Friday, December 24, 2010

Steam Punk Wizard and a bit about how I make jewelry

This is another of those pieces that has been some time in the making.

I bought the wizard probably a couple of years ago knowing that I would find a use for him, and when I began trying things out with the watch parts he was an obvious fit for the big plate, but then he sat for a while longer.

I tend to work on several pieces at a time, so often a few will be sitting around together wating to be finished. Sometimes I'll try something on one and decide it would look better on another, sometimes I'll decide that more than one needs something--in this case, Funky Monkey got one of these chains and then I realized that it was right for the wizard as well.

The words were sort of an experiment: in my non-art-making mode I am definitely a word person, but I tend to believe that art should speak for itself and not need explaining. However, I had a bunch of these word charms, a lot of my artist friends use words in their pieces, and I thought I should give it a shot. "Imagine magic" seemed pretty appropriate, and the pieces fit right in with the wand-ish watchparts, so I ran them past my collaborators and critics and went with their thumbs ups.

etsy listing--more photosThe copper spiral was added to lighten up the left side, and then the "diamond button just fell into place. The bead chain at the bottom went on, the piece was hung off the big copper chain, and it was finished.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holidays in China, copy of 2001 post

January 10, 2001

Well, we've made it through the western holidays and are headed into China's

big holiday, Spring Festival, which comes around the Asian lunar new year,

which is different from the Jewish lunar new year--well, anyway, it starts

maybe 10 days from now and runs for around 10 days, ending with the Lantern

Festival, another festival of light.

But I'm ahead of myself. This was one of those years when Hannukah crosses

Christmas, so, as is the custom in our family (something Michelle started, I

believe)when there's a decent-sized gap in there, we hung up our "stockings"

(Anne-Sarah has her Mickey Mouse sorcerer hat from last year, Seth and I

each had a small shopping bag) the day after Thanksgiving and put random and

sometimes funny (like the two stuffed green pigs A-S gave me--they're

nose-to-nose and when you pull them apart one vibrates until they meet

again!)presents in each others' stockings when we feel like it. It's fun,

and also yet another way to take some of the pressure off Xmas. When

Hannukah began (Dec. 21 eve), we stopped the stockings until Xmas eve. We

lit our menorah, sang the boruchas, had a few friends over, made

latkes --potatoes, onions, eggs, and flour are available here, although we

had to chop the ingredients for lack of a grater (we've since acquired a

couple of graters consisting of a metal grating surface mounted on wood, but

also actually had another batch of latkes after Hannukah when I found one of

those plastic sliding slicer/dicer/grater doodads with the drop in blades in

our local department store!)

On Christmas eve we made our 2 boxes of stovetop cornbread stuffing using

our own Chinese chicken soup base plus onions, celery, eggs, milk, and some

of the lovely seasonings sent by various friends from Kunming ot Brazil

(thanks again, one and all--what a difference THAT made) and our turkey

gravy mix, also seasoned, and we had fresh snow peas that Anne-Sarah found

at the market--it was a lovely meal. We all had filled "stockings which we

emptied--we lit the menorah , but don't do Hannukah presents on Christmas


A couple of days later we went out for a "Western" Christmas dinner with the

principal and a few other people--it was right after that awful fire, so we

had to change our destination--A-S and I suggested a fast-food place we'd

found that does the best western fried chicken we've had in China, but we

ended up at a somewhat nicer restaurant, where we got what was billed as a

western steak dinner--overcooked, rather tough meat in a very spicy sauce,

spaghetti, a nice salad of grated cabbage and carrots with a sort of Waldorf

dressing, excellent rolls, really delicious broccoli (a side dish--barely

cooked, with just a hint of sesame oil) , and some wonderful fresh figs. It

was expensive, too--our consensus was that we would have done better at a

Chinese restaurant.

Oh, and of course we had the traditional Christmas dinner in the school

cafeteria--it was much better this year than last. There were some patties

that might have been chicken but were probably pork nuggets, spaghetti with

actual tomato sauce ("almost like real spaghetti-os" Seth), sort of French

bread with jam (no spam), white bread with spam and cucumbers (I took this

for the cukes, but it turned out to be just one thin slice per "sandwich"),

fried rice (with spam, corn, peas,), and some cooked snow peas. I may have

left something out--there were probably one or 2 other boiled meat dishes

and a veggie like greens and mushrooms or bean sprouts. And of course the

traditional kettles of hot instant NesCafe and hot Tang (they did actually

provide disposable cups instead of our usual metal bowls for this(.

Actually, it wasn't bad--it just wasn't western.

For my birthday, on the 29th, Anne-Sarah, David, and Seth set up a party of

what turned out to be about a dozen people at a nice Muslim restaurant where

we had individual hot pots at the table to cook our food, which came in all

sorts of varieties--meat, eggs, noodles, veggies, mushrooms, fish balls,

etc., etc., all beautifully presented on a revolving table. Three of my

second-graders were allowed to join us--Daisy, who's become sort of another

grandchild, Amber, who speaks the most English, and Sarah, who's my best

reader. They're all delightful and managed to amuse themselves decorating

the potted trees with origami boats while we finished eating (I insisted on

having the cake AFTER the meal, a very un-Chinese thing to do, but they were

very patient with me). The cake was enormous, delicious, and topped by a

monkey AND a dragon--A-S' idea. We ate about half and I shared the rest with

the girls' class, which had just managed to achieve a class average of 89+

on my oral English exams, the next day.

This week we've had 2 banquets--ons at school and one at the Peony Hotel

(see photos of the peacock sculpture (made of eggplant, sweet potato?, and

candied cherries with the cabbage and carrot phoenix barely visible on a

plate in the background, plus one of your intrepid correspondents trying

some pretty decent local red wine.

The school banquet was very good--a wide variety of meat, fish patties,

really good mushrooms, sponge cake, little cakes with bean paste, eggy

pancakes, and beer or shwae-bee (phonetic, not pinyin, spelling)--Sprite. We

unfortunately didn't know about it until after we'd eaten dinner with the

kids, so were unable to do it full justice.

The Peony Hotel banquet, as usual was superlative--- a

buffet--standouts--crispy duck, a pork roast and broccoli in a wonderful

sauce, real rolls and real butter, superb tangerines, little dessert sort of

doughnuts in what might have been a honey suce, and, best of all, TWO

SALADS! Real salads--lettuce, tomatoes, uncooked cukes, in one, beans,

corn, and cabbage in the other. A rather thick but pleasantly mustardy

dressing as well as what looked like thousand island. Can you guess what

occupied most of my plate?

We have decided to give ourselves a family gift of a digital camera for all

these assorted holidays, so I was also busy on the net doing research and

shopping auctions. The cameras (we ended up with a small cheap one, a Fuji

for David, and an Olympus for us, as well as a World Wrestling Federation

SlamCam sent to our grandson (maybe we'll see some photos now?), plus an

Iomega drive that will let us download 40 megs of photos away from the

computer) have not arrived yet, so we're all anxiously waiting and hoping

to have them to take on our vacations.

Somewhere in there we also spent 2 days at Longmen Grottoes as it was

dedicated/celebrated as a world cultural site (so declared by UNESCO),

looking foreign and being photographed. Today we discovered that Seth and I

had our pics in the local paper (maybe on Jan. 1?) as the first foreigners

to come to Longmen after the declaration had been made! David's scanned the

photo and is trying to email it to me--if it works (or if we can download to

a disk and do it that way) I'll try to attach it.

The second day of that celebration we were also visited by 2 foreign

teachers, Shannon and Alison, and Shannon's son, Cameron, who's one of the

most self-possessed and confident 7-year olds it's been my pleasure to meet.

They will be returning this weekend not only to teach at our school, but to

go on our Spring Festival Vacation with us--we are quite delighted, as is

the aforementioned second-grade class, which gets Cameron as a classmate.

And of course we had all the usual classes plus the individual oral English

tests we're each expected to do for 300 or so students. Actually, I managed

to pull off a sort of western-style school winter holiday party with my

first and second graders just before we left for the short break that ran

for about a week before Christmas. I told them that it was traditional for

the last class before the vacation to be a party, and that, in the west,

parties ALWAYS include treats to eat--so I handed out lollipops to all of

them. And parties usually have decorations or favors--so everyone got a

double balloon. And we had some singing--we'd been doing "O Christmas

Tree/O ShangDan Shu", and had talked about decking the halls, so we sang a

lot of "fa la las"--a great way to teach the use of commas to even

kindergarteners, by the way, since the number of notes doesn't change but

the grouping does--and drew pictures, and generally had a relaxed good time.

Now, about the candy and balloons--one of the places I went with Shannon and

Alison was the huge GuanLin market, on the way back from Longmen.

It's not our everyday market--it must cover several acres and we're not yet

sure what all is sold there, but some of the street vendors obviously buy

there (need a hundred plastic glow-in-the-dark-Buddha keychains for 59 yuan?

this is the place)--we got about 150 lollies for 4 yuan (about 50 cents),

200 double balloons for maybe 25, trading cards, origami paper, etc. at

similar discounts--I also picked up an artificial Christmas tree , which we

decorated with red flocked lanterns, paper chains, Santa lights, and various

origami and cutouts form students, and various other decorations and

goodies. We still haven't found the fabric section, but are assured that

one exists. We'll be back.

I took some pretty good videos of the Longmen celebration and have now been

informed that I can have my videos put on VCDs which you can then play in

your VCD/DVD players, so we're going to give it a try. The sounds come

through fairly well, but I wish you could get the smells, too.

We didn't leave town for the short holiday, but took advantage of the free

time to visit the Guangzhou market, where we do much of our shopping, and

also the "new" reopened Shanghai market--it now has a wide paved walking

plaza, with ornate lampposts and buildings that I'm sure most of the

previous vendors can't afford to rent along it--also a magnificent white

building with ornate gold lettering proclaiming "Water Closet" in English

and Chinese. However, we noticed that there are still some spaces between

the buildings and that some of them lead to alleys. Naturally, that's where

we go--we've found a wonderful and very friendly Muslim restaurant there, a

nd Anne-Sarah just had a gorgeous chi-pao (Chinese traditional dress) made

(for about $25, including the fabric) at a shop in the across-the-street

part, which hasn't (thank goodness) been yuppified yet. I asked David who

could afford to shop at the new market, and he said, "Think about

it--Luoyang has 6 million people-1% would be enough." and he's right, of

course, we live in a poor province, but not everyone's poor, and there are

enough people who aren't to support this sort of thing. It's too bad,

though--the flavor of shopping here has been diluted, and we can go to the

candy store beloved by A-S and Daisy and spend more on 6 cones (50

gm.---less than 2 oz.--each) of candy than we did on lunch for 4 people!

Friday, November 5, 2010

And BTW--follow-up pics on DiamondGlaze project

In  order to redo my 2-peseta steam punk souvenir spoon, I tried warming it up, but that didn't loosen it.
I ended up having to dig & chip it out, taking some of the spoon's plating with it--that part wa OK, made it just look older--but losing the things I had embedded in it didn't make me a happy camper. 

As you may have noticed in the last post's pics, I've started to redo it, but it probably needs one more layer.

Anyway, here are some photos of the undoing process. 

WIP--ear gages

Several young friends and a couple of customers have suggested that some of my work would go well in ear gages, those larger-than-earring-sized objects that have been appearing in a lot of lobes (at least around here).
Our friend/sometimes roommate/partner of Chase Carolne has 00gages in opal or opalite that look really good, so I recruited her as a consultant and bought some gages for experimenting. I also bought some Easy Cast, which I can now recommend - it sets fairly quickly and perfectly clear, unlike the Diamond Glaze that was giving me problems.  It's a bit harder to use--a 2  part resin that requires measuring and mixing-- but I think it's worth it.
We stuck the tubes to fac-up packing tape to hold the resin in. Relatively successful. though next time I think we'll use a see-through surface.
I set some of the gages up with things I thought might work & ranthem past Caroline and Chase. Then last night, while Caroline was at school, Chase and I mixed the stuff up, sort of layered it and added things, and the pics below are what we have now.
Measurung: Each batch of 6 oz. or less requires 3 plastic vessels and 2 plastic or wood stirrers, all of which have to be tossed after use. So. I bought 100 small thin white plastic cups , which we marked (on the outside) with a permanent marker line at the same level. We could see the mark fromthe inside (THIN plastic cup) so just poured each part to the mark. Then we poured them together & stirred (we were using washed popsicle sticks, but I'm hoping to get something next time we go to the restaurant supply place--till then we have some thickish skewers, but I don't think round is the ideal shape) for the required 2 min, then moved to another cup and stirred with a clean stick for another 2 min. It worked really well.

Anyway, so there we were with a cup of goop and quite a few gages, in silcone, wood, ad horn. We also have one metal one, but we were only doing tubes and it's closed.   Preliminary results suggest that
1. we need more research on glue to hold anything to silicone.
2. silicone gages work nicely filled with resin, but may work even better as molds.
3. wooden gages can have things glued on, and are dynamite with resin and inclusions.
Silicone and horn (red flowers) are also great.
4. Diamond Glaze, which we tried using to hold a few things that didn't require transparency, stays runny in silicone & is a poor choice for this project.
5. We used 2or 3 different Beacon glues--experiment, remember--and all worked well with wood but not silicone. I triend some Flexible, Stretchable with the silicone, but it was old and runny. I'll give it another shot with a new jar--the problem is that the silicone tubes flex off the glue, so that seems like one way to go. Another may be to use some sort of caulk, but we're not going there yet. If anyone's had any success with a adhesive for silicone, do please let us know.

So this is what we have--final cleanup, any sanding, etc. still to be done. A little more pouring to top things up, too, but you can at least get an idea of where this is going. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Here we are! 3 generations

So now only Michelle & Samantha are missing (this is daughters & granddaughters - son & granddaughter, grandson, are separate pics to be taken when possble)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A very busy month!

Please read this post bottom to top. Pics posted backwards!

4. And I finally gor ALMOST the 3 generations pic I wanted
with Anne-Sarah, Jenni, &  Ellie--we'll try for one with  Jazzie next time,   10/16/10

3.And a few days after that, on the 16th,baby Jenni grabbed her Zaide Seth's fnger & refused to let go!

2. A few days later, on the 11th, the day my mom would have been 101 hd she lived that long, we went to see Jenni and family, but Jenni, Anne, and Nick's mom had gone to the doctor, so we had some rare time with Jasmine (middle daughter) and her dughter Ellie, at 19 mos. getting some gymnastics tips from mom. 

A bit later Jenni & crew came home & almost immediately got a call from doc's office to go directly to ER--she was apparently quite dehydrated - some breastfeeding difficulties I suspect had to do wth being induced.
So it was off to ER for all of us, where some formula was added and Jenni was allowed to return home.

Pics, of course, uploaded backwrds. Here's the first family photo with newborn Jenni Fae Hickey, mom Anne-Sarah (our youngest daughter), dad Nick -- a few hours after almost 3 days of induced labor &; little sleep.
Jenni arrived at 10:39 am on Oct. 6,2010, weighing 8 lbs., 8 oz. & 20 " tall.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Olympia Artswalk & Craft Fair, 5-9 pm Oct. 1

We (Ann Beal, Caroline, Chase & I) will have a booth at CraftX tomorrow night. It's on Washington between State & 4th--roughly from

Cafe Vita to Einmalein.

Won't know our booth location until we arrive, but please do come, look around, & say hi.

We're trying to make a night market an ongoing thing, & the more people who come, the better.

It's from 5 to 9, but street closes to cars at 4:30 & we'll be set up a little before that.

Hope to see you there! Leslie

Monday, September 27, 2010

more new work

Some things I've made and am working on. Some may hit etsy before Fri., but some may debut at the CraftX Oly show linked with Artswalk on Fri.
On the other hand, our new granddaughter may decide to emerge before Fri., in which case I'll be extremely happy that I'm sharing a booth, since Chase & Caroline will carry on for me.
But anyway, some pics.  Bear in mind that bone hates to be photographed, so some of the skull pics are not that great.
Add caption

As usual, having trouble with picture placement. This is called "Not so secret garden" and there's a closeup near the bottom.

This may be called "Octopus's Garden", though I'm not sure you can see the octopus, but I think it's really about Amelia Earhart, whose landing site may finally have been located.  There are several pics of this, at least one of which has migrated to the bottom of this post.

These are very Mexican feeling Caterina earrings for Dia de los Muertos. Skulls, flowers, lacy silver parasols--too bad they're impossible to photograph well! I hope you can get the idea.

Little steam punk skull earrings. Got raves as I was making them at last show.

Inside of the garden piece
Lush garden in a tagua nut almost-box --one of my friend Ann Beal's rejects. I think it's just an ornament - really heavy & clumsy to wear, but everyone who's seen it, even Seth, oohed & aahed.  I remembered that I CAN do other things than steampunk.  I like the glowy stuff inside--sort of like a coral reef or maybe underground grotto. Several pics, spread out.

Another rejected tagua shell. Not sure yet which way it goes or what goes in it, but think it will come easily.

Little antler log(?) also from Ann--wonder what will come out of the faucet?

Chase & I did a couple of bracelets--steam punk watch case centers with knotted hemp bands. This one needed pins. As you can see, I've added some in my own style.

 Crowned skulls with tiny spikes--more Dia de los Muertos. And below, aside from the pics that mysteriously moved down, just skulls with diff numbers of spikes on diff earring backs.

That's it for the moment. Hope to have more before (and after) Fri., along with pics of baby Jenni Fae.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Every month, on the Facebook fan page for Findings, my etsy supply shop, there's a prize drawing.
In order to enter, all you need to do is post a photo of something you've made using anything from the shop--not everything, just one component.
Last month we had a winner, this month no one's posted yet, making the odds of winning pretty high. 
So if you've done anything with something you've bought there, do post a photo--you may win. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Yom Kippur 5771 The Day of Atonement 2010

This is the most holy day of the Jewish year, the one on which G-d agian closes the Book of Life, in which the names of those chosen to survive the next year have been being entered since Rosh Hashano, the Jewish New Year, 10 days ago.

Some of us, of course, don't take this literally, but it's powerful as a metaphor.

Before Rosh Hashano, we are admonished to pay our debts, to ask forgiveness of and make amends to those we've wronged, and to forgive those who've wronged us.

Then we rejoice in the New Year, in being alive and with our friends and family in this lovely world G-d has provided for us to enjoy aqs well as improve. 

Rosh Hashano is the start and Yom Kippur the end of the Days of Awe, a time for reflection as well as rejoicing, a time to consider our lives and how we are using them.

A couple of basic Jewish principles are involved here. 
First is Tikkun Olam, the responsibility of leaving the world a better place than we found it.
Of course this is on a personal level, but it's also political - working to reverse, or at least stop, climate change/global warming; standing up against hatred, prejudice, and opression wherever they rear their ugly heads (yes, even in Israel, but not only there); advocating for everyone's right to be safe, sheltered, fed, and cared for, etc., etc.

Second is Tzedaka, generally interpreted as charity, but actually meaning justice.
I see this as intertwined with Tikkun Olam--it mandates sharing what we have with those who have less.  It doesn't mean starving our own family to feed our neighbors (that would be the worst sort of personal aggrandizement), but it does mean feeding as many people as we can, providing shelter for those who need it (could we solve the problem of homelessness if every household with an empty bedroom invited someone to use it?), contributing to good causes, and sharing whatever resources and possessions we have more of than we need (not to be confused with want).

I'm probably missing something official, but I find that those two give me quite a bit to strive for.

So on this Yom Kippur, as is my custom, I am giving serious thought to what I can do to make next year better for myself, my family, my friends, and the rest of the world. 

For quite a few years, one of my major goals has been to cultivate patience.  I think I'm making some progress on this as I get older, and 2 years of living in China really helped.  Patience encompasses accepting that some things won't happen when or as I want them to, or sometimes at all, but in their own good time if they're meant to be.
This applies to everything from artwork that is not ready to be finished, to dealing with ignorance and prejudice without personal acrimony, to encouraging my children to mature on their own timetalbe.

Lately, as I develop more physical limitiations, I need to consider ways to continue to be as independent as possible.
One of these, which I've been avoiding, is to have my knees (I'm hoping for both at once) replaced.
This should improve my ability to dirve as well as walk, and make it easier to participate more fully in a wider community and in various areas of life, while reducing the help I need from family and friends to do even basic tasks. I'll have to figure something else out for lifting, however--another item for consideration.

Following this thread, I want to be more available to my children and grandchildren, especially the youngest 3, of whom 2 are expected to arrive in the next few months. I want to be able to spend time with them, provide care if necessary, and generally be part of their lives more frequently than is now possible.   I want to do everything I can to maintain and improve my health, and encourage Seth to do the same, so that we will continue to be participants in our familiy's lives.
I also need to be more attentive and available to the older members of my family, using and treasuring the time we can still have together.

I hope to travel more. Not only is it a pleasure, it helps me to better understand what's happening in other places and what, if anything, I can or need to do about it.  Not to mention that warmer dryer climates, especially in winter, improve both our health and our world view, especially after we haven't seen the sun for weeks.

This year I'm also feeling a need for more balance. My online supply shop is doing well, but is also taking a lot of my time and energy, some of which I need for my own work, some for my family and the rest of my life.  That partially comes under patience, but also under meeting my own needs and being able to resist distractions and say no when necessary. This is a difficlt issue for most of us, but we need to realize that, if our own needs aren't met, we don't have anything left over  for other people or the wider world. 

I'm sure there's more, but that seems like a tall enough order with which to begin another year.

May you all be inscribed for blessing in the Book of Life, and have a sweet and fruitful year.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Some works in progress

This one shouldn't still be a WIP. I want it to look like sunken treasure, & filled the spoon (a shaped 2 peseta piece) with Diamond Glaze. I let the layers dry & it was clear, but now it's clouded up. Do I have to melt it & start over, or what?

I'm not quite sure where this one's going, or whether the wire at the bottom will stay or change, but this guy has been waiting for work for at least a year, and I wanted to do something with words--even though I'm a word person, I don't usually use them in my art, but thought these fit, so am giving it a try.

This one's kind of a steam punk man in the moon, and this piece may be done except for deciding whether it should be a pin or pendant and how and on what to hang it--which is still a lot!
The strange little guy is bone I've colored with metallic wax and/or lumiere paints, the moon is colored a pearly purple with a dye pad, the other parts are pretty much as they came except of course that I've combined them. I'm liking this one a lot, just not sure how to present it yet.

This is a style of face bead I've often used on my doll pins. In this case I haven't decided whether she'll get a body or whether the whole thing will go in some other direction.
The gears can still go around, which I like a lot.
And I absolutely love all the guilloche engraving on this old pocket watch (it has jewels, too, but I don't think they show here).

I found a necklace I made probably 20 years ago at the bottom of a box of things waiting to be listed or reworked, and it included watchworks and had some message about time--apparently I was doing steam punk before the term was invented.  Interesting.