Thursday 29 May 2014

Hey-la, hey-la, My Robin's Back...

...and I'm gonna be sorreee... no sitting out on the deck beading for me early in the morning or later on in the afternoon when it's shady, breezy and cool these next two weeks or so. Sigh...

On the other hand, I could have put an empty coffee cup on the lamp to discourage any nest-building the way a friend does.

I'm sure these posts probably will only be of interest to dedicated robin-watchers like... maybe the local feral cat, however this time I'd like to make a better effort at documenting the structural underpinning to the nest. What will be really interesting is to see what differences there will be between this new nest and the first one.

7:30 a.m., 29 May 2014, early birds, worms and all that. She's definitely been using bits of the dried grass fill from the last nest that I left for her on the ground by the deck.

9:35 a.m., 29 May 2014, filling in the gap between the lamp and the wall; building up the wall a bit; base of the outer nest is starting to take shape:

12:30 p.m., 29 May 2014, I'd caught her sitting on the nest a few times through the morning, guess she's packing the twigs and dried grasses down and checking for stability:

2:59 p.m., 29 May 2014, looks like she's finished for the day. Luckily, we still have some swampy low ground over by the fence so there's no shortage of mud to build with.

I also just about stepped on a bunny today, quite a bit smaller than the one I saw last week. He wasn't quite as enthralled to see me and scooted under the deck. Definitely a warren under there.

I actually AM working on jewellery these days, but in between typing and procrastinating... lots of procrastinating. I sold several seed bead bracelets and necklaces the past few weeks at the market and several people have been looking at the anklets left over from last summer. I got some crazy seed bead colours at Waaaaal-Mart Tuesday night, and then went back for more colours yesterday.

Those ones that look like chocolate brown are actually a deep bronzy copper and the silvery ones are a deep steel grey, both with a slight matte lustre to them. Very, very useful colours/tones/textures, all in one bead, these metallic beads. Great for guys' jewellery... But maybe not the fuschia... the fuschia beads are that solid deeeeep fuschia, like some of the geraniums you see now (of which I've been buying plenty from the flower vendors).

Technically these are poor quality, being all kinds of lumpy sizes and shapes and are mostly NOT 6/0s like the label says, but their lumpy imperfections and semi-matte finish fit right in with the handmade/primitive tribal/ethnic look I'm after. I also took a closer look at what's in the clothing department in order to come up with some more-likely-to-sell colour combos.

Thanks for looking!

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Redid the Showcase at the Antique Mall...

Time to houseclean my One of a Kind Antique Mall showcase. I found another of those clear plastic T-bars at Winners last weekend, by Jacob -- I think that's the brand. Clear T-bars really do make things appear to float and magnify any light. My pal Lynn of Fashion Your Space also suggested moving the black necklace thingy I use for the guys' necklaces over to the left hand corner, instead of it being the first thing you see on entering the mall, i.e. a big black blob in the right hand corner.

Now on the left, The Big Black Blob functions to stop your eye from leaving the showcase...

To me, this little vignette at the front is starting to look reeeeeally interesting, with the resin skull pendant, the 1881 bushcraft book, surrounded by turquoise and in the background the coin silver and hammered earrings, etc.

But those giant white tickets -- ewww. They really need some serious rethinking. I need space to write a description and need the Antique Mall info, as well, so they have to be big. The other half of it is these tickets don't go with the customer, but are part of the inventory system, so I also need to come with a way to make duplicates without having to write everything out twice...

One of the things to keep in mind is the back doors slide in from each end. Because staff need to get into the case during the week to pull items out for people, I have to keep accessibility at the forefront when I'm placing the T-bars and the black bust and it's getting a little jammed up on the back left.

The copper-wrapped Kingman turquoise dangle and purple seed bead necklace has been sold... but I can always make you another one!

Seemingly overnight, it's become hot and humid here in Southern Ontario. Go Spring!!! With a fan blowing all the time now and the street doors left open, I took the opportunity yesterday to clean both the phenomenal accumulation of dust as well as the many nose prints off the glass.

If you happen to see something here that interests you, please don't hesitate to email me with any questions. I live very close by and I can zip over any time (between 10 and 5), check if the item you're interested in is still available -- or I can do up something custom -- and get back to you with a price.

If you make jewellery, I sell many of these beads via email or you can see me at the upcoming Gem Expo at the Hyatt Regency on King Street in Toronto, July 25th, 26th and 27th. Don't forget to get on their email list for discount tickets and prize draws.

Thanks for looking!

Sunday 25 May 2014

Examining the Robin's Nest...

I've noticed Mombird hanging around these past two days and, figuring she might want to build another nest in the same location on top of the lamp, I pushed the used one down this afternoon. What a wonder of construction. Three distinctly separate parts -- four, if you count the loose straw, twigs and grasses she used to fill up and level the space she built on between the lamp and the wall -- each on examination with a specific function. How on earth did she know to do this??? Amazing. I don't think I'll use the term "bird brain" ever again -- except as a compliment. Plus, she built the nest itself in a few hours over two days, letting each part dry. That would obviously explain why she left the nest for a few days after she'd finished building it. The weather was very damp and cold then.

This is the nest upside down. That solid brown bit is the inner, mostly mud construction. Can't figure out if that hole in the middle served a function. Drainage if for some reason rain got into the nest? Or damage done by those three gallumping teenagers tromping on each other for food over the last day or two before they finally flew the coop?

The flat part was where the nest was against the wall, otherwise it's just about perfectly round. There's the rough outer nest, then the mostly mud part about 3/8" thick, then the incredibly soft dry grass liner. There are three little poops there, clearly in little sacs, just like the various articles said she would do. I guess she wasn't going to encourage them to stay any longer by taking those away. The nest was otherwise immaculate. Not even a single shard of blue egg was left.

Even the grassy lining stays together.

I was curious how hard and sturdy that mud shell was. I could've broken it with my fingers, but couldn't bring myself to do that. For comparison, it's at the leather-hard stage of a drying clay pot. 

Toes and eyes crossed she comes back again. 

Thanks for looking!

Friday 23 May 2014

Baby Robins Have Grown Up, Up and Away...

When I walked out of the house late this morning, the first baby -- well, teenage -- robin flew off the nest and down the lane. This one is notable for not having any remaining pinfeather halo on its head.

When I came back about an hour later, there was one robin left perched on the edge of the nest. At a distance, I thought at first it was the mother, but since she and Husbird were dive-bombing me and squawking warnings, like, maybe "Fly, fly, you idiot!", I figured I'd better get in the house and let this one figure things out. Just after I took the picture, he/she flew out and onto the grass. This one still had a pinfeather halo which you can just see on the back of its head.

I still am amazed at how quickly they grew. I took this picture just yesterday:

I'll take this nest down and see if they build another one.

After I got back I was wandering around behind my little house looking at all the wild strawberry flowers and white and purple violets carpeting that part of the yard and noticed in amongst the ferns some equally tall blue flowers which I've never ever seen before. Looked them up online and found out they are Virginia bluebells. Honeybees and butterflies love them which explains why I've seen several of both on the occasional warm, sunny day, despite how cold and damp it's been this year even now in late May -- The furnace has been been kicking on most of today.

Thanks for looking!

Sunday 18 May 2014

Mombird Has Birdies...

She's flying back with worms all the time now. I thought I saw something sticking its beak up yesterday when I got home. Definitely saw something just now.

Got within two feet of the deck before she flew off.

Another view of my little deck. I've become a bit obsessed with hanging flower baskets from trees, if for no other reason than I'm not sure the eavestroughing would hold them.

Thanks for looking!

New Market Table Location & Configuration...

Ah... the joys of a brand new table configuration and going back to square one: what on earth am I going to do??? After six years in the same location between Chocolate Guy and the coffee pot/Peter's Bakery at the Saturday farmers market, I have moved... across the room to where Oliver's Gardens normally is in the winter. Yesterday, all the produce and flower vendors moved outside for the summer/fall. In October, when everyone comes back inside, I will be going "up" into the second room to a permanent spot.

For those of you contemplating setting up your first shows, here is what I went through yesterday morning. Before 5 a.m. I had unloaded my truck and moved everything in to my spot. After 5:00 a.m. when the meat and produce trucks start showing up to deliver and/or set up outside and as more and more indoor vendors are pulling up to unload, it becomes impossible to get near the doors. Plus, in the summer, people are setting up their tents in two rows all along the front of the market building.

Thursday, I'd gone to a local fabric mill end store to look at buying fabric to cover my tables. It's also time to think about having a coordinated look for the Gem Expo, instead of my usual mishmash of covers and colours. It's a show requirement to cover tables to the floor and looks more professional. After looking at yardage prices and doing the math, I'm going to do like many people do and go with king size sheets.

By the way, after years of insisting I wouldn't find one useful, I have to say I love my new dolly. It cuts eight to ten or more trips carrying awkward and heavy boxes down to only three or four. My main problem had always been that I have too many open boxes with odd-shaped contents. I'm slowly transitioning most things into closed boxes of the same size/style -- rather than my usual mishmash -- so they can be stacked.

The new space: Two 8-foot tables and a 6-foot table. Note that the 6-foot table is coming out from the wall, and it's also a good two inches lower than the front table and I also don't line up with that white table of the next vendor.

I've swapped the 8-foot table running along the wall with the 6-footer coming out from the wall, which also puts me in line with the white table of the vendor who will be next to me:

Covers on and a spare cloth on the back table. The black-painted wooden riser anchors the end of the front table. The far end of the back table is where I'll be sitting and working when there are no customers. I can also see what's going on. That draggy cloth at the front corner will be folded and clipped along the top edge of the table so that no one (including me) will trip on it.

Black cloth clipped (bulldog clips are your friend). Next, the white cloth goes on -- at an angle with this setup -- and I start bringing out the "furniture".

Vary display heights: At this point, I've decided that my skull display will go in the centre of the angle using the emptied bin that holds finished necklaces as a riser. Eventually, I'll get more wooden risers made, but as I'm still in the thinking process, a bin does the trick neatly.

My boyfriend...

Prop flat displays at an angle: I have a ring display box with a plexi lid, as well as display boards that lie flat on the table. However, flat things are far easier for people to see if they're propped up at an angle. I use those free-standing bent-angle metal frames from the dollar store, the kind that have a piece of glass that slides in at the top. First, get rid of the glass!

Almost done. Now that the "anchors" are in place and all my T-bars, busts, earring racks and bundles of necklaces are on the table, I can start to finalise where everything else goes...

And.... finally, I'm done. Hard to believe all this used to fit on one 8-foot table!!! Throughout the morning, I get people's opinions, things get tweaked and suggestions noted for next time. Since a lot of the finished jewellery gets lost on the black cloth, I will need to get another white cloth from Dollarama.

Along the back wall: boards with larger turquoise pendants; Tibetan and tribal style pendants; and then a board with semi-precious pendulums and some wire-wrapped pendants; bins of loose beads on table.

Table coming out from wall: behind the mirror, black free-standing earring racks for sale; mirror; resin bird skull and bone pendants on tall bust; tribal-ish style and crystal pendants lying flat on table; behind the necklaces on the table, three racks of semi-precious and Swarovski earrings with Bali silver; pearl display; pewter pendants;

Angle of two tables: skull and guy jewellery, kids' jewellery;

Front table: finished semi-precious necklaces; handmade, hammered metal necklaces on black T-bar; sterling rings; bracelets; PMC jewellery, turquoise earrings, coin silver and crystal pendants and sterling silver pendants on the vertical boards, respectively; earring carousels up top with my far-too-small sign in a frame.

Where I sit and work, or talk to customers. Tools in the bottom drawer of the little organiser; finished jewellery, price tags and other odds and ends in the top drawer. Behind it, a bin of gauze bags; against the wall, big ziplock bags of silver and copper wire; in the burgundy bag, 1mm, 1.5mm and 2mm Greek leather. Behind me, two bins of beads, findings and miscellaneous stuff on the dolly.

A note on these chairs. Pretty much 99% of chairs provided at any venue will, guaranteed, destroy your back. Invest in an orthopaedic cushion. This cushion lives in my truck. I also take it along to sports venues. Do people laugh at me? Always. Do people envy me after 20 minutes sitting on plastic seats in an ice-cold hockey arena or soggy, damp wooden baseball bleachers? You betcha.

View of my table and potential customers from my chair. Note that all of my ugly, junky-looking boxes and bins are stored out of sight.

Now that I've figured out where things will go, it will take me about 30 to 40 minutes to set up; to pack up, maybe half an hour. Next week, I'll bring some lights and another white tablecloth. Did I sell anything? Uh... that would be a negatory. Just one customer picking up her order. But maybe next Saturday. Did I have fun? Yes. I really like this location, the display works very well, and with things spread out more I got a lot of comments -- and compliments -- on what I'm offering because people could actually see everything.

Thanks for looking!

Monday 12 May 2014

New Antique Mall Pix & The Max Memorial Garden

Here are the new items in my half booth (800) at the One of a Kind Antique Mall, located in Woodstock, Ontario. I know it looks pretty paltry, but I've put over 100 items in here in the past six months and sold over 20 items.

Three-panel wrought iron screen with birds on twigs, 1920s brass bridge lamp with a seahorse design, 2 wrought iron jewellery racks, which will also stand flat on a table.

Back row, L to R: large aluminum stock pot; large aluminum kettle; stoneware "whisky" jug with hand-carved wooden plug; green and brown glass jugs;
Front row, L to R: tin lined copper pot w/lid, brass handles; tin lined copper bottomed saute pan with brass handle; large stoneware mixing bowl with dark brown glaze; stoneware bean pot w/lid; stoneware crock; tin red apple shaped container; set of 4 pink and black glazed ceramic bowls; small 1970s COPCO Michael Lax enameled cast iron casserole dish.

Current iteration of the showcase (ditto 800) located on your right when you walk through the main floor door.

Left side of the display case:

Right side of the showcase:

The beginning of the Max Memorial Garden. Hard to believe that I had to have the heat on this morning and now the door and windows are all wide open. Of course it's also letting in a really gross field smell... like something died. Welcome to life in the country.

That's Mombird's nest up there on top of the lamp. Dunno where she got to. I hope she's not afraid of the door being open. Nope -- just checked. She's back. Whew!

Feel free to ask if something catches your eye and you'd like to see more pictures or would like to have something designed. Leave a message here, or email me.

Thanks for looking!

Sunday 11 May 2014

New Venture... A Jade & Dzi Necklace in Progress... & What's For Dinner?

A little bit of back story -- a year and a half ago I met my new pal Nancy when she showed up at my table at the market looking for crystals, knowledge (hah), jewellery-making lessons... and in return she turned me on to estate sales. A lawn and garage sale veteran of umpteen years, I move to town, hit up garage sales and Goodwill, furnish a place; then get rid of most of the stuff the same way. Move on down the highway, lather and repeat.

But estate sales... ooooh. What a novel concept. Picker entered my vocabulary. Along with the jewellery showcase at the One of a Kind Antique Mall, I now have half a booth (#800) to sell my finds.

After getting up at 6:30 on a beautiful, sunny and finally warm Sunday morning (rain and thunderstorms predicted all this coming week) and driving a few miles down a deserted concession road, lined with more flip, flap, flop and flying red-winged blackbirds than I've ever seen at one time, these were acquired, brought home, washed, priced and went into my booth #800, today:

Of particular note is this score: Camp Life and the Tricks of Trapping by Gibson, 1881, 1st ed. Looks like this is the Canadian edition as the publishing info on the title page is a titch different and it's missing one illustration that I see in the online edition of the book. Tucked inside this particular book was a pamphlet on hunting regulations covering every province in Canada and state in the US for 1903. There are beautifully clear line drawings in the book: how to set traps, how to build a canoe and make camp, etc. I'd keep it, but I think my days in the bush are long gone.

I pulled the hand-carved stopper out of that "whisky" jug, and holy moley, the owner had brewed something fruity in there!

I also got this small table on wheels... thought maybe I could paint the top white... or black... it would make a chic-ish little coffee table...

Tonight for dinner... boned chicken thighs cut up and sauteed in butter and Szechuan sauce on a bed of basmati, green grapes for dessert, with leftovers for three days. Yummers.

I'm in a bit of a bind here. It's been feeling like this has been a year devoid of sales at all the venues, but imperceptibly things have been selling. I look at my table and it seems like all of a sudden there's nothing left to sell, particularly noticeable when people ask for specific items. Oopsies. Better get making new stuff, especially since I'm being moved out of my spot at the market by the coffee pot where I've been since time immemorial. Next Saturday I'll be across the room where Oliver's Farm usually is (half the market moves outside that day) and I'll have tons more display room. Guess I need something to display.

To that end, I started putting this necklace together yesterday. It was sold to me as jade, but... mmmmm, I dunno. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't. Maybe the bead factory was pushing the envelope a little because, "Hey, this stuff's green; let's call it jade". It's purty though, and since green is one of those colours that for some reason has never done much for me (other than browny-greeny turquoise and Granny Smith apples... and, okay, green grapes), I rarely buy it, let alone use it. So, in the interest of being inclusive to all the lovers of green, because not everyone loveloveloves blue the way I do, here goes.

Green with scattered brown jade beads, handmade Ethiopian copper beads, a rectangular "Dzi" bead -- dunno if this shape would properly be called a Dzi -- but with 2 eyes, etched agate.

Note to new jewellery-makers: tiny jump rings are your friend. They can be placed unobtrusively to subtly spark and set off a long line of beads, the way I've done to "outline" the brown beads, and are also very handy at filling in the gaps that will occur between large beads and large and small beads when the necklace is being worn. It also cushions the wire so over time it doesn't develop an unsightly goink when it comes out of a large focal bead weighting down the bottom of the necklace.

The other thing I'm sure we've all noticed is that bead strings are getting shorter. In this case, I bought two strings, so there are enough beads remaining to make a bracelet and earrings. I'll post more pictures when everything is completed.

To all the mothers out there, Happy Mother's Day, and thanks for looking!

Thursday 8 May 2014

bROOMcloset -- Ask & Ye Shall Receive...

It's GEM EXPO TIME... well, almost -- it's coming up fast in July. Today, I booked my usual Eco bROOMcloset at the Strathcona --

-- yeah, well, it's tiny and cute, and when I close my eyes I don't even know the difference between it and a real room -- and just about had a heart attack. Rates have gone waaaay up since last summer.

One of the advantages of getting old(er) is a little thing called the senior discount. And for some reason they are kicking in at a lower and lower age, you can get some discounts as early as 50, and many more start at 55. Not that I've been 55 for a few years, but... anyway.

I do the online booking thing and get my receipt emailed back. Recovering from my heart attack, I email the hotel back to ask if my usual senior discount has been included. Ravi emails me back within minutes with an adjusted invoice. I ended up getting almost a $50 discount. It always pays to ask. If I'm reeeeally lucky, I might get an upgrade on checkin.

I love the Strath and here's why:

Retro decor:

Ice cold Alexander Keith's awaiting me every evening downstairs in the Strath Pub:

Coconut shrimp with extra sauce ('cause I asked):

More ice cold Alexander Keith's, although now I get the half-pint:

Really fine burgieham flips and another AK:

A burgieham flip, you ask? Back in the '70s, in lieu of actually working, my pal Rob and I would hang out in the plate room and swap syllables (not spit) to try and come up with better-sounding words. This was one that stuck.

I so look forward to all of this and more (new friends, beads, old friends, beads, vendor pals, beads and fascinating conversations!) when I do the Gem Expo.

Thanks for looking, and see you in July -- 25, 26, 27 -- The Gem Expo, Hyatt-Regency, King Street, Toronto!