Monday, September 6, 2010

A few new(er) pieces

I finally got around to listing some new(er) pieces yesterday, and adding some old ones that had either dropped off or that I just forgot to list. :)

This necklace has been up for a few weeks.  It's a large blue Chalcedony faceted flat briolette with a cluster of small Peridot brios.  The stones are all wrapped with gold vermeil wire, and hung on a fine gold vermeil chain.

These are more of a 'series' I started last year with some lampwork (glass) beads that I had custom made for me by an artist in the U.K. These beads are a beautiful matte blue color. They have streaks of fine silver embedded in them. They are suspended inside handmade hammered sterling silver rings.

Love the aqua beads on these.  They're acrylic with a 'quilted' effect in gold lines.  I paired them with plated matte silver sand dollar charms.  These have a nice summery feel! 

This is a really pretty and unique design.  These earrings feature gorgeous blue-green Songea sapphire briolettes that I wrapped with fine-gauge sterling silver wire and hung from handmade hammered sterling silver circle links.  The earwires are also handmade hammered sterling in an almond shape.  These are a little pricier than most of my other earring designs, but SOOOO worth it!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New bench, lots of goodies!

First things first - I got a jewelry bench!  Technically a tool bench, but I'll be using for jewelry.  The Mailman's grandfather passed away earlier this year and I am honored to have inherited this from him. :)  I  have a torch and some basic brazing equipment that I will finally be setting up to get some proper wire work done!  Next up: tumbler!

 This is a pile of Czech/other glass and some nice lucite beads that I have been sitting on for QUITE some time.  I'm not sure what it is about Czech glass, but I for sure have a thing for it.  Not like a casual 'seeing each other' kind of thing, but more like a stalker obsession.  I LOOOVE the Czech glass.   

Look at all this awesome stuff I found at the hardware store!  I'm not exactly sure what I'll do with it, but it'll definitely be fun to play around with.  I'm thinking about combining some sparkly/faceted czech glass or stones with it.  I'm all about contrast.

Other stuff I'm sitting on:  some beautiful  Carnelian briolettes.  Carnelian is a type of chalcedony with a red/orange color range.  It's translucent and has bands running through it, similar to agate.  These babies are about 10mm long (not quite 1/2")

 Lepidocrocite (say that three times fast!), or rather lepidocrocite in quartz.  I looked this up online and the description contains a lot of scientific mumbo jumbo that is much less interesting than just looking at this stuff.  GORGEOUS!  I'm not sure what I will do with this, either.  I'm thinking maybe something with oxidized sterling?  There are some nice sized nuggets in this strand, so I'm guessing it will probably find its way in to more than one piece of jewelry.

 (L-R) Kyanite faceted briolettes, Botswana Agate faceted checkerboards, and something that my camera completely washed out. Have I mentioned I could really use a digital SLR?  Pretty please?.  I really don't know anything about Kyanite, but is sure is purdy!  Botswana agate is.....uh....agate from Botswana?  No, really.  That's what it is.  Love the faceted cut on these.  Jacks up the fancy factor a titch. :)

Last but certainly not least, some truly beautiful ocean jasper faceted rounds.  These puppies are HUGE!  Each bead is close to 1" in diameter.  I have two full strands of these, and have been sitting on them for at least a year.  I really need to get these into some jewlery, like ASAP.  They deserve it.  Aren't they pretty?  Ocean Jasper has always been one of my favorite stones because it has a fantastic range of colors and patterns.  I was ecstastic to find these deeply discounted from a fellow Etsian who was closing her shop. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dear Yoplait:

What's up with the unholy amount of sugar in your regular yogurt?  Do you really need to use sugar AND high fructose corn syrup? 

I ran out of my normal stuff so I had to steal some of the mailman's Yoplait.  This junk is so sweet makes my teeth hurt.  27 grams of sugar in one 6 oz container?  That's 7 teaspoons.  You'd get less from eating two cups of Fruit Loops!


Monday, August 16, 2010

State Fair Fun

Yep, it's that time of year again! Nick and I hit up the Iowa State Fair yesterday, primarily to get our food-on-a-stick fix and people watch without getting busted.

Another year, another batch of mullet sightings and dodging electric scooters. However, we did have a good time as always. The weather gave us a break with highs in the lower 80's for the first time in a couple weeks. There were good crowds but it wasn't packed. All in all, another good year. :)

BONSAI! I honestly didn't know they had a division for this at the fair, but I should have guessed. Some of these little guys are 15 years old!

I love the randomness of the fair. Although we primarily make the rounds through our old favorites every year, there's always something new we've not seen before!

This also re-inspired me to look at some succulents for a little container garden. Lowe's had a large selection earlier this summer. Succulents appeal to me because they come in beautiful colors, have great texture/sculptural forms, and most importantly, require almost no water. I have not green thumbs, only black. Plants come to my house to die. :( See here for some gorgeous examples (of succulents, not of dead plants).

As per usual, the crowd lined up to see the world-famous butter cow. This year's special tribute was to Doctor Seuss, complete with green eggs and ham. Literally green. The first time I've ever seen color used in the butter sculptures, but still not as controversial as last year's homage to the Gloved One.

Speaking of random, once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away...
there was a sand sculpture at the Cultural Center at the Iowa State fair.
I'm going to classify this one as another entry in the "new and
different at the fair" category.
I love the cultural building; it makes my arty soul happy. :)
Even the crappy kids' fingerpaintings.

Food on a stick. :) We shared a footlong corndog, pork chop on a stick (my personal fav), and a big fat sugary lemonade. I think eating at the fair is actually my favorite pastime there. Sadly I had a huge breafast that morning, so I wasn't able to pack in quite as much as I normally would. Shame on me for not planning ahead!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Boundary Waters Adventure

Nick and I spent the last week of July on a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters. It was his first trip there, my second. We had contemplated the B-Dub as a potential honeymoon destination, but upon hearing the ice is sometimes not completely out of the lakes til mid-May (yikes!), we reconsidered. Late July is a little more temperate, though has a LOT more bugs! All considered, we had a great trip! After a loooong (9-ish hour) drive from Des Moines to essentially the end of the Gunflint Trail, we arrived at Seagull Outfitters around 8 p.m. Sunday night. We reserved a room in their paddler's bunkhouse, where we did some last-minute packing and rearranging, then got to bed so we could get up and get an early start in the morning.

We put in at Seagull Lake early Monday morning. It was a beautiful day, if a tad windy. The afternoon paddle across Seagull was pretty brutal! I think that was our hardest day, actually! We made one "scenery" stop at the palisades on Seagull. A short hike to the top rewarded us with an amazing view!

The first day was a long one - we paddled through Seagull, on to Jasper, Alpine, Kingfisher, and then into our final destination for the day, Ogishkemuncie. We had been joking about bears before leaving for the trip, and we saw one on the North end of Ogish just a few minutes before we reached our first campsite! Luckily he was not the friendly type - he heard and/or saw us about 5 seconds after we spotted him, and he turned around and hightailed it away from the ridge where he had been foraging around in the brush. Sadly, I did NOT have my camera at the ready.

Ogish is where we set up our first camp, and we ended up spending two nights there. I was really tired from the long work week I'd put in just before we left, as well as the late nights I'd spent packing and getting everything ready for the trip, so we decided to just stay put for the first couple days! We enjoyed a spaghetti and garlic bannock dinner that night, courtesey of my $10 craigslist food dehydrator. We dehydrated almost all of our food for the week, and were able to fit it all into a larger bear vault canister (see blue jar in the photos above left).

Also, I'm not sure if I totally forgot to put sunscreen on my left arm or if I just seriously under-used it, but my hand and arm were FRIED at the end of the day. So much so that my hand was actually swollen! It lasted for a few days and I'm still peeling even now, after we've been back for a couple weeks. Not good. Wear your sunscreen, kids!

One of the things I'd been working on for the trip was the hammock project. I love camping but have always hated sleeping on the ground. When I stumbled upon the hammocking community, I was very intrigued. These aren't your grandpa's backyard hammocks! They are made with breathable synthetic fabrics, and are more like cocoons for sleeping in. I decided to make ours, complete with tarps and bugnets! I lucked out with the dollar fabric bin at Walmart, and was able to get all the materials I needed fabric-wise for the projects. It took some time, but they turned out really well! The hammocks are just long rectangular pieces of fabric with a rope bight at each end, and tie-down strapping to attach to the trees. The bug nets are basically large "socks" of lightweight mesh fabric that cinch up at both ends. Tarps are pretty self-explanatory. :)

I thought they were great and loved sleeping in them, with the exception of the first night when it was BEASTLY hot for some reason. I'm not sure Nick was completely sold, but he humored me. Plus, we didn't bring our tent so he didn't have much of a choice! :)

On day 3 we hit the road to see how much further afield we could get. We packed up camp and headed further west/south towards Eddy lake, to see the falls there. It was MUCH calmer that day and the paddling seemed effortless. It was a little warmer, though - we had to stop and take a dip to cool off. We made it to Eddy Falls just after noon and spent about an hour exploring the area. The falls were beautiful!

After a tough paddle into the South Arm of Knife lake (wind picked up and it's a LARGE lake), we discovered the first two campsites there were occupied, so we headed further on to Toe Lake. I had heard some good things about that campsite and lake, and they were all true!

The site there is the only one on the lake, and it's a small little place so was very quiet and secluded. We didn't see anyone else at all while we were there. We got settled in and Nick decided to try his luck with the fish. We did luck out with a very peaceful, beautiful evening, but not so much with the fish! We had a great meal of beef stew with cornbread bannock, read our books in front of the campfire, and generally enjoyed a gorgeous evening in the Boundary Waters. We were serenaded by the neighborhood loons for a good part of that night, too!

Day 4 was time to head back in towards civilization. We got up, had a quick oatmeal breakfast, packed up, and started back. Thursday was also really nice and calm, so the paddling was easy. Although we had a tough couple portages back into Eddy and then again from Eddy into Jenny (not overly long but steep and some tough terrain), it was a leisurely day for us.

We headed back into the 'burn zone' - the area affected by the 2006 Cavity Lake fire - and made it back to Jasper lake where we set up camp for the final night. This part of the Boundary Waters is beautiful in a more barren, slightly alien way. There are millions of burned-out tree trunks sticking up in all different directions, and many of them are blackened, so there is a marked contrast between the dead and the living landscape. It was very sculptural to me.
This area is the "new" forest which has only a few tiny pine seedlings, but lots of prairie type grasses and deciduous trees. Also plenty of wild raspberries and some blueberries! We found those to be nice snacks along the portages. :)

The Jasper campsite was a really nice, very large, up on a bluff overlooking Jasper lake. You can't quite tell from the photos, but the campsite sits up probably 25 feet from the lake shore. It was a quiet, slightly cloudy evening and got nice and cool by the time we were ready to hit the hay. We had a delicious Ramen dinner and did some more reading/fishing before going to sleep.

Day 5 was still overcast and quiet. We woke up, had our last 'trail' breakfast (pancakes with peanut butter, and bacon!) and packed up for the last time. We only had the rest of Jasper and then all of Seagull to paddle that day. Originally we had intended to stay another night on Seagull, and get up really early Saturday to paddle the last hour or so in to the outfitters, but it was starting to look like rain and I was desperate for a shower (seriously, it had been 5 days!), plus we wanted to spend some time at my parents' house in NW Iowa on our way back, so we decided to just pack it in on Friday and get on the road.

After the much needed showers, we grabbed a couple slices of pizza at Sven and Ole's in Grand Marais (oh-so-delicious after 5 days of backpacking food!) and hit the road. We had intended to stay in Duluth, but couldn't find any affordable hotel rooms open, so we drove all the way to Minneapolis and stayed with Nick's sister. We did make a quick stop to see Gooseberry falls (in the rain) on the way back.

Monday, June 14, 2010

(Almost) Famous

This must be a record for me...two posts in one day? To be fair, I only have a handful of posts to date, but I think I'm setting a good precedent for myself! :)

A few weeks ago I received an email from a freelance writer for the Des Moines Register, asking if I'd be interested in having my Etsy shop in an article for the "Iowa Life" section of the Sunday paper. Being the budding entrepreneur I am, my answer was a resounding "yes!!!!!! please?!??!". Much to my pleasure, VintageLucite7 made its first official print debut in yesterday's paper! I'm the second artist (of three), on the second page of that section.

Link to the digital version is here
They featured my Sea Change bracelet, and Autumn Leaves earrings.

Again, way too long!

I do have a good excuse this time. I got married! May 15th. It was a great day, surrounded by so many dear friends and family.

We held the ceremony at our church here in Des Moines, and the reception at the Sticks furniture work space just a bit further west. Plymouth church is a beautiful old traditional building, while the reception site is glass, steel, and concrete - very modern. The vision I had was a contrast in themes - traditional meets modern, spring garden meets urban and edgy, casual comfort food meets elegant presentation...etc.

I spent months collecting vintage vases (close to 200) from thrift stores and flea markets to use for the reception, and Jeri and Jodi at Gateway did an amazing job filling them out with gorgeous wildflower-inspired greenery and blooms. They even tucked in some Kale, and a couple of artichokes! (in my bouquet).

The catering/floral/event planning team at Gateway Market did a great job transforming the Sticks space in to a lush evening "garden" space with a bit of an urban/edgy feel from the glass and steel backdrop. They catered a pulled pork barbeque dinner, with a whole array of sides. We had two great wines - Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontes (a fabulously floral-fruity but relatively dry white), and a Cabernet-Carmenere blend by Yali (a spicy-smoky-fruity red that went perfectly with the barbecued pork). We did a veritable smorgasbord of beers, everything from the typical Bud/lite to Sierra Nevada, to Guinness, to Schlitz (at Nick's insistence...went over suprisingly well).

Our favors were handmade vanilla-sea salt caramels made by a fellow Etsian, PixieLaneCottage, which we wrapped up in pillow boxes with a monogram label that I designed. Caramels are my absolute favorite, and these were DIVINE! :)

My very best friend in the world, who is a pastry chef in the Bay Area currently on hiatus while raising her son (with another one on the way!), generously offered to make a 5-tier (plus extras) cake for us! It was vanilla with a raspberry creme filling, and SO delicious.

I'll quit rambling now and let the photos cover the rest for me. :)