Archive for 2009

Aug 17 2009

Learning via osmosis

Published by under amy's head,crafty,jewelry

It’s funny how one learns things. Sometimes, all it takes to pick up a lot of things is just immersion into the subject. But if one can’t immerse oneself, it’s hard.

I’m just thinking over how my course of jewelry making has taken in the last year. I decided about this time last year, that I was going to make jewelry for the females in my family for Christmas. I hadn’t done any jewelry making since high school, when I would do some stringing on fishing line, and then take a lighter and melt the knot so it wouldn’t SPROING apart. In case you don’t know, this is a pretty juvenile approach to bead stringing, however, it served pretty well, and I had several necklaces for many years before they broke.

So when I first started, I bought a bead stringing book, and some beads during a trip to Michaels. The book was a great start with the introduction of some basic stringing tools – the proper kind of material to string it with, crimping pliers, crimp beads, clasps, design elements. I knew that I couldn’t keep going to Michaels – I was still uneducated, but I knew it was over priced, and cheap. The first site I stumbled on was and while it is a decent site, it’s not one of the better jewelry supply sites that I now know are out there.

So I strung a little and read my book and looked through the site looking through the various tools they had wondering what in the world one would do what THAT. I started scouring etsy for inspiration and also, some direction. Stringing wasn’t really for me, honestly. It was too easy and too hard, all at the same time. Too easy in that all you have to do is slip a bead onto a strand over and over until you have your piece. It’s too hard in that you have to decide WHAT to string and WHERE and in what order and how long and multistrand? and does this stone look good with that one and… It’s harder than it looks.

But I did make jewelry for all the females on my list, and I think back on them and still think they looked pretty good. In the meantime, I had taken a wire working class and learned how to wrap a bead, make some figure 8 connectors, twist wire in new and fun ways. The class was actually kind of an accident, in that if I knew what it was about, I think I would have passed, but in fact, it was exactly what I needed. I took in the language, the terminology of the wire work and yearned for more. I discarded what I didn’t like about the class and honed the skills it taught me.

I found a few of the jewelry supply monoliths out there and again pored over their catalogs and built wishlists. I went to local beadstores and bought way too many beads. (And never too many!) I joined a yahoo group for wire wrapping and continued to track and absorb. I looked through galleries, I knew what I liked, I knew what I didn’t like.

Somewhere in there, I found a few chainmaille sites. This is where I think I may have gone a little haywire. I think chainmaille is fantastic for many reasons – in the right material and sizes, it almost never fails to impress. It’s so intricate and meticulous and yet one can do it while they sit on the couch watching TV. (What’s not to love?) One can adorn it with beading or leave it plain and it still looks jaw-droppingly gorgeous.

I was a smitten kitten. I bought my first (last? I know james hopes so!) jump ring cutter and my love affair with sterling silver was fully underway.

I scoured forums, chainmaille weave tutorials, added super sale dates to my calendar so I could be sure to buy my expensive sterling silver wire at the best price, cursed my jumpringer, smooched my jumpringer, wove and wove some more. I branched back out from time to time, to make some wire wrapped beaded items that I was proud to see had a unique design to it, something I could proudly point to and say, “I designed that.”

Another class, this one on soldering, light up a big compact flourescent bulb over my head. I was on the search again, this time, poring over torches, solder, flux, pickle, and let’s not forget disc cutters, doming blocks, rolling mills, flexshafts. More groups to join, more forms to explore, more words, this time on smithing, to hang on to every one.

There is a great jewelry artist community out there that has given a lot to me (whether they knew it or not) just from my careful observation. Just from my reading every word I could find on the subject. Almost just through my proximity, my hovering around to hear every morsel, every drop. almost, one could say, through osmosis.

Still, I guess there comes a time where even learning through osmosis needs actual instruction. And so I’m very excited and absolutely giddy that I am taking a class in the fall term of the Art League, on silversmithing. Nine glorious weeks of bench time with someone to watch and hang on every word. Though this time, not in virtual space, but in real space.

I start mid September. Very excited.


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Aug 15 2009

New Banner!

Published by under amy's head

crazymokes august 2009

Featuring my new “Hooters” earrings! Aren’t they cuuuute?

Check them out in my artfire store.

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Aug 14 2009

2nd place!

Published by under amy's head,challenge,daily

I entered 3 pieces of jewelry into the Prince William county fair this year. I’ve never entered anything before — in fact, I’ve never actually been to the fair. I always seem to remember to go looking for information AFTER it’s over! I have many fond memories of the Snohomish County Fair in Washington when I was a teen, and so I’m glad I finally got it together to get to the fair this year!

So yes, when I went looking for information, I realized that it wasn’t too late to enter some exhibits! So I did!

I entered my “Luscious” necklace, currently on sale at Artfire:

My copper romanov bracelet with swarovski crystals:

And also, a new pair of earrings I can’t show you! Because they are being blindly judged in a “big and gaudy” earring challenge for a Yahoo jewelry group I’m on.

My necklace won second place. I am super tickled. I’m trying not to be disappointed about the earrings, because I just ADORE them, but oh well. It’s been fun — a little thrilling! and I am very happy to have my necklace win a ribbon.

– amy

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Jul 28 2009

I sang! Like, in public! Check it!

Published by under amy's head

This is the song I sang at my brother Joe’s wedding two weeks ago. My mother accompanied me on the piano. This recording is of our rehearsal the day before the wedding, recorded on my iphone (the voice memo thing works pretty good!)

While I sang, Joe and Beth had their children come up and they lit a family unity candle. It was really sweet. The song was very fitting. “One Heart, One Hand” from West Side Story.

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Jul 26 2009

home sweet home and a 1-a-day challenge

We are back from vacation. It was wonderful. My brother is now married. We partied hard with my side of the family. And then we drove from southern Oregon up to Portland, which is right on the border with Washington state. We saw a bit more family, as my aunt is in Vancouver, WA, but mostly, the rest of the trip was our own little family vacation. James and I both got to do our own geeky things – his were comic book shops and beer — LOTS OF BEER. Mine was bead & craft & fabric stores — LOTS OF BEADS AND FABRIC. It’s a good thing we don’t live there or Fabric Depot, The Bead Source, and Umawajirasanakanukiwa alone would bankrupt us.

I REALLY didn’t worry about food while we were there. And so it was no surprise when I was up 5 pounds at weight watchers today. But one thing vacation has done for me, is it has given me lots of MOTIVATION! I am buckling down for an awesome week to get back to where I was. I usually buy breakfast AND lunch, mostly because of lack of preparation, so this week I am going to try to get everything ready to go before hand.

I also am feeling all gung-ho about getting this house clean and decluttered! Our problem is when we clean up we shuttle crap from one surface to another, and so it gets messy again easily. Time to get RID of all the crap, find permanent homes for everything we own, and keep it clean! This will be a long-term project, but as I said, GUNG-HO!

I’ve also kind of been hunting for a new purse for the last few months. I even bought one at JC Penney’s and tried it out at home before I decided it really just wasn’t me. So after buying a big pile of gorgeous fabric in Portland (Fabric Depot is awesome) I think I need to clear off my sewing table in the next month or so and make me a new purse.

I took some rings with me on vacation, but didn’t really do much with them. It was a nice jewelry vacation, really. And I bought a lot of beads while I was there. I tried to envision what I would do with each bead before I bought them, so I am now FULL of ideas.

One reason why I gravitate to chain maille is that there is a pattern to follow and even with no modifications at all, it looks incredible. Sometimes I sit with beads and get the beader’s equivalent of writer’s block. So many different combinations possible! Too stiffling! What if I get it wrong! So being full of ideas is a lovely feeling. On the flip side though, doing ONLY chain maille is stifling too. Some pieces are VERY time consuming, and also it puts all the pieces (except earrings!) in my shop at a fairly high price point.

I want to jump-start all these visions and quell the beader’s block before it begins, so I thought I would do a little challenge for myself. A piece of jewelry a day for a week. This will also help me build up some inventory, which I need, and help build in a better variety of price points on pieces in my shop. I have lots of ideas for earrings, which will make it a fun and easy challenge, not to mention if it will probably get me to actually FINISH a few of the things that are 3/4 of the way to complete! If any jewelry designers out there want to join me, please comment, I’d be just tickled!

I’m also working on another challenge, though this one is not self imposed. I am a member of a wire wrapping group on yahoo, and right now there is a “Big & Gaudy” Earring challenge. The only criteria is that they should be at LEAST 2 inches long. I am having a blast sketching out different possibilities, but the deadline has started to loom, so it’s time to stop sketching and start MAKING! I’ll show those off when the deadline comes as well.

I’m telling you, all this motivation feels AWESOME!

That’s it for now — so nice to be home — so nice to be filled with ENERGY! Hopefully it’ll last!

-amy wonders where the hell ‘gung-ho’ came from. let’s blame canada.

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Jul 19 2009

Three Girl Cousins

Published by under daily,kids,moblogging,photos

They were very sad when it was time to say goodbye three days later. We miss you Clara and Mary!

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Jul 19 2009

Oregon Coast

Published by under iphone,kids,moblogging,photos

Taken by Ethan.

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Jul 06 2009

Cutey Girls

Published by under amy's head

Leia and Jocelyn

Leia and Jocelyn

Leia and Jocelyn.

Leia is actually wearing a dress that Jocelyn also owns. It’s called the twirly dress in our house, for it’s twirly capacities.

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Jul 06 2009

Week 7, Vacation, 4th of July, Life in the Wild

I haven’t been slacking. On the Weight Watchers thing. I HAVE been slacking on posting about it though. Usually, when I slack on posting about it, it’s because I’m slacking on DOING it. But not this time!

Despite my “We Might Be Fucked” cocktail and probably BECAUSE of my subsequent throat soreness, that had me drinking ginger ale+OJ and eating toast for a day or so, I am proud to announce week 7’s weigh in was awesome at -3.8 lbs. This brings me up to a total of -13.4 lbs. Many more to go, but I am pretty happy. I can do this! Knock on wood!

I think it’s about time to start up the 30 day shred again as well. My foot, on hearing that I paid $350 for an orthotic, decided, “Oh, now that’s she’s paid for it, I’ll get better before it arrives!” It’s not totally better, but it’s a LOT better than it was 2 weeks ago, I’ll say that!

We are still waiting to hear how fucked we are by Subaru for the ceased-up engine block. James and I like to spend our quiet intimate moments wondering how exactly that damn thing DID that anyway, and discussing different engine rebuild price quotes. Oh yeah. Pillow talk, baby. We’re so romantic.

We are at T-minus 9 days til we leave on our vacation to Oregon. I still need to find a cat sitter. I’m a little worried about our cat, actually. We went up to New York last September for a long weekend, not long enough to get a real sitter, just put out plenty of bowls of food and water, but long enough for her to go a little crazy from lack of human interaction — she’s an old cat, at I think 11 years, and when we got back she changed her sleeping habits entirely. She used to settled down somewhere near our feet on our bed. Now, she prefers to be closer to us. Like, right on top of our heads. Seriously. I have to allot pillow space for her because after she gets it through her head that she can’t sleep ON TOP OF MINE, she sleeps right NEXT to my head. Or face. Also, when it starts to get light out, she decides to try the whole “Hmm, maybe she’ll let me sleep on her head NOW…” She loves us, what can I say? So I’m a little worried that our trip may bring on some more wacky separation anxiety cat-behavior. Note to self: trim claws before leaving so carpets don’t get even MORE shredded.

We’ve been crazy with the wildlife lately. Or at least I have. About a month ago, the neighborhood kids found a turtle near someone’s driveway and “took care of it” nearly to death before parents swooped in and relocated it back to nature. I’m a little stymied on how the little guy got there in the first place.

Then the next week, one of the baby birds nexting near our roofline fell out of the nest and hung out along the side of our house. I did much googling and determined that it was fine – fledglings often do this, and if you can’t return it to the next itself, then under a nearby bush would suffice. It was hanging out under my truck, so I kind of herded it back to our deck, closer to where the nest was. The next morning it was gone, so I’m sure the little guy found his wings quickly. (sidenote: our house is now bird free and will soon be bird-proof. Yay, and KA-CHING! more money gone.)

Last week, I had picked up Jocelyn and was on my way to get Ethan and then home, when I had to swerve quickly to avoid hitting a slow moving little turtle in the road, right in line with the tires. I yelped, explained to Jocelyn, and then quickly tried to flip a bitch to get back there and save him. It was a very busy street, and I had little hope to get to him in time, especially as I watched all the traffic behind me as I desperately tried to flip around.. And sure enough, when I finally got back to him, he hadn’t made it. :( That little guy haunted me the rest of the week, I felt so bad. Jocelyn too.. sometimes, she will say, out of the blue, “Poor little turtle..” to me. All I can do is nod and agree.

The sting of that little guy was taken away somewhat when we were driving along our road to our house and spotted TWO rabbits, just hanging out in someone’s yard. I am pretty sure I’ve seen one of these guys before, bounding away as I have driven by, but I couldn’t be sure and so I was very tickled to stop and watch them a while. They just stood nibbling some of the young weeds, checking us out as much as we were checking them out only about 8 feet away, and didn’t make any sort of fuss when Ethan and Jocelyn nearly threw themselves out their open windows looking and talking and trying to take pictures with my iphone. We finally drove on with them still sitting there eating their dinner.

And then last night as we came home from a lovely pool party at a friend’s house, I thought I saw a bit of brown on the steep hilly exit we were on, and pulled over. We saw a whole handful of deer bound away into the treeline, with a few stopping just shy of the trees to look back at us.

I just love it when we get a chance to see wildlife up close. I think they are probably less than thrilled to see us up close.

Oh right. 4th of July. We decided at the last minute to go to Great Meadows, which we went to last year. We got there around 4pm, saw all the pre-fireworks shows. Helicopter parades, RC airplanes (BIG suckers, with 5-6ft wingspans), rocket launches, ponies, melons shot out of a cannon, face painting, and of course fireworks. Ethan slept through the fireworks last year, but everyone was awake for them this year, and after they were over, Ethan stood up and hollered, “THAT WAS THE BEST FIREWORKS SHOW, EEEVERRRR!” — to the amusement of many people surrounding us.

Sunday, we went to a hawaiian pool party celebrating some friends’ who had recently been married in Hawaii. It’s been a while since we’d seen them, and it was very nice to sit and relax and catch up. The weather was not very cooperative (only about 75degrees) but that didn’t stop the kids from hopping in and slowly turning blue. It’s pretty comical to ask, “Are you cold?” and to get a chattering of teeth back, “No-o-o-o-o-o..”

All in all, a wonderful weekend. Wish it didn’t have to end.


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Jul 02 2009

Medicating Legally.

Published by under amy's head,daily,house,marriage,photos

This is a bitch session, so let’s just go at it, shall we? Basically, we are bleeding money around the Sanders-Pancoast household. Gushing. Dare I say soon to be HEMMORAGHING.

  1. Foot. My joint in my toe, which I mentioned once before, is inflamed with arthritis. It has gone back and forth between improving and getting worse for the last month, so the doctor suggested we get an orthotic to go in my shoe, that would relieve any pressure on that joint and allow it to heal.

    My insurance doesn’t cover this orthotic. It is not cheap.

    Damn insurance.

  2. Next up! The AC on our main level stopped with the making of nice and chilly. One hour visit later, and there goes two car payments.
  3. Next up! Last week, James’ 2006 Subaru Impreza STI died on his way to 5 Guys. A tow to our auto shop and TWO DAYS OF THEM LOOKING AT IT confirmed our worst fears that it was the engine, which would probably have to be rebuilt.

    So, obviously, it’s still under warranty, it only has 55k miles on it and is only 3 years old. Subaru to the rescue, right?

    So then we had it towed to Subaru, who are now saying scary things like, “we must have all maintenance records/this air filter looks like it has never been changed” in order to determine if they will cover it under warranty.

    First of all, we bought it used, so we don’t even have all the records, and second of all, James has done some oil changes himself. They could feasible put up a major stink.

    If they do not cover it under warrantee, an engine rebuild could run around 3 mortgage payments. Oh, and if the turbo is shot as well, that’s another month’s worth of daycare right there.

    Also? That first tow? To our shop? Turns out, we only had roadside assistance for MY car, but not for HIS car. So that was some $$$ right there. (I immediately remedied that situation, so the next tow was partially covered and much less painful.)

  4. Oh and lucky us, we have birds nesting in our roofline, in two different places. I fear some of them have gotten into the attic. This has actually been going on for a while, but I’m just now getting around to getting someone to take care of it. Which I’m sure is going to cost some bucks. Urgh.
  5. And finally? We’re going on vacation to Oregon in 2 weeks. Many things are already paid for (like the airplane tickets, for example) but many other things are not. Right before you go on vacation is never a good time to tighten up the purse-strings.

So… Last night, all of this was kind of weighing on James and I. The car stuff especially. If it weren’t for some good friends loaning us the use of their 3rd car, we’d be totally screwed, transportation wise. And if we have to pay for an engine rebuild ourselves? Makes you want to cry.

“Kids,” we called out, “how do you feel about going out and getting a job?”

They weren’t too ecstatic about the idea. We let them know college might not be in the cards after mommy and daddy paid for all this crap.

After moaning a lot and uncurling myself up from the fetal position, I remembered Heather, from, when she and Jon had to face the massive bill for replacing their entire sewer line. She concocted, and I quote, the Oh My God Our Plumbing’s Fucked Cookie.

Well, last night, I concocted the Oh My God Our Car (Might Be) Fucked Cocktail.

First, some ice in a very very big glass. Big. Very big. Let’s go skimpy on the ice, shall we?

Then some vodka.

That doesn’t look like enough. MORE VODKA.

OK. That should make my liver stand up and take notice. Now a little kahlua.

And finally, we top it off with milk.

Hmm. It needs something. Something spectacular. I mean, this is a spectacular amount of money we’re hemmoraghing around here.

Ahh, much better. Hot pink BENDY STRAW!!

And there it is. The “We Might Be Fucked” cocktail.

If it turns out, we’re not fucked? I’ll make a “Yay, We’re Not Fucked!” version.

-amy, who just KNOWS her sister is going to read this and cringe every time she sees the f word. Sorry, Ellen.
-amy isn’t even going to THINK about the possibility of her dad reading this. The one who’s worst curse is, “Oh, SCRUD.”

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