Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Currently I have Thomas, who is the Head Cat--"El Gato Supremo" if you will. He's got all the dogs properly trained to defer to cats. Or at least to him. Then there's Oakley, who's a Head Cat wannabe. He's an indoor cat, so he's relegated to being in charge of Indoor Security. Samantha is Queen of the Universe--all of it. She adores dogs and rubs up against them all the time. She's also oblivious to all the little power-plays the rest of the critters indulge in. As Queen of the Universe she doesn't bother herself with such trivial matters!
As a die-hard cat lover, I consequently also love anything cat-related. Cat ornaments, cat socks, cat figurines, cat screensavers, and especially Laurel Burch cats. So you can imagine, I LOVE the cat bags that Catfluff makes. They are SO cute! And yes, they remind me of Laurel Burch cats. In this particular bag Catfluff has turned the cat into a very clever outside pocket. The bell on the cat's collar is such an AWESOME touch! Therefore, I very highly recommend that if anyone needs a cat-fix that they head over to Catfluff's ArtFire studio and buy one of her bags!
Monday, April 27, 2009
So when I have to cook I have to fake it. Thank goodness for cans, boxes, and frozen entrees! In addition, since anyone will tell you that presentation is all important, I do set a mean table! Trust me, I could give lessons to Martha Stewart. By the time I've got the table set with coordinating linens and centerpiece, candles, and each person has a full 8 to 12 piece silverware setting, and serve everything on a fancy set of china (I have lots of sets of dishes just for this reason!) people just assume the food is good!
So of course I was thrilled when I saw all the lovely placemats that bijouxdesignsforyou has for sale! Take these beautiful placemats with a wine theme on them. Can't you just see them on a dark wood table with deep purple napkins; a centerpiece composed of a shallow basket filled with real grapes brushed with a sugar-water glaze, and short forest green pillar candles? I sure can! Or even out on a patio table to add a little class to lounging in the yard. Go check out all the lovely things in her studio--there's jewelry as well--oh yeah!!
But lately I've also been working with beads. I had no idea of what a rich history glass seed beads have. "Seeds of eternity" they were originally believed to resemble, and I can certainly relate to that. Fluid and flowing, beadwork reminds me also of our connections to the past and of our rich Native American history and heritage. This pair of Wooleycreek's earrings are some of my very favorite. She sets a very high standard for me to attempt to reach for! If you need inspiration, you truly need to visit her shop! The web address is: http://www.wooleycreek.artfire.com/. See you there!
Friday, April 24, 2009
Look at the pendant. What she's done is take a toggle clasp and used it to support pendant! It's these little touches of hers that I really, really. Which all goes to show that no matter your skill level, you can always learn something cool from someone else! This isn't the only piece where CreativeCove has used components in ways other than the traditional. Go check out her shop at http://www.creativecovejewelry.artfire.com/ and prepare yourself for a feast of the senses. I also have it on pretty good authority that she wouldn't mind if anyone decided to buy one of her pieces either!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
So when I got serious about making jewelry, I knew from the very beginning I needed a website. But purchasing airline tickets and writing email isn't the same as web design. I know nothing about it. But you gotta do what you gotta do...
So I did my resesarch; talked to lots and lots of people, researched groups that had websites; searched the internet and finally jumped in. I've always tended to lose patience with the tech folks at work because they would map out how everything was supposed to link. To me it's so intuitive it hurts. It's kind of like driving a car. I don't need to know HOW an internal combustion engine works in order to be able to drive a car.
This was 2006. It took time, but I yes, eventually I got a website up and running. Not many sales, but it was a very convenient on-line "catalog" if you will. I could tell people to visit my website and if they found something they liked I would bring it in for them to see and try on. Low tech, but it worked.
At the same time I was taking an online 2-hour course in web-accessibility. I was SO proud of how I got alternate text and page labels and the whole 9 yards incorporated into my website.
Fast forward to the end of 2008. Boy have I learned A LOT since then!! I knew absolutely nothing about tags. Quite honestly I thought they were the same thing as alternate text. Okay, so here I am with a website that by the time you go into all the various layers has about 1200 different pages to it. It's totally accessible but HAS NO TAGS OR SEARCH FUNCTION!
Along comes ArtFire. So of course I sign up, open two stores, stock them with my new stuff and just generally let my website slide.
April 2009. So now you're up to speed. I absolutely, positively MUST redo my website. No "ifs" "ands" or "buts" about it--it's gotta be updated. So do I "retro-fit" or do I dump and start over? I have decided given the quality (or lack therof) of so many of my photos that the best thing to do is dump and start over. I'm not looking forward to it in the least. But you do whatcha gotta do.
However, I'm not above doing a "remodeling sale" in order to have fewer pieces to re-photograph and (hopefully) make the new website up to speed.
So here's what I'm going to do: From NOW until midnight May 3 (the website says April 30, but it lies) I am offering (cringe) 55% off everything. Why 55%? Well because April 30 is my 55th birthday. So it's as good a number as any.
I started to go through the pages and break the links so the ability to purchase something that was already sold was removed, but that got pretty tedious and I gave up on it. So yeah, there's broken links. Don't worry about it, you know why they're there. Here's the web address: http://www.rockycreekgems.com.
Here's what you need to do get the 55% discount: Each item has a unique stock number. If you will email me your "shopping list" I will send you an invoice that reflects the 55%. You may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So again, from now until midnight May 3, everything on my website is 55% off. You will need to email your shopping list to me at email@example.com. The the web address again, is http://www.rockycreekgems.com.
After May 3 I'm going to take down the entire site and just put up the usual "under construction" sign until l'm back up and running again.
I hope there's something you decide you can't live without, but regardless, thanks for looking! One other thing--I don't post over the weekend! --Linda
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
First he went to El Dorado (made infamous by the Yearning for Zion polygamist sect last year) where each year he graciously guides for a group of old friends who gather every year to go turkey hunting. This group of gentlemen are all in their late 70's to mid-80's. Their eyesight is failing, their hearing is close to zilch, and overall they couldn't hit the broad-side of a barn! At least this year they didn't shoot Mike's decoys as has happened in the past. I think the main reason they do this is primarily just to get together and enjoy the camaraderie, and turkey hunting is merely an excuse. Whatever, they're gracious hosts, and they treat Mike as a special friend. In fact they schedule their hunts around Mike's schedule. Mike in turn, would tie a turkey down by the leg if he could figure out how to do it in order for these guys to have something to shoot. It's really hard work setting these guys up in order for them to be successful but he sincerely enjoys taking them out.
His "payment" is a turkey hunt of his own, and I'm really okay with this--he's earned it! But THIS year he got two turkeys with one shot and the dog treed a third (which he declined to shoot). Needless to say, he and the dogs came home happy.
We needed the rain desperately, but it rained out MY next scheduled attempt, and now I'm really bummed.
Then this past weekend Mike went to Comfort to give a presentation on prescribed burning for a group of local ranchers who had formed a burn co-op. (Mike's on the State Prescribed Burning Board.) His "payment?" Yeah, a turkey hunt. Yes, he was successful. Darn it!
This coming Thursday he's heading up to Ranger, Texas to again be a turkey guide to help out a friend who is short-handed. I don't need to mention how he'll be be paid for his guide services. I hope he misses.
This will leave ONE WEEK for me to bag my gobbler. ONE, I just want ONE gobbler! Surely that's not too much to ask for! In the meantime I will begin working on a turkey feather wreath as our annual donation to the Texas Wildlife Association's upcoming convention. They're really beautiful and they're also easy to make. The best part? I'll be using up every tail feather from all three of his turkeys, hehehehe!
Turkey Feather Wreath
This is a truly stunning project! It is adapted from the January/February 2003 issue of Turkey Call magazine. The wreath in the photo is the one I made to hang in our cabin.
If you have problems removing the tail feathers from the fan, stand the fan up in about 3 inches of boiling water and “cook” for about 10 minutes. The feathers will pull out easily. Don’t make the water too deep because melted turkey fat in the water will get on the feathers.
1 small (about 10”) straw wreath form
About 40-50 gobbler tail feathers
About 10-20 smaller tail feathers (those just in front of the fan)
About 10-20 body feathers (to fill in any “holes”)
1. Place the wreath on a flat surface where it can be easily turned. Determine where the wreath touches the table. This is the level where you will start inserting the turkey feathers.
2. Start by inserting the first four feathers at a 45 degree angle, one each at the top, bottom, and both sides.
3. Fill in with a feather between each of these points. Again, make sure all feathers go in at an angle of about 45 degrees.
4. Keep filling in around and around until the first round is full. Check the shape. Some feathers will be longer or shorter and will need to be adjusted to keep a round appearance to the wreath.
5. Repeat this procedure and work towards the top of the wreath. As you get towards the center, start using the smaller feathers.
If desired, add a bow or other arrangement to the base of the wreath.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Even outside my office the surrounding acreage that's actually part of the McKinney Falls State Park is bursting with the color of spring.
It really makes me wish I could be outside doing something--anything! What I'd really like to be doing I think, is walking along the banks of Rocky Creek in the vain hope of finding a really cool rock that could be polished and turned into some beautiful piece of jewelry. I say "vain hope" because unfortunately for me, this part of Texas is limestone. Limestone, limestone, and more limestone. With the occasional piece of chert thrown thrown in, and if you're lucky you might find some calcite. But nothing as lovely as SilverRiverJewelry's rock that she found, polished, and set in sterling silver. It's lovely, isn't it? She found it in the banks of the Flint River in Ohio--where they have "real" rocks! Although SilverRiver has it labelled as flint, it's not. It's actually a piece of agate (even better!) Just look at the beautiful patterns in the stone. That where mineral-laden water seeped into cavities in the existing rock and slowing evaporated out, leaving the bands of minerals behind. I'm jealous! As much as I love walking along Rocky Creek, just once I'd love to stumble upon something like this. Since it's not going to happen, I'll have to settle for "wandering" through SilverRiver's beautiful things. Go check her out and see if you don't agree!
Monday, April 20, 2009
Turned out to be the landowner's brother-in-law. Nice guy, all dressed in a brand new, probably never been worn ghilly suit (That's one of those types of suits made to make you look like you're a walking bush.) who was also confessing that this was the first time he'd ever tried hunting spring turkeys.
After about 30 minutes (and a can of Fresca) we got the terminals on his car battery cleaned off enough for it to make contact; jumped his vehicle, and got him going again so we could ALL get through the gate.
While consoling ourselves that although we should have been already set up and ready to call, it was good to be able to help someone out--sincerely. If we hadn't come along, this guy would have been S.O.L. because cell phones don't get a signal out there.
Suddenly I look up and see somthing running in the road ahead of us. Obviously a turkey! Hen or gobbler? Couldn't tell, but it WAS a turkey!!! After about 30 seconds the turkey decided to veer to the right. Oh yes! OH! It was a gobbler! A GOOD gobbler! THAT was the turkey I wanted. Of course with brother-in-law chugging along behind us, we it was clear we could forget THAT!
As soon as we could we pulled over and parked the truck. As quietly as possible we got our gear out; the guns loaded, and we were off to hopefully intercept that bird!
No such luck. Heard a bird off in the pecan bottom behind us, so we picked up and moved. Mike called and I listened. Nothing. Waited for awhile and called again. Yes! I heard one, but it was obviously moving in the opposite direction. So off we go again.
The perfect set-up! I've killed two previous turkeys in the general area. For whatever reason, they LIKE this spot! In place now, camo gloves on, camo face-mask up, I'm ready. Mike calls. Yes! Not just one turkey, but TWO! Be cool. Just wait and be cool. I can do that. Mike calls again. Oh my god! TWO turkeys call from the opposite direction!! We sat still and waited. Mike gave it everything he had, and the turkeys loved what they heard, but they just weren't coming to us. Wait some more. Call again. This time the gobblers are answering, but they're moving off. Hens. Just my luck! We kept at it for another 30 minutes or so, but we just couldn't get them to turn around.
And then? Boom! Boom! I looked at Mike in total disgust. The shots were from the direction brother-in-law said he would be hunting. But no, Mike declared it wasn't a shotgun. Just as I'm about to question his declaration about gun type, another shot. And another. And yet another. There are times when it just doesn't pay to get up, and this was one of those mornings. We obviously had a neighboring landowner/redneck/idiot out target shooting. I mean, come on! It's a weekday morning and it the opening day of turkey season. Who else but an idiot would do such as thing?! Certainly NO self-respecting turkey would be hanging out to listen to that.
So we packed it up and went back to the truck where we realized we'd forgotten the decoys. So Mike decided to give the dogs a walk and go back for them. He's coming back and is within sight of the truck when this, this "person" emerged from the woods caring a dinky little bow. All I could do is stare. With a blond waist-length pony-tail stuck through the back of a ratty-looking ball cap I decided it must be a female because only women wear their hair stuck through a cap that way. A really ugly one built like a dump truck, but female nonetheless. Then I looked again. No, it was a guy wearing, well, what was it he was wearing?? I tried to determine that as he began talking to Mike. Turns out to be yet another first-time turkey hunter.
Whereas the brother-in-law was "dressed to kill" this guy obviously didn't worry about his hunting wardrobe. Not that I'm a hunting wardrobe fashion plate by any means, but this guy was ridiculus! He was enough to give anyone nightmares! Forget Shineyourhiney's bath mitt, this guy was scarey! Once you got over laughing. Ya gotta give points to anyone with enough "intrinsic flare" to be able to wear a dirty, ratty ball cap with with his ponytail stuck through it like a girl, an unbuttoned camo shirt worn over a gray T-shirt that says who-knows-what, and (the best part!) a pair of blue cotton running shorts over a pair of gray long underwear! Oh, and hunting boots! Yessiree! Oh yeah! What can ya say!? Lots of turkeys in those woods, but not all were the type we wanted.
Maybe next week. But in the meantime, all I could think of as I was looking at this guy was Shineyourhiney's bath mitt that was alleged by someone on some other sight to "cause nightmares. Yeah right! In fact, Shineyourhiney's soap is something this guy could have used--in copious quantities. Actually, if you haven't tried her soap you really need to. My husband Mike is so fond of it he's commandeered several bars of it so when he travels he doesn't have to use hotel soap. Somehow, I'm not too sure about taking handmade soap to a deer camp because it just doesn't quite fit the image, but now that he's used it, he's gotta have it! And while you're there, be sure to look up the bath mitt "monsters." They won't be wearing long underwear and running shorts, but you'll love them nonetheless.
Friday, April 3, 2009
This keychain isn’t designed to stand up to a lot of hard wear and tear, but it makes a cute little item you can use to either decorate a package, or add to an existing gift. Certainly any hunting dog would be proud to give this to his or her “people” for Christmas!
1 used shotgun shell
Small amount of batting or pieces of foam (enough to fill the shotgun shell)
Key ring (recycle some of those old ones you never use!)
Approximately 6-8 inches of leather lacing (you don’t actually need this much, but having it makes it easier to attach the ring.)
Quick setting glue
Multi-tool, pliers, or reloader
1. Clean and dry the shotgun shell. Polish the metal for a shinier look.
2. Tightly pack the shotgun shell with batting or small pieces of foam. This will help keep the shell from getting squished, but without adding a lot of weight.
3. With a slip knot, loop the leather lacing to the key ring. Make the end of the lacing as equal as possible. (Figure 1)
4. Tie a square knot in the lacing about 2-3 inches below the key chain loop. Exact measurements aren’t necessary! This bottom knot will be put inside the re-crimped shotgun shell to hold the key ring onto the shell. (Figure 2)
5. With either the multi-tool, the pliers, or the reloader, recrimp the shotgun shell. Push the crimping further down inside the shell, just far enough the insert the bottom knot of leather lacing.
6. Using the key ring, pull up gently, but firmly until the crimping is once again level with the top. (Figure 3)
7. If necessary, secure the key ring by putting a little glue down inside between the shell and the knot.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
When you think of fish, you don't usually think of them in terms of anything other than a menu item, or possibly as bait for other menu items. Fish generally don't make it to the Top Ten List of "must have" wildcrafting supplies. We're going to change that.
More recently, fish printing is being revived as an art form. Done individually one at a time, detailed rice paper fish prints command high prices. Fishing printing is also ideally suited to T-shirts and other types of clothing. Trust me, after you've tried fish printing you'll start evaluating fish not by their size or eating potential, but how they'd look on a T-shirt.
Fresh or frozen fish (flounders, perch, bass, rockfishes, skates, rays work particularly well)
Fabric paint or small can of regular latex house paint (how many clean house-painters have you seen?)
Bristle brushes (usually about ½ - 1 inch works well)
Small amount of modeling clay
T-shirt or other item to be printed
1. Use soap and water to clean the outside of the fish as completely as possible. The cleaner the fish, the better the print. Dry the fish well. (Prints will look better if the fish has not been previously gutted.)
2. Cover the table with newspapers. Use the modeling clay to spread out and prop up the fins. Use straight pins if necessary to hold them in place.
3. Paint the fish with the fabric paint. Pay attention to the direction of the brushstrokes as they will show up and can truly enhance the details of your fish. Cover up any excess paint that gets on the newspaper so it won’t get on the T-shirt when you print it.
4. Put newspaper inside the T-shirt so that the paint doesn’t go all the way through.
5. Carefully position the shirt over the fish and press down. Work from the center of the fish out. Carefully lift up the shirt. This step is easier if you have someone to help you lower the shirt down onto the fish.
6. Allow the shirt to dry completely. Areas that don’t quite turn out as dark, or got missed can be filled in with either a fine point permanent marker, or by carefully painting them in with a smaller brush.
7. Heat set the shirt once it is dry. This will make it machine washable. This can be done by either putting the shirt in the dryer for about 15 minutes on high heat, or by turning it inside out and ironing it for about 1 minute on a cotton/wool setting.
Note: Your favorite fish can be washed off and frozen to use again at a later time.
Here's a picture of the kids at "Camp San Pedro" a few years back all wearing their fish printed T-shirts. And of my "life-guard" husband, Mike, wearing his shirt (he made it all by himself too!). And yeah, you can easily tell what he WISHES were in his hand.
The idea behind the egg hunt (besides having fun, of course!) is to expose as many people as possible to all the wonderful handmade things that are available on ArtFire. We want to plant the seed, and nurture the idea that the best gifts come from the heart, and everything on ArtFire is made by hand--so of course it's from the heart! All the artisans love what they're doing. So the next time you need something, whether it's a necklace for a new dress, a new supply of soap or a gift for a friend, the hope is that you'll think of ArtFire artisans FIRST. Okay, so details, details! Let's get to them!
The hunt is FREE to enter, because as I said, the idea behind it is EXPOSURE. You don't have to buy a single item (although you won't get turned away if you do!), all you do is go "window-shopping" to find the hidden Easter eggs. When you've found them, use the letters to make a sentence and send the sentence in. We'll have THREE winners! What are the prizes? MONEY to go SHOPPING ON ARTFIRE with! You'll be able to spend it in any of the shops where you found the eggs. And no, you don't have to spend it all in one store!
Ready to enter? Here's the link. Now go sign up! http://easter-eggs-artfire.blogspot.com/
(So why are you still reading this? GO SIGN UP! Or as we say in Texas...GIT!)