Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #44: It Was a Dark And Stormy Night...Emphasis on DARK!

Hey, all! Well, it was indeed a dark and stormy night here in New Jersey last night. We lost power again yesterday afternoon -- thankfully, it was not only us this time! -- got it back for six hours this morning, then lost it again for another 3+ hours! I won't be convinced we're out of the woods until we have it back for a full 24 hours! :p This snow/slush storm wasn't supposed to be that big of a deal, and yet driving around town looks like it did in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene! My sister is without power until "sometime next week." Tree limbs and uprooted trees are all over the place, some taking power lines with them! The town tree on our neighbor's property lost another large limb, taking their cable lines with it and blocking their car in the driveway again. It didn't pull out our power line this time, but it is leaning heavily on it. With the added weight of snow last night, it is close to the ground now. It's still plugged into the house, but it has pulled out the industrial-strength hook it was on and the pipe connecting the line to the house is now bent at a 90-degree angle! The wooden shingles on that corner of the house have snapped, and are visibly separating from the house, too. It's a shame the town didn't get rid of that tree while they had the chance. In fact, I'd say about 99 percent of the damage I saw today was from town-owned trees lining the streets. They are obviously dead inside or diseased, and should be replaced. Looks like it's going to be a loooooooooooong, dark winter here!

Aside from being powerless most of the weekend, I tried to use some of the time to my best advantage. I sat at my work desk with a candle and played around with a few jewelry ideas I've had percolating in my brain. Unfortunately, some of them were severely hampered by the lack of light and my aging eyesight, so I had to put them aside and try something else. I was kind of hoping to stumble across something I could almost literally do with my eyes closed! LOL After a little more than three hours with moderate success, I decided to call it a night. I did manage to revamp two twisted bead necklaces that I made last year. I didn't like the way they hung on store-bought necklace frames I purchased from Michael's or A.C. Moore (I can't remember which off the top of my head), so I put one on thin black P'leather cord and the other on black braided Greek leather. I'm much happier with them now. ;) Anyway, I woke up to find power in the house! Alas, it was not to last. :p We're back up right now, and keeping our fingers crossed it stays that way! ;)

Last week, I sold a pair of earrings that I had "in stock" (YAY!) to one coworker, and I also worked on a bracelet for another coworker -- my second attempt. Since I haven't been able to be online much, I haven't priced out many new items yet. I'll have to play catch up on that this week, as well as fixing up and posting new pictures to Facebook. I'm bringing my photo binder to a friend next Saturday, so I have to get all of the photos print-ready and print them out! I can't remember the last time I updated the book...I think it was in the spring sometime! :o Being a one-woman-show, it seems that I often put off certain tasks until I run up against a firm deadline and I literally cannot put them off any longer! Not necessarily the smartest way to run a business, but it's worked out okay for me so far. ;)

OH! A new coworker -- she was hired within the past month or so -- at the office asked me for my business card! She'd heard me talking to some of the girls about different pieces they wanted or were buying. It turns out she works part-time for a gallery in Jersey City -- ironically, my father's old stomping grounds -- and said they are "always looking for new talent!" I like being put in that category. :D A couple of weeks ago, I connected with the owner of GAS Gallery & Studio in South Orange about their Holiday Art Days exhibit. He and I went to elementary school together. I'd heard about the exhibit last year too late to participate, but he said he'd let me know once they have the dates set for this year. :D In addition, I received flyers this week for the 3rd annual Jewels of New Jersey, and posted one to Facebook. There's also one on the half-wall next to my desk at the office. ;)

I'm not sure if I mentioned it, but I've been competing in our office's Biggest Loser contest since July. I came in SECOND for the THIRD time! :D No cash prize this time around for second place, but I'm happy I'm consistently doing well these days. ;) Of course, we ended this last round on Friday, as we are having a Halloween party in our department ALL DAY tomorrow. ;) Hopefully, I won't undo ALL of my hard work in one day (not very likely)! :p

That's pretty much all I can think of at the moment. Wherever you are, keep warm, stay dry, and have a great week! ;)

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #43: In the Midst of Middle Age...

Hello, everybody! Well, today I finally accepted my growing need for magnifying glasses while doing intricate beadwork and reading. My eyesight has been a bit blurry for quite a while, but I've had nearly perfect vision all of my life...21/20 and 21/23 at my last two appointments, if I recall correctly. Obviously, I'm due for a new eye check-up! :p I've also acquired credit card debt for the first time in my life this year. A mere two months and one day from my 43rd birthday, I think it's safe to say I am officially a middle-aged grown-up. How and when did THAT happen? :o

Being off from the office, I accomplished a lot this week...although not as much as I wanted (of course!). I completed three custom pieces for coworkers that I will present to them this week for approval. I also finished the "Falling Leaves" Contest entry piece I mentioned last week, which I have to submit by Wednesday. I made and sold two new children's bracelets, an order I received via Facebook message last week. I ordered supplies for a bracelet that a friend inquired about a couple of weeks ago. I finally emailed the winners of Something Tangible's Strut Your Stuff Photo Contest with their discount coupons. And I completed a new kit that I'd acquired at this week's Bead Society meeting (more about that in a minute). It was while working on the Fire & Ice Ring kit by bead artist Amy Katz that I decided I couldn't really focus well enough on the small beads. I did, however, finish the ring before heading out to Rite Aid for the glasses. ;)

The guest speaker at this month's Bead Society meeting was the aforementioned bead artist, Amy Katz. She's got a similar professional background to mine...she worked in marketing and publicity for most of her career before switching to her craft full-time. Her work is very classy...she looks at high end jewelry pieces and recreates them in seed beads. The Fire and Ice Ring I made this weekend is really elegant...lots of tiny Swarovski crystals on a silver band. It reminds me of a bejeweled wedding band, although not nearly as expensive! LOL The Even-count Tubular Peyote stitch was used to create the band, and it reminded me of an elastic metal watch band. I think I will make one to replace the worn pink leather band on my silver Tommy Hilfiger watch, using Even-count flat Peyote. I'd been thinking about making a new one for a while, but I hadn't decided how I wanted to approach it. Methinks I've found my solution! ;)

I missed dinner with the BSNJ Board before the meeting because I'd had a headache in the afternoon -- another sign it was time to get glasses -- but I did go out with a few of them after the meeting for "coffee." I had water and a piece of chocolate mousse cake, since I don't drink coffee. Naturally, none of us planned to have dessert, but one trip up to the diner's display case and we all ordered something! :p Anyway, Ms. Katz was also there, so I got to interact with her a bit more. Never hurts to network, ya know? ;) She taught two workshops this weekend, but I couldn't attend them. I'm glad I had this alternate opportunity fall in my lap. Ironically, I initially turned down the invitation because I knew I had an hour drive back home up the Garden State Parkway, and it was already 9:30 p.m. Then, I remembered I didn't have to get up for work the next morning, so I decided to tag along after all. :D

Although my budget is tight these days, I was persuaded to sign up for a Society workshop next month, taught by a renowned bead artist whose schedule is booked for the next two years! She happened to have an opening, and our Workshops Chair was in the right place at the right time. The Workshops Chair is the one who persuaded me to "do this for yourself." She called it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (she's good at her job, isn't she? LOL). Who am I to turn that down? ;)

On a somber note, my father would have turned 70 this coming Tuesday (October 25). I can't believe he's been gone for nine years. Man, I AM getting old! :o

Anyway, it's back to the daily grind tomorrow. The guy I work with will be out on Wednesday, so that automatically means extra hours for me. He has a fair amount of time left to use up before the end of the year, so I will be working a lot of extra hours leading up to the holidays. :)

I've still got to write the new Focal Piece of the Month tonight, since it was due to the web designer today. Take care and have a great week! ;)

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #42: A Little "Working Hard"...and A Little "Hardly Working!"

Hey, folks! I took this week off from the office -- if we don't use all of our vacation and personal time by the end of the year, we lose it...and I'm not about to let THAT happen! ;) I have some personal goals for the week, like taking the air conditioners out of my bedroom and the computer room and putting them in the attic, getting my flu shot, etc. I already got my hair cut on Saturday...that was loooooong overdue! LOL Anyway, I also hope to get caught up on a few orders that I have received in the past few weeks, and perhaps fix and/or finish some of the UFOs (a term for "unfinished objects" used by craftspeople) I have laying around.

As I mentioned last week, I had a very social weekend last weekend. On Saturday, I met with a group of ladies for an equine session at a stable in western New Jersey. The idea was to work with the horses, and observe your interactions with them. The theory is "how you do this is how you do everything." I have to admit, I did see a pattern in my attitude and demeanor. We were trying to get the horse to follow us each individually. I started out polite and respectful, but then...the more frustrated I grew, the louder my voice and harsher my words became. I absolutely do that with people, too! LOL Anyway, we went into Frenchtown for lunch afterward and walked around a bit. The author of the book, Eat, Pray, Love owns a shop there, so we checked it out. All-in-all, it was a very nice day! And on Sunday, we had an 11th birthday party for my youngest cousin. I partied a bit more than I should have, which is part of why I didn't post a new message last week. :p

The 1978 Maplewood Arts Center is holding its B.A.N.G VI (Buy Art Now Guys 6) exhibit during the first two weekends in December, and I've signed up again this year. I have to decide what pieces I want to display and price them accordingly -- since it is a not-for-profit, they request prices be whole numbers only to facilitate transactions for the volunteers. I also have to start figuring out what I want to bring to the Third Annual Jewels of New Jersey show in Monroe Township in November. Last year, I pretty much brought everything I had. That is completely unfeasible this year, so I want to pick items that are more likely to be sold (or ordered, but preferably sold to decrease the volume of my inventory). ;)

I started working on another contest piece this last week -- the theme is "falling leaves," and the contest is hosted by Beadaholique. I'm calling my piece "No Two Are Exactly Alike," as I figure leaves are not unlike snowflakes. ;) It's going to take a bit of time and effort on my part, but I'm hoping the result turns out like the picture I have in my head! :p I have a couple of weeks left before the deadline, so I'm hoping to get a fair amount of it done while I'm home this week. :)

By the way, I've added Hatchlings nests to both the Something Tangible LLC and Something Tangible's Virtual Mall pages on Facebook for those who play. All traffic is good, n'est'ce pas? ;) Also, I just found some photos from a workshop and the two craft shows I worked last year; I've posted them in an album on the Something Tangible page. I have to remember to always bring my camera with me and take a few shots whenever I do something like that. I don't have photos from BANG 5 or the workshop I held at 1978 -- the one that ended up in the newspaper -- because it didn't occur to me! ;)

A quick rant before I go...Blogspot is irritating me! They changed the format somehow and now whenever I write a post, I have to insert the HTML code manually for space breaks between paragraphs! Otherwise, it shows up as one big STOOPID is that? >: I keep forgetting to do it as I'm writing, so I always have to go in afterward and insert them. :\

On that note, I will bid you all adieu. Have a great week!

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #41: Focal Piece Flashback

Hey, everyone! I had a busy weekend -- socially, not work ;) -- and I'm still playing catch-up. As a result, I am taking the "easy way out" this week and reposting the Focal Piece of the Month from February-March 2010 instead of my usual blog post. I will update you all next week on what's been going on. Take care and have a great week! :D

You will rarely see me feature an item that was designed by someone else as a Focal Piece of the Month, simply because the purpose of this section is to highlight projects that support Something Tangible's overall mission and that showcase the work we do here. That being said, this month I am breaking that rule, and putting the spotlight on one of kits by sb designs I purchased and assembled during my Advanced Wire Jewelry class at the Madison, Chatham & Florham Park Adult School last fall.

It is the Time Is Precious Necklace, which features the inside mechanism of a vintage watch in a claw setting as the focal piece of the necklace. It is an example of Steampunk jewelry, the subject of an oral presentation I am researching for my Metalwork & Jewelry class at Montclair State University this semester. I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone and cover the subject here, too. I am a master at multi-tasking, you know. ;)

According to a brief description I found at Beading Daily:

"The steampunk culture takes its cues from the Victorian era, and speculates on how our world would be different if steam power had become the driving force behind our culture. Gears and watch hands are used to decorate larger pieces. Old-fashioned keys are also very popular, as are bits of antique cast-offs, such as pill cases, thread cutters and tiny knives."

The movement not only encompasses jewelry, but also clothing, goggles, and other fashion accessories such as boots and hats. This, I found out by conducting a search for "Steampunk" on Google.

Looking at Steampunkopedia's
(Yes, there was such a site! Unfortunately, the link I had no longer works) Steampunk Chronology, the earliest images of the Steampunk culture can be traced back as early as 1962. One item on the list surprised me, but the more I thought about it, the more it made perfect sense to be included: "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" in 1968. It was a blending of Victorian-era and modern technology for the time, was it not?

Although its roots are much older, the actual term "Steampunk" wasn't created until the late 1980s. According to Wikipedia,

"Although many works now considered seminal to the genre were published in the 1960s and 1970s, the term steampunk originated in the late 1980s as a tongue in cheek variant of cyberpunk. It seems to have been coined by the science fiction author K. W. Jeter, who was trying to find a general term for works by Tim Powers (author of The Anubis Gates, 1983), James Blaylock (Homunculus, 1986) and himself (Morlock Night, 1979 and Infernal Devices, 1987) which took place in a 19th-century (usually Victorian) setting and imitated conventions of actual Victorian speculative fiction such as H. G. Wells's The Time Machine. In a letter to the science fiction magazine Locus, printed in the April 1987 issue, Jeter wrote:

Dear Locus,
Enclosed is a copy of my 1979 novel Morlock Night; I'd appreciate your being so good as to route it Faren Miller, as it's a prime piece of evidence in the great debate as to who in 'the Powers/Blaylock/Jeter fantasy triumvirate' was writing in the 'gonzo-historical manner' first. Though of course, I did find her review in the March Locus to be quite flattering.

Personally, I think Victorian fantasies are going to be the next big thing, as long as we can come up with a fitting collective term for Powers, Blaylock and myself. Something based on the appropriate technology of the era; like 'steampunks', perhaps...

—K.W. Jeter[1]"

^ Sheidlower, Jesse (March 9, 2005). "Science Fiction Citations". Retrieved May 10, 2008.

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tangible Tidbits 2011 #40: Fortunes and Fashion

Hello, everyone! I wasn't sure I was going to post today, because I didn't know if I had anything to say. Then, I got this fortune from the Fortune Cookie application on Facebook: "Every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward." That sort of sums up my week, so I decided to go with that. ;) LOL

I've had a lot of "false starts" this week. It seemed like the majority of jewelry projects I picked up went nowhere. I have a rather large and messy pile of pieces and tools sitting right next to my computer -- and they've been there for more than a week. Every once in a while throughout the week, I picked up one to see if I can come up with something new, as the original is either flawed or incomplete. Almost everything I tried just didn't work. So, I abandoned them again and played Hatchlings on Facebook. :p I haven't played that game in probably a year or more, but I kinda got sucked back into it again...most likely to avoid facing another failure. They say everything is about perspective, so the Facebook fortune helped me to reframe my difficulties and look at them not as failures, but as "wrong attempts discarded." That makes it easier for me to admit defeat, and potentially chuck a project out the window entirely, rather than try to force something that will never be acceptable. ;)

Another theme in my life this week has been fashion. Mom and I were watching Rachael Ray's show on ABC earlier in the week on a day off from the office, and she had Sofia Vergara on to promote her new Kmart clothing line. We were both impressed with some of the clothes modeled by one of the larger models. Most of the tops have ruching on the sides or the front, which makes them more flattering because they camouflage "curves in the wrong places" more easily. ;) Anyway, we went to a nearby Kmart and tried on clothes this afternoon. Neither one of us enjoys shopping, and particularly trying on clothes! Still, we both found items we liked on ourselves and each other. She purchased one top today, and I made a note which ones I want in what sizes for a future purchase. :) I usually buy a few new things at the beginning of each season, but I'm short on funds at the moment, so my splurge will have to wait a bit.

I did order a couple pairs of Curve Control® Jeans by Kymaro earlier this week, since I now have three pairs of jeans that are too big for me! I've lost around 15 pounds since the beginning of the year, thanks to my new trainer, I'm sure. ;) I'm currently in second place in our department's Biggest Loser contest, which ends just before Halloween. Anyway, I decided to try these jeans because I liked the improvement from the "before" to "after" pictures posted on their website. Worst case scenario, I'll send them back...but I really want to see how they look on me. ;)

I also tried on a bunch of clothes I've had stored away because they didn't fit too well when I bought them a year (or more) ago. Most of them look really nice now! :D I know you should really get rid of anything that doesn't fit, but sometimes it pays to keep them "just in case." LOL

The new Focal Piece of the Month is up...I featured the Blue Bling Bracelet I made for the Swarovski Elements contest I mentioned last week. I've decided to focus on birthstone pieces in 2012, so I want to start putting together some items for the early part of the year. The Garnet post for January will be added to the site with the December updates (usually around the 23rd of each month), so I have to get moving. It will be here before I know it! :o

Have a great week, folks!

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