Everything's too irregular to go into a bouquet without a *lot* of work.  I'm really forseeing a wreath with the more deeply patina'd elements.  I have a handful of grapevine wreaths that need using up (to justify buying more, you see!), so I think I'll start gluing later this week.  I'd love to put some sea glass with these really industrial looking pieces, for contrast.  We'll see what happens, though!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Brooch Bouquets and other delights

It's a long night and I'm running around BlogHer, looking for craft ideas and I keep finding posts on brooch bouquets, jewelry wreaths, and so on.!  Something, bouquet or otherwise, I don't care!  But I must prune down my bead and finding collection and wire 'em up and wrap the tails with fancy fabric!  Or wrap 'em round a wreath!  I do have grapevine wreaths to use up.

I think I need to cut myself off now, it's already bedtime :)

New Wares!

Oh, what fun!  I've got a bunch of new pieces.  To be fair, they're old pieces that I finally finished, but they feel new.  Nice to see the artistic vision complete, no matter how small.

First up, there's an entirely new pair of earrings.  They're repurposed Kohl's earrings, pretty enough on their own, but I've been fussing with them for years.  Finally, they met up with a monocle and piece of jawbone and they're now fulfilling their true potential!

And here's an action shot - they're really light on the ears!

Now these, I can't wait to photograph more professionally and put on Etsy - glass and wood beads in that warm neutral/purple palette I love so much.  They're about 2 inches long.  Must remember to take measurements.

 Something new, stretchy bracelets.  My wrists are a little too broad to make these look nice on me, but they work well on the more slender.  I worried about too much purple, but this lavender was just too nice.  Now I see some loose fiber things on the smaller bracelet I need to trim before putting them in the shop.  A neat product is (hopefully) a sold product!  And a happy customer...

And matching dangles for either of the bracelets!

Royal purple glass beads and gold accents, slightly mismatched for the fun of it!  I like the asymmetrical look, but I try to keep it minimal to sort of ease people into the funkiness.

Another pair of newbies!  These sort of formed on the spot while I was working on other stuff.  You know when you're rummaging through bead drawers and you pick up the wrong color, go "damn", but somehow are too lazy to put them back, so instead deposit them on your bead tray?  Perhaps it's just me, then!  But I occasionally get nice mixes out of this, as with these aqua/gold numbers.

And lastly, another pair that was waiting in the wings for months, MONTHS!  All they needed was hooks. Can you imagine letting such pretties languish, unwearable?  I need to replace a couple of brass dangles on the amber one, but then they are good to go!

So there I am, with more lovelies to let out into the world!  Feels good to get back at the beadboard :)