Saturday, July 28, 2012

Multi Functional - Is that a Good Thing?

Things that are multi-functional are favorites with me. Never found myself in adoration with one trick ponies.

Many moons ago I worked as a sales-rep for Sarah Coventry.  Sarah Coventry was an in-home distributor of unique jewelry, following the same principles as Tupperware's infamous home parties.

One thing that captured my attention with Sarah Coventry jewelry was that most of their pieces were multi-functional. Brooches could be used as necklace pendants, long necklaces could be worn doubled up or even as a belt, necklaces had matching bracelets that one could couple together to form a longer necklace, clip-on-earrings could be used as shoe clips or clipped to a chain and worn as a pendant. 
Come to think of it all of Coventry's earrings were clip-ons, not many women back then had pierced ears - unlike today where just about anything and everything is pierced - guess we were all very timid back then or it just was not the vogue thing to do.
Occasionally I try to create multi-functional pieces, pieces that can be worn different ways, switched around. Recently I came up with these "Change About" earrings for my etsy shop, Almost Precious . The sterling silver earring hooks are my own handcrafted earrings to which I've attached a tiny little sterling silver lobster clasp. 

This clasp allows one to change my two sided earring dangle around to display a different side. 

Both dangles feature a beaded bead, Swarovski crystals and sterling silver jumprings.

I can also imagine someone using the basic earring hooks to hang a favorite charm from, or another cute little drop or dangle. 
My own handmade sterling ear-wires with Swarovski White Opal crystal and teeny little sterling silver lobster claw clasp ... can you see this with a cute charm dangling from it?
Photos above and below show earring with charms (starfish and sand-dollar)

Hope people can see the possibilities of this versatile piece of jewelry. What do you think? Is it practical or is it just plain dumb?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Grand Finale - The Saga of Etsia -

The heart of the evil Baron Von Reseller is stuck on being bad - extra bad - for all he loves is making money - lots of money - by hook or by crook.
As promised I'm posting the finale of Heidi O'Brien's Etsia Saga.  Originally Heidi 'hi-jacked' a thread in etsy's forums that was rambling on ad nauseam about the front page wedding banner that etsy is doggedly clinging to.  Many etsians have grown weary of the banner and wish it would be retired.  After several pages of repetitious thread comments saying basically the same thing; "Etsy we're tired of the Wedding Banner - ditch it", in jumped Heidi with her story and suddenly the thread came to life and everyone was enraptured with her tale of Sir Reginald and the evil Baron Von Reseller.  Unfortunately someone in etsy admin closed the thread and disbanded the group of eager story followers. 
Heidi's etsy shop is fairly new, wonderfully novel and intriguingly  interesting.  She is currently working on starting up her own blog.   I highly encourage her to follow through on this for she has a true flair for writing coupled with an, off the chart, vivid imagination.  I'm sure her blog will be a delightful and novel one.
The Count handed Sir Reginald a box containing seashells, glitter and broken vintage earrings.
"No, oh no, mercy good gentlemen, mercy!" the Baron cowered down as far as his cyborg coils would allow.

"No mercy, Baron." Sir Reginald applied the glue and the first layer of glitter with ruthless force. "There shall be no mercy given today. My apologies."
Within minutes the half man, half cyborg once known as the Baron became a crafter's nightmare, adorned with tastelessness and trademark infringements. When he was finished, Sir Reginald wheeled the baron out to the edge of the cliff where the ravens of Regretsia would soon grasp him in their claws of hilarity and take him to their queen. There he would be torn apart by wit and snark of the highest order, a fitting punishment for such as he. "Now to free the brides!"

The two noble friends and the army of Integrity searched the factory high and low. They almost gave up in despair, but a low cry from a hidden cupboard lead them to the prison of the captured Arabella. Her head removed, she was still as beautiful as before.

"Without a face you don't look nearly as sad as you once did!" cried the Count as he threw his arms around her in rapture. But wait! There was her head under a pile of OOAK brass steampunk pocket watches, as thrillingly melancholy as always. Before long, all the brides and their errant heads were found and reassembled with hot glue, and all left the mills of Von Reseller with happy hearts.
"Count, you mustn't let your darling Arabella anywhere near the mills again!" chided Sir Reginald with a wink.
"Let her? I will positively BAN HER from appearing here again!" chuckled the Count. And with that barely serviceable pun thrown in at the last moment, the heroes clinked their swords and went home to tea.

Thank you to all who took the time to read. Heidi O'Brien
I cannot thank Heidi enough for allowing me the privilege of posting her story on my blog.  It was a delightful flight into fantasy and those of us familiar with etsy get and appreciate the satire behind her humor. Thank you Heidi for granting us these moments of ecstatic  entertainment.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Artbeads July Design-Star Competition

Just a reminder about  Artbeads-Design-Star  July competition.  The last day to vote  is July 24th so if you have the chance click the link above and take a look at all the lovely entries. For you jewelry designers and makers it's a great source of inspiration.  Also take a glance at my own entry 'Exotic Blue Fuchsia Earrings'  - I won't try to twist your arm to vote for mine but I'd love comments.  :)

Blogger is still buggy today.  Has taken me over 20 minutes to put in one URL link as it kept  messing it up. . .finally gave up and just left only half of the text highlighted by the click link (as it was apparent that blogger was not about to highlight the whole text).  Is anybody else having problems . . . like every time the site goes to save the written post the cursor locks up for several annoying seconds and seems to do so every 15 to 20 seconds ?  Or maybe it's just my PC ?

On a different note - Heidi O'Brien, the amazing writer of the Saga of Etsia, (PartI  and  Part II)  has written a conclusion to her tale, for those of us that like a concrete and very happy ending to our stories . . . you know, those 'and they lived happily ever afterwards'?  I will be posting the finale of her wonderful tale on Monday so please be sure to drop in.  I adore you all and am wishing you a most happy and enjoyable weekend - have fun. :)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Continuation of the Riveting Tale of Etsia by Cabaret Ghost Productions

And so the saga of Etsia continues ... who shall prevail ?  The titillating tale of truth triumphanting over terror continues with Heidi O'Brien's wondrous satire ...
"So, Baron Von Reseller, you thought it would be great laughs to abduct my wife, did you?"'
Count Upcyledonio stood upright on the rafters, his moustache shining sleek in the shadows.

" Is this true, Baron?" bellowed Sir Reginald.

The Integrity team stood to the ready, swords and arrows sharp and erect.
"There are rumors, Baron, that you behead stolen brides and put them in your cupboard of doom. If this is correct, then your own head will be adorned on the Hipster Pike of Shame on the towers of Brooklyn Castle. Release the woman I love or I shall fall on you from this great height", the Count spread out his arms like a bird on a stenciled canvas tote bag and prepared to leap.

"Collective DEACTIVATE!" yelled the Baron, and his cyborg helpers separated with much whirring and clicking of cogs, until there were again hundreds of machines on the factory floor.
"Minions, guard my collection of headless brides - and make sure the new one is still held captive in the cellar."

" ARABELLA!" cried the Count as he jumped from the rafters and hurled himself downwards towards the evil baron.

The Baron simply chuckled and held up a copper arrow that looked suspiciously like merchandise from a popular trilogy . Before the Count was pierced by its copyright- infringing point, Sir Reginald threw a spiked cease and desist ball and it splintered into a thousand pieces.

The army circled the Baron, their shirtless chests and well-toned arms tensed for action.
With a wave of his hand, the Baron made the signal to his minions to take aim from their miniature canon-ball eye-sockets. There was a great burst of smoke and a shower of indifferent sparks, but when it all cleared it was revealed that the canons had not fired.

"Who is the head engineer?" screamed the Baron. "Step forward!"

A quivering mound of clockwork pieces wheeled a few centimeters towards its master, it's spherical head cast downwards.
"Well congratulations you buffoon" the Baron dripped with the drippiest drips of sarcasm to ever drip from a villain's mouth. "You have won the 'Three-Armed Blunder Vest Award'. I do hope you are happy."

"This has gone on long enough!' broke in the Count. 'There will be no more beheaded brides in Etsia!"

"And there will be no more mills owned by the Baron Von Reseller!" added Sir Reginald.

With a great roar, the noble knights swarmed the factory floor, their swords of justice swinging and their tight trousers bursting with nobility and courage.

Cogs and springs and coils and pieces of machinery evocative of a more oldey-worldey time flew through the air as swords flashed and knuckles punched through metal rib-cages. The Baron and his minions were no match for the strength and cunning invested in the Integrity army of Etsia. The floor was streaked with chevron lines of blood mixed with oil, the air smelt of sweat and the stale cupcake stench of fear.
Soon, all that was left of the Baron's collective was the Baron himself.

"It shall be you and I," said the Count, "in a duel to the death. You may choose your weapon." 

"Let it be me," said Sir Reginald. "It would be my honor to fight on behalf of my long-time friend and one-time nemesis. I believe we are half cousins too, I think that was mentioned somewhere?"

"True, we are," nodded the Count. "Old schoolmates as well, cavorting happily in the nursery in our short pants, playing soldiers. Funny that we should fight side by side now, as we did in our long ago games of chivalry."

"Don't forget our exploits at the university," chuckled Sir Reginald. "The songs we sang, the women we courted...those sad and sweet moments of first love that we confided in each other...the secrets and hopes for the future that we..."


Sir Reginald produced two hot-glue guns from his weapon-pack and threw one to the outstretched hand of the Baron.

"What in damnation is this?" asked the Baron. "How could such a contraption work?"

"I should have known that a Von Reseller would never have touched one of these in his life," smiled Sir Reginald as he held up his hot-glue gun and made ready to take aim...


Credits for story and imagination go to:

Author: Heidi O'Brien

Heidi O'Brien's CaberetGhost facebook page: CabaretGhostProductions
Blogger is being a b_ _ _ _ today and I'm having trouble getting it to put in the links. here are Heidi's links . 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Tale from Cabaret Ghost Productions

My interpretation of :  "Baron Von Reseller. Half man, half cyborg, all moustache"
(ps - notice the Dyson ball technology?)

Most of us are familiar with etsy, an online site for artists and crafters to vend their handmade items—many of us have even experienced the love-hate relationship that being an etsy shop owner sometimes entails. On any given day one can usually find a disgruntled thread. . .or two. . .or three, on the esty forums. So it was with a welcomed surprise that I ran across one of the most delightful, satirical threads I've ever had the honor to stumble upon in etsy's forums.
This short, lighthearted satire should more than tickle you funny bone, it should have you, literally, rolling on the floor in laughter.
It is my honor to present to you a story written by Heidi O'Brien of Cabaret Ghost Productions

~ ------------------------------------------------- ~

A great dark smog hung over the whimsical city of Etsia. High up in the mountains, far above the puffy clouds with their dangling raindrops, were the dark mills of the Baron Von Reseller. Half man, half cyborg, all moustache, the Baron surveyed his mountains of shipping boxes marked 'OOAK HANDMADE COPPER OWLS' and laughed his maniacal laugh.
"Fill these orders, boys!" he called to his clockwork cyborg minions. "These owls aren't going to mass-produce themselves!"
The Baron stopped mid-chuckle as he spied something from the edge of his monocle. There was movement in the clock tower above. Suddenly, the swarthy figure of Sir Reginald Steampunk smashed through the great clock face and swung down from a thick rope crafted from leftover knitting wool. He landed on both feet, his massive chest barely covered by his damp, white shirt.

"Who is this who dares to enter the realm of Von Reseller?" snarled the Baron. "Could this be the Integrity Team?"

"The Integrity Team is GONE!" Sir Reginald bellowed, and at least ten swarthy and handsome men appeared behind him, all brandishing swords.
"WE are the new Integrity Team!"
With these words, Sir Reginald and his army tore off their shirts in one powerful motion, their chests rippling with muscles and seething with righteous anger. 
Sir Reginald and his soldiers made their tight-trousered way over to the sniveling villain.

"We are a collective I tells ya, a COLLECTIVE!" yelled the Baron as he twirled his moustache.

"Show us your workspace, you miserable whelp," demanded Sir Reginald, his sword glimmering before him.
"No? Then we will have to see for ourselves, then!" he pulled on a golden-tasseled cord and the thick velvet curtain fell down to reveal a fog of industry, cyborgs, conveyer belts and furnaces all moving and bellowing smoke on the factory floor.
"Collective ACTIVATE!" Screamed the Baron, and his hundreds of cyborg minions moved together, cogs joining cogs and metal fusing into metal until all that was standing before the integrity team were three enormous machines.

"A sly trick," said Sir Reginald, "a sly and cunning piece of trickery indeed."

"There are only four of us," giggled the Baron,"' Count us if you please."

"Count you we will," said Sir Reginald, "Count you we will, indeed."
He turned to his windswept and dashing army.
"Let us give him a counting he will never forget."
"Look up!"
It was too late. Heavy nets of coloured bunting fell from the ceiling and ensnared the army of swashbucklers in its bright flags. Struggling for air under the festive yet lethal party decorations, the army took courage and began slashing the white twine with their swords.
Above them was an enormous vintage mason jar full of a glowing liquid substance.
"Gentlemen, what you see above you are the souls of artists and crafters that we have imprisoned in our Mason Jar of Mediocrity," The Baron laughed. "It is a heavy weapon indeed, and soon you will feel its descent upon you!"

"Holy Bird on a Branch!' ejaculated Sir Reginald. "Men! We must not let this happen. We will fight to the very death!"

The army of heroes tore and ripped at the bunting until they had freed themselves enough to stand, but the mason jar was being lowered at an ever more alarming speed. Just as it seemed the end was nigh for our noble knights of the hand-crafted, the jar stopped in mid-air, its shining liquid made still.
"Could it be? My dearest friend, the Count Upcycledonio?" Sir Reginald's heart almost exploded with joy as he spied his dear comrade and one-time nemesis of old hanging artfully from the factory rafters, the chains holding the mason jar stilled in his manly and capable hands.
"I can't hold on forever old chap!" cried the Count. "Run, dear fellows, run!"
~ ------------------------------------------------- ~ 

Credits for story and imagination go to:

Author: Heidi O'Brien
Heidi O'Brien's CaberetGhost facebook page: CabaretGhostProductions
The following words are Heidi's own and, hopefully,  I'll be able to complete the installation of this tale of heroic daring do, honor, righteousness, justice and all that there stuff ... 
"Providing this thread is still open tomorrow, I will finish the daring exploits of Sir Reginald and his stout-hearted fellows in the morning. Thank you for your kind words and goodnight."

Friday, July 13, 2012

Where Does My Dashboard Go ?

Okay!  So I'm trying to like the "new" blogger format.  No, honestly, I am really trying, and I admit that some of it I truly like, such as the stats page.  But one thing I do miss is my old Blogger dashboard and the way I was able to easily access it and all the blogs I am following.  But now, the only time I see my dashboard is when I sign in.  As soon as I click to check on comments, stats or view my blog I find myself lost in the woods.  I thought I had clicked on just about everything in sight but, so far, I have not found the way back to my dashboard (other than signing out and logging back in).

Can anyone else on Blogger tell me where in tarnation is that button or link that will take me to my "new" dashboard ???  There has to be a simple way of getting there without clicking out of Blogger and reentering through the back door again.

I also decided, at long last, to give Pinterest a try.  Didn't realize it was so "exclusive" .  I had to request an invite.  Guess I must have been wearing the wrong pair of my cruddy jeans, as after I sent in my request I got a reply that they are still considering it.  So far no other confirmation.  I may be the first person rejected by Pinterest.  Next time I'll be sure to wear a nicer pair of jeans, one with less paint spatters and a few less holes. :D

Oh but PLEASE ... if anyone has a map on how I can return from one page back to my dashboard page, I'd be so very grateful.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Donuts - Light on the Hips

Though I must admit I've a sweet tooth for yummy donuts - chocolate, jelly filled, glazed, iced and covered with sprinkles -  I am much better off sticking to the no-fat version of stone donuts as they don't add padding to my waist or girth to my hips.

When I recently reopened my etsy shop, I decided to make and list some pretty but casual jewelry, along with fancier pieces, and what could be more pretty, yet casual than wonderful stone donuts.   And Sodalite, with its denim color is a perfect candidate for casual jewelry.
This donut (pictured above)  is made from the stone, Sodalite and is adorned with sterling silver beads and sterling silver filled wire.  The glass beads are Swarovski crystals and (my favorite)  lovely Czech firepolished beads.  When I first started my jewelry business, the Czech firepolished beads were called "crystals", however that nomenclature was dropped as true glass crystal contains lead and the Czech firepolished beads are lead-free.  So, somewhere around 2000 - 2001, suppliers quit referring to them as crystal.   Crystal or not they are still lovely beads.

Sodalite is a semiprecious stone, maybe not on the same level as amethyst, topaz or even sodalite's more prestigious cousin, Lapis Lazuli,  but sodalite has its own beauty and character that make it ideal for jewelry.   I think this particular pendant would look right at home with a pair of jeans and a simple top.
Photos above and below demonstrate the versatility of the adjustable cord. Short or long, whatever suits the wearer.
 So far most of my stone donut project have involved the larger 40 mm donuts.  I've eyed the smaller, little 15mm donuts, thinking they'd be adorable as earrings or to use as links in a bracelet or necklace.  Have any of my jewelry making, blogging buddies used the smaller stone donuts?  How do you like them and what projects have you used them in?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Artbeads Design Star July Contest

Artbeads has a new, once monthly contest . . . or least I guess it's a contest. There are no physical prizes just the honor of having one's jewelry creation featured as the winner of that month's Design Star . . . a spin off on HGTV's Design Star, perhaps?

Normally I don't enter contests, especially ones that are determined by popular vote.  Mainly because, all too often, popular vote can mean a popularity contest and to be embarrassingly honest I was never a shinning star of popularity.  No, in truth I was (and am) the quiet, drab, little wall flower that blends invisibly into the background.  But this time, for some inexplicable reason, I decided to enter my Exotic Blue Fuchsia Flower earrings.  I always thought them very pretty and they are a bit involved and take time to make. 

I took what seemed like an endless stream of photos . . . deleting most as unacceptable.  The rest I cropped and made sure the brightness was adequate, and then I mulled over them trying to pick  "the" most suitable one to represent my work.

I really thought the photo looked better - at least it did on my program. But after submitting my entry and having been accepted, I was so disappointed at how my photo looked on Artbeads website.  All I can say is "Blah" ! 

Wish I had the finesse of photography that my Blogging friend T Chipperfield  has, or Annette of So Many Memories, or Patty of My Life Under the Bus, or Aly of  LostInAlytopiaor . . . oh who am I kidding!   I wish I had the photographic skill of far too many very photographically adept people out there to even begin listing them all.

Anyway, as you know Artbeads is having this month's Design Star contest and I entered.   I won't ask you to vote for me (if you wish to vote, I encourage you to vote for whom-so-ever's design you  feel strongly compelled to vote for) however I would love it if you would leave comments on my Artbead Design page Exotic Blue Fuchsia Flowers :
Below is iformation regarding this Design Star contest and is open to the public. 

• Grand Prize: Winner to be featured on the Jewelry Design Star page.
Submission Dates
Submissions Open: Thursday, July 5, 2012, at 00:01pm Pacific Time.
Submissions Close: Wednesday, July 18, 2012, at 11:59pm Pacific Time.
Voting Period
Public Voting Starts: Thursday, July 19, 2012, at 12:00am Pacific Time.
Public Voting Ends: Tuesday, July 24, 2012, at 11:59pm Pacific Time.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Jewel by Any Name

Photo - Little Rylee Jade . . . getting cuter by the day . . . and faster.
This post is not going to be about my jewelry, but it does entail a jewel . . . Rylee Jade.
Unfortunately I don't get to see Rylee, my great-granddaughter, very often as both her parents have to work in order to pay the bills and make ends meet. Guess that's the curse of today's fast paced, expensive world.  The only time I get an opportunity to see her is when my daughter, Kathi, Rylee's grandmother, gets to babysit her. 
These photos were taken back in March  and Rylee wouldn't (or couldn't) stay still for anything.  I can't tell you just how many photos I snapped in which she was little more than a smudged blur . . .
Photo above . . . See what I mean ?  She's too fast for my camera.
Photo below. . .This is a bit better but there was always some part of Rylee that was kicking, thrashing or wiggling - in this shot it's primarily her tiny, little feet that are moving.

Hm - today I wish that blogger would have the problem of being too fast.  It is acting horrifically slow and sometimes takes 10 seconds before it will allow me to type a single character so this post took considerably longer to type.  Hate it when I type a whole sentence and find that there is nothing there, only a blinking cursor.  Hope this glitch doesn't last long. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Still Muddling Through

Photo above-Latest listing Red Jasper and Yellow Jade necklace.

Back in 2009 I began developing an online presence. Granted, I had a vague idea about what I ultimately wished to accomplish but no idea in blazes about what I was actually doing.

You see, I'm of a generation that grew up without cell phones (when mobile phones did come out they were about the size of a brick and weighed at least as much).  My first experience with a video game was Pong and then the whole world changed . . . it seemed to morph overnight into Pac-Man and Frogger and Mario. Changes came so abundantly and at super-sonic speeds that my poor, befuddled brain could not keep up. 

Yet internet progress and communication technology continues to change each moment . . . most of the time I feel like I'm running a race wearing lead boots while everyone else is cruising past me on Segways or zinging by with rocket boosters strapped on their backs.
Photo above-Center features one of Alaska Boro Glass's wonder Glass Rings.

 When I opened my little etsy shop, back in 2009, I tried, honestly, I really did.
I read all the advice and suggestions, like how it was imperative to have a fully stocked shop. Many recommended to fill it up, flesh it out as quickly as possible. Try, they told me, to have at least 100 items in your shop at all times. I spent every second of every waking hour either creating jewelry for my shop inventory, or I was photographing it (very badly I must admit) and writing up descriptions, and shelling out 20 cents per item to list. 

And then I waited . . . and waited . . . and waited, can you hear the crickets chirping? I'd rush to check my emails at least 20 times a day, always hoping for an order. Do any of you recall that feeling ?

Then, after weeks (well, actually in my case about 30 weeks), you finally get that first order. Heavens, what euphoria ! What excitement ! What elation! 
Cripes, what shear terror . . .absolute fright. . .a chaos of anxiety! What am I doing ? How do I process an order? OMG, what if I screw it all up? Mess up my very first order? Make my first customer think I'm a complete Jack_ _ _ _?

But, amazingly, we muddle through it (yes, even I somehow managed).  We pull it all together and that very first, maiden order is lovingly, wrapped, packaged and sent (with all our best wishes) on its way.
Photo above-New listing shown on my headless mannique.  Hm, someday I should give her a name, maybe I should have a naming contest?

Though it does make sense to have a full shop, as it can be a turn off to walk into a store and find shelves bare of merchandise, still, this time I intend to do things differently. I'll take my time . . . list one item a day . . . pay more attention to my photos and descriptions . . . and, I'm sure that when or if I get an order, I will be just as discombobulated as I was back in 2009 when  I opened that notoriously, exhilarating email that read: "Congratulations on your etsy order".   
Best wishes to you all.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Very Happy Unbirthday

Photo above - the beadworked bracelet I just listed on my etsy shop AlmostPrecious
I'm not sure if I'm sane or totally out of my mind.  I've gone and re-opened my etsy shop AlmostPrecious and am going to attempt to sell jewelry again . . . or perhaps that's jewellery?
Photo above - Red Jasper beads form center of the 7.5" beaded bracelet.
Yes I must be completely deranged, loonier than the Mad Hatter of Alice in Wonderland.  For every vintage shop, cookie shop, handmade soap shop on etsy, there must be ten gazillion jewelry makers.  But you know -- it's not the beautiful, handcrafted jewelry that's made with passion and care that bothers me . . . it's the Chinese, mass produced, cheap trash that bugs me.  How can one get recognized over these sweat shops that are listing hundreds of items daily ?  And how can one compete with Dollar Store prices?
Photo above - a little bit of this and a little bit of that went into making it.
Photo below - Love the cute clusters of tiny, 2mm red jasper beads that frame the large 12mm center bead of high quality red jasper.

Photo above - and a cute little bronze Apple Blossom button makes for a dainty clasp, along with a sweet little loop of  glass seed beads.
Well, as I said I may be crazy . . . may even have dropped my old brain in the middle of a soccer match and had it kicked about one time too many, but daffy, cracked or stark raving mad,  I've decided to give it one more try.   Wish me luck . . . say me a little prayer . . . send me a five leaf clover -- a lucky penny -- your blessed piece of ABC chewing gum . . . cause I'm off to a very Happy Un-birthday Party.
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