Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mixed-Media Bracelets?

So lately I've been thinking (and the thought won't leave my mind) -- I rarely wear bracelets anymore (except for my awesome geisha charm bracelet that I traded to a customer for some item descriptions), because I spend my day writing and typing and digging in the dirt and it's a very rare bracelet that doesn't impede my work. However, I love the look of a big, rattly, gorgeous bracelet (not a cuff, a bracelet-bracelet).

I also have a whole lot of single-strand bracelets that I've made to sell from a bowl at shows ... and have never sold a single one in person.

Lots of 5 at a great low price available here.

Since those are adjustable bracelets made with nice beads, here's my plan: I'll add one to three strands to the original (parallel, wrapped, or braided), then secure a cluster of unbreakable/break-resistant charms, buttons, and beads to the lobster clasp so that both sides (strands and clasp) can serve as a focal element.

Some methods I'd like to try:
  1. Braiding some of my massive overstock of vintage pendant chain to make up a strand (this may be too stiff; we'll see).
  2. Strips of cloth/lace/ribbon secured to a base cord with a wrapping of fine wire, as shown in winter's Belle Armoire Jewelry.
  3. Leather cord -- which I've never done a thing with, ever, and feel a vague responsibility to try.
  4. A wirework element making up one strand.
  5. Interactive elements, like sliding beads and similar worry stones.
  6. Handmade wire chain (another Belle Armoire project I've been itching to try).
  7. A chain made of two-hole buttons (which shouldn't be too fragile if it's not especially load-bearing).

Sunday, February 26, 2012

New sales! Hooray!

I have just sold fifteen pairs of earrings, nine of them custom designs.  Today is a good day.  Pictures to come.

Now available exclusively from McAuley's in Anderson, SC, unless you are lucky enough to be the tasteful Etsy shopper who got the first pair.

Longtime readers will recall that the last time I worked with a brick-and-mortar, they were pricing my 120-dollar Swarovski piece at $24 -- and it came back completely crushed, and I'm still trying to figure out a way to salvage the piece as a mixed-media exercise for less than the price of the materials.  But I have much higher hopes for this!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Look what Fanciful Devices made!

So true, Fanci.  So true.

Find the original image and some incredibly cool mixed-media jewelry in the link above.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Let's try something a little different!

Okay, let's try this.  I wanted to do something picture-heavy and topical today, but I'm not in the mood to code a Treasury Wednesday (on Friday), so let's play clothing-and-jewelry pairings.  I don't get to do this much in real life, since I'm the youngest of my coworkers in a fairly conservative area, so virtual dress-up it is.

For the pretty base pieces in this post, I'm using Maxi dresses from Goddiva.  Just in the interests of disclosure.

Let's start with this little mesh-insert number, which -- yes -- is sort of daring for many people, but could easily go sci-fi (Inara cosplay, anyone?) to pull it off:

It's actually transparent, not silver; that's the mannequin.  Which leaves us with any metal option we desire.  How shall we make this fantastic?  I'm thinking with a big steampunk statement necklace like this one:

Sorry, sold to a pretty lady at Upstate Steampunk!

And maybe a jeweled belt, like this nice vintage example, which would suit either the teal or the red version of the dress and, in either case, introduces another high-contrast color that would be fantastic in a draped shawl, or as earrings:

Available here from Nana's Cottage House Antiques.

Instant sleek space-opera sci-fi -- or maybe even bustle it up over a constrast underskirt and see what happens.

Less costume and more couture, you say?  Fine.  Look at this peacock-patterned garment:

You could actually wear this under a waist-length leather jacket and calf-high boots, and have a bit more of a casual-elegant look on a spring day.  Try it with a necklace that adds more visual weight to the top half of the ensemble. For this purpose, I can't decide if I prefer the knotted linen from Grey Heart of Stone on the top or the repurposed bridle rosette from Funkyjunkmama below:

Probably the bridle rosette.  It picks up the colors attractively without blending in, and has a sturdier, heavier look that will contrast well with the dress's airiness.  Hey, both!  No?

On warmer days, this dress of course demands a light shrug and a cool big bracelet like this one:

Available here with matching earrings here.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Belatedly ...

... I really should mention that the Southern steampunk cons, Upstate Steampunk and AnachroCon, are well worth the trip.  I was a vendor at Upstate Steampunk at the beginning of the month.  It was a delight to meet so many fans of such vastly varying ages -- including many of my and M's colleagues, hers at Clemson and mine at the tech college!  This included Gypsey Teague, a lovely lady who makes killer chainmaille weaponry and who organizes the event with her partner.  Overall, the con was small but profitable and with superb gaming, and despite a giggling militant vegetarian who thought she was a pagan but didn't know what a solstice was at the next vendor table, I was delighted to meet a number of other vendors of clothing, jewelry, embroidery, fine art, etc. who were simply a pleasure.

I also had the great fortune of seeing some delightfully colorful steampunk outfits, including a young authoress who had assembled a brilliant bustled tatterpunk outfit in animal print.  It worked beautifully.

M and I did some fun multicultural stuff, including (for me) a Scottish-inspired pseudo-military ensemble with a vintage woman's kilt, a wool beret, and rendundant eyewear; and (for both of us) Anglicized/Orientalized North African outfits.  Me as warrior, M as harem girl.  She pulled it off with her usual aplomb.

Please, Southern steampunks: plan for AnachroCon in Atlanta at the end of winter and Upstate Steampunk next fall.  I can staunchly assure you that you won't regret it.

Available here.

Monday, October 24, 2011

In praise of procrastination, and Star Wars

"What should you have been taught in the LIB100 class?" queries the bulletin board.

See, I do a lot of work in Clemson University's library, down in the basement next to the Congressional reports from the 1880s and the shelves of appendices to the Iran-Contra investigation, and the entrance on the floor above is dominated by a bulletin board on which students are asked a different question each week, ranging from "Give us a midterm assignment!" to the above.  Rainbow sticky notes and markers are provided for answering.  I stop and read them every Monday; they're like one of those witty, brilliant Facebook or Twitter conversations in concrete form.

My second-favorite answer was this gem of wisdom: "That procrastination is inevitable ... grab a coffee + embrace it."  This is one of those important lessons I learned in college that it's hard to convey.  Sometimes, you just work best under pressure.  Sometimes a task needs to be completed in one marathon block.

Interestingly enough, the students who best understand this, I've found, are ex-military men.  I assist a few in the Writing Center, and generally they're not coming in an hour before the paper is due wanting to be told how to make it an A, but coming in a couple of days before with a polished product waiting for critiques.

In every tutoring position I've had, I've realized that moral support is a massive part of my function.  My entering freshmen, smart kids who'd happened to flunk the Writing Placement Exam for one reason or another, had overall much higher GPAs than freshmen who didn't have tutoring; a success for the pilot program I was working for.  They often found my editing and chatting about their topics useful.  And yet I'm tempted to suspect that a significant part of their grade increase might have been as a result of having someone to ask where they could go to get the free cough drops and stress balls, what recourse they had if they were being taught by an incompetent TA (or a competent TA and a lazy professor) -- someone whose dad was the football captain in '85 at the high school where they graduated in '10, someone who would listen as they talked about their depression over being unable to bridesmaid at their sister's wedding due to an exam -- someone to suggest a mediator for roommate disputes.  Someone, in short, to talk to.

I'm less patient these days with students who spend their half-hour appointments telling me how hard everything is ("It's college.  College is hard," I want to say.  "Did you expect this was easy?  Do you think I did it because it was a cake walk?").  Yet I understand that this is part of my job -- not as large a part as some students like to believe, but an important part, like the secretarial work and plagiarism reports that also form part of my week.

And yet -- to circle back toward one of my points -- ex-military students don't tend to need this.  The student who recently returned from his tour in Iraq and who comes in with a bleakly and elegantly phrased cause-and-effect paper about how his PTSD has affected his wife doesn't want my sympathy, he wants me to help find comma splices.  He wants a good grade, not a shoulder.  The man who served for 29 years doing First Aid training is far more interested in whether he wants "quicker" or "more quickly" than he is in telling me how difficult it is to be a returning student of non-traditional age.  I'm not saying these issues aren't hard or deserving of support, only that it's nice to be helping people by providing them with my expertise, not by functioning as a listening ear that anyone could be.

It was the above-mentioned First Aid trainer who explained to me why military students don't seem to have a problem with procrastination.  "You don't get advance notice," he told me.  "You're given a project and you do it now, and if you complain you end up with more work and the same deadline."

"So you don't have the same trouble handling the stress of it?" I asked.

"None at all.  This is business as usual.  You get the work, you do the work as best you can in the time you have."

Bravo, sir!  That's a healthy attitude for all college students to adopt.  Procrastination can be treated as scheduling if a student is well-acquainted with his or her working pace and ability to cope with the stress of the fast-approaching deadline.  Now that's a real life skill -- one that I'm still developing as I learn how much copywriting I can actually do in a given period.

My favorite note on that board, however, wasn't actually the one about procrastination.  It was the green one that asserted that LIB100 should teach students how to "bullseye Whomprats with a T130."  A blue one below advised the original sticky-noter to turn off his targeting computer.

The world isn't doomed.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Making the blog a blog of merit: Let's see how far we've come

Happy October!  I've been desperately looking forward to fall ever since I moved here, and I can happily report that it is worth it.


Three years ago when I started this blog, it was the irregularly updated chronicle of a semi-itinerant California college student with a struggling jewelry business who did a bit of writing on the side.  Now it's the regularly-scheduled ramblings of a South Carolina copywriter who works at a college and runs a small online jewelry business on the side.  Life is weird and wonderful and it's taken me for a bit of a ride.

This blog will shortly be going back over to an irregular schedule of updates.  Blogging is starting to feel like doing for free what other people could be paying me to do -- so it's time I scale back.  I expect that this will vastly improve the merit of the content ....

... and frankly, I've been doing this for three years.  I think I have a sufficiency of Jewelry Blog Content (TM).  And to the rather small extent that this is still a marketing blog, I'd rather pitch myself as an interesting person than Another Jewelry Person Who Blogs.

Expect an oddly spaced soup of treasuries, against-the-grain business advice, shopping recommendations, press releases, item photos, shop announcements, and links to interesting stuff.  I think that you-the-readers will enjoy it more (and hey -- leave me a comment sometimes, okay?  I know you're there via Analytics, but it's quiet here).  And I think that I'll be giving you more interesting stuff to read, even if there's less of it.

And I promise not to become that blog that consists entirely of posts apologizing for not posting more.  Pinky swear.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Social Justice: Why yoni jewelry bothers me

I am troubled by the yoni jewelry on Etsy.

This is not to say that I'm troubled by the concept.  The original notion of the yoni is part of tantric sex practice, as I've been writing about for one of my copywriting customers: basically, "yoni" is Sanskrit for "divine passage," and it refers to the vagina/vulva as a sacred temple.  The penis gets a similar reverence as lingam.  All well and good.  Sex is sacred and beautiful.

It's hard to post even the very lovely examples of yoni jewelry in a post like this, so here are some cowrie shell earrings from D Rae Designs.

I think the problem comes in when women (and men) who have little interest in the Tantra adopt the idea of venerating the yoni.  The thing is, once you're worshiping something in a vacuum, you automatically mentally remove it from the realm of everyday practice.  To decide that we are now going to revere the vagina as sacred rather than thinking of it as dirty turns the vagina into a concept that is beyond the woman.

If my vagina is sacred, it doesn't belong to me.  Sacredness implies worshippers, implies a social construction and concept that is larger than myself.  I don't want to think of a part of my body as filthy, as shameful.  But I also don't want to think of it as bigger and more sacred than the rest of me.

I'm all for resisting the idea of shame, but replacing it with the idea of sacredness, without understanding the yoni concept as part of a whole person, doesn't grant a woman control of, ownership of, and pride in her sexuality.  It only estranges the woman from her sexuality in the opposite direction.

So all that polymer clay yoni jewelry on Etsy (some of which, admittedly, is lovely)?  When I look at most of it, all I can see is a woman desperately resisting the idea that sex is dirty ... by putting it away from herself and her life entirely, promoting it as a passage to the sacred experience rather than a part of herself, her sexuality, her pleasure.  How is this different from the Victorian narrative?  How is this helping anyone?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Recent Discoveries: A slice of tofu and a slice of life

Southern Fusion Broiled Tofu

Easy, simple, and tasty.  Take a block of tofu and press it in a tofu press, or do what I do and wrap it in a dishtowel and pile a plate and about ten pounds of cookbooks on it, then leave it there for 20 minutes.  This will press out some of the moisture, leaving your tofu slightly denser and more able to absorb marinade.

Cut the tofu into quarter-inch-thick slices.

Whip a quick marinade of approximately one part hoisin sauce (or similar dark, thick Asian sauces might work) and three parts commercial sweet tea (use the good stuff; I used Beacon Drive-Inn's signature iced tea).  Make just enough to coat your tofu.

Drop your tofu in the marinade in a sealed container, roll it around until the slices are coated, and leave it in the fridge for an hour or two, turning it over every so often.

Lay the slices on a lightly greased cookie sheet and broil them five minutes.  Turn over and broil another five minutes.  Serve hot, with hoisin sauce for dipping.

The flavor is weird but delicious, sort of piquant and hard to identify, and the texture is a delightful mating of crispy and chewy with soft, and a touch of crunch round the edges.  Hey, I wonder if you could cut shapes out of them!


Unrelatedly, a thing I found out while I was doing copywriting research: Someone on the internet is trying to get marijuana smokers to report how many zippy bags they use for their stash each week.  He (I'm assuming it's a man, but I don't know why) will then work out how many zippy bags are used for this purpose nationwide, and report his findings to Ziploc in hopes of gaining corporate backing for the next push to legalize marijuana.  And this is why I love the weird world of the internet.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A linklist, which should really be one word

... this spammy blog (is there a term for this?) uses an article I found while trying to discover M's Ratemyprofessor rating, and it is just about the funniest damn thing I've ever seen.  M and I did dramatic readings to each other.

Is this a thing now?  Seriously someone -- is this a thing?

On a more relevant-to-anything note, here are two of the many cool things I've turned up while doing the copywriting for this lovely site, Keys of Paradise:

This mellifluously written essay on musk is fascinating, informative, and a truly beautiful piece of online writing which is a superb example of structuring lengthy content for the Internet reader.

There is an loa in the Voodoo tradition who protects abused women and lesbians, hopefully not always in combination: Erzulie Dantor.

And everything I ever wanted to know about alchemy can be learned from these sites: Alchemy-Works, which does sell some of its products but is more valuable for its wealth of information, and <"">a page on which I have wasted hours which  gives the alchemical properties of hundreds and hundreds of ordinary foodstuffs.

On a vaguely related note, many props to the makers of the Mystery Case Files games, available from Big Fish Games and on disk at many fine department stores.  They're a combination of hidden-object with item-adventure games; they capture the essence of the greatest old-style text adventures in their snarky humor, intertextual references, and complex plotlines, but are also absolutely state of the art in graphic rendering and in the incorporation of live-action film with digital art scenes.  They have a smoother and more graceful user experience than their imitators as well.  And, as I was playing the latest entry, "13th Skull," between pages of my novel-sized list of item descriptions, I realized they also apparently have a really excellent cultural consultant.

"13th Skull" has a few problems in terms of atmosphere, notably the fact that while the previous games, "Return to Ravenhearst" and "Dire Grove," had an engaging and incredibly atmospheric creepiness, this one had sort of a hokey Scooby-Doo ghost feel.  I'm quite willing to believe that this was deliberate (M was not so kind about it), but it's a little startling -- perhaps it's the lack of a well-developed and sympathetic victim to save.  Or the fact that there are about four actual Southerners voicing the Louisiana residents.  Anyway, the point is, despite the oddly built atmosphere, every depiction of voodoo and hoodoo spells is, as far as I can tell in my admittedly amateur experience, perfectly accurate.  Right on!

Crap, this post has no subject.  Unrelated photo time!

Available here.