Friday, March 15, 2013

Geekery

More new things!

I FINALLY got my business license in the mail today! What's that mean for you? It means I can finally go do some behind-the-scenes financial stuff so I can start listing things in my etsy store.

"But you don't need a business license to list on etsy," you say. Well, yes. That's true. But it will help me keep my finances organized, which in turn means more creating and less headaches!

I also just placed my first order for business cards. I'll have to figure out the ins and outs of getting a custom logo made eventually, but since graphic design is like trying to understand Swahili, these will do for now.

Now onto the stuff you want to see!

I have a friend who is getting married later this year. Her husband-to-be owns a gaming store, and it comes as no surprise that their wedding will have some geeky elements to it. She and her bridesmaids will be wearing d20 pendants. She asked if I could come up with a design. I haven't gotten her approval yet, but I'm so excited about what I've come up with so far, I'm going to be offering wrapped dice as a regular thing if they go over well.

So tell me what you think!

Here's the prototype:


Wrapped with the 20 facing outward. As if there were any other way!



Blurry top detail.

This one was "borrowed" from the Boy's dice bag while he was sleeping, and wrapped using my practice wire. Which means it's not for sale and I'll have to cut it out and give it back anyway. *sad* But I needed the practice, so that's alright.

Anyway, what do you think? Would you wear such a thing? Do you have any suggestions or critiques that could make it better?

There will be more geeky dice-centered jewelry in the future, assuming these go over well. I've had at least one business owner geek over this so much she offered to give me her spare dice to kick start the process of making more, and demanded I get my merchandise on her walls, pronto. That's the value of networking, kids!

So I picked up her lonely, neglected dice and picked out some pretty fancy d20s (and a couple d4s) today. Here's a group shot:


As always, any and all feedback is appreciated! Let me know in the comments what you think, or tell me over at Ishtar's Garden on Facebook, here.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Return!

Oh my goodness! So, so sorry about disappearing on you like that. Two jobs, a side job and winter really hit me hard this year. Sorry I haven't been keeping you updated. How rude of me! Hopefully I'm back to stay for a while this time.

I've been up to more than plenty in the mean time. I switched out one stressful day job for another less stressful one, and still have the other. So there's that. I truly have been working on jewelry when no one was looking (unless you follow Ishtar's Garden on Facebook, then you already know all about it! Click --> here <-- to check it out!).

One of the most important developments I'd like to talk about is that I've taken the next step in making this dream of a business a reality. I've registered the business name with the state as well as applied for the actual business license and associated permits. Still waiting on getting the license from the city, but I got one of the permits in the mail, which makes me think it's been approved. However, I still have to wait on that piece of paper before I can continue moving forward. Both a grumble and "yay" are appropriate here, I believe. So, grumble. And yay!

Now on to the part you actually care about! What have I been doing these past two months since I posted last? Well, I've been really inspired the last month or so! Follows are a few photos of just some of the things I've been working on... I'll update more when I've worked out some of the kinks in the other styles I'm not ready to unveil yet. (Shameless plug - I definitely update the Facebook page with this info, including my works in progress, much more regularly if you're interested in keeping up to date. There are even cell phone photos of prototype styles I haven't officially unveiled yet!)

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So here's what I've been working on!

I've got a brand new style of crescent moon pendant...

 Dark blue base, hammered for strength and texture, with mother-of-pearl chips and stars, turquoise howlite, as well as a few turquoise and clear Czech glass beads.

Hammered gunmetal base with tiger's eye and labradorite chips, hematite stars, and black weaving wire. 

Hammered dark blue base wire with lapis lazuli, blue goldstone, turquoise howlite and black Czech pressed glass stars woven with black wire. 

Magenta hammered base wire with mother-of-pearl and rose quartz chips, delicate pink fire polished Czech pressed glass flowers, mother-of-pearl stars and woven with pink wire.

Tiny little nest pendants...

Rose quartz "eggs" in a nest of magenta and tarnish resistant sterling silver wire.

Size reference.


I've also finally started wrapping stones. Here's an example...

Amethyst point wrapped in purple and tarnish resistant sterling silver wire with a decorative twist on the front.


I also have a new design for the trees of life in the works, as well as a few new bead wraps for simple. elegant pendants or earrings. I may also start making chains for necklaces, bracelets etc but that's still in the works.

As you can see, I am still alive and well! I've just been so busy with my day jobs and so inspired with new ideas I've kind of hermited away. I'll try to keep the updates coming much more regularly! Forgive me?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Repairing the Bat


There's a local coffee shop called Burial Grounds in downtown Olympia. Some time ago, for reasons unknown to me, the owner added me on Facebook. I was flattered.

After I started this jewelry adventure, she contacted me to fix a beloved pendant she had. (Did I mention flattered? What's flattered squared?) After enduring scheduling conflicts and illnesses and forgetfulness and snow and everything else, we finally set a day for me to come in and work on it.

I'm kicking myself for not taking a "before" picture, but she had it wrapped with some black wire and a poor cord was also tied around it to make it wearable.

She cooked me up a fancy raspberry and lavender mocha and I set to work.

After a few false starts and a veto or two, I finally finished it and we're both extremely happy with how it came out!

I was going for Tim Burton inspired spirals.

The owner, Mara, did a little happy dance when I gave it back, and now I have something new I can add to my knowledge base, so we both win! I hope it lasts her a long time.

-Inara

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Learning to Say "Yes"

First off, I hope your mid-winter festivities were fabulous, and if you were sick like myself and most people I know, I hope it didn't take too much away from your holiday and that you're almost healed!

I must apologize for my absence from the Garden lately; holidays, two mundane jobs and being ill have all occupied my time. I hope to start posting regularly!

Back to the topic.

I'm not one for making New Year's resolutions. I used to. I'd get all ambitious and think of all the things I didn't like about myself and pledge to make every change imaginable. But I'm horrible at sticking to things when I'm not truly ready for them, so I was just setting myself up for failure in the end. Instead, I've decided over the years to learn to love myself as I am and then make changes based on healthy decisions, at any time of the year. I'm much happier this way.

Something I've been noticing for a while now is that I have no trouble doing things for other people with little thought other than helping them out. The Boy keeps telling me I need to not be so much of a "yes-man" for others and start doing for me. It's okay to not go into work on my only day off to cover for someone who made the decision to go out drinking the night before and come in hungover.

When a friend is visiting from out of town and says, "Let's go to Seattle," I automatically say no. But then I have to ask myself, why? I don't have to navigate the city, I have no other obligations other than visiting with this friend; why am I so adamant to tell myself no?

After analyzing my situation, I finally just said yes. And you know what? No harm done! A good time was had by all! And I almost missed out because I'm so used to saying no to myself.

So if I were to make any sort of resolution for this year, it would have to be to say yes to myself more.

Tree full of lights at University Village in Seattle, that I would have never seen had I not said yes.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A London Broil Experiment



The finished cut

This morning I get the Boy out of bed, begrudgingly of course, so he can make it to his appointment on time. I make the coffee, this time in the dark flavor he prefers. When I get the creamer out of the fridge I notice the london broil I had taken out a few days ago with every intent to make. After the Boy informs me his appointment is scheduled to be approximately two hours long, I decide I'm not actually going to accompany him, and will instead do the homemaker thing I love so much but have horribly neglected!

After he leaves, I pour myself another cup of coffee and dig out my much loved cookbook. I knew I had seen a recipe for a london broil in there somewhere. Aha! Pull out the cut of beef, start to make the seasoning and realize... the recipe is actually for flank steak. Now, as I don't eat beef too often, I'm not actually sure the difference, but the recipe is for grilling outside anyway. Well, that's okay, I'll just wing it, like I often do.

As I've never actually made a london broil, I didn't really know what temperature it should be baked on, for how long, any of the technical stuff. But I'm winging it, remember? So I turn the oven to 350°, prepare the beef the way the recipe states for flank steaks, place it carefully on a foil covered pizza sheet (we meant to replace the baking sheets when we moved but haven't gotten that far yet!) and place it in the oven with crossed fingers.

Since I have the house to myself for a while, I enjoy my coffee and do some research into the Boy's possible Christmas present. After he'd only been gone an hour, there's a key in the door and someone comes in. I say hello and it's the Roommate, in fact. We geek out over new Borderlands 2 stuff I didn't know existed, he spoils a major plot point for me.... then I remember I have the oven occupied.

It's been in there about an hour and a half at this point, which was my guess for how long it might take. Stick in the meat thermometer and it's at 185°, well done. I let it rest for a while, until the Boy comes home and kicks me off the computer. So back into the kitchen I go... it's cooled down by this point so I venture to try it - and I'm amazed at the result! I don't want to throw away the juices either so I end up making a gravy out of it. Slice the beef, toast some sourdough, spread a small bit of horseradish on the bread and voila!


Lunch!

Now I get to relax for a bit while listening to the sounds of the boys playing Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.

Oh, before I go! I wanted to share the recipe of the marinade with you:

3 cloves of garlic minced (I pressed them which I find easier, faster, and less messy)
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp vegetable oil (I ended up draining it when I made the gravy so I'm not sure if this is necessary)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3 cloves of garlic minced (I pressed them which I find easier, faster, and less messy)

Mix together and rub into scored meat. Meat could be marinated for 5-6 hours or overnight but I didn't have time and it still came out delicious.
Until next time!

-Nar

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Happiness Is... Part 1

It's been a chilly, rather gloomy day, but that doesn't mean my mood matches the weather. In fact, I'd have to say that the weather has multiplied my good spirits.

It's nearly 5pm, the sky is full of dark clouds, and rain is gently pattering against the large window in front of my creative space. I'm cozy in my lounging clothes, complete with newly-acquired furry black moccasins and an extra large mug of hot pumpkin spice flavored coffee.

The extra giant mug my sister gave me, bamboo, my diary-turned-creative-journal,
and a delicious candle.

The house still needs unpacking, the bed is only half made, and my laundry still won't fold itself, but little could really soil my contentment. The Roommate is playing the brand new copy of Halo 4 we picked up for him last night, the Boy is in the kitchen making homemade chili, I'll be making cornbread in a bit and there's a generous pumpkin pie for dessert. It's the simple things, truly.
Luna cuddles my feet.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Behind the Scenes of my Contest Entry

I barely know where to begin. So, the beginning then!

About a month and a half ago, I saw a post from one of my favorite pages on Facebook. That page is Rooster Baby (On Facebook). Rooster Bambino creates incredible feathered works of art. Absolutely amazing. Breathtaking. I could go on.

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I feel it's important to share information on the feathers Rooster uses. Straight from Rooster's personal Facebook is this:

"90% of the feathers I use are cruelty-free (molted). Birds molt their feathers each year and I scour to find the best ones. I have many friends who keep birds as pets and they save these feathers for me so that I can use them in my art and pass them on to you. The rest of my feathers come from birds who were raised humanely."
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Back to the story. So, Rooster Baby posted on their page saying they were having a headdress giveaway contest. The winner will receive a headdress designed based off the winning photo. I read the rules and the linked article on concept photography. It sounded simple enough, but I wasn't thinking I'd enter. I intended simply to watch the entries roll in, live vicariously through them, vote on my favorites, cheer from the sidelines.

But then, only a few entries were posted. I re-read the rules, thinking maybe it was harder than I'd thought. No, still sounded simple. I did more research into concept photography, and allowed myself to day dream. I sent out feelers to my photographer friend, to see if she'd be interested in working on it with me, if indeed I/we decided to enter after all. She said sure, she'd help me out. She needed to get out of the house anyway, and our separate lives had kept us so busy we hadn't had time to see each other in several months.

Since I got a yes, I let my mind go nuts. I've always wanted to do a mermaid-style shoot, so that was the initial idea. I asked my friends for local areas that would fit. I got a lot of suggestions, though none of them were local. I started exploring different possibilities, keeping with the mermaid idea. Finally decided on Tumwater Falls Park, as it's local. My serene mermaid idea was looking more and more impractical, so I figured it might end up being more of a water nymph, fae sort of thing and kept going. I spent way too long at the fabric store, made two separate trips looking for the right flowers, drove all over town trying to come up with makeup ideas... Practiced making "scales" on my face, which came out beautifully by the way, even though I ended up forgoing them.

Fabric and flowers


We decided to shoot on Tuesday, the 16th, just 2 days later.

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An aside; The weather has been gorgeous for the last 3 months. No rain, lots of sunshine, warm. Gorgeous if you're from Nevada or Texas and that shit's normal. Me, I hate it. It's Washington! Rain for me, baby!
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In between work and the necessary few hours of sleep, I started sewing my costume. I intended simply to cover a bra I had set aside for this project, make a flowy yet simple skirt/wrap, some sleeves inspired by a photo I saw once, and a few flowers. When I sat down and tried covering the bra, however, the fabric just would not cooperate. Frustrated, I put in on and tried pinning the fabric to the bra while wearing it. It instead would become a dress, which I think looks way more elegant than what I was originally going for. This also means a lot more work, but if it becomes a better costume, the happier I'll be. At this point, I decided to go for a goddess look, and save the mermaid for another day.

Sorry for the silly bathroom mirror photo. This is the front panel, pinned, before sewing began.

The crunch was on. I cut and pinned and sewed, stabbing myself with pins fairly regularly. I managed to watch the entirety of Supernatural Season 7 and Samurai Champloo in two consecutive days. I only slept for a few hours in the mornings, after staying up all night for the few nights I had working on this thing.

Of course, as soon as we set the date, Mother Nature remembered it's the middle of October and started pouring down rain, plus I got called into work to help out after one of our girls went to the hospital. This set me back several hours as well, but bed rest is bed rest and I feel a duty to help out when I can.
We decided to move the shoot to the 17th as the weather was predicted to be better.

I stayed up past 530 in the morning of the 17th working, fueled by coffee and anime, before I decided to take a nap for a few hours. I still had to make the back of the dress, and Crystal was heading down from Bremerton at 930 am when she got off work. I set my alarm for 930 and napped. Woke up at 830, tried to sleep, couldn't. Got up and got to work on the back of the dress. I had just finished it when Crystal arrived. She worked on making a makeshift reflector and diffuser out of some piping the Boy had in his truck while I got ready.

I didn't have time for rag curls so I went ahead and straightened this hair of mine. Eye makeup, fake eyelashes, glitter. (Yes folks, I actually purchased fake eyelashes and glitter for this! The end may very well be upon us!) Much later than I had hoped for, we set out to the park.

Glitter and fake eyelashes!

The light wasn't in our favor, as I forgot the sun is setting much earlier, but Crystal's camera took one for the team and we managed to get some great shots near the base of the falls. Crystal, I definitely owe you some lens wipes! As light was fast fading, we took what we could and headed back to town for food. Stopped at Applebee's to eat all the chicken we were craving, then drove around downtown looking for parking to go through photos at Burial Grounds, but alas, no parking was to be had so we just went home and made coffee/hot cocoa there.

Delicious chicken noms.

Choosing a photo was extremely difficult, some we loved but weren't headdress material. Narrowed it down to just a handful and asked the Boy to help us choose. His several minute deliberation just made Crystal and myself more tense; "I was hoping you'd go through them and see 'the one' right away!" she said. He picked his favorite and we went to work. Here's the final product:

"Divinity"

We nervously messaged the image, required credits etc to Rooster Baby. I worried Crystal was going to have an aneurysm she was so nervous. She was shaking and babbling incessantly but it's done! We'll go through the rest of the photos soon, but this was the most important one, the one we'd worked so hard at. 

After she headed home, I packed it in to call it a night. Curled up with the Boy on the couch and promptly snoozed for a bit. Something woke me up so I went to bed, and just after Monk turned off the light, my phone made the "Facebook message" sound. I groggily felt around for my phone, opened the message, and it was from Rooster! My photo was accepted and being posted right away. Full of excitement yet again, I couldn't sleep. I got back up to go sit on the couch and wind down, and eventually fell asleep again.

So that's our story!

All the entries can be viewed here: Link

My entry is here. If you were so inclined to click the "like" button on the photo, that counts as a vote, for whichever photo you feel should win. I'm also grateful for any resharing you might happen to do! ;) 

Whether or not I win is less important than the crash course in concept photography and the joy of creating the costume as well as the fun I've had in participating. I sincerely hope my photo portrays the concept of divinity, as it's my first time trying my hand at doing a concept shoot.

Now I must rush off to work, but I leave you with this: My test shot!


Thanks for reading! Enjoy the day!

-Inara