Saturday, December 24, 2011

New Treasury Featuring Yours Truly!

I had thought to have my last post be the post that stayed up over Christmas, but then I got a lovely notice saying that I had been featured in a treasury with other fine Etsy artists in this beautiful, holiday inspired treasury, featuring some beautiful items.

I thought I'd share, in the spirit of Christmas :)

"Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand." - How the Grinch Stole Christmas, 1966

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas! Season's Greetings!

A huge Merry Christmas to everyone! Thank you so much for brightening my year with your views and comments. You mean the world to me, and I look forward to blogging to you next year and beyond. I have lots planned for the future - style advice, new jewellery pieces, Arwednesdays, how-to's, treasuries, features and much more. Please keep coming back and please give me your feedback so I know what you want to see.

Wishing you the best of the season, see you in a few days,

and Arwen the Wonder Dog

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What is Gold filled?

I thought I'd take a little break from my usual posts and tell you a little about some of the metals I use in my jewelry. Gold filled is one of the metals I use, usually yellow 14 karat gold filled wire and components. This is an excerpt from Otto Frei's website:
Yellow Gold Filled and White Gold Filled are man made metal products produced in the United States. They are vastly superior to any kind of gold plated product, making for a longer lasting and durable jewelry product.
Simply put, a layer of solid gold, either 12K (50% pure gold) gold or 14K (.585% pure gold) but at least 10K (.417% pure gold) is mechanically bonded with heat to a thicker piece of base metal. The gold layer is fused to the base metal, resulting in a product that has all the beauty of its actual karat gold plus long lasting resistance to wear.  The finished product must be by weight 1/20 (5%) solid 12K or 14K gold by weight or in the case of 10K GF, 1/10 (10%) solid 10K.  This process was invented in the United States and used extensively in the manufacture of pocket watch cases, many of which are still gleaming bright a hundred years after they rolled off the production line. (continued below)
Gold Filled mill product is made in a variety of flat sheet and wire shapes and sizes. The stock products are used by large findings and chain manufactures using specialized equipment to create finished products.  Otto Frei sells 1/20 12K Yellow Gold Filled wire in even number wire gauges form 16 to 24 by the half ounce package. Because this is raw material, it is not required by law to be stamped 1/20 12K, as such markings can only be made after a piece is fabricated.  We also sell a wide variety of YGF and WGF findings including many styles of YGF bulk and finished chain. 
WGF product will usually always be Rhodium plated, as the beautiful yellow of pure gold will always want to show through a white gold alloy, no matter how much Nickel or Silver is added to pure gold to make it appear white.  
Rolled Gold or Rolled Gold Plate is similar to Gold Filled, but have far less gold by weight, usually around 1/60 12K by weight.

When I make my jewelry, I use 14 karat gold filled wire and components whenever possible. It is much more expensive than gold plate, but the gold will last for years with gold filled, versus months or weeks or days with gold plate. In the case of jewelry, you really do get what you pay for :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Photography Comparisons

Oh my gosh, where has the time gone? Between buying presents, wrapping said presents, baking, cleaning, jewelry-making, inventorying (see previous post, and no, I'm still not done, grrr), and general it's-running-down-to-Christmas-oh-my-gosh-I'm-not-ready-yet the time has just flown by, and I can't believe it's been so long since my last blog post!
I have a question. I've noticed that, since switching to a neutral background, my sales have dropped. Like, a lot. I realize the economy is in the hole (to put it politely), but I have a sneaking suspicion that my photos are part of the problem (with my sales, not with the economy). So I have decided to let YOU tell me which you prefer. I've been going through many jewelry catalogues and seeing how they do their photography, and though I love the look of a white background (which many top jewelry stores, like Tiffany and Birk's, use), I am not sure if it really suits my style of jewelry-making.
So, without further adieu, I give you a bracelet, done on a plain neutral-white background, and then the same bracelet done with some photo styling, color matching and fabrics to create a different feel.
The question is, what do you think? Which do you prefer, and why? Which one makes you want to buy the bracelet more, and why?
I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your feedback.
Have a great day!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Inventory FAIL

 Okay, here's why I don't do inventory. See, back 4 years ago when I started getting into jewelry making (again), I bought all sorts of beads. I am good with keeping receipts, and making sure that I don't spend more than I make (usually - oops). But I never did a real, physical inventory. I know how much I mark things up, so I generally know how much stock I should have. But I never counted the beads and supplies that I bought as I went along, nor did I subtract the beads and supplies I used as I went along.
Then I got a new spreadsheet software program.
It requires that I start with a complete inventory.
So, for the last four days, my ADHD brain and I have been having little battles all over my office (which, incidentally, is still pretty messy since my last office posting in July, I know. Bad!). You see, one of the main reasons I don't do inventory is that, with ADHD, I get distracted.
Really distracted.
Any noise, bird flying past my window or dog fart (all too depressingly common) will stop me in my tracks. I get distracted by email and general useful and useless internet searching (such as, "best bead storage systems", or, "How can I count inventory without actually counting it?").
So far, I'm about a quarter of the way through and my inventory says that I have 177 different types of inventory (read: beads, findings, stringing wire, etc), and over 30, 056 items counted. Yes, I have actually counted over 30,000 individual things.
Mostly... I can weigh my seed beads, for example, to get pretty accurate counts (I am NOT counting 10,000-plus tiny beads that I can barely SEE, let alone keep in a neat little pile), but most of the time I'm actually counting the little bug - er - beads and things.
Most of the time.
Part of the challenge of doing inventory is that I have all of these nice, shiny, new beads (when they get put into a storage cabinet for a while, and then you pull them out again, they are like hidden treasures, being unearthed for the first time), and when I take them out, I can't help but notice how pretty, say, the moonstone beads look against the rhodonite beads. And how pretty they would be strung with a nice 14 karat gold toggle clasp and 14 karat gold finishing beads. Then my ADHD brain takes over and tells me that it really won't take that long to make one simple (albeit stunning, if I do say so myself!) necklace.
In the middle of doing inventory.
 Never mind that I haven't tallied my toggle clasp or gold beads. I just decided to skip a bunch of spaces that will hold beads in my spreadsheet, count and record the interminably small, frustrating gold beads (while starting to fidget and string the moonstone and rhodonite beads), count and record the clasp and nylon-covered steel beading wire (nothing but the best and strongest for you, my dears), and GET CREATING!!
What started out as an, "It won't take that long" project - you can see in the first photo the disaster of my desk and the starting of this new necklace on the bead board - turned into a couple of hours of bead-play time. I don't mind. The necklace was definitely worth it - it was so much fun to make, and turned out so well, that I think the time was well used (and besides, don't I deserve a little break for working like one of Santa's elves??)
This necklace, entitled Marie Antoinette Raspberry Ice Necklace, is the newest piece in my NeoAmour collection and is available in my Etsy shop here:
Please let me know what you think, I really value your opinions :)
Have a great day. Oh, and if you don't hear from me for a bit, could you please send a search party in to my office? It may be that I got lost in beads....

Thursday, December 1, 2011

New Toy!

 Oh let me show you my new toy! Brenna got this for me for our anniversary in September as our old digital point-and-shoot will only take about 3 photos now before you have to change the batteries (which are not rechargeable and that makes me mad!). He got this one for a really great price and I have to say I am totally smitten with it :)
 Many of the photos posted on the blog recently have been taken with the new camera, it is so tiny and easy to carry with me everywhere, I take it on walks with Arwen, and even just when I go to the end of the driveway to get mail. This little guy was waiting near my front step when I came back from getting the mail a few weeks ago. The viewfinder on the back of the camera is huge, which makes for very easy picture taking (no more squinting and then having to use extra eye cream on that eye to remove all of the extra wrinkles afterwards - score!).
Here's another shot I took on the last weekend of the farmers' market in June. I love how crisp the colors are - it makes everything really pop!
Anyway, enough bragging, just had to show you all the great little camera :)
Soon I'll be showing you some new pieces of jewelry (don't think I've stopped that, I'm just catching up on some major photo-taking!). Stay tuned for new pieces!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Dog Is Alright

 Arwen is feeling better. After 5 days of antibiotics, ground beef and rice, chicken and rice, lots of hugs and TLC, she has a happy belly once more. We even went on a walk this morning. Even though it was quite cool and damp, I figured it would be fine.
Then it started to pour.
And pour.
And pour.
And we were only halfway done our walk, which in the country means that we walk until I'm tired, usually about 20 minutes at a slow jogging pace, then we turn around and walk back, again at a (slightly slower) jogging pace. We do about 3 miles or so in 30-40 minutes. I know, I'm slow.
But back to the rain.
Normally, that wouldn't be an issue, if, say, we were in the city, with nice paved sidewalks that don't really get that dirty.
We, however, as stated previously, live in the country.
On dirt roads. With lots of loose dirt and gravel.
I'd show you the "before" photos, of Arwen absolutely filthy, and the left side of my pants (the side where Arwen walks) just disgustingly muddy (I swear she kicks up dirt on me on purpose), but I don't want to frighten young children. Suffice it to say, we were DIRTY! A bath was immediately in order, despite the Time-Of-Use power thingy saying we were at peak power and running the shower would cost a small fortune.
Arwen hates baths.
At first.
When she gets the soap off of her, and is having her post-soap massage in the shower she starts to like it.
When she gets out of the shower, then she really likes it.
Because she gets to hide under a towel.
I really don't understand why she loves this so much, but if I hold a towel out, she will walk under it, wag her tail and wait for me to lay it across her. Then, when the towel is on her, she stands there and - there is no other way to describe it - she wiggles. Yes, you read that correctly, she wiggles under the towel, almost like she is trying to dry herself off. It is the cutest, funniest thing ever.
Then she gets a treat, gets a cuddle, all while being told that she is the most gorgeous dog ever, and then, when she is mostly dry, she cuddles up on a blanket on the couch, and gets wrapped in a quilt to keep warm.
I love my dog.
(can you tell?)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sick Day

I had planned a post on my new little camera. I had planned to post a few things that I've been up to lately, as a lame excuse for why I haven't been blogging consistently over the past few months.
Then 2:30AM Wednesday came.
Arwen started whining and panting to go outside. I thought that something was outside that she wanted to chase, so I got all of my winter gear on (we were in the middle of our first winter ice storm, joy) and slowly let her outside, holding on to her cable (she has a 40 foot cable to run around the yard, without - hopefully- catching any of the wildlife that come around) to slow her chase to whatever she thought was out there.
There wasn't anything out there.
Arwen was sick. Very sick.
After making half-hour trips outside, to, uh, relieve herself, I knew that she wasn't going to get well on her own, but she was so bouncy and happy and hungry, it was hard to tell what was the matter. I made rice and she happily gobbled half a cup of it, while continuing to go outside. By 9 AM, however, she had brought the rice back up and was still having frequent outside trips, so we took her to the vet. She must have eaten something, but we can't figure out what it is. She is constantly monitored during outside trips, walks, inside time, that I don't know what could have made her sick (I make my own cleaners with vinegar for Pete's sake!).
Anyway, the vet says she has colitis, so she is on some Pepcid AC for her stomach, and an antibiotic to calm her wayward intestines. Poor little dog. She had to get a *ahem* full exam, which I must say she was very good about (I sure wouldn't have been, if a doctor had to stick anything in my...well, you get the idea). She had a slight temperature and raised heart rate from stress, but other than that, the vet said that Arwen looks amazing for her age (8-1/2), the vet even thought she was only 5 or 6! Frequent tooth-brushing helps, I think :)
Good news though, I *think* we may be making less trips outside. After going almost hourly, by midnight last night she seemed pooped out (pun intended), and hasn't had to "go" since. YAY! She's still happy, and bouncy. Her temperature has come down, and she slept for a few hours straight, which meant that I slept for a few hours straight, which is always a good thing.
God willing she's on the mend.
But wow, what an interesting 24 hours that was. And I have a huge pile of dog-do to clean up in the now melting snow.
Looking at her sleeping peacefully now though, I don't mind.
But, I might have a little nap before I go out to clean it all up....just for a minute or two

Monday, November 7, 2011

Moose on Monday

This is Moose. He's a Neapolitan Mastiff. When he runs, it kind of resembles a tank, there is so much body and so much momentum, it looks like he's never going to stop.
This is Moose running. The only thing that keeps me from being scared of him as he runs full tilt towards me is the fact that his lips and ears seem to reside on a different plane of gravity than the rest of him... it made me laugh so much that it was hard to keep the camera still enough to get good photos.
This is Moose with his "sister", Bella, also a "Neo", showing how well the blend into the scenery.
Another flying lips shot. Makes me smile. Moose has joint problems, which is why he's so skinny, and now, worst of all, has just been diagnosed with incurable bone cancer in his hip. He hasn't got much time left (the vet says 6 months, but his owner says the cancer has doubled in size in the last week, prompting her to think maybe 3 weeks), which is why I was out taking photos for her to have something to remember him by. These are just a few of the 300+ that I got on Saturday morning. God bless you Moose, you're a handsome and entertaining boy.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Walk With Arwen

Hello! It's me, Arwen the Wonder Dog, here to take you with me on one of my walks. Mommy has nicely agreed to be my puparazzi and photograph me and my neighborhood to show you some of the things I see. I'm not sure about this pose though...I was in a rush to go for a walk and mommy didn't get a good shot of my adorable ears...
Mommy, hurry up! No one wants to see photos of maple leaves in our driveway, they want to see me! She doesn't always listen though...
*sigh* ok mommy, here's the deal, you can take photos of the "pretty sun in the trees" but now you will have to take photos of only me for the rest of the walk!
Here is the organic vegetable garden up the road from us. I don't know if I like this shot either...Does this angle make my snout look big? Anyway, the garden is good for more than just yummy foods, the owner has a little dog named Bailey and we do obedience together a few times a month. I still don't know how to play, but it is nice to be around other dogs (even if she is tiny!)
 Oooh! Here's the next stretch of road, mommy! What's around the corner? Hurry up, I want to see!! Mommy says she loves our country roads. She loves the old cedar and stone fences, and she says she loves how they always wind just enough to block your view of what is coming up, making you want to walk around the next corner, and then the next, and the next, just to see what is around it, even if we've already walked there before.
 Here's another cool part; we get to cross a little bridge and I can (sort of) see over the concrete ledge. I have to stick my nose in between the metal barriers, but we saw a heron here, though mommy was too slow to get a photo of it. I ruffed a bit at it, but it didn't hear me or it would have come and said hello to my beautiful self :)
Here we are after our walk, in the yard where I can smell all of the racoons, porcupines, skunks, birdies and various other wildlife in our yard. We had a bear here a while back, and I still don't like the smell of it, it makes me put my tail between my legs and run into the house!
Still, our walks ARE fun, and i hope you enjoyed this one too!
Until next time,

and Arwen the Wonder Dog

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Check It Out!

Oh let me tell you a story. It is a story of a young woman, enamored with reading. Compulsive reading. Reading everything she could get her hands on, even bus timetable schedules when she didn't' have anything else to read. A woman whose Amazon wishlists extend to 30+ pages of books and movies, on both the .ca and .com sites. A woman who actually budgets money every month for books, even if she desperately needs clothes and can't afford them.
Enter this woman's birthday the past September (ok, ok, I know it took me a while, but at least I'm getting there now!). And enter one of the greatest creations known to human-kind.
The Kindle.
I have to say, I wasn't sure I wanted a Kindle. I like the feel of paper beneath my hands. I like to crack the spine that first time the book is opened and smell the paper. I even like the smell of certain library books. You know the smell, kind of musty and dusty, the smell that tells you it's an oldie but goodie. Makes you want to sneeze and read more.
But, I have to say, I have now filled more than 4 extra large bookshelves, even doubling, and in some cases, tripling books on shelves to get them all to fit.
And my VISA was threatening to disown me. Or give me a crown in honour of the interest I give them each month before paying off in full (jerks).
Brennan got me a Kindle for my birthday. Nothing crazy, just the entry level model with keyboard and 4" (or something) screen and a case, but I have to say it is amazing. I took it right outside (This was when temperatures were consistently in t-shirt level and the sun shone brightly, lulling us into a false sense of eternal summer) and the thing worked beautifully. No reflections, no having to shield my eyes from blinding white paper, and it is LIGHT. The case does add a bit of weight, but when reading outside, or in bed, when your hands start to get a little heavy and you just want to rest a read, the case comes off easily and the Kindle is so light you can read so much longer. Not to mention that, with no backlight, you won't interrupt your body's natural sleep hormones and you'll sleep better than if you'd read a backlit e-book. It is simply amazing.
Oh, and did I mention you can get literally thousands of free e-books? Classics like Bronte, Shakespeare, Austen and more. FREE. *insert evil giggle here* My VISA is going to get awfully lonely. I've been reading for at least an hour every day since I got my Kindle, and I haven't spent a PENNY! I've been reading Anne of Green Gables series (don't laugh, they're good), Jane Austen, Catharine Parr Trail, and so many more... FREE.
I looked at my wishlists, and realized that by downloading the e-versions of some of these books for free I've actually paid for the Kindle already. Most of the print versions cost anywhere from 2-20$ each and I've got them for free.
Highly recommended if you're looking for an e-reader of high quality.
And I've got one, nah nah nah boo boo! :P

Friday, October 14, 2011

We're Back, and Boy Do We Have News!

Ok, it has been quite a while since my last post. I'm very sorry, but the last 6 weeks of the farmers' market was incredibly busy. It is now over (and thank you to all who came out, it was so nice to meet you all) and I should have more time to blog and do general things, like dust my house (it was getting scary). I was also busy because....drum roll...
...we bought some land! These are some photos of it. It is about 20 minutes closer to the city, though still way out in the country. We bought 20 acres! I am still in happy shock. I can't believe we have 20 whole acres! Now, there is a bit of scattered forest on it, with mostly cedars, but there is a good 4+ acre clearing in the front where we'll build the house (and maybe a barn one day!) and, because it faces south, I'll be able to have MONSTER vegetable gardens!
Of course, since we just took all of the equity out of our current house, this land will have to stand vacant for 3-4 years, but STILL! We're on the way to having our little dream house (and I'm on my way to having my teensy-tiny farm!).

Ok, deep breath. Must calm down. I'm starting to crochet again, and once I've cleaned my office from all of the farmers' market crap things, I'll be able to get back to making jewelry again. I have all sorts of new tools and I have some new supplies on the way to make some AMAZING things. I can't wait to show you, so after I take this weekend off (and be able to sleep in past 5 after going to bed earlier than 2 AM), I'll get to re-cleaning my office and not only show you the results there, but also the jewelry that I'll make there.

Hope you all have a great weekend, I can't wait to stay in touch with you more now, I've missed you all more than you can know :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Little Inspiration, Because We All Need It Now and Again

I saw this today and I have to say, I needed it.
If you watch it, I think I'm in the "Waiting Place". Waiting to get well. Waiting for my next gluten free flour to come in. Waiting to get the energy to make a new piece of jewelry. I can't say I like it.
But I thought, as I watched, that at least I now know. I thought, as I watched, of the places I'll go, of the people I'll meet now that I know what I know. (A little Dr. Seuss got in me there, sorry).

I thought, as I watched, that I really needed the positive encouragement, and maybe you do too.

So here you are. With much care and love as only Dr. Seuss can give, and with a great reading by John Lithgow, though the audio isn't the best :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

New Cuff Bracelet in the Works!

 I've been very busy this last little bit with the Farmers' Market in Merrickville and with my lessons at Rain's Art in Metal for my metalsmithing courses. This is the last piece I did at her studio, and it is still in progress as I have quite a bit of work to do. I took a piece of 16 gauge copper sheet, sawed it into a 6" x 1" length, sanded the surfaces and filed the edges. I then took a piece of beautiful antique lace and wrapped it around the cuff blank and put it through the rolling mill, which exerts high pressure on the metal (and the lace, in this case), to imprint the lace pattern onto the surface of the metal.
 Here is the pattern close up! It doesn't look much like lace, to me it looks a bit like snake scales, but I love it either way. Now I need to get a rolling mill for my own workshop!! The only issue is that, with my being so busy with my baking, I kind of forgot about the cuff bracelet in my bag and when I took it out I noticed that it needed some cleaning on one side. Not a big deal, I just took a scrub brush and warm water with dish soap and started scrubbing. The only problem came when I turned it over to do the other side...
Alas! It has apparently been resting against a piece of copper that I had recently etched, and the etching solution mustn't have been properly rinsed off. Now I'll have to sand that part down, leaving that part potentially with a reduced image on that area. Oh well, live and learn. Now I know NOT to put anything that has been etched anywhere near any other pieces I'm working on!
See you all soon,

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