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Preview: You've Got Maille

You've Got Maille

Blog for Chainmaille and Wire artisan Deanna Lack at

Updated: 2018-03-06T04:49:40.463-08:00


Metal Allergies and You


"Slipstream" earrings with nonallergenic niobium hooks - available at youvegotmaille.netMetal "allergies" are common.  I get a lot of customers who say "I can only wear sterling/14k gold/whatever."  Usually, they are talking about earrings, because people react far more often to earring metals than other types of jewelry.  Apparently this is because there is no air flow inside the hole where an earring post/hook goes.  However, there are people who react to things you wouldn't think about, like the back of a watch, or the back of the snap on their jeans.Allergic contact dermatitis can occur to all sorts of substances, but nickel in costume jewelry is a pretty common one.  If you're not sure what you're reacting to, you can have a dermatologist test you to find out what the exact culprits are, but for most people, it's enough to just avoid cheap jewelry, or make sure you know what is in your jewelry.   Contact dermatitis can cause symptoms including itching, rash, redness, irritation, blisters and eczema.The problem is that "surgical steel" comes in several grades and some of them contain nickel, so whether it says "hypoallergenic" or not, you may or may not be safe.  Sterling silver, also an alloy, can also contain small amounts of nickel, so unless it says nickel-free silver, if you have severe reactions, avoid it.   Even white gold can contain nickel unless labeled "palladium white gold."Best answer?  Niobium and titanium.  Both of these are elemental metals (Nb & Ti on the periodic chart).  While gold and silver are also elements, both are too soft for most jewelry applications, and definitely too soft for earring posts or wires, so they are mixed with other metals to create an alloy.  That's where your nickel sneaks in, especially in cheaper jewelry but sometimes even in more expensive jewelry.Niobium and titanium are much stronger and they make fantastic hooks and posts.  Personally, I didn't realize I had any metal sensitivity at all until I wore niobium and realized how much more comfortable they were for me.  Be aware that items marked titanium CAN be an alloy, so you are safer with niobium, which is almost always a pure metal.Niobium bracelet options available at, or contact for custom designsEven better, they both can be anodized in a rainbow of colors.  I use niobium in shades of copper and bronze (they contain no acutal copper or bronze) for earrings made of copper; most "copper" ear wires are also cheap alloys.  Here's a little more about my favorite metal, niobium.Anodizes in iridescent colors I can't quite capture on film; my supplier even has a  rainbow ring where each ring has multiple iridescent colors on it, creating an "oil slick" effect when woven into chainmaille patterns.It's commonly used in body jewelry and also in pacemaker parts, since very few people react to it.It's nearly as strong as steel but half the weight, so it's very comfortable to wear in an ear or elsewhere.Anodized niobium is easy care and doesn't tarnish, although the finish can scratch if you're rough on it. It's awesome stuff!  If you've got severe metal sensitivities please make sure to let me know when ordering jewelry; I do use steel clasps, sterling accents and head pins to hold beads that are made from other metals, but if you react I'll make sure all of it is nonallergenic.  Most of my niobium earrings are made with hooks, and chainmaille designs, so they tend to be dangly.  If you're a post kind of girl (or guy), I recommend that you drop by Wear Earrings Again; Maggie has lots of designs, and starter earrings, that are made of high-grade titanium and pure niobium, which she also guarantees.Finally, I guarantee my work.  If you have a reaction to a pair of earrings with niobium hooks I will gladly refund your money.  If you have a pair of earrings that I made with surgical steel hooks, I will upgrade them to niobium for you for $3 plus shipping.  Just send an email.  M[...]

Book Review for Chained: Create Gorgeous Chainmaille Jewelry


Click to purchase on Amazon
I've been making chainmaille for 5 years now, and I am a customer of Blue Buddha Boutique, and have bought tutorials from BBB before. Rebeca's tutorials are among the most thorough, easy to follow, with fantastic pictures. As such, I would have expected her book to be great.

I wasn't in the least disappointed. This book should be the bible for ANY person who makes chainmaille or wants to. She takes you from the ground floor - how to open and close jump rings properly - spending several pages on the subject. She covers the pros and cons of various metals to use for maille, and tools.

The projects start very easy, with the fantastic clear photos I'm used to from the tutorials, as well as detailed info on what size/metal rings to use, and other things you can do to make variations in the design. The ONE thing that I think is missing is a thorough discussion of aspect ratio. I get that she left it out so as not to confuse the beginning mailler, but I think no book on maille is quite complete without it.

That said, I haven't run across a book on chainmaille that I thought I could learn a thing or two from. But I found myself highlighting projects and getting more excited about doing something new than I've been in a while, and I picked up a few tips and tricks along the way. Looking forward to dabbling in some new techniques.  This is hands down the best book on maille out there.

Advent Deals of the Day


Advent calendar.  The concept:  For each day from December 1st through Christmas Eve, you get to open a new thing on your calendar, and you get a little present each day.  What fun!  I really wanted the Lego Star Wars one this year but it wasn't in the budget.  Ah well.

So I had this idea to do an Advent Deal of the Day calendar on my website.

Each day December 1-24 there will be a new awesome deal of the day on the site.  You can keep up with the deal via email (signup is on the site), or on my Facebook page.  Since I got started late, if you head over there now there's an entire week's worth of deals!

Expect to see a little bit of art and fun stuff not in my normal jewelry repertoire, as well as some holiday items.

Happy holidays everyone, and thanks for being great customers!

'Tis the Season


O tannenbaum, o tannenbaum,Wie treu sind deine blatter!O tannenbaum, o tannenbaum,Wie treu sind deine blatter!Du grunst nicht nur zur sommerzeit,Nein, auch im winter, wenn est schneit.O tannenbaum, o tannenbaum,Wie treu sind deine blatter!Nearly everyone who celebrates Christmas does SOME kind of Christmas decorating.  A tree, a string of lights, a wreath on the door, hanging a few Christmas cards.  For lots of us religion doesn't matter; Christmas has adopted everyone.  That's pretty fitting because it's been stealing traditions for a very long time.Chainmaille Ornament - Click to PurchaseEvergreen trees have had deep meaning for people for ages; they resisted the darkness of winter and refused to shed their leaves.  They seemed magical when everything else withered and died.  So naturally, they became associated with solstice celebrations and the return of longer days.  Saint Boniface was a dude that lived in Germany, where there was a tree that was holy to the pagans who lived there - Thor's Oak.  (sometimes called Donar's Oak).  It was associated with Yggdrasil, the World Tree.  Boniface talked smack about Thor and started to chop the tree down.  Suddenly, a wind came (legend says) and took the tree down before he could cut it... and immediately an evergreen sprang up out of the four parts of the tree.  Since Thor did not strike Boniface down, the people converted to Christianity. For this the dude was sainted.  I read this an entirely different way than the ancients probably did, but whatever.  Miracles are always open to interpretation, right?Awesome Ornament Hooks - Click to PurchaseMartin Luther is also reported to have been so inspired by the pretty stars twinkling through the branches of the pines that he chopped one down and took it home and put candles on it in an attempt to recreate his experience for his family.   Fire hazard, right?  I am very thankful for LED Christmas lights.  The Christmas tree as we know and love it really didn't come into vogue until the middle 1800s, that age that we take sooooo much of our tradition and weird hang-ups from.  Also lots of terribly skewed history  (Longfellow, I'm talking to you).Clear ornament with Wire Wrapped Tree - Click to purchaseNo matter.  Christmas is cool.  I spent a lot of years not celebrating and I am currently doing my best to make up for it.  I LOVE Christmas.  I love putting up my tree, hanging ornaments and telling stories about each one.  Seems like every one has a story.  (Which is why I think those fancy, heavy-gauge ornament hooks are awesome... check those out.  I don't know about your ornaments, but mine deserve the best).  My hubby is usually not terribly enthused about the tree-putting-up ritual, for two reasons:  1)  he's a mailman... I haven't met too many who love this time of year and 2)  he despises glitter.   So my son, now in college, comes home for the tree decorating, and the two of us put up a tree while listening to lots of Nat King Cole and similar sappy old favorites.  Lights, garland, strings of beads, bows, star  (no tinsel... cats and tinsel baaaaad).  And then we turn the lights down, cozy up on the couch with a mug of hot chocolate, and reminisce.  It's absolute magic.  And I get up early the next day to look at the lights softly twinkling before I turn the room lights on.  And I do it again when I play Santa on Christmas morning, admiring the sparkling packages under the tree lights, dozing there until my family wakes up. Martin Luther, I think I get it.[...]

Where I've Been!


Short answer:  still here, still making jewelry.

Longer answer:  Prepare yourself for longwindedness.

I took oil painting lessons 3 years ago and ever since then I've been telling myself that I'm going to paint more.  But I didn't.  Until this past January, when I particpated in a 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge (and did it!).  I've been dividing my creative time since then between painting and making jewelry.

If you'd like to check out my painting, you can do so at Om Is Where the Art Is.

I'm a little better about keeping up with my fans on Facebook, so if you're not a fan of You've Got Maille on Facebook, you definitely should be; I do regular giveaways for my FB fans.

But, I have been making tons of jewelry for my upcoming show at Ketner's Mill Country Fair, and I want to share it, and I also want to share more about the intuitive aspects of making jewelry, so there will be more here, I promise.

Also, I plan to do a series of articles on the healing and metaphysical properties of different stones and metals, so if you'd like to be in on that you can sign up for the mailing list on the front page of my website here (toward the bottom).

"Galadriel's Mirror" Labradorite Necklace $62 - Click to Purchase
Thanks for dropping by!

The Best Thing About Snowflakes


My friend and wonderful fae artist Aquariann is hosting a snowflake blog hop!  Personally, I love snow (much more so now that I live in Tennessee than I did when I was in Cleveland, Ohio!).

What's the best thing about snowflakes?  If you ask me, it's that they sparkle!  I love the sparkle of newfallen snow.  You can go HERE to purchase this Ice Queen chainmaille snowflake choker.

And be sure to go to Aquariann's blog to look at all the snowy lovelies.

Treasury Thursday: A Little Holiday Sparkle


"Stardust" Wire Wrapped Goldstone Necklace Set

I finished this goldstone necklace 2 weeks ago and listed it this week... it inspired this week's trasury, "A Little Holiday Sparkle", full of shimmering, sparkling blues and golds.  As it turns out the necklace wouldn't really fit with the colors I picked... but I really love the shimmery eye candy I picked :)

Merry holidays, and keep calm and sparkle on!

Treasury Thursday - Just for Today


Modern Buddha Artwork Meditation Print by Ancient Artizen on Etsy

It's been about three years since I took my Reiki I course and for some reason, today, the Reiki principles are really resonating with me:

Just for today, do not worry.
Just for today, do not anger.
Express gratitude for all your blessings: for food, for family, for friends, for fresh air.
Earn your living honestly.
Show kindness toward every living thing.

I really like the "Just for today" part.  If we can focus on living in the now and not worrying about what might happen tomorrow, how much better might we feel?

So, I made a Just for Today Treasury on Etsy.  See if you find some inner peace while browsing... I thought maybe you and I could both use it as the holiday season approaches ;)


Shinies! Colors!


Anodized aluminum color sampler
I've been in the process of getting my website updated with current listings and different options.  Eventually I want to have a section where you can choose from options and build your own designs.

My ring suppliers, primarily C&T Designs but also The Ring Lord, have been coming out with some great new anodized aluminum colors, and square aluminum rings are also becoming available (like Sky, above).  Because there are so many more colors available I wanted to make something that had all the available colors on it.  Since not all colors are available in all ring sizes I had to vary the weave a little, but I think you get the idea.  Please note that all the purples, from violet to purple, are much more blue in this picture than they are in person . Violet looks more fuschia.

Etsy now has a great drop-down options feature menu, which I plan to utilize so that you can pick your colors right on the screen when you order.  This is SUCH a handy feature for custom creations!  I'll be updating my custom listings in the near future.

Now it's really easy for you the customer to design something that's absolutely perfect for someone on your list, or for you.  I hope to keep up the website with what options are available for which pieces... still figuring out the best way to do that.

I'm such a sucker for color, and I'm so excited by all these options.  Even better, the new ring styles are, for the most part, SUPER SHINY!  *hoards*

Treasury Thursday: May the Force Be With You


Getting back in the swing of blogging is easy with a treasury.  I'm a nerd, and the big news this week is that Lucasarts has been sold to Disney.  Not sure how I feel about that... I don't want to see Donald Duck in a Stormtrooper costume, but it seems inevitable.  On the other hand, they did a bangup job with Avengers so all I have to say is.... Joss Whedon.  He'd probably do a better job with Star Wars than Lucas has of late.

Without further adieu, I present to you my May the Force Be With You treasury!

Pin It


Pinterest is the fastest-growing social media out there.  I love it.  It's eye candy.  I've noticed that it's overwhelmingly women that use it, and I have a theory about that. Let's think for a minute about the way women shop.  Women, from the dawn of time, are the gatherers of the species.  They browse, they pick through things, they put things in their cart that they like, and finally take home what they think is worth having.  Men?  When men shop they want to know exactly what they're after, they want to hunt it down, conquer it in the least amount of time possible, sling it over their shoulder and take home their trophy. Pinterest is for gatherers.  I am not really that big on shopping, but I do love to browse the Internet.  From the beginning of my Internet access many moons ago I enjoyed saving graphics to use as desktops, bookmarking websites, that sort of thing.  Pinterest caters to that, and women love it.  Women also love pretty things, eye candy, daydreaming about the perfect house, the perfect romance, the perfect meal.  (I'm generalizing, and certainly there are lots of women who won't fall into this category, and despite being the least girly-girl I know, I fit this stereotype).  They also love cataloging tips and ideas about how to make life, dressing, raising kids, cooking meals, and being busy easier. Pinterest is PERFECT for this.  I love stashing pins for recipe ideas later, especially.  Craft ideas.  Stuff to DO... heck, I may never get around to doing it, but I have it there handy when I want it, and it's way easier to browse than my stupid over-long, poorly titled browser bookmark list.Okay, so... let's say you've got something to market and you want to try out Pinterest (I recommend that you do) as a marketing tool.  Here are my tips.First:  Follow this person.  Marketing on Pinterest with Jason Miles  Great tips to be had there.A few of my own, now.1.  Don't spam your product.  If someone posts 50 pictures in a day of just their own product and nothing else, I'm not likely to keep following.  It's the equivalent of jumping up and down in someone's face saying "LOOK AT ME!  LOOK AT ME!  I SELL THIS!  BUY IT!"   Unless there is more content than that, followers will not stay.2.  Get followers.  It's social media, so be social.  Follow your Facebook friends list, then look at random stuff in categories that you might be interested in, follow them, and repin stuff.  BUT!  And here's the biggie if you're an eye candy addict like me:  Control it!  Devote a specific amount of time each day to Pinterest, following new people (who will often follow you back), liking and repinning things.  It can definitely get out of control if you let it, and then you've got nothing to pin because you're spending all your time online.3.  Know your market.  You can't market to everyone.  Who's your niche?  You make geeky things?  Pin geeky things.  You make pretty, feminine things?  Pin things that will appeal to people who like pretty, feminine things.  Make sure there's content.  Tips and tricks are HOT, and so are ideas, recipes... but so is eye candy.  4.  Put the "Pin It" thingy on your toolbar.  You're browsing the Internet for stuff anyway, right?  You can pin the pretty things while you're doing that, and share useful tips and tricks.  Anything you think is cool may well appeal to people who will think your product is cool.5.  Plug people who do something similar to what you do.  If you follow those people and say "Hey, my friend makes this really cool ___, check it out," they[...]

Using a Facebook Page for Marketing


Facebook has made some changes to the way their pages work recently, and I've done a few things that seem to work, so I wanted to share some insights.  This is something that has worked for my jewelry business but I'm certain it could be adapted to work for any kind of online business.First, what is a "fan" page and why should I have one?The main reason you should have one is because it keeps your personal stuff separate from your business stuff.  This isn't to say they should never intersect, but it's pretty easy to share your page statuses to your personal page if you've got something to share that you want all your friends to see.  But this way, if your friends are getting annoyed with all of your promotional posts, they just don't subscribe to your business page, and they don't have to see it unless you share it.  You can send all of your friends an invitation to your business page, and then leave it to them whether they want to.Also, Facebook's recent changes (a blessing and a curse) have made it so that you can see exactly who tracks your posts, and who interacts with it, all in handy graph format so you can see how far your posts are reaching, what people like to see and what you should do more of.Here's the problem.  According to Facebook it has always been this way, but when they went public they started with the admin panel and it became obvious that something like 12% to 35% of your fans - people who took the time to say they did indeed like your page and want to see your updates - are seeing anything you happen to post.  Whaaat?  That's right, all the work you're putting into posting might not be seen at all, by the majority of your fans.  How to fix this?First, tell your fans to go to your page and hover over the checked "Liked" button and make sure it says "Show in news feed".  Then, you and they should go to the home page and in the left column near the bottom you'll see "Interests".  Click "add interests" and then you can go through and choose the things you want to see active updates from.  You can go any time to "subscriptions" then, and see updates from business and other interest pages.  Do most people do this?  No.  But doing it makes it more likely to show up in your regular news feed.Okay, now that you've done that (and I suggest doing it again from time to time without becoming obnoxious about it), there are a few ways to go about getting your message out there.  You can pay for it… and of course this is what Facebook wants you to do.  I haven't tried it, and I probably won't because it irritates me.  They need to make some sort of perk for money that doesn't seem to be something we thought we already got.  Different rant, though.According to Facebook execs, your fans are much more likely to see your posts if they interact with your page -- either by liking your posts, visiting your page, commenting, sharing, etc.  So here's what I did.  I created an incentive to have people interact with my page in all those ways.  I have done a monthly drawing for my Facebook fans for something like a year now trying to entice people at craft shows and friends of friends, customers online, etc. to fan my page because it's a great way to stay in contact with your customers.  They're not likely to visit a blog or even a website on a regular basis but they are sure likely to be reading their Facebook news feed.  So, every month I give away a piece of jewelry or other item.  At one time every fan had an equal chance of winning that item, but I recently changed over to a point system as follows:1 point automatically every month for just being a fan1 point - Liking something from my page 3 points - com[...]

June Giveaway...


This month's Facebook Fan drawing will be for a custom wire-wrapped pendant.  You get to browse the stones available on my website, pick the one you like, pick a wire for me to wrap it in, with or without crystals or beads, and I'll do it up and send it on. So if you're not a fan, make sure you head over to the YGM Facebook page and "like" it so you'll be entered in the drawing, which I will do on Saturday. 

The stone choices pages need some updating which I will do in the next few days (I've used some of the stones that are on there). But even if you're not the lucky winner, the choices for custom wraps over there are very affordable, so check them out.  Or, you can browse my gallery on deviantArt and find something you like and I can do something similar for you (although many of the stones are one of a kind).

Good luck!

Gold- and Silver-Filled


Solar Quartz Necklace set available on ArtfireI'm moving quite a bit away from full on sterling and toward "silver-filled" wire both in maille and wire wrapping.  The main reason is affordability but as always quality is a huge concern of mine so I want to tell you a little bit about what "filled" wire is and why I've decided it meets my quality standards.I try very hard not to use plated anything in my work, although sometimes some findings may slip through, or I may use them in cases where I can't find anything comparable in a better material.  This is because the plating on an electroplated item is pretty quick to come off, leaving an item so dingy-looking it's only fit for the trash.  I have been using gold filled for years because the cost of solid gold is absolutely prohibitive; and fairly recently silver filled wire, chain and findings have become readily available.   The process of plating involves placing a base metal item into a bath that includes gold/silver material, then running an electric current through the item, causing the gold/silver molecules to adhere to the metal.  This means that your plated item has a gold/silver layer that is several molecules thick.  The process of plating is not regulated in any way, which means the quality of that metal layer is questionable.I sort of hate the term "gold filled" because it sounds like something else is filled with a gold core, when actually the opposite is true.  It's a layer of gold or sterling that is heat- and pressure-bonded onto a core of another metal, usually brass or sometimes copper.  The Federal Trade Commission does regulate what metals can be called filled, the minimum quantity being 1/20th the weight of the item for gold and 1/10th for silver (although you will see 1/20 silver as well).  That means that the precious metal layer is hundreds of times thicker than plated and it should stand up to years and years of wear, even in a chainmaille piece where there is constant friction against neighboring links.  Consequently you can trust that the quality of a gold- or silver-filled item is uniform. If you see a 1/20 or 1/10 stamp on an item that means it's filled  (.925 means it's sterling silver).  This layer is thick enough to stand up to tumble polishing, buffing, even some light etching.The cost of silver filled wire is about two thirds the cost of solid sterling.  That means an item that is virtually identical to full sterling, but much more affordable, and I'm very excited to be able to pass those savings on to you.It should be noted that silver filled is sterling and will tarnish, and is therefore covered under our tarnishable metals lifetime care policy, which can be found here: one notable thing that silver filled is not as good for is soldering, which I hope to do more of, so I will continue to use Argentium and sometimes sterling for that.  More about that in a later blog post, there are some exciting developments on that front. Stay tuned :)[...]

Boulder Opals


(image) "And lo! the beautiful opal - That rare and wondrous gem - Where the Moon and Sun blend into one is the child that was born to them." - Ella Wheeler Cox

I was at Ketner's Mill Country Craft Fair a couple of weeks ago and a lady came by with a stone (it always amazes me when people have these things with them) that blew my mind. It looked like a solid tiger's eye or jasper, but it had a window with shimmering opalescence. She asked if I could wrap it in copper, and I did, and she was so happy with the wrap that she hugged me (she'd apparently been told a price once that was ridiculous, and had put off having anything done with it for a very long time). I'm still kicking myself for not having my camera with me to take a better picture of the finished pendant; it really was amazing. There are some crappy pics I took with my phone on Facebook.

I decided I needed to figure out what that stone was ("opal" was all I had) and get my hands on some for myself, so I found a supplier and spent more than I probably needed to, but I am so excited to get them and wire wrap them in time for Christmas. The pictures above are two of the seven I bought, but still pictures really don't do them justice. The fine veins shimmer and dance with color and iridescence when you move them.

Boulder opal was discovered in Australia in the 1870s. The opalescent veins can be many different colors, and run through ironstone matrix, which means that every one of these is very different. It's hard to cut them into traditional cabochons so they're usually cut kind of free form.

I also got some other beautiful stones from my usual supplier that will be getting some attention shortly. There is a new option on the website to choose a stone and have me wrap it custom for you. I don't know if any of these will make it there, but there are lots of pretty stones available. And, as always, if you've been carrying around a stone (it has to be bigger than about 10 mm for wire wrapping) that means something to you, and you'd like it custom wrapped, contact me.

Ear Cuffs


Ear cuffs have become one of my best-selling items; theyr'e definitely unique. What are they? Basically I take a piece of wire, add embellishments, and bend it so that it can cling to your ear at the narrow part up the side. Most of them require no piercing (except a few like this one that have an earring attached as well). I can make them in a variety of colors out of enameled copper including: burgundy, red, amber, orange, yellow, lime green, bright green, seafoam green, teal, dark green, dark teal, ice blue, peacock blue, royal blue, navy blue, purple, lavender, violet, lilac, eggplant, pink, fuschia, gunmetal, black, silver, gold, copper and antique brass. All of them are coated with an enamel finish so should not bother anyone with nickel allergies.

Check out my gallery of earrings on the web site here: The cuffs are part way down the page. Let me know what color wire you'd like and any other directives on color scheme, whether you'd like chain embellishments or charms, and I'll whip one up for you for less than $10 (depending on how complicated you want it). Or, if you like to shop in person, you can stop by Fragrant Mushroom Gallery in Sparta and see the ones that are available there for sale. Try something different!



We met our friends Yvonne and Randy last year at MidSouth Con and I knew right away we'd get along. They do chainmaille and wire wrapping that's a style similar to mine (but still recognizably different, we think). They like a lot of the same things. A year and a bit later, we're buds. We've done several shows together in the interim and I discovered something: Von is a way better salesperson than I am in person.

So we struck up a partnership of sorts: they are taking some of my jewelry to shows with them, and in charge of customer contact at shows we are both at. I, on the other hand, am taking over their online sales and promotion PR.

So, without further adieu, I present to you Back to Earth Creations. On their website you'll find a variety of jewelry (it also is in the process of being updated). I tend to wire wrap pendants, whereas Von creates these intricate full necklace pieces like the one above . She also has amazing bellydance outfits, and wood burned boxes. I am in charge of their Etsy shop, where I'm in the process of getting lots of goodies listed. Do check them out, and expect to hear more about them on this woefully neglected blog (I have the best of intentions, I really do...), which will shortly reflect the partnership since I'm going to promote both businesses from here. Welcome!

Treasury Crazy


I don't know when Etsy changed their Treasury system so there isn't a mad dash to make one, but I'm having a great time making a few. Here I give you my favorite selection (or one of them, when I can't pick!) from the treasuries I've made over the last few weeks. And a link so you can enjoy the rest of them. Click the title for the treasury, the shop name or picture for the item"Ornaments to Die For" Treasury:I love Christmas ornaments, so I've chosen a few of my favorite handmade ones, including this hand painted ornament from Gwydion's Garden.From my "Geek Out Your Christmas" Treasury comes this fun personalized photograph. It's not my favorite at My Magic Me's shop, so you should definitely check out the other options for a really unique gift there.In my "Compost and Garden Daydreams" treasury I give you a few items to keep you gardeners over the winter... and growing your compost pile in the meantime! I adore this compost crock from KB Originals, etc.Steel being one of my favorite materials, I created this "Man (or woman) of Steel" treasury, featuring this adorable yoga pose skeleton by Zed's Zombie Ranch (and there are several other amusing steel skeltons to be found in his shop)And finally, I celebrate the spirit of Yule in my treasury "The Holly King and the Oak King", featuring this magnificent oak carved out of oak by Treewiz. Do check out the treasury, it was really hard to pick a favorite from this one.There you have it, five items from five treasuries that I thoroughly enjoyed making. Happy holidays![...]

A Message of Faith, No Matter What Yours Is


I was inspired by a POEST chat last night to do a little feature on various holy days in December, so for each of the ones I can think of you get an Etsy item. Voila. From each of these days I hope to give you a message of the holiday that you can take with you for whatever celebration you choose.First, Kwanzaa. For this holiday I give you a listing from which I learned something new. The Sankofa symbol in the Akan language of Ghana symbolizes a word that means "return and take it," meaning that we should take from the past the wisdom of our elders and predecessors. Here's the listing, a cup with this symbol by Dovecote Design:For Hanukkah I chose a breathtaking papercut by Jewish Papercuts that bears the words in Yiddish (I assume, please excuse my ignorance) Yehi Shalom: May there be peace in your dwelling. May there, indeed, be peace in yours.There are a lot of people clamoring to "Put Christ back in Christmas" and I hope I will not risk offending anyone when I say this: Put "Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men" back in Christmas. Anyway I adored this Christmas card from Sugar Tree Studio because of the peaceful image of the cardinal in the snowy tree, and the fact that you can add beautiful photos of your family to it, to send to everyone on your card list.On December 22 the Hopi celebrate Soyaluna, which is a festival celebrating the return of the sun. It is also a time of saying prayers for the new year and wishing each other prosperity and Health. From Desert Rose Art Glass I present to you this lovely Kachina that seemed appropriate:Solstice celebrations are almost as old as mankind, today celebrated by pagans, wiccans, Asatru, and countless others. From ancient solstice celebrations, and often from Yule in particular, nearly every holiday celebrated this month celebrates light in some manner. The tradition of the Yule log survived into Christmas celebrations and the meaning of burning this log all night long was hope: even in the darkest darkness there is light. Even if you don't have a fireplace you can adapt with this yule log candle holder by Cedar Candle Lights:The fasting of Ramadan is (in part) to teach Muslims to remember the plight of those less fortunate, and in some places it is not unusual on Eid (the celebration at the end of the fast) to greet total strangers or give gifts to children you don't know. Arabic calligraphy is breathtaking and seems to lend itself to pictures... these earrings by Norouzi represent the word for peace, and resemble a dove:Whatever your faith, I wish you peace, joy and love this holiday season, and upon all those you love.[...]

The Subtle Forms of Geekery


The past two weekends I took the helm of the USS Grand Caravan and headed into the unknown on an adventure to seek out strange new life and new civilizations. I discovered it. At a Renaissance Faire, and a Sci Fi convention. I confess it: I am a nerd. The pic above is me at a Renfaire about three years ago, and yes, those are elf ears. What you, the uninitiated, may not know, is that there are subtleties in forms of geekery and, well, levels. As someone who plays roleplaying games two days a week, loves costuming and renfaires, makes chainmaille jewelry, has read the Silmarillion, and has more than a working trivia knowledge of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, I figure I am approximately a level seven geek. (I could make jokes here about my regular bathing and teeth brushing preventing further advancement, but I won't... well I guess I just did...). Geeks have this funny way of measuring themselves against other nerds. Like, "Dude, I roleplay, but I won't LARP" (live action roleplaying, for those of you not in the know... basically, acting out the spellcasting and such). I dunno, does it make us feel like we still have one foot in the mainstream? I think that's the way most of us like it. We live in another world sometimes (literally), but we like to think we can seamlessly blend with the real one when we want to. And, we go to these events, cons and renfaires, and measure ourselves against the yardstick of the Epic Level Geek. All of this occurred to me as I listened to a conversation (not the first one I've heard) about the relative merits of one superhero versus another, and about their supposed personal lives. I'm not a comic geek. Russ won't even send me web comics if they have panels, I don't get them. Some sort of mental block. But I guess I need to be standing on the outside of one of these subtleties of geekness to see what all of it looks like to the rest of you. On the other hand, I suspect there are a whole lot of closet geeks (just past character creation, a n00b, a geekling) out there. Based on the number of people playing World of Warcraft. And the fact that Big Bang Theory seems to be such a huge hit -- could it be you're measuring your level of geekness as you're watching this show, too, the same way those of us who are out of the closet do at cons and faires? If that's the case, I recommend you give in a little and enjoy it. Oh, I know if you show up at the next Renfaire and I'm standing there in costume, you'll probably do that little mental calculation and figure you're still mostly normal compared to me, and that's cool, cause we all do it (come on nerds, you KNOW you do...). But if we chat about the circlet I'm selling that you're thinking of buying to accessorize your new Renaissance dress, or we discuss the feasibility of time travel, or warp versus hyperdrives, or CG Yoda versus puppet Yoda (we are getting into higher levels here).... well, there's a moment of solidarity there, and it's good. There have been way too many fanboy movies over the past few years for you to deny the little geek in you. We know our own. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a new steampunk costume to plan.[...]

Upcoming Exciting Events


We'll be at the following events:

June 5-6
Shakespeare and Friends Renaissance Festival, Rogersville TN

June 11-13
Sci Fi Summer Con, Atlanta GA

Also, besides Fragrant Mushroom Gallery, starting June 19 we'll have items for sale at Solstice Winds, a new metaphysical shop in Cookeville, TN, and A Rare Find, a gift shop also in Cookeville.

Hoping to revamp our website soon, as well. Hope you can make one of the above events or shops, we're excited about the future!

Use Your Heart




Every once in a while someone drops by and hearts my shop on Etsy. I try to visit all of these shops and sometimes find a treasure. This is one of them. Click the pictures to go look at these lil guys and then go to Triquimooches's shop and browse the other cute stuff.

Now, I should mention that I'm definitely not a plushie person. I have seen so many plushies on Etsy that I could gag, because so many of them are so ugly to me... I confess I wasn't much of a doll person as a kid, either (if you've been reading for a LONG time you'll have seen my rants about Barbie). I had a dollhouse when I was younger but I wanted no dolls because they usually sit in the chairs with their arms and legs sticking out at unnatural angles and ruin the tiny realistic effect. I had a gazillion stuffed animals but I really hated the ones that weren't at least relatively realistic looking (like the paisley frog someone gave me...). I know, it's kind of lame.

But I'm not completley immune to plushy cuteness. These guys are just adorable, and right up my alley (meaning, they're just geeky enough for me). Arthie would come to my house if I could afford him and I thought my dog wouldn't abscond with him if he ever had the chance... since I don't have fuzzy things that belong to me he naturally thinks they all belong to him -- I mean, steampunk squishy, how awesome is that!

Even if you don't adopt one of these awesome little dudes (she has really cute monsters, too), you should at least go look at Triquimooches' shop. And then go heart some stuff. You never know who will turn up.

Great Backyard Bird Count


Once again this year I'm participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count. Over the course of four days you count birds in your area so Audubon can get an idea of how many birds are in what habitates in what areas of the country. It's a lot of fun, visit the link to check it out.

Buy Handmade, Buy Repurposed


Stop by Etsy and search "Upcycled" and "Repurposed" and you'll find some ingenious ways people have contributed to reducing landfill, reclaiming bits of Americana, and some brilliant creativity. Here are a few examples.


New Directions


I've found a new love: deviantArt. The place is as addicting as Elfwood and Etsy were when I first found them. I've actually been there for 9 months now but haven't played with it much or posted much, till now. Check out my spot and friend me over there if you're a deviant.

As of February, I've hired two people, my son Brandon and Aaron from the local school's work program. Here's the plan: increase online presence, build stock for shows, revamp website, and refocus. My "mainstream" stuff (wire wrapping and simple chainmaille) is selling really well at Fragrant Mushroom Gallery and I'm thrilled - and it's also kept me busy enough that I've neglected my Etsy shop somewhat, and even sold a bunch of stuff I never got the chance to photograph (not a bad problem to have!).

But what I'd like to do this year is create more "geek chic" - Renaissance Faire items like the circlet above, hackey sacks, dice bags, keychains made from gaming dice, ear cuffs, etc. And I'd like to try to reach more niche markets like gaming cons, faerie cons, comic cons, anime cons, Renaissance faires, and the like. My stuff doesn't sell all that great at local craft fairs, partly because they're positively saturated with jewelry, but I want to try some new things this year, new designs. A new feel. And three heads are better than one. Second Renaissance will be more mainstream (and stuff will be listed, I've seriously neglected it because all the stock in it sold at the gallery!) but You've Got Maille is going hip. Oh and there should be a ton of new stuff in the Artfire shop very soon.

And, as always, I can't help myself experimenting with new media. I'm going to try some henna art/mehndi, some macrame, some wire sculpture, and when I can afford to, precious metal clay. Aaron does some leatherworking so there may be some maille/leather collaborations in my shop in the near future. So the short of it is, stay tuned to this spot for updates and news!

Here's a formal request for six more hours in a day, please, or at least a way to eliminate the need for sleep!