Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Magic of Rocks and Stones

So today I went looking for some information about pyrite and found this gem lore site I hadn't run across before -- it's a pagan-oriented site with a section called "Stones -- History, Myth and Lore."

Unlike many sites, only a select few stones are listed, and I like that the lore included isn't the usual "greeks and romans" stuff, but includes also Asian lore and stories from the indigenous Americas.

I also like that the author delves also into the scientific aspects of the stones, a topic she seems comfortable with and knowledgeable about.

It is written and compiled by Patricia Jean Martin. There's music, but it's pleasant, especially when turned down low. ;-)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Instant Bead Soup, Canine Style

This story started when I finally made a jewelry sale in my new shop (no offense Monkey Girl but your purchase didn't count -- you are not a total stranger ;-)

I could not for the life of me find the little chacha rings I'd made, one of which sold. (yay!) I reorganized everything on my work table in case I'd inadvertently set it there. Stayed up late putting things away and triple-checking my Etsy inventory drawers. No chacha rings. So I set out the materials to make another one, and finally went to bed.

The next morning I got up and re-inventoried everything in my Etsy drawers against what I've got in my shops, and lo and behold, found both the rings. Whew!

But once that cleaning gene gets activated, it's hard to stop and I've learned not to ignore it since I know from experience it'll go back into remission in a few hours (sometimes for months . . . )

I tend to keep things in little paper plates or bowls. They're cheap, eh? They double as paint trays, glue puddle holders, portable organizers. I had a plate for seed beads to put away. I had a bowl of tiny vials of sterling silver components. Stacked bowls with gemstones and the findings to make them into bracelets. A neat little tray of pairs of earrings waiting for me to make sterling earring wires for. By golly, I haven't been this organized in . . . well, a very long time.

So today I come home from work and immediately noticed the dog is trotting out of the computer/jewelry table room, instead of sneaking off the couch before we bust her. I'm like, wha??? She is always at the door to greet us. Today she comes barrelling around the corner in bark mode.

To my great and utterly depressing dismay, I see that for some strange reason (bird? peeping tom? low flying hot air balloon?) she has jumped onto my once-in-a-lifetime-tidy worktable and swept EVERYTHING off onto the floor, in order to CLIMB UP on the windowsill (this is an adobe house, my windowsills are a foot deep) where she managed to knock off some antique bottles I use to photograph earrings.

Right now, I'm looking at headpins and short lengths of silver wire strewn around my feet. A strand of turquoise on the carpet, with loose beads nearby. An upside down vial that once held some silver finding or another. I can't quite bring myself to look beyond (or under) the chair cushion in the corner of the room. But lemme put it this way, I'm seeing more table right now than I have since the holidays, when I boxed everything up and put it UNDER the table. ;-)

Can't blame the dog. She's normally so mellow you'd think she was on medication. My kid says she probably scared a burglar away. He's probably right. And now . . . for the cleanup. See ya in a few days . . .

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Santa Fe Relic

Santa Fe icon
Originally uploaded by mary_tafoya
Recycled vintage tin "house" pin with vintage ephemera collage. Hammered and antiqued sterling silver wire, vintage carved turquoise bird.

In my Etsy shop, y'all. :-)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Second Life and the Laptop Saga

So, you can't swap out graphics cards on most laptops and since my old one was from about 2002 (never crashed, works great, won't run SL), I scoped out some new ones and picked a laptop that was qualified to run SL just fine. It didn't. SL worked great for a few minutes until it crashed, saying the graphics card had stopped working for a sec there.

So I took it back and exchanged it for a laptop that cost 25% more and had the big mama GeForce or whatever graphics cards. Plus more memory than needed at 3MB. It sucks. It is almost as bad as my workstation, which I'll upgrade soon.

But how disappointing to spend this much time and money, and every time I take more than 2 steps a minute, I end up getting dragged underground, then pop back up and get stuck.

Last night I did manage to attend my class. First time in, my clothes didn't load. Second time in I got stuck walking and had to log out and come back in, but my turquoise hair and clothing arrived with me just fine. About the third time in, everything worked great -- eventually. I could speak, walk, sit, but no gestures for some reason.

I'm gonna try a Mac next. I haven't used one regularly in probably 7 years. Yes, I know these guys at the computer store are going to love seeing me come in the door yet again.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Yes, Sig has finally lost it

If you've done beadwork for any length of time, you know Sig Wynne-Evans. (Hint: She's older than Delicas and younger than Deon DeLang ;-)

Ya know, a lot of times people "in the biz" feel a certain pressure to behave in public. When a vendor, designer, author, teacher, or otherwise well known person in the industry (and I'm sure this is true for other art/craft genres) speaks too frankly, speaks too honestly, speaks their true feelings, there is an inevitable backlash. Especially on the Internet.

But Sig, though sweet as pie, generous as the day is long, and warm as a teddy bear in person, has generally elected to speak her mind no matter what and it doesn't seem to have hurt her any.

Until now. I am fairly certain she's completely flipped her lid and lost her marbles! One too many rows of odd-count flat peyote?

Miz Sig, in case you haven't heard, is now on Chapter 6 of the Cracked Bead, a tell-it-like-a-veteran-designer-sees-it "journal" of things some of us wish we'd said others of us might wish she hadn't.

The title? Tips for Designers: How to design Creatively Rich, Artistically Perfect, and Phenomenally Yummy (C.R.A.P.P.Y.) Patterns yes that's right folks -- with intimate testimonials from the designer herself. And extra points for sarcasm. ;-)

Oh and if you feel the need to catch up, the rest of the Chapters are still online too.

Second Life: Nik and Mar's Tentative Encounters

Or is that "Tentacled Encounters?" And why do I feel like this SL blogging is some kind of descent journal? and a year from now I'll be testifying on Oprah explaining how it started out innocently enough. Yeah, it was supposed to be a grad. school class project...

Anyway, here's my latest chat w/my BFF Goth Deadhead Nik with the bunny ears. As you will see Sarah is a little too dom for the dom.

me: . . . so far everywhere I go I walk around and say hi to people and they walk away, LOL
Nik: i had an encounter
me: Oh yeah?
where and with whom?
Nik: a guy came and offered me a 'woman's starter pack' saying "here's some new skin and clothes"
me: and by the way this conversation might end up on my blog
did you accept them?
[long pause while the chat window says "Nik is typing..."]
Nik: I had been working on my avatar....and was a bit peeved.... so I said something like "Why would I want different skin or clothes? I picked the skin and clothes I have on." He said "as you wish"....
Nik: I checked out his profile....he lists himself as a dominant and i noticed him sitting with a woman avatar that was listed as a sub
me: I guess I was lucky to meet Prince Charming and actually get just the tiara
even if he did show up later in street clothes
Nik: i made it to info island and have been checking out the library
me: Info Island?
Nik: yep
me: I'll have to check it out
Nik: yep
me: Like I need more info

Monday, April 21, 2008

Second Life with Nik

My BFF Nik is my hero(ine). Whenever I have a technology issue, I always ask Nik first. And she is always sharing with me some new Internet thang. If she doesn't know the answer, she asks her son quick-like (he is a computer science major). We chat online just about every day cause we only see each other IRL once or twice a year. So when I was assigned to play around in Second Life, naturally I asked Nik about it. Didn't take her long to get in the swing of SL -- she Teleported me to her location last night for our first SL meetup:

How fun! That's me with the turquoise hair and Nik looking like a Goth Deadhead. Too bad you can't see my tiara. 8-)

Now if only I had a computer at home that SL would actually work in. I finally just bailed. But it was very cool to add the avatar element to our chats. I use sound in SL but Nik couldn't hear the voice chat. And I have too much homework at the moment to down the computer and upgrade stuff.

But here's our chat from the other day when I first asked Nik about SL. I thought it was kinda funny...

Nik: ah...i'm not sure i like the second life idea
me: why?
Nik: it seems a bit redundant
Nik: i have enuf to do in my first life
i only get a bit of computer gaming time every day and i play both portal and ninja reflex, which are brain training and hand eye training games
(i'm at the age where that's important)
me: well if you decide to do second life let me know and we can meet up there
Nik: what do you do there?
me: it's like a cross between taking acid and having a dream where you forget to wear your pants to school
Nik: oh, that might be fun
me: You can do different things
I'm just doing the orientation right now
Nik: ah. well, maybe after this next couple of days at work
me: you can join groups, go to different lands, have unbridled sex with strangers, buy real estate, do graduate research
Nik: real research?
the travel sounds fun, not really into sex or real estate

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Lavender Blossoms Beading Pack

Just one more...

The lilacs are in bloom all along my street. They're the inspiration for this new palette.

Pretty vintage lucite beads, mostly flowers, in lavender, lilac, and violet.

Brand new and in my Etsy shop.

Egyptomania Cabochon Beading Pack

Photo reshoots, in my Etsy shop.

These are vintage faux Egyptian cabochons -- pairs of scarabs and a large Nefertari cab. Yummy. 8-)

Spring Pinks Vintage Lucite Beads

More photo reshoots, in my Etsy shop.

A lovely palette of lustrous pinks with a bit of olive/sage and butterscotch. Old fashioned colors, genuine lucite.

Second Life: Off the Island!

Journal Notes:

I finally had a chance to try SL on a different computer, an older model running Windows XP. Don't know what type of graphics card it had. Anyway, I discovered that old computer runs SL a LOT better and finally I got a sense of how it SHOULD be to walk around, change your appearance and clothing, etc. I thought I had gotten plenty of memory for my new Vista-the-Hog computer but apparently Bill Gates wasn't talking to Mr. Linden. ;-)

Oh-ho that's right folks, she's not a total newbie any more. I found some, if not tutorials, at least good orientation materials, such as the one at Wired, a keyboard shortcuts chart and a few other links (I'll post them some other time...)

Today (while conducting research on my lunch break, yes) there was some dude using voice chat with a voice changer thingy to make him sound like Darth Vader. Actually he sounded like a baritone African American gentleman but I picture him as a scrawny white kid in a dorm room. Who else would be on in the middle of the day? Oh, right -- me. It was kind of funny hearing him try to explain to a guy with maybe a Pakistani accent what "getting turned down" means -- the accent guy was playing music into the voice chat and Darth was telling him that people don't like it and will turn off the sound when you're around.
Why I don't go to bars any more -- the zombies!

ANYWAY, another observation I made is about the fact that some avatar with ridiculously large wings kept blocking me from seeing myself. I wished I could pick him up and move him over but I guess that is against the politeness rules. Or the assault rule. Or something. I'd like to see him try to get on an airplane with those wings! ;-)

I mostly played with my face, hair, cargo pant length and other highly productive tasks. I went to the Mainland. Or some part of it anyway. I also searched and searched for the island of the university I go to, since that's where our class session will be next week, but I couldn't find it. I did find my professor and two of our tech support people and asked a couple of people to be my friend, and sent an email to the class with my avatar name, and one of them offered to Teleport me to the island. Whew! That'll be nice.

Oh yeah -- in the Mainland place someone invited me to join their group, so I accepted. Next thing you know I've got the word "cock" something on top of my head. So I unjoined. This SL liveliness could take some getting used to, LOL!

Turtle Island is just like home!

I find myself walking off to a quiet grassy spot a lot, just to think and play with stuff. Today I sat on a bench to rest and a little cat avatar came up and squeaked something, then flew off.
It's funny -- the reason I say it's like going to an acid party (did I say that?) is because when someone's changing their appearance, they just kind of stand there looking off into space, and then something changes, like their jacket, or their hair turns blue. Or you see someone flying way off in the distance like an old Peter Max poster.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Indie Artist Profiles on YouTube

So hey! Mixed media artist Karen Ventura produces the Indie Arts DVDs, profiles of talented and well known artists, and you can see some of them in action at YouTube. You can see and hear folks like Michael deMeng, Meredith Arnold, Gail Reike, Nick Bantock, and others.

I really like that each video is different and draws on the unique personalities, skills and contributions of each individual artist. Even the music is specially chosen. Here's some artistic advice from Judy Wise:

Second Life: Back for More

I actually journalled this the other night...but haven't had a chance to post until now:

Went back in last night and finished the other two Orientation tutorials. I was walking around this volcano talking to fat statues when a charming blonde prince with a sparkling crown strolled up and presented me with a bunch of blingedy jewelry. Why thank you kind sir, I chatted. We decided to be friends. I continued around a corner, and he shows up again (you can see their names above their heads) this time in jeans, a cap and a muscle shirt. I'm like, hey buddy where's your crown [you perhaps-a-stalker freak]??? He reminded me of the dweeby boy in school who always introduces himself to the new kid in the class, and then later when you have actual friends you don't want to know him any more.

Ok, so by this time I'm flying at will and landing on the ground (which is quicker than, say, walking around the volcano) but my computer is occasionally doing this weird thing where it gets STUCK on walking -- I end up going backwards over miles and miles of ocean, and I can't stop. My DH can see this from the other room and he's laughing. So I reboot. Usually, I end up back on solid land, before the glitch did the glitch.

I didn't have my headphones on at first so I didn't realize you could hear people talking! And it was creepy. I could actually hear some guy breathing while he wandered around in SL. After I heard him say in a really groggy voice, "Ok, I'm gonna have one more smoke and then go to bed," I turned down the voice. The ambient noises are fun though and I love the twilight environment setting.

It took me quite a bit of time to figure out how to get OFF the Orientation Island because I was apparently sent a thing to click on Teleport but I couldn't see Teleport until the 3rd time I rebooted. I did ask a couple of tall dark and handsome strangers. One of them said, "Follow Me" and then took off faster than I could follow.

But I managed to get off the island (I was kinda scared to go straight out to Second Life cause I still can't find anything) and got to Help Island, where there's a huge goth dude with huge black wings standing there, by the name of Chic Magnet. In that getup, I think it's more like creepy critter magnet. It was getting late so I sat down on a wall, which is presumably where I'll be when I get back there. Tonight.

Yes, I'm hooked already. I want to find my classmates! That's it -- RESEARCH!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Second Life: First Foray

It's all in the name of academic research. Uh-huh. 8-) I am taking a class, my second one with the wonderful Dr. Deb, in electronic learning course development. Deb has rather a passion for trying out new technologies and incorporating them into the course. So far this semester I've learned how to record and edit audio, contribute to a wiki, create a webquest, and probably a couple of techno-things I've forgotten already! Oh yeah, things like learner analyses, usability testing, all that jazz.

I am also playing in (er, I mean researching) Second Life. Second Life is a virtual reality thingie that you download to your computer and wander around in doing things via an avatar, with other avatars. In environments. With objects. And there's something about money and real estate. It's sort of like Pokemon for grownups. It would be safe to say that anything goes and I can see how it could become really addictive (not for me, oh no! never...right. But I'm already thinking up upgrading my memory so I can walk faster).

Well. my perceptions of Second Life are pretty freaky/funny I decided to journal them so I can look back in a year or so and see what's different then.

Here are some perceptions from my first visit to Orientation Island:

First of all, after creating an avatar I thought would look like Suzy HomeMaker, I showed up on the island completely naked, with gray skin, and standing between two strangers, a female in front of me wearing nothing but a stretchy cap and a dude behind me in jeans and a white T-shirt, with a name I forget but it definitely had "white" and "ass" in there somewhere. I was actually embarassed to be in the middle of this menage-a-avatar sandwich.

My computer apparently doesn't have a lot of spare memory for a smooth cruise in SL because I couldn't even walk away, LOL! Reboot is now my middle name. I can take about 5 steps at a time but usually my Inventory (a library of clothing, gestures, landmarks, objects, etc.) and Searches crash SL...so I reboot. Again.

Somehow I ended up flying -- over the ocean. I figured out how to stop flying and then I ended up underwater. It was kind of interesting. In the distance, you can see other people flying, and when someone walks up to you, instead of bumping you they walk right through you. It is sort of a cross between taking acid and having one of those dreams where you forget to wear pants to school.

I managed to walk out of the water, and by this time I'm kind of getting the drift that there are 4 tutorials which you complete to prove you've figured out how to walk, look at a map, chat, and put some damn clothes on. Well actually I somehow ended up with long black hair and a purple stretch top I traded in for chain mail.

The thing is, usually, when I do new software, I like to find a quick guide or keyboard shortcuts or something, but I just went into SL with none of that. So I felt like I should wake up my 12YO to help me get through this place! I was glad to have some clothing although at one point my pants became kind of transparent. And another thing -- you spend a lot of time looking at your own backside. My avatar's backside is considerably better toned than my real one. I don't know if that makes me angry or glad.

That was the first night. In between SL freezing and me wandering around in circles, I got through 2 of the tutorials.

THE END...of the beginning...

New Poll: What Earrings Do You Wear?

I was going to make April's poll about your fave items in my Etsy jewelry shop but I was a little uncomfortable with that and kept procrastinating. Not because I was worried about feedback -- I still want feedback! But because it just seemed a tad self-centered and besides most people who post here aren't my jewelry customers anyway (er, yet?).

So, in the spirit of getting a poll up already and still getting some kind of potentially shop-related feedback, here's this month's poll:

What's Hanging From Those Lobes??? I know, I forgot multiple piercings, handmade, catalog purchases, seed beads, goth, department store specials, teen Claire and all kind of other things. Feel free to add your ideas for OTHER by commenting to this post or emailing me.

So there ya go. Now, look left silly and fill out the poll!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Drawing on the Right Side of Your Cursor?

Ok here's an exercise that is sure to make you feel like an awkward dufus! Or maybe I should just speak for myself... It's a Java version of that mirror drawing exercise from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain:

Scroll way down to the bottom and click the appropriate exercise (Right handed or Left handed). When the new window opens, you might have to click inside it once to activate the script before you can draw.
Here's a screen shot of my best effort. My excuse is I'm left handed and drew with my right hand! Yeah, that's my story...


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sick Bed Art from Which Continent?

I've had a wicked, wicked cold (again -- something tells me full-time job + grad school don't mix, at least not in this nearly 50 year old body...) and I'm telling my DH, "Honey I'm coughing so hard I'm practically incontinent!" And Junior pipes in, "Which continent is that, Mom?"

Yes. But despite the iffy bodily functions, I'm here to tell you that even with bronchitis or whatever it is, my hands started getting itchy after about a day and I managed to make stuff, while lying in bed watching a Law and Order marathon. At least I think it was Law and Order. (In between naps I swear I heard "duh duh duh Duh DUHhhh duhhhh"...every hour or so.)

First I made envelopes out of old art magazines (the kind with the heavier paper) and the inserts are made of old rescued file folders. I mean, like, at least 20 years old, probably more like 30. The cow envelopes are made from salvaged butter labels made of vegetable parchment paper. Reuse, recycle!

Then I finally got started on a custom peyote stitch earrings order and since I've been kinda slow to get these to mi amiga I added some special little stones, including turquoise faceted rounds and tiger eye faceted barrels. I love 'em -- they've got antique silver and bright faceted copper Delicas in the mix. Still a bit of work to do on these (obviously).


Monday, April 14, 2008

First Treasury, and it's a Tidepool

Awww, I think this is the first treasury my jewelry's been picked for
since I opened my new Etsy Shop (the seahorse ring).
Thanks, Vargasgirl! 8-)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Few Good Beads

Some of these turquoise beads (plua a few others like 'em) are going up in my Etsy shop, little by little as I photograph, weigh (yes they're big!) and measure them... I couldn't stop taking pictures of the whole pile of them the other day, LOL! That little bowl btw is faux jade polymer clay I made in a class with Victoria Hughes.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

March Poll Results

And the results are in from the true confessions from the artisans-on-the-street-and-in-the-home Blog Poll:

Question: Today my worktable looks:

neat as a pin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 vote (1%)
lived in but orderly. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 votes (13%)
a bit confusing to everyone but me. . . . . . . 22 votes (22%)
pretty disgusting. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 votes (5%)
like a cyclone hit it. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 votes (22%)
there’s a table under there?. . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 votes (34%)

Total Votes: 94

I am here to witness that the lone neatnik vote snuck in on the last day of the poll and I don’t believe them for a minute! ;-) The clear front runner throughout the month was still the winner at the end – and I have to tall ya I’m relieved to not be all alone in the “Honey have you seen my worktable?” category.

Oh and btw, no, I don’t know how Google figured those percentages. They don’t make sense to me either.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Pregnant Pixie Lute Playing Doll?

Pixie Doll?
Originally uploaded by mary_tafoya
I'm afraid the DH has got it bad. Ever since he threw that big ole boudoir doll in the bed with me after an early morning Goodwill run, he for some reason thinks I want to collect the disgusting things. A lot of times, he brings me some creepy stinky weird tourist doll (ok, maybe not stinky) and I make him throw them out immediately, I don't even want to touch them!

Ahhh, but today...he comes in, sheepishly, and says, "Will you please research this one? I think she's pregnant." LOL!

I kinda doubt it -- I think it's just her posture (but hey maybe if she wore some PANTS she wouldn't find herself in those compromising situations, where people judge her and all that...) Check out my Flickr album (click the photo) for some more views.

No I did not research her. But she will have an honorary place out in the shed, on the shelf with his battery operated hand held mosquito repellant gadgets. I figure she was part of some 1950s split-level cocktails at 5:00 Las Vegas holiday scenario. Wonder where her pixie drummer boy friend is?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Junior, Gel Pens, and El Monstruo

When my son has an assignment to color, he usually opts to use my big ole set of Prismacolor pencils, (which, by the way, I've had since college 100 years ago).
This time I mentioned I had a whopping big new bunch of gel pens, so he grabbed them instead. To tell the truth I'd completely forgotten I'd binged on the fluorescent colors too...but I'm guessing he migrated right to them.
I love this drawing! The assignment was to draw a monster and label its cuerpo. The only caveat was "No Blood." (Ahhh, an experienced teacher who knows boys all too well ;-) The ripped out heart totally cracks me up!
Junior must have liked it too because it is now the background image on his cell phone. 8-)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008