Sunday, September 23, 2007

Skull Cuff Links

My most recent completed project was this fun pair of skull cuff links ordered by a gentleman in St. Louis. The sterling cuff links have a brushed finish on the face, and sterling fittings on the back. They are incredibly cute -- should skulls be cute? I had been making rings in this design for a couple years, but this was the first pair of skull cuff links.

Cuff links are a great accessory for men because anyone can pull them off (provided they have French cuffs, of course), whereas only a handfull can wear necklaces or bracelets and wear them well. I have made five or six different types of cuff links, and they seem to find a welcoming audience. Most people just can't seem to keep from smiling when they see some of the slightly 'subversive' designs, like these meat cuff links.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Wolf Belt Sander Review

Tools I can't live without
The idea behind this blog was to share tips and tricks that I have come across -- perhaps saving others from having to learn the same lessons I did the hard way. I have not done the best job staying on topic, but today I thought I would share my favorite bench tool.

I don't have a bench grinder or large belt sander in my studio. I wanted to find a simple solution that would allow me to speed through sanding tasks, and remove a lot of metal quickly when needed. The small Wolf Belt Sander is just such a tool. This fabulous device includes its own bench clamp, and takes up little space on my work surface. It uses sanding belts that are 1" wide, and the unit is less than 5" deep. The tool can be adjusted to a variety of angles, and is driven by your flexshaft, which easy inserts in the side.

The Wolf Belt Sander also includes an attachment for hooking up to a dust collector or vacuum, to help reduce dust particles. This is a great little tool, well-suited to jewelry-making applications. The time consuming sanding and grinding that I used to accomplish with a variety of other tools, can now be easily completed with this belt sander. It has become my indispensable "go to" tool. [Leveling the "saddle" on this ring was accomplished quickly with the Wolf Belt Sander.]

Obviously, the tool will generate some heat. The (mostly useless) instructions suggest holding flat pieces under an eraser to keep your fingers cool. In my experience, this just facilitates shooting the piece into the wall at a high rate of speed. I would recommend running the tool at a slower speed to reduce the heat build up, and hold on to the pieces with your fingers.

The cost is approximately $159, and replacement 3M belts are available in a variety of finishes. I believe I purchased mine through Rio Grande, but the sanders are available from several suppliers.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Shimmy/Timmy Revealed!

What on earth am I talking about?! There was a mysterious blog post in August about old Hollywood that I wrote about below. Today, the site's author revealed the details behind the riddle.

You can read all about it here -- be certain to read from the bottom of the page up so you don't spoil the surprise!

The East Atlanta STRUT 2007

"Are you local?"
It was a question I would be asked dozens of times that day. Saturday, September 15th, my friend Robin and I participated in a local neighborhood juried art festival in Atlanta. This was my first foray into art shows of any kind and I was fortunate to be able to get my "feet wet" in this relaxed festival about two miles from my front door. I was astonished how important it was to most shoppers to know that they were purchasing from a local artist. It was refreshing (and surprising) to witness such a focused support of the local art scene.

Leading up to the show, we had both been concerned about numerous details that could have made for a challenging day. What would the weather be like? (September in Atlanta is often oppressively toasty.) Is the tent waterproof or merely water resistant? Would we struggle with wind? How many of us would it take holding on to the tent to keep it from becoming airborne? Would we be stuck in a less than desirable location, down an alley next to a Celtic flute vendor?

Fortunately, the day provided amazingly perfect weather, a record-breaking crowd and a prime location in the heart of the Artist Market, just outside of the Earl (the neighborhood's popular watering hole).

I kept telling myself I was doing this festival for two reasons: to learn more about doing shows, and to have fun. However, I don't know that I really had myself convinced on the fun part. But it was!! We met so many nice and interesting folks. I was able to gather fantastic feedback on which pieces resonated with people, and which still need some work.

Friends came by throughout the day, including my wonderfully overachieving friend Maria who provided a lunch of assorted (homemade) gourmet finger sandwiches and caprese salads. And there was beer. Did I mention the beer?

The festival was well run by a team of volunteers who really seemed eager to help, and happy to be there. I can't wait to participate again next year.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Accessory Crack

Have you ever received a catalog in which every item seems to scream your name? Page after page, each and every product is so well chosen that you find the catalog pages sticking a little because you have been inadvertently drooling as you page through? I feel that way about Levenger. Even their tagline of "tools for serious readers" pushes my buttons -- and I rarely find time to read any more. Their assortment of leather portfolios, organizers, card cases, and sumptuous (but still somewhat practical) bags is stunning. It is a material obsession that I simply refer to as my "accessory crack addiction".

But that's old news. I'm rehashing my accessory crack addition because I have recently discovered the website equivalent. I have a newfound addiction to a web site that is stealing more hours of productivity than I care to admit. It all started with a link from USA Today's Pop Candy blog: "Gossipy talk of the week: Was a former award-winning actress really a man?"

The site listing this blind item was Crazy Days and Nights -- a gossipy blog anonymously helmed by an entertainment lawyer in L.A . Here is an abbreviated version of the original post:

Wednesday, August 29, 2007
The Life And Times Of Timmy

...All I will say about these events are they happened within the past 50 years and only about ten people know the whole story.

Timmy was a gay man at a time when gay men were treated miserably, not only in Hollywood but in the rest of the country as well. Timmy's homosexuality was compounded by the fact that he was very slightly built, had very pale features and a skin condition that prevented much hair growth on his body....

Timmy grew up in the Northeast in a small town where he really and truly didn't fit in. At some point he knew he wanted to be an actor and began performing in theatres across the country. He would stick in a city long enough to work in some plays and shows and then move on when he heard of another opportunity in a bigger town or for more money somewhere else. Each of these moves pushed him further and further west to his ultimate destination in Hollywood....

Timmy worked often, but nothing more than a few lines here or there and spent a great deal of time in the "chorus" sections of musicals which were still fairly popular. To supplement his income Timmy began performing in local theatre productions. One night the lead actress was unable to perform and there was no understudy. A sold out audience was going to be sent home unless something was done.

Enter Timmy. With the audience none the wiser, Timmy performed the entire two hour show as the lead actress and received a standing ovation. He was brilliant and there was even a review in the paper which talked about this understudy who was even better than the regular actress.

As good as Timmy was, it was only for one night, and he went back to his regular role the next night. Timmy was excited about the possibilities the night before had held though and the response he received was never far from his mind.
After another year working at the studio without getting much further than bit parts, Timmy decided to do something which would put him in the spotlight. When his studio contract ended he basically reversed his original trek to LA and began performing in small town theatres again, but this time as a woman.

Timmy traveled and did the theatre route for almost two years while building up a resume and a background for his new persona. When he finally felt as if he had it down, Timmy returned to Hollywood. This time as a woman.

Over the next two years, Timmy worked steadily as a woman and kept getting better and better roles. He was very rarely the lead, but in memorable role he was cast as the lead opposite a very closeted A list at the time actor who also remained single for his entire life. The two began a relationship which was always kept quiet but lasted for many years.

Shortly after Timmy was cast as the lead, he was cast in another role which is the subject of the blind. Timmy was incredible in this role and whether his acting was as a result of his new found love or as a result of just the right part at the right time, Hollywood took notice and so did the critics. During award season, Timmy began winning regularly for his role. I want to make it perfectly clear that none of these organizations knew Timmy was actually a man when they were honoring him with awards as an actress...
[Read full post]
This item clearly captured the imagination of hoards of visitors. Each web post gathered hundreds and hundreds of comments, with extensive research going into the quest to find Timmy. Films were watched and analyzed, books were combed for clues. Old photos were closely examined, gravestones were read. Now (literally) several thousand comments later we are all awaiting the reveal on Wednesday.

I am not a person who reads the tabloids, or even magazines like People or US Weekly. Why on earth I am finding this particular site so addictive is a bit of a mystery to me -- but I just can't seem to stop reading . . .

Tiny Art

My friend Stewart has been conducting a year-long project called "A Painted Flower a Day". Each and every day in 2007 he has been giving someone a miniature canvas with a hand-painted flower on it. Each gift is then memorialized on his blog where he describes the circumstances under which the flower was presented and the reaction of the often surprised recipient. As you can imagine, most of us are conditioned that one "can't get something for nothing," so many of his gifts are met with wary suspicion. It is an entertaining read to explore the entries.

Saturday it was my turn! Stew brought me a delightful little painted flower while Robin and I were participating in the East Atlanta Strut, a local craft fair. I so love my flower! Now, I just need to find it a little tiny gilded frame . . .