Thursday 19 December 2013

Radio Silence...

I just moved and I am having difficulty getting high speed Internet service out in the country. It may take upwards of three weeks to be posting again, but I'll try from the library occasionally.  


Monday 16 December 2013

Roman Glass Beads from Afghanistan...

Oops. I forgot I was supposed to post these. Many thanks to Vienna for reminding me. I -- the Queen of Procrastination -- will be moving tomorrow and Wednesday so I just had to dig these out from under the snow -- joking -- they're safe and dry, but were buried in a box. I will do anything to avoid packing early as I love to leave everything until the last moment. I mean, you never know -- I might need whatever "everything" is, right? (I'm not a total loss, I do label boxes now...)

I got a really good deal on these Roman glass beads from Afghanistan. My wholesaler has a wall where they hang ends of lines and super deals and in November I scored these beads. I'm passing the savings along to my customers.

Each string is one of a kind. I chose strings with no broken beads, and the beads (drilled through) all have 1.5 to 2mm cleanly-drilled holes, so they're perfect for knotting onto leather, for example. The strings of flat pieces, which are drilled at each end, look to have about 1 mm holes. Email me if you'd like more closeup photos -- and for availability! As they sell, I will mark it on the photos.

Here is the photo I first posted, and I'll post the strings in the same order below from left to right.

Comparison of the large chunky Roman glass beads, and the smaller chunky string; 1.5-2.0 mm cleanly-drilled holes; as you can see, there's nice iridescence on many of the beads.

Large chunky Roman glass beads, about 20" in length, $65:

String 1, flat pieces of Roman glass shards, drilled at each end, hole size approximately 1 mm, about 18" in length, $32:

String 3, flat pieces of Roman glass shards, drilled at each end, hole size approximately 1 mm, about18" in length, $32:

String 2, flat pieces of Roman glass shards, drilled at each end, hole size approximately 1 mm, about18" in length, $32:

String 3, Roman glass shards with the light shining through:

Small chunky Roman glass beads, about 18-19" in length, $60:

Medium to deep green graduated Roman glass coin beads, slightly matte or frosted effect on some of the beads, about 18" in length, $16:

Light pink, brown and green Roman glass coin beads, slightly frosted/sugary surface on many of the beads, about 17-18" in length, $16:

Shipping and handling is extra; the final amount will depend on weight, where you live, your need for speed and if insurance is required. I take Visa and MasterCard via Square, as well as PayPal. Please email me for availability. 

Thanks for looking!

Sunday 15 December 2013

Experimenting with "vine-wrapping"...

I was busy at the market yesterday. I mentioned back in late September about taking a "vine-wrapped pendant" course from Judy Feskun through the Grand River Bead Society at our meeting in Guelph. I finally got Jan's undrilled lump of malachite wrapped and she flipped. The difficulty came because I had to hide a glob of glue that I was never able to completely sand off the top and while I'm not 100% sure I like what I came up with, Jan walked by my table at the market every hour or so muttering, "I love my pendant, I love my necklace." Always nice to get positive feedback!

Note the snowman earrings -- from last year.
White jadeite & red Swarovski crystal spacers with a matte black jet heishi hat.

What I really like is that Jan can wear the necklace with either side showing. She also likes that the necklace is longer so she can put the necklace on over her head without having to undo/do up the clasp (which is oversize anyway). I notice people have been commenting on the larger clasps I've been using -- some think they're overkill -- but then they become converts when they realise how easily the necklace or bracelet go on.

Because there was an extra bead from the original necklace, I started playing with vine-wrapping that in order to bulk it up a bit to use as a pendant for a second necklace I'm making to use up the rest of the 4mm malachite rounds I'd bought to lengthen the original necklace.

Every angle is different, and the wrapping hides the chewed-up bit on one side of the bead:

Note that this is the true colour of the malachite but while the wire looks like brass, it's actually bright copper. I'm still working on overcoming the weird light at the market.

Then I strung some pewter skulls with some extra beads left over from a restringing project to make a bracelet for one of my male customers:

And finally, here is the finished version of Winter's raven skull necklace (originally two separate projects) that we worked on over the course of a couple of Saturdays. I'm a big believer in sending people away to test-drive their jewellery for a few weeks and then come back for adjustments. Turns out she decided she wanted both necklaces to be combined into one (because she found she wears them both at the same time), plus she wanted a way to be able to add more stuff in the future (hence the large jump rings).

The necklace is adjustable for length in three ways: first, overall; then the shorter centre piece with the raku skull and body parts can be loosened off or tightened up; finally, the height of the raku skull cord relative to the overall necklace and raven skull can be changed by loosening off and moving a knot on either side of the main piece of leather cord.

For all you procrastinators, there's still time to order something for Christmas (I adhere to the Italian gift-giving date of January 6th on the Feast of the Epiphany so there's plenty of wiggle room) so contact me either by email or come and see me at the market on Saturday and we'll see what we can come up with.

Yo to procrastinating sig/others: I can't tell you how many ladies have told me what they hope their sig/other will get them for Christmas. A gift certificate or a promissory note for something from my table tucked into a card will make a great and perfect and stress-free gift. Just a suggestion/reminder/kick in the pants.

Thanks for looking!

Friday 13 December 2013

Early Christmas Present...

My favourite kind -- early, cheap, on sale, fits me perfectly, love the colour -- and I got to play with the box it came in.

Give up?

I bought myself an office-chair-in-a-box from Liquidation World here in Paris (not the real one), which is itself liquidating, so everything is 20% off including Yum Yum Chips, which I loooove (and who looooove me), and all kinds of Christmas goodies. Too bad LW is closing. It's a nifty place to spend 15 or 20 minutes in while you wait for your pizza or Chinese food to be ready down the strip mall, not to mention a lot quieter and cleaner and brighter than the Waaaaal-Marts of the world, I don't have to drive all over the countryside to get to it, aaaaand great prices.

It has never failed to amaze me what one can build with a simple little Allen key.

Unfortunately, I got no jewellery made this week. I've been typing my brains out while trying to recuperate my knees and back. My back is doing okay, but my knees are pretty much toast. However, I will be putting some things together tomorrow at the market and I will endeavour to remember to photograph them this time. Last week I fixed Winter's raven skull and raku human skull, hands and feet necklace... you gotta see it. It came out pretty cool. She's bringing me more skulls to play with and fix.

Because it's been so bloody cold the past few days and we're bracing for our first dump of the fluffy stuff this weekend, a memory of a warmer, kinder, fuzzier time and place...

G'night and thanks for looking.

Sunday 1 December 2013

Old Hand-Cut Malachite to Restring...

I was given a string of old hand-cut malachite to restring that my customer has had for decades. Here is the before picture. I've finished it off with a copper clasp and added six inches of length with 4mm rounds in a dark malachite. Once I've finished the pendant, I'll post the finished item.

The largest beads in the centre are about 10mm but most are in the 4mm to 6 or 7mm range, and, as you can see, rondellishly shaped. All are hand cut and drilled, very chewed up. The range of colours and the banding is truly beautiful. The chunk is really something, just over an inch tall. That's a lump of glue from a botched repair job that I couldn't quite finish sanding off. Tiny blue-green glass seed beads in between, smaller than 11/0, but not as small as 15/0. I've been questioned about not doing anything more with these beads but this is what the customer wanted -- i.e. for the beads to simply be restrung.  
Due to an aching back and knees from hauling heavy boxes, bins and metal grids up and down steep stairs to do the loading up and unloading for the show last weekend, I had to do a market lite version of my market table yesterday. I've been in bed pretty much for the past four days otherwise (and, yes, realised too late that I should NOT have attempted the market -- thanks to Jim and Jan for loading up my truck for me!), and as soon as I get back with a few groceries this morning and empty the truck of bins (into the garage only) I will be back in horizontal mode. Off to the doc on Wednesday. While living alone has its peace and warm, fuzzy pleasures -- I can eat cereal for dinner and go to bed with my book at 6 p.m. when and if I feel like it -- there are also the terrifying perils and pitfalls when the things we take for granted, like mobility, go bump in the night.

Interestingly, I sold a wrapped kyanite pendant yesterday. I only had 4mm kyanite rounds with me at the Gem Expo last weekend. Several people came looking for it but no one had any. Has anyone else been getting more requests than usual for anything kyanite? For what it's worth, I do have more sizes and shapes here for sale and will photograph and post pix this week.

Thanks for looking!

Tuesday 26 November 2013

The Gem Expo

I think the blinding snow squalls and bitter winds conspired against all of the vendors in terms of overall sales at this November Gem Expo, but I for one sure had a great time meeting so many new and old friends, and four days away from this hated computer was just grand.

As before, my post may be more of interest to people who are starting out doing craft and bead shows -- certainly I'm still learning even now, away shows being a different type of show than the ones where you can drive home at night and the next morning bring the items you forgot the day before ;-) -- everyone else can look at the pictures.

Bidding on The Gem Expo Charity Auction items has been extended until November 30th.
My donation is this partial string of 20 Sleeping Beauty turquoise nuggets.

You can bid on this and other items to benefit disaster relief in the Philippines at:

Online Charity Auction Link

Bring extra table cloths & definitely invest in bed/table risers:
This time, I paid for a corner booth with three tables. Unfortunately, I didn't realise until it was too late that only the artisan tables came with cloths and table skirts, so I ended up having to use a mish-mash of four different colours of cloths to cover my tables to the floor, three of which were originally intended to cover my table at night. It looked reeeeeally junky when I was setting up, but actually worked out fairly well after all the beads and jewellery were laid out on the table.

Setting up the table was made much less difficult because I finally bought some bed risers, used to raise the tables by six inches so people don't break their backs after hours of looking at beads. If nothing else, people will remain a much longer time at your table. I could not believe how low tables really are until the end of the show when I was dismantling my booth and took the risers away. Feels like about knee level.

I also discovered that many people have never even heard of bed risers -- I hadn't until just a few years ago, if for no other reason than I had no need for them. They are sold in sets of four (I paid $7.50 per set for mine) because -- of course -- most bed frames have at least four legs. I suppose many people have never heard of them because beds tend to be higher since people are taller, or it could be that it's because mattresses are thicker than they used to be... or we only need them when our knees become toast. In any event, they are absolutely indispensable and I finally found some after looking for them for a couple of years. Some people use white plastic pipes cut to length, but the problem with those is they don't work if the table legs are completely straight. The pipes are only good with folding table legs have that curve to them.

I know -- they look like flower pots, don't they!?!?

The business end -- this is what they really look like.

Make sure to center the table leg in each riser or you'll have a tippy table,
especially when someone leans on it.

I loaded up the truck and was on the road to Tronna by 8:30 or 9:00 Thursday morning. I noodled along in the slow lane, found parking immediately at my favourite secret parking spot downtown and went to the wholesaler's where, among other goodies, I scored some Roman glass beads from Afghanistan.

If anyone is interested, I have these Roman glass beads at an incredibly good price. Email me for prices and availability. Note that the string of green coin beads second from the right is gone. 
After the wholesaler's, I headed over to Queen Street West, stocked up on plated clasps at Arton, and got myself a slice of potato pizza drizzled with hot sauce and dusted with Parmigiano and a can of Chinotto at Pizzaiolo, my favourite pizza place since Amato's seems to have disappeared from the Queen West scene, and killed time pretending I was still in Italy until I could go park at the Hyatt .

In case you ever wondered... 

Parked at the Hyatt Regency on King and hiked my bags over to the Strathcona, my home away from home, and ended up with an incredible surprise: since I am now officially a repeat customer, they bumped me up from my cozy converted broom closet (remember last time when I got a room smaller than the freight elevator at the Hyatt??) to a king room. I was beside myself -- literally. I lay on one side of the bed to watch TV but slept waaaaaaaaaaay far over on the other side so I could answer the wake-up phone call Friday morning. I have to say I did miss the shower stall in the Eco room as I have a hard time getting in and out of bathtubs these days. At least this bath came with a grab bar. And I got a desk with an office chair. And a window. Not that I spent much time looking out of it, mostly only to see if it was still raining (no) or if a foot of snow had fallen (no, again).

There was a last-minute change and we couldn't start setting up in the Hyatt Regency ballroom until 9 pm, so I met Ruth for dinner after she finished work. The pub at the Strath was full, loud and positively tropical with the exhalations of umpteen hockey fans. Ruth had a craving for French onion soup which sounded like a fine idea to me, and we ended up at Bardi's, a small two-story steakhouse next door to the Strath. Neither of us was particularly hungry but wanted something a little nicer than the ubiquitous Tim's across the street and, since it was an at-home game, we knew every restaurant in the area would be crazy packed and noisy anyway. We had good hot soup, split a Greek salad and an order of cheese and garlic toast, and I splurged and had a glass of Merlot, usually impossible for me in our zero-tolerance province as I tend to end up driving. I would have taken a picture but my phone was charging back at the hotel. Suffice it to say, we spent 2-1/2 hours there and I will definitely go back and try their steaks. Ruth and I spent a lot of time observing and lusting after what other diners had ordered. I have fond memories of Barberian's Steakhouse up on Elm Street from the early '70s and Bardi's is of similar ilk, reputation and vintage.

Rough but methodical setup on Thursday night:
Walked over to the Hyatt and met George who was going to haul stuff up from my truck and help me set up.

In the bottom of the U-shape below the black wooden shelf I set up my small folding table as a work station & to write receipts, etc. Unfortunately, I neglected to take a photo of the table in place, but it was super handy to have it there. 

Kinda looks junky with so many colours going on, doesn't it!?

I had done really well at the July show selling earrings and necklaces, so I brought a lot with me this time -- ending up selling one pewter bird necklace and two ropes of pearls -- and they took up a ton of table "real estate". I won't be doing that again.

Saturday morning setting up:
First things first: breakfast. It's absolutely critical to have a good breakfast because once the show opens you won't get a meal break unless you are lucky enough to have someone with you. I don't have a fridge in my room, so it's hard to bring "healthy" foods, although I did bring apples and bananas. This particular show opens on a Friday; with morning set-up starting at 7 a.m. and the show running from 11:30 until 9 p.m. that makes for one looooong day. During the week, Dunn's on King Street about two blocks east of the Hyatt has what I've always considered a classic Toronto breakfast special and miss terribly, although I fear the $1.29 breakfast specials of my youth are long gone. Give me perfect poached eggs and I'm hooked. Unfortunately, Dunn's is closed when I come wandering by on Saturday and Sunday show mornings. But their Friday breakfast is something I now look forward to having, and they have really good coffee.

Something I also discovered this trip is that, at least in Toronto, Tim Horton's now has GREAT cappuccino. (I need to find out if they have cappuccino machines in the local Tim's.) Tastes like the real thing, not to be confused their caffeine-free chemical stew called French Vanilla Cappuccino, AND trust me... it beats anything Starbuck's has on offer all to hello operator.

1-3/4 hours to showtime:
Low-grade panic...

I dithered for two days about getting the clear plastic reindeer to make a non-specific and subtly festive touch to my table and they were the most-commented upon item on my table. Yahoo for Dollarama, and I think I am in the wrong business. More people commented on those reindeer...

20 Minutes to Showtime:
...shading into high-grade panic. Panic ensues when one is confronted with a new table layout. Plus I discovered I really need at least three more lights, mainly because one of them died on me. More lights go to the top of the shopping list for the next show, as well as bins with lids and a dolly. None of this waiting around for my turn at one of the few the hotel has and none at other venues.

During the show:

Miriam's turquoise birthday present to herself

Food, glorious food:
Friday night, I got back to the Strathcona and headed downstairs to the pub. I had wonderfully crispy coconut breaded shrimp with a Thai dipping sauce and a half pint of icy Alexander Keith's, went straight back up to my room and fell asleep. In the morning, stopped in at Tim's two blocks east of the Hyatt and discovered cappuccino -- Tim's has real cappuccino! -- and snagged one of their bacon, cheese and egg on an English muffin sandwich. Ruth brought cappuccinos to me multiple times every day. She also brought me real food on Sunday, her mother's marinated chicken and a side of pomegranates, fruit salad, green salad and some lime and chili peanuts which are really tasty and must be tracked down soon at a local Metro store.

Saturday night, Ruth and I hit the Strath Pub again and split a chicken burger with fries and a massive mountain of tortilla chips. It was so good. And another half pint of Keith's. Alas, Sunday morning arrived way too early, I slept in, had to pack up, check out and got to the show about 20 minutes to opening with no breakfast. I had had to dump my bags in the truck and, with sub-zero interest in going back out into that infernally cold wind and backtracking the two blocks to Tim's for more cappuccino and an egg thing, I had to settle for enhhh hotel coffee and a croissant until Ruth showed up with the aforementioned chicken, salad and peanuts -- and another Tim's.

Beginning to pack up:

Thank you to George and Ruth for all your help, because without you two I have a feeling I'd still be there struggling to get those heavy grids down and into the truck.

Thanks for looking and I hope to see many of you back at the March Gem Expo!