Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Finds - Runes

I've always been enchanted by the magical, mystical runes and found way too many amazing pieces to only list my typical three. I hope you don't mind. But first, here's a little background on the runes from The Runic Journey: An Online Exploration of the Norse Runes

Runes are an alphabetic script used by the peoples of Northern Europe from the first century c.e. until well into the Middle Ages. In addition to their use as a written alphabet, the runes also served as a system of symbols used for magic and divination. Runes fell into disuse as the Roman alphabets became the preferred script of most of Europe, but their forms and meanings were preserved in inscriptions and manuscripts.

The primary characteristic which distinguishes a runic alphabet from other alphabets is that each letter, or rune, has a meaning. For example, whereas "ay", "bee", and "cee" are meaningless sounds denoting the first three letters in our alphabet, the names of the first three runes, "fehu", "uruz", and "þurisaz" are actual words in the Germanic language, meaning "cattle", "aurochs", and "giant", respectively. Runes also have magical and religious significance as well, thus transforming the simple process of writing into a magical act. They are also used for divinatory readings and to create magical spells.

Today, runes have been rediscovered as a symbolic system and have gained immense popularity as a means of divination. They are, however, much more than a curious alternative to Tarot cards for telling fortunes. They provide a key to understanding the lives and beliefs of the ancient people who created them, and have much to teach us about a way of life that was perhaps more inimately connected to the natural world, and to the realm of spirit, than our own.

Odin Elder Futhark Runes and Box by Alaska Laser Maid

Sterling Silver Rune Cuff by Cindy Pack

Mosaic Stepping Stone by Your Healing Garden

Rune Goddess Personalized Portrait Picture by My Magic Me

Prosperity/Good Fortune/Money Moon Soap by Moon Goddess Designs

Rustic Runes - Fine Silver & Sterling Stud Post Earrings - Elder Futhark Runes by Canadian Rockies Art

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fantasy Artists of Etsy Street Team Midsummer Revelry Exhibition

I am way behind on sharing this, but... The Fantasy Artists of Etsy Street Team's Midsummer Revelry Exhibition is absolutely gorgeous. There's such a wide variety of items including plushies, stained glass, jewelry, art, bags, masks, ritual supplies, hair accessories... Athena's Armoury has three pieces of chain maille jewelry included as well! You can see some of the amazing items included in the Etsy Mini on the very bottom of this blog page. Be sure to check it out. You won't be disappointed. But do it soon, because our next exhibition isn't long off!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Black Thumb Slowly Turning Green Again?

I love herbs. I do not claim to be an herbalist, but herbs in general and particularly the medicinal use of them fascinates me. I fully admit that I'm no chef, but the use of fresh herbs over dried can make all the difference in the world. When we were living in our apartment, I had a nice little collection of potted herbs growing on our little screened in porch (I don't call it a lanai because it was soooo tiny!). For some reason, however, despite my efforts I haven't had the same luck growing since we moved into our house two years ago.

Despite my apparent black thumb, I did not give up. I wasn't having much luck until my mom got this pot of plants for me when she came to visit in May. There's a few flowers in there with lovely purple buds that's not showing it's face right now in addition to the lovely purple ferns and that very cool spiky plant (have no idea the appropriate names for any of these). Anyway, I managed to keep it alive long enough to feel encouraged to start growing herbs again. After a period of having a black thumb, this was encouraging indeed.

Recently, I bought a couple of basil plants as well as a rosemary, parsley, and oregano (the oregano didn't make it). This time, I tried something new: instead of keeping them on our south west facing lanai where they got tons of sun all day, I kept the pots near our easterly facing front door (basically morning full sun). I don't know what did it (not baking in the sun all day, changing the watering schedule, or sheer luck) but they started doing really well. Encouraged by this turn of events, I picked up another rosemary & parsley; some thyme, oregano, & lemon balm; and an aloe plant. Everything has been re-potted, fed, and seems to be doing well. I even had iced tea with some lovely fresh lemon balm already.

I got no fewer than five mosquito bites while I was tending to my herbs last night, though. No fear, I have apple cider vinegar in the kitchen and that took the itch away pretty much immediately. Today, the bites are practically gone. The vinegar smell dissipates shortly after application, but if you'd rather smell pretty you can also mix one teaspoon each of lavender oil and vegetable oil. Apply the mixture to your bite. The lavender will reduce swelling and take away the itching. I haven't tried this one, but it sounds like it would work. I love home remedies!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Simple Joy Sunday

~Eating sushi.

~A root beer float.

~A day at the beach.

~Summer fruit like watermelon, cherries, nectarines...

~A fresh, hot cup of coffee.

~My best friend being home from her family vacation (I missed chatting with her!).

~My cat gently waking me up with my alarm (and not 2 hours earlier).

~The kindness of the crafting community (and one particular fair organizer: Stacey at Elle Belle).

~The realization that my warrior spirit is coming back. And it feels damn good.

As always, check out more Simple Joy Sundays over at Cool Zebras.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Finds - Mermaids

The amazing mermaid sand sculpture I saw at the beach yesterday inspired today's Friday Finds. After doing some searching around, I realized that I could do a whole mermaid series of finds -- there are so many amazing pieces & artists that I would love to include! You might see this theme again before the end of the summer.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Mermaid Getting a Little Sun

It seems like either lack of motivation or rainy weather has kept me from enjoying the beach for most of the summer so far, so when I had the opportunity to go to the beach during the week (less people than on the weekends!) due to a shift on Saturday and the weather cooperated, I ran! There were actually a lot more people there than I had anticipated, but were mostly doing their own thing and not disturbing my peace. One woman was very busy when I arrived creating something in the sand. As the day progressed, this mermaid sand sculpture came to life. Isn't she amazing?

I had the opportunity today to appreciate so much that I love about being at the beach! Probably the main reason that I love living on the west coast of Florida is that I have access to the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf has always felt tropical to me and today was no exception. The water was tranquil, warm, and clear. I must have seen hundreds of fish swimming by the shore. The pelicans that I usually think are funny creatures, today seemed so graceful as they flew synchronized on a diagonal. The sea oats danced in the slight breeze. It was simply a gorgeous day and so good for the soul.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Changing Careers & Soul Searching

For any of you that know me or for those of you who have been reading my blog for any amount of time know, I've been struggling with happiness with my work situation.

The past 3 1/2 years of being stuck at a desk has been interminably long and I firmly believe that I was not meant to be doing that. After being a stage manager for a decade, being stuck at a desk (although it is still in a theater) is incredibly boring to say the least. Truth be told though, there isn't much going on the road these days (and I'm enjoying being home anyway) and there really isn't much in the way of theater where I'm currently living. So, this leads me to a difficult decision: Stay in my field and remain miserable or start from scratch and completely change my career.

Changing careers is an extremely daunting thought. I thought I was doing what I wanted to do when I grew up and am now finding that I need to rethink that. Because I had been successful in theater up to this point, I honestly never really gave much thought to a back up plan. When I was a child, I thought about being an entertainment lawyer, or a vet, or something to do with computers, or even a psychologist. Really, I can't say that any of that is intriguing to me anymore.

Instead, I find myself being drawn to all kinds of alternative careers.
~I still very much want to make a go of selling my maille at faires, but I need to be able to support myself while I prepare to do that. In my current job, I have plenty of time to blog, list items, and twitter during the day but making time to build up inventory is a bit of a challenge. In addition, it also seems like every time there's a craft fair in my area that I want to do, I'm stuck having to work that weekend.
~I'm very much into natural health and thought that a career in herbalism sounds fascinating. Of course, that would require schooling because I'd have a lot to learn and would have to get certified. Again, because of my current job schedule, attending classes would be difficult because I need to be available whenever there are shows.
~Welding is something that has sparked my interest, but from a creative standpoint. I don't think I'd want to work in construction.
~Humane Law Enforcement through the ASPCA is something that I would feel passionate about, but those positions are currently only available in New York.
~Work at a women's shelter is something else that my heart would be in, but from the research I have done, it seems like only volunteer positions are currently available.

It seems like nothing that I'm interested in doing would earn me much of a living, but I think these completely nontraditional jobs would make me happy. Thing is, we've got a mortgage to pay...

By the end of the summer, a decision may be made for me. The people in the ivory tower where I work have more or less said that someone in my department will be let go. This is frustrating because we're all walking around on egg shells and have no way of planning our lives with this threat hanging over us. Even if I am not the one that's let go, I'm still going to continue to research my options. 3 1/2 years of desk work making me unhappy is reason enough to keep soul searching for something better.

So, I'd like to hear from all of you. Have any of you had to switch careers? How did you make it happen? Was it something that you always had in the back of your mind that you wanted to try? I'd love to hear your stories.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Upcycling Electrical Wire to Make Copper Chain Maille

I always get a mix of reactions from people when I share with them that about 90% of the copper I work with is actually upcycled electrical wire: confused, mystified, excited, etc. Basically, electricians usually have some wire leftover after a job and I've been able to get my hands on some of it from time to time. What that means, however, is that I have to strip the protective plastic coating in order to get to the gorgeous copper wire hiding underneath it. The wire usually ranges in gauge sizes between 15 and 18 and they are entwined in each other so even after you have the wire stripped, it still needs to be separated. Stripping wire is a project, but so worth it. If you are given the opportunity and want to give it a try, here are a few pointers. Be sure to read through all instructions and cautions before you attempt to strip wire yourself.

What you'll need:
-length of electrical wire
-utility knife
-eye protection
-a cutting board, cork board, mat or a bench or work table that can get scratched up if the utility knife slips

How to do it:
-Wearing your eye protection, place your electrical wire on your cutting surface and click open your utility knife. The knife doesn't have to be out very far (in fact, it shouldn't be), just a couple of clicks should do it.
-Start at one end of your wire and cut into it with your knife, making a slice about 2" long. Put down your knife and start to peel the plastic back. Right now, you're not trying to cut all the way through the plastic coating. You are simply taking off the very outermost sheer plastic shell. Continue to cut and peel until the outer layer is completely off.
-Repeat the process, this time cutting through the thick plastic that protects the copper. The trick is to cut deep enough to split the coating, but not so deep that you mar the copper wire underneath. Stop cutting about an inch away from the end of the wire, you should be able to pull this off fairly easily.
-Now, you can either untwist the different gauges or leave them entwined until you're ready to use them (that's what I usually do).

Take great care not to cut anywhere near your fingers. I usually keep one hand holding down the wire on the opposite side of the direction the knife is cutting.

Take your time and go slow. Rushing leads to injury when you're working with a utility knife.

I know I said it before, but I'll say it again: wear eye protection.

Work with short cuts at a time. It's easier to manage and there's less chance of injuring yourself with smaller cuts.

If you take a break or walk away for any reason, close your knife!!

If you get tired, stop and come back to it later. After stripping wire for an hour you are bound to get tired and that's when mistakes happen.

*If you do strip some wire for yourself , I'd love to see what you make! Share links in the comments below.*

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Simple Joy Sunday

~Without going into the personal details, I think I figured out a (or the) reason why I've been so unhappy lately. And if I'm right, I might even know how to fix it. It's crazy the difference I've felt this week. I'm happy, smiling, chatting with people more, overall just feeling lighter than I have in a long time.

~Along with the happiness, I guess came less stress which equals some inspiration. Falling asleep one night earlier this week, I was struck with inspiration for some more displays for my tent. I'm soooo excited about these ideas!!

~A very well known mailler is in the process of writing a chain maille instructional book and I applied to be a tester for the designs in it. I would love, love, love this opportunity!! No sneak peeks before the book comes out if I get to take part though!

~Pleasantly surprised and quite pleased with myself for keeping up with the picture taking/editing/listing part of Athena's Armoury. Also quite proud of myself for continuing my regularly scheduled blog posts!

~New chair at work. This may sound silly, but I've been here for nearly four years and have been begging for a new chair for almost as long. For some reason, my boss keeps promising all of us new chairs "if it's in the budget this year" and needless to say, we never get them. Anyway, one of the shows left behind two office task chairs that they didn't need anymore (both of which were partially broken). My man took apart a couple of the broken chairs to fix up one good one for me. I finally have a halfway decent somewhat comfortable chair! Small things, right?

~I was recently forced to buy a new phone when my old phone died. I've had a pile of three old phones waiting for me to go to Staples and pick up a mail in envelope to have them recycled. Instead, I found a mailler to donate up to three phones for recycling to benefit educational charities! Awesome: helping the environment and kids!

~I randomly found my Chain Maille Stress Balls / Hackey Sacks / Juggling Balls featured on CraftiFish's Blog. Happy surprise!

~I reached 55 followers on my blog! That doesn't seem like anything huge, but it made me happy.

~Despite nearly falling over from heat stroke, Scott and I went for a bike ride this weekend. We did something outside, together, for free, and even got some exercise. Perfect!

As always, check out more Simple Joy Sundays over at Cool Zebras.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

One Lovely Blog Award

I recently received this award from both Izile's Oddities and The CraftiFish. Thank you both so much!! Between this and realizing that I'm up to 55 followers on my blog, I'm feeling pretty good about my blog these days!

Please check out the wonderful, mystical goodness that Izile has to offer; as well as the amazing stained glass and ocean inspired work over at CraftiFish.

Okay, so here are the rules:
1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who gave it to you and a link to their blog.
2. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you have newly discovered.
3. Contact the bloggers you award to let them know that they were chosen.

I'd like to pass on the award to the following blogs simply because I think they are amazing artists and have great blogs. I apologize in advance if I've already hit you guys up with a 'tagging' award and don't want you to feel compelled to keep the chain going; I just wanted to feature you!

1. Altered Events
2. Aquariann Bath
3. Battlemaiden Studio
4. Block Party Press
5. Darkling Woods Studio
6. Elle Belle
7. ErtheFae's Meandering Thoughts
8. Knitted Steel
9. Living Good at Liv'n Good Jewelry
10. Mermaiden Creations in the Otherworld
11. MrsDragon
12. the art and tree chatter of aquariann
13. Thyme2dream ~ Fae Elven Fashionista
14. Sew It's For You
15. Up From the Ashes

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Bit of a Scolding

I am a bad, bad person! My ever supportive twitter friend Marjorie aka whskr on twitter, Artfire, and Etsy; and of The Fantail blog featured me on her blog longer ago than I care to admit and I never promoted it or even thanked her for it. Marjorie, I am so sorry and thank you so very much!! It was such a complimentary feature and I appreciate it so very much.

I love this piece: Green Goddess Beaded Art Doll Pin

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New in Shop: Little Black Earrings & Stretch Diamond Finger Armour

This week, Athena's Armoury is unveiling a few new items!

Little Black Earrings
These earrings have such a simple elegance that they could easily go from day to night.

Made with mini Jet briolettes and sterling silver findings, they measure 1 1/4" from the top of the ear hook to the bottom of the bead.

Little Black Earrings are available in Athena's Armoury Artfire Studio and Etsy Shop.

Stretch Diamond Chain Maille Finger Armour
Traditionally, armour of old was made using riveted stainless steel rings. This finger ring is a modern take on it by updating an ancient chain maille weave using stretchy rubber rings.

The weave used in this piece is Japanese 12-2 in a diamond pattern using bright aluminum and rubber rings. The bright aluminum jump rings were coiled and cut by hand by me. The diamond is 1 1/4" long and just shy of 1" across. One size fits most.

The Stretch Diamond Chain Maille Finger Armour in bright aluminum is available in Athena's Armoury Artfire Studio and Etsy Shop. It is also available as a stretchy mixed metal piece (bright aluminum & copper) in the Etsy Shop and Artfire Studio.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Simple Joy Sunday

~After all of the dental drama of the past year, i finally got my bridge permanently cemented in! Even though things haven't settled down yet (I swear my teeth are literally pissed off at me), I am so hopeful that things might be quiet for a little while when they do.

~I had been eying EA Sports Active for the Wii since before it came out, but thought that I'd wait until I hear what people are saying about it before I even think about buying yet another Wii work out game. Needless to say, people are loving it, so I decided to treat myself to it! I have only used it once so far, but it is fun and kinda kicked my ass. Hello, my name is Janine and I'm a Wii fitness program addict.

~My new phone (Nokia 5800, which I'm in love with by the way) has a GPS on it and I was having issues getting the driving direction program to work. It seems so silly, but it made me so happy and satisfied this week when I finally figured it out.

~I've always been a little new agey, but have been encouraged even more so by my work friend Ramona. She's quite an impressive psychic and has been feeling my pain since the bloodbath at work recently. Last week, she gifted me with an obsidian egg, a quartz crystal, and an anointing oil. All gifts given of love for protection and healing. This week, I walked into my office to find a witch's broom for clearing negativity. It was so sweet and thoughtful of her to care that much to bring me items with such meaning. It meant the world to me that she thought to do those things.

As always, check out more Simple Joy Sundays over at Cool Zebras.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

New in Shop: Stress Balls, Hackey Sacks, Juggling Balls

Yes, they work as all three: stress balls, hackey sacks, and juggling balls! Chain maille is such a tactile art, that they are perfect stress balls. They have a great squish factor, making them great to be used as hackey sacks. And they are fairly lightweight, making them quite aerodynamic to use as juggling balls.

Each ball has an approximate 2 1/4" diameter, is made with bright aluminum rings, and is filled with fabric making it quite easy to clean.

Available in Athena's Armoury Etsy Shop and Artfire Studio. Please contact me if you're interested in only one ball. More colors coming soon!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I'd Like to Thank the Committee...

Actually, I'd like to thank, MrsDragon, for nominating me for the Honest Scrap Award! For adorable little dragons, be sure to check out her Etsy Shop MrsDragon; and for charming flower cards, go to InkandVine.

Here's how the Honest Scrap Award works:
- I must thank the person who gave me the award and list their blog and link it
- I must list 10 honest things about myself
- I must put a copy of The Honest Scrap Logo on my blog.
- I must select at least 7 other worthy bloggers & list their links
- I must notify the bloggers of the award and hopefully they will follow the above requirements.

1. I'm pretty much a jeans and T-shirt kind of girl, but love an opportunity to dress up every once in a while (unfortunately, it very rarely happens, though). I also usually don't leave the house without some kind of bronzer, concealer, mascara combination.

2. Despite the history of skin cancer in my family, I still worship the sun. I love the feeling of warmth and energy that comes from it. I do it smart and wear sun tan lotion, though.

3. You can take the girl out of the city, but you can't take the city out of the girl. I moved away from the city (NY) a few years back and know that I will always miss it. It's a part of me.

4. I am a complete neat freak. I absolutely believe that everything has a place and it belongs in it's place.

5. I'm finding myself completely befuddled with the thought that I have to figure out what I want to do when I grow up... again. I already figured that out and was doing it!

6. Despite being skeptical about Facebook for a good long time, I've secretly become slightly obsessed with it. I really need to make a fanpage for Athena's Armoury!

7. True to the stage manager inside me, oftentimes I need to think things through and come up with a plan, a backup plan, and a backup to the backup plan before acting. Most things usually don't require this much effort, but that's the way my brain is wired.

8. I'm a water baby. I used to swim so much as a kid that my grandmother would call me Esther Williams. I'm still happiest in or near water: the beach, pool, in a bath...

9. Pretty sure that I would be perfectly content to work from home and make chain maille to sell at ren faires for a living. I need to figure out a way to support myself while I get started on that though. Any ideas?

10. Although I usually try to be diplomatic and kind, I am a fairly straight forward, honest person and will tell you what's on my mind.

And now, seven bloggers to pass on the award to:
1. Mermaiden Creations in the Otherworld
2. the art and tree chatter of aquariann
3. Thyme2dream ~ Fae Elven Fashionista
4. Evie's Tool Emporium
5. ErtheFae's Meandering Thoughts
6. Darkling Woods Studio
7. Elle Belle For Chic Mommies and Pampered Babies

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

New in Shop: The Fool

As I discussed when I introduced my Alienmaille bracelet, I love Euro 4-1. This necklace is yet another example of why I love the classic Euro 4-1 chain maille weave so much: all of the variations that can be made with it as a base. Simply by altering the amount of jump rings in each row of the necklace, dags (or daggers) are created. The dags in this necklace remind me of the typical court jester's costume, thus the name The Fool.

The Fool measures 19 1/2" including a 1 1/2" extender chain to vary the length of the necklace. The dags alternate in length from 1 1/8" to 1 1/4" from the top of the necklace collar to the bottom of the dag. The Fool was made using bright aluminum jump rings which are extremely light and so shiny that it is typically confused with sterling silver.

The Fool is available in Athena's Armoury's Artfire Studio and Etsy Shop.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Simple Joy Sunday

For some reason, I'm finding that my simple joys are usually more like things I'm grateful for.

~Warrior II pose. Yoga always helps me to relax and feel more centered and focused. This week of anxiety, was no different. I've always loved Warrior II pose, but the strength, pride, courage, and self-confidence it made me feel this week was simply tremendous and much needed.

~Jack, the officially kitty of Athena's Armoury. Jack was of great comfort to me this week. I found myself truly looking forward to seeing him when I was driving home from work. There really is something to be said about having an adorable furball waiting for you when you get home. And, if I had to guess, he was more tolerant of my attempts to cuddle with him (he usually cuddles under his own terms and usually not for long) because he sensed something was up.

~Sleep. When I get stressed, I do a number on my neck and get so tired that I could sleep for a month. There were a couple nights after the bloodbath at work that I was having a hard time sleeping, but every night since then I have been unconscious. It's been so nice to actually be able to relax enough to sleep that well and it's been much needed this week.

~A tremendous simple joy came this week when I found out that my best friend Julie booked a plane ticket to come visit me in August. I miss her so much and am really looking forward to seeing her.

~The 4th of July was observed on Friday where I work, so I had a three day weekend this week. That was something for me to look forward to all week. Three days off makes me so happy! Plus, on Friday morning, Scott suggested we hit our favorite dive breakfast place. Yummy food for cheap. Can't go wrong with that. It was a fun treat.

~We spent the 4th on the beach with some people from work having a few drinks and watching fireworks. We had a really nice time. (Well, until we left and realized that Scott's truck was towed, but we're focusing on the good stuff here...)

~With everything that's been going on in my life with work this week, I am ever so grateful to all of my family and friends (both in my daily life and my virtual life). The love, support, kind words, advice, and overall good vibes that everyone has shared with me have meant the world to me. Thank you all so very much.

As always, check out more Simple Joy Sundays over at Cool Zebras.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Friday Finds - Strength

With everything that's been going on at work lately, I've been feeling very anxious and stressed. When things get rough, however, I try to focus on the strength to get through hard times.