Saturday, May 29, 2010

Featured on a Favorite!

I haven't been feeling very inspired to write lately; in fact this is the first time I've even visited my blog since I last posted almost two weeks ago. I'm so glad I made it over today, because I had such a nice surprise waiting for me! One of my favorite bloggers and the wonderfully talented artist behind The Sage's Cupboard on Etsy, Mortira, has just featured my blog on her aptly-named Inspirational Beading blog! I have to admit to feeling flattered since I admire her beadwork as well as her writing, and I can tell from reading regularly that we have many interests in common. Mostly, though, I'm truly touched by her kind words. I hope you'll take the time to have a good look around Mortira's blog and her shop - there's much beauty to be found at both.

Another surprise that greeted me here this morning was finding that I've posted only six times this month. I was a little disappointed with myself until I realized that this has also been one of my most productive months creatively. I've made and listed several new items, am currently working on four projects, and have initiated a couple of changes in my shop. Since I started this blog to help me focus on becoming productive again, I've decided not to be too hard on myself about the lack of posting! Also, my mom brought up the point that a lot of my new items feature components that I've made myself, and I'm taking that as a good sign. Below are some of my new listings, just click the pics if you'd like a closer look!

Darker, My Love


 Lily


Transformation



As far as shop changes, I've expanded my Curiosities/OsteoWear section, and now have Finger and Wrist sections. My necklaces are now listed by color in ROY G [red, orange, yellow, green], BIV [blue, indigo, violet], and Neutrals. I also wanted  to mention that I've closed my Zibbet shop because I decided it's best for me to focus on only one shop. And to end the jewelry talk is a big project I'm working on - the creation of quality tags for each of my necklaces and bracelets! I ordered letter and quality stamps, and have made two tags using fine silver bezel strip. I definitely need practice, but I have attached one already, which you can see on the necklace in my shop if you click this closeup:


I do have some things lined up here to try to help me remain inspired to post again. There's another project I want to mention, a wonderful nature photographer I had hoped to feature last week, and a blog award I'm looking forward to finally posting about. It almost sounds like I have a plan! Susan and Alex, if you see this, I  haven't forgotten you and I will write soon. I hope everyone enjoys their weekend! :)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

New Items, Bat Conservation Groups

Well, the connection seems fine now and I'm hoping to get over to Facebook tomorrow. Hi whoever may happen to see this - I hope everyone's doing well! I've been pretty lax on the online stuff these last few days, but I'm trying to remedy that. I got sick of being constantly frustrated with the connection, then I got myself into a bit of a creating frenzy [as far as that goes with me].

I was going to put this last, but it's way too cute to wait - this is one of Tolga Bat Hospital's resident Spectacled Flying Foxes, Sushi, with her pup. I write more about Tolga below. :)



I've finally finished up the PMC snakeskin pendants I started making almost a month ago, and Lewis the Megachiroptera is almost complete. I'm considering using him for a finished piece, but also listing him as a custom order pendant. I may do the same with Chauncey and Woodrow. The snakeskin pics will take you to my listings if you're interested, and the other is just to show what the flying fox looks like now that it's been oxidized. I burnished all the raised areas, so it's actually shinier than it looks in this picture.

Eris Pendant


Eris 2 Pendant


Lewis


I thought this would be a perfect time to point out some of the great organizations working for the protection and conservation of bats. I've written a little summary for each, but if you love bats like I do, I highly recommend visiting the sites so you can learn more about their work.

Bat Conservation International is working to understand and eliminate White-nose Syndrome, as well as restore bat populations which have been decimated by it. They also work directly with governmental, industrial and private agencies to help ensure safe management and protection of common bat roosting sites such as bridges, mines and caves. They offer education and volunteer opportunities to the general public, as well as scholarships and grants to students, scientists and various grassroots conservation efforts. My Nana's second husband was a BCI member and made me aware of the organization, and because of him and their widespread involvement in bat conservation, this is where 10% of the earnings from my shop goes.

Bat World Sanctuary rescues and gives lifetime sanctuary to non-releasable bats that have been orphaned, injured, confiscated from the illegal pet trade, and retired from zoos and research facilities. They have 20 rescue centers nationwide and provide information on how to provide temporary care until you can locate a local rescue center. They also offer education and rehabilitation training programs to the general public.

Lubee Bat Conservancy is an international organization dedicated to protecting fruit bats and their habitats through research, conservation and education. They offer educational and volunteer opportunities to the public, and run a research and conservation breeding center in Florida which provides training to scientists and students.

Tolga Bat Hospital in Australia rescues, rehabilitates and releases bats, and provides lifetime sanctuary to those that are non-releasable or have been retired from zoos. They work to educate the public and provide information about the risks and problems specific to bats in Australia, including all four species of Australian flying foxes. The hospital also provides volunteer opportunities, works to restore local bat habitats and facilitates research into flying foxes.

Not sure if this is also Sushi, but it's another pic from Tolga.


I hope everyone has a great night!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Morning Randomness

I'm sitting here expecting to have no internet access soon until who knows when, so I thought I'd do some writing to ease my anxiety. I'm probably getting all stressed for nothing, but the cable company is coming to check on our service today and they may be adding a new line to try to strengthen our signal. I'm doubtful that it will help, since these problems worsened after they updated their system. Probably need some work on my positive thinking today! I've already made coffee, checked my email, read some blogs, played a word game, did some photo work, renewed items on Etsy, re-fired and filed my new flying fox pendant, picked out a bead to start my planned new line of wire wrapped rings [yah!], completed my third Pay It Forward item, brought out the rats for visiting, and fed and treated my guppies [three have ick :( ]. I wake up too early!

Chris took his math final yesterday while I waited for him. We brought Eris, and I thought I'd avoid the usual understandable curiosity by taking a hike on some ungroomed trails through the woods behind our local YMCA. After conversations with both of the people that passed, I went back to the college to sit under a tree away from everyone. Twenty minutes later, after a conversation with a student that lasted almost as long, I moved into the car with her and waited for over an hour. I'm not complaining, except I got very cramped! I actually think it's pretty cool that so many people are interested in snakes and are willing to approach despite her size. Two of the three wanted to pet her, and she tried to climb up one poor guy's pant leg!

Eris inspecting a fallen tree on our walk
 

Same tree from a distance - I just thought it looked neat having fallen on the power line


I did try making a mold of a polymer clay maker's mark/quality tag, but that was a big bust! Even after I finally managed to not bubble the Sculpey during firing, the molding compound got stuck in the tiny etchings I made. Maybe I'll make a little custom-shaped mold so I can create PMC tags to etch directly onto until I can get metal stamps. I'd love a little dragonfly to go with my shop theme, but I should probably stop making things difficult on myself. Okay, off for now - hope everyone has a great day!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Jewelry by Kajulee

Today I'd like to share a favorite of mine, the very talented Naomi of Kajulee! This UK-based artist creates unique and exquisite pieces of jewelry using handmade artisan lampwork beads, semi-precious gemstones, Swarovski crystal, Bali sterling silver, and fine Thai Hill Tribe silver. She also employs the centuries-old techniques of chainmaille, which is something I would love to learn myself, but for which I fear I just don't have the patience! I had a hard time picking which items to share, but here are three of my favorites, with images that link to their listing at Naomi's Etsy shop.

Samara Necklace


Lausanne Bracelet


Miram Bracelet


I'm sure it's easy to see why I love her work. Naomi's not just an incredible jewelry artist, she's also a very kind person. I consider myself lucky to have spoken with her on several occasions - online of course, I only wish I could say I'd been where she lives! I honestly look forward to the day I can buy one of her pieces for myself, and I do hope you'll take a few minutes to peruse all of her sites below, generally spread the love her way and of course buy if you can! :D


Chris has his final math exam today, so one more drive to the college until next class, or until he gets his license [fingers crossed] - good thing he's cute! Hope everyone has a great day!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Chauncey Blog Feature!

Happy news for me today - my Chauncey the Jellyfish necklace was featured on the Etsy for Animals monthly challenge blog! Entering Chauncey was about challenging myself more than anything else. It's just not the kind of thing I normally do, so I thought it would be good for me. The last time something I did was entered anywhere was about 18 years ago when a favorite professor took it upon herself to submit one of my papers for a writing award. I'd love it if you could take a minute to check out the post and maybe leave a comment if you're so inclined. :)  The Etsy for Animals team members all do so much for animals in need, from raising money in their shops for the monthly charity and/or their own favorite organizations, to direct care as workers, volunteers and individuals. If you love animals and happen to be looking for a team to join, it might be a good fit for you.

I think it was four days ago that I said 'tomorrow' I'd be sharing a screen capture of my most recent treasury inclusion, go me! Thank you so much again, Life Covers, for giving me a spot in your beautiful collection! Image links to the treasury.


I was able to fire my flying fox focal and complete [for real this time!] two of the Pay It Forward pieces yesterday. I'm really happy with how the bat turned out, and as soon as I started filing him, he told me his name is Lewis. :D  I've been a bit grumpy about the backs of my PMC pieces. They're smooth and flat, but not entirely even or perfectly finished. I'm trying not to obsess about it because I know that's not absolutely necessary, but I have decided it's something to work on in the future. As in, when I can afford to get more clay! I'm also thinking of a way to designate the pieces as fine silver and include a maker's mark. I may get a fine silver quality stamp and a custom KSK stamp for marking either the backs or pre-made blank tags for hanging near the clasp. My plan right now is to etch .999 and my initials into a sculpy piece, bake it, and create a mold I can use to make my own tags out of PMC. I may have enough slip to at least make tags for the pieces I have listed.

Too much jewelry talk! I know this is yet another long one, but I'd love to share some pics I took on my Friday walk at The Betar Byway with my mom. I finally released two of the baby mice that wintered with me and Chris after we caught their pregnant mom in our kitty food cupboard. The first photo is of the path I took to release them. I meant to get pics of their first steps out of the sugar canister I brought them in, but it slipped my mind at the time - probably too nervous! These should all be bigger if you click.

Mouse Haven


My first ever Eastern Bluebird sighting - he's in there, really!


Bluebird butt -  hey, I was excited just to see him!


This Sharp-shinned Hawk [I believe] is why I was nervous about the mice


I released them far away from him, but he looks like he just knows!


I was up far too early, so it's nap time for me - I hope everyone enjoys their day!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Wild Goose Chase

Pun partially intended. First, a quick sneak peak at my new PMC heart necklace, which I really hope to get listed today. It's heavily oxidized, with lots of blue undertones, so I've decided to call it Steel Heart or something to that effect. That could completely change by this afternoon though.


Chris had his last official math class for the semester at the local college yesterday! He'll have some review Tuesday, then his final on Thursday. He's been doing great despite the fact that he's 'missed' some classes... ahem! Have to tease him, but really I'm proud of him. He's worked very hard, and it's difficult getting to and then sitting through class with the full-torso metal contraption he has to wear when he's up and about for too long. It supports his back so as not to put too much pressure on his crushed vertebra - his T4 if I'm remembering properly.

Anyway, after I picked up my husband the robot from class, we went in search of baby geese! We've been keeping our eyes on what we thought was one goose at one of our local ponds for a few weeks. Every time we pass, I pout and feel bad for it, but my mom has been saying that maybe there was a hiding nesting goose with it. At the beginning of this week, we finally discovered she was right when we saw two geese and babies! The pond is actually on the property of a business and is right next to a very busy road between my house and the college, but it's a favorite hang out for Great Blue Herons, ducks, deer and Canada Geese. We couldn't get too close, as you can see the parents started getting nervous, but here are the pics I got.

Main road in the background, amazingly without cars. And there are five babies!


Mom and dad get nervous, and start to look for a missing baby...


Baby located! It's that blurry yellow thing near the right edge of the pic, to the right of mom's foot
and in front of the reeds & tiny patch of water. Mom heads over to round it up, dad ever-vigilant.


The pun comes up in the second part of our hunt, when we went to the Betar Byway to get the supposedly guaranteed close-up photos of the babies. Almost a half hour drive each way, and no geese! They nest and visit there so regularly that the people who maintain the walkway and grounds put up signs every year telling us not the feed the geese. There was certainly a little nesting family when my mom and I went Monday. We scoured the area, but it was very windy, so they must have taken shelter somewhere else along the river. Hopefully next time! Silly geese. :D

A little bit of an update on my PMC projects. I've managed to join the sterling wire with the PMC pieces using the slip I made, so I can try fusing them together later in the kiln. The bat has been touched up and also should be dry enough to fire today. I've change my mind again about my Pay It Forward items, so more work is required. I don't want to divulge much, but they were going to be 'components' and now they're going to be 'functional/rip 'em apart and use them as components if you'd prefer' pieces. 

Random movie recommendation: Pandorum. I usually ignore reviews because there are always people who will hate or love something, but there are plenty for this movie at the IMDB link above if you're interested, plus of course a summary and trailers, etc. Not really a spoiler here because they're mainly just keywords - if you feel like watching a psychological thriller with dystopian vision in a creepy post-apocalyptic sci-fi setting full of crazy mutated creatures sporting metal bits faintly reminiscent of the wonderfully weird Tetsuo, definitely check it out! We found it free on-demand on the Starz channel here, which means it should be rentable. 

Time to get ready for my Friday walk, so I'll post the screen capture and details tomorrow, but I was kindly featured in another treasury Wednesday! So much for posting more regularly somehow affecting the length of my rambles. I hope everyone has a wonderful day!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Treasuries Galore & Some Updates!

I think this is the longest I've stayed away from my blog, but it mostly has to do with the fact that my internet connection has been just awful!! I never would have expected such problems with wireless, but our cable company is our provider, and I can't say I've been pleased with them lately. Our box shuts off on its own almost every day. We thought we just needed a new box, but with all the internet problems, we're starting to wonder if it's an issue with their servers. Anyway, we're looking into it and hopefully things will be better soon! I was able to reorganize my shop a bit, by creating an Animal Jewelry section, and breaking the rest of my jewelry up by color rather than by type. I wanted sections that are smaller and hopefully easier to navigate, and people often search for jewelry to go with certain outfits or based on favorite colors.

Aside from that, all the offline time I've had has at least allowed me to work on some projects! My five Pay It Forward pieces for Facebook are just awaiting a couple of finishing touches before I can send them. I've also completed my four PMC hearts, though I'm not exactly sure how I'll be offering all of them. I am oxidizing a chain and findings for one right now, so if all goes according to plan [ha!], I can list that today. I've made some headway with a personal PMC project I've been working on, but ran into issues when trying to include fine silver wire. I fired the wire in with the piece, and although they fused together perfectly, the wire weakened and broke. I only have sterling wire left, and all the information I can find does say that sterling will fuse properly with low-firing-temperature silver clays. I use PMC3, which I believe qualifies, so I'll be trying again! Lastly, I used up the rest of my clay making a flying fox focal, which I'm very excited about! I have just enough paste to fill in some cracks and even out some areas, then I can fire it. He looks pretty funny right now, but here's a little sneak peak. :)


I'd love to make him a multi-chain piece, since he's pretty big and that will hopefully bring balance. The measurements are about 1.5" at the widest, and 1.25" from top to bottom. Chris keeps telling me he's huge, but he claims to like him. I know flying foxes aren't black, but I'd really like to oxidize him and use garnet along one or more of the chains. I sometimes wonder if I overuse that stone, but then I wonder if that's even possible. :D

I have four treasuries to share today, three by friends and one of my own, all from Etsy's new Treasury East! Two are from a couple of weeks ago which I posted on my Facebook page, but for some no-good reason neglected to put here. The other two have gone up since I last posted. Thank you so much again Kris, Susan & Emma for including me in your beautiful collections! I have my own treasury of favorites in the works, but my first was a collection of vultures, which I've been planning for a while. I'm glad to have created it as a treasury that won't expire, and I really hope that Etsy is able to provide us with a T-East search tool soon so other vulture lovers can find it. Doing the treasury at least let me know I'm not the only one! If you find you have some time for browsing, the curators and their included shops would all be great places to visit! Photos link to the treasuries.

Mythos, Magic and More by Kris of Dream Bubbles


Precious Pink by Susan of Dream Belle Designs


Sweets To Dream Of by Emma of Little Cherry Hill


Vulture Saves the World by me


I hope to take a walk with Chris today to the Betar Byway, which is a favorite birdwatching spot for our local National Audubon Society chapter. My mom and I discovered two newborn geese there on Monday, so we're hoping to get a couple of pics while they're still yellow. The father was wonderfully protective and wagged his tail at me when he decided I had gotten too close, so I hope I can get my zoom to behave! I was going to include a pic of Ed acting funny today, but I'll spare everyone the extra length and my mom the added spider photo - the two in my sidebar are already more than she appreciates! And since this kind of crazy long post is apparently what happens when I stay away for too long, I promise to try my best not to do that again. Hope everyone has a great day & Happy Cinco de Mayo!

My Dear Readers