Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Photo Technique

The technique I am about to share took me several years to figure out but it was well worth the trial and error!

I make a lot of pierced pendants which have large flat arias of shiny shiny metal. Because of this they like to reflect everything in the room like a mirror or just look really bad if great care is not taken to counter their natural behavior.

Here are some examples of really bad photos before I figured out a simple nifty technique:

All of the above photos were taken with the same camera but under different lighting conditions. Some may have been taken inside a light box, honestly I can't remember. Since I took those photos I came to realize that I cannot fight the metals natural tendency to reflect and I figured out a way to get much better photos.

Instead of taking the photos straight on I now angle the pieces slightly so the piece will reflect what is just next to the camera instead of the camera itself. Now here is the simple nifty trick... I hold up a piece of white paper next to the camera so the metal reflects the white paper and nothing else. This not only gets rid of annoying reflections but also keeps the camera from picking up details that cannot be seen with the naked eye. It also results in a much truer color for the metal.

Here are some photos using the above technique:

I hope this little photo tip will help ease the photo frustrations of others.

If you are interested in any of the pieces here or other totem animal jewelry please visit the Totem Animal page on my website. And please keep in mind I have not retaken all of the photos yet ;)

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Quandaries of an Artist

I was reading through the forums of Etsy.com this morning and came across an issue that many artists run into... Why their art isn't selling.

The wonderful artist, Matthew, who started the thread was asking what he could do to make his artwork more salable. He was looking for answers to the question every artist asks "Why is my work not selling." However, through commenting on the thread myself and reading through other comments Matthew is honestly looking for ways to create artwork that will appeal to a wider group of people. From seeing his work and feeling the eternal struggle myself I wanted to share his work with all of you.

The question is not a matter of to 'sell out' as an artist or not. It is more a question of how to keep doing what an artist loves and feels compelled to create while still being able to eat. Although the idea of being an artist is often romanticized and many people will say 'You should create what you like' or 'Follow your heart' the cold reality is if what an artist creates is not appreciated and bought it will force the artist to change or quit in order to survive in the world. I will be very interested to see how the style of Matthew's art changes and grows with time and the suggestions he has received.

Matthew's Etsy shop is

If you are interest in the forum thread it can be found here:

Friday, February 20, 2009

I just created my first treasury!

Treasuries are a way for Etsy.com members to showcase handmade items from other shop owners. It is a way to show off things that are liked, share a common theme, promote others, or in this case share things that caught my eye.
If you have a moment please visit this Etsy treasury of items that caught my eye and leave a comment if you like as you stop by.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


One can't always be serious when creating!
NephraKitty of the Gao'uld

Ok perhaps I watch too much Star Gate. Since I was listing a Chain Mail Necktie today I remembered this picture that I intended to share but never did so here it is.

While I was working on a turquoise necktie Angelique just wouldn't stop playing with the links. She would knock them off my lap or tentatively bite on the linked chains as I worked. So she got to wear a bit of it for a while. She already takes Egyptian poses so it just added to her look. My hubby was able to snap the photo before she got too annoyed at having it on her head.

Perhaps I should make her a collar... Probably won't though because she would hate it!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Perfect for the Corporate Raider

I just finished up these Chain Mail Neckties. It was a nice change of pace to get back to chain mailing. I had almost forgotten how much I enjoy it.

I got the idea to make chain mail neckties from a joke. One night my husband and I were chatting while I was working on a chain mail shirt for him. He is a live steel sword fighter for The Swords of Valour. We were discussing the upcoming year and plans the lawn care company he works for had come up with. One of their decisions was that all salesmen had to wear a tie, even while on the phones in the office. My husband HATES neckties with a passion so it gave him another reason to be glad he was a tech. I jokingly held up the chain mail shirt and said "I could make you one out of chain mail." As soon as the words came out of my mouth I realized what a good idea it really was.

From there I swiped one of my husbands always tied neckties and set about forming a pattern from it. I ordered in some rings and began to play. After some trial and error I came up with a great base design, "The Proto-Tie" as my husband loves to call his. It is the only necktie he will wear willingly. From that Proto-Tie I made a few changes to the clasp system and have been quite successful in repeating the design in different colors.

The neckties are made with anodized aluminum rings for georgous colors and so the aluminum won't dirty a shirt. Raw aluminum makes for dingy shirts as I have seen many white shirts turn grey after a sword fight. When I make a tie I start with a 'general' size for length and neck size then adjust it to order. The neckties clasp at the back of the neck with an aluminum hook through an adjusting chain to accommodate different shirt thicknesses. Being aluminum the neckties are about the weight of some cloth ties at about 4 1/4 oz.

Friday, February 13, 2009

For the love of Greyhounds

I awoke this morning to find my Greyhound jewelry was chosen for this Etsy.com treasury.

I am very pleased to see that there is not a single racing image in this group which tells me Caelestis, the creator of this treasury, is truly a lover of the breed.

I learned from a dear friend of mine who rescues Greyhounds that the breed is classified as livestock so they do not get the same legal protections as other dogs. Because of this, healthy Greyhounds are often mistreated and euthanized simply because they do not preform well on the track. I love to Greyhounds being admired and loved for their grace, beauty, and wonderful temperament as companions rather than just something to bet on.

Please check out the treasury and give these Greyhound items some love!

Monday, February 9, 2009


Last year my husband got me this really cool dragon ash tray that has become part of my jewelry making process.

I set him on top of the shelf behind my chair in the living room and one day I was looking for a place to set some pendants that I had cut but not filed yet. The trey in front of the dragon became the perfect place! The pieces were not likely to get knocked off and it was a place the cats wouldn't go. Our cats like to play with my pieces, they think rings and findings make great toys not to mention the cords and chains I work with.

After using the dragons tray for a few weeks I realized my folly... Dragons like to keep the pretty shinnies for themselves! So I made a deal with the dragon... I would give him some pieces to keep so long as he let the others find homes of their own. It was fine at first but now I think he is getting spoiled. It started with a hematite ring crown then a blue paua shell necklace. But now he wants a bracelet and wing cuffs! Perhaps I should have phrased our deal more carefully ;)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Ogham Pendants

Since I have been working with the Ogham pendants quite a bit lately I decided to share a bit about them. I have always been interested in 'other' writing forms. Fascinated by Egyptian hieroglyphs and the small amount of cuneiform that I was able to see in my art history and typography classes. It was especially interesting to see how writing changed over the years, how pictographs transformed into cuneiform.

I have also had a long interest in cultural differences, how words translate, how people express themselves through art and other means of communication, and the day to day interpersonal differences and similarities. With all of that combined with my interest in the Celts and Picts before them it was only natural that I would end up creating pieces in the Ogham alphabet. Through research I found out quite a bit.

The Ogham Alphabet:
Sometimes referred to as the "Celtic Tree Alphabet", Ogham was used between the 4th and 7th centuries AD in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England. The initial alphabet consisted of 20 characters with a few more complex characters being added later. The letters were formed by combination of short lines on and at either side of a middle line called a "flesc". With a vertical flesc words are read from bottom to top or right to left with a horizontal flesc.

Although surviving traces of Ogham were inscribed on stone it was probably more commonly inscribed on sticks, stakes, and trees to mark boundaries. There is also evidence from early Irish sagas and legends that indicates Ogham was used for short inscriptions on wood or metal used to relay messages (some cryptic in nature or for magical purposes) or to denote ownership of the object. There is also evidence that suggests that Ogham may have been used to keep genealogy records, numerical tallies of property, and business transactions.

Of the 400-500 remaining inscriptions a handful have been found featuring Ogham along with the Latin alphabet, most of the inscriptions are in an archaic form of Gaelic and Pictish.

Each of the Ogham pendants I have made started with an English word I thought would be a good talisman or a word in English that was requested. From there I set to translating each word into Gaelic cross referencing the translation and meaning of each word with at least 3 sources. Once I was satisfied with the correctness of the translation I then translated the resulting Gaelic word into the Ogham alphabet to create the design for each pendant.

There are a couple of reasons I chose to translate the words into Gaelic before translating them into Ogham. The first is a matter of practicality, since I am using the original alphabet there are only 20 letters that correspond with the 26 letter English alphabet which would leave 6 letters to be approximated by phonetics. I did not like the feel of going that rout so I chose to use Gaelic which is a language that ties more closely to Ogham historically. The other reason is a bit more 'spiritual' in nature. The technique of using 'power words' to create an effect or draw an energy to ones life has been used for centuries. I have spent a lot of time thinking on this practice and realized that words do in fact have power but we don't often think much about the words we use every day. By stepping into another language we have to give active thought to what words mean and their consequences which creates an even greater amount of energy to the power of words we use as talismans.

I am open and welcome to any thoughts you may have so please share. And if you have a moment please check out the Ogham pendants I have listed in my shop. I will be adding more as I get them finished and photographed.