Friday, December 28, 2007

Aces High

I said yesterday that I wouldn't have any new work to show for a few days, but I dug this out of one of my WIP bags - it's part of a project that has been on the back burner for a while. When I made this, I was a little worried that the hand-cut image would look a little crude, but I think it turned out all right. I'll be doing more in the near future, I think, including a couple holiday-themed ones. In the meantime, this one is going back into its project bag (muttering, no doubt, about my lack of progress).

Athough our company is no longer here, and we don't have any special plans for the New Year (apart from maybe taking the Short One to our local Children's Museum), it's seemed incredibly busy here this week. I don't really go in for resolutions, but I wanted to usher in the New Year with a clear mind and a fresh perspective. Instead, everything is in even more disarray than usual here. You think I would have gotten used to this as the status quo, but it still surprises me.

At any rate, in an effort to maintain sanity, I've decided to take a blogging break until after the holiday. I'll be back on Wednesday. In the meantime, I hope everyone has a very Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Dragon Heart

Well, in a spurt of unexpected productivity, I fired another kiln-load of silver tonight. Here's the second Valentine-themed pendant. I'm still on a dragon kick (at least in theory - I haven't made any more headway on the "Here Be Dragons" necklace), so I thought a little dragon's heart pendant would be appropriate. Once again, I hand-carved a stamp block for the rough cut dragon scale design. I made the heart design by filling a heart-shaped depression with opaque red resin. As I mentioned yesterday, I'm not generally a big fan of heart jewelry - I often find it to be a little insipid - so I wanted to create a strong, almost masculine-looking pendant.

In Norse legend, Sigurd the Dragon Slayer ate the heart of a dragon and gained wisdom and the gift of prophecy. I understand that in other folklore, a dragon's heart bestows strength. For my own part, I simply wanted a heart image that was unusual but still conveyed a sense of romance and the fantastic. I might make the heart a little larger the next time, but overall, I think it turned out pretty well.

This is probably the last new work I'll have to show for a few days. Although I did fired a kiln-load, all of the other pieces are for a contest entry. With the new year upon us, several annual contests will be open for submissions soon. Although I know that my chance of actually making the final cut in any of these is diminishingly small, I also feel that at least entering this year is necessary for moving forward with my work. Once again, I'm astonished by how time consuming all of this is.

On other fronts, the Short One and I practiced our Greco-Roman wrestling holds at great length today over a variety of issues, such as putting on the winter coat and boots. Ever since the SO arrived, I've felt that there should be an official Baby Olympics with various categories like swaddling, bathing (with the 50 meter dash that often accompanies being lifted out of the tub), the diaper change (while we would never win any time trials in this category, I've always felt that the SO and I would have been a shoo-in for the freestyle event), etc., etc. I don't know about you, but my day just seems filled with small athletic events.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Happy Boxing Day! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas (for those who celebrate Christmas, of course). The Short One made out like a bandit. In fact, he had so many gifts that he lost steam halfway through and completely lost interest in the remaining gifts (I'm assuming that age will take care of this little issue, if you can even call it that). He didn't manage to open the last gift until right before bedtime. In addition to the fancier gifts (toy bus, huge toy train, etc., etc., etc.), being a cheapskate, I cleverly purchased one of the big box of 96 crayons that had been on sale at the local grocery store, wrapped it (having taken out the crayon sharpener - he's still a little young to cope with that) and stuck it in his stocking. It's turned out to be one of his absolute favorites.

As for me, in addition to the really beautiful digital camera that was an early gift in November, I received a Lortone 3lb rock tumbler, which I have been wanting for some time - not for polishing rocks (although I intend to use it for that purpose, too), but for polishing silver. I still need to buy the mixed stainless steel shot for the drum, but I'm really eager to try it out. And the Husband (who is an engineer), having noticed my steely eyed squint most nights when I work on jewelry, bought me a Bausch & Lomb magnavisor - a sort of magnifying helmet-thingy that's commonly used by toolmakers. Yep, come to think of it, I made out like a bandit, myself. One thing I find funny on the blogs I read (much of which is jewelry-related) is how much the authors get excited by gifts of tools and machinery. I'm sure it must seem unfathomable to most women. Of course, if you were "most women", you probably wouldn't be reading this blog, right?

Moving right along, you may have noticed from the photo above that I've zipped right past Christmas and New Years onto Valentine themed jewelry. I'm pretty happy with the way this sweetheart pendant turned out, although, of course, the carved coral rose does most of the work, here. I must confess that I'm not much of a Valentine's Day person, and I don't tend to like conventional heart jewelry all that much. Coming up with holiday themed pieces (I have two or three in mind) has not been easy. The next one that's in the planning stage is pretty unconventional. I hope to have it ready to show you within the week.

In the meantime, I hope everyone is enjoying the remainder of the year. I'll see you tomorrow.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

I'm totally punting today, because I've run out of time and am doing the classic night before Christmas wrapping-up-of-presents-at-the-last-
-wrapped-that-I-cleverly-didn't-label. Sigh.

[Okay, this post has been edited. My husband wasn't too pleased to discover I'd put a photo of the Short One, however old, on the blog, so I enlisted the aid of a Stunt Monkee to double in for the SO. For the ten or so people who were kind enough to visit last night and saw the original photo of the SO - this looks just like him, don't you think? For everyone else, please just disregard this paragraph. For anyone experiencing monkee lust, please visit the Monkee Maker for more details on how to obtain one of your own.]

[Edit number II: Apparently I can't win with this post. After changing the photo to accomodate my husband's objections, I then received a complaint from the knitwear designer who designed the cute hat I knit for the Short One. As she did not like the fact that I put up a link to a website where you could purchase her book quite inexpensively, I took down the link, put up a link to her website instead and sent her an email. I never received any acknowledgment from her about this. In the interest of not driving myself crazy over the issue, I have decided to take down the photo of, and all reference to, the hat and replaced it with a completely uncontroversial image of some of the ornaments my mother made for the Short One this year. I presume this resolves any remaining issues for all parties. And thanks, Mom. The SO loves his new ornaments.]

Merry Christmas to all. Now where did I put that roll of tape??

Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy (Belated) Birthday!

I think I called this a Christmas present earlier this week, but it was actually a birthday present for a friend who has a holiday birthday. Her birthday was yesterday - and she did receive it - so I can show it to you now.

My friend has a necklace that she always wears, so I knew I couldn't make a necklace for her. The problem was that the koi pendants I've been making are really a little bulky to wear on the wrist and a little too heavy to wear as earrings. (I would have made a brooch, but I didn't have the fine silver pin back at the time to make it.) So I fiddled around and tried to reduce the overall size of the pendant enough to use it in a bracelet. This is the smallest koi I've tried to make to date - it measures an inch in diameter and is shallower than the larger versions. I was worried it wouldn't look like much or would still be too wide to wear on the wrist, but it ended up fitting pretty comfortably, even for someone like me who has a skinny wrist.

Happy Birthday, IHT! I hope it was wonderful.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Final Ornament Thursday

Well, okay, I am posting this on Wednesday and not Thursday today. I have family arriving tomorrow, and I'm afraid I won't have time to post, so I'm doing it today. I can't believe it's the final Thursday before Christmas. I haven't managed to mail a single holiday card yet! Shameful, isn't it? I did, however, manage to make two quick ornaments. The first one, which I planned - is this snowflake ornament. I bought a sheet of small molds from Sherri Haab over the summer, and I never used it! I looked it over and the largest mold on the sheet looked about the right size for a small ornament, so I decided to try it. I think the directions are pretty self-explanatory on this one. Briefly, I made a snowflake out of extruded polymer clay and baked it per the manufacturer's instructions. I then coated the bottom of the mold (and this particular mold does not require a release agent, which is nice) with a thin layer of resin. Once again, I used UV resin, so I cured it under a UV light for a few minutes. I added another layer of resin, then dropped the snowflake and cured the resin again. I added a final thin layer of resin to finish. I drilled the hole in the top with a 3/32" bit in a drill vise and put a heavy jump ring through the hole. I finished with a scrap of blue ribbon. After finishing this, I had a little resin left over, so I decided to make a second one:

This one was even easier, as I followed the same steps as above but filled it with crayon shavings from a few broken crayons that the Short One had in this art table drawer. (I had in mind those art projects we all did as kids where you put crayon shavings between pieces of waxed paper and then had an adult iron it. Remember those? Do kids still do this in school? I guess I'll find out pretty soon..)

If you wanted to embellish these further, you could drill a quarter inch deep hole through the bottom of the ornament and epoxy in a piece of wire to add wire-wrapped elements. Oh, and you could sand the edges of each ornament with fine grit sandpaper underwater. I didn't do either, as I ended up being a little short on time (sorry!), but, yes, they would look more finished if I had done this.

But wait, there's more! Please visit the fab blogs of the other participants of Ornament Thursday for more holiday goodness:

Christmas cookie - Jennifer Heynen
Christmas tree finger labyrinth - Hali Chambers
Ring in the New Year - Kriss Cramer
Quilty pieced snowman - Linda Augsburg
Simply striking sparkling spheres - Margot Potter
Beaded memory wire - Elaine Luther
Wire & beaded tree - Lynn Kvigne
Beaded sun catcher - Debba Haupert
Jolly and yummy ceramic candy - Melanie Brooks Lukacs
Beaded candy canes - Candie Cooper
Polymer clay gift tag/ornament - Heather Powers
Twisted blues - Lampwork Diva aka Cindy Gimbrone
Holiday spiral tree & party pixie - Art Bead Scene
Wire bird's nest - Rebecca Peck
Plush gingerbread doggie - Jenny Harada
Swell ornament - Alexa Westerfield
Holiday paper crafting - Brandy Lung Gill
Shaving cream & chipboard ornament - Michelle McGee
Easy needle-felted orb - Katie Hacker
Lisa Liddy's Lovely Ornament Lisa Liddy
Girlfriendology Ornament Girlfriendology Too

Well, that's it for Ornament Thursday this year! Once again, thanks to Katie and Candie for coming up with such a great idea. I've had a lot of fun participating and getting the opportunity to interact with such wonderful artists.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

How many days left?!?

Well, my complacency about being ready for Christmas was extremely short-lived. I spent last night making a Christmas gift for a friend. I thought it would take an hour max. When I looked up at the clock when I finished, it was 1am! Ack. Well, that was the last gift to be mailed out, thank goodness, so I do feel as if I accomplished something. The gift turned out well enough that, when I wore it to "test drive", I had a two second impulse to keep it (it's terrible, but I'm that kind of person, I admit it). Bad Melissa. I smacked myself on the wrist and packed it up straightaway. I did take photos of the gift, but of course, I can't show it to you until the recipient receives and opens it.

The way things are shaping up this week, I probably won't have any new work at all, except the ornament for the last Ornament Thursday, which I'm hoping to make tonight. Family will start arriving shortly thereafter, and craft time will go out the window through the holiday. I imagine it's much the same for everyone else, though?

Anyway, regarding this pendant, when I did the preliminary sketches for the koi pendant way back in June, I intended to include lotus blooms and lily pads. I finally took a shot at adding these elements a couple weeks ago. I'd like to fiddle around with the colors a little more, but I do like the effect overall. We live near a large botanic garden and the lotus in the water garden, when they are in bloom, are just fantastic. I think I have a photo somewhere that my mother-in-law took. I'll try to dig it up and post it. (No koi there, though.)

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Heavenly Understanding

Well, I actually managed to get all of my holiday packages save one shipped out over the weekend. I bought the last Christmas gift on Saturday. I also created our cards (we finally managed to get a cute shot of the SO), although I have yet to print them out. The tree is now up, with all of our unbreakable ornaments (thanks, Mom!), and the SO, while intrigued, has been treating them reasonably gently. (He has re-decorated the lower branches several times already. He reminds me of that old Boynton cartoon of a bunch of satisfied rabbits regarding their newly-decorated Christmas tree. They are all so short that the tree only has ornaments on the lowest branches.) It's finally beginning to look a little like Christmas around here. Just in the nick of time, too, as my in-laws arrive on Thursday.

Here's a new pendant. I attended a show last week and, in addition to the usual bead vendors, I found a rock store selling lots of lovely stuff, including slices of amethyst crystal. I'd been wanting to set a stone cabochon in fine silver with resin for some time but I hadn't had any luck finding a cabochon I liked. I thought the amethyst crystals would make a nice, unusual pendant. The photo does not do justice to how sparkly the crystal slice really is.

I've been reading up on amethyst tonight. One source indicated that the stone symbolizes "heavenly understanding". Another gave the Greek meaning of the stone as "without drunkenness" - apparently, the Greeks thought the stone would ward off intoxication and often carved wine cups from the stone. In mythology, Amethystos was a maiden pursued by Dionysus, the god of wine. She prayed to the goddess Artemis to save her, and Artemis turned her into a white stone (I'm not sure this would constitute "saving" in my books, but...). In remorse, Dionysus poured wine over the stone, which turned it purple.

I hope everyone has a great Monday. See you tomorrow.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ho Ho Ho

Just a quick note from me regarding the Showcase sale. Ironically, the Short One picked 25%, the same discount as the first time I tried this (honestly, that was the number he picked). In light of this, I have gone in and reduced a few select items, including this koi pendant, by 40%. This is a 24 hour sale - prices are valid through 11:59pm EST Friday. (By the way, if anyone is interested, items will ship by Priority Mail no later than Monday, December 17th.)

Thanks so much for all of the nice comments regarding the ornament. Ornament Thursday is a brilliant idea and I'd like to thank Katie and Candie and everyone else who set it up for all of us to enjoy.

Have a great night.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ornament Thursday II

Another Ornament Thursday (once again, it is Thursday Chez Short One, if not Chez Blogger), another week closer to Christmas. Everyone have their Christmas shopping done? No? Are we panicking yet? (Don't answer that.) Well, you'll note that I've violated the four criteria I laid down last week. However, several people pointed out that the non-safe-for-Short-One ornaments could simply be put higher up on the tree (although I still have disaster scenarios where he pulls the whole tree down running in my head). Plus, I found it too hard to resist the call of metal clay and beads this week.

This piece is a collaborative effort between myself and the SO. As you may have noted from older photos featuring his artwork, the SO has an art table with a roll of craft paper attached. We have quite a bit of his original work stored up already, and I'm always on the lookout for different ways to display/use it, other than "refrigerator" art. For one thing, a number of privileged relatives will receive packages wrapped in unique, one-of-a-kind, handmade wrapping paper this year. (Hopefully the crayon won't come off on their hands.) So, I decided that an ornament with a small piece of artwork in it would be perfect for this year and following years. This is simply a ring made with PMC. I cut the artwork to fit inside and then filled the area with resin to fix it in place. Also, since it is a ring, it is double-sided. I have a cute photo of the artist as a young man on the flip side of this one. Oh, and the little Christmas-y dangle is made from faceted red jasper and a faceted rondelle of peridot.

Instructions to make this ornament follow.

Photo Ornament

©2007 Melissa J. Lee


PMC3 packet (10g is more than enough)
texture tiles
pin tool (or toothpick)
playing cards
work surface
olive oil
liver of sulphur
Wenol silver polish

2 photos or artwork etc.
Mod Podge (or other sealer)
resin (I use UV resin from Art Clay World)
resin cleaner (for UV resin)
UV light (for UV resin)
clear packing tape
nitrile gloves
empty syringe

2 jump rings
1 2" head pin
1 faceted red jasper bead
1 faceted peridot rondelle
scrap of red ribbon

Apply olive oil to work surface, roller and hands to prevent sticking. Roll out PMC3 5 cards thick. (I should add at this juncture that, if you don't own a kiln, you could easily substitute polymer clay and coat the piece with Pearl-Ex powder to give it a metallic look.) Texture on both sides with texture tile of your choice. Using two sizes of biscuit cutters (or a circle template, whichever), cut a ring to whatever size you desire (mine has an outside diameter of 2" before firing). Designate a top and bottom and poke holes in both sides. Either finish the piece while leather hard with a little water and a brush or sand piece once bone dry to finish (if the latter, I highly recommend wearing a mask rated for metal work). Fire in kiln at 1290F for 10 minutes. Remove oxidation with brush. Prepare liver of sulphur solution (I used hot water, since I wanted a dark patina here, but cold is easier to control) and dip brushed piece in the solution. Rinse in water once you attain the patina you desire. Polish with Wenol silver polish to bring out pattern.

Select and print images you would like to place in the pendant. Put PMC ring on top of image and, with pen, trace the inside circle. Do this for both images. Cut images out carefully. Using glue, paste images back-to-back. Finally, images must be sealed before sinking in resin. I apply 2 coats of Mod Podge to each side and dry thoroughly. Don't worry if the Mod Podge leaves a little streakiness - this will not be visible, once the image is coated in resin.

Clean PMC ring thoroughly with alcohol pad and refrain from touching the piece with your bare hands after that (wear your nitrile gloves). Dry thoroughly. Cut length of clear packing tape and place the PMC ring firmly on the packing tape. You must ensure that there are no bubbles or gaps between the ring and the tape - otherwise, the resin will dribble out and you'll end up with a sticky mess. Also, I like to fold down the ends of the tape, so I have non-sticky "handles", if I need to manipulate the piece at all (which I usually do). Prepare resin (whichever type you choose). Apply a thin layer of resin within the ring, enough to barely coat the tape inside the ring. I find that I have more control over resin application if I use a syringe, so I've put that on the list. You don't technically need it, of course. For UV resin, cure this layer by placing under UV light for 3 minutes before proceeding to the next step. Place your double-sided image in the ring. Apply a second layer of resin to cover the image facing upwards. Allow the resin to cure (or cure UV resin by placing under UV light). Once resin is fully cured, you may remove the tape. For UV resin, apply resin cleaner to both sides to finish.

To finish, wire wrap red jasper and peridot beads and attach to pendant with jump ring. Attach second jump ring at the top and thread ribbon through to hang pendant.

If anyone has any questions regarding these instructions, please feel free to leave me a comment. Oh, and one thing I forgot to do was stamp the date on the PMC before firing. I would hope to make one of these each year, so next year I'll definitely add the date.

Thanks for stopping by to look at my ornament this week! But wait, there's more! Please visit these lovely blogs for more ornament goodness:

Sara Naumann
Lynn Kvigne
Candie Cooper
Katie Hacker
Margot Potter
Linda Augsburg
Melanie Brooks Lukacs
Art Bead Scene
Cindy Gimbrone
Polymer Clay Craft Gossip
Debba Haupert
Elaine Luther
Rebecca Peck
Jean Yates
Michelle McGee
Jenny Harada

Jennifer Heynen

Hali Chambers
Kriss Kramer
Brandy Lung Gill

Lisa Liddy


ps. Just to clarify from yesterday - the one day holiday sale in my Etsy store will start at midnight Eastern Standard Time on Friday. I'll have the SO pick the discount rate out of a hat before he goes to bed, but there won't be any special announcement about that on the blog before midnight. I'm going to manually change the prices, so if there's something you like, please wait until the item is marked "Sale" before purchasing. Thanks!

Final Holiday Sale this Friday!

I have one last Showcase spot on Etsy coming up on Friday, so I'm going to hold a final holiday sale day in connection with it. Once again, it's going to be Short One's choice. The SO will pick a number between 10 and 40 (in increments of five, eg, 5, 10, 15...) and that number will be the discount in the store from midnight Friday through 11:59 that night. After this, I may start pulling stuff out of the store for Christmas gifts myself (who me, desperate?).

Yesterday, a friend notified me of a call for entries for beads. The only problem was, everything had to be at the offices of the publication by this Friday. I spent yesterday rushing around like a madwoman making new beads and figuring out what I wanted to send. Ultimately, I didn't have as much to choose from as I would have liked (I ended up pulling a couple pieces from the store as a last resort). By 9 pm I was feeling a little depressed about my chances of being selected, but I thought if I didn't at least try, I'd never know. I got ready to print out an Express Mail label on-line around 12:30am, and THE PRINTER STOPPED WORKING. Arrrrrgh. Much tearing of hair, here. After almost two hours of struggling with the drivers, cables, etc., etc., (not to mention use of colorful language) I finally managed to print out the label. It all made me feel like a helpless female, and I hate that feeling. Back in the days of MS-DOS, I used to pride myself on knowing my computer backwards and forwards, but the newer fool-proof graphic user interfaces are so opaque, I never know how to handle them. Anyway, ultimately everything did get packed up and shipped out, so I should make the deadline by the skin of my teeth. Wish me luck!

Today, I have to make the ornament for Ornament Thursday. I've thrown caution to the winds and am going to us PMC for this one. Please come back tomorrow to see it!

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dragon's Eye

The Short One is having trouble sleeping tonight, so, alas, I'm up. It's quite a reasonable hour of the morning right Europe. Not so much in the Midwestern U.S., though. Anyway, I finished making what I intended to show you for Tuesday, so I figure that I might as well go ahead and post for the day.

A while back, I started thinking about a new concept piece based on the old hoary cartographer's phrase "Here Be Dragons". I spent some time thinking about the best way to portray a "dragon" in a fantasy necklace and nothing seemed quite right. Then, one day I was flipping through Sarah Moran's Bead Gallery and realized that if you turned her Twinkle Frond beads on their sides, they looked vaguely like eyes. After flipping through her gallery a little more and consulting with Sarah herself, I placed an order for a small set of beads which arrived last month.

Well, after so much futzing around, I finally sat down and started making the actual necklace this past weekend. Here's the first component - the eye. Lately, I've been enjoying the convenience of using commercial texture tiles with my PMC pieces. However, this time I wanted something rough and irregular looking to represent dragon scales, so I hand-carved a texture tile with a linoleum cutter. I then made a base in fine silver for the eye with this pattern. I added a dangling teardrop shaped piece of peridot. What do you think? Does it look like an eye to you? (It sort of reminds me of The Lord of the Rings, except for the color.)

After doing a couple cute and sweet pieces, I'm looking forward to making something a bit more fantastic and dramatic looking.

Okay, the SO has been quiet for almost 20 minutes. I think I'm going to go pass out myself now. I hope you have a great day.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Guess What Arrived in the Mail Today?

Way back in the spring, Rachel Place and I, having recently met on-line through Art Bead Scene, agreed that we would have a holiday gift exchange. Rachel was already a very talented lampwork artist, but I had only a few months of lampworking experience, and I'm not even sure I'd even started working with PMC at that point. So, I looked on the future exchange as a goal - to have something worthy to send by the end of the year. As usual, the year is winding up unexpectedly fast, and we've both ended up embarking on new ventures over the past few months, so the prospect of the exchange was actually pretty exciting.

I received these lovely little packages in the mail today. (Even the box was super-cute, with big polka dots and cupcake stickers.) If you look closely, you'll see that the wrapping paper is totally kawaii, which, as you know, I love. Fortunately, the packages opened like little envelopes, and I was able to preserve the paper - I'm hoping I can do something with it in the future. (By the way, background art in this photo is once again courtesy of the Short One.)

Are these not to die for?!? Cakes and skulls, my favorites!!! In the center, my favorite cupcake design, called "Grinchy", with a red-and-white candy-striped base and green icing. To the right of that an amazing little cake bead with beautifully detailed "icing". As if that weren't enough, she completely surprised me with two of her gorgeous lampworked beads (look closely at the stacked dots on the one bead) a sugar skull bead (which is a "Can This Bead Be Saved" project - it is cracked, but I'm almost positive I can use it with a little epoxy and a lot of resin), and one of her cute pocket mirrors with a photo of my favorite Sugar Topper Skull on chocolate cupcake. For more information on Sugar Toppers and Rachel's cake beads, please visit her blog and her Etsy store.

Needless to say, I feel that I made out like a bandit in this exchange, and I loooovvvee my new beads. I'm sure you'll be seeing them in new projects on this blog very soon. (I do feel completely inadequate in that I only sent her one measly pendant in exchange, in an unwrapped box in a plain padded envelope. Rachel, mea culpa - I am unworthy. I'll do better in the future, I promise.)

On other fronts, the slew of Christmas cards that we received in the mail suggested to us that we'd better photograph the Short One for our own cards sooner rather than later. (I make our Christmas cards with the computer, so it's not as if we have to send the photo out anywhere for processing.) I have a cute jester's hat I knit for the SO last spring that still fits, and we thought it was sufficiently elf-like to serve the purpose for our cards this year. Although it seemed like a good idea at the time, the Husband and I spent the better part of half an hour this evening chasing the SO around the living room with a camera, trying to keep him in frame long enough for a photo. We've ended up with about 40 very blurry images of the SO in various stages of yanking said hat off of his head and maybe 20 images of a random hand or foot that we barely managed to get in frame. I have a feeling that I'm going to be digging our boxed cards out of the basement instead, this year...

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Holiday Bead Treasury

Just a quick post from me, today. I just put together my first Treasury on Etsy with a holiday bead theme. If you'd like to see the work of just a few of the bead artists I love, please go here.

(The photo above is of one of Rachel Place's yummy cake beads. You can find out more information about it in the Treasury.)

That is all.

Friday, December 7, 2007


This is the final version of the focal from the "Princess Charming" necklace. The lovely floral pastille-shaped lampworked bead is by Lezlie Belanger. As usual, I set it in my own PMC base.

It's been nothing but snow, gloomy weather, rain and ice here this week. Having said that, I do prefer winter out in the 'burbs generally. When I lived in New York City, I hated winter. Everyone thought I was terribly strange, but snow in the city mixes immediately with the muck on the streets and turns nasty. There's nothing really romantic about it, to my mind. As a teenager, I went to school in a quiet town in New Hampshire. We tended to have heavy snowfalls in the winter there. The snow made getting around difficult, but it was really beautiful.

I was thinking that I had just vowed earlier this week that I wouldn't be knitting this Christmas and then turned around and knit the SO's christmas ornaments for yesterday's Ornament Thursday. Oh, well. A little inconsistency is part of a charming personality, right? (For some reason, the Husband snorted when I said this last night.)

Have a great weekend, everyone. I'll see you on Monday.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Ornament Thursday

Welcome to Ornament Thursday! (Once again, I'm confounded by the fact that I live in a different time zone from the good folks at Blogger. It is definitely Thursday where I live, although the date stamp on the entry is reading Wednesday. You'll just have to trust me on this.) Last week, Katie Hacker and Candie Cooper decided to have a virtual get together for holiday crafting each Thursday until Christmas. Brilliant, no? They've invited folks to participate, and I asked to join this week. I actually have two sets of ornaments today - one made by me and one made by my mother, who is currently visiting.

Since the Short One has officially reached Active Toddler status, we have four very simple criteria for the holidays. All ornaments must be:

1. unbreakable;
2. non-toxic;
3. not small enough to easily stuff up one's nose (don't ask); and
4. simple enough to make after a full day of chasing a pint-sized personal trainer around without keeling over.

My mother made the cute ones, above - the little red felt apples. As the project conforms to the above criteria (particular No. 4), we don't feel that specific instructions are really necessary. We will say that, after drawing an apple template and cutting two copies from red felt, Mom used blanket stitch to sew the ornaments up and stuffed them with polyester fiberfill. She stitched the green leaf in place with a bit of brown thread to simulate veining.

I made the odd looking knit things - they are supposed to be lollipops. I wanted to make something out of I-cord. For any non-knitters out there, the "I" in I-cord stands for "Idiot" (seriously - this is true), and I therefore felt it would be just my speed for making ornaments. The instructions (such as they are) follow.

Knit Lollipops

©2007 Melissa J. Lee

Rowan Handknit Cotton (or any dk weight yarn) in two complementary colors - oddments
Rowan Handknit Cotton (or any dk weight yarn) in white - oddments
Any scrap yarn, ribbon or thread (for the loop of the ornament).
2 US6 double-pointed needles (I thankfully threw swatching out the window for this one - of course, if using US6 results in too tight or too loose-looking stitches to you, you know what to do)
Needle to sew up cord

The I-Cord: Cast on 3 stitches in the primary color you have chosen for the lollipop. Knit one row. Instead of turning the work as you would normally do, simply slide the work to the other end of your double-pointed needle and knit the next row from that side, pulling the yarn from the left side where it is dangling over to the right to knit the next stitch. What you are essentially doing is creating a very narrow tube - this is I-Cord. Continue knitting the tube in this way without turning your work. Bind off (when you are ready to bind off) in the way you usually would for a regular flat piece of knitting.

Knit approximately 7.5" of I-Cord in the primary color of the lollipop and approximately 4.5" of I-Cord in the secondary color of the lollipop. Coil the two colors of I-Cord around each other and stitch in place (similar to the way you would stitch a braided rug together). Knit 3-4" of I-Cord in white. Stitch to the base of the lollipop (where the coil ends). Thread scarp yarn/ribbon/thread through one of the top stitches of the lollipop for the loop. Simple, no?

But wait, there's more! For great holiday crafting ideas (all of which are undoubtedly much hipper than ours - we kind of threw hip-ness out the window this week), please visit the blogs of the other participants of this week's Ornament Thursday:


Rebecca Peck
Michelle McGee
Melanie Brooks Lukacs

Margot Potter
Lynn Kvigne
Linda Augsburg
Kriss Kramer
Katie Hacker
Jenny Harada
Jennifer Heynen
Hali Chambers
Candie Cooper
Art Bead Scene
Alexa Westerfield

If you would like to join in Ornament Thursday, feel free to leave me a comment, and I will forward your information to Katie, or contact Katie directly by email through her website.

On a final, unrelated note, I just learned that Mary Harding included me in her Treasury list on Etsy. Thank you, Mary! I feel so flattered to be in such beautiful company. Also, be sure to check out Mary's work, too, at her website and on Etsy. I used one of her beautiful leaf beads in a necklace earlier this year. To view Mary's Treasury, please go here.

Thanks for visiting!

Now for Something Completely Different...

I was organizing my Flickr account earlier tonight and came across some photos of a few pieces of pottery I made several years ago, so I thought I'd share one of them tonight. I don't know if I've mentioned this before or not, but the Husband and I used to take pottery classes at a local studio. The first time I tried using the wheel I was in college, and I never managed to learn how to center to the clay properly. I ended giving up in frustration but was later persuaded by an optimistic colleague at work to sign up for a class with her and another friend of ours. The two didn't really take to it, but to my surprise, I found that I enjoyed it. I never got good at it, mind, but I did enjoy it.

Anyway, after you throw a pot on the wheel, you usually trim and shape the bottom a little before bisque firing it. (A basic pot will go through two firings - a bisque fire to harden the actual clay and then a glaze firing once you apply the glaze to the pot.) That was my salvation, as my pots were always a little bottom-heavy. I'm afraid I over-trimmed this piece. It came through the bisque fire okay, but after I glazed it, the lip completely distorted during the glaze-firing. Nevertheless, I sort of like how the glaze came out on this piece, so I keep it around and use it for a knitting notions bowl now. (It's kind of embarrassing - I can just feel the professional ceramic artists wincing as they read/view this. Sorry guys. At least I have a complete appreciation for how beautiful and technically wonderful your work is!)

The pottery studio where I, and later the Then-Boyfriend-Now-Husband, took classes will always have a special place in my heart. It so happened that the day of our fourth dating anniversary was a Saturday, the day we took classes. H. ended up proposing to me that morning, five minutes before class. I remember that I actually refused to take the ring off after that, and ended up getting it covered in porcelain slip and other muck pretty much immediately. It was a great morning.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


I made this ring back in June, less than a month after I started working with PMC and about 5 months after I started, on-and-off due to limited time, to make glass beads. This was also the first lampworked sundae bead that I tried to make. I had some structural problems with the first version of the ring. I made a second version, but never really finished it and ended up moving on to other projects. Looking back on it now, I think I can probably resolve those problems. I have a real yen to try it again, but it's really too cold in the garage (I think, at least) to use the torch right now. I really need to get a space heater...

The Short One has discovered his primary nemesis for the winter - his snowsuit with button on mittens. Just thinking of trying to stuff him in the suit and button on those mittens to go grocery shopping or whatever is exhausting enough to make me want to stay in the house all day. Right now, the SO voices his displeasure quite vocally and with a great deal of pathos. Weeping and wringing of hands doesn't begin to cover it. I can't really blame him, though. I don't know about you, but one of my few early memories of winter involves being so bundled up in my snowsuit, scarf, hat and mittens that I was barely able to move. The SO's suit is so heavily padded that he looks like the Michelin Man.

Well, I suppose I should start girding my loins now, since we're going out this afternoon. I hope everyone has a great day.

ps. This seems an appropriate point to mention - the weather really hasn't put a dent in my ability to eat ice cream, though. I've just discovered Ben & Jerry's Banana Split flavored ice cream. Yum.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Java Blue

Here's another piece I made for the Art Bead Scene monthly challenge. The lovely lampworked beads are called "Java Blue" and they were made by Lezlie Belanger of Canterbury Keepsakes. The combination of chocolate brown and blue is one of my favorites and, as usual, Lezlie's stringer work is so beautiful.

The Husband and the Short One both came down with a stomach bug on Friday and, as a result, we spent most of the weekend at home feeling under the weather. Just as well, as the snow/freezing rain that hit us wasn't really conducive to going out and doing much. However, despite feeling not quite himself, the Short One still managed to make the amazing discovery that Mama is ticklish. I spent a good part of Sunday trying to get chores done while Someone kept sneaking up on me, running tiny hands across my middle and giggling uncontrollably as I jumped five feet straight up and yelped (I really am quite ticklish). Considering that he spent other parts of the day trying to stick his fingers up my nose (what is going through his mind at times like this - I would give good money...), it was still a lively weekend from my perspective.

My mother, who is visiting, decided to make Christmas ornaments out of felt for the SO, since we're not putting anything on the tree this year that is remotely breakable. After three nights of cutting, sewing and stuffing little trees, snowmen, apples, etc., etc., she's discovered what you and I already know - Handmade is Hard Work.

Speaking of which, how is everyone coming with their handmade Christmas gifts? This is the first year in a long time that I'm not knitting like a fiend for the holiday (probably a relief to all of my relatives - I'm never really certain that they want hand-knit gifts for the holidays. I just take advantage of the fact that they're my relatives and can't really complain when I give them hand-knit gifts.).

Just out of curiosity, does anyone knit gifts for their spouse/significant other? The Husband was in line for a sweater of his own, but then the Short One arrived, and he got bumped down the list, again. With apologies to H, it's a sad fact that I'd far rather knit a sweater for someone less than two feet tall who wears sunny pastels than for someone who wears a size large (Mens) and only seems to wear dark brown clothing. (Okay, this is a slight exaggeration - he likes charcoal grey, too.) Also, I've never completely recovered from knitting him a scarf when we were dating. He kept telling me he wanted it longer so he could wind it completely around his neck at least once. I think he tried on the Work in Progress and told me it was too short at least three times. After knitting the same pattern for an eon and a half, I finally finished blasted thing. When I asked him how he liked it, he replied, "Well, it's a little too long..."

I actually bought some really nice cashmere yarn on sale in July (July is a good time to buy nice yarn around these parts - just saying the word "wool" seems to make everyone break out in a sweat). I think I will try to knit H. another (shorter) scarf with it this month, but that will probably be my only holiday knitting. I can't tell if I've been liberated or if I'm just being a wuss this year. Probably the latter.

Have a great week, everyone. Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Simple and Sweet

As usual, with the end of the month, I've been racing around trying to string all of the projects I meant to submit for the Art Bead Scene Challenge. Here's a simple one - coffee and dessert. The cute lampworked dessert and coffee cup beads are by Debi Cogwell, the Palm Tree Queen. For some reason they remind me of two of my favorite dessert cafes in New York City - Cafe Edgar and Cafe Lalo, both on the Upper West Side, where I used to live. It's been years since I visited either one. I don't even know if Cafe Edgar is still around or not. The "Edgar" stood for Edgar Allen Poe and there were reminders of EAP and his work in the store decorations. I remember that Cafe Lalo is one of the places that they filmed in "You've Got Mail" (it's the cafe where she's waiting for her on-line friend with a red rose). It's right across the street from the Children's Museum where we took the Short One, but it's such a busy place that we didn't want to try going in there with a young child. Anyway, both places make/made the most fabulous desserts. Yum.

Just a reminder - everything is 25% off in my Etsy store. The sale runs until midnight tonight.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

And Now for a Little Knitting...

In the spirit of the season, I had the Short One pick the discount amount for my one day holiday Etsy sale from this hat. Cute, eh? The pattern is from Handknit Holidays by Melanie Falick. While the young lady wearing sexy lingerie and modeling the hat in the book is pretty cute, I think the Short One is much, much cuter in this hat. Not that I'm biased or anything. (For anyone interested, the X-Small size will fit a young child pretty easily.)

Anyway, the SO picked 25, so all items in my store are now 25% off through 11:59pm EST for Friday, November 30th.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Anyone Can Cook

Janel has still not contacted me about her winning necklace. Janel, if you're out there, please do send me an email at with your address. I'll be more than happy to send you the necklace! If I don't hear from you, I've decided that the necklace will become a second prize for the next giveaway. I'm not sure when this will be held yet. The Short One's birthday is coming up in a few months, so maybe then, if not sooner.

I finally decided on one item to buy for the Husband for Christmas - a copy of the Pixar film "Ratatouille". We're big Pixar fans in this house. Even before the Short One arrived, we happily toddled off to see the latest Pixar film on our own. The fact that the most recent one was about French cuisine (sort of) makes it even better (you may recall that the Husband loves to cook). Unfortunately, the H already knows he's getting this for Christmas, so I still have to come up with something that will actually be a surprise, but at least it's a start. How are all of you coming along with your Christmas shopping (if you celebrate Christmas)?

I had a good night with the metal clay last night. I made the components for two full necklaces - they're in the kiln now, as I write this. With the temperature dropping at night, it's getting harder and harder to work outside. My kiln is in the garage which is detached and unheated. Because I don't want metal clay dust floating around the house, I do any pre-fire finishing of the pieces at my, er, that is, the Husband's workbench in the garage. I think I need to bite the bullet and invest in a space heater. It just seems so ironic, given how much heat the kiln itself generates when it's running. Oh, well.

Oh, also, I have a spot on the Etsy Showcase tomorrow. Since the shop is so new, I've been debating what to do about holiday specials and such. I've decided to run a couple limited specials before Christmas. In particular, I am discounting the fortune cookie beads by 30% as a Showcase special. The discount will only be valid during the Showcase from midnight (EST) through 11:59pm tomorrow, November 28th.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 26, 2007

BeadStyle Magazine

So, I've been haunting the BeadStyle Magazine website lately waiting for the official release date of the January 2008 issue. Apparently, it's finally out, but I went around to the local bookstore and bead store, and they don't have the issue yet. If anyone is a subscriber and already has it, I'd love to hear from you. The first necklace I made out of PMC, including the very first bead I ever made out of PMC (a little "moon" bead - basically a ring filled with thorn-like beads in the center) is profiled in the Gallery section of the magazine. I made this necklace for Art Bead Scene's challenge back in May - "Ophelia's Garden". It was actually the winner (by random drawing) for that month. I was so proud of it when I finished that I submitted a photo to BeadStyle. I was so surprised when they actually accepted it for publication.

BeadStyle keeps a piece that they will publish for several months (I actually have one necklace that they will be keeping in their offices for close to a year - it won't be published until next summer). This particular piece was returned to me in late October. By that time, I had been working with PMC for almost 6 months. As I waited for the piece to be returned, I was wondering if I would find it hopelessly crude looking or, even worse, discover that my skills really hadn't improved in the interim. When it finally arrived back, I discovered that I still liked the piece, although there were things that I would definitely do differently now. I think my finishing skills have definitely improved. (In fact, I am wondering whether the magazine's professional photography will treat the piece gently or not - I'm dying to see it.) Anyway, regardless, this necklace is what started my whole love affair with PMC, so it's very special to me. If you find yourself in a bookstore over the next two months, I hope you will take a look!

As usual, thanks for visiting!

ps. I just received my advance copy of the magazine in the mail (I didn't realize I would be receiving this). According to the cover letter, the issue will go on sale on December 4th. Thanks!

Sunday, November 25, 2007


I have a confession - I'm a bit of a closet otaku, and I like kawaii stuff. If all of this is Greek to you (well, actually, it's Japanese, but you take my meaning), don't worry about it. Kawaii embodies that peculiarly Japanese cultural phenomenon of cuteness, the most famous example of which is probably the Hello Kitty brand. I'm not a big Hello Kitty fan (although I do like Hello Kitty's associates, the wide-eyed Chococat and surly penguin Badtz-Maru), but I like the more generic kawaii stuff that you see all over the place on Japanese products, like cute desserts and animals. This bear is pretty typical of the phenomenon.

I recently ordered a bunch of things from Japan, with the idea that the kawaii images would make cute charm bracelets. I made this one as sort of a prototype. It's actually probably the most serious-looking of the bunch, but he kind of appealed to me. I'm planning on making myself an entire bracelet of kawaii grocery store images. Yep, that's right - kawaii groceries. It's wacky, but I love this stuff!

Oh, and I just listed my first sale item in the store. I have no idea if anyone will be interested or not, but I'll just mention it. Air bubbles are definitely my enemy when working with resin, and they often sneak up on me while I'm in the middle of the curing process. I was making one of my better koi pendants when I noticed that an air bubble had appeared under the lower fin of the koi (the koi's "armpit", as the Husband calls it). Unfortunately, it was too late to remove it, as the resin had already set around the bubble. However, the koi still looks great (in my humble opinion, of course - I guess it depends on whether you like my koi or not to begin with) and the air bubble is really hardly noticeable, so I've put it up in the shop at a 20% discount. It's features in my Mini-Etsy window on my blog which is to the right of this entry, if anyone is interested in a closer look.

I'm still trying to make headway on some more serious non-Etsy finished pieces. I've also resolved to prepare a few pieces for competition next year, and I've started the preliminary design process for that. I wish there were a few more hours in the day for all of this. I still hope to have a new piece ready to show you this coming week - but I said that last week, too, didn't I?

On other fronts, HP14 and HP4 (aka, the Monkees) have been settling in nicely, and they've been getting along famously with the Short One. I've had to keep a sharp eye on the group - who knows what mischief they could be getting into (the SO can be quite creative that way all by himself).

Thanks for visiting - have a great week, everyone.

ps. I keep forgetting to add this. I still have not heard from Janel, the winner of my 100th Post Giveaway. Janel, please contact me at to arrange for shipment of your necklace!

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Road of Life

This may sound a little weird, but I've always thought traffic lights make attractive decorative items. The lights have that nice jewel tone to them and the pattern is clean and modern looking. Well, I think so, at least. I like the way this pendant came out, but next time I'd apply a dark patina and try mixing opaque colored resin. I have a feeling the result would be more dramatic.

I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving. We certainly did, here. The Short One had his first taste of pumpkin pie. At the first suspicious bite, the small eyebrows shot up and excited noises were heard. Two thumbs up, clearly. I ended up having to grab a second spoon and inhale half of the pie myself, as I didn't want him to finish the whole adult-sized piece (only motherly, altruistic motives here, really. No, really).

Of course, some of us here in the house were more thankful than others:

No lager or bananas yet, but in the spirit of reduced expectations, the chair (which belongs to the SO) is very comfy. Ignore the huge pile of magazines in the corner, okay?

Have a great weekend, everyone. See you on Monday.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Sanibel Island

Here are the new Treasure Box pendants. These actually have a bit of a story behind them. I grew up in landlocked areas. As a result, whenever I do find myself near the ocean, I tend to act like a kid - I love playing in the sand and beachcombing. (During a professional conference in Naples, Florida several years ago, I got caught out by a former opposing counsel walking barefoot on the beach with a fistful of little shells. Fortunately, our case together had already ended. As it was, I just got a funny look from her.)

The Husband and I had planned an off-season trip to Sanibel Island in Florida, that mecca of shell-collecting. As it turned out, we found out that we were pregnant with the Short One just a couple weeks before our vacation. As a result, it ended up being a rather romantic trip (er, apart from the constant nausea and hurling on my part which was sadly not at all romantic). Better yet, because it was off-season, the island was relatively quiet - there were no lines for restaurants, the beaches weren't too crowded and the resort upgraded us to a suite that was bigger than the condo we were living in at the time and that had a beautiful view of the ocean. Plus, we had wonderful weather. And, of course, I collected really beautiful shells.

The shells in these pendants are from Sanibel. Personally, I think they have an aura of good luck to them. It was probably one of the best vacations we've ever had, and it was filled with that wonderful feeling of expectation knowing that the Short One was coming (oh, for those innocent days before we knew what we were in for). And, after all, I did get over the nausea and vomiting. Eventually.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hugs and Kisses

This piece was a bit of an afterthought. I wasn't satisfied with the way the focal for my work in progress, "Princess Charming", came out, so I decided to re-make it today with little tile letters at the top. I liked the way the tile looked enough that I decided at the last minute to do a small letter charm as well. Although the pendant is simple, I must say that I like this piece a lot. I like the jumbled look of the overlapping letters and the three-dimensional feel that they give the pendant. I think I'm going to try this again, once I figure out what I want to say. In the meantime, this pendant is now for sale in the shop.

I had another sticker incident yesterday. When the Short One went down for his nap, I left him with his Grandma and took the opportunity to go post some letters. Upon returning, I discovered that I'd blithely walked around with two cartoon stickers placed, in nice symmetry, on either side of my cheeks, like colorful sideburns. Sigh.

Well, everyone has arrived at our house for Thanksgiving, and we're ready for a low-key holiday. It's my family's turn for Thanksgiving, and we usually have Korean food during the holiday, not turkey. This year, Mom decided that she wanted turkey but none of us (read, Mom, the Husband - whom you may recall loves to cook - and me) really wanted to try and wrestle with a bird. One of our local restaurants does a smashing Thanksgiving dinner - much better than any of us could manage - so we'll be eating out this year. Since the SO considers eating out to be a treat, anyway, I'm sure this will turn out to be a popular decision. (Having said that, I have it on authority from Jenn Kelly of CaliGirl Art Glass that you really need to put your turkey in a brine for superior moistness. I'll have to give that a try next time.)

Given our low-key holiday, I probably will post tomorrow, too, but in the meantime, I hope all of you and your loved ones are preparing for a Happy Thanksgiving (if you celebrate Thanksgiving - I always found it interesting that the university where I studied in England always served turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce for the American holiday).

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Let it Snow Revisited

I've been trying to create a new seasonal pendant and made this prototype today. What do you think? I've been staring at it for so long that I can no longer decide if it looks cute or not. I will say that the background color turned out much much darker after the application of the resin than I anticipated. Next time I will try a lighter blue. Does it look like a stylized snowflake to you?

I put a couple more koi into the shop, including a double, yin yang version that sent me into conniptions this evening. I doubt I will be doing many of these. The sheer amount of fine silver involved in making a bezel this size makes me nervous. I think to myself "Don't make a mistake, don't make a mistake" (okay, what I'm actually thinking is a little more pithy than this, but you get the picture) and, of course, the minute I start thinking this, I inevitably and perversely choke. Yep. In some ways I do very well under pressure, but in others, not so much. In this case, the pendant came out fine, but I did in fact choke on two smaller pendants I was working on at the same time. Grrr.

On the other hand, as I was planning on how to execute this piece, my mother (who is visiting for Thanksgiving) kept commenting on what a nice size the pendant was and how she'd be able to wear something like it. Mother, being the arbiter of good taste in the Family, has apparently given this design her seal of approval, which is a good thing. However, she does have a tendency to make off with my best handknit sweaters and jewelry (sorry Mom, but you have to admit that it's true), so I'll probably have to keep one eye on the pendant while she's visiting...

On a completely different note - Vicious Chicken, if you are reading this, I have to profusely apologize. I know I promised you a little return Monkey Love, and I have yet to deliver. It turns out that I needed to order something for the ML, and it's still in the process of being shipped to me. Please do believe, however, that I haven't forgotten! (For anyone who finds this statement a little dodgy, please go here for elucidation.)

Speaking of Monkey Love, there have been odd banging noises emanating from the hall closet lately and muffled demands (with an oddly English sounding accent) for bananas and lager - not necessarily in that order. I feel that the Short One is likely to receive a few guests of his own for Thanksgiving this year. (And if this also makes no sense to you whatsoever, ditto.)

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 19, 2007

WIP - Princess Charming

I was hoping to show you new work today, and I just haven't been able to get far enough along on it. Here's a Work In Progress pic, instead. You can kind of tell where I'm going with this, no? This interpretation may be wrongheaded to some of a feminist bent, but then again, I always did like classic fairy tales. I just wished that the princess had a more active role to play. M.M. Kaye has a nice modern version fairy tale - with a down to earth princess - written, I believe, for her granddaughter, called The Ordinary Princess. I'm also extremely fond of Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted, a spirited re-telling of Cinderalla. (There was a movie version made of this recently with Anne Hathaway in the lead - have no idea whether it was any good or not.) Long before Harry Potter ever came out and long after I became an "adult" (at least on paper - some may still question my level of maturity), I could often be found reading stuff in the juvenile section of the bookstore. This occasionally causes my mother a bout of embarrassment, but as far as I'm concerned, a good book is a good book whatever the target age group. I'm still quite fond of books that I did read when I was a child, like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, too. In fact, I'm quite looking forward to the Short One becoming old enough to read some of these books together. (Right now, we're working on The Very Hungry Caterpillar and some Dr. Seuss, which are good in their own way.)

The shop, for some reason, is still a time sink. I can't figure it out - sales have been modest enough to keep up with easily, I don't have a tremendous amount of inventory listed, but still, I seem to be rushing around. It's a mystery. On the whole, though, I have to say that so far it's been a great experience, and I've become a big fan of Etsy. For anyone thinking of trying this themselves, I do recommend Etsy as a very easy way to go.

Anyway, with any luck, I will have this necklace finished by the end of the week, notwithstanding Thanksgiving. As fond as I am of the koi pendants, I'm really feeling ready to move on to something new.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

And the Winner Is...

Janel! Congratulations, Janel! Please email me your contact details at, and I will mail your necklace out to you. (I know I said in my last post that I wouldn't be back until Monday, but I completely forgot about the drawing. These senior moments are becoming more and more frequent these days. Plus, I need bifocals, but that's another story.)

Thanks again to everyone who participated and thank you all for continuing to read this blog. By the way, the Short One was a complete pro this time and picked a name out of the hat (or, in this case a shoe box - we just bought him snow boots) as if he'd been doing it professionally for years.

I hope all of you have a great weekend.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Apple of My Eye

Here's one of the new designs I'm developing. Isn't the apple too cute? It's by lampwork artist Melanie Egan. She usually just sells specials from time to time, but she opened up the apples for ordering one day, and I managed to grab a few. There's a Granny Smith version, too. Anyway, I thought the checkerboard would make a nice basket pattern. The only thing I'm debating is whether to add tinted resin (a light gold color for the basket), add patina to the silver (ditto - light gold color for the basket) or just leave it the way it is and epoxy the bead onto the bezel. I'm leaning towards the last option at the moment. I kind of think it looks cute right now. As Vickie pointed out to me earlier, sometimes simple is the best. This pendant will go into the store, but I will probably have to make a full necklace down the road. I think this would look super-cute strung with glass leaves, either green or in autumn colors, or strung with a nice strand of peridot.

The Short One has been complaining quite a bit lately about the quality of the cuisine in this establishment. The chef (aka Mama, aka Yours Truly) has never really gotten over the fact that the SO no longer "eats like a pig" (the SO's pediatrician's words about infants in general, not mine). Oh, for the days when he would gobble down anything I put in front of him. Oh, for the days when he would even at least profess consistent likes and dislikes in his food. Now the favorite of one meal is the "what's this stuff?" of the next. Somebody please tell me when they grow out of this phase?!? I hope it's soon. The Husband once told me that when he was a child, he would stuff all of the vegetables he didn't like into the crack of the dining room table (where the leaf met the table). Apparently, his parents never cottoned on to what he was doing until, several years later when they were preparing to move, they discovered a trove of little dessicated peas and veggies upon dismantling the table.

Have a great weekend, everyone. I'll see you on Monday!

ps. Almost forgot. The 100th Post/Etsy Store Opening Giveaway will be closing around noon tomorrow. For your last chance to enter, go here.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Even More Koi

Well, since I have to hang onto the original koi necklace I made, due to the upcoming publication, I decided to make another version to put into the store. Actually, I think I like this version a little better. The faceted rose quartz I used here is pretty chunky - about 12mm in diameter and the large freshwater pearls are about 10mm in diameter. I also feel that I'm getting better at making the koi pendants. My Showcase ad on Etsy started at midnight and will run all day Friday. It looks pretty good - please go here to check it out. I've already had some traffic to my store, but I'm not sure if it's due to the Showcase ad or due to the fact that I posted something new tonight (which always seems to generate some traffic). I'll be interested to see how many people actually visit the store tomorrow, though.

Good grief, I keep forgetting to post this, but remember this necklace?

Yes, it's not too late enter my 100th Post/Etsy Store Opening Giveaway! The drawing will be held midday on Saturday, so don't delay! Enter now for your chance to win!

Ahem. More practically, go here to enter the contest. Thanks! And thanks to everyone who has entered already. (Lisa, your computer story was so sad! I remember that when I was studying in England, I had a fellow American classmate who brought over a brand new Apple Macintosh computer and tried to plug it into the English socket without a proper adapter - completely fried the computer. I think she, like you, did get it replaced, and the incident had a happy ending, though.)

I feel that I'm finally more or less set up in the store for the time being (with the exception of a few more pieces of inventory), so I will hopefully be able to devote a little more attention to the blog and new work from here on out. I have a new necklace that's been in my mind all week - I just haven't had a chance to sit down and make the components for it, yet. If I'm lucky, I'll have something to show you early next week.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Gold Rush

As some of you may or may not know, in addition to fine silver, metal clay also comes in gold versions - both 22k and 24k. Given how expensive fine silver metal clay is (much more expensive than sterling silver), you can imagine how mind-bogglingly expensive fine gold (i.e. 24k) metal clay is. Trust me - it's mega-expensive, and it comes in little, eensy weensy packages (3g is a standard size package). I never expected to have the opportunity to work with it.

So, you see, I had this 30% off coupon for our local art supply store. Generally, it's much cheaper to buy PMC on-line than in a bricks-and-mortar store. However, with the coupon, and because I was going to be in the area for other reasons, it made sense for me to stop by to pick up a packet. Although the store had advertised holiday markdowns on many products, because this never ever applies to metal clay, I didn't pay much attention to it. So, imagine my surprise when one of the store clerks pointed out that the store was clearing out its stock of gold metal clay. Further imagine my surprise to find that it was the 24K version that it was clearing out and that said PMC Fine Gold had been marked down to more than 75% off the current list price (in fact, I have not even been able to find the current list price for the 24k version, only the 22k version). So I ended up walking out of the store with a tiny lump of pure gold (with clay binder) in my purse. Sure, it was still an indulgence, but I know for a fact that I'll never have this kind of opportunity to work with fine gold ever again.

So, I've been gloating in a completely unseemly way for the past couple days (in fact, some may say that I'm gloating right now - sorry, I just can't help sharing this with you). Every now and then I coo at the box, then put it away. There's only one problem, though. I'M SCARED TO DEATH OF USING IT!!! I think I'll just tuck it away in a safe place and just look at the box, from time to time for the next year. Do you ever do this? I do this with yarn all of the time - I find a really nice yarn on sale for a fantastic price, pick up a few balls, and then it ends up sitting in my stash, because I never seem to have a pattern worthy of it. So silly.

Okay, I'm off to fire another kiln load of my more standard fine silver. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Good Fortune Lite

I just added a few things to the store this evening, including this necklace. I was going to wait a while longer to list finished pieces in the store, but given that I have a Showcase coming up on Friday, I decided to go ahead and post a couple items. This necklace is actually a significantly simplified version of the one that will be appearing in the July 2008 edition of BeadStyle Magazine. I took the colors from an impeccable source of Chinese cultural images - the place mat of a local Chinese restaurant. (Needless to say, I have my tongue firmly in my cheek on this one. I am not Chinese, and I don't mean to insult anyone who is. Taking the blue, yellow, red and orange color scheme from a Chinese eatery just seemed in keeping with the whole fortune cookie theme.) I started out using my own lampworked glass beads for the colors, but ended up switching them out in favor of stones. The strong color combination expressed more subtly with semiprecious stones just seemed to work better.

I have to say that the only real downside to this new venture that I have noticed so far is that I find myself glued to the computer even more so than usual. Even the Short One has been picking up on this and has demanded his fair share of Internet time over the past couple days. This usually takes the form of surfing to the Sesame Street website and playing the Oscar the Grouch Trash Sorting Game. Well, I say "play", but it's mostly me sorting trash, while the SO offers color commentary and dribbles a bit on the laptop. The only really noteworthy thing about these sessions is that one of the items of trash to be sorted during the game is a half-peeled banana. For some reason, every single time this segment comes up, when the SO sees the banana on the screen, he hops off of my lap, runs to the kitchen and complains until I peel him a banana. It doesn't matter what time of day it is, it doesn't matter if he's just finished eating a meal, he will want to eat a banana while playing the game. Weird, no? I've said it before, I'll say it again - I would pay good money to know what exactly he's thinking at times like this. (Practically speaking, it means I've had to be careful to buy extra bananas lately when we go grocery shopping.)

Anyway, after listing my new items on Etsy, I spent some time making a few more koi out of polymer clay. Really, I'm usually not so stuck on one design, but there's something about those little koi pendants that I find very appealing (no pun intended). I'm definitely going to try to have a new one listed in time for the Showcase.

Okay, it is way past my bedtime. I'm starting to get that eyelids-propped-open-with-toothpicks feeling (and how nasty is that?). Have a great Wednesday, everyone! I'll see you sometime tomorrow.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Shameless Self-Promotion

Keen eyes may have noticed this in the side-bar already - once again, I've entered Stringing Magazine's design challenge contest, and once again, voting is now open. The theme for this quarter's challenge was "Double Trouble". I actually designed this necklace with this challenge in mind. Once again, I took the "double, double, toil and trouble" from "Macbeth" as being the "double trouble" for the necklace and used an adjoining quote from the play as the focus of the necklace. If you like this piece, I would certainly be grateful for your vote over at Stringing Magazine. Voting is open until December 9th.

Well, I'm making a concerted effort to stay out of the comments section of the giveaway this time. I do have this to say, however:

Phoar - he's gorgeous!!!

Hmm, yes, VC, I can understand why NBM was a little embarrassed to shout this at the top of her lungs in a crowded store. I would've liked a stuffed pig that said this, too, though. A one of a kind gift!

WMK - we love America's Test Kitchen here! Yep, we have it on TiVo. That's a great suggestion - thanks!

Laura - thanks for blogging me!

In short, thanks to everyone who has entered my little giveaway this time around. As usual, I'm enjoying reading the entries!

Also, thanks to everyone for their good wishes on my store opening. Despite a few hiccups, things seem to be going swimmingly at the moment. I just finished up a wholesale order and got a couple pendants ready for shipping tonight. I also managed the mad dash to secure spots on Etsy's main product Showcase over the next two weeks - it'll be interesting to see whether it makes a difference in terms of how many visitors I get to the store. Look for my store to appear in the Showcase this Friday and the Friday after Thanksgiving. I really badly need to make more inventory for the store before the first one, so I apologize in advance if my entries over the next couple days are a little short.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Shhh! Don't tell the Short One

So, as I may have mentioned (the past two days are a blur of sleep-deprivation right now), I received a couple nice surprises in the mail on Friday. The first two were these packages that arrived from Bristol, England. (I wish I'd thought to take a photo of the outer package, as well, which was nicely decorated enough evidently to prompt the postal worker in England to warn the sender that it might not make it through Customs. Clearly, any Customs officer would want such a stunning parcel for him or herself, and that's even without knowing what wonderful stuff lay within.) Actually, there were three packages, the third being some Cadbury Roses - one of my favorite chocolates of all time - but they're long gone now.

Here's a hint as to what was inside these nicely wrapped packages. Can you guess? Whatever it is, seems to have come from Monkee Maker and seems to have a cute, plushie bottom.

Ah, yes, it's HP14! Hullo, HP14 - welcome to the U.S. But what are you holding there?

Oh, look, it's another monkee - HP4. Welcome HP4! I invited these two English monkees to come live with us, as I felt the Short One could use a few more monkeys, not to mention monkees, in his life. I bought two from MM (thank you MM!), so the SO and I wouldn't squabble over who gets to play with the monkee. While HP14 and HP4 don't really look all that related (except in that general monkee kind of way), I have to admit that I see them kind of as parent and child - HP14 as the sensible, all-knowing, always-right parent and HP4 as the little rascal who runs around mushing bananas in the carpet and squealing a lot. Er, not that I know anyone like that, of course.

I'm sure HP14 and HP4 will be back, but not until after the holidays. In particular, I've asked them to make themselves at home in the hall closet until Christmas. They don't really make all that convincing telephone books, but they're in a bag - hopefully no-one will notice they're there for the time being. So, please keep them a secret from the Short One, okay?

By the way, all of the background art in the above photos was provided by the SO.

Thanks for stopping by!

ps I've switched out most of the fuzzy, off-center photos in my Etsy store. More on this later.