How to Chain Your Dragon

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I did it…I got the tutorial done for my dragon design.

YEA, ME!!!!

 

It was a monster of a project – almost as monstrous as all the design work that went into the form.  I lost sight of the actual photo count by the time I finished (added a few last minute shots, dropped a few others) but I had 251 pixs edited and lined up by the time I’d finished the photo work phase.

The final page count for the tutorial is 79 – but most of that space is taken up by the pictures.  It ended up a HUGE file in my hard drive.

Now, I’m no stranger to writing (duh!).  I’ve done ‘how to’s’ for employers in the past as they attempted to document JUST how a certain job is performed.  The writing of those little guides were usually dry, cold, impersonal and boring as hell, because there were higher-up’s involved who wouldn’t know a humorous phrase if it came up off the page and bit their noses off.

When I started the dragon tutorial, this was how the writing ‘clicked,’ because that’s my past experience with guides…a very ‘business impersonal’ style.

Took me a moment to realize what I was doing – and scrap the first draft.  I didn’t need to impersonalize this work, because there were no higher-ups between me and the publishing button.  The ONLY thing that would stop me from inserting my personality into this work was ME.

Can you see me cackling madly at my keyboard, yet?

If you want to make a dragon of your very own – here’s the listing:

How to Chain Your Dragon (a tutorial)

And if you want a dragon withOUT all the mucking about with pliers and little metal rings – I’ll make one for you:

My Pet Dragon

Chainmaille Dragon Face close in

 

 

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Pair -o- Dice

I did a thing…

Chainmaille Dice

I felt the need for a little something hanging from the rear-view mirror of my car…and a good friend in the Chainmailler’s group just happened to write up a tutorial for a delightful little 6 sided cube with spots 😀

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These should look absolutely fantastic in my car…I even offered up a blood sacrifice to the chainmaille Gods to insure it…

 

 

 

 

 

 

And – because everyone should have a pair – I stuck ’em on my Etsy page, as well…

Too fun!

 


					

The Return of The Dude!

dude-assembled

A bit ago, I posted one of my Etsy listings for The Dude Chainmaille pattern I created – selling ready-made-dudes, customized colors, and I even included a tutorial for any of the other chainmaille addicts out there if they wanted to make one of their own.

All I asked for was recognition as the designer of the pattern.

I did a search on Etsy last night – and I found my Dude being sold by another vendor.

 

WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

 

What an awesome feeling – that something I pulled from the creative soup inside my skull was considered good enough for another creative person to duplicate 😀

Warm fuzzies and happy tinglys – CHECK.

The Long, Dark Teatime

January in Wisconsin certainly qualifies…

Tempest teacup crop

 

We’ve certainly got dark down.  With our position on this tilted globe, our average sunlight in January is 9 hours.  This means I leave for work JUUUUUUST as the sun is breaking the horizon, and leave work as it’s brushing the hills to the west. All my free-time during the work week is spent in twilight and night.

 

We’ve got cold.  I got a warning last night from my computer that I ‘aught to bundle up this morning, because the morning temp was supposed to be hovering right around a single degree above zero.  When the average temps are afraid of double-digits, every single minute outdoors feels like 10.  That’s long…

 

And I’ve got tea.  Granted, I like the iced stuff with a hint of lemon, but I will occasionally brew up a hot cup.  The most wonderful thing in the world is a hot coffee mug encircled by hands that have just spent a 1:10 ratio of time in single-digit weather.

 

Once I get to this point in the year, I’m past the ‘I wanna hibernate’ phase, because the rest of the world is gone to sleep without me.  It’s quiet, because most of the energy in these parts is deep and slumbering beneath the blanket of snow…dreaming of sunshine and warmth and the promise of spring.

Look at me…all waxing poetic & stuff…

 

Winter, this year, certainly feels like the Long, Dark, Tea-time of the soul (with a subtle nod to Douglas Adams, of course…)

So far this year – I’ve been very contemplative.  Maybe it’s because, once again, I’m within the sphere of influence of the Fox River and the power-nexus which found me the last time I lived in Downtown Waukesha.

Maybe it’s because I’m adding yet another + to the growing string of ’em marching endlessly behind the 29 fiction I keep running regarding my physical age on this ball of dirt.

Maybe it’s because I (and the rest of the country) are holding their collective breaths – waiting to see what direction the inbound Creamsicle Administration (Orange in the White House) is going to spin our little Democratic Republic.

Naaaaaa…

I think I’m extra-contemplative this year because I’ve spent waaaaay too much time on this whirly bird chainmaille pattern.

A whirly group shot

To me – whirlys are a very soothing pattern.  The placement of each ring makes sense.  The form is balanced and ‘right.’   The marble within the cage is secure yet mobile.

And I can add a rainbow of colors with different colored glass.  As I’ve got a new shipment of various marbles winging it’s way to my doorstep right now – I should have plenty of whirlys to go around by spring.

If you want a little whirly of your very own to assist in contemplating the existence of tea and cold Wisconsin winters – you can get one here.

Stay warm, everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

Dude, Really?

 

A couple of weeks ago, I showed a picture of a little chainmaille fella I’d been working on, who accompanied the SQO on his trip to Texas.  He didn’t fare too well on the journey.  One of the beads fell out of his leg.

At least he didn’t leave his heart in Texas…

Now, by the time this little dude came back to me, damaged but still recognizable, he had a brother or 2 – as I employed chainmaille therepy to combat the separation.  Those guys aren’t going to lose any pieces any time soon, as they were upgrades in pattern and design from the little Dude who went traveling.

This weekend, I got the last few ring sizes I needed to finalize the overall design, and I’m happy with the result.

 

dude-assembled

Introducing:  The Dude – a whimsical little Maille Man design by yours truly.  He’s  entertaining the masses from his residence in my Etsy shop – available in both stock and customizable colors.  I even wrote a tutorial if you want to make a Dude of your own!

 

You want to know how a pile of rings and beads went from “I’m bored,” to “Look, I made something KEWL!”?  You got it…

Here’s the process behind ‘The Dude Project’

Step inside my mind…

***Creak***

***Dry Rustle***

***Wet Squishing***

Oops – you may want to watch where you walk – but don’t worry, a bit of cleanser and a stiff brush should save your shoes…

Never mind the piled junk in the corners or the graffiti painted on the walls.   The cauldron?  It’s boiling at the exact shade of purple it should be.  Don’t follow the trail of broken bracelet parts out the door  –  that’s the Dragon’s Trail, and you’re not fireproof!

And pay no attention to the long, stringy, slimy guys in the other room singing ‘Madness’ by Muse (a bit off key, I might add…)

They’re just ear worms…

Step up to my work table.  Yes…I know it looks like a big pile of papers and junk, but trust me…there’s a table under there…

See – right in the center of the pile of stuff?  The cell phone?  That’s the Muse Hotline…and lookie here… it’s RINGING…

 

muse-text-copy

At least they haven’t figured out emoji’s yet…

Soooo – let’s dig out some rings, and play…

dude-one

Dude #1  –   OK – round ring for the head.  Round ring for the body.  Paired chains suggesting arms & legs.  A way (ok…a bad way) to settle limbs in a manner which suggests they ARE limbs.  All in all – a very ROUGH proof-of-concept.

Problems:

  1. He looks like a deformed spiny/fuzzy fish mated with a human being…in maille.
  2. He has NO neck.  The head is loosely attached to the fuzzy/spiny body & he’ll get whiplash if a strong breeze comes along…
  3. Without more definition for those things coming off the center ring, he could be a squid, a sun, a malformed table…  The form needs to scream ARMS, LEGS, HEAD, TORSO.

 

dude-2

Dude #2   –   Fixed the spiny/fuzzy fish-man mating issue by building a short chain of FP 6 in 1 for the body. Form now resembles a stick figure…certainly a human-analog with the addition of ‘fingers’ and a neck.  Going in the right direction…but – gave him pants up to his armpits.

Problems:

  1. Body too skinny.  Need a quick & easy sheet-weave instead of a single-strand chain.
  2. Colored AA rings do not come in the 19ga 1/4″ rings used to capture 6mm pearls.  Closest common size is too big, as evidenced by this Dude’s trip to Texas, where he came back missing a bead, and common glass beads do not come in 7mm.  Will have to ditch the ring colors, working only in Stainless Steel and/or bronze/copper.
  3. Dude is bow-legged, and legs still have no defining characteristic.

 

dude-3

Dude #3  –   This torso is MUCH more pleasing, offering better positioning and flex in the legs & hips, while keeping the suggestion of a neck between the torso and the head ring.  Really BIG feet define human form legs, as well as solidly locking in those beads.

Problems:

Just need to work on a face.  The body feels complete, and the feet are adorable!

 

dude-3-5

 

Dude #4  –  Facial design prototype.

Face has suggestions of eyes, hair, and a mouth full of (?)teeth.

 

Problems:

 

  1. Face piece too small for the body.
  2. Face is IMPOSSIBLE to attach to the body without losing the teeth in the neck.
  3. Are they REALLY teeth – or just confusing stabilizing rings?

dude-4

 

Dude #5  –   Final.  Reconfigured the facial design using larger framing ring.  Lost the teeth, but gave him a hint of a smile with this final construction.

Dude project complete – and he’s a happy little guy.  Can add colors to the ‘hair’ rings for variety, as well as changing out the colors of the beads.

 

The Muses are pleased.  The Dudes are pleased.  And I have a new fiddly-toy thing to play with at work while I sit on hold…

 

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To Infinity!

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A couple of weeks ago, a lady on my chainmaillers group on Facebook posted a video of a new creation she’d come up with.  Everyone ooo’d and ahhh’d and, with the fevor of hard-core creative types, requested (begged, pleaded, kowtowed, offered lavish sacrifice for) a tutorial become available.

Well, JUUUUST before Labor day – that tutorial suddenly appeared on the interwebz.  There were delays involving technical difficulties with recording the tutorial video, a LOT of Facebook stalking of that thread in our group, a few bitten fingernails (mostly mine, I can’t confirm the status of anyone else’s digits) and, overall, a lot of good-natured ribbing as we waited for the magic images.

The $12 bucks I threw at her tutorial was some of the best money I’ve spent on the web.

futurama-credit-card

She calls this pattern the ‘Infinity Rose.’

Damn…this thing is addictive – both to create, AND to play with.  So addictive, sadly, that I think I irritated a nerve.  The inner tip of my left ring finger has been slightly numb since Saturday evening.

My pliers are, for the moment, in the penalty (tool)box – waiting for some feeling to come back into my finger.  With most sprains, strains and body-irritations, time & rest is what heals things.

But I’ve NEVER wanted to chainmaille so bad in my LIFE!

On the other hand, a forced break from creation is allowing me to get some well-overdue listings for pieces up on Etsy.

Come see what I’ve been up to 😀

Disregard the sound – Roommates watching Futurama when I recorded this…

Adventures in Geometry

I consider geometry the unholy spawn of some sadistic individual’s desire to force an horrific mating of math and art.

Why else would the number of the Devil from the Christian bible be 666?

I remember Geometry class in high school.  Back then, it was required in Sophomore year – everyone took it.  Not everyone enjoyed it.  Not everyone survived it, and not everyone passed the class.  (OLD school – you actually had to demonstrate understanding of a subject to receive a passing grade…).  All the different formula and equations were required memorization – you learned the formula, plugged in the numbers, and let the final result tell you this 3×3 box has 9 cubic feet of air trapped inside it.  The shapes were raped (boxes and triangles and circles), the line drawings abused (angles, parallels, curves).  Everyone was forced away from viewing pleasing visuals, and into considering their base numerical equivalents.

Even at this adolescent and prone-to-fanciful-thinking age, I could see that Geometry was the antithesis of great art, and I fought this tooth & nail.

hqdefaultGeometry demanded equal columns of numbers marching in lockstep without deviation – I wanted to put a pyramid on top of a box, add some cubes, balls and curved brick walkways to create a visually-pleasing home in the woods.   I didn’t CARE that my home had 1357.27685 cubic feet of air trapped inside, with additional insulating air of 339.3192125 cubic feet trapped under the roof, and a capacity to lose 33.78% of the warmth generated in the field stone fireplace through the insanely large windows – IT looked like a inviting and secluded cabin where I could get some SERIOUS artwork done.

Apple Pi

Finally, I’ll never forgive them for forever ruining Pie by dropping the ‘E’ and giving me, not only an endless chain of numbers to really mess with my mind, but another goofy line drawing.

Mmmmm – pie… 

Although I did enjoy the single day our educator stepped away from the rote formula-learning, and gave us a math/word game.  Given each letter in the English alphabet a consecutive number (a=1, b=2 and so on up to z=26) – what’s the highest number you can make from a 5 letter English word?   (Fuzzy, for the record, was our best at a value of 104)

I DO understand Geometry has a place in this world (after all, my cabin in the woods would need to be built using geometric formula if I wanted it to stand) – but I’d prefer to move in after the paint has dried on the walls and the plumbing is working.

Now here’s the weird part.  I do pretty good with simple mathematics, and actually enjoy the lockstep logicality in finance. (I work in accounting, after all…)  I especially enjoy finding and backtracking errors that Corporate AR puts into the books, and request they fix them with a long adding machine tape of evidence to back up my claims.

Floating Fucks

Just another day on the job

Because I’m good at these simple monetary maths, I traditionally earn more than I spend in a month – although my recent purchases of jump rings & jewelry displays made this month a bit more spend-y than save-y.

But geometry?  Nope – nope – nope.  Not going there…not even as a tourist.

Now, the SQO will tell me that I’m good at higher, more complex maths.  He’ll mention some of my drawings (bring on infinite perspective!) my origami, glass-etching, and chainmaille.  The way I automatically frame photographs into the rule of thirds, and all the computer work I’ve done in Photoshop creating abstract arts.

 

He is right, in that all these artistic creations have a healthy dose of complex mathematics behind them.  I don’t see the numbers, though, and I have no interest in calculating them out.  I just see the forms and feel the perfection in the patterns.

 

 

This weekend, I finished a chainmaille project I’ve been hungering to complete for a long time.  I made a ball.

on desk

12 completely identical sides, each side sharing it’s mirrored construction with another side.  12 pentagrams of 5 sides each curled around into a mathematically-correct ball.

I knew going into this one that it wouldn’t be a quicky project – I didn’t realize that it would take an estimated 6 hours, repeated slips of the pliers resulting in skinned knuckles, poked legs, a near-blister on my ring finger and near-miss to my cheek.  I didn’t realize it would take building and tearing out a portion of it over and over and over again until I got it right.  I didn’t realize it would eat up most of my stock of stainless steel 6.9 AR rings (I’m estimating around 400 rings).

I didn’t realize how FUN it was to put this thing together.  The real question is:  do I want to keep this Geometrical Construction on my desk as a tribute to higher maths, or do I want to sell it on Etsy?

 

first third

This is 4 ‘faces’ into the project

 

 

Maths feature in Keto, too.  I decided to give Keto an honest shot once I had a spreadsheet constructed (what did I do before Excel???) to track exactly what I was putting in my mouth in terms of fat, carbs, and proteins.  Started keeping track of what the nutritional content was for my brand of bacon, butter, beef and veggies.  Added additional tabs for the recipes I’ve tried, and a 3rd tab for those recipes deemed ‘a catastrophic failure.’  All my eating, broken down into lockstep columns of marching numbers.

My Geometry teacher would be so proud!

I also started actually reading those nutritional guidelines listed on the backs or sides of some of my favorite snack foods.  That was an experience in pure horror, I’m telling you.  My favorite cheese chips have 19 grams of ultra-processed carbohydrates in just 18 crackers.

As if I could stop at 18 chips?  I used to eat these by the bowlful, if not straight outta the box!

Being low-carb, although it presents some interesting challenges, and was a right royal pain the ass to get used to, is totally worth it in how my body now feels.

This week- I whipped up a chicken-cabbage salad to take to work.  Here’s how I made it.

Chinese Chicken Cabbage Salad
The Stuff
1 small head green cabbage
6 TBS extra virgin olive oil
5 TBS rice vinegar
1.5 TBS Soy Sauce
1 TBS ground ginger
t tsp Cinnamon
2 medium clove garlic, pressed
4 oz cooked chicken breast, finely chopped
The Execution
Chop cabbage into long strips, removing the core.  Place in a large bowl with the
chopped chicken.
Add oil, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, cinnamon and garlic in a deep bowl or
2 cup Pyrex measuring cup.  Whisk extremely well until all ingredients are
incorporated and the oil no longer separates from the rest of he wet ingredients.
Pour dressing over salad, toss to coat.