Sunday, February 28, 2010

Oh Yeah! [A Blurb]

New computer up and running, IDE card has shipped so I can listen to my music again [of great importance!], and Windows 7 doesn't even make me want to tear my hair out like Vista did!

Calling my short entries blurbs in the title, so you can avoid them if you prefer.
Or look for them if that's all you want to hear out of me. :)

Computer Limbo

Really sucks. And is hopefully almost over. I'm sick of the relatively foul mood it has put me in to not be able to list new items at my shop, work on pics, comment on blogs, and whatever else I've complained about 6 times already in the last few days. Maybe it's only been a couple of days. It feels like a week.

So, today I'm heading to Staples to try to get myself an HP Pavilion P6310! Supposedly they'll have it in stock at a special price bundled with a flat-screen monitor. The one I have now is ancient, so it'll be a nice change to have a flat-screen. I've also ordered some kind of card thingy, which my husband says will allow him to add both of my old hard drives to the new computer so I don't lose anything or have to transfer a million files, yeah! The card thingy is coming with a newer version of Paint Shop, and after I get those I should be all set!

My mom is envisioning a Filene's bridal-gown type of rush at Staples, so we'll be going as soon as they open. :) I'm not sure what rock I've been under that I've never heard of the Running of the Brides, but it was news to me last night when she mentioned it! I hunted for a video of that particular awesome display to link to, but honestly I had trouble finding one that wasn't immediately followed by some very colorful language referring to the brides-to-be. In keeping with the family-friendly nature of this blog, I've refrained from the linkage.

I will pass along a link from Etsy's newest email to a forum post entitled "How the Four P's Helped Me Hit 100 Sales". It's a quick read, the "P's" are helpful suggestions which don't even include the very useful and necessary but standard 'photography' or 'promotion', and it's even obscenity-free. Hope everyone has a great day!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Spreading A Little Sunshine

A couple of days ago, I was nominated for the Sunshine Blog Award by Mortira of the Inspirational Beading blog. It came at a perfect time, the same day my computer died and I was feeling a bit dazed about what to do and very stressed about all listing activities at my Etsy shop being forced to a halt. Mortira's work is beautiful, as is her blog, so I hope you'll check it out if you aren't already a follower.


The Sunshine Award is given to bloggers whose positivity and creativity are an inspiration to others in the blog world. You are of course not obligated to accept, but if you do, these rules provide a nice way to say 'thank you' to and hopefully brighten the day of some people who you feel are an inspiration:

1. Put the logo on your blog or within your post.
2. Pass the award on to 12 bloggers.
3. Link to the nominees within your post.
4. Let each one know they received the award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to the person from whom you received the award.

Since I've started blogging, I've come across so many great blogs, and they've all been an inspiration to me as I've figured out how to post, what to post, how to organize my blog, etc. I'm passing the award on to just some of the creative people who have taught me things and made my mornings more interesting. A lot of these blogs are newer like my own, some have been around for longer, but I've been enjoying reading them all. In alphabetical order, my picks are:

Amy Nicole Artisan Jewelry and Ruby Mountain Beads
CarolynArtist
The Frog Bag
The Knife Wife
Little Cherry Hill
Naughtee Bits
Phantasteria's Creative Outbursts
Precious Supplies
Scrivener's Retreat
This Is It! Creations
Trouble Ink/Crafty Crafts
VeryVee

I hope you'll take a moment to have a look at each of them!
My commenting seems to have gone funny here again, but I'm trying to let everyone know.

The Earthquake in Chile

Just woke up to the news on CNN of a huge earthquake that struck near Concepción, Chile earlier this morning. According to the USGS, the earthquake was recorded at a magnitude of 8.8 at 3:34 local time, which is 1:34 EST. Concepción is Chile's second-largest city, and is located a little over 200 miles from the capitol of Santiago. The news is of course in the process of being updated by the moment, but so far there have been 6 fatalities reported and a 9-foot tsunami wave has been recorded by The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

According to the USGS, the same area experienced a 9.5 magnitude earthquake in 1960, the largest earthquake ever recorded. I think the largest one I ever experienced was a little above a 6, and my husband went through the 6.7 magnitude 1994 Northridge, California earthquake on his birthday. I can't even begin to imagine an 8.8. I know Chile does have earthquake safe buildings, but not all of them would be, and I believe an earthquake of that magnitude is larger than most buildings are meant to withstand.

My thoughts are with the people of Chile.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Down, But Not Completely Out...

* Edit 2-27: Looks like commenting is actually working after all, hooray! Now if I can just figure out how to do image stuff on this computer, I can do some proper posting...

First, I want to thank Mortira of the definitely inspiring Inspirational Beading blog and the beautiful Etsy shop The Sage's Cupboard for kindly nominating me for the Sunshine Blog Award! What a wonderful surprise, and timely as well, since my computer died yesterday and I was in desperate need of some cheering up! I hope you catch this post, Mortira, as I tried to leave you a comment, but I seem to have limited capabilities in Blogger on this computer and couldn't even successfully comment on my own blog. Keeping my fingers crossed that this entry actually posts! I'm looking forward to having access to a computer of my own again very soon so I can add the award here and spread some sunshine as well. :)

So, yep, I'm pretty much without a computer right now. It's been dead since late yesterday morning, but it kind of feels like forever, which shows how dependent on it I've become! I can use my husband's laptop for some things, but I can't access my images, create new ones from photos or list items. Or comment on blogs apparently. After a brief meltdown and a nap, I promptly went to work trying to cure my boredom and stave off frustration by making things! I've completed two new necklaces, a pair and a half of earrings, and a little found-bone vial for Halloween Trees, Christmas Trees or general spooky/gothic/science geek (or is it nerd?!) household decorations. Keeping myself busy helped a great deal with a situation that only months ago would have put me out of commission for days. I've come a long way!

I'm looking for a new computer now, with the help of my mom and my lovable resident computer nerd and all-around hero (my husband, Chris). Hopefully I'll have one within the next couple of days. In the meantime I plan to keep creating, reading the great blogs I've found, and checking in at my shop for those always-possible sales! With maybe a few coping naps thrown in. :D

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My 100th Item!

I try to offer a little more here than just what's going on at my shop, but I reached a couple of milestones yesterday that I'm pretty excited about. Also, I have time to just sit while my hair dyes, so I might as well be productive!

First, yesterday marked the end of my third month on Etsy! So far, I'm absolutely loving it there. It's not just less expensive to maintain than eBay, it's also much more personal, which better suits me. For less money than it costs to just list items for sale on eBay, I'm able to actually maintain my own little shop on Etsy, complete with categories of my choosing. I've also had the opportunity to meet some very nice and talented people, which never happened on eBay beyond the specifics of a transaction. Although I haven't had as many sales on Etsy as I did in my first three months of selling on eBay, I've gotten far more views on almost all of the same items up for twice as long on eBay. Also, most of my sales on eBay were for supplies and when I compare only my jewelry sales between the two, it's almost exactly the same in half as long. If I could afford it, I would list both places, but for now I'm continuing to remove my items from eBay as their listing times expire, leaving up only the ones people are "watching" - just in case.

Second milestone: yesterday I listed my 100th item! Technically I had already done that the day before, but I recently took one of my necklaces down to make some adjustments, so I'm not counting it. These are earrings to match my most recent necklace:

Emerald Isle Earrings


Off to rinse the hair - hope everyone has a great day!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Greens!

Not the veggies, although those are awesome too & I should probably eat more than I have been lately. I've been adding & updating the greens in my shop in honor of St. Patrick's Day. Apologies to my Englishman dad! Before my pics, I want to suggest you go take a look at my treasury, Amber Rain. I managed to secure a spot this morning, and I'm sure the included shops would love a visit, maybe even a purchase!

I redid photos of two pairs of earrings yesterday, and made a necklace! I really think my pictures are finally getting better. The earrings definitely look more true-to-life in the new photos. As always, each one below links to the listing, and I'd love the views. Of course hearts and purchases are always welcome too! :)

Emerald Isle Necklace


Little Mint Green UFO Earrings


Off Kilter Earrings


Not much else this morning, just watching the snow fall... and fall. The trees are beautiful covered in white, but I think it's safe to say my walk for the day will not be happening. Hair's needed dyeing for weeks, so maybe this will inspire me to actually do it. My rat, Magda, is doing wonderfully - back to her old self! For some reason her sister, Helen, has been on the cranky side. I ordered them a rat stuffy from Scrivener's Retreat, so maybe that'll cheer her up when it arrives. The shop owner, Natalie, was terrific and will be making me one with alive eyes so I'm not emotionally abusing them with a dead stuffed playfriend. She was very sweet about it and I was glad to hear that I'm not the only one who has such concerns.

Hope you have a great day!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Moving Along!

Working my way right through that list from a couple of days ago and adding things along the way, go me! I've now added an exhaustive [exhausting] "About Me" page here, link above. It's basically my Etsy profile rearranged a bit. Nothing exciting and certainly best for those who are desperately looking for something, anything, to read! Or maybe for those who really like to know who's behind the handmade items they're buying - I'm kind of like that myself.

I've also ordered my Moo cards! I went with 100 of the MiniCards and chose 8 different designs for the front. You can choose up to 100, but since I was utilizing their template to custom-fit each image, there was no way I was working on that many images. For the back, instead of using their templates, I created and uploaded my own image so I could use the font I like for all the text. My main worry about that is the text being large enough on those little cards, which are only 2.76" x 1.1". Guess we'll see! And yep, I entered my Etsy shop address correctly this time. :D

Lastly, I remade a pair of earrings I wasn't the most thrilled with the first time through. May have had something to do with the fact that I broke the bottom crystals during wire-wrapping... now I wish I'd saved the old images so I could fully show off my mistake. Since the beads are held on by wire that's hand hammered on the bottom, the sharp edges cut into the crystals. Now they sound dangerous, but I assure you they really aren't. Or maybe they are, but only because you'll look so awesome in them. Ha! I'm a nerd. Maybe I should start getting all sales-person-like in my listings, too bad it's just not me. Anyway, this time I used a simple loop to connect the beads to the link so I didn't put any pressure on the crystals. The wire is heavy gauge, so the loop will certainly suffice and despite having no comparison picture for you, I'm sure you can imagine they look better without the ground up crystals. I seem to be in some kind of a mood today. :D Here they are, photo links to listing:

Swarovski Fleur de Lis Earrings


Hope everyone has a great day!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Blog Updates & A Poster Sketch

So I managed to cross a couple things off my list of plans from yesterday, one of which was to add two new pages here. Right across the top under my title image, you can now see links to "Home", "My Etsy Mini" and "Sales/Promotions". I was hoping to de-clutter my sidebar, so I moved the mini, which is not so mini anymore. I also wanted to get rid of my sales/promotions label since for the most part it would just bring up old deals. Now I can just post what's current on that page, much better! Next step will probably be more sidebar de-cluttering by adding some kind of "About Me" page to include my blog introduction, profile info and maybe some things from my Etsy profile. I know I get sick of seeing my little profile up there at the right every single day!

Another accomplishment from yesterday - I made a treasury! I then proceeded to sleep through the time slot during which I could add it to Etsy's Treasury list. :D  Looks like it was a particularly competitive one anyway, with 750 treasuries up when I first visited. I may still try to get this one in next time, but for now:

Amber Rain [title inspired by the Coil song]


From left to right:
Earthly Beauty by JavaBead
Otherness by kellya
Amber Glow Earrings by MossyTwigJewelry
Second Print by oladesign
Sunny Sky Earrings by amaniworks

All lovely shops, so spread the love!

While trying to find a link to "Amber Rain" by Coil, I just learned that one of the founders of Wax Trax! Records, Dannie Flesher, died last month. Sad news for me. Wax Trax! was and remains a favorite label of mine, with releases from such bands as Front 242, KMFDM, Ministry and My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult. I should be keeping up with my music more. RIP, Dannie.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

More Moo

I got an email from Moo a couple of days ago, and it occurred to me that I never posted images of the sample cards I received from them, so here we are:

 

  

They definitely look better in person, but this gives you a good idea of what you can expect if you want to try them out. My cookies are enabled, so when I visit their site I don't see the free sample offer anymore, but it may still be available to anyone who hasn't taken advantage yet. If it is, I highly recommend grabbing the opportunity - it costs nothing!

When you make an actual order, the "Business Cards by Moo" bar across the front won't be there. And don't be a dolt like me and screw up your Etsy shop address! Hey, I was brand new... yeah I know, no excuse. At least I was brilliant enough to not send a promo sample to the two customers I had before I realized my mistake. :D

The most recent Moo mail contained links to some of the great packaging ideas used by their customers. The first is to a post on their blog, Packaging Tips for Crafters, Makers and Sellers. The other is to their Flickr gallery, Packaging Ideas for Sellers. Only 18 pics there so far, but at first glance it looked like there were some nifty ideas.

Plans for my Sunday:
- Browse through those photos for ideas
- Try to use one of Moo's templates so I can get better images when I order my cards
- Maybe add a couple of new pages here on my blog
- Even maybe-er embark on The Great Sulphur Experiment
- Take a walk with Chris - my husband, for those who don't know yet. :)
- Last, and maybe best of all for me, hopefully chase the crows when they fly this evening. We have hundreds, and they make a beautiful spectacle. They've recently been chased away from their nightly roost on our Civic Center with some kind of sonic device. They now seem to be crossing to the other side of the Hudson River, and I'd love to find their new spot.

That's an awful lot for me for one day still, so I'll be proud if I accomplish half. Hope everyone has a great day!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Learning New Techniques

I've discovered I require about a week's time between when I decide to start learning a new technique and when I'm actually ready to embark upon the process. Or more accurately, between when I have all my materials and when I'm actually ready to use them. It's not unlike a lot of other things for me in that I need preparation time - time to get used to the idea, to kind of steel myself for the possibility of things becoming a complete unmanagable or in some way confidence-lessening mess. It means things can go a bit more slowly for me than a lot of people, but that's perfectly fine with me because it helps me avoid some potential issues with my depression.

It can also be pretty amusing because after preparation, excitement and much impatient, complaint-filled waiting for materials to arrive, everything will suddenly come to a stop. And that's where I'm at now with my Liver of Sulphur experiments for Chauncey the Jellyfish. After 8 days or so, it finally arrived just in time to stop me from posting a big whiny "I Want My LOS" rant, lucky you! I think it's been sitting here in the package for 2 or 3 days now [in my defense, I did at least peek into it]. So, in an effort to get myself moving on this thing, I have removed it and taken a photo for anyone who has never seen the stuff.


Pretty, isn't it? The color reminds me of the algae tablets my parents and I give to the cute little otocinclus in our fish tanks, which means I probably better jar it all up ASAP so no confusion occurs! I've read it should be stored in the dark to keep it effective for as long as possible. Luckily I've built up quite a collection of bottles, jars and boxes I find pretty, so I should have no problem finding a place for it!

Possibly helpful tip of the day:
The sulphur is photographed in a small coffee canister lid. These things are awesome if you have a really limited work area for beading like I do. They're a good deal smaller than a beadboard, so I find using two or three less awkward because you can place them wherever you want. And since they're larger than the beadboard compartments, they give your hand some more room to work. Just make sure they sit far enough back on your work area that you don't tip them off it, and never rest your wrist on the raised edges too heavily! :)

Friday, February 19, 2010

New Additions!

I haven't felt much like writing for the last 3 days, but I have been a bit productive and made a new necklace & a pair of earrings. I was going to make a matching set, but I tend to get sick of the same beads by the time I'm done with a necklace. I still have necklaces from months ago without matching earrings. Should probably get on that! Anyway, here are the new ones - just click the photo to visit the listing:

Li'l Pumpkins Earrings


Rose Red Vintage Givre Necklace


I really like the earrings, but I'm iffy about the necklace. The givre beads are beautiful, much more so in person, but I'm not sure about the seed beads. I like them and they really work with the givre beads, again something you can see much better in person. My hesitation is over the size difference between the two. I still may decide to redo it as a double strand, maybe similar to this one:

Sterling Silver and Vintage Givre Choker


My main reason for making the red one a single strand was to keep the final price down a bit, as these are special beads and are on the expensive side. I'm also almost out of them and a double strand probably means no matching earrings. My final reason is a bizarre hoarde-y thing I have where I hate to get rid of every last one of my very special beads. I tell myself it's practicality so I can have a couple for reference in my hopeful hunts for more, but I have pics for that, so really it's just that they're pretty and I want to keep a couple for myself. Opinions are always welcome and appreciated! About the jewelry, not my strange thoughts - best leave those to the medications. :D

A quick request to the animal lovers who may be reading - I could use some positive thinking for my rat, Magda. She had salivated quite a bit overnight the day before yesterday, causing her chin and neck to be wet when I checked on her in the morning. She was also having some apparent breathing problems. After some time on my lap with lots of petting and talking, she seemed to have completely recovered and has been great ever since. I'm watching her closely, though, and have a vet nearby who can see her should any more problems arise. I was concerned she may be displaying symptoms of one of the viruses common to rats, but I've begun to wonder if she may have actually just mistakenly sucked some water up into her nose from their bowl. They do have a hanging dispenser, but my other rat, Helen, prefers the bowl so I've left that in until now. As soon as the thought occured to me I removed it, sorry Helen!

If you got this far, thanks for reading and I hope you have a great day!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Gorgeous Cast Jewelry by Maljewelry

A few days ago, I posted my first treasury of works by some of my favorite Etsy artists. One of the shops I included was Maljewelry, run by Marisa A. Lomonaco. The piece I included in my treasury was probably my favorite, her vertebrae necklace, but they really are all beautiful. Marisa creates her jewelry in sterling silver, or bronze upon request, using the ancient method of lost-wax casting. It's a fascinating, work-intensive process, and one which I hope to someday learn. I have used the technique, but that was many years ago, in an eight grade jewelry-making class. If my memory is correct that far back, I made a braided ring - bronze or copper maybe. Some gold-ish colored metal anyway. I still remember braiding the wax and putting it in the casting machine, but the rest of the process is lost on me [my dad would make a groan-worthy lost-wax pun at that one!]. I was so proud of it, still have it in fact. But back to Maljewelry - I've taken the liberty of cropping Marisa's photos a little bit from two of her listings for sizing purposes: 

Fish Tail Pendant                     Deer Bone Pendant


Everything in the shop is unique - there's jewelry cast from coral, and even a cute little pair of lego arm earrings. Plus, the shop is run by a very nice person. Well worth a visit!

Plans for my day:
- I need to try to get pictures of my newest necklace for listing. I know it's a common complaint of mine, but I do dislike my photos!
- This afternoon I bring my husband to his math class. The rats always accompany us in their little bag, which is actually one of my Nana's many old purses. Really must get them their own travel bag some day...
- Most importantly, I need sugar for my coffee! :D

Have a great day!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

New Moon, New Beginnings

Aside from being Valentine's Day, we've just had a New Moon, which means now is a good time to start new projects. My thoughts are on our little porch container garden. We've just pruned our berry bushes hoping to stimulate new growth in Spring, and I'm trying to make my poor jasmine plants happy again despite the weak winter sun. I'm also getting ready to attempt to revive my sea holly, purple oxalis, and black calla lily. I've never stored bulbs for the winter, so I'm really hoping I didn't kill them, especially the black calla because that was a hard one to find! It's an Edge of Night, and like most "black" flowers it's not really black. This one is pretty close, being a very deep purple with a purple stem and purple lining the leaves. Pictures below are from Lakeside Callas and The Black Plant Society, respectively.


 Also, I've finally gotten back to some jewelry making! I must say I've been feeling less than inspired this past week, but "New Moon, New Beginnings", as we say in my family. Yesterday I decided to make use of some of the gorgeous garnet beads I ordered a couple of months ago. Why I've let them sit this long I can't say, since garnet is a favorite of mine. Still trying to get better pictures, but it seems I'm a slow learner! At least I finally set up my tripod for most of these, and I think you can tell from a couple of them. I like this one the best - it's a touch dark, but I like the detail [links to listing]:

Garnet & Onyx Necklace w/ Fine & Sterling Silver

 

And, there's wonderful news from This Is It! Creations - they were able to save the 3 bulls from their trip to the slaughterhouse! I know Jodi and Dan are thrilled, and they even got the bulls to eat from their hands. Not bad for animals who have only been fed as a means of fattening them up. Now come shots and all the daily work of caring for their huge new babies, but you can tell they're very committed. A very nice Valentine's Day story for the animal-lovers amongst us, perhaps even for some of the carnivores... ahem! :)

Bizarre Chocolate Combination of the Day: Lindt's Excellence Chili Bar
According to Lindt's website, the Mayans and Aztecs flavored their chocolate drinks with chili, so maybe it's not so bizarre after all. I got a bar for my husband as part of his Valentine's Day/Marriage Proposal Anniversary present, and we tasted it before he went to sleep. At first I was disappointed because for some reason I thought it was going to have a liquid or at least a creamy center, but nope. Then I was disappointed because it just tasted like plain chocolate. Then my mouth, throat & stomach started to feel warm. I wouldn't say it's particularly hot, but there was a slight kick - no rushing for the water, but I was happy to have some. Chris loves spicy things [Southern California boy], and he really liked it. I think he's just happy to find a chocolate I won't end up stealing from him.

Happy Valentine's Day and Happy New Moon!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Saturday Morning Randomness

If my cats are going to continue to insist on waking me up at all hours with their incessant acrobatics, I may need to start a "randomness" series. It would include random complaints about things like the evils of cats, metal bits stuck in my finger and day-old coffee. There would be random observations about my animals, like how cute the mouse babies are all running in their wheel at once and tumbling over each other, especially the one I call Frankenmouse due to her funny crooked head, tiny back legs and general patched-together appearance. I would lament the fact that I'm just too tired to be productive and make jewelry, but can't sleep due to my house being torn apart by demons and myself getting repeatedly walked on by a rapid succession of eight randomly-placed kitty paws. Of course I would also offer interesting information in the form of random stuff found online during cat-induced web browsing sessions. I would file each entry under "meaningless babble". I might tack a "random" to the beginning. Stay tuned.

Cool random link: Atlas Obscura - perfect if you like traveling to or just reading about odd destinations boasting such wonders as collapsing castles, ghost towns, and 13 1/2 foot garden gnomes. My links are all to locations in New York, but the site covers pretty much anywhere you can imagine.

Friday, February 12, 2010

My First Etsy Treasury!

I expected this to be a Poster Sketch entry - thank you to the Inspirational Beading blog for giving me that idea, because I hadn't even thought of it. However, somehow I managed to catch a treasury slot last night despite my computer being repeatedly disconnected for no good reason. For anyone who doesn't spend too much of their time on Etsy like I probably do, the Treasury is a rotating collection of 12-item galleries created by members for the purpose of showcasing some of the wonderful items that can be found there. Any Etsy member can create a treasury, but slots are limited to 333, so it can be tricky catching one when it opens. The Poster Sketch is just a handy little tool you can use when creating your treasury so you can gather and organize your picks ahead of time.

I really think the Treasury is one of Etsy's best ideas. Shoppers can browse treasuries, which are often created based on themes such as colors, styles, or item types. Curators [the name given to members who create a treasury] get an opportunity to show their appreciation for shops they love by including them. And of course shops get the all-important exposure. Etsy administration regularly picks treasuries to feature on the front page, which can be quite a boost for sales. Anyway, here's my first treasury, which links directly while it's still up on the site:


All of these shops are worth a visit, so do check them out if you have time, and spread some love. :)

Plans for my day:
A walk near the Hudson River with my mom, hopefully complete with some wildlife sightings. We walk at a place called the Betar Byway - here it is with no snow & a link to the info page:


There's a huge family of squirrels we watch playing in the trees every time we go. Although I have yet to see him, my parents and quite a few other people have seen an albino squirrel there as well. It's also quite a haven for birds, among them some very noisy and beautiful Pileated Woodpeckers. Still on the lookout for a Bald Eagle, which can apparently be seen there as well. It's wonderful to have some back in the area after a long absence due to chemical contamination. Yep, I live in PCB land. Awesome.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

R.I.P. Lee Alexander McQueen

Just sad. Haute Macabre has a beautiful photographic tribute, including this piece of gorgeous:


Amazing Australian Animal Jewelry

I got the most beautiful flying fox pendant from my parents for my 40th birthday on Saturday! Of course I've just gone to take a picture of it and my batteries died. If I had more coffee in me I'd run downstairs for more, but instead I will refer you to the website of Tasmanian jewelry artist Ruth Waterhouse. It's well worth a visit, especially if you love gorgeous handcrafted jewelry. Even better if you have a fondness for Australian wildlife or some of the lesser-known animals.  
To Corinna: I know they aren't from Australia, but I just had to look for a tapir for you! No such luck, but perhaps Ruth would be open to a suggestion... :)

According to her website, Ruth spends some of her free time caring for orphaned and injured animals, and donates regularly to wildlife causes. Some of the animal designs she has tackled so far include the bandicoot, echidna, platypus, possum, the tasmanian devil and another of my favorites - the tasmanian tiger. Yes, I like to believe the Thylacine is still out there somewhere, challenging our beliefs in its extinction as well as our ability to stomp out entire populations of animals. I hope Ruth wouldn't mind my borrowing a photo from her site [do check out the flying fox while you're there!]:

Thylacine Pendant


Feeling a bit down about about my own little shop these last couple of days - I've especially been agonizing over my photos and pricing. I know these are two particular concerns many artisans and craftspeople hold, and I expect they will be constant sources of stress and confusion for me for a while. Meanwhile, I'm reading all I can and experimenting like crazy [at least with the photos, although not as much these last few days]. In addition to perusing the Etsy Seller Handbook, I've just found a list of posts tagged Your Shop 101 from the Storque. Selling online is so much different than in person, and these resources seem to have a lot of useful information.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"Animatus" - Cartoon Skeletons

A dedicated reader [okay, my husband] tipped me off to a project entitled Animatus by Korean artist Hyungkoo Lee. The work is a detailed presentation of Lee's imagined version of the skeletal structure of various popular cartoon characters. His references included real animal bones, anatomical drawings, and of course animated favorites such as Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner. The result is, to me, a brilliant extension of the anthropomorphization both innate to the characters and further interpreted from them by society. Plus they're just really, really cute. Animatus was exhibited in 2005-2006 at the Arario Gallery in Cheonan, Korea. Here are a couple of pictures from Hyungkoo Lee's website:

Canis Latrans Animatus
[Wile E. Coyote]

 

Anas Animatus
[Front: Dewey, Back: Huey and Louie]



Sunday, February 7, 2010

Chauncey the Jellyfish [in PMC]

I'm in love. Meet Chauncey, in all his imperfect, unfinished glory:


Precious Metal Clay is my current favorite thing ever with which to work! This is my first foray into the world of PMC, and I still can't believe I got this pretty substantial hunk of pure silver from a lump of clay. I'd weigh it, but somehow I've managed to misplace my scale. I need to stop putting things in "safe" places. To give you an idea of size for now, Chauncey is 1 1/4" long, almost 3/4" wide, and approaching 1/4" thick in a couple of spots. Here he is before firing, along with the tools I used to make him:

 

 

My little second-hand, tabletop Paragon Quickfire kiln works beautifully, and short of a full casting system [one has to dream], I think I'm set for tools. The version of the Quickfire I have is so old and basic that there's no control switch, so I have to actually stand at it, plugging and unplugging to regulate the temperature. You'd think a new one might be in order, but I'm a hoverer anyway, so at least the manual regulation gives me something to do!

Obviously Chauncey requires much more work at this point. I have lots of burnishing, filing, sanding and polishing ahead of me, but I love that kind of thing. I haven't decided yet if I'll leave him shiny or invest in some liver of sulphur to oxidize him so his details stand out better. Then there's the whole method of attachment thing. I could take the easy way out and turn him into a pin since I didn't fashion a bail, but I'd kind of like him to be the focal for a necklace. I did make little holes as a guide for drilling, so I'll try to rig up something to hang him on a chain or string him between beads. Much to consider still, but I'm thrilled so far and will probably be a little sad when it's time to list him.

On a completely different note, there's an update about the three bulls I mentioned a couple of days ago. The couple at This Is It! Creations have now raised about half of the money they need to purchase the bulls. If you love animals or just like to see people taking action on a personal scale to try to positively affect the world around them, please drop by their blog and send them a little message of support. Or donate if you can. The couple has been selling on Etsy for close to 2 1/2 years, and have plans to create a line of products from which the proceeds of sales will go to help care for the bulls.

* Edit: Found the scale! Chauncey is 8.8grams of metal jelly.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Blog Update - Now Listening!

I've just added a neat little gadget from SIGamp, which shows in real time what I'm listening to in iTunes [at right, below the "Me and Ed" images]. Hey, this is music - it's important stuff! If you want one, all you have to do is sign up at SIGamp, then download and install their iTunes plug-in. Once you've configured that and played a song, you just go back to their site, grab the html code for your image and add it to your blog. Then you too can display your wonderful taste for the world to see!

I also found a site called SonicSwap, where you can add your iTunes library .xml file so you can share your music collection, including your playlists. No actual tracks are uploaded to the site, and since music is shared via videos grabbed from YouTube, they claim it's legal. I wouldn't know. However, if that kind of thing doesn't make you nervous, SonicSwap also offers an iTunes plug-in which grabs your recently played list and reports it to the site. Once you've installed the plug-in, you can get the html code for their player and add it so visitors can watch the YouTube videos of your recently played tracks right from your page. I was actually very excited about this, but once I got it all set up, I discovered the track name and artist fields were switched. Being seriously retentive about my music, I gave up on that for the time being. I did notice it was reporting properly for other people on the site, so I'm looking into it.

Project for the day:
Learn how to properly push PMC into a flexible mold so things don't get mushed. I'm trying out my new jellyfish mold, and I'd really like the tentacles to come out right. Are they called tentacles on jellyfish? Okay, according to Animal Diversity Web, they are.

Perhaps one day I will organize this little blog of mine. For the time being, I hope my meandering mind isn't too annoying, and I hope everyone has a wonderful day!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"The Lion and the Three Bulls" - A Fundraiser

And a fable by Aesop, as found on Litscape:

Three bulls for a long time pastured together. A Lion lay in ambush in the hope of making them his prey, but was afraid to attack them whilst they kept together. Having at last by guileful speeches succeeded in separating them, he attacked them without fear, as they fed alone, and feasted on them one by one at his own leisure.

Moral: In union is strength.

How appropriate for an opportunity I've just come across. It's no secret I have a big, mushy spot for all animals. I'm also a big fan of taking action when you see a situation in which you can lend a hand. This is just what Jodi and her husband of This Is It! Creations on Etsy are doing. They've had three bulls grazing on their 11-acre farm, and have just found out they will soon be sold to slaughter. When they discovered this about the beautiful 2-year olds, which they have obviously and understandably grown quite fond of, they talked to the "owner" about the possibility of buying them. If they can raise $3600 by February 13th, the bulls will be theirs. Sounds like a beautiful place for the bulls to live out their lives, with a barn for shelter, a stream and a huge parcel of land to graze!

If this isn't your kind of thing, feel free to find amusement at my wacky save-the-world notions. However, if you're like me and have found yourself making mad, spur-of-the-moment plans to rescue veal calves or have wished you could start your own animal shelter if you only had the resources, you will certainly be interested in having a look at the This Is It! Creations blog to see what this is all about. There's a nifty little ChipIn! widget so you can make a donation for whatever little bit you can afford, and a list of shops on Etsy that are donating if you feel like going shopping. Big thanks to the Etsy For Animals blog for bringing this to my attention. I really wish Jodi and her husband, and especially the bulls, the best in this endeavor. Now I'm going to use that little ChipIn! thingy...

Big Scary FB

I realized this morning that I'm afraid of Facebook. It confuses me. Something online has frustrated me and muddled my head, and therefore I'm officially old. Based on criteria I just made up. This wasn't supposed to happen until Saturday at the earliest. On the plus side, I can dedicate more time to my awesome blog.

Well, at least it's payday.
And I just got the jellyfish mold I ordered!
I kind of wish there was an invoice or a thank you.
Or a smiley face.
Hmph.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Storewide Birthday Sale - 15% Off!

As a special offer to my blog readers to celebrate my upcoming birthday, I've decided to offer a storewide discount of 15% at KSK Designs from now until 11:59pm on February 6th. Since there's no other way to do this on Etsy yet, discount will be in the form of a Paypal refund as close to immediately after your payment as possible. Just mention the reason for the sale so I know you're a reader. Really, it's not just a ploy to get birthday wishes! :) This year is a biggie - 40 years! I still can't quite believe it...

I've been working a bit on my pictures for the last few days, so I've renewed some things. They aren't wonderful, but they're better than they were! Just click an image if you'd like to see the listing:

Black Onyx and Vintage Glass Necklace


Garnet Iris Earrings

Tanzanite Swarovski Crystal and Alexandrite Glass Choker


Sapphire Shades Swarovski Crystal and Czech Glass Choker


Okay, I've a need for some coffee and snakey quality time with Eris. She was only out for a few minutes yesterday, and she's been raising her head expectantly every time I've walked by her tank this morning. I don't mind saying yet again that she's the cutest, sweetest snake ever. Hope everyone has a great day!
 

Monday, February 1, 2010

Donation Day!

Once I've posted this, I'll be heading over to the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières [MSF] site to make my donation from the last two weeks of sales at KSK Designs. It has seemed like a very long couple of weeks waiting for today! It feels a bit better knowing that my husband and I already made our own donation right after the earthquake hit Haiti, but the need there is so great that it was easy to become impatient. This time we'll be giving $20, and I'm so grateful to be able to include $17.80 from sales I made in my shop. We'd love to give more, but the fact is we truly can't, and I know that every little bit really does add up to an amount that can make a difference.

I've decided to put off my regular 10% of sales donations to Bat Conservation International for the month of February so that I can instead donate that amount to the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti. ARCH, which is led jointly by the World Society for the Protection of Animals [WSPA] and the International Fund for Animal Welfare [IFAW], has already been instrumental in initiating a committment by Haitian governmental officials to assist in providing immediate care to Haiti's affected animals as well as developing long-term plans to improve the conditions under which they live.

If you're interested in helping the humanitarian and/or animal relief efforts in Haiti, please consider giving to one of the above organizations by visiting their sites directly or through your purchases at some of the many currently donating shops. One such shop, Hearts for Haiti on Etsy is still going strong, having recently made another donation to Doctors Without Borders from the over $25,000 they have now raised.

I know there are others out there and I should probably put together a list. However, right now I'm going to make my donation, then take advantage of the fact that my water heater just got fixed after 2 days and take a nice warm shower!

My Dear Readers