Friday, August 29, 2008

Working From Home

It has its pros and cons.

The pros are fairly evident ... no commute, no worry about wardrobe and make-up, no need for fast food/take out, no time constraints, etc.

The cons are not quite as evident ... for me it's mainly about space. I used to work on the dining room table, but the need to use our dining room table for, well, actually dining, kept rearing its troubling head.

To alleviate the mess and clutter from the dining room, and to free it up for its intended use, I moved everything into our bedroom. So now my studio is on a 4-foot Costco-purchased table piled with shelving and drawer units and containers. The actual working space is adequate. But the con is my dear companion and husband of going on 30 years; he hates the studio being in the bedroom up against the window. It's on "his" side of the room. Personally, I don't see why it can't be considered "our" side of the room, but I suppose that's picking nits.

There is a spare room upstairs currently being used as storage/junk/scaredy-cat's sanctuary/guest-room when needed after a thorough clean out. I could use that room and would gladly do so except for one very important necessity lacking in that room.

It's not wired for cable TV.

I need noise to work. And music simply won't do because the music I like to listen makes me get up and dance. While that may help in burning a few 100 of my excess calories, I can't handcraft jewelry while dancing.

Nope, the TV ... the proverbial "boob tube" is what I need. Strange, because I don't actually watch TV while handcrafting jewelry, but listen to it. Occasionally something I hears piques my interest enough that I'll stop and look, but I'm still very productive.

I'm a rather eclectic TV viewer. While we are taking full advantage of the house having Verizon's FIOS, my channel selection pretty much stays in a very narrow range of Discover/National Geographic/History network. Fortunately they are all next to each other on the channel line-up. Sometimes I'll "go across the pond" and have BBC America playing. And sometimes, rarely, I'll listen to a documentary on one of the premium channels.

Like today, I had on the Sundance channel. I am not a fan of reality TV shows. I generally run out of the room when Son #2 is watching one of his several dozen favorites (although I have to admit to enjoying "So You Think You Can Dance" every once in a while). But today I discovered a reality TV show that totally floats my boat called "On the Road in America." After watching the first episode, I ran to the computer (which is NOT in the bedroom) and Googled the show, found the air dates of the next episodes and cleared my calendar accordingly. I'm really looking forward to the episode where they take in some of my favorite Montana stomping grounds.

I've always had a sneaking suspicion that people were pretty much the same all over the world, if not in terms of culture, at least in terms of what gives joy and laughter and what causes sadness and pain.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Honeycomb Calcite

It's the latest on my work bench. Honey-colored calcite with the crystals in tubular cells outlined by predominately white membranes gives this stone a definite look of honeycomb. It is exclusively mined in Utah. It's luster is vitreous, but it does accept a gleaming high polish. Unlike other forms of calcite, its color doesn't readily fade in sunlight. Because of its structure, it's solid and sturdy and is used in both architectural and artistic applications. I've seen pictures of its use in bathrooms, entryways, bars and wine cellars ... absolutely spectacular! I discovered this pleasing rock in a local store in the historic area of downtown Plano called Tuscan Lights. Scott doesn't have his website live as of yet, otherwise I would gladly provide the link! But if you're in my area, do yourself a favor and visit his shop at 1018 E. 15th Street.

Scott's store features this stone used for lighting, especially cylinders of various heights placed on stone slabs with a tealight candle or wired with a mini-bulb in the center. The light glows from within the honeycomb translucence to provide a warm, beautiful and inviting affect. Scott also builds wine cellars, and he has used honeycomb calcite slabs for tiling and other purposes. I've seen his portfolio and it's amazing!

Honeycomb Calcite heart-shaped pendantWhen I first encountered his store and this pretty rock, I inquired about jewelry applications. He wasn't familiar with this stone being used in jewelry making, but with just a bit of research, he found that there are some uses, especially with the stone being cut and polished for cabochons. I don't use a lot of cabochons, so I asked about beads and other shapes with holes drilled for wire and jump ring insertions. He found that beads are possible, but I'd have to order a quantity that only a bead shop would use! Since I can't possibly use 10,000 beads of any given size, I've had to satisfy myself with what little already being offered. At least we have these pretty carved and highly polished hearts! I already have one necklace completed and it's in Scott's store on consignment.

This half barrel pendent has slanted grooves carved into the face for wire-wrapping. I'm looking forward to experimenting with brass or copper wire and various beads. Some of the stone comes with the reddish streak you see here which I suppose is caused by the presence of iron. There are various shapes and sizes available. I'm hoping we can get the smaller discs cut thin enough to be used for earrings. If this stone is slice too thin, however, the color will looked "washed out."

I also hope that some bead supplier will discover this stone and start making honeycomb beads available to the jewelry artist industry at large. I would love to see lots of different sizes, both smooth and faceted, along with puffed coin, square and rectangular shapes.

Here is a close up of the carved heart. If you click on the photos, you can see larger versions. You should be able to see the difference in the luster between this heart which is highly polished, and the "happy coin" disc in the first photo. The firm that distributes this stone for the mine has been experimenting with acid etching and I've seen some awesome results. For additional information, check out the main US distributor here. If you're in the Dallas area, be sure to stop by Scott's shop at the address noted above. Tell him Hilary sent you!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What a Self-Representing Jewelry Artist Does For Fun!

I bet you didn't know that we have fun, did you?

Honestly, we have fun doing our jobs. We really do. Most of us are probably deep into the "starving artist" category, but we really do have fun staying hungry on account of our work. Many jewelry artists have "day jobs." Many of us who devote ourselves full-time to the effort are in a relationship with someone who brings home a paycheck that buys our daily bread. And anyway you slice it, we really do enjoy what we do. But it is not what we do for fun. It is NOT our hobby.

As creative as we all may be, we need another outlet of some sort in our lives. This is mine:

Cross stitch! I don't have a lot of free time to devote to my hobby, but I do try, at the very least, to devote several hours on Sunday to my hobby which both relaxes and refreshes me. Or at least, I'd like it to relax and refresh me! My problem? I pick impossibly beautiful and complicated projects. This current one is called "Delphiniums" designed by an amazingly talented Marc I. Saastad and it is copyrighted 2001 by The Silver Lining.

This little piece I've already finished (and took me over two hours!) using 1 strand of floss over 1 cross thread of 25 count antique white Laguna linen. So far, just two 10 x 10 stitch squares of a pattern.

The pattern has 13 pages of 63 squares each.

I've completed two out of 819 squares. This will be the project of a lifetime.

Now, to be honest, some of the pages are full of a lot of white space, but still, this pattern is DENSE to say the least.

And would you look at all those blues! The ring you see over here to the right has 22 of the 48 colors I will eventually use, almost all the rest are various shades of blue. Probably at least 35 shades of blue. Can your computer monitor even "see" all those shades of blue? I can certainly see the difference in the 19 bobbins shown in this picture, but I have to wonder if my monitor would show the difference if all of them were on the ring ... assuming I got a bigger ring, of course. A much bigger ring.

Photo is copyright 2001 by The Silver Lining.

This is what the final product will look like. Without the scrolling frame ... that's not part of the pattern. What's really interesting about this pattern is that there is no outlining (or backstitching) at all. The artist wanted to preserve the softness of the flowers. He says the colors speak for themselves ... all 48 of them! How many shades of blue? Yeah, they speak all right. So loud and clear they make my half-century old eyes weep.

But I am having fun!!

Marc Saastad ... a viking dude! Your intricate artistry impresses me almost beyond expression.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday's Feature

Today it's Teresa of InspiredDesign! Check out this beautiful pendant on her Etsy site. There's a lot of work in that sort of design and the price is incredible!!

(I'd post the picture, but I didn't have a chance to get her permission, and I needed to get my post done at this moment as all other moments of this day are promised elsewhere. So on that note, y'all have a wonderful day!!)