Saturday, March 29, 2008

Beach Bum Creations is Moving in with Athena's Armoury

Many of you may already know that my first shop on Etsy was called Beach Bum Creations. And then chain maille pretty much took over all of the creations and I felt it necessary to open a second shop strictly for my maille. Well, after trying to make a go at maintaining and promoting two different shops, and not being terribly successful at it, I think it's time to try something new. All stock from Beach Bum Creations (mainly semi-precious gemstone jewelry) will be moved over to Athena's Armoury. It will make my life so much easier by only having to promote one shop!! But it will also help round out my shop and give me even more stuff to list as I continue to work on larger scale maille projects that take some more time. But, I'm also hoping that it will give my customers more fun stuff to look at and perhaps encourage cross purchasing.

The first item to make the move is this gorgeous bracelet entitled For a Good Cause - The Nature Conservancy. $5 from the sale of this bracelet will be donated to The Nature Conservancy - the leading conservation organization working to protect the most ecologically important lands and waters around the world for nature and people. Please visit Athena's Armoury for the details about this bracelet and to find out how you can help make a difference for our Planet Earth.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Playing Catch Up in Pictures

Last week I received such a phenomenal wire order! All kinds of yummy stuff including a sampler of anodized aluminum rings, a sampler of scale maille, 2 pounds each of 16 gauge and 18 gauge bright aluminum (BA) wire, and 10 pounds* of 14 gauge BA wire. I already finished a custom dice bag with some of the anodized aluminum rings and am starting on an Uber bag (yup, that's the Crown Royal size) for a friend. Part of my mom's birthday present this year is a pouch for her iPod with the green (her favorite color) anodized aluminum rings. Then, I have so many plans for more armour and some production line jewelry. So much metal to play with!!

I've been talking about the fact that I'm working on the Fantasy Artists of Etsy Street Team's Round Robin for FOREVER now!! Come Hell or high water, I will finish my part for this doll! Here's a work in progress picture so you know I'm not lying. . .

<== Scott recently bought me this fabulous tool chest, I just had to share with you. It's beautiful!

On a side note, I'm so excited to finally have my taillight guards on my Jeep! I've had these things for probably a year and a half and have been searching for the correct hardware for them ever since. ==>

Lastly, Jack wanted to say hi. Here he is "overseeing" my maille work:

Monday, March 24, 2008

Mission: Ren Faire Research

Yesterday, Scott and I attended the Bay Area Renaissance Festival at MOSI in the name of research. Of course it was a ton of fun, but our primary mission was to scope out booths, costumes, and displays as I prepare to build my own. There were quite a few booths that were very professionally done up (read: beautiful and expensive) as well as some that looked like they may be just starting out and maybe not too terribly invested (perhaps they work more in the craft fair market than the ren faire one). There appeared to be many vendors selling commercially made goods and not quite as many hand made artisans and crafters. I also only saw one maille vendor and their main focus was on jewelry. There were lots of really fun display ideas, too: there were the scarves that one vendor used to decorate the inside of her tent, the wooden shades and trellises used for displays, oriental rugs and bamboo matting for floorings, faux animal skins for table coverings, and more.

I felt reassured seeing such a mix of booths and displays: it gives me hope that since I'm just starting out and not investing in one of the $800 booths available, I can still throw something really nice together. It was also nice to see that maille is kind of in the minority among the items for sale. Hopefully, that just means that there aren't many maille vendors instead of a lack of interest in it! I'm also excited about the fact that I'd like to offer more than just jewelry and be able to offer my customers that much more in the way of options. Jewelry will always be a huge part of my inventory, but they will also be able to browse armour, bags, accessories, housewares, and more!

And of course, in the name of research, I had to look into a costume as well! I looked at a few fabric, steel boned corsets and some bodices but didn't really fall in love with any of them. Then I saw the leather corsets. . . I just had to try one on:

I don't actually know the lady I'm standing with. She just happened to be passing by wearing a green skirt that matched the inlay on the corset. =) I fell in love with it, but could NOT freakin' breathe in the thing. I couldn't imagine wearing it for any length of time, so alas, I moved on.

I finally came across this Elizabethan Era Coat, apparently it's the same style Arwen was wearing when she rescued Frodo on the horse in LOTR. I wish I got Scott to take a picture when I was wearing it, but I was too sidetracked thinking about how much I liked it and what I would wear with it. It is a lovely chocolate brown and so soft! The lacing in the front gives a busty look without cutting off circulation! Fun part of the story: I picked up my usual medium but when the shopkeeper saw me, he said "That is WAY too big for you. You need a small." I have no problem with my size, but I nearly hit the floor when he said I needed a small. =D I eventually also picked up a cream colored shirt and some brown leggings to match, now all I need are my boots and accessories and I'll be set! Oh, and the couple of pieces of armour I plan to make for my costume as well.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Women's History Month: It's a Pirate's Life for Me

In honor of St Patrick's Day AND Women's History Month, here's the story of an infamous Irish female pirate.

One of the ONLY female pirates in the Caribbean, Anne Bonny immersed herself in a man's world of pillaging, plundering, and piracy. Although, it is hard to separate fact from fiction in her story, one thing that is certain: Anne Bonny was a strong, independent woman who was way ahead of her time.

Born in Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland in 1697, she was the illegitimate daughter of William Cormac (a lawyer) and a servant. William's wife made the adultery public, ruining his reputation and ending his career. William, his wife, and their newborn baby left for Charleston, SC where they bought a plantation and William began his practice anew.

Stories of Anne's quick temper and rebellious nature abound even in her youth. When she was 13, she supposedly stabbed a servant girl in the stomach with a table knife, although it is unclear whether this is fact or purely legend. Another story tells of a young man that she put in the hospital for several weeks, after his failed attempt to sexually assault her. At 16, she married a sailor and small-time pirate named James Bonny. Bonny hoped to win possession of his wife's family estate, but she was disowned by her father who did not approve of the marriage. According to legend, Anne Bonny started a fire on the plantation in retaliation.

They then left for New Providence (modern day Nassau) in the Bahamas, a pirate stronghold, where James became an informant for Governor Woodes Rogers. While in the Bahamas, Anne became friends with many a pirate and actually began a relationship with Calico Jack Rackham. Refusing to divorce her, James complained to the governor, who brought Anne before the court, naked, and sentenced her to be flogged and to return to her legal husband. Anne Bonny took charge of her life and eloped with Rackham.

She disguised herself as a man in order to join Rackham's crew aboard the Revenge (pirate articles, or codes, often barred women from the ship). Accounts describing her exploits present her as competent, effective in combat, and someone who gained the respect of her fellow pirates. The love relationship between Anne and Calico was not public, but on the ship, everybody knew that Anne was "the captain's woman". Over the next several years, she and Rackham saw quite a few successes as pirates, capturing many ships, and bringing in an abundance of treasure. Although Bonny is one of the best-known pirates in history, she never commanded a ship of her own. Her renown derives from the fact that she was a remarkable rarity: a female pirate.

Mary Read, also disguised as a man, joined Rackham's crew when her own ship was taken during a raid. Anne and Mary quickly discovered that they had something in common and bonded immediately. Rackham became jealous of Anne's relationship with this new sailor, so soon the cat was out of the bag about Mary's gender. This however, had no effect: she was accepted on board the ship as Anne had been.

In October 1720, Captain Barnet, ex-pirate, now commander of British Navy attacked Rackham's anchored ship. Most of Rackham's pirates did not put up much resistance as many of them were too drunk to fight. However, Anne and Mary, who were sober, fought fiercely and managed to hold off Barnet's troops for a short time.

The crew of the Revenge was taken to Port Royal to stand trial where they were found guilty for the crime of piracy and sentenced to hang. Anne and Mary "pleaded their bellies," announcing that they were both pregnant. In accordance with English common law, both women received a temporary stay of execution until they gave birth. Anne is reported to have chastised the imprisoned Rackham (who wanted to see her one last time) by saying, "I am sorry to see you here Jack, but if you had fought like a man, you need not be hanged like a dog." Mary Read died in prison most likely from a fever; it has also been alleged that she died during childbirth.

There is no historical record of Bonny's release or of her execution. This has fed speculation that her father ransomed her; that she might have returned to her husband, or even that she resumed a life of piracy under a new identity. However, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography states that "Evidence provided by the descendants of Anne Bonny suggests that her father managed to secure her release from gaol and bring her back to Charles Town, South Carolina, where she gave birth to Rackam's second child. On 21 December 1721 she married a local man, Joseph Burleigh, and they had eight children. She died in South Carolina, a respectable woman, at the age of eighty-four and was buried on 25 April 1782."

Anne and Mary were women who escaped from traditional restrictions and in their own way, fought for equality between men and women. Yo ho ho. . .

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Women's History Month: Rosie the Riveter - America's First Career Woman

Perhaps one of my all time favorites, the first true career woman in the United States, the spark that ignited the women's lib movement nearly thirty years before it officially planted its roots. . . Rosie the Riveter.

Rosie the Riveter is not one woman, but a cultural icon in the United States representing the six million women who worked in the manufacturing plants that produced munitions and material during World War II. These women took the place of the male workers who were absent fighting in the Pacific and European theaters. The character is now considered a feminist icon in the US, and a herald of women's economic power to come. Rosie and her slogan (We Can Do It!) were featured on posters, magazines, and more.

These women came from all over the country and discovered skills they never knew they had, both as laborers, and as independent women. They were self-sufficient and strong (many of them endured double-shifts on a fairly regular basis), and they eventually discovered new freedoms by earning their own incomes and making their own choices on how to spend that money.

What many people don't know is that the character of Rosie the Riveter was, in fact, associated with real woman Rose Will Monroe. She worked as a riveter at the Willow Run Aircraft Factory in Michigan. She was asked to star in a promotional film about the war effort at home and was also featured in a poster campaign. There was also, albeit briefly, a Wendy the Welder icon fashioned after Janet Doyle, a worker at the Kaiser Richmond Liberty Shipyards in California.

Unfortunately, however, it wasn't all roses. Old films show the armies of the eager, smiling women working shoulder to shoulder with the men, their babies lovingly cared for in official day care. A welder’s visor is snapped up to reveal the immaculately made-up face of an actress who delivers a tidy script about the fulfillment she finds in doing her duty. It was not a bit like that, say the actual women, three decades on. The men did not want women and nobody wanted blacks. Sexist and racial discrimination was virulent; the struggle for unionization and fair wages was met with bullying and lockouts. Families were broken up; they never heard of day care. Standards of hygiene and safety were terrible. Despite everything, however, the women stayed cheerful and funny and brave. They needed still more bravery after the war when their jobs had to go back to the men and the official propaganda changed. The films of the time now strove to return the women to their proper roles of cooking and sewing and serving; the government trailers offered horror pictures of the neglected and delinquent children of undutiful working mothers. Women who had acquired valuable skills could only find jobs as kitchen hands or lavatory attendants.

But you cannot keep a good woman down. This taste of economic freedom and independence may have been put on hold for some time, but the women's liberation movement of the 1970's surged forward. Women may still, to this day, be earning $.70 to each $1.00 a man makes, but imagine where we would be had Rosie not answered that call.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Kids Kottage Craft Fair Postmortem

Sadly, most of the pictures I took that day came out fuzzy. And yes, that's a fitted sheet on my table -- I swear the label said flat. Sigh.

When I was in college, I studied directing for theatre. After each student directed show, we would get together with our own mentor and teachers and analyze how the show went from start to finish. We would call this our postmortem. . .

Okay, so the craft fair was not a stupendous success, but it wasn't an entire waste either. I mainly got practice doing one: the prep work, all of the set up, selling my wares, etc. Actually, I don't really think of it as selling my wares, but really just chatting with folks and telling them a little bit about what I do. Truth be told, many people have no idea what chain maille really is. My warrior (with her false eyelashes, thank you very much!) modeling the coif drew many people over to my table and inspired many a conversation. I also spent some time weaving a new dice bag and demonstrating how the weave I used (Euro 4-1) could be made into other variations. I brought a whole bunch of beaded and wire wrapped jewelry, some supplies, and even a whole bunch of DIY Necklace Kits (perhaps soon to be added to my Etsy shop) that I wanted to move in addition to my maille. I made a few necklace sales and even a pair of earrings, but no maille sold. Sad.

There was a Pirate guy there making balloon animals for the kids who gave me a lead on a local pirate festival and another vendor offered me a position at a fair outside a coffee shop in another town. I'm not sure if the coffee shop thing is going to work out because it's over an hour away from me, but that pirate festival sounds promising. I'm going to have to make that call and build up my inventory!

I also met fellow Etsy seller Megan of meganclynch and fellow Etsy seller / Florida Etsy Street Team member Stacey of Elle Belle. You can see Stacey's set up here and Megan's here. Check out more pictures of my set up at my flickr.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Craft Fair Tomorrow!

Sneak Peek from my living room.

If you happen to be in the area. . .

Athena's Armoury will be participating in the Grand Opening Celebration and Craft Fair for Kids Kottage in downtown Safety Harbor, FL on Saturday, March 7. Kids Kottage is a resource in the community for families, businesses and artists. No child will be charged a fee for accessing any of their services. The celebration includes games, live music, food, archery, and . . . a trapeze act?!

The address is 255 5th Avenue South, one block south of Main Street. The craft fair will be open from 9:00am to 3:00pm with the rest of the event going from 11:00am-3:00pm.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Women's History Month: With Women Such as These. . . Failure is Impossible

This is perhaps my all time favorite quote from the great suffragist Susan B. Anthony. As election year gains momentum, and the opportunity, right, and privilege to vote are upon us, I thought it fitting to pay tribute to a woman who fought tirelessly to ensure that right given to all.

From the Susan B. Anthony House website:

"Susan B. Anthony was born February 15, 1820 in Adams Massachusetts. She was brought up in a Quaker family with long activist traditions. Early in her life she developed a sense of justice and moral zeal.

After teaching for fifteen years, she became active in temperance. Because she was a woman, she was not allowed to speak at temperance rallies. This experience, and her acquaintance with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, led her to join the women's rights movement in 1852. Soon after she dedicated her life to woman suffrage.

Ignoring opposition and abuse, Anthony traveled, lectured and canvassed across the nation for the vote. She also campaigned for the abolition of slavery, women's rights to their own property and earnings, and women's labor organizations. In 1900, Anthony persuaded the University of Rochester to admit women.

Anthony, who never married, was aggressive and compassionate by nature. She had a keen mind and a great ability to inspire. She remained active until her death on March 13, 1906."

Susan B. Anthony led an amazing life fighting for the rights that we enjoy today. I leave you with some inspiring and, at times, controversial quotes from the woman herself:

I declare to you that woman must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself, and there I take my stand.

I beg you to speak of Woman as you do of the Negro, speak of her as a human being, as a citizen of the United States, as a half of the people in whose hands lies the destiny of this Nation.

I always distrust people who know so much about what God wants them to do to their fellows.

I think the girl who is able to earn her own living and pay her own way should be as happy as anybody on earth. The sense of independence and security is very sweet.

If all the rich and all of the church people should send their children to the public schools they would feel bound to concentrate their money on improving these schools until they met the highest ideals.

Join the union, girls, and together say Equal Pay for Equal Work.

Resolved, that the women of this nation in 1876, have greater cause for discontent, rebellion and revolution than the men of 1776.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Cramming to Get Ready for Craft Fair on Saturday!

This was my table from a psychic fair a friend from work invited me to show at. This is from a LONG time ago when I was involved with beaded and wire wrapped jewelry, hemp, and candles. I had only just discovered chain maille and only had three pieces of it with me.

I found out yesterday that I can vend (free of charge) at a fair on Saturday. Well, it's really a grand opening of an art and activity center for kids that is hosting a craft fair as part of their grand opening celebration. I had been reluctant to do it because I didn't think it would be my demographic, but the more I thought about it. . .

Well, I'm hurriedly trying to figure out my display and some more kid friendly items. I'm a little stressed out about it because I have so little time to prepare. The way I figure it: worse case scenario, I get to spend the day enjoying being outside which is a luxury I rarely afford myself; best case, well, we all know best case is making some sales and meeting some people. I think I'm going to bring some of my beaded and wire wrapped jewelry, hemp for the kiddies, and my DIY Necklace Kits (with gemstones and sterling silver findings) in addition to my maille to try and tap more people's interest.

I also think I'm going to bring some rings and my pliers and do some demos. I wish I was in the middle of a large project to show and make it more interesting.

My to do list also includes all kinds of businessy kinds of things that need to get done, too, like: price tags, promo stuff, displays, bags for purchases, maybe making some kind of banner.

Here are some awesome fair tips from Amanda (aka MrsDragon) at her blog The Dragon's Wares.

What do you do to get ready for a fair? What's the one fair item you can't live without?

Monday, March 3, 2008

March is Women's History Month

Women's History Month traces its beginnings to the first International Women's Day in 1911. IWD, as designated by the United Nations, is an event where the political and social awareness of the struggles of women worldwide are brought out and examined in a hopeful manner.

As recent at the 1970's, women's history was virtually an unknown topic in the K-12 curriculum or in general public consciousness. To address this situation, the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women initiated a "Women's History Week" celebration for 1978. The week of March 8 was chosen to make International Women's Day the focal point of the observance. Word spread like wildfire, and event started springing up across the nation. Responding to the growing popularity of the event, in 1981 Congress passed a resolution making Women's History Week a national holiday. Within a few years, thousands of schools, communities, and organizations began participating in events, educating people, as well as celebrating Women's History Week. In 1987, National Women's History Month Resolution was approved with bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate legally expanding the focus to the whole month of March.

*The theme of National Women's History Month for the year 2008 is visionary female artists. See the honorees.*

In honor of Women's History Month, throughout the course of the month I plan on highlighting some extraordinary women who have made an impact in our world. I look forward to sharing sharing the stories and contributions of some amazing women, both past and present, and hope they inspire you as much as they do me.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Athena's Armoury is Featured

The Fantasy Artists of Etsy Street Team's March Madness Exhibition is now live! It includes many different forms of art that contain themes of moons (for lunacy!), Alice in Wonderland (March Hare), dark fantasy, and more. Helen, from the Etsy shop krummenacker, explained where the phrase "March Madness" is derived:

"It began with Spring Fever and Mad as a March Hare-- the apparent insanity of animals and young people, even, eager to get outdoors, play, mate, and run wild. Rabbits in particular do incredibly dangerous things when their hormones are surging. And so the March Hare was at the Mad Hatter's tea party..."

Helen is just a font of information, especially stories of myth and legend.

Anyway, please check out our exhibition! There are many wonderful items and I'm sure you'll find something or someone that catches your fancy. Happy shopping!

I am honored to share with you that Cathy from AllChic has featured my Chain Maille Dice Bag on her blog. The post is called Medieval Look and features a dress by Stella McCartney. Cathy recommends using my Dice Bag as a purse (I actually have had a customer do the very thing once!). Also featured is a killer knit collar by Ellita's Flying Snail. Thank you so much for featuring me, Cathy, and in such amazing company. To think, I was in the same article as Stella McCartney. . . Glorious!