A chronicle of the meanderings, false starts (which in retrospect, while sort of embarrassing turned out to be highly instructive), epiphanies, selective apathy (still evolving), wild mood swings, opinions (subject to frequent change), and life lessons of an inveterate dabbler (and her latest dabblings).

Monday, December 21, 2009

Accessories for the Serious Man-Eater

Leopardskin jasper is THE thing to wear this season when you're Going on a Man Hunt. It really does evoke the coat of a leopard, but in sexy shades of brick red, crimson, and coral. And black. Pair this with your favorite four-inch stilettos and leopard print catsuit and teeter around like your Bad Leopardess Self. Or maybe just sit.

The necklace features hammered copper washers linked by figure 8s in copper (check out Sharilyn Miller's "Ethnic Style Jewelry Workshop" DVD for instructions), brecciated jasper, hematite, mahogany jasper, copper beads (check out Sun Country Gems for awesome solid copper beads) and hand-forged chain in a twisted figure 8 pattern. It has, of course, a detachable extender chain so it can be worn long or short. Without the extender chain it's just shy of 21" long, and can be adjusted to shorter lengths; the extender chain is 5 and 3/4" long and is also adjustable.

Because of the hematite, you will be ever so slightly magnetic. If your significant other/prey-of-the-day has a pacemaker, you might want to take this off before you jump him.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

More Word Verification Gems

Been collecting these for you:

cronchbo--fizzled successor to Tae Bo involving only Kegels.
traddl--like straddle, but with a harelip.
scrinc--the sickening sound of your keys falling into a sewer grate.
insier--"my belly button is insier than yours is."
schin--shin, in Germany.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Every Day

is Bead Porn Day at The Cerebral Dilettante. Because I'm just not that organized.

Today is devoted to Pewter Porn.

I stopped by the knitting shop (finally) to pick up some pewter buttons because Erin Prais-Hintz dared me to use a button in something. (Because I mentioned I really needed to learn how to use buttons). FINE. Here they are:

No, they're not terribly button-like. I'm starting out slow with the button thing.

And I got another dang email from Happy Mango Beads about another one of their silly pewter sales so I had to buy these pewter totem beads:

Pictured clockwise from upper left are an owl (upside-down, sorry), an orca (also upside-down), a frog, a raven (again, upside-down), a salmon and another salmon (both naturally upside-down), and two suns in the middle. I'm thinking a bracelet or two, maybe some simple knotted necklaces. Not sure I will be able to resist the impulse of turning the two suns into earrings. Really heavy earrings.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I Know What I'm Doing This Weekend

Making bead caps!!! My doming block set came today. And I have my copper and brass sheet and my metal punch and my pin vise drill. Going to have to fire up the tumbler with some Dawn and the stainless steel shot I got and see if that will clean up the burrs I am sure to have on the edges of my discs before I dome them. Eventually I will get around to trying out the tumbler for polishing, but I've read so many different accounts about mystery deposits on metals and black sludge that I'm chicken to try. I am going to be seriously pissed if this bead cap thing doesn't work. I don't have room for all this crap I bought.

If I've made some fatal conceptual errors regarding making bead caps this way I'll have a giveaway and YOU can try it!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Purple Cactus Studios

I stumbled across this clay artist on Flickr the other day when I was uploading photos to the 88 groups I'm in. I was just blown away by her work! The colors seemed electric! And the patterns in her clay are just phenomenal. Psychedelic! I've never seen polymer clay quite like that. Like my most favorite fluorescent Crayolas. In her blog she also explains that she works as a muralist and faux finisher as well. I asked if I could feature her on my blog and she said sure. So here are some of my favs from her Etsy shop! You can also follow her blog, Purple Cactus Studios. I did.

This is a bangle! Looks like it was made out of a psychedelic snake!

Isn't this AMAZING? I just love it! The background for the photo makes me think these are little mushrooms you definitely don't want to eat. Or definitely DO want to eat. Depending on the kind of, ah, experience you're looking for.

Look at all these individual little petals!

And this is just way cool:

I could put like 40 more photos from her shop on here but Blogger won't let me. (Her Etsy profile indicates there are TWO artists, Amber and Laurence--one makes the clay beads, the other turns them into jewelry.) Bravo! Drop by for a visit!

P.S., you can also visit her website where you can see photos of her mural and faux finish work.

My Best Inanimate Friend

This is my beloved little mini vise. I call him Hermann. Hermann
fits in my purse better than a chihuahua. It's $7.99 at Jewelry Supply. (How many people can say they have a vise in their purse? Or eggs?)

Here is a picture of Hermann in action, holding a pendant ready to be wrapped with wire.

Hermann really is MINI. The opening only goes to 1 and 1/4", and the table top you see (it's one of those cheapie laminate desks from Staples) is pretty thin and that's about the limit for that vise, it won't fit on a heavier table top. And as you can see, it isn't very deep either--the pendant that's pictured there is pushed all the way down and that's as far as it goes. For larger items you would need a bigger vise. But I've never found I needed anything bigger for jewelry. Best $8 I ever spent. It's amazing how much better my wrapping turns out when I have TWO hands free--I can use one hand to hold the loop at the top steady so it doesn't twist when I start wrapping, and I can use the other hand to wrap the wire. I can wrap a briolette or pendant really fast with Hermann. With no cussing.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Color Inspiration!

I've really been knocked out by the copper pieces Esther of Mes Illusions Baroques and Mary Jane of Maire Dodd have been doing, with lots of rosy tones, peaches and lavenders, so I decided to haul myself out of the green-and-copper rut. Rifled through my bead stash and found some stuff I forgot I had bought (hmm, bead "blackouts", might have a problem)--really loved this peach aventurine (I got at a 75% off going-out-of-the-bead-part-of-our-business sale) with the copper, and then just had to stick the garnets in there. Couldn't bear to leave any unadorned links. I've really loved the purple-pink-peach-copper palette so many other artist bloggers are doing, HAD TO COPY IT!!! I really hate wrapping briolettes, so this was my desensitization therapy. I wrapped 8 of the little bastards. Rule No. 1: Always use a mini vise. Unless you have three arms. (But from what I've seen, third appendages tend to be more decorative than functional. Even if you have three arms you'll probably still need a vise.)

Made the chain yesterday while I was pretending to watch football (go Griz) with the BF and his offspring. It's like knitting. Except with a hammer.

OK, off to make earrings to go with this before my brio-wrapping-aversion reasserts itself.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Look Ma! No Symmetry!

This is my first attempt at an asymmetrical necklace. (Sorry, no buttons yet.) It is essentially monochrome (tone on tone)--I couldn't do multicolor AND asymmetry in one piece. Maybe later.

It features matte finish (which I guess is the natural finish) Crazy Horse Stone roundels, garnets, and big fossil agate rounds. The lead-free pewter pendant is from Happy Mango Beads. Hand forged, oxidized chain and S-clasp. The round silver beads are a gift from a customer--she sends me the most amazing stuff for my stash! Available in my Etsy and ArtFire shops.

Alas I could only do one asymmetrical piece. That's all I have in me right now. The First Bank of Asymmetry is empty. Come back later. I was able to do this, though, with a big steel washer I've been carting around forever, and my new favorite stone, apple green howlite. Well, Co-Favorite with red sponge coral. I really like this necklace. The wire is all annealed steel, hand polished; little sterling daisy spacers add a little sparkle. The stones are apple green howlite and serpentine.

The necklace includes a 9" removable, hand-formed steel extender chain which matches the chain on the necklace. With the extender chain attached, the necklace can be worn as long as 28". The extender chain is adjustable. Without the extender chain the necklace measures about 19" and is also adjustable. The necklace can be worn at virtually any length between 16" and 28".

I coated all the steel with Future acrylic floor polish. Inhibits rust and adds some shine. Smells good too.

P.S., Harbor Freight shipped my doming block set early! It's on its way! Yay!! And I have my copper and brass sheet and my other tools, so hopefully handmade bead caps by moi are right around the corner. Decided to go with a pin vise drill with itty bitty drill bits for making the center holes (but of course I also got a Fiskars hand drill just in case), we'll see how that goes. A bientot!

Saturday, December 5, 2009


I made it to the front page of Etsy this AM at 8:00EST!!! Thanks fifthquadrant for putting me in your Treasury! Oh God, I can't go anywhere today--I have to stay by the phone because Oprah's going to call now, I just know it.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Untamed Nomad

And her jewelry. This was given to me after I quit NASA by a Tuareg chieftain when I was living in Mali with the Berber for twenty years studying the nomadic lifestyle for my postdoctoral cultural anthropology dissertation. It was a really long dissertation. It was my third one. Dissertation, not Tuareg chieftain. He wanted me to marry him but I had a boyfriend back home. And a dissertation to finish. I won the Nobel Prize for it. And a Pulitzer and a Howitzer. And Hollywood made movies out of my other two dissertations. Remember Gorillas in the Mist? That was me. Then NASA wanted me back after that but I already had a top-secret national security gig with the CIA. (Can't say any more about that). And a movie deal about my climb to the summit of Mount Everest. By myself. With no gear. Or food. Or coat. That I did right after I won Wimbledon. Again. Anyway, it was a really cool necklace:

Unfortunately I have to sell it to raise money to pay the mortgage on my Scottish castle that I bought from Sting. Totally furnished. I'm letting him live there til he and Trudy and the kids find a new place. You can buy the necklace HERE. It'd really help me out--hey you can come over when I move in. There's a hot tub.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Painted Desert

Burning red rocks, incandescent tangerine sunsets, delicate coral sunrises, and cool lilac shadows. I love the desert! I think I was a lizard in a former life. I love lizards too. Someday I would like to live in the desert. Or rather near a desert in a town with good infrastructure. In fact I could live near the desert RIGHT NOW. This set below was inspired by the colors of the painted desert. It includes brecciated jasper, yellow jasper (in the bracelet--at least I think that's what that is), garnet, carnelian, moukaite (LOVING that stone), golden jade, Czech pressed glass and table cut glass, a little bit of Indonesian glass and lots of rich, warm brass. The necklace includes removable hand forged extender chain so it can be worn anywhere from 17" (or shorter, actually) to 24". Pewter cross with brass overlay by Happy Mango Beads.

For your alabaster, or ebony, as the case may be, swanlike neck:

For your graceful ballerina wrist:

For your fairylike translucent earlobes:

Please note the bracelet is asymmetrical. I'm working up to an asymmetrical necklace. And a button (I swear it, Erin, really).

Accidental Bead Porn

I went to a little bead store near my office looking for (only) this:

I came out with this:

(loads of magnesite in green and turquoise, and these cool little blue glass beads)

and this:

(sponge coral in orangey red--SIGH, my new favorite material--tiny tiger eye rounds, little crazy horse stone rounds, couple glass beads in red with pink flowers (don't know what seized me there), a strand of yellow turquoise and some ultra cool carnelian tube things. Plus the little Swarovskis. This stuff was 50% off, and it was already pretty dang cheap. None of these strands was over $5. DO YOU BELIEVE THAT SHIT? I went and bought up a bunch of magnesite, and one sponge coral donut. Drove to the park to do a little work, got distracted pawing through my stuff, and was seized with the conviction that I HAD TO GO BACK AND BUY MORE!!!! Who knows when I would find a sale like this again? So I immediately fired up the jelly bean and raced back to the store. The clerk looked inquiringly at me when I blew through the door. "I need to buy more," I said. "Oh GOOD!" she replied. And I bought more of the coral (like 5 smaller donuts and the big barrels), the tiger eye (so many colors? cool), and the crazy horse stone.

I have old bead porn from Happy Mango that I never shared. I've been hoarding it between the mattresses and I take it out at night when I'm alone. But it's time to share. This weekend.

My First Etsy Treasury!

I've been featured in my first Etsy treasury, entitled "My Cranberry Crush" by Esty seller Fifth Quadrant (check her out, she has some really fun vintage stuff):

My item is the Crazy Horse stone earrings at the bottom. Don't you love the felted scarf? Going to have to get myself one for Christmas.

More stuff to share soon! Just trying to get my sh!t together. It's a big job.