Thursday, January 29, 2009

Texas State Capitol pics

Back in October I was driving around Austin and ended up at the Texas State Capitol building where I snapped these pictures.

The grounds are very beautiful. There were lots of people just walking around, having picnics, and taking pictures. One young girl was having a set of Quinceañera photos taken.

Here are some pictures of an albino squirrel on the grounds. He seemed quite used to attention.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Tutorial Monday-Pod Ring

Tutorial Monday is back from a long hiatus!

Recently I purchased the Pod Ring DVD from Interweave Press Bead Fest video workshop series. I'm very pleased with the DVD. The camera work is up close and it's easy to see detail. The DVD is 39 minutes long and is probably best for suited for the intermediate wire worker. The actual DVD is much better quality than the YouTube introduction above. The price is an affordable $24.99. After purchase you can download a two page PDF file with the text instructions.

The instructor is Janice Berkebile. She's a frequent contributor to Beadwork and an instructor at Bead Fest.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Maker Faire Austin 2008

Maker Faire is kind of a cross between a electronics techie geek convention, craft convention, DIY gathering, with a teeny whiff of burning man thrown into the mix. My husband gets into the electronics tech stuff, our teenager isn't completely bored with it, and I like it all so it makes for a nice family trip to Austin. We went last year too, and you can read about it here and see more pics from last year here. The Austin event takes place in October.

Here I am at the Crafty Chica booth at Maker Faire 2008 in Austin.

I went to the Crafty Chica booth where they were GIVING AWAY these awesome journals. Thanks, Cathy! They have unfinished wood front covers and blank pages. Journals with unlined pages are kind of hard to find sometimes, and I don't like the lined ones. The booth was set up for people to decorate the journals. I'm holding up the one I did, which is partially decorated. There are lots of Crafty Chica designs to decorate with, including sugar skulls and other Dia de Los Muertos imagery and Frieda Khalo, both of which I really love.

The highlight of my visit was seeing Cathy Cano-Murillo
, also known as the Crafty Chica. I really admire the way Cathy has marketed herself and her products. She's the author of Making Shadow Boxes and Shrines as well as the upcoming Crafty Chica's Guide to Artful Sewing and many other books. I took some notes during her presentation.

I'm going to paraphrase some of what she said from my notes. All errors and misquotes are mine.

She talked about branding yourself:

  • what makes your product special and unique to you
  • your products should work together and tell a story
  • use themes
  • work every angle: craft books, products, fiction, teaching, selling, product line development
  • stay true to your own style and brand but know your boundaries when you need to negotiate with companies
  • if you have something published send pics to companies whose products you used
  • must have fan base

Here is Cathy at her booth with some children decorating their journals. The Crafty Chica products are now available online at Amazon. She has some really good paint colors and glitter, plus great designs that can be used for collage and other art.

...and then THE ART CARS:

I didn't take nearly as many pictures this year, but I did get some new Art Car photos for my "collection." The car above is covered in Astro Turf. Note the gnomes on the hood.

This car was a real crowd pleaser. I have video of it which I will have to post. All of the lobsters and fish on the car move in time to the music they play. One of the lobsters extends out over the hood at various times to "conduct the symphony." Very amazing. I don't know how they keep them attached to the car or get them to work together but then this is a techie sort of event.

Here are some more art cars. I also have more photos of these from different angles on my Flickr art car set. There were more art cars but I got photos of those last time. I can just imagine the double-takes when people spot these vehicles going down the road.

The robots commonly seen in robot war events were in the auditorium battling it out. I wasn't able to get any good pictures though.

We had a great time at the faire and will return next year. I bought some cool products in the store, including a resin kit from Resin Obsession, a LilyPad E-Sewing Kit, and a LilyPad Pro Kit. The LilyPad kits are for experimenting with adding electronics to clothing and other wearables. I think that's going to be common in the future. Ralph knows about arduinos so he should be able to help me with the programming process.

Ralph gifted me with a set of Young Mad Scientist blocks from Xylocopa. Check these out! Be sure to click on the picture so you can see the detail. The level of detail is amazing, plus they are definitely in the steampunk genre. I can look at them forever. I want to write stories about them. In fact, there should be an alphabet book with these as the artwork. Hint, hint Xylocopa.

Read more about Maker Faire at the website. Also the Make and Craft magazines and Make Blog and Craft Blog are well worth a look. The blogs are very active with dozens of new posts daily.

Maker Faire events are held yearly, one in California and the other in Austin, Texas. A new one has been added for 2009 in the United Kingdom.

As we were leaving the event I picked up dozens of rusty and semi rusty flattened bottle caps that are just perfect for found object jewelry charms. It was a great trip.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

How Kiva Works

Here's a great little video that explains how Kiva, a micro-finance organization, works. Part of my profits from Leslie Todd Jewelry go to Kiva loans.

A Fistful Of Dollars: The Story of a Loan from Kieran Ball on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Trying New Things-A New Year's Resolution

Before Christmas I had a commission to make a necklace with this pendant and peridot. I think I strung it about three different ways and it never did look right. Finally I decided it needed a pendant dependant so I made one. Actually, I made four, until I got one like I wanted. (The pendant dependant is the little U shaped wire that the pendant is hanging from.) The nice thing about this one is that it is secure, but you can still remove the pendant and wear it on a neck wire. It looks really simple but it was the first time I've made one.

I've been thinking about New Year's resolutions. Here are some of the things I want to do:

  • Try new jewelry techniques, especially more wire work and Art Clay.
  • Post at least once a week on Etsy.
  • Submit some of my written works for publication. I already have several short stories.
  • Write some more, particularly fiction.
  • Make at least one component for jewelry everyday. Usually I just buy my findings, but I want to start making them.
  • Submit jewelry works for publication.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Schmap Dallas

I was notified yesterday that one of my photos was short-listed for inclusion into Schmap Dallas.

Schmap is an online guide to places and things in various cities, including Dallas. You can download info to your phone or computer.

Here's the photo that was short-listed. I'll find out at the end of the month if it was chosen for inclusion in Schmap. There's no pay involved, but it's kind of nice to have your photo recognized.

The church in the background is the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe. It's downtown in the Dallas arts district. I took this photo at Art Fest last summer. The taxi is an "art car". If you go to my Flickr photo you can read some of what's written on it on the large version.

Downtown Dallas has some spectacular architecture. I want to go there someday the spend the day (or two) taking photos. Fair Park in Dallas is another place I want to take pictures. Fair Park has the world's largest collection of 1930's Art Deco architecture.