Monday, June 30, 2008

Snap Shots

Introducing Snap Shots from

I just installed a nice little tool on this site called Snap Shots that enhances links with visual previews of the destination site, interactive excerpts of Wikipedia articles, MySpace profiles, IMDb profiles and Amazon products, display inline videos, RSS, MP3s, photos, stock charts and more.

Sometimes Snap Shots bring you the information you need, without your having to leave the site, while other times it lets you "look ahead," before deciding if you want to follow a link or not.

Should you decide this is not for you, just click the Options icon in the upper right corner of the Snap Shot and opt-out. Want the preview window larger? Click the zoom button in the upper right corner, or set the preview to larger in Options.

Tutorial Monday-Sharilyn Miller

In my seemingly never-ending quest to impose structure on my blog here is the inaugural post of Tutorial Monday. Eventually I might write some tutorials of my own, but right now I'll be reviewing other's tutorials. These will range from intensive DVD workshops, to down loadable PDF tutorials, on-line tutorials, video tutorials and everything in between. Many will be jewelry tutorials but some will cover other interesting subjects.

First up will be
Sharilyn Miller. Sharilyn Miller is the author of several books, including Bead on A Wire, arguably the best wire jewelry book around. Sharilyn has published four DVDs:
  1. Tribal Treasures Bracelet Workshop

  2. Rings of Beauty Workshop

  3. Bohemian Bangles Workshop

  4. Ethnic Style Jewelry Workshop

These are all reasonably priced through Film Baby at the links above. Current prices range from $29.95 to $39.95. You would pay much more for a workshop, and this is in essence a workshop on DVD. The DVDs range in length from 2.5 hours to 4 hours. If you search Sharilyn Miller's name at the Film Baby website some bundled offers will come up allowing you to buy more than one DVD at reduced rates.

Here are two silver rings I did from Rings of Beauty Workshop. (The top ring is an heirloom turquoise ring that was a gift from my mother-in-law.) The middle spiral ring has been antiqued with silver black. The bottom ring has a Swarovski crystal in it. I had a lot of fun making these. These are only two of the many designs featured on Rings of Beauty Workshop.

I also have some pics up of some copper rings I did. See them here.

I have the Rings of Beauty Workshop, and the Bohemian Bangles Workshop DVDs and have just ordered the new release: Ethnic Style Jewelry Workshop. The DVDs are filmed over Sharilyn's shoulder, so you have a clear close-up view of what she's doing. It very easy to follow the directions. Each DVD contains extra material on various subjects such as antiquing the finish of your jewelry, using the tumbler, polishing, etc. I'm very impressed with the level of detail in the DVDs. Sharilyn goes into enough detail that even beginners will be able to use the DVDs. Each DVD is broken down into sections, so you can easily review just the parts you need. I liked these so well that I actually bought a portable DVD player so I could watch them in my workroom, or any place else I want to work.

Sharilyn also has a great website. Her teaching schedule is posted there. She has a new blog. Her Yahoo group, Bead on a Wire, is my favorite email list.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The "Mongrel" Horde

Well, not really. They sounded like a pack of dogs, though.

We've started feeding the outdoor cats before dark so they get to eat before the raccoons come out. This works pretty well, except for one raccoon who sometimes shows up before dark to eat with the cats. Drat. One of the cats was late coming up for dinner tonight, so right after dark I stepped out to put out more dry food for her. As soon as I stepped back in the house and shut the door I heard a commotion. Momma Raccoon and six babies had swarmed onto the porch and were growling and snarling over the food. Pushing and shoving occurred as well. Raccoons obviously have no table manners. Most of the time they didn't even look up when I shot pictures, but I did get some of their faces.
The night really does have eyes. Mom is in the upper left and all six babies are shown. One is mostly hidden on the right.
Say cheese!
This is the runt and the shyest of the babies. Mom is on the right. She is very thin. At some angles I could see her ribs. Nursing all these babies is taking a toll.
Mom was a little scary. I was holding the camera at arms reach and she kept darting up to it. I think she thought it was food.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Plexi Class - Instruction and Inspiration

Author Tonia Davenport was at MakerFaire in Austin in October 2007 where I saw her demonstrating her techniques. I've been waiting for this book to come out and I'm really pleased with it.

Plexiglas and Lucite are great materials to work with and this book offers solid instruction in basics. This is a great book for those who want to learn to work with these plastics.

The book is visually pleasing, with a good layout and clear pictures. "Plexi Pointers" provide interesting additional information on alternate techniques or ideas.

Most of the projects involve jewelry or wearable items like hair clips and pins. Those who are beginners at jewelry making won't find instructions here on making loops or attaching findings, but you will learn how to work the plastics. I was glad to see that the author stuck to shaping and manipulating the Plexiglas, leaving more room for projects.
This book will interest both jewelry designers and mixed media artists looking for a different medium.

One of the great things about working with this medium is that it requires only a few inexpensive tools to get started. Many artists will already have the tools; the only one I'm going to have to purchase is a cutter to score the Plexiglas.

My favorite projects are the solo exhibition earrings, the purse, and the notebook cover.

My only disappointment in the book was that the gallery didn't show items in more detail. They are shown life-sized. I'd like a couple of close-ups.

You can see I did take my own close up of the heart box pendant. This necklace is in the gallery section of the book. I can really get into making little "treasure boxes" like this.

Check out the book at Amazon.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Dallas CityArts 2008

I'm trying to be a little more creative with my wire work. Here are a couple of pieces I did for

Dallas CityArts. I'm not entirely satisfied with the bale, below. I'll keep working on it.

I love the greens in this magnesite set.

It was really, really hot at CityArts. The sponsors provided the artists with popsicles and frozen treats which really helped. The event was held in the beautiful downtown Dallas Arts District. This is another place I really want to go with my camera some day. There's some great architecture there.

I enjoyed this show despite the heat. I had some really good neighbors on either side of my booth. Dan and Lori Dudley of Dirt on Your Skirt Studio had some really creative ceramic art. I especially liked the Day of the Dead series by Dan and the Goddess and Leaf series by Lori.

On the other side were the Kistners of Kris Kistner Photography. He has many great photos. I found the door photo with two doors very arresting.

My cousin Debbie, and her husband, Tony Holman of Holman Pottery, were also showing at CityArts. My favorite is their Fossilware line.
I did get to take some pictures of the art cars. I didn't want to leave my booth for long so I had to be very quick about it. Here are a few shots. Check out the rest of the art car photos on my flickr photostream.

Taxi art car.

Women That Rock art van.

Epicenter art van.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Home Again, Home Again

I've been out of town for the better part of two weeks. In addition to doing Dallas CityArts 2008 in Dallas last weekend, I was out of town before and after helping out my parents. Dad had some minor surgeries so Stefan and I went to help out. It was great getting to spend the time with my parents, and Dad did very well with the surgeries.

While I was gone my husband upgraded my computer with a big humongous hard drive. (He is a handy guy to have around.) I've been waiting for the new drive to install the software for my new Canon Rebel Xti. I got the camera in April and have already filled up one 2GB CF card and half of a second one. That's about 800 photos. I can't believe I've taken that many photos. I really like this camera though. The only draw back is that I can't use the display screen to frame shots.

While I was out of town I didn't have access to a computer and I think I went into withdrawal pains when I couldn't blog, or read my favorite blogs. I've been thinking about how to organize what I'm doing, or trying to do, on the blog. So look for some changes in the future. One thing I'm going to do is post some photography once a week. These will be pictures that I took just because I like taking pictures.

The other thing I've been doing is gardening. I planted a couple of raised beds with various types of tomatoes, and a couple of hot banana plants. Something ate the leaves off one banana plant the day after I planted it, but everything else is doing great. Our 3/4 acre is heavily wooded so we don't have much sun. I put four raised beds out by the road where there is enough sun. One has my bee-hummingbird-butterfly garden in it and two others have the "crops." I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the fourth. Yesterday I picked my second pepper and the first tomatoes. I'm pretty happy with the tomatoes.

One of the raised beds.

My first ripe tomatoes of the season!

A really, really big tomato.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Impatient Crafter Glitterati Skull Earrings

I'm out of town on some family business and not sure when I'll be back. I won't have my computer; already I'm going through withdrawal pains just thinking about it. I'm trying out Blogger's scheduled post feature; hopefully this works.

Here, for your viewing enjoyment, is author, Bead Queen of the Universe, and blogger Margot Potter with a new fun video. The Stickles Pirate is really cute, too. Margot's blog is one of my favorites. I just wish I could write like her!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

My Blogs on Metal Chik

Last year I was briefly employed as a blogger for Metal Chik. I was in very good company as Tammy Powley and Victoria Tillotson were also blogging for Metal Chik. (Victoria was doing the videos as well.) Metal Chik has stopped production but the blogs are still out there in the blogospere, as is the Metal Chik site. There's lot of good info on the site, check it out. The videos are great.

Here are direct links to my blogs, in no particular order.

Tammy has a new book that is coming out very soon and is already on virtual book shelves in several locations, including Amazon.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Kiva- Helping One Micro-Loan at a Time

I've been a lender on Kiva for a about nine months now and have just made my 4th loan. One loan has been paid back, by a seamstress from Mexico. Two other loans are in the process of being paid back, by a beautician in Pakistan, and the other a retailer in Peru. The loan I just made is to the lady below. I've quoted from Kiva's site.

"Mrs Nguyễn Thị Kiên is 49 years old. She is a participating member of TYM since 2003. She has had 5 rounds of loans already. She uses all her loans to buy sedge to weave mats. Her family living condition has considerably improved: she has been able to buy the goods for her household including a TV set. Since this type of business brings her cash flow, it makes it easy for her to make the weekly payment. Her income is around 250 USD a month. She also produces sedge herself on her own field. This is why she has to renew the soil once in a while. This time she is requesting 500 USD to buy sedge and fertilizer for her field. "

I really enjoy lending the money. At first I thought of it as a donation, then the first loan was paid off, and I realized it was a loan. So far I have put the repayment back into another loan. I think micro-lending is such a great idea. It gives people a way to help themselves and seems to be wildly successful. If you want to check out the Kiva site, click on the Kiva banner below.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Peak into a 'Steampunk' Workshop

Here's a short video on Steampunk mods.

Steampunk Times

Recently I started reading about Steampunk on Melanie's Earthenwood Studio Chronicles blog (over 20 posts relating to steampunk so far and lots of cool beads) and read a New York Times article about Steampunk fashion. Right now this is kind of a fringe movement that is moving quickly toward mainstream; and I am entirely fascinated by it.

Basically, Steampunk combines a fascination with the Victorian age and invention, including inventions that didn't happen until well after the Victorian age and a do-it-yourself, anti-mass production mentality. It's the Victorian age that might have been, but wasn't, kind of like a Jules Verne novel come to life. If you saw The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, well...that was heavily "steampunked," as was The Time Machine. Wikipedia has a pretty good explanation of Steampunk.

Here's an article by Richard Morgan about Steampunk.

I'm not sure just where I'll be going with my Steampunk fascination but I will admit I have some goggles. Goggles are the must-have accessory and can be worn around the neck, on the head, or on the face.

And I have a couple of semi-Victorian/military type jackets that I purchased a couple of years ago before I had heard of steampunk. I dug my riding boots and my Doc Martens out of the closet and am trying to remember where I put that actual Victorian shirt I have. Probably it's too small for me, but I could make a pattern....