Monday, April 30, 2007

New Playthings!

Well, it's been a very nice couple of days. Last night I went over to my parents' home to celebrate both my and my brother's birthdays. I had a great time, and ate delicious carrot cake. Mmmm, cake. My parents gave me a very cool sewing tote with a few sewing supplies and PearlEx powders! I've really been wanting to try those powders with polymer clay, but the JoAnn's stores in town don't carry them.

My awesome husband Chris gave me a balanced scimitar for belly dancing. Hurray! There are few things cooler than dancing with a sword on your head. Of course, I'm not yet very good at keeping the sword balanced, but I will learn. Practice, practice, practice.

Today we went to JoAnn's. I wanted a few more sewing supplies and some more t-shirts to butcher (they were on sale for really cheap). Chris wanted a couple more pairs of pliers for maille work. I also picked up the latest issue of Bead Unique. The cover necklace is by a member of the beading forum I frequent, and inside there's also an article by the ever-awesome Beki Haley. Oh, and I got paintbrushes so I can apply my PearlEx powders. Maybe I will play with them tomorrow.

Then I came home and got the mail, and I'd received the kimono fabrics that I'd recently won on eBay! If you'd like to buy some kimono fabric of your own -- and really, who wouldn't? -- you can visit Dream Keeper Designs' eBay store. I just love kimono, and I will be using these bits of fabric to make a couple of beautiful wall hangings.

Today's Cool Thing is Foster's Creations. Shannon is having a rough time right now and could really use some sales to help make ends meet. If you would like to help an independent artist, brighten someone's day, and show your support for cancer patients and survivors everywhere, please take a look at her awareness bookmarks and cellphone charms! You could also treat yourself to some wonderful body-care products. Go, browse, buy! :)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Beautiful Brown Birthday Bauble.

I got into jewelry making partially because I love jewelry. So every year, for my birthday, the holidays, and sometimes gem show if I have time, I make sure to create something really special for myself. Well, Tuesday is my 25th birthday, and tonight is the joint celebration for my brother and I (his birthday was this past Weds), so this weekend I decided to bead something beautiful to wear to dinner. The result is the "Beautiful Brown Birthday Bauble." I might eventually give it a more flowery name, but I am a fan of alliteration!

I'd recently received the gorgeous dark topaz faceted glass cabochon and accompanying seed beads in a bead swap, and I'd also recently noticed that I have some beautiful brown clothes, but all of my brown jewelry is actually mostly green with brown accents. Not a surprise, but also not acceptable.

Due to its transparency, the cabochon really looks best with an open-backed bezel, so I opted for this style. I love the look of netting (it's one of my favorite stitches), and it has the added benefit of working up very quickly. I think it took me about two hours to do the bezel itself. I decided to add the flat-backed coppery pearls for some extra pizazz.

Originally I'd intended to do fringe along the bottom, but I really enjoy the double-focal look that some artists get by either attaching two cabs, or using a cab and a pendant. When I found the brown leaf bead by Wolf Song Designs in my collection, I knew this was the route I had to go. The fact that I love leaves certainly helped the decision along. The twin swags also hold beads that are found in the neck strap.

The neck strap itself is a single strung strand using a variety of beautiful topaz-hued beads, including Czech glass and citrine, as well as the pearls that I used in the bezel. It's not visible in the picture, but I finished it off with a vermeil double-leaf clasp. It's strung on golden SoftFlex, which helps give an inner glow to the transparent beads.

All in all, I'm very pleased with the results! I wouldn't mind trying the same technique in different colors, perhaps even substituting vintage nailheads for the flat-back pearls.

Today's Cool Thing is this absolutely awesome mosaic Day Of The Dead box. I really love the decorated skulls associated with Dia De Los Muertos, the juxtaposition of bright colors and something that is normally a little creepy. And of course, mosaics are just cool.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Birth of Flaming Teeth -- Part Three.

This necklace will be so much easier to photograph when it's assembled! Ugh! I realize that right now it looks essentially like just a mess. All the threads aren't helping. Rather than tying them off and cutting them as one normally would, I'm leaving them attached so that I can use them when I have to stitch the "teeth" to the base.

Anyway, you can see here that I have completed all nine of the "teeth," including attaching all the crystal accent beads. You can also see the full base strip, isn't it exciting? At this point, the hard part is pretty much done. All that remains is to do an attractive picot edging along the top of the base strip, then attach the teeth and the niblet beads, and finally add a clasp. As soon as I find a clasp I like, of course! For some silly reason I'd originally planned to attach the teeth, then do the picot, but somewhere along the way I realized that if I did that, my working thread would just wrap around the crystal dangles. Believe me, there are few things more annoying than when your thread catches on something almost every stitch!

It's my plan to finish Flaming Teeth this coming week, if I don't get distracted by other projects (I did take some time yesterday and today to make myself something special, come back tomorrow to see it!). I've already received three completed 2008 Layne's Legacy -- BFAC projects. Three more are done, and at least one of those is currently on its way to me. Thus it's likely that I'll be among the first 10 for 2008!

Today's Cool Thing is Sock Dreams. There are so many different socks, tights, and gloves that I want to order from this company. Too bad it's currently too hot to wear any of them! It's still nice to browse, though. They even have tabi!

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Future of Fridays *insert dramatic music*

As you may have noticed, I haven't been doing a great job of keeping up with the Fashionable Friday columns. I've been kind of "out there" lately, thinking about things other than current trends and how they apply to my jewelry. But I do still enjoy writing the columns when I actually do one. So I'm going to cut back and only post them every other Friday.

I am toying with the idea of having an alternate Friday column, which would focus more on fantasy. I might post about a fantasy artist, or about costuming, or review a fantasy movie. My jewelry is all about adding that touch of magic to your daily life, after all!

And while I'm talking about Friday, I'd like to say that henceforth, my weekly updates will be on Sundays instead of Fridays. I've simply been trying to cram too much into a single Friday -- Photography, website updates, Fashionable Friday columns. Besides which, my husband does all of his coding for my site on Sunday, so if I find a problem during the Friday update, it doesn't get fixed for two days. Better to update while he's working on it, so if there's a bug, it gets fixed before the update goes live.

That said, I did do an update today. No new jewelry, but tons of new pictures! Expect more new pictures next week, but probably also some new jewelry as well. I have this cute anklet I keep meaning to post, and I'm working on a delicious woven necklace accented with some of the prettiest vintage crystals I own! Tempted yet?

I'm still hard at work on Flaming Teeth, so tomorrow I will do an in-progress update on that.

Today's Cool Thing is this awesome Monster Alphabet book. I have one niece, and my goal in life is to be "the weird aunt." I wanted to give her Baby's First Mythos for Christmas, but I couldn't find it anywhere. I think she'll get this for her birthday!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Some stuff that is going on.

Hello! It's been a beautiful weekend here in Tucson, with a little rain overnight on Friday and pleasant temperatures yesterday and today. I'm in a fairly good mood. This afternoon my BFAC auction ended, and it raised more money than any of my previous donations have, so I'm quite happy about that!

Today my husband installed a new image manipulation program for me, and I've been playing around with it. You can see the results right here. Ahhhh, nice clean white background, melding flawlessly into the site. I've often envied other artists, who had such crisp images of their products. Now I can do it myself, hurrah! Over the next few weeks expect that the updates will be more about cleaning up the images of current products rather than adding new products.

I have to say, I'm really pleased with how the site is shaping up. VChoy's beautiful graphics really add some punch! And the new search engine is something Chris has wanted to add forever, but I kept making him do other things. Within the next week or two there should be some improvements made there, although they will mostly be of the behind-the-scenes sort. Anyway, it's great to have a search function, since I have 100+ items available at any given time.

Oh, by the way, on Friday night we watched this very cool Spanish movie called Intacto. It's a very interesting take on luck. The movie was a little grim at times, slightly creepy, but overall enjoyable and even somewhat intelligent. For those who have played White Wolf's Mage game, it may very well remind you of Entropy magic.

This is the last week to bid on 2007 Layne's Legacy: Beading For A Cure items, so today's Cool Thing of course has to be an auction! Sarah is a beautiful handmade, bead-embellished teddy bear by Wendy Reed. When I was a little kid, my mother used to sew similarly articulated bears and elaborate clothes for them, so I can appreciate the work that went into all facets of this great project. Be sure to look at all of this week's other auctions, and help us end this record-breaking year with a bang!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Fashionable Friday -- Ultra Feminine

Fashion this Spring looks to be very heavy on the traditional feminine styles. I'm seeing a lot of muted and pastel colors, and so many cute girly tops. I absolutely love lace-trimmed camisoles and other delicate shirts, as I feel that they have a wonderful Victorian vibe without being as heavy and constricting as an actual Victorian dress. It's the perfect way to feel elegant while still keeping cool. Whether you pair them with jeans or a beautiful skirt, you stand out from the usual t-shirt crowd.

I couldn't resist searching my usual websites for some great examples of these stylish tops. I found an amazing assortment, some quite elaborate. Here are a few of my favorites.

Peacock Blue Tank by SideBon. I love peacock feathers, and this aqua-blue hued tanktop is the perfect blend of femininity and perky bright hues. It's a great match for my Mermaid Bauble bracelet, too, or any of the other aqua beaded treasures on my site.

Diamond and Pearls Tank by SideBon. I have a definite weakness for lacy, ruffly, Goth-y tops like this! I love the addition of dangling beads. Just think of how much movement this top would have if you were dancing! For a super-sexy look, add the Midnight Cascade necklace, and you are ready for a night on the town!

Spanish Lace ShirtDress by Autumn Russell. Just look at the ladylike retro style of this top! Beautiful! Its delicate hues would be well-complimented by Spring Whispers.

Corset-Style Top With Black Lace
by Maggie O'Riley's is a bit foxier than all the rest. It reminds me of what you'd see on a particularly styling saloon girl in a Western. Bronzed Jet nicely compliments the golden hues of the cloth and the black accents.

Sexy Scarf Shirt by Danielle Colby. Sexy is right! I love how lacy, silky vintage scarves have been repurposed to make this gorgeous shirt. Wouldn't it be just perfect with Lady Ghost?

Frilly Girly White Tank by SideBon. Only the girliest girls need look at this one! So wonderfully crisp and pure! The lace accents at the top remind me of a butterfly, so I think that On Pastel Wings would compliment it nicely.

Gypsy Backless Apron Shirt by Danielle Colby. This one has definite Boho appeal! Mellow Melon is the perfect accent for the coral tones of this top.

Deco Tank by Lara Kazan. I love crochet lace as an accent on clothing, it's just so elegant.

Amanda Camisole by Phyl. I used to adore eyelet when I was a little girl, and one of my favorite Summer dresses now is made from eyelet. I love how this top layers it with other fabrics for a petal-like effect.

Isabella Camisole by Myolee. A little more casual than the rest, but still so cute!

Because those last three all come in a variety of colors, I'll let you choose your favorite and then decide what jewelry would match it perfectly. I, of course, recommend the green option whenever possible ;)

And now... The grand finale! Lace Top by Autumn Russell. WOW! That is some beautiful bridal-quality lace, and such an elegant top. I like to daydream about someone wearing this top with a long, full wine-hued skirt, and Queen of Love and Beauty. Obviously with such a gorgeous outfit, my daydream lady is going someplace special, perhaps a fundraiser or awards ceremony, or maybe it's her wedding.

I hope you've enjoyed this little virtual shopping trip, and that it has you thinking about your great Summer outfits!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My BFAC Up For Auction!

That's right, my beautiful branchy necklace is up for auction RIGHT NOW! If you're looking to own a delicious piece of Erthe Fae beadwork and support a good cause, this is your lucky day. Click here to view the auction!

Oh yes, and also, I have a search engine on my website now. Can I get a woohoo?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Entertainment Rundown.

So, I used to talk about what I was reading, watching, listening to, and generally doing all the time on this blog, and then I thought to myself "Maybe I should talk more about beads and business." But then the problem became that when I was having a low creativity week, I wouldn't post at all, and that was boring. So I'm going to try to find a happy balance.

Lately I've read a lot, picked up some new how-to books, and watched a few decent movies. I thought I might share my opinions on them with you, so maybe you might be tempted to go out and read or watch them yourself.


I have a bit of an addiction to Tamara Silver Jones's fantasy forensic novels. Unfortunately, she only has three of them. I read the first one (Ghosts in the Snow) probably a year and a half to two years ago and said "Huh, that was cool" and made a mental note to keep an eye out for future work with her name on it. Then one day recently I was at the used book store and found Valley Of The Soul and then discovered that hey, there was a book between the two of them, called Threads of Malice. So I had to take a trip to B&N to get that. Then I summarily devoured each book. I really enjoy her books for a couple of reasons: one being that gruesome mystery novels are a guilty pleasure, and the fantasy setting makes them all that much better. But the main reason is that they're actually well-written. The author has a solid narration style that never interferes with the flow of the story, interesting characters, good mysteries, and a nice meta-plot that ties the books together.

Best of all, she avoids my biggest pet peeve with mystery novels. In any mystery series that doesn't involve a cop, and maybe even some of the ones that do, it's just ridiculous to imagine that so many people who are connected to the main character could not only die, but be murdered in a mysterious fashion. I mean, honestly! You'd think eventually people would stop being friends with the protagonist and his or her family would disown him or her and everyone would distance themselves, all for fear of being the next murder victim. All ranting aside, the author wisely made the character a castellan whose duties include investigating murders in a rather large geographical area. I highly recommend these books as a good read for anyone who enjoys mysteries or fantasy.

My other recent novel experience was somewhat less enjoyable. For a while now I'd had my eye on Windhaven by George RR Martin and Lisa Tuttle. I am, after all, a pretty big fan of Mr. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series. Unfortunately, Windhaven is absolutely nothing like those books, and really was not that great. I still read it all the way through, in my usual obsessive "do nothing else until I finish this book" manner, but I wasn't enthralled. The writing was not very strong, and because the story covered the life of a character from early childhood to ancient cronehood, there were many large gaps between sections, which I felt weakened the story. I also felt like the book never got quite deep enough. In a way, it reminded me of all of those rather meditative sequels to the Earthsea Trilogy, but without the benefit of being written by Ursula K. LeGuin. I really can't recommend it.

I'm working my way through The Dragon Chronicles which has been sitting on my shelf for a long time (I think I received it as a holiday present, and since I tend to get a lot of books as gifts, it got lost in the shuffle). Like many more successful illustrated storybooks, such as Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book and the immensely popular Dragonology, the book tries to present itself as a modern reprinting of an ancient book, which has of course been pooh-poohed by modern scholars, etc etc. Where The Dragon Chronicles fails is that it is utterly and completely unbelievable. The above mentioned books succeed because they mix enough reality and tongue-and-cheek humor into their work that you play along, suspend your disbelief, and enjoy the art and story. Now, I am no expert in the Dark Ages, but the countries and people mentioned in this book all sound entirely fictional. On top of that, the scientific knowledge displayed by the wizard in his notes on the dragons are far, far ahead of what anyone knew 1500 years ago. This book would succeed, in my mind, if it had marketed itself as the pure fantasy it was meant to be. I half-suspect that the note at the beginning was tacked on by the publisher in an attempt to cash in on Dragonology's popularity. If so, shame on them! They should have trusted their book's ability to stand on its own, rather than cheapening it with a poorly-implemented marketing trick.

I have a large stack of new books to go through, including a novel and two how-to books that I want to test out before I review... So I suspect you'll be hearing about more books in the next week or two.


The only film I've seen in the theatres lately is 300, and I think I already talked about that here. However, I'm still doing the Netflix thing, so I'll talk about a couple of notable films that I've seen recently.

Kakurenbo is an animated short. It's only 25 minutes long, which lead me to wonder why I would waste a spot in my queue on something that was less than half an hour. However, the reviews were positively glowing, and I needed some good anime to restore my faith after having watched some real tankers in the past. Well, it was so good that we watched it on a Tuesday, then took it to gaming the next day and everyone watched it before the game. They all enjoyed it, too.

The title refers to the game of hide-and-seek, and this story is about a dark variation of that game in an abandoned part of town said to be inhabited by demons. Because the story is so short, obviously I can't say much more about it without spoiling things. What I will say is that the art is beautifully done, with great backgrounds, wonderful colors, and really cool character design. The music was bizarre, which fit the tone of the story well. And if certain elements of the story were predictable, well, it was still a lot of fun to watch. At only 25 minutes long, it's definitely a nice thing to watch at a party. I highly recommend it for anime fans.

Just this week I watched a movie called Seven Swords, which may or may not be a Chinese version of Seven Samurai. Although it had some really interesting weapons on display, including the titular swords, and a few good fight scenes (I really enjoyed the one with two guys having a sword fight in a narrow corridor), over all it was not that great. The story, such as it was, jumped around a lot, the characters were poorly developed, and the sexuality was kind of rough and icky. Also, the villains could not have looked more stereotypically evil if their banners had said "OMG! LOOK GUYS! WE ARE SO EVIL!" Which, for all I know, they might have been, because my Mandarin isn't very good yet so I couldn't read the characters on them. Seriously. Chinese Goths. They would have looked more at home in the medieval flashback scenes of Underworld or Night Watch.

I'm also finally almost done watching Futurama on DVD. This is why I don't watch TV. Any show that I really do enjoy, like Firefly or Futurama, gets canceled. This show is uproariously funny, especially for a geek like me who grew up on sci-fi. I think that's part of the reason it failed. Where The Simpsons is very mainstream in it's humor, so much of Futurama is geared towards young geeky people. Everyone else probably "didn't get it." Alas.

This post is full of links to books which I would categorize as Cool Things, so I'm going to be lazy and not post an additional Cool Thing. Please tune in tomorrow for Fashionable Friday, which may end up being more hot than cool! :D

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Birth of Flaming Teeth Part Two.

Well, I took a picture of the finished base strip, but it didn't turn out, so I'll do another one in the next chapter. For today, I present to you... Two of the "teeth" that will make up my Flaming Teeth necklace! The one with Lois's awesome lampworked bead attached to it will be the focal point at the center. The little guy will go at the end. I haven't decided yet exactly what size(s) I want to go between them. That's something I'll work on figuring out tonight.

And of course in this image you get to see my added bead! Because I'm not a fan of the opaque beads, I decided that I had to add something with more pizazz, and due to the nature of my design, I also knew that it would have to be a Japanese size 11 seed bead. I checked my stash and found that *gasp* I only have about 4 different oranges in my collection! I have got to fix that. But this transparent iridescent orange that I had was just perfect. Bright, fiery, and a nice compliment to the opaque orange seed beads and the fire opal Swarovski crystals. I've decided to make it the predominant color in the teeth, as fire really should be transparent.

I know that I want to make matching earrings to go with Flaming Teeth, but I haven't decided yet if I want to make them beaded triangles, or order these cool Sterling triangle chandelier findings that I found and use those. Maybe I'll do both. We'll see what I'm feeling like when the necklace is done.

Today's Cool Thing is another awesome BFAC auction! Shelley MacGregor's quilted wallhanging is just beautiful, and I love how she picked fabric that goes well with the bead kit, but takes her project way out of the green and pink range of most of the rest. If I had more wall space, I'd probably be bidding on it myself.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Just a Post.

I just really have not been focused lately, which means there hasn't been a lot of blogging, beading, writing, or anything going on. If you asked me just what I've accomplished in the past week, you'd probably get a big blank stare.

It doesn't help that I've been having really strange dreams lately, and not even ones cool enough to turn into book stories. In the last week or so, I've dreamed that I was held captive by abominations that lived in the back of K-Mart (apparently my subconscious dislikes the place even more than I do); that I was a Guild Wars Dervish and that some random people kidnapped me, but it was okay because this scribe was smitten with me and was going to help me break free; that I was my L5R character and I was trying to do... something important that I've since forgotten; and that I was a random shugenja (L5R spellcaster), that my house started collapsing and I couldn't stop it, and then I had to run away with this guy on a train. Did I mention that there are no trains in L5R? These dreams have all been tied to bad sleep patterns, so I've been tired a lot.

Anyway, today I went out and bought some crafting books and bead magazines, so I am feeling a little more inspired. I also picked up some pretty fabric to use as a photography background. I'm hoping to test that out tomorrow, which will tie into part 2 of my BFAC in-progress series.

I hope to make the blog a little more interesting this week, with BFAC stuff, book reviews, an overview of recent entertainments I've partaken in, and a really good Fashionable Friday column at the end of the week. I'm already saving links for it! Also watch the website for interesting things; new graphics are up but may need tweaking, and I've finally opened the Gallery, so I will be filling that up as well as adding new jewelry on Friday (I am thinking more anklets, oh yeah!).

To make up for a lack of Cool Things lately, I am posting a Super Duper Extra Nifty Cool Thing: The Rare Bird Finds "100 Goodies For $10 or Less." This is like 100 Cool Things in one! How awesome is that? There are so many things on there that I want, either for myself or as gifts for others. For instance: Dashboard Ninjas? Definitely for my friend Alex's birthday at the end of the month. Kung Fu Coasters? For Alex and his roommates' new house soon. "Invisible" Playing Cards? Perfect for my friend Craig who likes card tricks and poker. Ninja Remote? My friend Casey already has one and loves it. Spiderweb Arm Warmers? I would totally wear those. That little windup photo holder? Chris got one for the holidays, we love to confuse the cats with it. I honestly think there is something on that list for just about everyone. And best of all, of course, it's all CHEAP! Can't beat that!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Birth of Flaming Teeth -- Part 1

Welcome to the first installment of my series on the creation of my contribution for the 2008 Layne's Legacy -- Beading For a Cure project. As I've doubtless mentioned before on this blog, BFAC is a very important cause, dear to my heart, so I'm always eager to create something new and hopefully exciting for it. So, let's start by taking a look at this year's kit, created by Sandi of Stormcloud Trading:Included are Japanese seed beads in five colors, Czech chicklet-shaped beads in pearly white, Swarovski crystals in three sizes and five colors, and one lampworked bead donated by Lois Oster of Wolf Song Designs. This is a challenging kit for me, due to my lack of love for opaque seed beads (except for black, of course), and my extra lack of love for the color yellow. On the other hand, I love black, I love lampwork, I love fire colors, and ohmigosh look at all the sparkly crystals! Sandi even included those awesome new 2mm crystals.

My project for this year is called Flaming Teeth, and it is inspired by a Fijian myth, which you can read on Encyclopedia Mythica. For some reason, that just struck me as one of the best "How man got fire" stories ever. It could be because "Flaming Teeth" is such a wicked, evocative name. I'm envisioning a nice, spiky collar, with a heavy emphasis on the black and orange elements in this kit.

I started Flaming Teeth last night, working during my weekly Legend of the Five Rings game. I always like to have beads during games, and the base row of this project was a pretty easy task for the evening. If only I could complete it in one evening. This is my progress:Not that impressive yet, I'm afraid. Just a simple black strip of beadwork. This will be the base upon which the entire necklace works off of, however. Humble beginnings for a more elaborate piece. Already today I've more than doubled its length. Without my friends and gaming to keep my mind occupied, I have to turn to music so I don't get bored with this very repetitive stitch. Today's beading was done while listening to Rakshasa by The Black Drum and Annwyn Beneath The Waves by Faith and the Muse.

Tomorrow will of course be Fashionable Friday, so I won't be posting Part 2 of this series until at least Saturday. By then I hope to have the base strip finished!

Today's Cool Thing is Jen Kuhns' absolutely amazing baby dragon and egg, which is one of this week's BFAC auctions! I am a huge fan of Jen's work and I am so glad to see this auction getting many bids. I can't wait to see what it ends at!