Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Under Construction!

Yesterday I talked about how I was considering posting photos of larger projects in the works. I figured I'd start that today with an image of the cameo I'm working on. The pendant is finished, as you can see, but it turned out quite a bit larger than I'd anticipated. This put the kibbutz on setting her in a choker a la Lady Ghost. Instead I'm going to do a long necklace. I'm thinking two strands of assorted black beads, modern and vintage. This is a personal project, a little present to myself.

The cameo isn't the only thing under construction! Although I will have or or two new items and a Fashionable Friday column this week, I am dedicating my time to some website improvement. I've just spent the past hour working on the linking system, connecting one item to another in an endless chain of linkage! Alright, well, once I get everything done it will be endless. Right now you might find a few dead ends and cul-de-sacs. Also on the agenda is taking new photos for old items. Heavens, I still have things that were scanned rather than photographed. This won't do at all.

In writing news, my book is still moving along. I hit a bit of a roadblock, but I decided to take a detour. The point I'm at right now has two of my major characters seriously injured, and a third major character is a first-year resident at a hospital. It gets to be a problem when ones characters would be far more knowledgeable in a subject than oneself is. I foresee much research in my future, but for now I left a note to myself to fill in the details later, and kept moving forward with the story.

Speaking of which, I'm going to go move forward with it now!

But first, we of course need a Cool Thing! In honor of tonight being the night that I play a samurai fantasy role playing game, I give to you: Japanese Death Poetry! I appreciate that this site has them in both English and Japanese. I personally enjoy haiku and find these poems to be very poignant.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Things and stuff.

I have really got to get back into the habit of blogging! I told myself that I would post every day, but things keep distracting me. First of all, I am absolutely obsessed with the book I'm working on. I've written almost 70 pages so far. At this rate, I wouldn't be surprised if I have the first draft done by the end of March. I am just on fire with writing! Saturday, after D&D, I sat down and wrote from midnight until almost 5am, and the only reason I stopped was that I had a party to go to at noon. The party was kind of fun; basically just a bunch of us sitting around, talking, joking, playing Soul Calibur 2 and watching movies. I'm trying to be a little more social, as I found myself growing reclusive recently.

Let's see... what sort of things are going on that I can talk about? The picture above is of the necklace I made to wear to Bead Dinner during Gem Show. I designed it to go with this really foxy corset, which is made of red, black and ivory floral brocade. Since the corset was a rather European style made with decidedly Asian fabric, I decided to echo that theme in the accompanying necklace, opting for a pseudo-Victorian Gothic choker accented by Chinese lacquer butterflies. Swarovski crystals add some nice sparkle and the perfect shade of red, and the vintage black flower beads were a great match for the plum blossoms on the fabric. I received many compliments on it! I'm quite happy with the design and will hopefully be making something similar for the site in the near future.

I've started studying Chinese again. There are two things that frustrate me about the language: trying to say things in the proper tone, and how difficult some of the characters are to draw. I love reading characters, but forget writing them! Ugh! Nonetheless, it's a nice activity for Chris and I to share.

And you know what I would really like to talk about? Layne's Legacy: Beading For A Cure! I know, I know, I talk about it all the time... but that's because it's important to me. Anyway, the 2007 gallery is now up, and auctions start this Sunday. THIS SUNDAY!!! Auctions will run every Sunday in March, and the first Sunday in April. My luscious necklace should be somewhere in the middle of there. I will be linking to auctions quite often once they are up.

Another thing that I have been thinking about is whether or not this blog is interesting. Do the random musings about my daily life bore you? Is there a subject you'd like to see more or less of? I'm considering posting "Work in Progress" photos so you can see the evolution of some of my more complicated pieces. Let me know your thoughts.

Today's Cool Thing is the Art of Meredith Dillman. I am an absolute junkie for faerie and fantasy artwork, and hers reminds me of Nene Thomas and Amy Brown, but with a definite Japanese influence as well. I will have to buy some of her buttons!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Fashionable Friday -- Asian Flair

(My apologies for not posting this yesterday, my site was down which I meant I couldn't get the necessary links!)

The use of Asian elements and Asian influence in fashion is not a recent trend, but it does seem to be a lingering trend. Whether it's kimono-sleeved tops, or Chinese brocade used in a decidedly Western corset, "Asian Flair" is everywhere!

I'm not immune to this trend, of course. I'm drawn to Chinese carved beads, artistic depictions of Geisha, and of course, anything with a dragon on it. While I mostly have a bad habit of hoarding these items for myself, I do occasionally relent and make them into beautiful Asian-inspired jewelry for sale. One of my most recent creations is Almost Ready, which features a beautiful Geisha image as the focal. Also new are the nicely coordinated Empress of Butterflies bracelet and Imperial Butterflies earrings, both made with Chinese lacquer butterflies and vintage jade-inspired glass beads. Looking a little farther back, you can see the delightful Of The Earth bracelet with its beetle focal, and the teal-hued Tranquil Butterfly necklace. During Gem Show this year I picked up a nice selection of carved Chinese focals, so expect to see some more Asian-inspired necklaces in the next few months.

I am also a huge fan of Asian textiles and clothing. The internet is a wonderful source for clothes, whether they be authentically Asian or just inspired. For genuine vintage kimonos, be sure to check out Kyoto Kimono. I purchased from them during Gem Show and found them to be polite, friendly, and bursting at the seams with Japanese clothes and fabric! I am really enamored, however, with this short Kiki Lee Kimono by designer Wai Ching! Way out of my budget, but just look at those colors! If you view the designer's other items, you will find more gorgeous modern kimono dresses and tops. And don't forget to accessorize! Might I suggest either this obi-style belt, or anything from Kimono Momo's line of scarves and handbags?

For a casual, unisex look, you really can't go wrong with t-shirts. SquidFire offers this great Praying Mantis shirt. And ethaibid has this very cool woodblock wave long-sleeve top. I love this shirt and am really tempted to get it for my husband! Be sure to check out their other items, as they have many Asian print tees.

Many other jewelers are inspired by Asian artwork and textiles as well. This great matchbox Geisha pendant even has a mirror on the back for checking out your hair, clothes and makeup while you're out on the town. The Sounds of Japan inro box features a lively musical scene, and would make a nice addition to any Japanese-inspired outfit. Meanwhile, this wonderful Kimono Flower Ring would be the perfect compliment to just about anything you wore! If you need a safe place to keep this jewelry, or a nice way to present it as a gift, what could be better than this Omiyage Daffodil Pouch? I love it!

This is only the tiniest selection of what you can find if you look for it. I could have easily made this blog 5 times as long and not mentioned all of the great Asian-themed items I've seen on-line. If I've only whetted your appetite, you may want to visit the Asian Buzz blog, for Asian business and products!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

An assortment of things.

I had a rather pleasant day today, which included a trip to our favorite sushi place with our friend and neighbor Alex. Mmmm, sushi. If you had told me 2 years ago that I would be enjoying raw fish, I would have scoffed at you. Now I look forward to sushi nights as a way to have some tasty, not-too-heavy food and some nice conversation with whoever has joined us. The tempura fried ice cream today was an added bonus.

I have plans for Friday afternoon, so I think Thursday is going to be photography day. That means that tomorrow is my big day to make a couple of things for the site. Luckily today I finished embellishing my cameo (see, I told you it was a pleasant day!), so I can put it aside and focus on something else for a couple of days. Also luckily, I can get a decent amount of beading done at the L5R game.

In other news, I am really enjoying working on my third book (working title: A Darkened Dream). It's really been flowing lately, and the only reason I stopped working on it last night is because I'm trying really hard not to fall back into my old habit of staying up until 3-4am writing. I've been so much more productive now that I get up before noon. I'd like to get an early start on my writing tonight, so I think I'm going to wrap this post up now.

But first, I am going to leave you with an extra-special Cool Thing! You know how much I love the beadwork charity that I participate in, Layne's Legacy -- Beading For A Cure. Well, today I am very happy to share with you this beautiful slide show of all of the 2006/07 BFAC projects! It is set to a song called "Fern Grotto" by Doug Hamer. You will need Shockwave to view it, and please be aware that it takes a while to load -- but it's so worth it! Auctions should start in a week and a half. I hope that you're as excited as I am! :D

Monday, February 19, 2007

A great day.

Although I probably should have spent today updating the ol' website, instead I went out with Chris and did some fun errands. At this rate, I really won't be updating until Friday, bit it will be a really nice update. Currently I have, let's see... 4 pairs of earrings, one woven necklace, one collar, and two anklets. That's before anything I bead this week. I also have some beautiful things that I've made for myself lately, which will probably get posted here in the blog after I photograph them.

Our first stop today was JoAnn's. My Mom kindly agreed to my request for some choli tops, so I had to go out and buy fabric. Seriously, I have at least half a dozen skirts for dancing, 4 belts, numerous veils, and even a turban, but I am utterly lacking in shirts for a dancer persona to wear for Ren Faire. This had to be remedied! So I picked out fabric, and I got thread to match, and then I waited in the gigantic cutting-table line. I have got to stop going to the fabric store on Monday holidays -- it's always a zoo. Anyway, I was waiting in line when this lady walked by with this fabric I had to have. It was black with skulls wearing shnazzy, colorful hats. Luckily she was ahead of me in line, so when my turn came around, the bolt was sitting in the basket of fabric needing to be returned to the shelf, and I was able to get some as well. Hurray! I am going to make such a fun miniature beaded quilt with it. I can't wait!

Then we went to the used book store, where a good $100-200 worth of unwanted gaming books, a small stack of magazines, a board game and a puzzle only netted us $30 in trade credit. Bah! Of course we spent a lot more than that while we were there. Not only did we get three gaming books and three novels, but I found a boxed belly dance set with a book, a CD, and a set of zils. I really need to get around to learning to use those now, since I'm up to about 3 or 4 sets of them.

Our final stop was the comic shop, where we picked up some graphic novels. Perusing the shelves reminded me of why I really don't read comic books anymore... There was nothing that tempted me to buy it. The only thing that looked good was a graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, but I decided to pass that up for now.

Now I'm home and happily beading away on a Gothic cameo project. I've wanted to work on it for a while and finally started it this weekend while my internet was down. I'm mostly done with the cameo part and I just need to decide what sort of necklace would best compliment it.

I realize I've been remiss lately. Not only have I been blogging quite infrequently, but I have not been posting Cool Things. So tonight, we have a Cool Thing, and it is Hawkwolf's Armory, a website which features some beautiful chain maille clothing, accessories, and other cool stuff.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

More about my connection

So, the cable guy showed up this morning and declared that the problem had to do with the cruddy old cable running from the cruddy old cable box, and said that they would replace it... On the 27th and 28th. Today is the 17th. That's 10-11 days that we were supposed to put up with having NO connection. But what could we do? The connection was up for a bit while I slept, but by the time I got up it had gone down, stayed down for a few hours, came up for about an hour, then was down ALL DAY until Chris decided to try removing the attachment that the second tech put on.

That was about 4 hours ago and we haven't even had a little disconnect since.

So quite honestly, I think the people at Cox have NO idea what the heck they are doing. Honestly. The first guy was sure that with our great signal strength, it had to be our modem. The second guy was sure that the thingie he put between the cord would fix it. And today's guy was sure that we needed the outside cable replaced. PHEH on all of them. I just hope that the connection continues to behave.

Depending on what else goes on for the next day or two, I may update tomorrow or Monday, or I might just wait and have a huge update this Friday.

Friday, February 16, 2007

No update today!

Ok, so here's the deal. I'm feeling better, I've made a ton of great jewelry this week, and I'm all rarin' to go for a regularly scheduled Friday update and companion Fashionable Friday column. So what's the problem, you might ask? My cable connection has been acting up for months, and today it simply refuses to work. It's spending its time either being completely down, or claiming to be up while not loading anything. Honestly, right now I'd be happier with dial-up than I am with my normally fast cable connection! The only reason I can post this is that I snuck on to my neighbors' wireless network (no worries, we're friends and have permission).

Yesterday it disconnected and didn't come back up for 3 hours -- that was after being down for 20 minutes and then doing a couple more rapid-fire disconnects and then giving me half an hour of proper internet behavior. On Wednesday, it went down for an hour, then disconnected me half a dozen times in the span of 10 minutes. So far we've replaced the modem, had some sort of filter placed on the cable, and replaced the actual cable that runs from the wall jack to the modem.

Tomorrow a technician is coming out. This will be our third technician visit in about as many months. If he or she does manage to fix the connection, then I will post a rockin' update this weekend. If not, then it may be time to give DSL a try!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I'm back, sort of.

So, here's the thing about gem show. People come from all over the place. Unfortunately, they bring their germs with them. So you take a whole bunch of people of varying degrees of wellness, and you cram them into a warm room with barely passable air circulation, and by the time it's done, you feel lucky if you get out of there healthy. This was not one of my lucky years. Friday night I had a tickle in my throat. Saturday I was sick, but I sucked it up because by golly, I was not missing Bead Dinner (which was a lot of fun, by the way). Sunday morning, the sounds coming out of my throat were not human. I spent most of Sunday and Monday asleep. Even my cats slept less than I did. It's been a while since I was this sick.

I'm mostly better now. I was actually awake for most of yesterday, and today I feel sick but alert. Unfortunately, it's doubtful that I'll have an update ready for this Friday. I have too much stuff that I have to catch up on.

Next week, however, there should be an incredible update. I picked up such cool stuff at gem show! Graceful chandelier findings, new colors of crystals and seed beads, pretty leaves. I'm excited to start working with all of it!

Today's Cool Thing is Kyoto Kimono! I picked up a really cool haori jacket from them during the show. I can't wait to wear it to My L5R game! Yes, I am a total nerd.