Wishing You All a Happy and Prosporous 2009!

I'm working on getting my goals set for the new year, so this post will probably be updated as I brainstorm and prioritize.

I have decided to pare back and simplify the inventory on MakeSomething.NET. I plan to add findings that are handmade and more specialized toward chainmaille use like multi-strand and differently-shaped clasps and transitional pieces.

In e-maille.com land, I want to sell at some craft/art shows in 2009. The shows I had previously attended from 2005-2007 had gradually declined in attendance and quality of other vendors (mass-produced junk or otherwise banal, non-handmade wares). The trick is finding the shows in my area that are good. I'd love to find an all-handmade (with the artists in attendance), artsy, juried, fun show with other vendors who are passionate about what they make. If you've attended a really good show in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area (either selling or shopping), I'd appreciate your perspective. I've learned the event promoters are mostly concerned with getting their booth fee and won't give an honest opinion. The last event I did in 2007 was so horrible, I had no desire to do any this year. Depending on researching and feedback, it's not out of the question to arrange a show myself with other artists in the area. It's A LOT more work, but I think the end result would be great.

Overall, I just want all my family and friends to be happy and healthy and remember that no matter how bad things get, those moments will pass and life goes on.

Giving Something for Nothing

The economy has been dodgy as of late and most people are watching their pennies. If you don't have enough cash for the basics, donating to non-profit organizations becomes even more difficult, if not impossible. You may have noticed the "Click to Donate" links I keep on teh right side of my blog, but I thought I'd point them out if you haven't.

Sponsors on these sites make a donation to the charity every time you click, and it's FREE to you! What's better than that, eh? Bookmark them and click on them daily. It takes only a moment and you'll be helping out people, animals, and causes in need.

View list of "Click to Donate" sites at http://www.thenonprofits.com/

People Who Need People...

...boggle my mind. On the local news tonight, there was a segment about people in Austin with telecommuting jobs getting lonely and paying an average fee of $250/month just to be around other people to work. Wha-huh?! It's my dream to be able to work only from home, and to see these people whine about how they're just at home with their dog and they're lonely and depressed and stressed simply baffles me. It's akin to those who say having a lot of money is difficult. "There are dishes in the sink. Laundry in the hamper. An episode of "The Daily Show" sits waiting in the DVR, waiting to stretch that work break to 22 minutes." Really? That's what's stressing you out? WOW! (One moment to let me wipe away the tear. Wait. There's not one.)

I have an internet connection, jewelry-making tools, and endless ideas. I can't fathom reaching a point working at home when I think it would be great to drive to a house and pay to hang out with people. Are they just needy? Unimaginative? Insecure? Undisciplined? Irresponsible? It's just a workday. Why are they unable to get all their social validation in the evenings and weekends?

I can't be alone on this, right? I realize I am more anti-social than the average bear, but c'mon.

Cool WHIP

This year, I got myself a WHIP for Christmas. It's not the leather braided kind of whip (although, also a great gift), it's a Wire Handled Ingot Pouring Device. Basically, it's what's going to allow me to melt all the scrap silver I've accumulated over the years and turn it back into cool things. It was invented by master jeweler Jay Whaley. Watch him demonstrate here.

In a semi-related meandering, see the Cool Whip clip of Family Guy here. Seth MacFarlane is a sweet genius. On Conan O'Brien last Tuesday, he mentioned how he voices Roger on American Dad in the style of '60s homosexual character actors. I thought from the beginning that he had a twinge of Paul Lynde and it looks to be true. Paul Lynde played Uncle Arthur on "Bewitched," the center square on "Hollywood Squares," and voiced Templeton in "Charlotte's Web." Surprisingly, I found he was from Mount Vernon, Ohio when I looked him up. Huh... fellow Buckeye.

Math Is For Wieners

I'm kind of a trivia junkie. One of my goals is to go on Jeopardy and try to win some cash with the bits I've accumulated in my head over the years. That's why in the right column of my blog I have a "what happened in history on this date" gadget--to perpetuate my obsession or at least have my daily "huh, interesting" moment. Here's something to gobble on...

Today is the birthday of Norbert Wiener. Besides having one of the best names ever, he was an applied mathematician who founded cybernetics--a field that studies how anything (machine or man) processes information. He was a ground-breaking advocate of using technology like robotics, computer control, and automation to improve our lives. Working with a team at MIT, his research made pioneering contributions to computer science and artificial intelligence. (Sounds like the background story for Terminator 4: Rise of the Wiener)

Today is also the anniversary of the day King Tut's tomb was opened and doomed all those involved. It was worth it, though. I plan on seeing a bunch of his loot at the Dallas Museum of Art while it's in town. Since I haven't made it to Egypt yet, I figure this is the next best thing. OH-WAY-OH!

RRRRRRRRRRRRings...........

I've continued to tweak the e-maille.com website this weekend. For each item, I've added a section to give some insight on the process that went into making things. Also, the customization options have been improved for more flexibility.

I also added 2 new rings --
Swirl Etched Stackable Ring



Unique enough to stand on its own, but dainty enough to stack a few, you'll find these rings complement any style. A fine etched line swirls around the ring for sparkle and interest. Sold individually.

Saturday Morning Bird Watching

Part of my Saturday morning routine includes opening the porch door, so the kids can go out on the balcony and enjoy the morning--mostly the birds that fly between the trees and rooftops. Moving to the top floor is the best thing I ever did as far as they are concerned. I wanted to play with my black & white camera setting and capture them ready to pounce. I ended up getting one of the aforementioned tweeties in the frame, too. Lucky shot.

Who Knew Fences Could Be This Cool?

Inspiration can be found anywhere. I came across a site for a Dutch design company, DEMAKERSVAN, that is making chain-link fence with an original flair. It looks amazing and makes me want a yard just so I'd need one.

Ike-an See Clearly Now, The Rain Is Gone

Well, here around Dallas, we were expecting more effects from Hurricane Ike but got a steady, gentle rain for most of Saturday, and that was all. I had taken everything in from the porch, since Friday's forecast predicted winds up to 40 MPH. It ended up going more East and there was no wind to be felt. We've certainly had worse storms without a hurricane involved. Our thoughts go out to all those families who have incurred loss during the hurricane, and we wish you all the best in the recovery.

My Favorite Things... Metal Version

This is what happens when a tune gets stuck in my head while I'm up late working on things.

(sung to "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music)
Metal and torches and tumblers and pliers
Rocks set in bezels or maybe square wire
Doming blocks, files, when hammers go TING
These are a few of my favorite things - - -

Kilns fusing glassware and PMC gold
Liver of sulfur and cuttlebone molds
Anvils and pickle and pearls on a string
These are a few of my favorite things - - -

Draw plates, wax carvings, roll printings, crochet hooks
Tubing and lubing and reading McCreight's books
Headpins and eyepins and Links for a Queen
These are a few of my favorite things - - -

When the fuel's out
When the ring flings
When my eyes are had
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

Real or Fake? Does It Matter?

I just finished reading an article on Smithsonian.com about the increased quality of lab-grown diamonds making them practically indistinguishable from natural diamonds. I've never been a big diamond person. Sure, I think they're beautiful, but the main reason I got into jewelry making was to work with elements that at one point in time were a part of the earth. I'm just as impressed by a well-cut diamond as I am a great piece of jasper with tons of color and character. Their price differs greatly, but their value is equally as precious.

The nerdy, science-lover side of me thinks the ability to create specimens that are nearly indistinguishable from the natural thing is amazing. There are functional areas that I think these diamonds are perfect for. But the other, earthy side says they will never be the same. Part of the fascination of stones for me is that they're just THERE without the intervention of humans. I guess it depends on the reason you like the stone. Is it the stone's visual beauty? It's history? It's chemistry? The energy that went into making it?

For those who make jewelry... Is there a difference between what you work with and what you like to wear personally (when it comes to natural/lab-created stones)?

For those who enjoy wearing jewelry... Does the stone's origin factor into your decision when buying a piece?

See the article on Smithsonian.com

[photo by Max Aguilera-Hellweg]

The Artist Formerly Known As...

I've been wanting to come up with a unique symbol I could use on my e-maille jewelry tags and other things. I've been using just an "E" until now, because nothing before was really working or 'grabbing' me. I finally came up with one, so the next logical step was, of course, to make a pendant of my artistic identity. You know... like Prince... because he and I are so similar. I like purple. And rain. Anyway...

My new mark consists of my initials "ELM" arranged in a sort of skewed way. I couldn't have it too straightforward. That's not how I roll. My initial arrangement is enclosed by one big ring, because it was one ring that started all my maille madness, and I'm thankful. My new pendant is symmetrical, relatively simple, and, although I've been told it looks like a TIE Fighter turned sideways, I like it. So, now I just need to order a metal stamp and emblazen the world like Zorro. Again... so similar we are.

If any of you have ordered a custom metal stamp, I'd appreciate any info either way--who you'd do business with again or who you'd avoid.

Happy Flag Day!... Surprise!

Since today is Flag Day, I thought I'd celebrate by giving away a "Can You BeWeave It?" Make Your Own Chainmaille kit. Here's how you can Win Something!...

Somewhere on the Make Something site is a Win Something! icon like this one. Click on the icon to send an email. (Do not change the subject line.) The first person to find the icon and send an email will win their choice of one of our new Flags of the World "Can You BeWeave It?" 15"/16"/17" necklace kits, complete with instructions. (Tools not included.)

More surprise Win Somethings will be posted throughout the summer here on the blog. Subscribe to the Blog Feed and get ready to grab free things!

UPDATE : The Win Something has been found!
Congratulations to our winner!
Thanks to everyone for playing...

Let Your Flags Fly!

I was inspired by the forthcoming Flag Day and Olympic Games and decided to make some flags of the world. Come see the new collection! Even more flags will be added soon...

Flag of the United States of America/USA European 4-in-1 Chainmaille Necklace


Flag of Italy European 4-in-1 Chainmaille Necklace


Flag of France European 4-in-1 Chainmaille Necklace


Flag of England (St. George's Cross) European 4-in-1 Chainmaille Necklace


Flag of the Netherlands/Holland European 4-in-1 Chainmaille Necklace


Flag of Belgium European 4-in-1 Chainmaille Necklace


Flag of Germany European 4-in-1 Chainmaille Necklace


Flag of Sweden European 4-in-1 Chainmaille Necklace


Flag of Poland European 4-in-1 Chainmaille Necklace

What's Creepier Than Monkeys and Robots? Monkey Robots!

I've mentioned before that I think monkeys are creepy. There's something about that look in their eye. I should have mentioned robots, too, as being on that 'don't want them around me' category, but they weren't very high on the creep-o-meter until today. Let me say that, from a distance (a vast, faraway distance), I do understand the greatness of the implied eventual benefits for those with physical limitations with this technology. That said... When I see a robotic hand reach out and grab something because a money's wired-up brain said so... HEEBIE freakin' JEEBIES!

I mean, there has to already be a horror movie out there about how this eventually goes ALL WRONG, right? If there isn't, there should be.

"Monkey wants another banana. "
"You've had enough bananas. "
"I don't think you understand..." {{{brain waves}}} death. banana. end scene.

See the article on FOXNews.com

Rings are Round and Rosey

We've added lots of new colors of jump rings in Make Something-land--including Rose. Start your Summer projects now with every color of the rainbow!

"I Wish My Brother George Was Here"

Since it was the last week for the Damien Hirst exhibit at the Goss Michael Foundation downtown, I went today to check it out. I first became aware of Hirst in an article about his diamond skull creation "For the Love of God."
The skull is covered with 8,601 flawless diamonds - three times the number on the crown the Queen wears on state occasions.

The skull is in London, sadly, but I wanted to see what else he had done. The exhibit was interesting, but I would say I'm more of a platinum and diamond skull fan than a Damien Hirst fan. This was the last week for Hirst, but there will be different artists featured in the future.

The Foundation was started by my 'brother' George Michael and his partner to bring a little cultural somethin'-somethin' to DFW. They also sponsor art contests for the school kids. Check out their website and have a visit.

Hot in Herre

I welcomed a new member to my family of tools yesterday -- a new torch! Sure, I already have a couple, but this one is different. And can you ever really have enough tools. Just in time for those nice, cool Texas summers. T.G.F.A/C.!!

I also hammered out some silver and added rings made of square wire. Light just sparkles off all the facets.




And the Winner Is...

THE SCREAM!!!


I started looking at The Scream a couple days ago in preparation, because it was ahead in the votes the whole way. This may be a very appropriate name for this picture in more ways than one. When I was looking at my wire colors and pattern-izing, it quickly became apparent that this is not going to be an easy task, but I'm up for it -- even if I will be doing plenty of screaming on my own in the process.

Thank you to all who voted and gave feedback and suggestions, especially to my fellow maille crazies on MailleArtisans.org!!

Eye've Been Framed!

"Ol' Blue Eye" is framed, lit, and now officially my favorite thing. The LED lighting makes the blue eye look like it glows. The Eye is suspended on a single wire in an open shadow box for a 3-D mounting. The battery-powered LED light has 2 brightness settings, which I've found to be especially nice. No matter where I move, it's looking at me.

Do ya, do ya, do ya, do ya... know what ya doing, doing to me?

I finished my nearly 25 ct. black/red star ruby ring on Easter Sunday. It's funny, because it ended up looking kind of Pope-y. I kiss it, anyhow. I love how it turned out.

Many Pearls.... How-DEEE!

I finished a couple pearl bracelets and necklaces, but I don't think I'm finished. Pearls just say Spring to me and it's hard to put them down when it's this time of year--especially when the weather's been so nice. That is one thing I will say I love about living in Texas... warmth! It's nice for us 'circulatorily' challenged. (Even if in July I'll consist only of a melted puddle of flesh.)

Freshwater Pearl 3-Strand Bracelet - white & pink (pictured)
Buy Now

Ruby is still looking at me. I know, I know, you need a setting, but all in due time, dear.

And kudos to all of you who noted the 'tagged' reference in my title. I'm not a redneck, but I've played one on TV.

'Eye' Am Done

"Ol' Blue Eye" saw it's last ring this afternoon. I am so happy with the completed sheet and can't wait to add the frame and light and get some photos taken to post.

Eye Half Open

Last night, I reached the halfway mark with "Ol' Blue Eye." Woohoo! I plan on cutting more rings tonight like a maniac. I'd like to get the entire Eye -- frame and lighting included -- finished by next weekend at the latest. Much of the wire I'm using is silver-plated copper under the blues, so the color just shines and pops. If you've never experienced the movement and feel of a sheet of Euro 4-in-1, you're missing out. It's amazing that metal can be so graceful & beautiful and tough at the same time. That's the reason I've decided that the frame will have an open front and the maille itself will be suspended. It seemed a shame to lock it away behind glass. I can't stop poking my Eye!

Fo' Sh-Izzard!

Here I am just a few days ago saying how kickass Eddie Izzard is and that y'all need to check him out... AND NOW... I get the email about his (WHAT?!) 2008 American Tour!! Sweet.

Go get tickets. Do it. You'll thank me.

Opening My Eye

I'm really happy with how "Ol' Blue Eye" is coming together. I'm at 20% and I can see better how the pattern is working. I'm totally obsessed with getting this finished. As much as my hands started to ache yesterday, it was always 'just one more' ring. I'm on a mission. I've already started looking for the next thing I'd like to do in 4-in-1, since the first decision took forever. It's a big time investment, so I want to choose carefully. Back to work...

Ol' Blue Eye

I've had this idea of doing a Euro 4-in-1 sheet of a picture adaptation, but I hadn't been able to decide on what to do. I was revisiting my inspiration files and 'focused' on M.C. Escher's art--in particular, his "Eye" mezzotint from 1946. It has always been one of my favorites, and I thought I could adapt it to the chainmaille pattern. I've sketched out the pattern and I think it's either going to be super-cool or so-totally not. There are 4720 rings, so I'm really hoping for the cool. It's worth the time and effort if it turns out like I envision and it leads to other patterns and pictures. I'll post photos of the progression of "Ol' Blue Eye" if I think it's going well. If not, you'll never hear about it again.

Wonder Twin Powers... Activate!

I got my ruby last week and I've been carrying it around trying to figure out what it should be. The sucker's huge, so I was thinking a pendant at first. I'm not one for wearing big jewelry. I'm barely one for wearing much jewelry at all, so when I started looking at it as a ring, I surprised myself. Is this my first stage of aging? Am I going to start wearing too much perfume and carrying around wadded up Kleenex wherever I go? It's just, the more I looked at it, the more I wanted it to be somewhere I'd be able to see and enjoy it. I always watched the superhero cartoons and had Underoos for every crime-fighting occasion. Now, I'm making my very own superhero ring. (I was going to call this my Wonder Twins Power Ring, until I researched and found they never wore rings, they just put fists together. I would've sworn they had gold bands or something, but no. I couldn't be bothered enough to change the blog title, though.) It may turn out looking more vampire-y anyway. It's a very dark reddish purple-black star ruby, so it has a mysterious vibe to it. I ordered more bezel wire over the weekend, and it should be here in a couple days. I can hardly wait.

Cheeky Monkey

Monkeys are creepy. Curious George, that little nightmare from Monkey Shines, and don't get me started on the barrell of--I want nothing to do with them. I don't know how anyone can have a sofa covered in this:

And monkeys dressed as people? Even worse. Was this a fabric shoppe with only monkeys and clowns and all the clowns were gone?

I was Googling myself, and found another Erin Michael. At first, I thought it was kind of interesting, since my name's not THAT common. Then I was horrified. The other Erin Michael makes sock monkey fabric! I usually enjoy irony, but this does not make me joyful. I stopped looking for any other Erin Michael after that.

One GOOD irony is that I love saying the word 'monkey.' It's hilarious! It makes any situation funnier. For instance, in Ghostbusters 2, there are 2 scenes in which Bill Murray uses 'monkey'--once as a noun and another as an adjective. The man's a comic genius with that twist. I've watched these scenes and tried to imagine him not using the word 'monkey' and, no, not as funny. Now, go back and watch and you'll see it's true. 'Monkey' is the new 'biscuit.'

Is This Anything? [rant]

David Letterman has an occasional segment called, "Is This Anything?" where they open the curtain, someone does something, and Paul & Dave bicker about whether or not it's 'anything.' I was reminded of this segment while reading random blogs and saw that some chick listed her hobbies as "listening to music & watching movies." How are those hobbies? You're not really DOING anything, right? And that's your hobby list? That's it? Aren't hobbies something you DO? Even if you're just a head on a stick, whistle or hum or something. Just sitting there while things happen around you isn't a hobby.

I had to look up what the proper definition of 'hobby' actually was and found it is any of several small falcons of the genus Falco, formerly used for catching small birds or game. I gave one of my 'hm, interesting' grunts then proceeded to definition #2: "an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation: Her hobbies include stamp-collecting and woodcarving." The 'or interest' part leaves that way too open for people. A hobby is something that you add some kind of value to.


I guess this hit me the wrong way, because saying your hobby is watching or listening to something someone else has created is taking credit for something you have nothing to do with, and that's lame.

Here Comes the Sun... wait... no... ok, now, go, go... wait...

Saturday, we had crap weather with some hail, so taking photos of the new things had to wait until Sunday. I got enough sun peeking through to get some taken. It wasn't easy, though. As soon as I would get everything set up, the clouds would come. I'd walk away to work on something else and the sun would come out. By the time I'd run over and turn on the camera, clouds again. I should be able to get the 3 new necklaces up tonight as well as a new look for the top navigation header on e-maille.com.

Some of the faceted gems I got online should be coming this week hopefully. Since all of them are being shipped from overseas, I'm not exactly sure how long they will take, but I'm certainly antsy to play with them. I was reading my Metalsmithing book about settings, but I have an idea to try that wasn't listed in there, so the experimenting continues. I'm mostly excited about my huge star ruby (my birthstone). I'd like to create a really nice signature piece for myself. As much as I like making things, I'm not a big jewelry wearer. I'll wear a new design to test durability and functionality, but I have a couple pieces (like my Euro 4-in-1 ring) that I wear everyday.

BBCAmerica also showed an Eddie Izzard mini-marathon on Sunday which made things even better. I'm telling you, if you're not familiar, you're missing out. :)

Get B-IZZ-y Laughing

I always listen to my Yahoo! Radio station while I'm working, and, in addition to all the music, I have Eddie Izzard's stand-up in heavy rotation. As many times as I've heard everything, it's still funny and makes me laugh out loud. I love his view of the world and often hear his voice in my head while trying to adjust the toaster or reflecting on bits of history.

Do yourself a favour, improve your day and check out one of his many shows (here in the U.S., they're frequently on the BBC America channel) or listen to him on my radio station below.

Catching A Cab

Yesterday, I got my new book (Complete Metalsmith, ProPlus Edition (Spiral-bound) by Tim McCreight), and I'm so excited to get started doing new things. I thumbed through it to check it out and it is heavy and meaty. I think this might actually keep my busy for awhile. When Tim says "Complete," he means it.

I did order some faceted gems online and am anxiously awaiting their arrival. In preparation, I went back through my rocks and found some cabochons I've had. I think the excitement has channeled into creative inspiration. I found a green onyx cab and made a setting/pendant for it over the weekend. It felt so good to solder, pickle, etc. again. I had been concentrating so much on the supplies side of things that I hadn't lit my torch in a few months. Once I started, I realized just how much I missed it. Now, I have sketches for more of my cabs and will be working on them this week. If the sun cooperates with me this weekend, I will have photos of my new things on the e-maille.com site very soon. I experimented with a kind of scrimshaw technique with my engraver pen and liver of sulfur. The detailed texture and color that comes from the process, I've been really happy with. Now, I need to add more bezel wire to my shopping list.

I've Got the Fever!

Whenever I've gone to gem shows or looked online at rubies (my birthstone), I've refrained from purchasing, because I didn't already have a definite idea in mind about how to use them. Now, I do. It's kind of coming in that same fever the silversmithing pokes are coming from. (My new book is supposed to be here Monday, but it's coming via DHL, so I might see it by Christmas.) Once I started looking at rubies, I got into about everything else that caught my eye. Today feels like the day something's gonna give. I'm focusing on a faceted gem--most likely an octagon shape--maybe an amethyst. I love purple and the stones with a deep purple just make me say, "Ooooooo." I'm already getting a star ruby cab that I'm excited about, but I can't stop thinking about the setting idea I have for the faceted. I think it will either be really super-cool-looking or eventually melted down into reale coins. Isn't that the way experiments go, though?