Post-Arisa post

So I had a table in the Arisia Art Show! And that was exciting. Also cold. Really really cold. Fortunately, I only had to be there to set it up and take it down again, but that was quite enough freezing every bit of exposed skin (hands, face) for one weekend.

I sold 3 pairs of earrings and 1 ear cuff, and that was also exciting. And not cold at all.

I think I may have worked out a reasonable table setup, assuming I don’t have many, many pendants and pairs of earrings and ear cuffs, because if I did, I’d have to work out some kind of more vertical setup.

Left end of the Arisia table

Middle of the Arisia table

Right end of the Arisia table

Elsewhere at the con (Fabric Dragon), I acquired several strands of lovely beads, including some small sodalite spheres that I think will work well for more of the “Cosmology” type earrings, and some gorgeous cylindrical fluorite beads (a gift, though from the same source).

I also bought a pair of fingerless gloves, made of bubble silk, which are pretty much the best thing ever.

My intention, when I visited Reyen Design Studios, was to buy a skirt, because I wanted to last year and didn’t quite feel up to spending the money then.

But they had these fingerless gloves made of this weird puckered silk, and I tried them on, and thought about how miserably cold my wrists and hands are at work all. the. time, either because there is cold air blowing on me all. the. time, or because my wrist is resting on the surface of the desk, and even a layer of shirt – or two! – is not enough to shield me from absorbing the coldness of the desk and making my arm hurt.

I ended up with one of the long pairs, in shades of deep and bright green. I figured they would give me ample wrist and hand coverage, and covering the rest of my forearms couldn’t be a bad thing, right? Also, they are the right shades of green to go with my silly green ball gown, which is completely sleeveless.

It took a few days post-con to remember to take them to work, but I am now convinced I need a couple more pairs, in other colors. Not that the green doesn’t work reasonably well with most of my wardrobe, but, well. Black would go with everything, and if I could get some in some shades of brown/beige/gold/brick red or something, I would be all set.

Anyway, they are awesome. Very comfortable, shield the tops of my hands from the evil cold breeze, and my wrists, and provide another barrier between my arm and the cold desk surface.

I did also buy a skirt. Not in the shades of green or blue or greyish purple that I expected (and there was a really lovely purpley grey skirt, all the shades of the evening), but one with a primarily orange layer and a primarily red layer. It looks like a fire.

All in all, it was a good con, except for the frigid temperatures in some of the public spaces, and I will likely do more art shows.


Process and progress

Back in September, I was playing around with a bunch of sea-themed beads. I had this really amazing large mermaid charm/pendant, but I couldn’t quite see her as just a pendant. Or even as just a pendant with a lot of interesting supporting beads and wire around.

I thought the centerpiece of an elaborate necklace would be nice, so I did a crude sketch and laid out some beads in a way that seemed reasonable:

A large metal mermaid charm with some beads arranged on a sketch of a necklace design.

This is more or less how I design necklaces: sketch out what I think the structure will be, put beads down on it, then photograph.

I didn’t quite feel like making it then. Or maybe I was really busy. Or both. But periodically I remembered (like when I was pawing through beads, and be reminded there was this piece lurking, completely unfinished), and I’d want to get back to it.

Well, what with Arisia coming up, I have suddenly felt spurred to action!

Tragically, I took no more in-process photos, but here is the completed piece:

Completed collar. Necklace. Whatever.

The structure is, as usual, stainless steel, in three different gauges. The swoopy, wave-like wires are sterling silver. HOLY COW, is silver wire easy to bend! After spending quite some time forcing the stainless steel (and it is a soft temper steel!) to do what I wanted, the sterling felt like putty. Wow. So nice.

Components are: big metal mermaid charm/pendant, lots of different glass beads, and a couple of pieces of dyed shell. The circle that the mermaid is facing is dyed shell, and there’s a chunky green rectangular bead on the other side that is also shell.

I put one of the pale green beads behind her head to make her face stand out a little more.

This was the most painful piece I’ve done. I am used to my finger pads feeling tender after bending a lot of stainless steel, and I occasionally wind up with minor stab and scratch wounds from unfiled wire ends. But working on it last night, I managed an impressive puncture wound as well as an embarrassing incident with the flush cut pliers. (Embarrassing because seriously, it isn’t that hard to keep the soft bits away from the sharp parts of tools!)

In other news, I made a bunch of earrings, and a couple more pendants. I am liking this productivity!

THe usual sorts of things: brass wire, sterling silver wire, stainless steel; glass and stone beads.

Still to do for Arisia: title all of these things. And the other things. And submit all that plus size info and pricing. And work out table layout; I think I am NOT going to use slabs of rock this time, because it is heavy to carry around! And I do not have enough slabs for every necklace anyway.

I do have a chunk of a tree branch. Maybe I can hang things off that.


A collection of shiny things

First, shiny words!

One of my favorite authors, Catherynne Valente, has a new book out: The Habitation of the Blessed, the first of three books about the mythical Prester John and the amazing land he had supposedly discovered, who the medieval world got all excited and crazed about. Embedded in her post about the book release is a really awesome video explaining who Prester John was – using action fictions and LOLcats. (Plus links to the online chapters and info about how you can enter in a drawing to win some phenomenally gorgeous art.)

The first 5 chapters are online FOR FREE, and I read them, and then I found myself later in the day thinking, “Yeah, I need to go finish reading that – CURSES I don’t have the book yet! Argh.”

My introduction to her work was Palimpsest, which I can’t be effusive enough about. Her writing – all of her writing – is typically more descriptive and lush and lyrical and evocative of myth and mystery than most writers’, and Palimpsest some of the very lushest. I was torn, when I started it, between spreading the reading out over a week so I could enjoy it for more days, and spending my entire weekend engrossed in it because Oh my god. (I didn’t get much else done that weekend; I recently reread it, spread out over a week or two, and it was just as good.)

(I also recently finished This Is My Letter to the World, an anthology of short stories written for her Omikuji Project. I highly recommend it, especially if you like retellings of old myths, but if you are the kind to get teared up over what you are reading, I don’t recommend reading it on the T, unless you like risking crying in public.)

Boston area folks – she is doing a reading at Pandemonium on Dec. 11, 3pm, as part of her book tour.

Next, shiny birds!

I was poking around deviantART, pondering setting up an account, and this caught my eye:

Bird broach made out of circuit boards.

Bird broach made out of circuit boards. OMG THOSE FEET.

Thebluekraken has a lot of other jewelry made from circuit boards, much of it cut into leaf shapes. A lot of circuit board art leaves me cold, but I really, really like the juxtaposition of technology with shapes from nature.

Next, shiny free software! Named after birds.

Aviary is a suite of browser-based tools for creating and editing images. So if you don’t have Photoshop ($$$), or the GIMP (free, open source), you may want to check this out. They also have a tool for creating vector drawings, which is what Illustrator ($$$) and Inkscape (free, open source) can do. Plus other things I have barely looked at. (I have the full Adobe suite, so I have spent little time testing out alternatives.) Since it is browser based, you can access it whenever you have access to a browser, rather than only when you are using the machine you have the other programs installed on.

Last, something that should have its own post, but I am feeling lazy.

Look! Over there! In the sidebar! Yes, I finally got some items listed on Etsy.

I started with some favorites, and I have a BIG PILE of other things (well, okay, maybe half a dozen. or 10?) to get listed, but it’s a start.

Thanks to everyone who encouraged and pushed me over the last year or so to do this. Once I got through writing policies, it wasn’t nearly as terrifying as I thought it would be.


StrowlerCon post-con report

This is supposed to be a project journal, where I write about what I am making and keep track of process and stuff like that, not a more diary-like blog, but dammit, it’s MINE and I make the rules, so I’m going to write something long and not really project focused.

Hey, wow, I’m also really tired, so it might not make sense, and if it weren’t for the automagic spelling error pointer-outer, this would be filled with typos.

So, the con.

There was a con! And it was small. But it was really, really awesome. If nothing else, I think it wins “best dressed con goers” award for the fantastically high percentage of people who were dressed in interesting/funky/weird/fantastic clothing. Oh my god the eye candy.

Even at Arisia, where hall costumes and funny clothes are kind of normal, I feel a bit odd dressing up or putting on a costume. Not here! Here I felt totally normal! . . . wearing feather ears all weekend.

I stepped out of the elevator at one point and there were two girls, perhaps 10 and 12, waiting to get on. They both did a pretty amazing double-take when I stepped out. I managed to not double over laughing, but I probably smirked a bit. Sorry, kids.

I missed most of the music acts, because I volunteered to do volunteer work, and that ended up being watching the doors of the performance space on Saturday and Sunday. So I did get to hear most things, though filtered through the doors.

Friday night, I caught far too little of the Gypsy Nomads, who totally rocked, but I made a point of being there for Cat Valente and SJ Tucker’s “Monsters Ball.” They alternated readings by Cat from her written work, with songs by SJ inspired by Cat’s writing. Really awesome. Only disappointment is that the music inspired by Palimpsest isn’t out on an album yet.

I set up my jewelry Friday night. Turns out I was only one of 2 people who signed up as  “Maker” – everyone else signed up as vendors. So I gave some thought to it, and ended up writing up prices for the pieces. People kept asking! And it was only Friday! No, the Mechanic’s Collar is not for sale. Unless you want to pay off my student loans and free me from the necessity of a 40 hour-a-week desk job so I can do more art. Then we should talk.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to come up with some designs that are more accessible than the ear cuffs, but not as expensive/time intensive as the necklaces. Sunday night, while sitting at the door, I did MANY PAGES of sketches, trying to come up with some ideas. And now I am really anxious to get some time to try them out, but, hey, desk job.

Saturday was the busiest day – there were a lot of people there just for Saturday, plus all the whole-weekend people.

I went to the contact juggling workshop! It was wonderful! I dropped the ball a lot, but I got better about not dropping it. I even, eventually, found a spot on my arm, near my inner elbow, where the damn thing can balance (everyone else there found a spot in seconds; I had to lift my arm a lot higher than I thought was necessary for the muscles to move right). I think that I could actually become good at it, and the instructor said so as well. (He is not nearly as spooky as his picture might lead you to believe.)

He came by my table later on and said some very kind and encouraging things about my work, and how to do some better marketing (omg, I have to do marketing. For myself.). I really appreciated it a lot – thank you!

Sunday was pretty slow. I developed cabin fever and a fear that I was about to start climbing the walls, I don’t care how tired I was. If I’d been at home, I’d have gone on a mad cleaning binge. Or raked ALL THE LEAVES. And this was after spending a couple hours playing with wire and making some new ear cuffs. Yes, I got bored even with that. I think it was all the sitting.

One of the nice things about it being slow was having time to chat with the other people in the room about what they do, hearing about their techniques, and more about the business end of things. It was like our own little mini-con!

So, I am terrifically tired because it has been many days since I went to bed at a reasonable hour and got enough sleep, but it was a really good weekend. I think it was a really good way to get a gentle introduction to having a vendor table (even if technically I was there as a “maker,” people coming by were treating it pretty much as a dealers’ room), because the crowds were, um, not really heavy enough to be a crowd, and the people were really friendly.

I don’t know if I necessarily want to do a table at a high-traffic event, but I have some idea what to expect, without associated bad memories.

Anyway. I was glad to have the time to get to learn more about what other people are doing, and meet some people who are (mostly) local to me and making/selling awesome things:

Purpleshiny, a local jewelry artist. I really love her beetle-wing earrings. Perhaps because they sort of look like feathers. And they are so shiny!

Behind the Mask, a local mask maker I first met at Arisia earlier this year, who works primarily in paper mache, and makes masks ranging from incredible ornate pieces for theatre and simpler (and affordable) masks for mortals.

Goth Fae, who had clothing and accessories that I looked at a lot, and have a mental note to look up in a few months when the shirt I wanted might be around in my size.

Dark Siren Designs, sorta local (New Hampshire, I think), jewelry and accessories. A lot of really pretty things made from lace that have had shiny bits attached to them. Some of the chokers looked like metal filigree, except more comfortable.

The Uncommon Facade, another local mask maker (leather work) – who makes masks that can be worn with glasses!

The Red Fork Empire, the other Maker, and sorta local (RI). Fortunately not in a room-conquering mood. Though I was well armed with pliers . . .

Lennon Studio, paintings and block prints – I remember the dragonfly and raven prints the best; another local. Okay, you know what? I think everyone was local, except Goth Fae, who are based out of New Orleans. She’s also a dancer, but unfortunately I only caught one of her acts.

Parrish Relics – exquisite jewelry, and a really wonderful table setup.

Auntie Arwen’s Spices, tempting spice mixes and fudge; not local, though they were also running a table for Silver Owl Creations (jewelry, including some really gorgeous hammered copper wire pieces), who is.

Also, Artisan’s Asylum had a table there, which was next to mine (not a coincidence). For most of the weekend, the person actually at that table had a Makerbot there that got a lot of attention. That thing has the deceptive LYING NAME of “Cupcake CNC” – it DOES NOT MAKE CUPCAKES. CNC or otherwise. It might able to frost them, however.

I was sad to miss HONK!, which was also this weekend, but I am glad I went. It was a pretty nice pace, I liked the people, and next year, I might be well enough prepared to actually do a workshop.

And now I could really use a nap.


More fun teaching! (I’ll be at StrowlerCon)

Which is a con with a lot of performance stuff at it – music and circus-type performances of the type that I have seen at Arisia and elsewhere.

Also, they will have a Maker Showcase, which is like an art show. But (or so I am told) also demonstrations going on in the same place at the same time.

I learned about this maybe a month ago, at an Asylum meeting; one of our wardens had been asked by the StrowlerCon people to help with the Maker Showcase, and we all thought we should try to get an Asylum table there. With work by some of us, and propaganda I mean fliers and fun things like that.

And then I looked around at the website and decided to write up a proposal for putting some of my wire things in the Maker Showcase (hey they said they were looking for costuming sorts of things! not just whizzy electronics). And also maybe I could do a workshop on making feather ears (or paper, or fabric, or whatever), or wire fish to hang from trees . . .

Time passed.

I began to wonder when I would hear back, but it had been less than a week.

More time passed!

I began to panic worry, because depending on the specifics, I might have to be all kinds of prepared and I didn’t want to get prepared and then find out No, but also I didn’t want to not be prepared enough and find out OMG TOO MUCH TOO LATE.

To make a boring story short, I learned last my proposals have been accepted, and I think I pretty much get to choose how to display things, and how much time I want to spend doing demonstrations/workshops, right there in the Maker room, which is lovely and much less terrifying than “Hey, here’s a two hour slot! In the program and in a room that holds 20 people and everything!”

So now I have but a short time to sit down at my desk visit the Abyss and work out a lot of details. So that I don’t find myself trying to find the right words to explain to other people how I do what I just know how to do (like the Bazaar Bizarre).

Things I am thinking about demonstrating:

  • feather ears, though possibly with paper instead of feathers (or starched fabric?)
  • simple ear cuffs, because hey! I finally sat down and worked this out myself! and they are relatively simple and quick
  • wire fish and birds and geometric shapes, for sticking in lawns and hanging from trees

I toyed briefly with the idea of paying for a vendor table, but realized that I do not have the time to make enough items to make a table worthwhile. However, there is apparently some way I can sell things, but it sounds like it is  more complicated than if I had a vendor table. So that is an intriguing option that bears more thought. And also requires I make some more things (but not SO MANY).

Simple brass wire ear cuff

Simple to make, simple to teach, can have dangly beaded bits hang off them for more fun.