Saturday, October 24, 2009

Computer Fun!

Another rainy Saturday...sigh.  But, because I have mountains of work piled up everywhere, and because I don't feel like doing any of it, I've been having a bit of fun with my computer, and have added a few goodies to the blog.  If you look in the sidebar to the right, you may notice that I have added a 360 degree view of our neighborhood.  Pretty cool!  I must admit, these photos are pretty old - we don't have the camper in the driveway anymore, and the new doors and shutters are not in the picture.  But I guess you will get the idea.  You can zoom in and out using the buttons on the widget, and see the whole neighborhood by clicking on the arrows.  What will they think of next?

Also, I've written a book!  It's a shameless piece of self promotion, but it was a lot of fun to make, and I'm really looking forward to seeing it in print.  You can preview the book by clicking on the book icon in the sidebar.  Now that I am an "authoress", I am thinking of writing a few more books with tutorials for chain maille and metal clay.  That should soothe my frustrated writer's soul!

And, last but not least, take a look at my Flickr and Red Bubble widgets.  If you click on them, you can go directly to my Flickr page or my Red Bubble page, and view my photo albums. Red Bubble even gives you the opportunity to buy a print on a greeting card, poster, or t shirt.  If you do go, please leave a comment or two.  I can use the feedback!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rainy Days, Big Lazy Dogs and A Little Soap Box

Rain, rain, go away...  Woke up this morning to dreary gray skies, steady rain, and raw, chilly temperatures.  Seems like a good day to curl up somewhere comfortable with a mug of hot chocolate, and a good book! 
I guess Sunny has the right idea!   She's not supposed to be up on the sofa, but she looks so comfortable, I don't have the heart to shoo her off.  Thank goodness for slipcovers!

This morning I wanted to write a little about an Etsy team that I have just joined called Project Embrace.  This team started as an effort to support a fellow Etsian, Laura Slocum, who was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer.  It has since blossomed into a team that donates money earned by members from their Etsy sales to the American Cancer Society.  A very worthy cause.  And by the way, by all reports, Laura is doing well and is in remission!  Atta Girl, Laura!

Having lost several family members to this terrible disease, and suffered with it myself, I desperately want to support any efforts to eradicate it completely.  It seems that there is almost no person who has not been touched by it.  I have a guilty little confession to make:  when I see and hear all of the hype and hoopla surrounding October/Breast Cancer month, I feel a little disappointed.  There is no "month" for women with Ovarian, Endometrial, Cervical, etc., etc. cancers, even though women are getting them, and dying from them just the same.  I have a feeling that one reason might be that the surgeries for these kinds of cancer don't alter the outward appearance in the way that breast cancer does.  After all, when I had my "girly parts" removed, I didn't look any different, except for the scar on my belly.  It seems to me that all cancers are devastating.  No one wants to hear their doctor say those words, and I think that we all fear it.  The good news is that more and more people are surviving and winning the fight against it.  Please think about donating something to the American Cancer Society, Stand Up To Cancer, Gilda's Club, or some other support group.  We're all in the same boat here, we sink or swim together.    

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Etsy For Charity

If you are looking for a great way to give back and shop some very cool stuff, please take a look at Etsy For Charity, a group of crafty people who donate the proceeds from their work to help others.
Here's the link:

Monday, October 5, 2009

Autumn in New England

  Is there anything prettier than a New England autumn?  The temperature is cooling, the days are getting shorter, and the leaves are just beginning to turn; scarlet, orange and gold framed against a crisp blue sky dotted with fluffy white clouds.  I've been a little concerned that the foliage would be less than spectacular this year, as we've had some truly lousy weather this past summer, and quite a few of the trees were damaged after being munched on by insects.  But it looks as though we will be getting some color after all.

And, we had a delightful surprise visitor today.  This regal beauty was seen delicately sipping from our butterfly bush this afternoon in our backyard, posing just long enough for me to get in a few good shots.

 The past week or two, we've seen some tiny yellow butterflies, especially in the fields across the street when we take our dog Sunny for her walk.  They've been fluttering along, keeping us company along the way.  They're very pretty, but this butterfly was spectacular by comparison - quite large and brilliantly colored - probably on its way South for the winter.  Lucky bug!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

2nd Edition Chain Maille Tricks and Tips

Aspect Ratio
What the heck is aspect ratio anyway, and why do I need to know about it?  The answer is that all chain maille patterns have a certain ring size/wire diameter combination that is optimal for creating a strong, flexible and good looking chain.  Some weaves are more ring size critical than others.  For example, the Byzantine chain has a range of ring sizes that will work for the weave - depending on how tight or loose you would like the finished product to look.  A Full Persian weave, on the other hand, has a smaller range of sizes that will work.  Too small, and you will find yourself trying to cram rings together after just a few links, with the chain getting tighter and tighter until you can't physically join any more links.  Too large, and the chain will quickly collapse and look like just a big mess of jump rings.

There are many books, web sites, and chain maille tutorials that you can easily access for information on jump ring sizes for numerous weaves.  It is very handy to know how to convert a given size jump ring to one that will accommodate a larger or smaller wire diameter for any particular weave.  As you might expect, there is a mathematical formula for this.  Don't let the math scare you - once you know the formula, it is not difficult to convert any pattern to accommodate a different size of wire.

Here's the formula:
Divide the inside diameter of the jump ring by the diameter of the wire, and you will get the number for the aspect ratio of the weave.  For example, suppose you want to make a Byzantine bracelet, and the directions you have say that you need an eighteen gauge jump ring with an inside diameter of 3.5mm.  You want to make something a little more delicate than that, and would like to use twenty gauge wire.  What size should the inside diameter of the jump rings be for the 20 gauge wire?  Before you can successfully use the formula, you will need to know the diameter of the wire you want to use in millimeters.  Eighteen gauge wire is usually 1.02mm., and twenty gauge wire is usually 0.813mm.  Divide the 3.5mm (jump ring inside diameter) by the 1.02mm (eighteen gauge wire diameter).  Your answer should be 3.43...  Now use the 3.43 number and multiply it by the diameter of the twenty gauge wire.  3.43 x 0.813 = 2.78mm  In this case, you will most likely have to round up a little bit, and use a 3mm jump ring for the twenty gauge wire.

Below is a chart, listing some of the more common wire gauges and their diameter in millimeters.

Gauge                                                    mm.
   12                                                       2.06
   14                                                       1.63
   16                                                       1.30
   18                                                       1.02
   19                                                       0.914
   20                                                       0.813
   21                                                       0.737
   22                                                       0.635

Bear in mind that the thinner the wire gauge, the smaller the jump ring inner diameter needs to be.  Very thin wire is not strong enough to use for large size diameter rings.  On the other hand, heavy, thick wire will be very difficult to manipulate if the ring size is very small.  In the long run, experimentation and experience is the only real way to know what will work and what will not.  I usually use copper or bronze wire for learning a new weave.  Both are inexpensive and soft enough to be easy to manipulate, and either one will make a beautiful and unusual piece of jewelry.

Friday, October 2, 2009


**** Special Shameless Promotion For The Month Of October ****


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