Saturday, April 30, 2011

Spotted!: Video Game Goodies by Mark Wengryn

I work in a jewelry supply store (which is how I got into this). Today, I found out one of our regular customers MAKES THE MOST AMAZING JEWELRY EVER.

Zelda Goron cuff bracelet
Bronze Goron Cuff Bracelet by Mark Wengryn

For the uninitiated, that is a bronze replica of the Goron's Bracelet from Ocarina of Time:

He also has a tiny, less-than-inch square Companion Cube. In case you were lonely and wanted something to accompany you for the rest of the experiment.

portal companion cube
Weighted Companion Cube by Mark Wengryn

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mission: Impossible: Bolo Ties

For years, bolo ties have been the butt of many jokes at work. They're probably the slowest-moving of the "mount it yourself" items—behind even the belt buckles!—and while you can blame our East Coast location for part of it, the official neckware of the state of Arizona (no, seriously) is not exactly the most understated of accessories:

bolo ties

eagle bolo

But recently our boss put a whole bunch of bolo slides (the "pendant" part) and tips ( on sale, which gave me a mission.

I'm bringing bolo back.

5 Reasons Why Bolos Are Cooler Than You Give Them Credit For

  1. They can work for either gender! Which means: great (graduation) gifts for men! Especially the men who have everything—unless they live in Montana or the Southwest, because then they probably already have a collection. But they could always use another!
  2. It's all the dressy factor of a tie without the hassle of knots or the sensation of being slowly choked to death all day!
  3. It's a great, uncluttered way to feature just one stone or piece you really like.
  4. Adjustable for every neckline and comfort zone. Wear it high up close to the collar one day, or loose and opera-length the next. This is perfect if you're anal-retentive like me about having certain lengths of necklaces with certain necklines on tops. One tie is so many options!
  5. They're already pretty unique; they can also be stylish and cute! The aesthetic style of the bolo is not limited to Southwestern/ultra manly designs. Check my latest (and most glamorous) bolo creation:

bolo tie malachite

Action shot:

bolo tie malachite

So they're not just for cowboys and Southwestern sheriffs anymore! I have two (the other, slightly more understated, isn't pictured) already and I'm working on a third. I'm giving you the heads up now: these are going to be huge. ;)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Music Monday

There's a meme doing the rounds on Facebook: the 30 Day Music Meme. I'm porting it to my blog for a few reasons:

1) I love music.
2) It'll keep me posting regularly (at least on Mondays!).
3) I love music.
4) I already post enough crap content on Facebook.
5) Did I mention that I love music?
6) I have more room to justify my choices and expound upon them in a blog entry than in a Facebook status.
7) No, you don't understand. MUSIC.

Day 1: Your Favorite Song

This one is tough for me. I'm sure it's tough for many people. The problem for me is, I go through music cycles. While music I like, I generally like forever, I'll go for years listening to a few bands and genres, and then randomly shift gears into something else entirely for no apparent reason for the next couple years—while still enjoying what I was listening to before as well. So a favorite song of all time is really, really hard to come by. Out of all the music in my library, this has probably been near the top of my list for the longest (since I was 10, when it first hit the charts), so I feel it's the best answer to the question asked here.

Oasis was my first favorite band, though I never managed to tune in to the rest of the Britpop coming out at that time. Thanks to Pandora, I'm a little bit more informed about that whole trend now, but Oasis is still the only band from that movement whose discography I know at all and whose albums I actually own. They're always within the first three bands I list when asked to name favorites.

The general consensus among the music enthusiasts I know is that Oasis had an overblown sense of themselves, shamelessly ripped off other musicians (mostly The Beatles and Lennon's solo career), and that the mainstream success they've enjoyed doesn't really reflect the quality of their music. Since I'm not equipped to deal with them (both in terms of knowledge and in terms of temperament), I just keep my love of Oasis quietly to myself.

And yes, these same music enthusiasts have made me well aware of the fact that Noel Gallagher was so off his face when he wrote "Don't Look Back in Anger" that he doesn't even know what it means. Don't care. Still love this song.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Experiments in the Baking Arts: Koulourakia

Today, my friends and I are basically being decadent and watching Titus Andronicus all night. Since I had today off, I decided to bake some Greco-Roman munchies.

Challenge: Others are bringing the sweets, so some savory would do nicely; make them vegan-friendly, since 1/3 of those involved are vegan.


Koulourakia cookies from PlektaByHari1946


I followed the above recipe but my dough turned out a bit crumbly, more so than pictured there. In fact, I wasn't able to properly fold the "dough logs" as pictured; I instead criss-crossed two shorter "dough logs" over each other. If you follow the above recipe, I'd recommend:

1) Over-stirring the wet ingredients. I think that may have been part of my problem; the shortening was still clumping in places.

2) Keeping water on hand when you go to roll and bake them (in case the dough ends up crumbly anyway).

3) Having someone around to taste test. :) When I bake cookies, it's usually my dad.

4) Adding some of your favorite spices for a bit of flavor. I think vanilla, cinnamon, or nutmeg would work really well in this recipe. PlektaByHari uses orange and vanilla.

They're soft and savory and ripe for dunking in about anything you please. Tonight, we dine in hell! dunk ours in sangria. Alcohol makes everything better, so I'm not too worried about whether or not I pass the taste test. I still want to perfect this cookie recipe, though—I shall document my further experiments here!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Feedback time: Tectonic Plate Pendant(s)

I did the first mock-up of my Mad Scientists of Etsy April theme challenge (plate tectonics) item: the Filippino Plate, one of the three plates that meet under Japan.

The real version, if I get around to it, will be cut out of metal. But I did a version in clay first so I could get an idea of what a thing of that size and shape would look like. I think it needs some pizzazz, so I'm going to add some kind of kanji character to the design (on the Filippino plate; the other two plates are large enough that I'm going to draw/cut out the Japanese islands). These are the only two appropriate ones I can think of:

I'm leaning towards the top one because I'm more clear on the meaning and because it's simpler. Corrections on my interpretations, or suggestions for other characters, are much, much appreciated.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Geo-Shopping!: Impression Jasper

Having recently been paid, I went bead-shopping last week! We've had a couple strands of Impression Jasper I had been eyeing and secretly hoping customers wouldn't buy. I finally made them mine. :)

snakeskin aqua terra impression jasper variscite

(Strand pictured isn't exactly what I bought, but the colors and quality matches well.)

Despite its trade name, Impression Jasper (also called Snakeskin Jasper or Aqua Terra Jasper) isn't technically a jasper. Suppliers have their marketing reasons behind naming things as they do, I guess; admittedly all of those names sound more romantic and poetic than Variscite (which is the "real," non-trade name appellation of Impression Jasper).

Anyway, Variscite is a hydrate—a new mineral formed by the interaction between water and an existing crystal structure. Like chalcedony, there's Variscite the mineral and variscite the mineral group. Variscite the mineral is AlPO4*(2H2O); the variscite group is characterized by the formula "A(X04)*(2H2O)," where A is either aluminum or a positive iron ion, and X is either phosphorous or arsenic.

Variscite in particular happens when water loaded with phosphate (PO4) runs into aluminum. It's most often found in deposits in Germany; in fact, the name "Variscite" is a reference to an older name for Vogtland, Germany, where it was first discovered in the 1830s.

Lots of suppliers are selling items listed as "Hot Pink Impression Jasper" and the like. This isn't a naturally occurring color in Variscite or in nature; the stone has been dyed or is otherwise unnatural. In nature, Variscite comes in beautiful shades of teal and green, and is often polished with bits of the brown or tan matrix mixed right in. Sometimes it gets mixed up with turquoise, or occasionally sold as "variquoise," in colors like you see below.

'Impression Jasper' by Kokoba