Thursday, May 31, 2007

Making banner ads is fun!

I just made my first animated banner ad today, and if I'd known it was so easy, I would have done it a lot sooner! In fact, it was kind of fun and I'm sitting here trying to resist the urge to make more. I need to make another in a different size, so I'll probably play with that tonight or tomorrow. Really, it's fun going through my product images and deciding which ones I think would be most likely to catch the eye of a potential customer. Of course, I'm biased. I usually pick all the green ones...

By the way, I am extending my free shipping sale until June 15th. Go forth and order! After the sale ends, I will have to raise shipping rates, thanks to the fine folks at USPS who have once again raised their rates. Costs will start at $3.50, up from $2.85.

Yesterday I finished the brown and green necklace, and man oh man does it look cool. This is definite future banner ad material! It's one of those pieces that I'm really tempted to keep for myself. Because I don't already own enough green jewelry! Since I'm not taking off for house-sitting until late in the afternoon, I should be able to take and maybe post a picture before I go quiet for the weekend.

On a completely not related to anything else note, I went and saw Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End today. It needed more sword fights (of course, I think everything needs more sword fights, but especially when there are Chinese pirates involved), but it was still pretty awesome. Definitely some good Summer entertainment. Check your rational thought process at the door and enjoy the fun. Also, enjoy the Chinese costumes, and Chow Yun-Fat rocking some awesome facial hair and a wicked over-the-ear tattoo. In fact, the movie was such fun that I'm going to cheat and call it today's Cool Thing!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Adventures in Photography.

On Sunday I photographed a lot of my older pieces that currently have really bad pictures up on my site. For the past couple of days I've been in the process of cleaning up those new photos. Here's one of a necklace I've always really loved. The hollow borosilicate bead has such beautiful wavy lines of color, with just a touch of sparkle in the green. The colors themselves are also pretty unusual, almost like camo with some blue thrown in.

All of these new photos will go up on Friday or Sunday, dependent upon my schedule. I'll be house-sitting again this weekend, and I'm not sure yet when I'll take off for that on Friday. Either way, there will be an update on Sunday, but it may just be one item -- the brown and green necklace I'm working on, which I plan to finish tonight. It's pretty awesome.

In the meantime, it's back to photo-edits for me.

Today's Cool Thing is the 2007 Bead Journal Project Blog. A lot of my beading friends are participating in this year-long bead embroidery project. I considered signing up as well, but with all the things I have coming up (including a possible move!) I didn't feel that I could commit to it. I'm already regretting letting this chance pass me by, though. Looks like it's going to be a lot of fun. If you love beadwork, you should definitely keep your eye on this project. There will be some beautiful things made, I can promise you that.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Birth of Flaming Teeth -- Part Four.

Here it is, in all its completed glory: Flaming Teeth!

As you can see, I've added a picot embellishment along the top, to give added visual and textural interest to the otherwise plain base strip. Then I attached the teeth, using crystals as a bridge between them and the base. This allows them to flare out nicely along the neck and shoulders. For added toothiness, I placed the pearl white niblet beads between every tooth. It has a very talismanic look, just like I'd hoped.

And then there's the clasp. Check out the perfect button I found at the bead shop:

Not only are the colors just right, but I feel that the slightly wavy lines really echo the theme of the piece. The clasp has four loops to make the size adjustable. With a choker like this, fit is always very important.

I hope you've enjoyed following the progress of my 2008 Layne's Legacy: Beading For A Cure project. I've certainly enjoyed sharing it with you!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Confession of a Button Addict.

I have to admit it... I am a button addict! I went to the bead store today with one goal in mind: I was going to buy a button to use as a clasp for Flaming Teeth. Yet somehow I ended up with two little zipper bags full of cool vintage glass buttons. Chris started it, though. I was looking for something specific and he showed me the white and orange button in the center. Well, I had to get it. And then I decided, well, maybe it's OK to pick out one or two more cool buttons. But we kept finding more and more, all kind of styles that they'd never had in the button bin before. Plus there was a little dish of pretty moonglow buttons for only 20 cents each, so I had to buy ten of those.

What's that? Oh yes, I did in fact find what I went in for. Check back here tomorrow for the final installment of The Birth of Flaming Teeth. WOOHOO!

My love of buttons stems from the fact that they just make the cutest clasps. Whenever I show people my jewelry, they always hone in on the button closures. Even the coolest Sterling toggle can't compare to the appeal that a simple button holds. And there's the fun of matching it to the beads of the project. I do so love color coordination.

When I wasn't picking out buttons today, I was working on my website. I listed half a dozen beautiful new items:

Unseelie Bouquet The black and purple necklace I've been mentioning for the past two weeks.

Ice Maiden The blue crystals in this one are some of my favorite vintage beads!

Lagoon Dancer A woven anklet in my beloved combination of Pacific Opal and Indicolite!

Absinthe Chandelier earrings so beautiful that I wish I could keep them.

Torch Singer Also made with my favorite blue vintage crystals.

Web Mistress Possibly the coolest earrings I've ever made. That's right, cooler than Devil Duckies!

Other than Unseelie Bouquet, all of this week's new items involve vintage beads. I've been being better about not jealously hording my vintage collection. I just love the extra beauty that they lend to anything that they're worked into.

In keeping with my confession, Today's Cool Thing is Button Shoppe, where you can feed your own button addiction! Join me...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Looking forward.

I'm not sure if I'll have it done in time for tomorrow's update, but I just wanted to talk briefly about my current project. I'd even provide an in-progress photo, but Chris was doing chainmaille in my photography spot (apartments suck).

Yesterday a friend of mine suggested that I do a project in bright green and brown, and since those are colors I like and colors that are great for Summer, I had to agree. My original idea was to maybe do some sort of woven bracelet, but then I started looking through my artist beads and found a very nice set of beads by Lois of Wolf Song Designs which are ivory, bright green, and brown. Clearly, it was fate.

The necklace is going to be a combination of weaving and stringing, and I'm already about 1/3 of the way done with the weaving. I'm going to try to work on it at today's Rifts game, and if I complete the woven part, it will be very easy to include it in the update. If not, it just means I have a head-start for next week.

Today's Cool Thing is WordScram. It's a fun little word game that's kind of like a cross between Boggle and anagrams. You have several options for length of round and how many rounds to play. I'm completely addicted to it! Have fun!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Fashionable Friday -- DIY for Summer!

The Summer fashion forecast calls for Do-It-Yourself to be hot, and the Summer meteorological forecast calls for the weather to be hot. You know what this means, don't you? DIY t-shirts!

Well, actually, it means DIY whatever you have the awesome skills to make. After all, if you can sew yourself up some cute cotton sundresses, all the more power to ya. But sewing is an expensive addiction. DIY t-shirts are a little easier to attain, since most of them can be done without a sewing machine, or with those tissue paper patterns that your cats might like to shred (my cat Topher thinks that tissue paper is its own food group).

You might be tempted to buy t-shirts that someone else has already Done It Themselves to, but honestly, modifying your own t-shirts is not that hard. Your local craft store is full of dyes, paints, markers and other items that you can use to add pizazz without altering the original shape of the t-shirt. Or you can get wild and crazy and start cutting up your shirts to make them into something different.

If that's the route you want to take, I recommend the book Generation T by Megan Nicolay. I purchased it after a friend showed me the super-cute top that she'd made, and even though I can't cut a straight line to save my life, I was able to make two shirts in one evening. The nice thing is that a lot of the projects only require a t-shirt, a pair of scissors, and maybe a ruler. Even many of the more complicated ones can be done without any sewing.

If you don't have any previous sewing or DIY experience, I recommend practicing first on shirts you don't care about, so that if you have to keep cutting a little off to get the bottom even and soon you're all the way up to the collar, you haven't ruined an awesome shirt. If you don't have any cruddy shirts lying around to butcher, you can either hit the thrift store and get some for as cheap as .50, or you can wait for the craft store to put shirts on sale for 2/$5. If you're slightly evil like me, you can raid your husband's clothing, pick out all the shirts that he hasn't worn in a year, flutter your eyelashes, and say "Love, can I cut these up?"

Once you feel confident enough to take your scissors to perfectly good and lovable shirts, you may find that your desire to DIY-up some tees may outstrip your collection. Then there's only one thing to do (other than raid your husband's shirts again...)... SHOP!

Needless to say, there are tons of places you can go to buy t-shirts, from department stores to gift shops, swap meets, craft fairs, thrift stores, yard sales, conventions, in fact, it is probably harder to find someplace that doesn't sell t-shirts. But this column would be boring without links to a few places on-line to buy t-shirts, so let's get to it.

I love to browse Etsy and I'm always finding cool t-shirts on there. Many of them are screen-printed or otherwise decorated with the works of other artistic people, which makes for some extra-awesome DIY styles.

Squidfire has all kinds of cool t-shirts, and they're supposed to have new designs coming soon. Hurrah!

I like Off World Designs for geeky, gothy, and fantasy t-shirts. As an added bonus, they have a pretty big "clearance" section!

On the other hand, if you're looking for Lovecraftian tees, you absolutely cannot go wrong with the HP Lovecraft Historical Society. Their shirts rock and they are cool people to shop with.

Rotem Gear has some pretty cool shirts, and some pretty funny ones, and some just plain pretty ones. I'd like to get their dragonfly haiku shirt to wear to my L5R game. Yes, I AM so geeky that I occasionally pick my clothes based on the character I play. Moving on...

We've only scratched the surface of the t-shirts available on-line, of course. With services like CafePress around, it's very easy for artists and clever people to put their work on shirts and make them available to the world, and I think that's pretty awesome. Anything that helps me diversify my wardrobe makes me a happy girl. Do you have a favorite t-shirt source that you'd like to share?

Although I enjoy doing DIY tees, my main thing is, obviously, DIY jewelry. You might want some nice designs to go with your rockin' new Summer look. Earrings are always a good way to accessorize a more casual outfit. Spiral Bracelets and Dragonscale Bracelets add some spark. And of course, nothing is better for warm weather than a flirty Anklet.

Now I might just go break out my scissors and make a shirt to wear this weekend!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Memorial Weekend Sale!

Or, "All the big kids are doing it, why can't I?"

That's right! Big retail stores do not have the market cornered on holiday weekend sales! From now until 1am PST Tuesday, all Erthe Fae Designs orders will receive free shipping! Now is a great time to treat yourself to some awesome, unique jewelry to go with your Summer wardrobe. Shorts and tan tops leave your legs and arms bare, so why not adorn them with anklets and bracelets?

I am really excited about Sunday's update. You know how I said I felt like making chandeliers yesterday? Not only did I make a beautiful pair, but I made two other pairs of earrings that are just plain cool.

And, as it turns out, I do not have a good clasp for Flaming Teeth. I'll have to hit the bead store this weekend and try to find an appropriate button. Oh, woe is me, I must go bead shopping!

Today's Cool Thing is The Phobia List! If you've ever wondered what the name was for some obscure fear, this is your place. I like the fact that it has two lists, one of phobia names and what they mean, and one of things to be afraid of and what that phobia is called. Too cool!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Just a brief note.

I figured I was overdue for an update here.

First and foremost, Flaming Teeth is 99% done. All that remains is to add a clasp, and if I can find a suitable button in my collection, I'll do that today. And if I do that, then tomorrow I can post a picture of the completed item. Hooray!

Second, we've been looking into buying a house. It may be a bit until we can actually do so, but when we can, I will be having a huge moving sale. Not that jewelry is difficult to pack, but hey, it's always good to have an excuse to have a sale, right?

Third, I have not finished the purple and black necklace I was working on, but I hope to have it ready for Sunday's update. I also feel like making some chandelier earrings, so I think I'll do that today. I bought all these cute findings at gem show and so far I've only used one pair!

Fourth, this week there will be a Fashionable Friday column. The last couple of Fridays have been a bit crazy for me... This past one I was out house shopping, and the one before that I was house sitting. But this Friday I have no plans, so it will be a very good day to get back into the swing.

Last, Today's Cool Thing: A Pirate Tote Bag! A lot of places are considering a ban on plastic grocery bags, and even if they're not, it's really nice to have a canvas tote for your food or other purchases. Especially if you're walking to and from the store (hey, I do that sometimes, I do have hippie tendencies!). Canvas bags are stronger than plastic, and they have those nice wide, sturdy straps that you can even put over a shoulder for easier carrying. But best of all, it's got skulls and crossbones on it. How can you not feel awesome carrying that?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Art Bead Scene!

Today I'd like to tell you all about a very cool blog that I read every day: Art Bead Scene. ABS is a blog for bead makers and jewelry artists who enjoy using artisan beads in their work. It is also a great place to go to see beautiful work, new products, and interviews with people in the bead world. It's informative, entertaining, and inspiring.

They also host a monthly, themed contest on their Flickr account. This month's theme is "Ophelia's Garden" and I've entered the Beautiful Brown Birthday Bauble. If you're a jewelry artist, you should consider entering, too! And don't sit there saying "Oh, my work isn't good enough." The winner is chosen by a random drawing, so everyone has an equal chance to win. And from what I've seen, everyone is very friendly and encouraging in their comments on each other's work. So don't be shy! You can meet some new friends and have a chance to win some beautiful artist beads.

Anyway, I'm hoping to finish Flaming Teeth today. I have some great ideas for other pieces floating in my head (including the purple floral from this weekend), and I feel like I need to finish Teeth first. Plus I'd like to do some clay work this week and all those BFAC beads are in the middle of my work space! I probably only have about an hour of work left on it, as long as everything comes out right the first time.

Before I leave you to go bead, I'd like to present today's Cool Thing: Mary Tafoya's Seriousbeadin' Etsy Shop! Her shop just opened, and it has some truly awesome stuff in it. I've purchased from Mary on eBay, she is always quick to ship and friendly to deal with. Check out her cool vintage cabs and sequins!

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Tonight I'm feeling at once exhausted and refreshed. Exhausted because I am a night owl by nature and yet I've been awake since 7:15am. Refreshed, because I spent a very pleasant weekend at a friend's house watching her three dogs. It was nice to have a change of scenery and take care of dogs -- When I was growing up we always had several dogs at a time, but for my entire adult life I've only had cats.

Because my friend only has dialed up and I'm spoiled by cable, I decided to spend the weekend without the internet. No e-mail, no web browsing. I did have my laptop with me, which I used to write the first ten pages of my next book. But mostly I read. About a month ago I finally picked up a copy of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I'd had my eye on the book since it first came out, due to the fact that at the time, I was also working on a story about magic in England in the early 1800s (but it was just a roleplaying character background story and of no consequence), and I just procrastinated on buying it. It's a pretty thick book, so when I did buy it I decided to save it for house-sitting. After all, when I read a book I tend to get hooked, and I didn't want to ignore Chris for three days straight while I read.

It did take me essentially three straight days of reading (with breaks for dancing, writing, beading, and of course, caring for the dogs and sleeping) to get through the book, and what a wonderful three days it was! now, i will fully admit that I am quiet biased towards the book for one very specific reason: while it in fact is very little like the story I was working on when it was published, it is very much in the same mindset as one of the main characters in the series I've been working on for the past year and a half. He is a magician, and while he is neither English nor living in the 19th century, he very much wishes that he was. The rampant bibliomania that runs throughout the story is very much in key with my character as well.

The story itself is a bit slow to build up. Those who are used to the usual epic fantasy may find themselves a bit bored -- it's more in the line of literary fiction than adventurous genre fiction. However, it is not the boring, depressing literary fiction that I was made to read in writing class. Oh no. There's magic throughout the story, there is a plot that goes somewhere, and while large chunks of the story are character-driven, they're quite interesting characters. Best of all, it achieved that perfect balance that I always strive for in my writing, of being a serious story but having moments of whimsy and lines of dialog that bring a smile or even a laugh.

Reading a great book always leaves me with this special feeling that goes somewhat beyond having been entertained. It doesn't change my life, so to speak, but it certainly brightens my day. It puts me in the mood to tell everyone I know just how good the book was (hence the blog post), and either recommend it to them or even loan it to them if I'm so inclined. That's why my copy of The Prestige is currently making the rounds of my friends, and why I tell everyone that they should read American Gods. Some books are so good that they just need to be shared.

As I briefly mentioned above, I also did some beadwork this weekend. I am working on a really scrumptious necklace in black and quite a few shades of purple. There should finally be an update with new jewelry this coming weekend, and I hope to have it in there. I haven't quite figured out yet how I'll put it together, but I have a few ideas floating around in my head. I'm also still working on Flaming Teeth, but I'm kind of stalled on it. Hopefully more progress this week.

Today's Cool Thing is a Dragon Hatchling sculpture by Adam Homan. He had another awesome sculpture when I looked a few days ago, but it's so great that it already sold. Nonetheless, I really like this dragon. It's the sort of thing I would display in my house, if I were wealthy and had a house.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Tropical Faerie.

Hey look! A faerie!

Ok, I suppose that's not a good enough distraction to keep anyone from noticing that I am one lax blogger. But she is a cute faerie, isn't she? I started her at the Las Vegas Bead Retreat hosted by Whimbeads in February 2006. Beki Haley designed and taught the faerie class, and all of us had a lot of fun creating our wings and beading our faeries. I'm sad to say that my wings were probably the lousiest looking ones there... As it turns out, I'm not very good at drawing free-hand with a bottle of Liquid Sculpey. Who knew?

The original project was designed for a kit in muted olivines, and while I am a fan of those, I decided to save some money buy not buying a kit, and chose to go for some brighter, more tropical colors. She's my rainforest pixie! C'mon, everyone knows there are faeries in the rainforest. Didn't you guys watch Fern Gully?

Her wings are created with Liquid Sculpey, as I mentioned before, and decorated with various mica powders and glitter, for super-sparkle. My classmate and friend Betcey even shared her vintage Swarovskis with me, so I placed a few of those in the wings, as they matched the green seeds of her body so nicely. The body itself is woven from Japanese seed beads in a few sizes and colors, using Peyote stitch and some fringing techniques. Her head is a big, beautiful Swarovski crystal.

In addition to choosing different colors, I made a couple of other changes to the faerie. She didn't originally have arms, but a few of us in class felt that she ought to. I can't remember how the others made their arms, but I did a really simple Ndebele stitch with picots at the end, then gave her a bright, tropical blossom to hold. I also decided that instead of using a flower bead as a cap, I'd bead her a little flower hat, inspired by Victorian flower faeries. It didn't turn out quite how I planned it, but it's still pretty cute.

This project was a lot of fun, although truth be told, it spent a year unfinished in a drawer. I'm so glad that I finally finished her. She now hangs proudly on my desk (originally she was going to be part of a necklace, but I went overboard on the wing size!). I wouldn't mind making another one in the future. You can never have too many faeries!

And because I love faeries so much, today's Cool Thing is a delightful Earth Faerie Bookmark. I love this artist's papercutting and will likely be purchasing beautiful bookmarks for myself and for gifts. Bookmarks are another thing you can't have too many of!