Friday, December 31, 2010

The Joy of Briwax

For anyone who hand paints furniture or signage and loves an aged and distressed look--Briwax is Amazing!  I no longer have to take out my glazing medium every-time I want to accentuate chippy paint and surface scratches.  Now I grab my trusty rag and can of Briwax and let er rip!

This has been a fairly recent discovery for me, I love to frequent a primitives store called Apple Valley in Piqua Ohio with my Mom.

The shop owner makes the yummiest oils for candles and really lovely sewn primitives and all that...One day I was chatting with her and she asked me if I had ever used Briwax.  Since I had no clue, the answer was a no, and I left with it that day in my bag, as an experiment.

I have used it many different ways, from getting a yellowed aged feel for primitive furniture, to all out aged water stains on my French Shabby pieces.

I am honestly not trying to sound like a commercial here, but it has really helped me out--it also protects a piece--and for those of you who hand paint furniture, I encourage you to give it a go.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Get a Loupe!

This is my journey to Loupe-dom.  The tale of the over-complicated process of obtaining a simple jeweler's loupe for scrutinizing my vintage costume jewelry.  Really, it was way more difficult than it needed to be.  I am writing this in the hopes of helping other poor souls that just want to see their jewelry better.

I began with research, (which is probably what you are doing right now), and found lots on Amazon under the review section for each loupe.  The issue for me was...I know nothing about these things--and I am not someone who needed to study bacteria growth on the old Chinese food in my fridge.  Yup--lots of people use high powered loupes as a sort of portable microscope. Although that is extremely cool...and gross...but the kind of gross you Might want to see, if you haven't eaten yet for the day....there was very little written by people like me.  Folks that just want to see if it is indeed a rare piece of Danecraft.

So I went to those sites, wonderful sites, like Illusion Jewels and Morning Glory Jewels and there were in fact several helpful articles on purchasing a loupe.  However, these collectors take their jewels VERY seriously, and although I do to...I cowered beneath the weight of information and terminology.  I read admonition  upon admonition to be careful in your loupe purchase...that some loupes that say they are loupes are not really the best loupe or loupes at all.  I felt loupey.  All I really wanted to know is--what power level is good for seeing signatures on vintage costume jewelry.  Never having held a loupe or used one, it all seemed just out of the realm of my meager self to grasp.

Doom started to engulf me...buying a loupe was a bigger deal than I thought.  This was do right or die trying...

So I started to call around to local jewelers.  Logical right?!  If anybody knows jeweler's loupes--it's the jewelers.  Maybe I could get a closer look at one, and some sound proven advice--maybe I could even Buy one from a jeweler.  Things were looking up!  Over twenty-five jewelers later I discovered that most jewelers don't call it a loupe, they call it an eye...or a huh?

Let's just say if I ever am able to afford that diamond necklace, there are probably only three places in a fifty mile radius of my home in Ohio I would buy from.  It was scary how little the people I spoke with knew about something I would think was essential to their trade.  However, I did get propositioned when  I dialed a wrong number trying to reach a store, so you know...I guess my phone voice 'still has it'.  LOL.

In the end I bought my loupe and a 10X at Hobby Lobby in the Stamp Section.

Here's what I learned:
1.  Go with your gut as far as quality goes.  Mine was not in a leather case, but it has held up nicely.  (I get the joy of making a snazzy bag for it...think Disco Funky meets Vera Bradley in 1940.)

2.  30X is too much power.  Think 20X.  The jewelers I spoke with that really knew their stuff, and are well respected for making custom jewelry only use 20X for most applications.  --I bought a 16X and (apart from the whole cross eyed look for fifteen seconds after I use it)--it's perfect.

3.  Don't pay too much.  I ended up paying fifteen dollars for my 16X, and ten dollars for my 10X.  Those prices are higher than what you might pay on Amazon for comparable or a little better.  I paid more because I knew less, and needed to see it to understand it better.  If you order them from a jeweler...they seem to be more pricey.  Again, you are not buying a house or a dog.  Your investment and commitment as you learn is not so great that you can't just get a different one once you learn exactly what you need.

4.  Don't get frustrated when you start to use your new loupe.  After what I had read, I thought--Oh My Goodness--All my vintage jewelry is signed...I just can't see it.  Nope.  Some has been signed, though...and I am looking forward to finding more.

5.  LIGHT.  You will need lots of it and a neutral background behind your jewelry.  I took my first look in a moving vehicle with a heavily patterned coat under my jewelry.  Don't do it.

Have fun on your journey and realize that there are not as many rules as their seem to be.  Do research, and be willing to change your loupe as your needs change...I highly recommend a 16X.  But really...after reading all of this...I am not sure I would trust me either.
Happy Hunting!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Armies of Martha's Mice

I am about to sound like something I am not...I almost do not recognize my face in the mirror...Martha Stewart has given me the ability to do the one thing I never thought possible---Craft!

I can paint all day long, love to decorate...but you give me scissors and a glue gun and there's gonna be trouble.  However, I (she says proudly) made these all by myself! Well, the hubby made some too....

Here are the Cutest Christmas Craft Creatures EVER--

The ones on, are much classier...they are city mice.  Mine are their country cousins--who still need their candy cane tails--still, I am happy to have accomplished something crafty.

It's as simple as cutting from a pattern, making a few slits in the felt, and glueing on some eyes and ear patches.  It was a terrific gloomy day craft to do, easy and fun.

I am planning on making an entire army of these and taking over the world.

Friday, November 12, 2010

What I am Getting My In Laws for Christmas

Every year we agonize over what to get Jon's parents for Christmas.  I am sure we are not the only couple in America that goes back and forth on this one.

Parents gave you birth, have lived and accumulated years longer than you, and once they retire...ties are no longer acceptable gifts.  My parents are easy--we currently live with them.  So probably the best gift we could give them is to move out!  Actually, they have been great, and really appreciate anything handmade--so for them I will be doing something hand-painted, like the things I put on Etsy.

Jon's parents are wonderful people, but they on the other hand are hard to give gifts to.

His dad is a retired computer programmer--a very brilliant one--one that could have crashed the NY Stock Exchange's flashy screen during his time programming...had he wanted to.  He currently spends his days playing bridge, it has become almost an art form to him.  It would seem here that a bridge tie would work brilliantly--but he doesn't wear ties anymore...

Jon's Mom is a 'foodie' in the extreme.  She has taste buds that can detect a hint of pepper here--a bit of saffron there.  She loves high fashion clothing, and is able to pay the price for it...she has a shoe collection that rivals Imelda Marcos'.  She loves chocolate.

In the past, we have sent Chocolates from Godiva...or things from upscale shops that we could afford...However--

We are po' folk this Christmas, like so many in this economic slump...Jon is a substitute teacher, and I am trying desperately to make a go of starting a business (yes, I am crazy--but that's for another post).   So what to get the in-laws who have everything?!!

Enter an article on Etsy yesterday, from a post by Kittykatherine.  It was all about the artisan foods available on Etsy.  Light bulb!  Since they are artisan they = higher class to my in-laws who appreciate the small batches of cheese or wine or chocolate.  Since we are poor, we cannot afford most artisan cheese or wine or chocolate...but some of the ones I have checked out on etsy, we Can afford!

So this Christmas, I am getting my in-laws something from Breadfarm on Etsy.  Totally classy--completely affordable.
Are they not gorgeous?  I will win best daughter in law ever for these!  :)

The best part is--I might even have cash leftover to pay my bills, and buy myself some expresso shortbread cookies...Yum!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Why I want a Dog Ranch.

I am asking myself if I am crazy for starting a blog among the myriad of voices already in cyberspace...the answer is of course yes, if for no other reason than I am asking myself.  I should have written myself an email.

"They" say the secret of a great blog is to write about what you love.  I will endeavor to do so by beginning with a secret.

I want a dog ranch.  You heard me, a dog ranch...Some people have cattle ranches--I want a vast piece of land with roaming herds of Greyhounds, Whippets and the occasional Dachshund.   I made this decision recently after a forced change in the course of our lives.  After what happened, I wanted to give up on people.  They are, myself included a rather untrustworthy lot, and prone to bouts with self absorption. Not dogs, they are faithful true blue-as long as you hold the dog dish-and even sometimes, when you are dog dishless.  Can you blame me for wanting to be greeted every time I hit the driveway by a chorus of happy voices and wagging tails?

It would be a blessed person indeed to have that level of acceptance in life-- from bi-pedal clothes wearing creatures.

I am that self same blessed person.  I have found, after our recent fray with difficult, unkind people...that there are still kind ones to be known.  I have also discovered that though a church recently rejected the gifts my husband and myself offered --there are places like an old hometown and even an Etsy community that welcome us with open arms. I am learning the old adage that when God closes a door, He opens a window.  All that bantered wisdom, that I forsook easily...I am dusting off and finding good use for.

So I will shelf the dream of a dog ranch--for now, to the silent but unmasked joy of my husband...and instead amaze myself at the acceptance of my fellow man.

Some day, however, I will find a way to 'round up doggies.  Literally.

I have two dogs, whose acceptance is duly noted.