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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Abandoned Commissions

At first, receiving a commission is like an honor.  Someone has bestowed upon you a position of complete authority over the execution and beautification of a paltry handful of beads.  You enter into a covenant with someone to produce a vision because they like your work, trust your skill, and want something unique.  It validates your hobbies and interests in a way that selling to a boutique doesn't.  Plus you get paid for it.  Receiving a commission is awesome on all accounts, unless one specific thing happens: The commissioner doesn't pay for or doesn't want to pay for your work.

It's happened to me a number of times, more times than I like to think about.  Sometimes, it's understandable.  Sometimes it can be devastating.  I am, despite my bluntness and inability to sugar coat anything, kinda sensitive, especially about things I've worked hard on.  Having my work nitpicked or devalued hurts.  Being stuck with a product of efforts someone completely snubbed is like a reminder that I didn't perform as well as expected or that I wasted, time and limited resources on something that didn't meet expectations.

I HATE when things don't go according to plan.  I hate redundancy.  I like doing things right the first, or at worst, the second time.  Errors, repeats, and complete rehashing of a project irks me to no end, stifles my creative juices and leaves me feeling more wrung out than I have any right to be.  I have been that way since I was a child.  Decisive action is the way to go.

That is why abandoned commissions irk me so.

I'll share a few of the stories with you, starting with the first.

I had made my mother a bracelet.  It had a bit of an old Hollywood feel with lots of swarovski crystals, antiqued brass, and vermeil components.  It had been a labor of love.  Painstakingly, I wove together beads, components, and crystals with golden tiger tail wire to make something reminiscent of a a diamond tennis bracelet.  It took a lot of planning to properly execute it and when it came together, it was beautiful.

One Sunday, the Mahogany Stylist wore it to church.  While it was good for me because I received a great deal of commissions as a result, the bracelet's popularity was a double edged sword.  People who never had a kind word for me suddenly wanted my attention, wanted to know everything I was doing and began hounding me for a copy of the bracelet.  Many were content with just that, a copy.  Others wanted a slight variation with silver accents instead of gold.  Some of them wanted COLORS instead of the simple golden and crystalline clear design my mother had.

That meant buying more materials...  I was excited at first, so I obliged to make the bracelets.  I bought materials, crystals, and components in a variety of metallic finishes.  I was planning how I'd spend the remainder of my meager paycheck on supplies that would help me to make more money than I could at the job I was currently working.  My enthusiasm, however, was wholly unwarranted. 

In hindsight, a great deal of the first few commissioners were spot on with their understanding of the expectations for a requested item worked, even if mine wasn't.  They paid gladly, left tips, and chastised me when they found my prices too low.  $25 for a tennis bracelet carefully woven to look like the real thing.  That was cheap even if it was costume jewelry. 

However, it was the ones who had so many requests, so many variations, the "the fancy clasp, not the plain clasp you've been using on everyone else's.  I want mine to REALLY stand out" folks who posed the most trouble.  These self-absorbed, delusional misers seemed to have some bizarre notion that when you ask a person you see regularly at church to make you something, it should be free.  One woman went as far as to claim, "Well, since we're sisters in Christ..." as if Jesus himself would condone her propositioning me under false pretenses and weaseling out of paying for her bracelet.

If I remember correctly, he trashed the temple for robbing the people by soliciting the purchase of sickly, unwanted sacrificial animals they claimed were up to higher standard.  Essentially, he condemned them for taking advantage of the people's naive trust in things related to their place of worship.  Which was what this woman TRIED to do.  By pleading 'sister in Christ' she attempted to absolve herself from something honorable like paying for requested goods.

I will admit that at that age, 19, I was still very naive, but I was not stupid.  I offered to hold the goods until she was able to pay because I needed to try to recoup my costs.  In response, she began telling other churchgoers that I charged 'top dollar', as if my efforts weren't worth the small price I was asking.  In the end, people eventually saw the truth, but she still clamors for attention every now and then by loudly exclaiming 'When Can I Get My Bracelet??'.  Thankfully, no one pays much attention to her any more.

She wasn't the only one to try to worm out of paying for one of those bracelets..and for a long time, I had quite a lot of them on my hands.  I eventually sold them off at a slightly reduced price and recieved quite a few rave reviews for my efforts.  Here are some pictures.  I apologize for the quality.  I was still learning to photograph jewelry back then.  haha. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Finally Photogenic.

I've been a moody miss as of late.  Partially due to the fluctuating weather.  Partially due to inexplicable exhaustion.  Partially due to having to deal with near constant pain from my ridiculously temperamental nervous system. 
I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but autoimmune conditions often come in threes and often the symptoms are linked to complex and inexplicable body phenomena.  Mine are Reynaud's (my body thinks it's freezing to death in 70 degree weather and shows symptoms of hypothermia, including shutting down certain organ groups if I get too cold), intense vertigo, and horrible migraines.  Just those things make me a moody miss, but add widespread pain and I turn into an irritable harpy.  I'll admit it.  My death glares rival a cockatrice's. 

In spite of this, I try to do some things to help me stay positive.  Unfortunately, Chicago's recent tempremental weather has kept me from photographing my projects. 

I managed to get something on film for you guys, though.  Take a look.

It's actually an old design from when I was first acquainting myself with the joys of E6000 glue.  Thankfully, I've gotten better at composing pendants and the like, but this one is still pretty.  It includes brass filigree, onyx beads, silver plated brass beads, hematite, swarovski crystals and a plastic button.  This is the first time I've taken photos of it that actually came out well.  Surprisingly.   Ha!  Well, I'm going to curl up under my blanket again.  See you guys.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Cadena: Classic and Simple

In Spanish, Cadena usually means simply, a chain.  It's also the name of a popular high fashion and sewing magazine.  Love that magazine, btw.  For me, cadena represents timeless and versatile style, form and function married together.  So chic!  That's the motif I was trying to portray with this necklace.

As you can see, it's a super simple, really straightforward and no frills sort of design.  It was made with quality components though. Onyx, hematite, and swarovski crystals.  It came together just as planned.  Lovely, simple and very elegant.

I even took the extra time to make a bracelet and earrings.

Friday, July 11, 2014


WELL, I've jumped on the bandwagon.  I know you've seen them.  The owls.  They're everywhere.  They're always watching.  From the aisles of tupperware to the decorative boxes of kleenex.  The owls are everywhere.  In the high-end stores and even in Walmart.  Although I like owls and have for the longest time, I've avoided them because of their recent popularity.  I want unique things.  Slapping birds and owls on it is a good way to get lost in the fad.

But... I made an owl necklace.  Does that... does that mean I'm "Mainstream" now?

His tummy is made of a feather.  Isn't it cute?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Knee Deep

I happened into one of the more gentrified areas of Pilsen a couple weeks ago.  Don't ask what I was doing there because it's not any of your business.  Let's just say I was meeting a Dark Haired Stranger for lunch after a morning of boutiquing the jewelry I made.  As is our usual, we had lunch at a moderately priced restaurant and went for a turn about the park.

What can I say?  We both like walks, it gives us an excuse not to run home immediately, and it's a good way to lengthen any outing and prevent 2 pounds of Mexican food from sticking to your thighs.  I'm not trying to make the Twerk Team any time soon, so, yeah.  Walks.

As we walked, we passed by some interesting new shops that had opened in the area.  Being a social person, I try not to be horribly rude, but I was so entranced by the vintage high waisted shorts in the window, that the Dark Haired Stranger noticed and immediately suggested we go inside.  The name of this shop was called Knee Deep.

It smelled like a well-kept attic and was chock full of clothes, trinkets, and accessories from the 50's onward.  Everything from authentic Chinese jackets, embellished jackets from the 80s, and jewelry so old the companies are no longer in operation.  The items I wanted were too small to fit my rear hindquarters, so despite my intense desire to waltz out wearing an 80's prom dress, it wasn't going to happen.  I settled on two brooches that I absolutely adored...and the Dark Haired Stranger made sure I didn't leave the shop without them.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Talking mess

Sometimes you have to pump yourself up when you're feeling a bit miffed, upset or discouraged.  It's moments like these that make me say that my mom is the best roommate to have.  She might fuss and deliver things with brutal honesty but she can get the silly started too and turn a fit of pique or sadness into a parade of ridiculously overblown egotistical madness.  She'll teach you how to laugh to keep from crying.

We get to 'talkin' shit". 
No whining about what's out of place.
About the emotional rancidness wafting up in your face.
Talkin' mess. 
In your best dress,
Jewelry, makeup and hair
Made all the way up
Every brushstroke in line with the design of a mood you do not have. 
Parade around in skyscraper heels, jingling jewelry, and a strut to crush any obstacle.

Toss your hair, roll your eyes
And to that man who called you an uppity bitch, "Ya damn right, I am"
Sitting around with rollers,
Mud on our faces, naps spilling out from under our shower caps
But we sit like exotic birds preening and proud.
We say, "Girl, look at you!  You think you somebody!"  and the other responds, "Ya damn right, I am!"  

All day, everyday
Darting through the hall, gathering our crafts, chirruping at each other,
"Phenomenal woman!" and "She walks in beauty!"
Talkin' shit we don't see or hear, but
We speak it as truth,
We draw it in like sunlight
Gather splendor from word and deed
Prop each other up and flourish the plumes of our efforts 
Like birds gossiping in the trees as they build their nests of glitter, thread and dust.
Just talkin' shit.
Cause nobody else will.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Blogger and Google +

Yeah.  I don't care how much google tries to get you to link your blog to google +, it's bullshit and will invariably mess up your posts.  Especially if you try to organize a 'gallery' for photos you've posted on your blog.  Google + links EVERYTHING IN YOUR LIFE to one hub.  Any changes on one part changes ALL parts.  This is a stupid, redundant feature and you know what, I'm going to see if I can opt out of it because it's a massive crock of garbage.

Nayru's Love Necklace

HAHA!  I fixed this necklace and came up with something decidedly delicate and feminine.  It looks much better than the original in my personal opinion.

I was so pleased with how it turned out with just a few little additions that I set about to making some earrings to go with it.  Take a gander.

Funny how I got better photos of the earrings than the necklace... So it goes..

Friday, July 4, 2014

Lorule Low-down

While I haven't played a Link between worlds, I've watched a bit of the Let's plays available on youtube to keep myself from turning in fits over the fact that I can neither afford a 3DS XL or the game itself.  Not only does it have solid gameplay mechanics reminiscent to the ORIGINAL Legend of Zelda game and Ocarina of Time, but it's got a nice feel and the whole concept of a mirror-image shadow world plays into the affection for books like Journey to the Center of the Earth and old theories that the world was composed of layers of vastly different 'worlds' with slightly different mechanics and creatures living within them.

That aside... the aesthetics of Lorule, the dark version of Hyrule, are really easy to get into.  Even though the motifs are similar to Hyrule's bright, shiny filigree and scrollwork, they are decidedly dark and cold.  I like dark, cold colors.  So here's the first bit of fanart I've made for the crumbling kingdom of Lorule.

Almost a perfect color match for the purple elements in the Lorule side of the game.

Reminds me of Lorule's incarnation of Zelda..

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Tips to Get Out of a Funk a Rut, or Depressed State

I'm going to keep it short and sweet.  Partially because, yes, it IS that simple and partly because no, it is NOT that simple.  Do you get what I'm saying?  Of course you don't.  Remember in my last post I stated that Depression affects people differently.  Naturally, there's no one-size-fits-all solution and for many people who have recurring depression, it's an ongoing battle.

Step 1: Give yourself time to cry, but maintain a certain routine.
Your feelings do have value and you should never feel like you're not ALLOWED to feel them.  Stuffing them in a box and hiding them away is a surefire way to have them sneak up on you later, or worse, fester and boil under the surface, while rotting away everything you like about yourself.  You shouldn't focus on crying or being sad for too long, though.  I've seen people get swallowed up in a cycle of self-pitying misery.  It does NOTHING for you.  That is why you need to maintain a routine.  Continuing with everyday life things, like cooking and cleaning not only gives you something positive to focus on, but also something stable to cling to as you process your emotions.

Step 2: How do you feel?  And why do you feel that way?
Take some time, just a few coherent moments to analyze your feelings.  Sadness, loss and other negative emotions can usually be tied to an event or series of events that evoke certain feelings.  If you feel trapped, tired, and helpless, think about what things in your life might be forcing you to feel that way.

Step 3: Analyze your problems.
Once you understand how you feel, you can usually start looking at specific problems that those feelings stem from... and begin to mitigate them.  Toxic relationships, dead end jobs, loss, boredom... once you recognize what you anxiety and depression stem from, you can begin to rationalize and implement a plan to make those things go away, or at least get yourself some coping mechanisms.

Step 4:  Be kind to others.
Some people forget that being in a funk doesn't entitle them to be a dingleberry.  Just because you're having a bad day, year, whatever, doesn't mean that being kind is no longer an option.  Being compassionate can help YOU to break out of your funk.  Every little good deed should be a positive reminder that you can contribute to other people's lives and that you do still have power over things happening around you.  Also, you can make new, awesome friends.

Step 5: Don't forget about people.
Be with your loved ones, even if you don't feel like it.  Sometimes, you can thrive in their energy.  Don't forget that here are loads of people who's lives you have touched in a good way, even though you don't realize it.

Step 6: Never stop moving forward.
Every step forward is a step in the right direction.  It gives you focus, it gives you something to look forward to and if it's the past that has you gripped with negative feelings, it can help you overcome it.

Take care of yourselves, kids.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Mental Health: Understanding Your Melancholy Neighbors

I don't know what it is about today's era, but there either seems to be a lot more depressed people out there, they stay depressed for longer, or they are talking about it a lot more than I remember as a child.  Part of me is glad that depression is on the tips of everyone's tongues because if something is being discussed, it's gaining visibility and if it's visible, more than likely, people will call for change.  Change, with things like depression is good.  It means we're willingly coming further in finding better treatments, establishing support networks and passing helpful ideas around in society.

As a person who's witnessed, studied, and experienced depression I understand that it is difficult to deal with, remedy and it can be horrible to watch- if you're not the sufferer.  However, many people seem to view depression as some sort of bizarre condition that the person experiencing it chose, which is COMPLETELY off the mark.  Simply put, that's like expecting a person has complete and perfect control over their surroundings and themselves.  Any of you with half a brain know that even the most optimistic and upbeat of individuals can't do that.  I mean, I'm sure that if depressed people could choose not to live their life in expert mode, they would have switched the settings long ago.

I've never quite understood why that image is assigned to depressed individuals.  Depression is tied prehistoric fight or flight response.  Impending danger signals our bodies to turn off many of its functions like: learning, sensory perceptions, and positive emotions that would encourage us to stay where we are...  It, you know, shuts off everything that could get you killed while you're going "LADEEDA, LOOK AT THE TULIPS!!!" instead of avoiding the beak and claws of that huge terrorbird hot on your heels.

Yeah... those things used to eat us.  That's just its skull.
Stress, danger, fear.  In the olden days, those things were tied to direct, explicit threats.  Things that you could actually control.  They boosted problem solving skills during the danger and rewarded you with a boost of endorphins when the danger had passed, increasing your ability to learn.  It helped us to become smarter, avoid or prevent dangers.  Those who were hyper vigilant, hyper aware of their surroundings and themselves, and were able to learn, analyze and survive passed that gene to their offspring.  Prolonged exposure to stress triggered other physiological responses like a slowed metabolism, lethargy, and extreme cautiousness.  In a hard winter, drought, or famine those would have been benefits.  Your neighbor was up running about,  starving to death, while you hunkered down in the dark and brooded about what to do next.  You lived because you didn't burn all your calories.  Then, it was a vital part of our species' continuity.  Unfortunately, today, it's not.

We don't have huge murderous birds trying to gobble us up.  We don't frequently find ourselves facing physical manifestations of danger that we can surmount with analytical skills and on the fly problem solving.  We've whittled a lot of those things out of our equation.  All we have now are arbitrary constructs that we can't escape from.  What happens when you have a built-in predisposition to flee or conquer difficulties but the difficulties you're facing can't be actually conquered?  That fight or flight response lingers...and wrecks your body.

That's the root of depression today.  We have dangers and fears that we can do nothing about and we're stuck with the intelligence, analytical skills, and all the physical effects of prolonged fight or flight response.  That's dangerous.  In a society that places value on arbitrary things, useless material items, and the lack the understanding and ability to control the contributors to our success, depression is on the rise.  While it's being tracked as carefully as suicides because it's seen as less damaging, we can draw some conclusions about it from the suicide rates- all of which stem from depression.  Anyone who wants to argue, I can tell you, I've never heard of a person deliberately killing themselves because they were bored, angry, or happy.  So Shush.

From what I gather, suicides and depression cases go hand in hand.  Suicides typically peak during times of wide spread turmoil.  They tend to be higher in locations with fewer opportunities, fewer entertainment options and distractions, and in communities that have a history of being oppressed.

When you have enough opportunities, distractions and stimuli for people, the rate of suicides and, by association, depression drops.  In the economic DEPRESSION (I don't care what sugar-coated garbage the economists try to feed us, it was not a 'recession'.  It was a DEPRESSION.  The unemployment rate was higher than it was during the Great Depression.) suicide rates shot up significantly in rural, remote, and military locations.  That's one of the dangers of depression.  Our media has tricked many minds into viewing themselves as the problem, making death seem like a favorable outcome.

Suicide isn't the only danger that comes with depression, however.  I mean, it's only the 3rd most likely killer of the underemployed, underpaid Generation Y, so it's not that big a deal, right?  Ha!  But seriously, larger problem associated with depression would be the health effects from prolonged bouts.

Fight or flight, not grow and repair.  Your body shuts down things like healing and immune responses.  It turns up the dial on things like blood pressure and other things that would help you run or fight in a tight spot.  It's like being Wolverine without the healing factor.  Except if Mr. Shiny Claws didn't have the healing factor, all those impressive leaps, punches and acrobatic feats would render his fleshy body to a nice delicious meat soup.  That's what happens to the body of a depressed person.

The jacked up function of their circulatory system, brain, and vital organs causes them to get SHREDDED.  They don't heal as well, so the wear and tear makes happy little accidents like cancer, heart disease, and sudden, acute onsets of dormant conditions and genetic disorders pop up more frequently.  So, yeah, depression slowly turns the afflicted into a pain-riddled shell.  Oh.  Yeah.  So, the number 1 and number two most likely killers of Gen Y totally include heart disease and cancer.  FYI.

Most people don't realize that depression is a fight or flight response in overdrive or that a genetic predisposition towards it is beyond the sufferer's control, making 'Snapping out of it' impossible.  They don't recognize that the person experiencing it is fighting a mental battle against life and a physical battle as their body erodes around them.  People don't understand that it's not something you can just turn off and suddenly be happy again.  They also don't get that it affects everyone differently.  Worst of all, they don't know how repeated statements of 'Just be happy!' and 'Get over it already!' can point the finger at the depressed person and make it seem like THEY are the problem...and cause an unwanted reaction.

But not all is lost.  As a person who's briefly fallen into a depression trap and crawled out of it, I will offer some tips that worked for me in my next post.