Monday, June 29, 2009

Blogger's Remorse

Recently I asked several friends and acquaintances to please visit my blog and tell me what they thought, in other words I was asking for a critique. More than likely it had been a bad idea as I received so many suggestions. Everybody seemed to have a different idea of what a good blog was, and most of those ideas would have me believe that my blog was decidedly not what they would consider a good one...guess that's why not one of them have chosen to follow me.

I was told my blog should be instructional, tell people how to do things, how to make things; That my blog should be about information, tips, tricks, advice; I was told that my blog was too long, a blog should be short, just quick snippet's of things (Isn't that what Twitter's for?); It was advised I should focus on one particular subject and not stray from it, since my domain name was A Beader's Blog it should be JUST about beading, bead work and beads, beads and more beads; Another told me my UFO project had no purpose in my blog and why was I including stuff about my yard and garden, that these discourses were confusing and did not pertain.
One person chose to give me advice regarding my post on my Rotten Tomato plants, I should have used Seven to control the early blight fungus instead of the copper spray and I should have staked them much sooner, the poor little plants needed support (but they were only 6 inches tall in that photo!); Yet another felt a good blog was political and news worthy (if you want that, go buy a newspaper!). BLAH I say !

In the end I was over dosing on advice, my parade had been totally rained out, my balloon deflated. Amid dejection I finally decided that there was no magic formula, no way to please all the masses. It is imperative to follow one's own desire and my gut instincts say a blog is an extension of one's self, it can be any and all things. One's thoughts, dreams, fantasies, it can be a place to teach and give instructions, or it can be a forum for your political viewpoints, a podium upon which to preach environmental issues, theoretical ideas, religious beliefs. A blog is a blank book awaiting the words of it's author and just like a library there are many different types of books. How dull, how bland how utterly boring it would be if every book were the same ! And to the acquaintance who asked me why I apologized for a post I used, that if I had to apologize for it then why did I even use it ? I respond; "Lesson learned" and in addition; "This is my blog and my viewpoints and I ain't apologizing for em !"

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Death by Gloom

Is it possible to die from gloom ? This spring has been an incredibly gloomy one, little sun, much rain and unseasonable heat. With the passing of June 21st we are now definitely and irrevocably into summer, there was very little transition between winter cool and summer sizzle.
Heat and humidity affects most of us to some extent, I too am not immune to feeling summer's lethargy and insipidity, even the vegetation appears to be succumbing. My colorful Fiesta Lantanas have lost most of their blossoms and are now struggling with mealy bugs and powdery mildew, the rotten tomatoes still battle early blight fungus, along with an aggravating thief of a squirrel that keeps stealing the hard green fruit before they've a chance to ripen. Of all the garden the only things flourishing pest and disease free are the weeds and the wild vines.

above : Vines growing into the tree tops and a stately old
Florida Pine dominates the skyline.

below : Looking down Cow Pen Creek
with lush growth of vines starting to over take
native trees and brush.

Yesterday I ventured to the far back of our property, it had been a while and I was curious to see how things looked. Under the shade of one huge oak, I happened upon an unusual growth, undoubtedly a fungus of some sort. It measured approximately 8 inches across, fairly large for fungi. If anyone is familiar I'd love to know more about it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Faux Paint or Faux Pas ?

At the moment nothing is transpiring with my UFO project, it’s on hiatus as I await the arrival of a couple of how-to-do books on faux finishes. Faux painting is alien to me, never attempted it.
Back in the late 60's and early 70's I was put off by faux finishes, I had witnessed some truly bad cases of faux paint gone faux pas. Of course this was long ago in the days of television’s great home improvement gurus such as Bob Vila. Christopher Lowell came later, along with a veritable litany of TV home improvement hosts, many whose names I’ve long forgotten. I'm sure that over the years both the techniques and the products to do them have been refined considerably.
Now I stand on the cusp of embarkation into a world I’ve never before ventured, anxiously looking forward to the text that will take my hand and lead me through the fog of faux. When I ordered these books I knew I was not now, nor would ever be, a professional painter and decided it senseless to invest in pristine new editions of these instruction manuals. Since listed sources for used books at a fraction of the cost of new, I had to decide; could I live with a book with dog eared pages, bumped corners, scuffed covers, missing dust jackets...oh no not a missing dust jacket ! Could books that bore reminders of their past lives find a place on my book shelves ? Reminders such as library stamps, stickers, some one’s highlighting and pen notes, would these distract me from my purpose ?
Well let’s see, "The Paint Effects Bible" retails at $29.95. price is $26.95 (free shipping for orders over $20) whereas the used book source, condition: like new, slight shelf wear, is priced at $9.00 with additional $3.99 shipping, total $12.99. A saving of $13. 96, not bad. Yes there was a cheaper used copy at slightly over $6 and though the description states that the spiral binding was intact, the actual book cover is said to have a 3 inch tear at the back spine. Somehow I felt this could affect the over all integrity of the book, perhaps not, but to be safe I opted for a more expensive pre-used copy that stated the book was in "like new condition". I also took note of the seller's rating and just how many sales they had. For instance, there was a seller with a 100% satisfaction rating but had only 6 sales in the 12 month rating period, while another had 94% but had well over 10,000 sales during the same period of time. I'm afraid I would be swayed to go with the seller whose rating was slightly lower but whose sales where significantly higher.
The second book, "Paint Effects Masterclass", was not available directly through but prices ranged from as low as $3.93 plus $3.99 shipping, to as high as $87.64 plus $3.99 S&H. Can anyone explain to me who's going to be foolish enough to purchase a book for $87 that retails for less than $7.00 new ? Is an additional 80 bucks going to make it better ? Another interesting note, found a used copy, in "acceptable" condition, of "The Paint Effects Bible" listed for $256.00 plus $3.99 S&H. Could that have been a typo ? If not then what makes this volume more precious than all others, 14 kt gold spiral binding ? Does it comes with an expert faux painter to do your project for you ? In that case it would be a real bargain ! But I seriously doubt that the two versions are any different, other than in price. So I'll take my bargain used books and let you know if their discount prices hamper their effectiveness or if their bargain basement prices cause a revolt amongst my higher priced volumes of literature, will there be peace amongst the tomes?

Footnote : I wish to acknowledge and thank Jenn of Chuck A Stone Design for her recommendations of the technique books ; "The Paint Effects Bible" and "Paint Effects Masterclass".

Thursday, June 18, 2009

First True Sales Pitch....

I’ve highlighted these Carnelian fringe earrings before but today I’ve decided to actually hype them. Salesmanship is not my forte, I dislike spam mail and find myself put off by individuals who are constantly spewing a line of buy, buy, buy. But eventually I do need to sell something and therefore must delve into the despicable...gasp ! Yes, a sales pitch ! For the first time on my blog I’m taking a cue from Michael Mays, that blaringly loud TV "KABOOM" pitchman. Only I promise I won’t be nearly as need to lower your speaker volume!

I’ve always been fond of this fringe pattern, mainly because it is highly versatile and adaptable.
Here "Carnelian Carnival" is fabricated with 3 different varieties of #11 Delica seed beads: a metallic Copper lined, a hex cut metallic Rust and a hex cut dark Topaz with an aurora borealis finish (also called a rainbow finish). Delica "Dyna Mites" seed beads in Rainbow Rootbeer were used to fashion the triangular shield or base for the fringe. Rainbow rootbeer has become my favorite color in the kingdom of seed beads, it has a richness and luster that compliments all other colors...and I’m really fond of rootbeer floats !
Along with lovely seed beads are rondelles of genuine Carnelian. These carnelian rondelles crown the tops of freshwater oval pearls, I used grade A pearls in a natural (undyed) pale peach blush color.

#15 charlotte seed beads look like tiny drops of hematite, they grace the fringe ends. The triangular seed bead shield is embellished with more Carnelian rondelles, Freshwater Pearls, 4 mm Czech firepolished beads and of course more seed beads. All of this swings fluidly from 14 kt gold filled "Perfect Balance" earwires which I’ve accented with faceted, fiery red-orange crystal beads.

A fantastic color combination that plays remarkably well with many other colors, from neutral beiges, browns, tans and golds to greens, turquoise (gorgeous with turquoise), reds and yellows. They are feather light, have a flirty swing to them, are fun but sophisticated and with the right outfit can be very elegant.

Earrings measure 2.25 inches ( 64mm) from loop of earwire.
One foot note: These are truly more beautiful in person than in any of their photos !

The price $22 including USA shipping fees.
Shipping fees on Foreign shipping can be anywhere from $2.50 to $5 additional, depending upon country destination.
To order you may contact me through my etsy shop-click here if you have questions or wish to order, just let me know of your interest and I will make a special reserved listing for you. If it is a foreign order please let me know the country and I’ll e-mail you a quote on shipping costs.
Payment is easily done through PayPal which accepts all major credit cards and does the calculations for currency differences.

Whew ! Well that advertisement wasn’t too bad was it ? Uh, anybody...was it ?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Rotten Tomatoes

Today I'm in a fog or perhaps it's a fugue. Have had a number of ideas for a blog post but all of them require taking photos and that requires setting up my lights, light box etc. , which requires organizing space in the spare bedroom which...well it's a domino effect that I'm just not in the mood to tackle, at least not today...or perhaps that's "lest" ? Went out to lunch the other day and I don't think my brain came back with me, its probably still at Island Time Grill sipping pina coldas !
So I'm attempting something that doesn't need much work or concentration. There are a number of photos from my garden already in my files, could do flowers or maybe my pathetic tomato, too predictable...infected tomato plants...hmm, has possibilities. Hope you don't find them boring.

A couple of months ago, John and I purchased 2 huge storage units at "Lowes", the price was right even though the home improvement store had somehow "misplaced" all of the snap on lids. Well it must really be hard to keep track of so many items like that, right ? Especially easy to lose track of something so small as a pallet of 2 foot by 4 foot dark blue plastic lids. But lids were not the deal breaker with us as we had little need for them. These storage bins would soon have holes drilled in the bottom for drainage, a layer of large rock gravel added (to keep the soil from washing out) and of course several huge bags of potting soil dumped on top of the gravel layer.

These bins, perhaps unattractive, would become an above ground garden for my tomato sprouts.

After these seedling were planted Mother Nature decided to send rain. Ten days of almost constant downpours and very little to no sunshine. Now I'm battling a tomato fungus called early blight, well not me personally...the tomato plants have the blight !

Not sure who is going to win this battle, me with my copper spray or the ever spreading black cankers of early blight fungus ! I really did have my heart set on fresh home grown tomatoes this summer. We'll just have to wait and see if the plants can recover or not.

Would be such a shame to lose these tiny fruits. Perhaps Mother Nature will show us some mercy !

Friday, June 12, 2009

Pygmalion UFO in Transformation

More progress on the UFO. Of course now it is starting to look like the table I had envisioned so I suppose I should begin calling it a coffee table.

Here the top plywood skin is being measured. Appears big enough.

Below : John was judging if his cut had been precise enough.
I apologize for the blurry photo, it's totally my bad. John was very still as he was deep in calibrations. I, on the other hand, must have been moving the camera like a flag in the breeze !
I probably won't be able to get another chance to snap a shot of my man as it seems he is always moving.

Because the top skin is larger than the others it is going to require a complex combination of weights and pressure points.

Hope we can find enough !

John's used most of his smaller clamps and also has brought out the paint section again. After the last fiasco he isn't going to chance an adhesion unhesion problem. I'm sure you know that a gallon can of thick paint has a bit of heft to it.

Below : Another view. Here you can see that John's using one of the big guns, a steel latching case that houses one bad boy of a drill. Even though the drill and its case weight several pounds it wasn't sufficient to hold the plywood skin down correctly. In order to achieve proper contact more weight was needed...a jar of spaghetti sauce, my hermetic jar of river pebbles and a container of vintage marbles (from John's boyhood).

At the other side of the table top we used yet another jar of vintage marbles and our ever trusty boxes of ice cream salt.
Really need to make some ice cream when this project is complete !

Once this last skin is tacked down and its edges sanded then we're faced with the dilemma of how to finish it. The plywood skin is decidedly different in wood grain and tone from the cabinet doors. Jenn of RANDOM LUNACY and Chuck a Stone Design has graciously offered to give me some tips on faux finishes. I thank her profusely as I’ve never done any faux painting. Yes I know, that must be a real shock what with all the home improvement shows on TV (from the Christopher Lowell show to trading spaces to countless shows on TLC and HGTV) everybody must have fauxed something at sometime in their life! Anyway Jenn, I thank you and you’ll probably be hearing from me soon.

Monday, June 8, 2009

UFO...Hadn't A Leg To Stand On

When I first envisioned the conversion of the UFO cabinet (Upper 'frigerator Overhead cabinets ?) into a coffee or cocktail table, I pictured it with chunky bun feet. John and I were able to locate some bun feet but at $25 each (not including shipping and handling charges) it seemed rather pricey. Fortunately John found a website that had simple "apple" feet at $5 each (again not including S&H charges) Well that was certainly a no brainer, $25 plus S&H for just one foot or four feet for $20 plus S&H. Hard decision to make ? Not really !

above photos: deciding on the placement.
below : all four feet installed...looking good !

Yes! At last progress is being made and the strange UFO in our home is starting to look more and more like a piece of furniture...or at least more like something one would find in front of the family room sofa.

above photo shows the ample storage room, a perfect retreat for all my clutter !

The next phase will be to cover the white melamine top with a sheet of thin plywood. Hope John studies that Adhesive Technology manual. Ah well, at lest we can no longer say that our UFO hasn't a leg to stand on. ; )

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Tibetan Silver ?....Or ?????

Recently I've become aware of a new "item" called Tibetan Silver. I've seen it advertised in a number of bead shops, on e-bay and even on etsy. But when I saw the prices on jewelry components that proclaim they are "Tibetan Silver" I realized that something was amok...silver could not be so cheap !

Out of human curiosity I looked it up on the "net" and lo and behold most Tibetan Silver is not silver at all. Guess that's like all those fancy Quartz that starting showing up a few years back. Many were not quartz at all but just glass while others were a man made material. Think: Cherry Quartz, Strawberry Quartz, Blueberry Quartz, Pineapple Quartz...if it's fruity chances are it's man made !

Below is the info regarding Tibetan Silver...buyers beware :
Click this link Tibetan Silver to read more and see photos of Tibetan Silver items.

If link isn't functioning, the online article reads :

Metallurgical testing of twelve items offered for sale on EBay as Tibetan Silver indicates that these articles frequently contain no silver whatsoever. In addition, test results from the initial tests in 2007 found that high levels of lead and other dangerous metals such as arsenic can be present.

Because of their beauty, it's no surprise that jewelry items sold as "Tibetan Silver" have appeared for sale in increasing numbers in trade publications and on the Internet. The description appears especially popular online, but the products offered under this designation run the gamut of what appear to be authentic silver work done in a vintage Tibetan style, to poorly made contemporary castings of dubious origin. As the buyer you are at risk of being misled into paying for items that may be grossly misrepresented either in terms of materials used or geographic authenticity. If you think that the item being sold as Tibetan Silver actually contains any appreciable amount of silver read the following information.

Protecting Your Health

Genuine Tibetan silver is often made from Sterling silver, which consists of 92.5 percent silver. Any metal can make up the remaining 7.5 percent non-silver portion, though copper is the most common one. Unlike Sterling silver, which is used in jewelry because of its combination of beauty and durability, a great deal of what is marketed as "Tibetan Silver" comes no where close to matching the quality of Sterling. The actual silver content of "Tibetan Silver" can be as low as 1 or 2 percent and/or the core material may actually be tin, zinc, copper or nickel alloys, which allows the item to be sold for much less than those containing significant amounts of silver.

In fact, as part of a larger investigation into items offered for sale on eBay that infringed on copyrighted designs, TierraCast, Inc., a California-based manufacturer of original design lead-free pewter beads, findings and components, retained Metallurgical Laboratories, Inc. of Concord, California to test seven items purchased from six different eBay and Etsy sellers in April of 2007. (It should be noted that all seven of these items were clearly cast components, singled out for examination and testing primarily because of copyright infringement issues. Though a wide range of other jewelry and ornamental items are also advertised as Tibetan silver, no attempt was made to determine the actual metal content of those items.) All of the test items bore indications of overseas manufacture; only two were shipped directly from China, the others where shipped from the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States.

No silver was found in any of the tested items being marketed as Tibetan silver. Instead, in six samples, nickel, copper and zinc were the dominant metals identified by XRF (X-ray fluorescence) analysis on the areas of exposed core material of these pieces. The seventh item, shipped from Hong Kong, contained 1.3 % arsenic, a powerful poison and carcinogen and, an alarmingly high 54% lead content. Copies of certified test results are available upon request from TierraCast, Inc.

Additional tests were conducted in April 2009 using five different items purchased at random from three different eBay sellers offering Tibetan Silver. Metallurgical Labs also tested these items using XRF analysis and found the following results for the most common metals, expressed in percent. Note that only sample #5 contained anything over 1% silver.

So, as they say; "all that glitters is not gold" this case; not silver ! If the price seems too good to believe it's silver, then there's a very good change it isn't.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Shut up !...Another Award ?

Can't believe it! Another Wonderful Award...have the gods of blogs smiled down upon me? What an honor !

Recreational Art has chosen my blog as one of her favorites. She has received the "Kreativ Blogger Award" and is bestowing the honor on to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Recreational Art is living in the beautiful and very historic city of St. Augustine, Florida and has lived in Rome, Italy (the city of the arts) for 13 lucky, I am so envious. We both share a passion for salvaging worn, tired or defunct objects and like the challenge of transforming them from trash to treasure, however she's far more adapt at it than I am.
Recreational Art has a lovely etsy shop filled with her creative art, all hand made with love. Check out her etsy shop at RecreationalArt and have a look at her own award winning Blog .

Here are the rules of the award:
1. The winner may put the logo on her blog.
2. Put a link to the person you got the award from.
3. List seven things you love.
4. List seven blogs you love.
5. Leave a message for your nominees letting them know that they're recipients of this award.

7 things I could easily list 70 things...but okay let's see :

1. I love the sound of a baby's laughter.
2. I love the smell of fresh mountain air tinged with the fragrance of pine, fir or spruce.
3. I love a crackling fire on a cold, rainy day.
4. A mug of hot chocolate on a cold, rainy day.
5. A hug from any one of my grandchildren.
6. Chocolate chip cookies still warm from the oven.
7. Sunshine and daisy bouquets.

7 Blogs I love...this award is great 'cause now I can pick a few more of my favorite blogs...yippee !

1.Danger Kitten Bakes
Bounty of Beads
Again I thank Recreational Art and I hope you all take a moment to visit her blog and the 7 very lovely and very special blogs that I've chosen for this award.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Another Step in the UFO saga

Some of you may have noticed that my Blog Banner has changed, no photo of my triple strand rose quartz and pearl necklace. It no longer proclaims "Almost Precious", which is the name of my handcrafted jewelry business and my etsy shop. In the beginning I tried to make some connection between my etsy jewelry shop and my Blog, so chose the Blog name of ABeader'sBlog. A mistake of course as with time my path wandered far off course...and you know what ?...I enjoyed the diversion, it was fun. It was nice to get away from etsy, etsy, etsy !
For the past 5 months I've felt like I did little else other that fret and work trying to get my shop off the ground, that was like trying to make a kite out of just wouldn't fly !
Haven't talked about my craft or my shop in a while and perhaps that's exactly how it should be; "So long long etsy" ? Oh well...c'est la vie !

A couple of days ago John glued down another skin on our notorious UFO cabinet, only things didn't go quite the way he wanted. For some reason two small sections at the ends of this 3rd skin did not adhere to the cabinet.
I had wondered about this latest glue job as his pressure, weight system was completely off. The hardware section was minus the paint can...what hardware store doesn't have a paint section ? Not only that but there was no mayo on the grocery aisle.

above : 3rd skin going down, but something's amiss...where's the paint and the mayo?

below : this will be the front of the coffee table, it has two doors...look at all that interior space for "STUFF" !!!

With out the paint can and the jar of mayo was it any wonder that there's an "adhesion technicality" ? Now John had no recourse but to be very mundane and totally uncool ...

above: John resorts to the use of a unimaginative ! On this side, since it is the open side which will someday have its doors back on, it was easy to attach a clamping tool. The other side however took a little more ingenuity.
Below: John combined two pipes to extend his pipe clamp...what a tool !

Might not be much of a coffee table yet, but sitting in the middle of our family room it is certainly a conversation piece !
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