21 Dec 2007
Going for a jog this afternoon, then last minute preparations for the party and then it's officially the holiday! hurrah! I hope everyone has a fabulous holiday break!!!!! :-)
20 Dec 2007
19 Dec 2007
I love the little felt sheep on a swing that's on the outcast blog today.
18 Dec 2007
All the files were video files, with extension .avi -- so first issue is which program to run it in. It opened with Windows Media Player and Real One Player. The first point I want to make here is that you can get up-to-date versions of these players for free - just google the name of the program and you will get to a page where you can download the program, which is usually just a series of clicks and you're done. I think people aren't aware sometimes that you do not need a new computer or to buy a new edition. The version of Windows Media Player that we had did not accept .avi files, so we had to download the newer version....it's not necessarily the newest version you want, because it has to be compatible with what operating system you're running - Windows 98, Windows XP, Windows Vista. (Most people do run Windows.)
Anyway, if you can get past all that fiddly-ness, then if you try to play your file and it still has no image, it will give you an error message saying either "the right decompressor is not available" or "codec missing" or something with the word "codec" or "decompressor" in it. You don't need to know what that means exactly (I don't) but in Windows Media Player, you will get a little error icon (in LIST view only, not icon or thumbnail view). When you click on the error icon, it will give you an option for "web help". When you click on that, it will give you the name of the codec you need, which you then Google and you can find where to download it from. Once you've downloaded that, hey presto, the files can play!
Erm, I meant to write this to show that it's not that hard to sort out problems with software if you persevere. However, as I was writing it, I realise it does presuppose you know what operating system you're using, what downloading is, how to see file extensions (in Windows, known file extensions are not shown as the default setting), etc. So...I guess the point of that whole story is, you *can* do these things, but perhaps it is easier to ask the nerd in the family :-)
Ah well, we did get to watch an episode of Heroes...so far quite good!
anyway, in other news, this is the commission I made that involved bending tube:
and here's a close-up (it's a leather band going through the silver)
17 Dec 2007
14 Dec 2007
13 Dec 2007
Yesterday I put out a bunch of holiday decorations. I don't like too many colours all together, so what I do is get out all my flower vases and fill them with silver and black Christmas tree balls. I also filled a shallow, large dish with some tinsel and then arranged a bunch of silver Christmas tree balls on top, along with a couple silver snowflake decorations. I also filled a vase with red tiny LED lights and tinsel. You just wrap the lights in the tinsel, hide the battery box in the middle, and the lights look really nice that way. I copied that idea from a display I saw at John Lewis :-) I also got the little lights there.
and, randomly, here's a scarf my sister's working on that is really lovely!!
12 Dec 2007
The photo below is of the first pearl ring that I made. I made it ages ago, I think at least 2 years ago, when I was still taking classes. I remember that I was taking classes because I had a panic that I had lost the pearl. I was working at the bench in the workshop and had the pearl sitting on a dark surface, so I accidentally left it in the classroom. I got home and couldn't find it, so major panic! I went to the school at some crazy early hour the next morning and had the janitor guy let me in the workshop - and there was the pearl, exactly where I had left it!! oops!!!
11 Dec 2007
Today I'm working on more crystal earrings....the funny thing about these earrings is that most girls pass them by, but guys tend to really like them. This is probably an overstatement...but it seems like I'm getting more orders/enquiries from guys asking about them as presents. interesting...
Anyway, I also need to prepare a bit for my WINE meeting next week. That's Women in New Enterprises :-) heh heh, the name makes me laugh. Which reminds me that one of the members of WINE was supposed to send around her business plan for perusal....I need to go chase her up!!!
10 Dec 2007
The weather was suitably terrible. The wind was constantly howling and bits of trees were falling off and cars were shaking when parked. That was a good excuse to have a nice long lie-in and that was lovely.
I didn't take a camera, but did take some photos on the phone, so hopefully will be able to upload those later.
Now I'm working on a bunch of orders and hoping to get them done today!! Lots of rushing around!!
7 Dec 2007
6 Dec 2007
More later with photos!
4 Dec 2007
Do you send out Christmas Cards? Explain. Yes and they're all written because if we didn't do it last weekend, it wasn't going to happen. I've posted some and most will be sent next week.
When do you start shopping for gifts? usually about October, depends if I see something good for someone in particular.
Who do you shop for? the boy, parents, sister, anyone I'll see on Christmas day and a couple of friends.
How are you doing so far with your shopping? just one present to go for a friend.
Do you put up a Christmas tree? If so, is it real or fake? We haven't really before. We had a fiberoptic mini one, but it broke. We had a mini real one, but all its needles fell out. This year we're going to try to get a proper real tree - but closer to xmas so its needles don't fall out!
Do you like tinsel? yes but only in silver or black.
What do you do for Christmas Eve? Is that the 24th? I get confused about the dates because in Holland there's 1st Christmas day and 2nd Christmas day. growing up we didn't do anything in particular Christmas eve...maybe we got to open one present or something.
Do you hang your stocking? no. never have either....but I used to set my shoe on 5 December - for Sinterklaas...Dutch tradition.
Does your family read ‘T’was the Night Before Christmas’? nope.
What’s your favorite Christmas movie? I don't really have one, but I like The Snowman.
What’s your favorite Christmas song? ugh, carols seriously get on my nerves.
What’s your favorite Christmas TV special? don't have a tv.
Eggnog or Cider? oooh cider. American hot cider or British cold cider :-)
What do you have for Christmas dinner? veggie stuff....nut loaf or mushroom wellington. and roasted parsnips!
Do you participate in Secret Santa? well I guess so because I'm doing a UK Etsy secret swap...
Do you bake cookies? I eat them.
3 Dec 2007
So I bent the piece of tube, or rather, Dougall did. It was a brute force and ignorance approach that ended up working. If anyone out there needs to bend a piece of silver tube (unlikely, I know) then be warned - the shorter the piece of tube, the harder it is to bend.
I'm working on some japanese paper earrings again - this time clip-on style. The clips should arrive in the post tomorrow morning. I've made the main bit, so I just need to solder on the clip. I hope it's obvious how to do it, as I haven't done it before. It should be pretty straight forward though. Amazing how expensive those clip thingies are!!
I'm also working on a pendant which is quite involved - lots of separate pieces to solder. I hope it works though, because I've used pure silver for the bulk of it, instead of sterling silver. Would be a shame to have to scrap that!!
30 Nov 2007
29 Nov 2007
it's sunny! shock!
yesterday I installed "stumble on" which is a nifty little addition that you can add to your browser bar. You just tick what your interests are, in my case art, crafts, internet tips, cyberculture and such. Then you just click "stumble" and it just goes to a page which has been recommended by someone to stumble for one of your interests. Then you can give it a thumbs up or down to make it more accurately show stuff you would like in future. It's pretty addictive! I think it's hard to just browse the web, since there's so much out there. This is a good way to browse to things you're interested in and it filters out 'adult' sites. You can also recommend sites you come across and pass them to your friends, etc. Oh and you can recommend your own site ;-) If you're interested, it only takes a couple seconds to install and it's here: http://www.stumbleupon.com
It also has loads of other services like blogs, etc but I don't need yet another site to keep up with! ha!
Something that I found through the above is a site that when you give it the URL of your site, it makes screenshots of your site in loads of different browsers - IE, Firefox, Opera and ...another one that I can't remember the name of. Anyway, it could be a useful tool. I can't find that particular site back, but I think if you search Google you can find sites that do the same. (It was free.)
Anyway...must get back to my earrings, they are languishing in the pickle...(pickle being the acid bath silver needs after being soldered)
28 Nov 2007
Jewellery-wise, today the plan is to bend some tube. That's not easy. If you just go bent a piece of tube, it will bend but the tube will collapse, like when you bend a straw it gets a kink in it. So much fiddling will need to be done in order to bend it without ruining it. right, well, i'm off to attempt that now...
27 Nov 2007
Went to meet some arty Reading people yesterday afternoon in town and met some new people. Amongst others, I met textile artist Julie Roberts. I asked for her website so I could have a look at her work and I accidentally typed in .com instead of .co.uk at the end. That was confusing. I didn't think her work was about men and mascara...
Anyways....her website is www.julieroberts.co.uk in case you want to have a look. I like the blue vessel and the lampshades.
26 Nov 2007
Thanks for the comments on the site! There's one photo that doesn't look so hot, so will change that one today. Then hopefully take some more photos of the small stud earrings for etsy with a thimble next to them for size. I read a lot in the etsy forums about displaying items next to regular objects to give an idea of size. Coins are out, as are every other item that is country-specific. Someone used rice, but I thought that was too messy and anyway you can have long and short grain rice... but seeing as it's a crafty site, I figured a thimble should be a good item.
I'm going to write an article about Reading artists for Blah Blah - this area's what's happening guide. I haven't completely settled on a format yet, that's another thing I'll be sorting out today. So hopefully tomorrow I will send a questionnaire around to the knitters who agreed to be questioned!
23 Nov 2007
Note for anyone with a fancy pants camera: you do need to adjust the white balance. That sounds more technical than it is. There's a switch somewhere on the camera, usually somewhere in the menu, where you choose if you are taking photos in sunlight, shade, fluorescent light, etc. So if you are using a light, you can indicate that so your photos don't turn out all yellow.
It's a lovely blue sky out there today! hurrah! Maybe it won't rain today. Last night we did loads of cleaning, so no excuses anymore not to go for a 'jog'. Hopefully a 'jog' will happen this evening. I put 'jog' in quotes because I'm so slow it probably qualifies as a fast walk.
21 Nov 2007
Photos, photos. The hardest part is getting the colour balance right....which you can correct in photoshop, but it doesn't work well for all colour items. So the purple earrings are hard to get right, they generally end up looking black. So both of these are (the first is a bit brighter in real life) purple, but the second one looks black:
20 Nov 2007
these are the photos:
19 Nov 2007
On the one hand, that's too bad. On the other hand, at least I'm getting a very clear picture of what I should do next year. I'm also getting a better idea of what lines of jewellery I want to work on, keep and expand. And which ones I don't want to make anymore!!
I'm getting quicker and better at making my crossover ring. I can make the lines neater and crisper now. It's this ring:I also want to make this ring again, which is not on my website. I'd like to expand it into a collection as well. hm...can't seem to find any photos of it. Right, I'll go take a photo and add it in a bit....and here it is:
18 Nov 2007
And now it's the middle of the night and I can't sleep so I'm off to lurk in the Etsy forums...
16 Nov 2007
I should write something about FTP...it just means File Transfer Protocol. It is literally just for transering your files. So you make a website, for example, on your home computer. You have folders with files in them. Then you need to move those files to a server (either the server space provided free by your internet provider or the server space you paid for as part of a hosting package). So there will be site name given to you (by internet service provider or hosting company) which will start with "ftp:" (instead of "http:" as usual). You then paste the ftp address into your address bar in either Firefox or Internet Explorer or whatever web browser you use. Then you will most likely get a screen asking for your login. If you get an error message but no login request, just right click your mouse and there's an option for "login as...".
Then you log in and you see a bunch of folders. You paste your files from your computer to that computer. Then if you've set it up properly, your site will be live.
Note: opening an ftp site in Firefox doesn't work very well for me, so I usually use Internet Explorer. If that gives an error message, I go to "page" on the right hand site and choose "open ftp site in windows explorer". I really want to just open it in Windows Explorer, but that just doesn't seem to work for me. Here's the screen grab:
Anyway....hopefully that is of some use to someone.
15 Nov 2007
14 Nov 2007
I was going to write a bit about setting up a website. Sometimes I talk to people and they seem to be very aware of what one needs to do to set up a website. Sometimes people really want to set one up but don't know where to begin. There are three basic options:
2. pay for domain name only
3. pay for domain name and hosting
(a domain name is the name (aka URL) of your site, for example, mine is www.magpienest.co.uk)
So the details are:
1. Free. If you just want to set up a website for fun and don't mind too much what it looks like, then your internet service provider will most likely give you some free space on their server (usually there is a limit on space, but it's often plenty to set up a basic site.). Your internet service provider is the company that you pay for your internet access - either dial-up, or broadband. This means that you can use some space on their computer to host your site. That means the name/url/address of your site is likely to be something like this:
That's fine but the limitations are that it's not an easy name to find or remember. It also does not look professional if you are using it for business purposes.
2. pay for domain name only. You can buy your domain name from many different companies on the internet. Usually you buy the name for 2 years and then you renew it. You must not forget to renew, or someone else can buy it! Usually you go to the domain name buying site and then type in the name you want and it will tell you if it is available. Of course many are not available, especially if it's something popular or obvious, like www.madonna.com! Names ending in .com are more expensive than those ending in .co.uk, .org, .de, .fr, etc etc. An example of a company where you can buy the name is www.blackfoot.co.uk
Once you have the name, you can ask the domain name company to "redirect" the name to your free hosting (see #1). This is what I did for my mom's site, which is www.mariekedewaard.co.uk
So when you type in that name in your address bar, you will get directed to the site but the name will change to http://freespace.virgin.net/dougall.dougs/Website/
The benefits are that you have an easy to remember name/url/address. The downside is that the name/url/address shows as your free space url once you are on the site. It's up to you if that's important or not. You may even want to buy more than one domain name and have some of them redirect to your main name or site, such as www.mysite.org and www.mysite.net etc.
3. pay for domain name and hosting. You can also buy your domain name and then also pay for hosting. If you use the same company, it makes things a bit easier, but you don't have to. You buy a hosting package - there will be options depending how much space you need and how many extras you want for the backoffice of your site (email addresses, etc.). Once you pay, the company will send you details on how to access your hosting site and how to connect to your FTP site (the location of your website files). What this means is that your whole site will have the name that you bought. For example, on my website, all the pages' names start with www.magpienest.co.uk (e.g. http://www.magpienest.co.uk/about.html) Once you pay for hosting, you can also get detailed usage statistics to see what the traffic to your site is. You also get at least one email address which matches your site, such as email@example.com
and you can create forms for people to email you directly from the site, such as on this page:
All this adds up to a much more professional looking website.
Prices vary, but domain names that do not end in .com are around 10 UK pounds per two years. Hosting varies quite a bit as well, but roughly 50-60 UK pounds a year.
Ok, tomorrow hopefully I'll have some time to explain a bit about what FTP is and how to start building a basic site. That's all for today...
13 Nov 2007
I am working on some tourquiose earrings again. They are in the style of the ones I made for my sister, but the stones are skinnier, longer ovals. I'm also working on those 10 pairs of Japanese paper earrings, the ear wires are working out. I had my lesson this morning (I have a lesson roughly every week or so with a jeweller) so I had my teacher try on the earrings to see if they hang correctly and they did. So I'm happy about that. So this afternoon is all about soldering ear wires. Tomorrow should be about finishing all the polishing for these earrings and hopefully preparing the paper. Thursday should be glueing the paper and getting last things ready for the craft fair. And friday should be doing a test run of setting up the table, adding price tags to all items and polishing everything that needs to be polished. Then I'm ready for Saturday!
12 Nov 2007
When I registered with the Assay Office so I could get my items hallmarked, they gave me a time and day for a tour of the office. That was this morning, so I guess they must give a lot of tours!! But I was the only person, so private tour, great! They showed me the whole process, from the package arriving to being laser or hand punched or tested. They don't test every single item in great detail. Basically all items (or a percentage of items if it's for a big client who sends in 3,000 of the same necklace, for example) are xrayed to see if they are silver/gold/sterling silver/etc. If it's clear from the xray then they get hand punched or laser marked depending on what the client asked for. If it's not clear, then they run tests to determine, for example, the carat of gold. It was also interesting how they test scrap. In jewellery, no scrap is waste. You can sell your scrap back to companies like Cooksons and then they melt the scraps together (silver together, and gold together) and then the Assay office can test them with their spectrometer to see exactly what part of the scrap is pure gold or silver (or platinum). It was quite interesting and I even got a dvd about the history of Goldsmith's Hall. You can find more information on their website as well: http://www.thegoldsmiths.co.uk/assayoffice/
9 Nov 2007
Last night I met up with Sarah and Louise - we meet up to discuss our business plans. We all do totally different things, but are able to help each other because we each have our own area of expertise. It is also very helpful to set goals for the next meeting - a good motivation! Yesterday I got the new Glamour magazine with my ad in it!! It looks good!! Hopefully I will get some responses from it. Exciting!
8 Nov 2007
7 Nov 2007
These are earrings that I made yesterday. They are silver rhomboids? rhombi? whatever the plural of rhombus is. I put a small 14K yellow gold ball in the top corner. The gold was really smooth to work with, it balls up easier than silver with a smoother finish. Opinions, anyone? They are small, about 7mm across at the widest point...
(you can click on the photo for a bigger image!)
6 Nov 2007
I made all the ear wires and pins for these, and I'm definitely getting quicker at it! ha!
I'm still working on these earrings - they are with Japanese paper. The part I'm struggling with is the ear wires. First I thought it would be better like in this photo, with a hole and then attached to fish hook style ear wires. But next I'll try it with the ear wires soldered to the back of the earring with a safety catch, like the tourquoise earrings in the post below. I should get around to sorting that out this week.
Did anyone else go watch fireworks for guy fawkes last night? We went to the pub next door, it was fun, the pub was packed and they did do a fair amount of fireworks!