Archive for 2012

Aug 23 2012

How to weave Byzantine – chainmaille tutorial

Published by under tutorials

A video I made and posted up on youtube — would love to hear your feedback! I need to work on keeping my camera in focus, but I think I repeated things enough that it comes across. Please let me know what you think!

Interested in trying your hand? You can purchase a kit to make a byzantine bracelet right here on my website.

One response so far

Aug 15 2012

End of summer

Published by under amy's head

Ahhhh blog…. How I have neglected you! I’m so sorry… I really need to do better.

Starting now!

This week has been interesting. First off it’s the last week of summer vacation. Next Monday they have an assessment day (only go in for a few hours of testing) and then school officially starts on Tuesday.


I feel like a bad mother when I say that, but I am sorry — running a home based business with kids at home all day, who refuse to go outside and play by themselves or with friends, and therefore come and pester ME for everything (YOU MEAN I HAVE TO FEED YOU LUNCH AGAIN? I JUST DID THAT YESTERDAY!) makes getting orders out the door kind of tough at times. And let’s not even talk about work on new ideas! HA!

So yes. I am sooooo happy that school is starting next week. I am also looking forward to getting back to the gym regularly. I have not really felt comfortable taking the kids to the kids area at our gym and leaving them for 1.5 hours — I always think I hear my name being paged over the sound system, worried that Ethan has had some sort of melt down, and I just can’t really enjoy myself.

Plus, I like sleeping in, and my favorite classes are at 8 or 8:30am. *cough*

So yeah. Gym. Getting back will be painful… but nice.

This, our last week of summer holiday, I’ve implemented a “no electronics” rule. Even James and I are following it! (Only a little plants vs. zombies cheating on my phone right before bed. Really! Working on my laptop doesn’t count, btw.) I think the kids are really doing pretty well – Jocelyn is getting creative and coloring, making cardboard art and interesting items, I try to have a nerf battle with Ethan once a day, and he turns out some new Lego creation regularly, and last night we had family game night — with MY favorite game, Rummikub! I used to play it as a little girl with my grandmother (the “game grandma” we called her, she had a closet stuffed to the gills with games!) and it’s a good one. We haven’t had a family game night in a while — not that us parental units aren’t to blame — sometimes the TV after dinner is just EASIER.

In other news this week, we are now the proud owners of a 1999 Toyota 4Runner! James had this cockamany idea to sell his Subaru Impreza STi and with the proceeds, buy both a 4Runner and an older Mazda Miata. One to go camping and off roading with, the other for James to turn into a racing car. One down and one to go! We bought a new 1999 4Runner the year we were married (1999) and had it until I wrecked it in a car crash.. I think in 2009? We have missed it so, especially now that we are in Colorado – Land O’ Mountains. It is a little bit of awesome to have one in the garage again. I just love those trucks — and this one is going to be rigged out to go off road — so we are excited.

OK — I think that will be all. I don’t want to overload this here blog with too much on my first foray back. Hopefully I won’t forget all about it for another 6 months.


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May 14 2012

the loveliest mother’s day

Published by under amy's head

My wonderful husband James took the kids out hiking and then to dinner, leaving me with about 4 blessed hours of ALONE IN MY HOUSE time — which, technically I get every day when they’re at school/work, BUT STILL, I USUALLY HAVE SH*T TO DO THEN!

I still had stuff to do, but I decided I would not squander this lovely ALONE TIME gift and do actual work, like house cleaning and laundry — oh no, I would spend this time making JEWELRY!!

We have been making an open backed ring with a tapered shank in my silver class, and I finished mine last Monday.

Here are some photos I took while it was in progress:

Stamped ring shank soldered on - side viewCompleted ring with snowflake obsidian stone set into place

I eagerly ordered some cabochons to make MORE of these beautiful rings to list in my shop. They arrived on Saturday!

Aren’t they gorgeous?? Carnelian, kyanite, paulo shell, labradorite (my faaaaavorite!), blue lace agate, leopard skin jasper, pink quartz, and more snowflake obsidian. You can also see the swiss blue topaz round faceted gemstones I got in the little baggie in the corner.

Faced with the prospect of EMPTY HOUSE! I selected a few of my new cabochons and quickly got to work! I cut bezel wire to fit around each stone, filed, and soldered them closed.

Clockwise, starting at 12 – paulo shell, pink quartz, blue lace agate, rosecut (faceted) labradorite, and leopardskin jasper.

Next I take 16 gauge square sterling wire, and carefully shape it to fit snugly inside the bezel.

Usually the bezel is soldered down to a piece of sheet which the stone sits on, but this will allow the back of the stone to be visible from the back of the ring, while still providing a seat for the stone to sit on.

Next, I need to get the square base ready to solder closed. I clamp it securely in a ring clamp, and cut through both pieces of wire where it overlaps with my jeweler’s saw. This provides a clean flush cut to make soldering easy.

After I soldered the square base ring closed (no pictures of that, sorry) I took the square ring base, and fitted it inside the bezel, always checking to make sure the stone still fit nicely inside, tweaking the shape with my pliers, and sometimes hammering the base to make it every so slightly larger if needed.

When the base fits snugly inside the bezel, I flux it up, place little pallions of hard solder so that each piece touches both the bezel wall and the square wire base — and then just add heat to solder the base to the bezel.

In my lovely EMPTY HOUSE time — I managed to make a bezel and base for each of my stones, and got most of them soldered together. Here’s a view from what it looks like from the botton, with the labradorite stone sitting inside the bezel.

I merrily worked away all afternoon, pausing to wonder briefly how James and the kids were doing before pushing it firmly out of my mind and going back to work.

Next up for these will be creating the shanks to each ring!

My son DEMANDED that I have a good mother’s day — I submitted to his demands!

2 responses so far

Apr 07 2012

New April 2012 banner

Published by under amy's head

At long last… I’ve updated my banner.

Click for the large version..

This is a piece I wanted to get finished and listed in my shop by Easter, but alas… just like the shamrock I planned in March, it just didn’t happen. Gah. Hopefully it will still be finished and listed soon.

See all past banners here.

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Apr 06 2012

Sick with the best bedside nurses

Published by under amy's head

I went to my water circuit class on Tuesday and felt kind of …. off. Like I had too much coffee sloshing around in my stomach and it was putting me a little queasy. And sure enough, by noon, I was on my way to being down for the count. Shaking with cold, puke bucket close by, it was a good thing my husband was working from home that day. I crawled up to my bed while he picked up the kids from school that afternoon, oversaw the homework, while I dozed, freezing and sweaty at the same time, every now and then dragging myself to the comode to once again empty the contents of my stomach.

James had a hiking workshop he had to attend that evening though, so he put the kids in their jammies and told them to take care of Mommy, and off he went. They watched TV and played downstairs while I dozed in my bed upstairs. I was feeling a touch better, and was dying for water, so I whistled (we have a family whistle that means “come here!” — same one my dad used for me and my siblings) and up came Jocelyn eager to help take care of Mommy.

“Can you get me a glass of water honey?”
“Sure mommy!”

She came back up with the glass, and then scampered back downstairs to watch TV. I tried to sip the water slowly, but on the 3rd sip, I couldn’t help myself — I gulped it down and then prayed it would stay down.

Ethan came up next of his own accord — “I’m so sad you’re sick Mom!”
“Thank you my sweet boy — can you refill my water for me?”
“Of course!”

That glass went down quicker, and since it stayed down, I risked taking some ibuprofen.

Bedtime approached, so I called the kids up, they got their books and nestled down with me to read on their own before bedtime.

“OK guys, we have a problem,” I said after a half hour of reading time. “I can’t put you guys to bed. I might puke, so we have a few choices. You can put yourselves to bed, or Ethan could put Jocelyn to bed, and then Jocelyn can put Ethan to bed.”

“Mommy!” Jocelyn protested, “I’d have to get back out of bed to put Ethan to bed!”

“Yeah!” Ethan agreed.

Can’t put anything past these guys.

“I know,” she continued, “I will put Ethan to bed and then I’ll put myself to bed.”

“Sounds good.” I replied.

And she did — Jocelyn tucked Ethan in, turned off his light and closed his door, and then came gave me a kiss and put herself to bed. They are 8 and 9 years old after all, it’s not like they can’t put themselves to bed, but it was pretty cute of them to do it this way.

I drifted off, finally free of the fever chill and slept from 8pm to 8am. I felt much better the next morning, though a bit weak and shaky.

And now it’s Friday, and I’m still catching up on my orders!

My sister and her daughter are coming to town tonight, so I’d better get moving!


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Mar 20 2012

Wrapping up loose ends…

Published by under amy's head,jewelry

The internet drama seems to be over — it looks like the culprit, Capturing Essence (whom I will now refer to as CE) has removed all the offending photographs, including ones she’s altered in photoshop and then placed her own watermark over.

From what I saw from a long message thread on her facebook page (I’m afraid it’s gone now though) I am feeling a bit more gently to her as just not understanding the nature of intellectual property. I think she truly thought she was perfectly in the right in doing what she did. Sadly, I think she is one of the many people on the internet who are misinformed on what is “OK” and legal in terms of photo use. A lot of folks think that photos out on the inter-webs are free for the taking, and can be used however they like. Often they can be used however one would like, once the common courtesy of asking, obtaining permission and referencing the owner has been done.

The comment in question was this one, by “Irish Forge” (who stated in an earlier comment on CE’s wall that Capturing Essence is a division of “Irish Forge”) (typos have been corrected):

Irish Forge: “…A generic weave on a generic or one colored background does not meet the requirements of unique and original expression to fall under copyright protection. Anyone can take a picture of the same weave on the same colored background and it will look the same. That is why copyrights must be original in express and process to produce.”

So basically, because the stolen images that CE used were of a basic weave (not a complex, original chainmaille design, but something basic that everyone under the sun has done for decades) and shot on a basic background — this means the photos are not “original and unique” enough to warrant ownership by the photographer.

This is absolutely NUTS. And legally WRONG.

Let’s put aside the law for now and just look at this from another point of view.

When I started taking my photographs, HO BOY were they crappola. I have a very nice Canon 30D and I still couldn’t manage to get good shots. I hopped on the internet, read about ISO, aperture, made a light box, sprung $500 for an awesome macro lens, bought daylight bulbs to use with my lightbox, researched what I need to do in photoshop with my RAW images to correct the white balance, adjust hue, saturation, contrast, brightness… I could go on and one because this journey of jewelry photography for me still goes on to this day! And I would venture to say that the majority of jewelry artists that shoot their own work would agree with me!

And when I shoot my jewelry, I like to get some shots that have a nice bokeh effect — the front of the photo nice and crisp with the background fading gently into fuzzy unfocus – very artsy fartsy. I take more shots that have as much of the piece as crystal clear as possible. I take some from above, I take some rom the side, sometimes I stick my head + camera right up close to get just the right look. I take a LOT of photos, toss most of them, and keep the best. I spend hours a day in SHOOTING the photographs, and then more hours PROCESSING them in photoshop on my computer.

So yes, while it may look to the untrained eye that my basic chainmaille bracelet is sitting there on a basic background could look the same as any other of that same weave on the same background — The fact is, it never will. The background will be a different shade, in different light, with the camera using a different aperture, different ISO, shooting from a different position, using a different focus point, shutter speed, a small child hollering in the background, “WHERE’S MY LEGO ROBOT??” that causes me to shift imperceptibly, blah blah blah blah blah… Every photograph is a one in a million shot! Uniquely different and utterly original.

And that is just the photo itself! If my photo is stolen from me, they are not only stealing the file of digital data that makes up that image, they are stealing all the time I have spent in LEARNING how to take that photo, the time I spent in trying different light bulbs, making light boxes, the money I spent on my macro lens and light box, the years of experience I have in tweaking the photo in photoshop to make it look just right.

It is MY PHOTOGRAPH, and for anyone to say that it is not original and unique enough to warrant copyrighting …. well, to me, that speaks of a absolute lack of understanding of photography and art.

It’s not original and unique? OK, smart ass, let’s see you go take one EXACTLY like it — it is impossible. I can’t even take one exactly the same.

So now, let’s look at it from the very simplest moral ground.

Taking something that you did not create or produce and claiming it is yours — that is stealing. Plain and simple. Did you make that bracelet in the photograph? No you did not. I did. Therefore it is indicative of MY WORK — NOT YOURS. You are representing something as your own that is NOT YOURS. Just going from a preschool level of right and wrong…. that is just wrong. It is STEALING, and it is LYING. End of story.

And that is why copyright exists — to protect someone’s property from theft.

What is copyright?
Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.

What does copyright protect?
Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.

When is my work protected?
Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

Quoted from U.S. Copyright Office

There are exceptions, and fair use rules and probably a lot more I don’t understand.. but I know enough to know that the way Capturing Essence was using the photos did not fall under any of that.

I’m glad this is over… the chainmaille community is pretty tight knit — and boy were we all over this one! I hop ethat a little more knowledge on the protections copyright gives us can educate others on what is and is not legal concerning photographs, and all forms of art out there.

(who really is going to try to blog about normal stuff one of these days..)

PS – This xkcd comic is really befitting of the last few days around here…

xkcd - Duty Calls

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Mar 19 2012

Stolen photos update

Published by under jewelry

She has removed (or FB removed) many of the stolen photos she had on her page — including mine, yay! — but still some remain — what’s more, she has the gall to try to watermark them as her own, sometimes removing the background.

Here is a photo she has in her album:

This photo originally belongs to Long Canyon Jewelry which you can see here:

It’s hard to see for sure that this was stolen, but a little more playing in photoshop shows the truth of her efforts however.

I’ve enlarged it, (so it looks terrible here, sorry) and then placed the stolen image on top. Even though she has removed the stone background and replaced it with a black one, you can plainly see the theft:

This is only one example, sadly, there are still several more stolen photos in her possession. Hopefully she will come to her senses soon and realize she can’t pass things that aren’t hers off as her own. Rebeca from Blue Buddha has a running list of all the stolen photos and their status on her blog here.


5 responses so far

Mar 18 2012

Stolen Photos, Oh MY!

Published by under amy's head

There is a woman in Facebook under the business name Capturing Essence, who has taken various chainmaille artists’ photographs and is passing them off as her own.

Here is a screenshot of the photograph of mine that she stole:

And here, I’ve overlaid my own photograph, the one that I took back in 2009, and have posted all over the net in my various accounts (flickr, etsy,, probably here on my blog somewhere) at 50% opacity, so it’s kind of see through — easier to see the fact that it’s the exact same photo with a different crop:

And finally, I’ve made a little animated gif (click it to see the animation) that shows exactly what a thief she is:

I’m blocked from her page and can’t post anymore.. but I’ve reported the stolen photo to Facebook, we’ll see what happens. Sadly, many other chainmaille artists have also been targeted.

6 responses so far

Mar 06 2012

Warm Fuzzies

Published by under amy's head,jewelry,photos

I feel like I’ve been running on empty the last 2 weeks. Two weeks ago, the kids had a Monday off of school, so we took the opportunity to go visit my parents and sister in Utah for the long weekend. Over the weekend, about a dozen supply orders trickled in and I got about 8 Etsy “convos” (message) asking questions about jump rings, asking for custom quotes, etc. I didn’t bring my laptop, and I try not to “work” on the weekend, so I left them go until we got back.

Tuesday morning I spent half the morning answering convos and trying to fill orders – Wednesday is a short school day for the kids (early release – blech!) which means it’s a short day for me, and I finally felt like I was catching up by yesterday.

I’ve had a few jewelry orders too, and one lovely lady saw my heart + key necklace and asked if I also did a star.

heart + key necklace

I fiddled around with some copper wire and my pliers, trying to make a star with just the wire — turns out, it’s HARD. You get one piece a teeny bit longer the the others, and BAM your star looks all wonky. I even took a board and nailed some nails into it for a little jig to use to wrap the wire around… I got some OK results, but overall, I wasn’t pleased with the outcome. Even if I had, I would have then had to solder the star closed, which presented more hassle than I felt it was worth.

So I contacted the woman and told her while I couldn’t do an open wire star, I could do a solid star — cut out of sheet with my saw. I sent a few pics in copper and she said she would like to see more.

Now — four months ago, the idea of sawing out a star would never have crossed my mind — I HATED piercing (the jeweler’s fancy way of saying sawing). My saw cuts wobbled all over the place, I invariably cut inside the lines… Rather than pierce out a shape, I would reach for a pair of metal cutting shears and use them, even though the filing and hammering it inevitably needed afterward that sort of manhandling made that much more work.

But I’ve been practicing my piercing skills in my silver class, and have been making little shapes to rivet down to silver discs to expand my Signal line of pendants, so I felt pretty confident. I cut two stars out of 20g sterling silver sheet without much trouble, drilled a hole, filed, sanded and tossed them in my tumbler to shine them up — and went about my business filling orders and answer email.

Monday morning, I fished my little stars out of the tumbler and finished the necklaces, adding a little key charm to each one, shot some photographs and sent them to my customer.

She told me that these necklaces were to be given as a gift to her daughters, on the anniversary of their father’s death, and that she has looked for something similar in the past but never been happy with with she found. Their last name has both “star” and “key” in it — the perfect necklace indeed!

My heart just melts that I was able to make these lovely, simple necklaces for such an occasion – it makes me so happy… I can slog through any amount of customer requests and email and filling of orders for moments like these.

star and key necklaces

I’m still running on emptyish.. Lots of orders to fill (always a good thing!) and not enough time to get it all done and the laundry to boot. But I am really loving what I’m doing :)


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