My Crafting Adventures: Jewelry

I have written SIX crafting adventure pieces and still haven’t done one on my jewelry making. That all changes now. You guys know you love my shameless attempts at garnering compliments.

 

You guys might realize by this point that I am not a ‘girly’ girl. But I cannot leave my apartment without a necklace on. I feel weird and naked without one. I feel like everyone is looking at my neck. Even though I logically know they are not.

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This one is a fossilized buffalo tooth.

By this point I have hundreds of necklaces. I have bracelets and have recently been venturing into earrings. My etsy is full of my jewelry for sale.

 

But everything I am going to post on here is from my personal collection and not for sale. It’s not even all of my personal collection. These only get seen if you happen to be looking at my neck. That is the curse of being a crafter. You want to save all the best stuff for yourself.

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Jade dress robe weight that is several hundred years old.

My father has been collecting beads and making jewelry for over 50 years. His jewelry makes the things I am about to show you look like they were done by a child. A gifted child, but still. His work is fantastic.

 

Sometime when I was around 13 or 14, I asked him to teach me how to make jewelry. He and his first wife invented a form of micro macrame with beads and stones at Woodstock. They moved to California and gave away necklaces on the beach. I mentioned that he was a total hippie, right?

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Charoite center bead.

So he sat me down and very patiently showed me how to do it. I practiced for hours until my hands cramped and everything I was doing seemed meaningless. Like when you say a word to many times until it is just noises and nothing more. And then I said, fuck this shit. I’m never going to get it.

 

I tried again a few years later based off my memory and I managed to spend several hours making a beaded cylinder of what appeared to be a cat hairball studded with beads. I savagely attacked it with scissors and hid my unholy horror of a creation at the bottom of a trash bin.

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Turquoise of varying shades. I remade this one twice which is an incredible pain in the ass. But it was worth it.

When I was 17 and had moved away, I asked him to show me again. I was making simple jewelry now and figured I had developed enough hand/eye co-ordination to make it work.

 

My father sat me down again and showed me again how to do the weaving with the string and beads. And I again failed miserably. I could tell he was frustrated but I figured I was just too stupid to ever make it happen.

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Shark’s tooth. I remade this one twice too.

I tried for about a year after that. Every once in a while I would sit down with a newfound determination to make it work. But it never worked. I don’t know where that well-spring of stubbornness and determination even comes from. But it appears to be ever-lasting.

 

Sometime when I was 20 I was trying for my fourth or fifth time to make this wretched thing work. It is so complicated and you have to hold your hands just so and it was one of those situations that felt so alien and awkward.

 

And then, for some reason, I did it backwards. I don’t know how I thought of it. Most likely, I had simply forgotten my father’s original instruction and just decided to make it up as I went (a common theme in my life). And it worked. I don’t know why, but it just worked.

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Tibetan silver and copal. I especially like this one as it has amber in it and kyanite and a sterling silver dime as a clasp.

I thought maybe my father had been telling me how to do it from his perspective which would have been backwards for me and therefore I had been doing it backwards all these years which is why it hadn’t worked. But no. Doing it backwards was what worked for me.

I started making necklaces. They have changed over time in a way that is so obvious it is like carbon dating the layers of sediment in stone. I can look at something I made and know exactly when it is from.

 

I eventually showed my brother the stitch. He does it backwards too.

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Here is a very simple one. Tibetan quartz and silver.

Even though the three of us use the same technique, same materials, same style. Our pieces are as distinctly different as our personalities.

Signs

I try to be very tolerant of other people’s beliefs. I know they are very personal. Very important. I also try to not talk about religion or politics on here. If you know me, my personal opinions are easy to figure out. But this story does involve uptight religious people. Be warned.

 

My hometown is very religious. We have regular religious protesters on the biggest intersection in our downtown. They are always going on about judgement day and the apocalypse.

 

There used to be an old woman that sat outside all day and would stop us to tell us we were going to hell. Because all teenagers were going to hell. I can tell you that at that point in my life the worst thing I had ever done was ride my bike on the sidewalk (which is totally illegal in that town).

While it is really dangerous, I doubt it is the thing that would land me in hell.

I generally politely ignore these people unless they refuse to accept my polite ignoring. It happens. And then I just make a joke and keep on walking.

 

But there is a bead store in my hometown. Just one. And you guys should know that I am freaky into beads. Like, borderline hoarder.

My precious…

I was on a trip to my home town sometime last year with my brother, T, and friend, C. We were all itching to look at the pretties in the bead store. My father knew the woman that owned the bead store and he warned us that she was a “religious nut.”

 

I should also let you know, I was not on drugs that day. So I can’t even use that as an excuse, like this time.

 

So, we walked into this bead store and I saw an old woman behind the counter. I tried to make polite conversation with her. So I said “Hello.” And then asked “Is this your shop?”

 

I had never been into this bead store because it is closed my two days off per week.

 

The woman behind the counter said something that sounded like “My name is on the door but God owns it.”

 

I sort of thought I had misheard her. And anyway, I was being polite, remember?

 

We started talking about my father, who is a local character. She knew who he was based solely on my description of his appearance. But he also has a pretty popular nickname.

 

T and C weren’t saying much and I sort of wandered away from the owner to look at the stuff. I found a few things I liked and was talking about them with T and C. We walked around the whole store a few times and I had about 5 semi-precious stones in my hand.

 

We made our way back up to the front and I picked up something else I wanted. It was a green onyx heart. I actually had been looking for one for a little while. I turned to the shop owner and said, “I can’t believe you have this! I’ve been wanting one.”

I still don’t have one.

She looked at me sternly. “That is part of the display and not for sale!”

 

I shrugged and put it down.

 

But now I was on the shop owner’s radar. She came over to me. I towered at least a foot over her.

 

“Do you have items to purchase in your hand?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Did you not read the signs?” She pointed and I saw at least 5 signs hung in various places that all items for purchase are to be placed in a basket.

 

I had not seen the signs. I swear. I said, “No. I didn’t. I’m sorry. I’ll put them in a basket now.”

 

I got a basket and put the 5 things that had been in my hand into a basket. “See? It’s fine. They’re in a basket.”

 

“How did you not see the signs?” She demanded.

“I ask myself that all the time. I am oblivious.” I joked.

 

She was not amused. “These baskets are to prevent theft.”

 

I looked at the basket and then at her. “But, it’s not like I couldn’t steal it out of this basket. I mean, I’m not stealing.”

Fail proof anti-theft devices.

“Excuse me? What did you say?” She yelled.

 

I didn’t realize how angry she actually was until that moment. And T and C, who had been talking in the corner, suddenly fell silent.

 

I looked over at them and they looked from me to this old lady. It was some sort of silent standoff. The seconds ticked by. I wondered if she was going to call the police on me.

 

Finally, T asked her a question about something and she went to help him. I didn’t say another word until we had left. But I heard her saying something about young people today and sin and hell. So, there’s that.

 

I am happy with what I bought, but it would not have been worth getting strip searched over.

Though maybe for these these spiny oyster beads I got.

Yes, it is all about me

In case you guys don’t know, Jana over at Stop Me if I Told You This is hilarious and sweet. She also claims to think I am incredibly interesting (that word is being bandied about a lot in my life lately).

 

And she was kind enough to ask me to answer some questions for some thing she is doing and also to ask  some other people to answer them too, if they want. Unlike Jana, I am totally bossy. But participation is voluntary for my nominees too.

 

So here it is:

 

What am I working on at the moment?

 

That really depends on what you mean. Nothing is ever easy with me. I am writing for this blog and my other blog. I am writing some weirdo poetry and a shit ton of science fiction.

 

In the non-writing world, I am crafting up a storm of dinosaur jellyfish skeletons, and jewelry and lord knows what else. I also make these comic book decoupage things and have recently commissioned them to a comic book store and a hipster coffee shop/record store. And I am really excited about it!

 

Check out my Etsy link on the side to see more of my stuff. You may be wondering when I sleep as I also work 50+ hours a week. The short answer is that I don’t. I also don’t have things that the rest of you have, like children, significant others, pets, friends, etc.

 

How does my work differ from others in this genre?

 

Hmm… Well, my experiences are truly unusual and my own. Other than that, I guess I am probably not much different. Maybe not as good? Check out my commenters for some very hilarious and interesting blogs.

 

Why do I write what I do?

 

I guess I just want to share the shame of my life with others. It does feel good to get these stories out of me. And I love knowing that I am entertaining total strangers all over the world. So, that’s pretty cool. No matter how many posts I write, my list of stories to write never seems to get any shorter.

 

How does my writing process work?

 

I know we are in a judgement free zone and I can be honest about that with you guys. I have a super nerdy lapdesk that I use with my laptop. I sit on my couch and always have something playing in the background. I do a Harry Potter movie marathon and a Lord of the Rings movie marathon about once a month.

 

Don’t judge. I love those movies, the soundtracks are amazing to write to, and I don’t have to pay close attention the way I would with something I’ve never seen. Lately I have been on a real Simon Pegg kick. By the way, writing anything to any movie soundtrack makes you feel fucking epic. Try it. I highly recommend John Williams. He’s the man behind Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Jaws, and Star Wars.

 

There’s no real other process. I write pretty much every day. Sometimes it is crap and I delete it. Sometimes it is crap and I save it to try to fix later. Sometimes it’s good enough for what I am trying to do. And sometimes, I am so pleased with something that I want to print it out on a t-shirt and wear it around for everyone to know what I wrote. Those are the best days.

I’m going to link to some bloggers that I think really just need to get more play. No matter how much they are getting; it is not enough. Check them out, comment all up in their business, love each other, whatever.

 

More than Sweet Potatoes

 

Just Plain Ol’ Vic

 

Transplanted to the South

 

Spankalicious

 

The Tattoo Tourist



If you guys want to answer the questions; inquiring minds want to know. Otherwise, don’t worry about it. I’ll still like you all.

My Crafting Adventures: Chest Piece

I’ve never been much for bragging. I feel there is always someone smarter, prettier, funnier, cooler, more interesting, more athletic than myself. Plus, I am pretty modest. And in case you guys haven’t realized, this blog is 95% about what an idiot I am.

 

But there is one claim I will make that can be interpreted as bragging. I am a crafter savant. I may not be good at things like physical touching, or emotions, or socializing, or much of anything. But I am amazing at crafty things. At least I like to think so.

 

Trust me, I am an idiot.

 

A few years ago my sister, J, and I went into a pawn store. I love and hate pawn stores. In antique stores, I can pretend the people are all just dead and their families have sold their stuff. And in thrift stores, I pretend people just get tired of their crap and donate it.

 

 

Every pawn store in Florida.

 

But pawn stores are sad. I can sometimes feel the desperation of the people that had to sell something to pay a bill, or eat. It bothers me. It reminds me storage units, in the same way. Sad people putting everything they own in a metal box with the intention of coming back for it.

 

So depressing.

 

Anyway, we were in this pawn shop and I am kind of friendly with the owners. Friendly in the way I am friendly with most people I talk to more than once. People tend to remember me, even more so if I am out with my family. I hear we are like some cross between hippies and gypsies. I don’t mind.

 

I am not now, nor will I ever be this cool. But my family totally is.

 

The owner was telling us that her husband is Native American and some of the pieces they have on display are heirlooms from his family. Not for sale.

 

If any of you look at my Pinterest, you know, I am a sucker for Native American jewelry. So I was oohing and ahhing over these pieces she was pulling out from behind the counter.

 

*swoon*

 

Then I saw what looked like a manky old leather vest. It was old, and worn, and kind of haggard looking. Which is exactly what I love. So I asked the owner to see it.

 

It was an old bone and leather chest piece in a plastic display case. And I was fascinated. I wanted so badly to touch this thing. It was like an old bird that used to be beautiful but was now collapsed and broken. But I could still see it’s beauty.

 

Honestly, it kind of looked like this, all wound up in the case.

 

So I leaned in and asked if I can touch it. I doubted she’d let me. But I had to ask.

 

The owner looked around a bit. It was just the three of us in this store. Her husband was in the back and likely would have been very angry if he knew. She said that I could.

 

I think there was something in my eyes. She saw my reverence for this thing.

 

She opened the case and I reached in and touched the leather. It was once a rough and poor quality piece of leather. Age and wear had made it soft and smooth. Like heavy cream.

 

The bone was dark with a lovely patina. The chest piece was broken. Like I had thought. I wanted it so much. And so did J. But as I said, it wasn’t for sale.

 

It was similar to this, but crumpled and broken.

 

After we left the shop J and I talked about it. I knew I could make one for her. I only got to see it for a few minutes, but I am good at figuring out how things work. I just needed to get the supplies.

 

It took me a few months, but I soon had all the bone, beads, and leather to make her a chest piece for her birthday.

 

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This is the one I made my sister.


And enough to make myself one for no reason other than I wanted one.

 

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The one I made myself.

In which I take you on a tour of my apartment

So I have alluded to my apartment and decorations many times. I have been told it looks like a combination yoga retreat, gypsy caravan, mad scientist lab, and healing shaman hut. I am very pleased by that comparison. I hear, despite my freaky shit, my apartment is very calming to be in.

 

I thought since I just had my apartment re-done and am feeling particularly pleased with it, I would share some of my favorite things with you. It is obviously a work in progress. I still have X-Ray shadowbox nightlights to build. And I didn’t take pictures of the necklaces on every doorknob or the pictures of my sister. Or my craft tables (yes there are two, one just for jewelry making and one for everything else) as they are a bit of a mess. But I think I will be able to still paint an accurate picture of it.

180My transistor collection. I intend to get more and do some kind of art project.

 

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Glass head, shell collection, and wooden clogs.

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I bought this when I got my first place alone. It is driftwood, sea glass, crystals, all kinds of cool weird beach-y things.

 

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I call this my seance table. It is a soy candle, crystal, salt lamp, singing bowl, Buddha head, incense.  It just happens to look unintentionally creepy but then I liked it so I kept it that way. (No seances were done at this table. At least, not by me).

 

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I won this beauty at a gem show last year. It was the grand prize drawing. It is huge. Two feet long by almost a foot wide. It’s my coffee table center piece.

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Native American bone, turquoise and leather chest piece I made and shadowboxed (which is now a verb).

 

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Goat skull and poison ledger. This is on my TV stand.

 

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Antique French chemistry set. Also on my TV stand. For when I start making antique French meth.

 

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Antler necklace holder. I made it for overflow.

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Original driftwood necklace holder. I ran out of room on it. These are both covered in necklaces I have made. making your own jewelry has a ton of perks.

 

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Earring holder I made along with a shitload of earrings I mostly made.

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Collage of random shit. Two barometers, thermometer, brass mail slot, mother of pearl drawer pulls, cast iron seahorse, and a freaky wheat and dried grass crown my sister made for me.

 

I don’t want to make this too long and boring. But that gives you an idea of my space. My bookshelf is not featured, though I love it and it is overflowing with books and comics.  I didn’t include any of my actual artwork (or the crystals that are lying pretty much everywhere) as that would take another blog post. Though, I will make one with those if anyone is really interested.

What do you think? What freaky things do you keep in your apartment? Anyone want to see more of my shit?

 

 

Guest Post!

I had wanted to tell this story about something that happened when I was very young. I have a poor memory of it as I was very young. So I sent my mother an email asking her to help me out. What she wrote was so funny I decided to just post her email (with her permission).

 

So, here it is; in my mother’s words:

 

I want to set this up for you: your sister, M,  had just returned from spending a few days with Uncle J and his family.  They had purchased a necklace of “Pop Beads” for her.

Unlike the “pop beads” I was familiar with, the new strand had spacers (they looked like very small “life savers” candies) between every bead.  When she came home wearing the necklace you wanted them (it is unknown if you wanted them to keep or simply wanted to get a better look at and touch them).

 

Lastly, I am 91/2 months pregnant with J, huge and due at any moment (which means you are 2 years and 5 months of age).

 

M was fairly agreeable to you having some of the beads. Upon inspection I decided that the spacers were too dangerous for you to have (because they were so small they presented a choking danger) and told M that she could let you have some of the beads, if she wanted but to remove the spacers.  She agreed to do that and gave you some of the beads from her necklace.

 

A little earlier in the day your father had found a house close to where we were living (for sale) and one of us called the realtor, who arranged to meet us at the house.  We gave the telephone number of the realtor to your other sister,W, and M and left to meet with him.

 

I honestly do not remember anything about the house…we were gone about 20-25 minutes when the realtor received a call from his office informing him that our children were trying to get in touch with us, as there was some sort of emergency at the house.  We barely said good bye and drove straight home.

 

Arriving home, W told us that you had gone into M and W’s room and taken all of the “pop beads” and spacers and were stuffing the spacers into your nose.  I attempted to find out if they knew if you had any spacers currently in your nose, but they didn’t know because they didn’t know how many there were to begin with.

 

I drove us (your father stayed home with everyone else) to the hospital ER, which was pretty weird because they thought I was in labor and had to bring you with me.  I informed the treating physicians of everything I knew about the beads and spacers and the approximate time frame.

 

Several of the doctors made attempts to look into your nasal passages for the spacers but you were VERY uncooperative and they gave you a nosebleed digging around for the phantom spacers.  You screamed bloody murder and upset everyone else in the ER, as they were sure you were being needlessly tortured.

The physicians then decided they needed to X-ray your nasal passages, throat and lungs to see if any of the spacers had made their way to your lungs. There is a device X-ray techs use to X-ray small uncooperative children and I have forgotten the name given to it, but it is cylindrical shaped. The techs raise the child’s arms and slide the cylinder down and then secure the device with the child held in place with arms over their head.

They then take the X-ray photos.  Of course, I was not permitted in the room as I was 9 1/2 months pregnant, so you were FREAKING OUT and only hearing my voice but not seeing me made it worse.

 

You were a pretty small, thinnish child and it was agreed that you had a mighty powerful set of lungs as your screaming could be heard on every floor of the hospital.  The physicians could not find anything and decided to send you (and me) home (more I think to regain some order in the hospital than anything else).

 

I sensed a collective sigh of relief when we walked out the door.  Since you had been sedated, and didn’t talk yet during the X-ray incident, you fell asleep and didn’t wake up again until morning.

 

That is all I can remember…

Thank you, to my mother.