Something Pithy Here

"Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop." -- The King of Hearts

I'm an adopted Texan. As they say, "I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could!" I post pictures and opinions as suits my mood, mostly because I can. Hooray Internet! 

So far I have three blogs here. By the Way is the oldest. I started it in 2003. I lost a couple of years to Vox because I was too lazy to bother to export when they shut down. I consider it an exercise in accepting impermanence. When I followed my husband to Singapore for his first expat assignment, I started (T)expatriate: A Southern Girl in Singapore. That covers 2010 and 2011, give or take. Next came Oslo, and (T)expat 2: Norwegian Boogaloo,  in 2012. Now I'm back home, and back on By the Way.

Pix live on Flickr. I toss links out on Twitter when I feel like it. I'm still not sure what to do with G+ but I kinda like it.


Filtering by Category: All that Glitters is Good

Jump Ring Jamboree!

Mom came to visit last weekend and we tried some new things. We put together a saltwater etching setup, and it actually worked, somewhat to our surprise ;-)

We called it our “6th Grade Science Project”….

Saltwater etching setup

We tried brass and copper, and got good results with both, although we did learn that if you’re using Sharpie markers for the resist, you should use a black one, and use a regular old-fashioned felt-tip type, not one of the new retractable super-fine-point jobbies. See the November 2008 issue of Art Jewelry for all the juicy (ha!) details.

We also played with pliers and made some great chain jewelry. I started with an article from the March 2009 issue of BeadStyle and very quickly had an awesome necklace. It’s an easy project, although I didn’t like their version of the earrings once I had put them together. I just eliminated the bottom two sets of rings and was much happier with my results.

Jump Ring Jewelry

I get all my brass and niobium jump rings from SpiderChain, and I recently discovered her other site, Silver Weaver. What a feast for the eyes and imagination! Having previously realized that the tiny niobium rings are great with larger sterling rings in Japanese 6-in-1, I was inspired to try a variation that I saw on Spider’s site. I’ve worn this bracelet almost every day since :-)

Jump Ring Jewelry

Now that Spider has more sizes of niobium, we’ve ordered some of each size. I can’t wait to see how Byzantium or some of the other patterns work up with them! (And yes, obviously I talked myself into trying a different color mix! This batch is “fire,” and we ordered some “water” and “peacock” in the larger sizes and I honestly cannot decide which I like the best.)

More Wire Work

In my fit of creativity last week I also finished up a bracelet that I started quite some time ago.

Japanese 6-in-1

The larger links are sterling that Mom and I made and the tiny ones are niobium (the “air” mix) from Spiderchain. It’s a Japanese 6-in-1 weave and I finished it off with two foldover clasps right next to each other.

Japanese 6-in-1 Closure

This is super-comfortable and I’ve been wearing it almost every day since I finished it. The only sad news is I’m almost out of those luscious little niobium rings, so it’s time for a reorder! (Okay, I guess that’s not so sad after all, is it? The big question is whether I’ll be able to talk myself into a different color mix. I love love love these colors but all the others look so pretty too….)

When at first you don’t succeed….

Try, try again! It took three tries to get these links and things to work together, but I’m really happy with the end result.

I originally wanted to make a “chain” with the twisted brass jump rings joining alternating Swarovski rings and gold-filled stampings, but the jump rings weren’t quiiiiite big enough. So I fiddled around some and came up with the first effort:

First Try

This looked pretty good on the board, but had a tendency to flip around when I actually wore it. The backs of the Swarovski rings are shiny silver—they look chromed—and the proportions weren’t quite right, either.

The MO and I discussed it over lunch (hey, gotta take advantage of a captive audience! plus he has good taste) and that led to the second attempt:

Second Try

This was very much the look I wanted, but the sizes just didn’t play well together. The crystal rings kept hopping up too high (as you see in the center one) and as much I wished this would work, it just didn’t.

I went back to the best part of the first attempt, the dangle, and tried again. This is the end result and I love it.

Third Time's a Charm

I was worried that the rings would flip, but they stay put for the most part. Turns out the earrings are particularly fab. They’re just approaching too heavy for me, so they’re not all-day-wearable, but they move well and of course they’re SHINY….

After looking at the pictures again, I think I want to try my original chain idea but just with the crystal rings and the big jump rings. Looks like I’m going to have to buy some more beads!

Lots of Pretty and Shiny


1. Gems, 2. Gems, 3. Gems, 4. Gems

How gorgeous is all that?! A few weeks ago when the MO was out of town on business, I was clicking through tv channels and happened across something called Jewelry TV.... Oh my. If they had been selling their finished jewelry at that point, all this could have been avoided, because I wouldn't have looked twice, but no, they had to be selling loose gemstones. Really yummy ones. In grab bags.... So yeah, I caved. AND I'M SO GLAD I WAS WEAK.

The Beads are Here!

Just look at these goodies!

The Beads are Here!

My moms & I ordered together from Fire Mountain to get the quantity discount, and I got the shipment today. Some stuff was backordered, but still a gorgeous selection! I love love loooooove beadies....

In this picture: red aventurine, peach aventurine, red jasper, rhodonite, mookite, unakite, autumn jasper, jade, and jadeite. The red stuff isn't really quite as red as it looks (on my monitor, at any rate) but it is all beautiful. We tried to get stuff that "goes together" and we did a much better job than usual. In real life, the aventurine, jasper and rhodonite look quite smashing together. Also got some Swarovski crystals in what turned out to be fairly random colors that don't really go with the gemstones after all, but you can't really call a swaro bead ugly no matter what. So I guess it's time to put together a Bead Party and make some stuff! Woohoo!

Today I went to a tattoo parlor

But the only ink I brought home is the positioning marks they put on my earlobes. I finally decided it was time to try earrings again. I had terrible problems with knots no matter what kind of metal posts or wires I used and I gave up and let the holes close years ago. The knots went away, and so did all my earrings :-(

Well, according to the nice folks at Sacred Heart Studio, some or all of my problems could have been a result of having the holes made with a piercing gun. (Over 20 years ago, I certainly had no idea there was any alternative to going to the mall store and getting that horrid pointy stud thing blammed into my earlobe.) The stud isn't sharp enough to cut the skin--it just rips through. This hurts (why yes, it certainly did), causes swelling (oh yes, that too) and also leaves a wound that is going to take longer to heal (now I suspect that it never did really heal inside the hole, because sometimes even years later the holes would get weepy, and of course there were those knots).

The needle they use at a piercing studio, however, is super sharp and although they promised me it really wasn't going to hurt much, I didn't believe it. Happily, they were right! I mean, it's not completely painless, but it hurt way less than getting a shot (probably an overused comparison--something about the needle just brings that to mind). There was just a sort of twinge and it was all over. No residual pain and no swelling at all!

Also, now you can get a hoop instead of a stud, which is better in so many ways. I won't wake up with dents in the side of my neck from sleeping on the earring, and it's supposed to be much better for cleaning the wound while it's healing. And I got to pick out a little bead to put on the hoop, so how cool is that?

The third big difference was the aftercare instructions. No alcohol! No peroxide! Wow.... Times they have changed.... Instead, they gave me a bottle of some hippy-dippy soap, and all you do is wash your earlobe, turn the hoop a few times to get the soap through the hole, then rinse and use the hoop again to clean out the hole. Totally different. So I have high hopes that I'll be wearing fun earrings by Christmas-time without the frustration that I experienced before!

pierced ear


Beryl = Aquamarine = Heliodor = Emerald = droooooooool
Turns out the Houston Museum of Natural Science has quite an impressive gem and mineral exhibit. Quite impressive. Oh yes. Oh yesssssss.....


Forbes: Million-Euro Bugatti

Among the many options a Veyron buyer can order, are two one-carat diamonds, cut with 16 sunray facets (16 being the number of cylinders the engine features). The two diamonds reside, respectively, on the speedometer needle, and at the center of something Bugatti calls the "powermeter."

(Thanks to the MO for pointing out this gem. Ahem.)

Jump Rings for Chain-Making

I found a nice source for jump rings: Spiderchain Jewelry. Some very helpful pages are the Favorite Weaves and Sample Pictures. The "shopping cart" is really a calculator that sends an email with an order number to you and to Spider. You then follow up separately with payment (PayPal accepted). You can include some comments about what you're trying to build (which I did) and Spider will sanity check your order (which he did) which is a nice touch.

My magpie eye got stuck on the niobium rings, which are especially pretty in mixed colors. I got these: air mix. Now I just hope they get here in time for the Bead Party this Saturday :-)

Busy busy day

Lots of housecleaning--today was absolutely gorgeous so we opened all the windows that do that trick and got some fresh air. The cats spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to get out....

(Yes, the dumb-bell ended up in the garden when I closed the window. Must remember to go rescue it tomorrow....)

Washed draperies and shower curtains. Bleached the tub. MO did a major renovation on the big fishtank. I made a necklace in tribute ;-)

I know the picture is fuzzy, but the splitter and pendant are Gita sterling enameled pieces that I bought years ago. Finally figured out what to do with them!

Fruit of the Day's Labors

I've finally admitted that I just don't "get" netting 'cause whenever I try to design a netted piece myself, it just doesn't work. Here is an attempt from a few weekends ago:

Great colors (really--I know you can't tell from the picture--it's carnelians and citrines with lime-green and rust-brown glass) but very stiff and weird. So I took that all apart and ended up with two single-strand necklaces that I really like.

Anyhow, since this admission, I've given myself permission to actually follow patterns instead of winging it, and now sometimes I end up with netted stuff that's actually good! Here is today's example:

This is a very-near copy of the "Lacy Loops" project by Lois Fetters (in the Vintage Style section of the April 2005 issue of Bead and Button). I used 13-0 charlottes instead of regular 11-0s, so I ended up with a more delicate net and more loops, and I didn't use an accent bead color in the net, but other than that, I pretty much followed the directions. And unlike my usual "I'm going to follow this pattern if it kills me" episodes, I actually finished it, and I actually like it :-) I'll be wearing it tomorrow, of course!

BeadLiner Update

This is an update to a previous post about Lise Aagaard's BeadLiner, which doesn't seem to be available any longer.

Lapidary Journal published an article by Susan Silvy in June 2001 titled "Silver Core Lampworked Bead". I'm not sure if this is the article I remember reading (I don't remember that particular magazine cover) but I suspect it is about how to do this manually: [Click on BeadLiner in the left column, then on the top left black square, then on the link in the word "here" to the right of the big missing picture.]

Mid-Atlantic Glass Beadmakers have a brief description of capping and lining a bead in their April 2004 Meeting Minutes: [Scroll down to "Afternoon DEMOS"]

And finally, there is an archived copy of Lise Aagaard's BeadLiner instructions in the WayBack Machine (unfortunately without pictures):

For the curious, I'm also posting a picture of my BeadLiner and the "curving tool" mentioned in the above instructions:

(The ruler goes with the top picture, not the bottom one!)

I found the tool to be very persnickety about the size of tubing (diameter and wall thickness), but other than that it works well. Most of my beads were made on a much smaller mandrel, so it takes some time with a bead reamer to get them ready for coring. Learning to do it by hand would probably be more flexible, but I seem to remember the article warning that you should be prepared to break a few beads in the process....

Jeanne, hope this all helps :-)

Excellent Bead Party

Yesterday's Bead Party was sooo much fun!

To lend an air of respectability to all the mimosa-drinking, I used the beautiful white table linens that Just Joe and Marianne gave us for Christmas.
a pretty table for brunch

The Man was in full chef mode, and insisted on plating the potato cake before fleeing the growing atmosphere of estrogen.
yummy potato cake

We had a very productive day--everybody made something, and most of us had time to make several pieces. Here Ann models her dangly earrings and I show off two of my necklaces:
oh, the glamour

And here is a round-up of the first set of bracelets:
with our wrists well-adorned

TFLIH and I were last women standing, and we finished the afternoon with a lot of laughing as we tried to make beaded rings following instructions from a Japanese beading book. (Yes, the text is all in Japanese. Luckily, it has lots of pictures.) The results ranged from "Hey, that's pretty cool!" to "I'm just going to send this to my mother and tell her I made it. Then she'll have to wear it."

This morning I still had beads on the brain, so I got that book back out and tried one of the necklace patterns. It took for-frickin-ever but I like the results!
lots of little beadies here

I do believe that The Magpie Instinct's motto, "All that glitters is good," has once again been proven true.

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