Thursday, January 31, 2008

What I did with it

Here's what I ended up making with the cord imprinted paper. A little different than my usual offerings, I know, but I quite like it. More to come, most definitely.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Fresh paper

Made some paper yesterday-- tried some new things, with varying levels of success. These are my three favorites. The first, speckly lavender one has dyed mulberry paper scrap turned into pulp and incorporated (nice, long threads); for the second I laid some cording into the pulp before couching, then removed the cording once it was all dry. The last has big chunks of mulberry paper mixed in.

Not quite sure what I'm going to do with these just yet. I think the one with the cord is my favorite, I may explore that technique a little more today. There was a fourth experiment that involved sprinkling Pearl-Ex and Powdered pigment onto the pulp, but it isn't very photogenic, alas.
While I'm sharing my papers, here are some recent dye jobs. These are mulberry paper-- can you tell I'm thinking spring already?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

I finally got a flickr account. I must say, I'm much happier about it than I thought I would be. When I signed up, I just saw it as just another marketing and networking tool that people said I should have, but once I got in there and started poking around in the groups, it turned into an absolute revelation.

Ok, so, I'm not a photographer really (though I do have an eye for composition, if I may say so myself), but my dad was, and it ended up in me somehow to love photos for their own sake. I inherited his old photos: his work since he was a teenager in the 1930s, his early studio work, his work as head of the photography unit at the NIH, and later his photos of nature and sailing and so on that he took when he and my mother were cruising around in the Caribbean. I have kept ALL of them, even though many of them are not very good (he kept everything, too) and I don't know who, what, or where it is.

Here's one from his NIH days. Poor bunny!

I also have always had a certain fascination with things that others consider 'ugly' in the environment. I like water towers. Trainyards. Old barns and cracker houses that are leaning with time, half the roof rotted off. Downtowns in disrepair. Bleak, cold landscapes. Old books with the covers falling off. I always had a nascent plan to go on photographing sprees, documenting the watertowers of small towns across the country. I thought it was just a personal idiosyncracy, and never really pursued it because what the heck, I'm not a real photographer and what am I going to do with all those pictures anyway, since no one likes to look at that kind of stuff but me? But now I arrive at flickr and discover that there are hundreds of groups on such subjects: water towers, rural decay, old Florida, wabi sabi.

So, yeah. I home. It's not just me-- I'm participating in a zeitgeist of sorts. Huh. Who knew?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Meet Ballyhoo.

This is Ballyhoo, my bestest #1 kitty pal since 1998 or so. We like this picture because it looks like the one he'd use for the dustjacket photo if he ever got one of his books published. He writes poetry, though, and frankly it isn't very good, so I'm afraid there isn't much chance that he'll get to use this photo in that way. I keep telling him to try a different genre. I think he may be working on a mystery novel now, but he won't let me read it (I can't even find it! Where on earth could a cat hide an entire novel?! I have no trouble finding his hairballs even when he tries to hide them, so I find the whole thing mystifying. Apparently I underestimate him.)

Ballyhoo and Vindaloo like to hang out in my light box. Sometimes they move in when I'm in the midst of taking photos of jewelry. Of course.
Vindaloo is not a writer. She meows at birds and eats crickets she finds in the garage.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Every year about this time I suddenly become quite the enthusiast of hot, sweet, milky drinks. (Hmm, wonder why? *shiver*) Cocoa. Molasses Hot Toddy. And Chai. I don't really care for the concoctions being passed off as chai at popular coffeehouses these days, really, (some of them don't even have actual tea in them! How disappointing.) but I am fond of my chai homebrew, which is perfectly easy to make. I base mine very loosely on a vivid description of chai by my former Swahili professor (one of the more fruitful classroom digressions I've been a party to over the years), combined with limited actual experience drinking chai tangawizi (ginger tea) in Tanzania. The chai tangawizi I had didn't involve milk, though-- just the strongest, pepperiest ginger ever. It taught me not to hold back with the ginger.

Three ingredients are non-optional, as far as I'm concerned: milk, tea, and ginger. If you don't have those, you can still make it, but...well, it's up to you. Lower your expectations at that point, that's all I'm sayin'.

Put some skim milk in a pan, add ginger (fresh if you have it, candied if you don't have fresh, powdered if you don't have either of those), a couple cardamom pods, a couple of whole cloves, a cinnamon stick, sugar to taste. Let it simmer for 10 minutes or so, then throw in your tea--about a teaspoon per cup of milk. My favorite for chai is Upton Tea's Chisunga Estate BOP, but any good, strong black tea will do. I've also had some success with flavored teas like mango or orange spice.

Mmm. Off to have another cup.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Experiments in cuff-ology

Another one! I'm crazy about the shades-of-grey + red combo right now. No text, but the mosaic took me forever (it's on the other side, too).

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

So wrong, and yet...

We coughed up $6.50 for a bar of Vosges' new bacon and chocolate bar, mainly out of a perverse sense of curiousity. But. Wow. It was SO GOOD. No, really. The bacon really is crispy and fresh-tasting, little bits of salt scattered in, and...dark chocolate substrate. I would NEVER have thought it. NEVER. That's why those people are artists. Anyone can put chocolate with coffee, mint, toffee, or orange, but it takes true vision to add bacon. And mad chocolatier skills to actually pull it off. Not available at my local Vosges supplier is the d'oliva bar, white chocolate with kalamata olives. Time was (day before yesterday) I would have just said 'yick!' to that, but now...I'm a believer. I'd try it, and I bet I'd love it.

I used to say I wanted to be the Henry Rollins of linguistics-- well, that didn't happen, exactly, but if I could be the Vosges of paper jewelry, I'd be a happy, happy gal.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Yesterday I registered to become a Distributed Proofreader for Project Gutenberg. It's something I've wanted to do for a long time, but I think they recently made it a lot easier to sign up so I was actually able to follow through this time. (By 'recently', I mean within the past couple of years). They have a VERY user-friendly interface that allows you to log in, pick out a book that's in process, and proofread a couple of pages at a time (or however many you're feeling up to at a sitting). The level of difficulty is gradual so that newbies like myself get the really simple stuff, and more experienced users do the more complicated cases. At my stage, it mostly involves checking the OCR rendition of a text against the scanned image of the text and correcting any obvious gaffes on the part of the OCR. Books go through several stages of proofreading and formatting, getting the benefit of several different sets of eyes at each stage.

Some people enjoy hunting for vintage treasures at antique shops and secondhand stores; this is my version of that pleasure. I love to just dip into a long-forgotten book, browse, and relish the now quaint-seeming topics, word choices, and even spelling. Often enough they're long-forgotten for very good reason, but in short doses, still fun. Long, long ago when I worked at a used bookstore, I had a habit of dragging home all the decrepit antique books that people would just drop off at the back door or that the shopowner would allow them to trade in out of pity more than anything else. Not enough room for that anymore, alas, but Project Gutenberg is almost as much fun (though without that old book smell I love).

Friday, January 18, 2008


Cat #2, Vindaloo. So named because she is very spicy. She likes to jump into my lap when I am varnishing things. I've learned how to work around her.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Today's reading: Varney the Vampire. This is a classic of gothic horror, published as a serial in a penny dreadful in the 1840s.

First of all, I have to say that I love that reading antique pulp fiction gets to sort of count as work for me now.

Second, I love that the author uses the present tense so aggressively. That the entire first chapter was in the simple perfect is understandable if awkward (got to create immediacy and all), as in:
"The girl has swooned, and the vampyre is at his hideous repast!"

But it's when we move to chapter 2., which is regular narrative and mostly in the past, that things get ridiculous.

""It opens—it opens," cried the young man."

Who says that? When you're actually in the process of breaking a door down to save a young girl from being drained by a bloodsucking fiend, you totally use the present progressive.
Here's another:

"I must, I will. Let who will come with me—I follow that dreadful form."

Love it.

The Chekov bangle

Well, I promise that this isn't going to turn into the All-Bracelets-All-The-Time blog, but I just wanted to share this one.

The text wraps around a couple of times and reads, "I used to sit in the evenings at the open window, lonely and alone; often there was music playing, and all at once I used to be overcome with homesickness and felt as though I would give everything only to be at home and see you." (Anton Chekov, "The Bishop")

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


My mother-in-law clarified the bangle vs. cuff issue for me. I was using width as the crucial component of meaning, but apparently it's standard for presence vs. absence of an opening to be the relevant property. So now I know, and I can say with confidence that it's BANGLES that I've been working on (though I did start a cuff today, just because I could).

Anyway, my first one is done!
I'm fairly pleased. The structure is recycled paper, but the visible decorative part is not. The text reads, "Everything was grey and cold. As though to match the gloom around us, we ourselves grew silent." The author is Frank Boreham, whose 1919 book of essays I dug up rather randomly at Project Gutenberg, as is my wont. Wait till you see the one I'm working on now, with a Chekov quote!

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Hello, and welcome to my new blog! It's all very exciting. I'm not sure where to start; I was going to do a formal introduction of some sort, but have decided against. You, dear reader, will get to know me gradually through my posts, and that'll be better than a one or two paragraph attempt at a summary that no one will read anyway once I get going. I suppose that filling out my profile would help also.

For now, I'll just mention that I'm a jewelry artist/ paper artist. I'll be talking about my mad experiments here, updating twice weekly.

Last year (well, starting in midsummer really) was my first year doing this professional artist thing full-time and in earnest; I got to do some local shows and enjoyed getting to talk with people about my work. One question I kept getting at each show was whether my work was made from recycled paper. Well, the answer was no. I have a few styles of jewelry that I make, but I've been using brand spanking new cotton art papers for all of them, mostly because they stand up to the things I do to them in the way that my homemade paper just won't.

But it did get me thinking, and I vowed that as soon as the holidays were over, I'd work on incorporating recycled paper into my work somehow. I've just started (saving all my scraps and buying a new blender), but am already VERY excited about the results. I didn't want to just do recycled paper versions of my current styles, but to offer something different. Finally I came up with it: cuff bracelets (or are they bangles? Not sure about the difference. Anyway, they're wide and you slide them on over your hand). I'm in the process of applying the finish to the first two now-- I'll post pictures here in a couple of days. What's so wonderful about it for me is the sheer amount of space for text on them-- I can have some fun with layout and composition that a 1-inch square pendant just does not afford. My imagination is working quicker than the glue will dry. Stay tuned.