Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Blogger Mail

When I came home on Saturday, I had a package waiting for me on the front steps.  It was from my fellow blogger Rita over at Nana's Memories.   (Do you follow Nana's Memories yet?  If not, you should.  It's delightful.)  Rita generously offered to send me stuff that her husband picks up out of the street, and of course I said yes.  A girl can't make jewelry out of only the stuff she picks up out of the street herself, amirite?

Even a quick look showed that there were treasures within.  Are you excited yet?  I was.

Look at that!  Maybe you see a pile of junk.  I see possibilities.

I sorted through everything by shape and material.  It's not like I know all the names or functions of these things and can sort them that way.  I don't see them as pieces of hardware, really.  I see them as shapes and textures and in terms of what I can make from them.

It's a pretty impressive haul.  A lot of it is immediately useful, some piques my curiosity because I don't know what I can do with it but it looks like it has potential, and some goes into the "I can't do anything with it YET but you never know" can.  I have a hunch some of the stuff in that can will come in handy once I learn more about power tools.  And possibly, fire.

This, however, is going straight onto my work table.  It's a beautifully textured washer that doesn't even need to be sealed.  It almost looks and feels like a rock instead of a piece of metal.  I have a pretty good idea what it's going to become and it's MINEALLMINEALLMINE.

Thanks, Rita!

Friday, January 27, 2012


I've been busy this week revamping the pictures at my Etsy shop Sow's Ear Jewelry. My photos have improved over time as I've learned more about how my camera works -- the learning curve for which would probably have been shorter if I'd actually read the tome directions that came with the camera. [Insert my mother sighing and wondering where she went wrong here.] I've also learned that for lighting purposes I absolutely have to wait for a sunny day to take photographs.

I think the biggest challenge in taking pictures, though, is choosing a background that looks interesting enough without it becoming the focus of the picture.  I tend to try to get too artsy about it -- especially a few hours into a photo session -- and end up with backgrounds that are distracting.  One way I've learned to handle the problem is to step away for a few minutes.  Snack breaks come in handy for this purpose.

I like to alternate between light and dark or bright backgrounds so people can visualize the pieces with different colors and textures of clothes.  I don't know if this is a good idea or not, but it seems like it would be.  It also helps to keep me from getting bored.

I'm learning that photographing jewelry to its best advantage is not the same as pairing it with clothing.  The earrings above are a good example.  I own a pair and have worn them with outfits such as a black turtleneck and jeans, a fun faux-tigerskin jacket with a retro feel, or a crisp white shirt and tailored pants. I can also envision them on a biker chick with a Harley Davidson jacket or on a young girl dressed in 80s vintage. There is, as far as I can see, no way to communicate all that with a picture so it's best to keep things simple.

I'm also experimenting with different views.  After all, jewelry is meant to be worn on the body and seen from multiple angles.

You can view all the new photos at Sow's Ear Jewelry.  I'd love it if you'd take a moment to check them out and then leave me some feedback here in the comments.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Important Yard News

Look who showed up on Tuesday and brought five of his best buddies with him! According to my (admittedly unscientific) observations, he's a month ahead of last year.

Dare I hope that we are going to have an actual Spring in Rhode Island -- instead of the usual snow in early March followed by three months of cold and rain?

A girl can dream.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Words of Wisdom: Neal Pollack

In the voyage of life, we all end up dashed on the rocks.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Words of Wisdom: Refrigerator Door Edition

Take note of this, my friends -- especially the last part.  REFRIGERATOR MAGNETS DO NOT LIE.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Things have been quiet around Old Maid HQ, mostly because the old maid in question has had daily headaches for the past week or so.  I whined about it on Facebook the other day because seriously, why be on Facebook if I can't whine about life's little problems?

Anyhoodle, my original post read thusly: 
Headache AGAIN. How can an empty space hurt so much???

To which I received a few sincere expressions of concern and bits of advice.  And then, from the Team Maria President, this:

Easily answered Auntie.... You'll notice that you only get headaches on a windy day. Its because when you turn your ears into the wind, all that empty space between your ears forms a tunnel for which the wind can flow. Based on the Bernoulli principle we know that as wind velocity increases, pressure drops. So in that large empty space of yours a significant low pressure region develops which causes regular atmospheric pressure at 14.7PSI to compress the rest of your head thus creating the sensation of a headache. I know Homer Simpson got around this by renting that space to some hamsters with a fun hamster wheel on a monthly basis. You just need to make those hamsters sign a contract so they don't use their hamster wheel as a wind turbine in there.

When I met this gentleman five or six years ago, he was a mild-mannered smart guy working a smart guy job while wearing a coat and tie.  He had this sort of dry sense of humor where I never knew if I was laughing with him or at him, because I couldn't tell if he was purposely or accidentally funny.

And now, after years of exposure to me, he has become a smartass.  Take note, Gentle Readers.  This could happen to you.

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Necklaces at Sow's Ear Jewelry!

I've been thinking about contrasts: hard and soft, matte and shiny, industrial and romantic, new and distressed.  I played with those contrasts and came up with some new necklaces for my Etsy Shop.  I'm excited about how they came out.  Incidentally, the choker above is on a 20-inch satin ribbon, so it can be tied as a choker with a big, pretty bow in the back, or it can be tied at various longer lengths.

This piece of hinge was on the sidewalk on Newport's famous Bellevue Avenue, so you will be glad to know it's a better class of found object.  The patina is really gorgeous and I'm delighted with how the finished piece came out.  Would it be wrong for me to wear it until somebody buys it? (Yes, I know it would be wrong.  The necklace is safely stored in a tiny plastic bag waiting to go to its new owner.)

I like how this necklace has a tailored-yet-casual look.  I can envision it with a pair of jeans and a sweater or a crisp white blouse and gray wool pants.  The black patina on the two medium-sized hex nuts is some kind of finish they used to put on the hardware of ye olde stereo equipment.  So those parts are vintage and reclaimed.  It doesn't get much cooler than that.

I love the sculptural effect of his piece, and the contrast between the hardware and the ribbon.  It's a little heavier than some of the others, but it's still very comfortable to wear.

One thing I've noticed is how surprised people are when they pick up a piece of jewelry made from hardware.  In general, my jewelry may look chunky but it's very lightweight.  Just so you know. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What I'm Reading: Harpo Speaks!

"It's my favorite book" my friend said.  "Just read it.  Trust me, you'll love it."  As she handed her copy to me, an index card that said "My favorite book" fell out of it.  So I borrowed Harpo Speaks!, and now it's one of my favorite books, too.

I've tried to explain in detail to people exactly why it's such a wonderful book, and I've failed every time.  So I will simply say that every page of Harpo Speaks! is laugh-out-loud funny, and that Harpo Marx was that rare individual who had the wisdom to appreciate and enjoy things as they were happening to him, not just in rose-colored retrospect.  Somehow, even an impoverished childhood in Brooklyn in the early 1900s seems like an amazing adventure when Harpo tells it.  And I suppose to him it was.

Plus, as a bonus, I got to walk around for a few days saying "Exapno Mapcase" at frequent intervals.   I think it got on my cat's nerves a little.

Poster for Harpo's 1933 tour of the USSR.  Harpo decided that his name in cyrillic looked like "Exapno Mapcase."

Just read the book.  Trust me, you'll love it.


Sunday, January 08, 2012

Grin and Bear It

It's that timeof year again.  January: the month when I start telling everyone that something is dreadfully wrong with me and that I've never, ever, ever been so tired or slept so much, and that I clearly have that sleeping sickness that was an epidemic in the 1920s.  This happens every year, and every year I am convinced that this time it's something serious.  But it never is.  I'm just hibernating.

Somebody call me if the Zombie Apocalypse or a bunch of Alien Space Bats or the Flaming Ball of Doom 2012 shows up before February.  I'll probably sleep right through it.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Very Bad Idea

Don't idiots have enough power in this country already?

Monday, January 02, 2012

Pet Peeves: English Language Edition

Occasionally, even the most relentlessly goofy old maid will feel a few too many little annoyances and end up crabby as hell.  So here, as a sort of pressure valve, I shall share, in no particular order, things -- usually written, but sometimes spoken -- that bug me. 
  • Disregarding punctuation is not freeing us from tyrannical constraints.  It is making it very difficult to understand the most simple written communications.  I'm thinking, specifically, of the apostrophe, which in certain instances can help me to understand if you possess something, if someone else possesses something, or if there are more than one of something.  "My nephews," "my nephew's," and "my nephews'," for instance, do not all mean the same thing.
  • "Ironic" does not mean "funny and intellectual."  So if I don't laugh at your joke, saying "I was being ironic" will not convince me that the joke was sophisticated and therefore hilarious.  Ironically.
  • "Mantel" and "mantle" are not variant spellings of the same word.  So if I read "I lit four big candles on my mantle" I think "that's got to hurt."  Because in my mind, you're wearing your mantle; however, I suppose you could have put it on the ground and then lit the candles.  (See?  I feel better already.)
  • "Flair" and "flare" are not variant spellings of the same word, either.  Of course, if you write that you lit candles on your mantle to give it some flare, and then go on to tell me about the cute firefighter you met during the ensuing blaze, it all makes sense.
  • The phrase "I'm a positive person" does not mean the same thing as "I'm a better person [than you are]."  No really, it doesn't.  Look it up.