Thursday, October 27, 2016

Newly Re-Listed Pi Focal Necklace in Jasper: Throwback Thursday

One of the many things I brought back with me from my trip to the US was my entire back catalog (as it were) of jewelry. Not only relatively recent-ish creations that Lawyer Mom had been holding on to (and graciously shipping) for me, but some real deep cuts. Alpha releases, in a way. Some of them are real ugly (and will be Six Million Dollar Man'd into something better); others I'm pleasantly surprised by. Either way, I have plenty of material for a few months of Throwback Thursdays!

This Thursday's feature is a more recent piece. This pi necklace is only a few years old, and is from the stash that Lawyer Mom had graciously taken care of (and occasionally shipped!) for me.

Pi mathart sciart focal necklace
Pi Focal Necklace by Kokoba
This tiny, minimalist designs have been all the rage recently. I know it's a fad, but like wrap bracelets, it's a trend I like. It's asymmetrical, which is not usually my thing, but there is something balanced in the asymmetry of this look that keeps me from going completely mental when I look at it.

Pi mathart sciart jewelry focal necklace
Action shot! // Pi focal necklace
The stones in this necklace are two different kinds of jasper: poppy jasper and fancy jasper. There are so many different kinds of jasper and I love them all!

Pi mathart sciart focal necklace jewelry
Close-up // Pi focal necklace

I don't have too many of this design up in the shop yet. I need to either buy more chain or sit and do some maille first, which is definitely limiting, but I love how this looks so I definitely want to prioritize it!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What I Read: The Fifth Season

Here I am, tearing through Hugo-winners like it ain't no thang. First it was The Three-Body Problem, now it's The Fifth Season. I've been having a good time of it so far; maybe my next reading project will be all of the Hugo winners?

N. K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season is what happens if you mix Beloved with apocalyptic dystopian fantasy. I don't think there's a better way to sum up the book than that.

Image courtesy Orbit
I enjoy speculative fiction as much as the next nerd, but even I have to admit that good writing (style, voice, overall sound) seems to be considered secondary to good story (ideas, pacing, suspense). Not that the two never mix, but they often don't. Say what you will about the old masters—Clarke, Dick, Asimov—there is a certain utilitarian nature to their prose, even when their ideas are complex. What distinguishes Jemisin from other sci fi/fantasy authors (at least ones I've read recently) is her command of language. The writing in The Fifth Season is actually beautiful. Lyrical, at times.

Everything else is also superb, of course: world building, plotting, dramatics, etc. But the writing is what sets it apart.

There is more to be said. I'm at a loss as to how to actually say it, so instead I'll direct you to Critic and FAN, a real life book buddy who recommended the book and even gave me his copy. In a nutshell:

I mean, there are whole sections written in second-person present tense, which I've hated in other books, but I didn't care and loved all of it. I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy when I have some more time!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Newly Listed: DNA Chainmaille Bracelet

From the very beginning of my jewelry...line, I guess?...I knew I wanted to do something with the infamous double helix structure of DNA:

But how to do it? It took years of selling and digging around on the Internet, but I think I've finally figured it out! So, to celebrate my latest and greatest , let's review my brief and inglorious history with the double helix.

1. I made one sad attempt at wire earrings and they were actually my first sale on Etsy—mortifying. I try not to remember that too often, and I hope that customer is still happy with them.

Not pictured because UGH EMBARRASSING.

2. Years later I learned that chainmaille was a thing, and that there were spiral weaves. The prettiest one I found at first was the serpentine weave, also known as spiral 4-in-1 or just spiral. Here it is to great effect by an Etsy shop I love, PartsByNC:

Spiral chainmaille sterling silver DNA necklace
Spiral Chainmaille Sterling Silver Necklace by PartsByNC
But the weave is unstable, unless you loop it back on itself, which I did here in this bracelet of my own you can pick up in the Da Vinci Center gift shop:

Otherwise it just turns into Jens Pind Linkage which I think is heinous. (I might make some JPL pieces later, as JPL can stand for both Jens Pind Linkage and Jet Propulsion Laboratory, but that's a joke that's essentially only funny to me.)

Another option is a spiral 8-in-2 (instead of 4-in-1) but the end result isn't nearly so slinky and serpentine. Here's an example from Van Alphen Studio:

Double Spiral 8-in-2 Maille Bracelet by Van Alphen Studio

3. So I did some digging off-and-on and found a couple of other weaves that I liked! The first was a weave called This Is Not Food, which naturally retains a clean spiral shape and, because of the small jump rings you use to lock the spiral, has a funky, spiky look to it. I didn't love it at first—I liked it, but I didn't love it—but now it's grown on me.

Double Helix Chainmaille Bracelets (This Is Not Food) by Kokoba
4. At some point I got the idea to see if I could do something with Viking knit and accent beads. While these didn't turn out as I had hoped, they still turned out nicely. This is something I plan on returning to in the future. I love Viking knit too much not to use it.

Double Helix Viking Knit Bracelet
Double Helix Viking Knit Bracelet

Double Helix Viking Knit Necklace
Double Helix Viking Knit Necklace

5. Around the same time I found This Is Not Food, I found Lorraine's Inverted Spiral, which I loved for the sleekness of the profile and for the uniformity of the rings. (This Is Not Food requires jump rings of two different sizes.) I worked out a prototype bracelet over the winter holidays last year, and made it harder on myself by choosing a monochrome (rather than a two-tone) theme.

Double Helix Chainmaille Bracelet (Inverted Spiral) by Kokoba
What I realize now is that the two-tone scheme, in addition to making the weaving much, much easier, also serves to make the spiral shape clear. I will, of course, still offer monochrome options in the shop for anyone who wants that sort of thing, but I just personally prefer the two-tone version. Now that I was comfortable with the weave (almost a year later), I could take the next step and invest in a special jump ring order from The Ring Lord rather than pull from my generous stock of jewelry findings. The rings in this new piece are anodized aluminum, rather than the nickel/copper/zinc alloy I usually use.

Black/Champagne Double Helix Maille Bracelet
Black/Champagne Double Helix Maille Bracelet

The result is something lightweight and comfortable (and also really pretty!), and something I will definitely be making more of. Of course, I realize now that the way I first learned to spiral in this weave creates the infamous left-handed DNA. Sigh. The good news is that it was surprisingly easy to correct this technical flaw. As of this post, I have both this left-handed bracelet and a proper right-handed bracelet listed in the Kokoba Etsy shop. (I'm not redoing this one, though. Either someone loves it, in all its inaccuracy, or I get to keep it and wear it and look fly. Either way works for me!)

There it is: the eight-year evolution of an idea. Is this the last iteration? Who knows!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What I Read: Running With a Police Escort: Tales From the Back of the Pack

I've blogged, a little bit, about running while fat. Despite this new-found interest, I've been really lax into trying to find the online running community, so it wasn't until Running With a Police Escort hit NetGalley that I learned about Jill Grunenwald. Fat and slow while running? Sign me up! The book is due out this January so this is one of the handful of reviews I've written that will go up well in advance of publication.

On the ball!

If you want to sample some of Grunenwald and her writing before committing to the book, you can find her on Twitter and her health blog (she's on hiatus from the latter but there's plenty of backlog to cruise) and decide for yourself it she's your ~~thang or not. In addition to reading my review, of course!

Image courtesy Skyhorse Publishing

When I read the initial description for Running With a Police Escort, I was a little hesitant. The back copy makes it pretty clear that Grunenwald started running as part of a weight loss goal that she tackled as a result of an email from her sister—the kind of email that would sit with me as concern troll-ish and unwelcome, fan as I am of Health At Every Size. But everyone has different relationships with their weight and their family that I can't possibly know about, so I let it drop. Truthfully, it was relatively easy to look past that part of the story, as Grunenwald doesn't spend a whole lot of time on it. More importantly, she spends zero time evangelizing her weight loss or snarking on her body. Running With a Police Escort could have been a weight loss memoir disguised as a running memoir, but no: it's actually a running memoir!

The conceit behind the title is that Grunenwald acknowledges and embraces the fact that she is a slow runner. Not a fat one: a slow one. Slow enough that she's often followed by the police cars sent to re-open streets after a given race is over. The "slow versus fat" distinction is important; I think a lot of people shy away from running because of hang ups about being slow (maybe more people than shy away because of insecurity over their weight). Grunenwald's memoir is for any runner that feels like a faker or out of place. I definitely do, being slow and fat. Honestly, seeing this pop up on NetGalley, I could have cried. I doubt I'm alone.

My only true gripe is organization. Aside from the chapter on finishing medals ("race bling"), I was really had pressed to see the underlying theme for any of the given chapters. Nor did the book proceed entirely chronologically. I suspect this is a result of the book being born out of Grunenwald's social media presence ("just write like you do for your blog!") but I can't say for sure.

My copy was the eBook copy. I will probably be picking up a proper paperback edition when it comes out. Comfort reads deserve to be in tangible, smell-the-ink-and-touch-the-paper format. And I can guarantee that this will be a comfort read I'll return to whenever I have a bad run.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Friday 5: Be of Good Cheer

What’s something non-political you’re rooting for nowadays?

Cubbies! Who doesn't love a good underdog story?

What were the circumstances–and who was the recipient–the last time you were part of a standing ovation?

I can't remember specifically but I'm sure it was some kind of musical performance. Maybe when I saw Folkoperan's performance of Carmina Burana?

What’s a cheer you remember from high school or college?


What inanimate object in your residence deserves applause for its outstanding role in your life this past week?

Priscilla, my ten-year-old laptop, still runs just fine. Good news, since I didn't bring a computer with me on this trip.

When was the last time a group of people clapped for you?

After a presentation in Swedish class. We clap for everyone; I wasn''t especially awesome.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Friday 5: Bacon

Not only do I not like bacon, I actually kind of hate it. Blegh. :(

When did you most recently have bacon, and what did you have with it?

I had some in a pastry my Hungarian student made for lunch. It came in a flaky pastry with cheese.

How do you like your bacon?

Not at all. >:C

Where do you rate bacon among the standard breakfast meats?

At the very bottom. Maybe better than ham, but only by a hair.

What’s something unusual you’ve had with bacon as an ingredient?  How was it?


What’s a better aroma to wake up to than bacon?

I love the smell of napalm in the morning. Smells like...victory.

Thursday, October 6, 2016


By the time this post goes up, I'll be en route to, and probably already in, the US! I have some blog posts and Tweets scheduled, but no orders will be shipping from October 5 to October 18. Please bear this in mind when placing orders! Here's some (relevant and appropiate) ear candy to tide you over until then.