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February 12, 2010

Pretty rocks
Posted by Teresa at 12:36 AM *

I have gotten brave, and am exhibiting ten pieces of jewelry in this year’s Boskone art show. There’s a Flickr set of the individual pieces. The photography isn’t brilliant, but it should give you some idea.

This partly grew out of compulsion that somehow settled on me a while back: to make a rosary for Charles Darwin out of fossils. It helped that so many commonly available semiprecious stone beads are made of fossil material. I wound up making two rosaries, which turned out to be surprisingly pretty, and will probably make more. Next time around, though, I have got to get my hands on a usable trilobite.

My favorite moment so far was when I had a package containing the interior casts of turritella snails shipped to Patrick’s office, and the woman who sold them to me sent along a charming note saying “OMG you work at Tor! I love your books!” Fossils and science fiction: clearly, a member of our tribe.

The other compulsion is harder to explain. It has its roots in a series of obscure incidents that left me in possession of more than a thousand small stone bears, worked in all kinds of odd material. Like, I’ve got cacoxenite bears, and lepidolite bears, and bears I can’t begin to identify. (Not objecting. Seriously not objecting.) When I started working with them, I discovered that bears have opinions. They have narrative. You find yourself making eight-foot-long necklaces with strange names and properties.

At that point it becomes clear that one has strayed out of respectable craft and into art. I figure it’s like walking the dog. Every so often, you have to let your art out of the house (albeit on a leash) so it can sniff the air, bark at stuff it doesn’t recognize, and spend a while hanging around with other art.

I’ll see you at Boskone.

Comments on Pretty rocks:
#1 ::: MacAllister ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 01:45 AM:

Oh good! I remember seeing you working on a big strand of bears, and being more than a little delighted and impressed.

#2 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 01:54 AM:

zOMG! I LOVE the rosaries.

Also, your Alien Snapshots 1 description makes the necklace a companion piece to itself.

#3 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 02:29 AM:

These are so very lovely; thanks for sharing, and yes, I remember the bears.

#4 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 02:53 AM:

I particularly like "Bears explore the outer planets" and "Bears inspect the melting tundra" - Lovely.

This is encouraging me to take the last step in my 1,000 origami cranes project - stringing them and handing them up (somewhere the cat can't reach).

#5 ::: glinda ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 03:36 AM:

Very nice, all of them. Especially the Squashblossom's New-agey Sister, and the bears.

It's not just bears that ambush one with narrative - Elise's most recent Beads of the Month shipment (with a Shadow Unit theme) jumped me with a bracelet that has 44 things attached to it. (and can be found at The WTF Bracelet.)

At that point it becomes clear that one has strayed out of respectable craft and into art. I figure it’s like walking the dog. Every so often, you have to let your art out of the house (albeit on a leash) so it can sniff the air, bark at stuff it doesn’t recognize, and spend a while hanging around with other art.

There's also the part where it's become somewhat... symbiotic, maybe? at any rate, not entirely under one's own control any more. I'll find myself going through my stash of an evening, pulling some of these here, and those over there, and don't I have some small carnelian donuts, and and and... 6 hours later, there's this thing done with stone and glass and wire and I had no idea when I started it, what it was going to be.

I'm doomed. I took a class with Elise two years ago; once I got the good pliers a year ago and my wrists would let me, I started in on wire-wrapping and linked necklaces. March 4th, I get to study Wandering Wire technique with her. I am so very doomed. And I am soooooooo looking forward to it.

#6 ::: Marek ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 04:46 AM:

Narrative? Character? I vote we call them "Elizabeth Bears"!

#7 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 05:25 AM:

Pretty! Shiny! Want!

More coherent comment may follow later. Back to look at the shiny...

#8 ::: John Kerr ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 05:35 AM:

How very beautiful! And pardon the pun, but you've also recombined "making light" with "bear witness" in a new way :)

#9 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 07:54 AM:

Cool! I look forward to seeing both you and the jewelry in person this weekend.

#10 ::: Micah ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 08:16 AM:

you've also recombined "making light" with "bear witness" in a new way

Ha! Just change the period before it to a comma and, gah, too good.

#11 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 08:22 AM:

I followed you into knitting, Teresa. I'm not not not following you into beads. (Even if I did buy a Mother of All Magpies SU package. That's because I'm making an embellished piece of knitting. Really.)

#12 ::: Matt ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 08:23 AM:

Here's to getting brave. Congratulations.

#13 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 08:49 AM:

I do like the bears, particularly when they are exploring the melting tundra (big surprise there) and arriving in railway cars (oh, am I ever predictable, ice/snow and trains).

#14 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 09:18 AM:

ooh, shiny!

Have fun for me at Boskone, and hug the usual suspects.

#15 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 09:39 AM:

Avram and I won't be at Boskone, alas. We have Avi's birthday dinner with his family on Sunday.

The necklaces are really impressive! My sister-in-law needs to see the photos, as this is the sort of over-the-top showy jewelry she just loves.

You should do some sort of Stephen Colbert-theme piece with some of your bears. Colbert (or his persona) has this thing about bears, calling them "godless killing machines" (per Wikipedia).

#16 ::: Merav ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 09:54 AM:

Chris @ 15

Weirdly, Jon and I were talking about the etymology of the German word for bear this morning, and how it comes from the word for brown, instead of the latin root ursus or ursa.

Jon was saying that a popular theory is that bears were so scary you didn't mention them by name, you just said "that brown thing, in the woods" and it became the word for bear. I'm not sure if I believe it, but it's an interesting theory.

#17 ::: Julia Rios ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 10:07 AM:

All of these are delightful. Bears explore the outer planets is the one I can't stop grinning over. The bears arriving in railway cars is my other favorite. I am very much looking forward to seeing these in the art show.

#18 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 10:08 AM:

The Alien Snapshots II? 'Tis gorgeous! Not that the others aren't, it's just.... 'tis gorgeous.

#19 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 10:10 AM:

Merav @#16: The Russian word for bear means "Honey-eater".

#20 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 10:10 AM:

Now I'm even sadder about not making Boskone this year! )-: They look fantastic, and I'm sure even more wonderful in person.

Best of luck, and congrats!

#21 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 10:23 AM:

I love "Ordinary Time." May I assume you spaced the "large stretches and short outcroppings of more distinctively patterned beads" in cyclical rather than a calindrical fashion? I'm also dying to know if there are 1,095 beads in it.

I also liked "Bears Explore the Outer Planets" and the "Alien Snapshots #1 and #2"

#22 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 10:37 AM:

Victoria: If I'm not mistaken, it's a Catholic Church joke.

#23 ::: Laramie Sasseville ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 10:52 AM:

Ooo. I wish I could see them in person, but won't make it to Boskone. Will you bring some to 4th Street? (Love the bears. Hoping to see a 'Bears Discover Fire.' (Amber, fire opal, cinnabar, agates, carnelian, garnet...?)

#24 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 10:54 AM:

I'm very curious to see the bears arriving in private railway cars in luminous detail, like the broken light :)

#25 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 11:01 AM:

Teresa, these are marvelous.

#26 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 11:03 AM:

Fossils and science fiction: clearly, a member of our tribe

Well, some people have observed that fabdom is graying, but must you rub it in?

Have a good tim at Boskone. (I have toyed with the idea of combining a trip to Boskone with a drive up north to my home town near Québec City, then I remind myself that it's still winter, and sanity prevails.)

#27 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 11:04 AM:

Having just discovered "Regretsy.com" yesterday [1] I was gritting my teeth and hoping I would be able to say nice things or nothing at all.

Your necklaces are lovely, and I wish I could see them in person.

[1]Site is Not Safe For Brain Or Work. I'm ambivalent about it. On the one hand, they're taking cheap shots at very, very easy targets; on the other, those targets are doing things like putting coffee cup circles on notepaper and trying to sell them for $8.00 .

#28 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 11:25 AM:

The Trouble with Trilobites.

#29 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 11:56 AM:

The Rubble with Trilobites

#30 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 12:19 PM:

Gorgeous. Sorry I won't be at Boskone.

#31 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 12:25 PM:

Ultraman seems to approve.

#32 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 12:41 PM:

Those are truly lovely, Teresa. "Ordinary Time" is my favorite of the pieces for actual wearing; the rosaries are my favorite altogether.

I want to hold them up to the light and run them through my hands.

#33 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 12:49 PM:

Trust me, long beaded necklaces (or rosaries, or whatever) are HARD to photograph at all well. I've got some middling okay shots at best (for Elise), using studio lighting and a LOT of setup work. Your photos are useful; you can see quite a bit about the overall necklace.

#34 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 12:55 PM:

Bruce Arthur @ 31... Lex Luthor probably said "Dibs!"

#35 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 01:22 PM:

Carrie S. @#22

Being Catholic, I got the joke.

I wanted to know how exact the execution was. Because if Teresa's willing sell, and if I can afford the asking price, I'd like to buy it.

#36 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 01:22 PM:

Carrie S. @#22

Being Catholic, I got the joke.

I wanted to know how exact the execution was. Because if Teresa's willing sell, and if I can afford the asking price, I'd like to buy it.

#37 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 01:24 PM:

As I've mentioned to you before, I grew up on a housing estate built on the actual estate of a famous pirate, had a half-dozen castles within a 20 mile radius (this was South Wales), and even a roman amphitheatre. What I may not have mentioned is there were several little rocky outcrops known to the local boys where with very little effort you could dig out rocks encrusted with fossils of small marine life. Trilobites were particularly prized, as I recall. A good place to spend a childhood.

#38 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 01:30 PM:

Sorry for the double post.

#39 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 01:58 PM:

Oh my, those are pretty.

#40 ::: PurpleGirl ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 02:05 PM:

Very pretty. Lots of luck with your jewelry-making. Are you going to sell any of them at conventions?

#41 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 02:11 PM:

I hope that no one here is addicted to cable TV junk gem shows.

#42 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 04:20 PM:

@ David Dyer-Bennet: Very true. The main problem with bead photography is that the pretty shots aren't very useful while the useful shots tend towards the utilitarian.

@ Teresa: OMG fossil rosaries! I know what to make my mom for her birthday now! ("Make" instead of "buy" simply because I know her favorites and can customize.)

Good thing it's in October. It will take a while to gather the correct materials. Especially the amber.

#43 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 05:25 PM:

I hope you will post a report on sales results and what's still available after Boskone is over, he hints. Including letting us know the details on final prices and starting prices....

Have a marvelous time at Boskone, wish I were there.

#44 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 05:30 PM:

Beads and rocks -- yes. Lovely stuff, Teresa. Somewhere in my house I have a bead box. I make one-decade rosaries. Some of them can be worn as bracelets.

No bears, though. (Don't misunderstand. I like bears...)

#45 ::: Ron Sullivan ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 10:16 PM:

What would a rosary for bears look like?

Say what? You mean Bear? Witness, iterate!

#46 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 11:21 PM:

Gorgeous. Good luck!

#47 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2010, 11:53 PM:

Ron Sullivan #45: What would a rosary for bears look like? Say what? You mean Bear? Witness, iterate!

Encode the poem with beads using Morse Code. Or if that's too many beads, perhaps just the last line.

#48 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 12:02 AM:

dcb, #4, when I was more mobile I took my 1000 cranes to the Enola Gay on the anniversary of when Hiroshima was bombed. There are more guards that day, but they don't mind things that can just be swept up. I still make the cranes.

#49 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 12:13 AM:

A simple example of Morse Code beadwork

#50 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 04:03 AM:

Hey, you know what would be really geeky and fun? Using resistor codes as color patterns. Seed beads, maybe, or semi-precious stones.

(I've Googled, but not found anything on the web)

#51 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 07:14 AM:

What I've discovered, Googling around, is that it would take 5,435 beads to encode the Entropy Sonnet in binary. Here's its last line:

01010011 01100001 01111001 00100000 01110111 01101000 01100001 01110100 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01101101 01100101 01100001 01101110 00101110 00100000 01100101 01100001 01110010 00100000 01110111 01101001 01110100 01101110 01100101 01110011 01110011 00101110 00100000 01001001 01110100 01100101 01110010 01100001 01110100 01100101 00101110

Hexadecimal is more compact:

53 61 79 20 77 68 61 74 20 79 6f 75 20 6d 65 61 6e 2e 20 42 65 61 72 20 77 69 74 6e 65 73 73 2e 20 49 74 65 72 61 74 65 2e

Really, it wouldn't be any harder to assign every letter of the alphabet its own bead.

#52 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 08:38 AM:

Really, it wouldn't be any harder to assign every letter of the alphabet its own bead.

Think of the fun you could have with ROT-13 (complementary colors!) and disemvowelment.

#53 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 08:49 AM:

How about using Braille instead of ASCII? As a binary code, it's six bits per character instead of seven (note that in your sample the first bit is always 0) or eight. You could also use eight beads and encode each Braille character in two beads, one column of 3 dots per bead, and give each code-bead a distinct shape, and you have a touch-readable text in about 1250 beads.

#54 ::: Laramie Sasseville ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 09:03 AM:

Assigning every letter its bead is a great idea. From Agate to Zircon; chain links for spaces? various shapes of bone, amber & horn for numbers, varieties of art glass for punctuaion marks?

Letters used most often should have colors that are fairly neutral, the vowels could include quartz and alabaster, onyx and moonstone...

#55 ::: Laramie Sasseville ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 09:04 AM:

Assigning every letter its bead is a great idea. From Agate to Zircon; chain links for spaces? various shapes of bone, amber & horn for numbers, varieties of art glass for punctuaion marks?

Letters used most often should have colors that are fairly neutral; the vowels could include quartz and alabaster, onyx and moonstone...

#56 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 09:48 AM:

The cognitive dissonant in me would like to see Vonnegut's story "Harrison Bergeron" encoded in Braille....

#57 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 09:51 AM:

Oh, and my mother used to do needlepoint patterns for herself based on showing the prime factors of various numbers in an arithmetic sequence. Each prime a different color, each number represented by a block of a certain size.

#58 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 09:54 AM:

Back when Alvin's Secret Code was one of my favorite books (right up there with Owls In The Family) it was fun to recite the alphabet in order by frequency.

#59 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 10:42 AM:

I don't know if anyone has seen this woman's work; I'm crazy about it - http://www.lauramccabejewelry.com and http://www.justletmebead.com

#60 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 04:12 PM:

Serge #26: Would that be AbFabdom?

#61 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 04:15 PM:

Those are all lovely, Teresa.

#62 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 06:16 PM:

Fragano @ 60... Or Fab4dom. Or FABdom, for those who remember Gerry Anderson's "Thunderbirds".

#63 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 06:53 PM:

When my hands are up to it, I'm working on a necklace with prime numbers.

#64 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 07:43 PM:

I did some Fibonacci necklaces once, with metal beads in the colors of the rainbow flag.

#65 ::: Ron Sullivan ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2010, 11:54 PM:

Letters used most often should have colors that are fairly neutral...

This is fun. How good is bears' color perception? I'm wondering if scent might be a better marker, and how to accomplish that. I do know a little about scented beads, but I wonder if handling with claws would release scents as well as bare-skin warmth does.

Ummmph. My brother, who died just before Thanksgiving last year, called himself "Bear." Earlier today I asked my sister to send me the rosaries she found in his stuff. I wasn't even thinking of this then, at least not consciously. Now there's something I need to do.

O oh oh DAMN, too.

#66 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 03:06 AM:

Ron Sullivan #65: How good is bears' color perception?

"The bears learned more rapidly than Grether’s (1946) chimpanzees, and as fast as the dogs used by Hosengren (1969). This positive performance indicates that hue discrimination is most likely a strong and widely used component of the bear’s visual perception."

#67 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 04:18 AM:

Ron@65:

My mother used to make rosaries out of olive wood (untreated). It's not a scent a bear would find pleasing, but scent-based rosaries are certainly pleasing.

I'm sorry for your loss. And I'm sorry that grief laid a land mine for you in this conversation. I hope his rosaries give you some comfort.

#68 ::: Sean Sakamoto ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 08:07 PM:

Those are beautiful. I love the idea of a fossil rosary for Darwin. The concept alone is art, and the execution is transcendent.

#69 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 08:24 PM:

Ron@65: Hmm. Using different scents for each bead "type" would have a resolution problem (that is, the scents would mix, being so close together). Maybe different sections of the loop could be made of different woods -- cedar, pine, spruce? Also, now I'm imagining a bear-sized rosary!

I also like the fossil rosary idea for Darwin! Or even a more complex necklace, with the fossils arranged by age and/or relationship....

#70 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2010, 08:47 PM:

Ron Sullivan, #65, I'm so sorry to hear this.

#71 ::: Ron Sullivan ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 01:42 AM:

Thank you all for expressing sympathy. It really does matter. And there are landmines everywhere, it seems. Two years ago on March 2 my youngest sister died. There are landmines in the un/subconscious, I can attest, and they'll wake you out of a sound sleep.

Sometimes, though, they emit as much light as heat.

There were six of us. I'm the oldest, the big sister. Kevin's and Jeannie's stories were as snarled and entangled as any ten fictional characters' and the story that entraps all of us reaches, just as far as I can trace it myself, from the Spanish Flu epidemic to two generations past mine. For a current anchor: I'm pretty sure that if either my brother or my sister had had health insurance they'd both be alive now. He was poor; she had a pre-existing condition. (Cervical cancer. She died cancer-free. It was a matter of arbitrarily-determined years since treatment.)

It's more outrageous than that, even, but I'll stop just now. Just—The political is personal too.

#72 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 06:38 AM:

How did it go, Teresa?

#73 ::: susan gere ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 04:17 PM:

As an attendee, I was disappointed at the lack of activity in the Art section. (Of course, the concomitant lack of bidding activity meant I took home the Alien Snapshots 2, which is like a Pastafarian rosary of delightful jasper ravioli.)

My disappointment at not having the God of the Burgess Shale is mitigated only by the fact that it is on its way to the Vatican astronomer Brother Guy.

The bears... definitely need their own art show, properly displayed and with portraits taken. Along with, I hope, more in the Rosary series.

#74 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 05:07 PM:

Probably-obvious advice:

Get a light box and re-take some of those photos! This stuff really deserves the best presentation.

I use a piece of flat gray foamcore as a background for taking snapshots of small items.

#75 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 07:11 PM:

According to what I heard it went quite well, but I'll let T post her own observations, hint, hint.

#76 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2010, 08:40 PM:

as for lightboxes for photographing jewelry, I'm still bad at it, though I can get pretty good close-ups on my porch when it is sunny.

One friend who does very small, flat art pieces, uses a modified translucent storage box. My jeweler friend says "Make a conestoga wagon of a white sheet, then put a stand inside."

#77 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 10:55 AM:

#76, #74,

You can take decent pictures of jewelry with nothing more than sunlight, a white bedsheet and a friend. You don't even need the friend if you have something to hang the sheet on.

Pick a bright, sunny day to go outside, (Or a sunny day with light pouring in through a window)
Arrange the jewelry on a support surface, (for necklaces, I like to use a plate or large soup bowl turned upside down and draped with thin quilt batting or heavy cotton in a neutral color. To get extra gravity for draping purposes, prop up one side of the bowl.)
Put the sheet between the jewelry and the sun.

The sunlight makes the colors pop, and the white bedsheet acts like a diffuser, so there are no glares or white spots from reflected light.
The only artificial light that I've seen where good pictures are taken use the full spectrum lights used to treat SAD. They also have these as desk lamps in craft stores for people who want to see "true colors".

more precise instructions can be found here:
http://www.firemountaingems.com/encyclobeadia/beading_resources.asp?docid=PHOTOTIPS

I was taking pictures of some other projects I have and discovered you don't need the bedsheet if you can get bright, indirect sunlight. I have a southeast facing balcony and the early afternoon light is perfect for taking pictures of objects.

#78 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 11:23 AM:

Those 2mm lexan portable/flexible cutting boards are easier to prop up in the window than the sheet; they're also cheap enough you can maim-and-mangle them into a fixed configuration with little financial pain.

I personally believe there's a reason jewelry is traditional photographed against dark velvet; you want something actually light-absorbent to really bring out the colours in many minerals.

The usual term of art for "bright indirect sunlight" is (I believe) "open shade"; googling on that, or checking the archives on Strobist for "jewelry", might well prove it useful.

#79 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 12:57 PM:

I'll point out that for Shiny Things, when you take a picture of them, you are really taking a picture of the lights reflecting off them.

If you want even light, that means surrounding it in white, or at the very least, something big relative to the item you're photographing. (Printer paper can make a wonderful diffuser for little things, posterboard or sheets for bigger ones)

If you want some points, lines, or areas of light, then make sure that you shoot at night, with the room lights off, and the only light you have is that which you want to reflect on the item.

(from he who has put way too many ufos in the vases of flower pictures)

#80 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 02:01 PM:

IME black velvet is a horribly persnickety background unless it's perfectly clean. Otherwise, autofocus cameras are inordinately fond of finding every tiny particle of lint or cat hair and bringing them out into sharp contrast.

There are other matte black background materials that're similarly low-albedo in themselves but are considerably easier to clean and/or more disposable: construction paper (obviously not waterproof, but very very easy for shaking/sweeping off small dry debris) or thin flexible sheets of craft foam (wet/dry cleanable, but vulnerable to showing small pinpricks from cat claws).

#81 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 02:13 PM:

I actually get some pretty decent pictures of the jewelry I sell on Etsy with my flatbed scanner! I just lay the item flat on the scanner face and put a piece of colored paper on top of it. When the item is thick, I may brace up the lid at both ends so it doesn't rest right on it. I'll have to try some dark velvet for the next batch and see how it goes.

#82 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 02:28 PM:

Julie @80 --

Dark blue, rather than black, and one of those lint brushes with the sort of red velcro-ish surface like a very very fine carding comb. Gets the nap all aligned, too.

Though I will admit the fundamental truth of the persnickety nature of velvet.

#83 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 02:29 PM:

Teresa, these are lovely. I didn't have time to look at them over the weekend; I hope some of them sold at Boskone!

Sandy, #27: I share your ambivalence about Regretsy. So many of those people are obviously not professionals, just hobbyists trying to make a little money; sometimes it feels like kicking people when they're down. OTOH, moose-poop-in-resin jewelry??!!

Cake Wrecks doesn't give me the same feeling, because at least all of the things featured on it have been represented as being made by professionals.

50-54: Ooh, this is giving me ideas! I like doing symbolic stuff with my beading; I've made a faux-candy necklace, and one with black and white beads in a piano-keys pattern, and a "day and night" necklace that was black and silver on one side and white and gold on the other...

Re lighting: Yes, diffuse/indirect sunlight works well, as do daylight-fluorescent bulbs. We just bought a light-box setup; it's a collapsible box of white rip-stop fabric, with interchangeable backdrops in red, blue, and black, and lighting standards for each side. With the addition of a glass shelf raised off the floor, we were able to get pictures like these. My partner thinks that with a bit more practice, he'll be able to take jury photos for me with this setup.

#84 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 03:21 PM:

Lee@83: (unsolicited non-professional photo advice alert!) There's a strange look to nearly all the actual jewelry photos at your link, some of which is not present in the photos of larger objects. So I'm making some inferences, doing some guessing.

First, I think they're mostly somewhat overexposed; the highlights are a bit too high, and the shadows ("black point") needs to be taken down considerably. This should give them more "sparkle" (local contrast, mostly).

Second, they have a look of being just a bit lacking in resolution or sharpness. This could be from stopping down too far (diffraction), or strong auxiliary closeup lenses, or inadequate sharpening in the workflow; or some combination. (Or focus error or camera shake, I suppose, but that's unlikely for a bunch of carefully-taken photos to all have.)

(Some of my own examples, for reference and as some support for my having opinions, on the sub-pages with "jewelry" in their titles here.)

The kind of light tent or cube you describe is very useful for this sort of work, no doubt about it. I haven't taken that plunge yet, might the next time I need to do a batch of serious jewelry shots. I also ought to try mounting the macro lens on the bellows I have, because the bellows gives me a small amount of lens tilt, tremendously valuable for depth-of-field management.

#85 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 03:22 PM:

Marilee @ 48

That's a lovely thing to do with them. In my mind, they're more linked to cranes of the living, feathered version (since I learned to fold them while an intern at the International Crane Foundation in Wisconsin), and to the tradition of folding 1000 cranes for luck than to the "Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes" story - although I've heard about and appreciated that, obviously.

I've entertained (and confused) strangers all over the word by sitting and folding cranes (and sometimes flapping birds, for children, or frogs, or even dragons) and giving them to anyone who was looking interested (or seemed bored and in need of amusement, in the case of the children). It's fun occasionally to "break the rules" on e.g. the Tube (London Underground) of ignoring all the people around you by giving someone a piece of origami.

#86 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 04:45 PM:

Lee@83: (unsolicited non-professional photo advice alert!) ((Again)) (((From someone else!))) *((((and I'll say right now that I'm a genius and always right, if not misunderstood.))))

I'm picking up a double reflection from the glass, one from the top surface, one from the bottom. The usual response to that is a front surface reflector, either polished stone or a colored plexiglas.

Other than that, I think DDB is right on.

Also, Pretty and shiny. I really like the landscape jasper one.

--
* I like chained footnotes, but I like chained parentheticals more.

#87 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2010, 08:50 PM:

dcb, #85, I grew up in the Navy and was an activist against the Vietnam war, so I have a strong mixed feeling about Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

When I was selling beads online, I always sent a flat crane with each order, telling people to pull the wings gently to open them. I spent a lot of time making them at the doctor's or a restaurant, etc.

#88 ::: Marjorie Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2010, 06:39 PM:

Hello,
I bought one of your necklaces at Boskone and I love it. It is the crystal wrapped with gold wire, tiny beads and gold stars. Each time I look at it I see something different. I know you named it, but I have mislaid the receipt so I have renamed it Rose in honor of a friend of mine and because of the small gold rose on it. Thank you for making it and making me smile.

Marjorie

#89 ::: Catherine Schaff-Stump ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2010, 11:48 AM:

Chia hooked me up. I now know your medium. Bears watching tundra. Gorgeous!

I am very fond of buying unique pieces of jewelry made by people I know. FYI. If you are making any more for art shows, or would consider a commission, we should talk.

Catherine

#90 ::: Rachael de Vienne ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2010, 12:55 PM:

Pretty rocks and science fiction? What a tug on my memories. … I collected rocks when I was very young. I picked up any rock that interested me: agates from the desert near our home, bits of petrified wood from the hills, beach pebbles from along the Columbia River. Sometimes I found spectacular things. I found a fulgurite, once It was broken off near where the boiled sand first fused to glass and ended about six inches down the stem. I never found the rest.

I transmitted that hobby to my parents and grandparents. They collected for years after I stopped. They gave it back to me later in life, and my mate and I have gone fossil hunting on the pacific coast.

My parents transmitted a love of books to me. Science fiction came my way from my father and his mother. I’ve read it since middle school and I began by pulling one book after another off my dad’s shelves. They were mostly older things, early Asimov, Fletcher, and his contemporaries. My mom introduced me to fantasy by reading the Oz books to me. And she gave me a love for a well turned mystery by reading Nurse Pinkerton stories to me.

My dad is without religion, even vaguely anti-religious. I taught Biblical Studies, but I am not without sympathy for my dad’s irreligion. My dad writes science. I write history and fantasy fiction. Probably the closest we are in disposition is where we touch in our reading interests, and we both collect stamps. We approach life differently, but we both can imagine life in space or adventures in a Pixie-haunted forest. We differ in how we express our social responsibilities and a discussion of some ethical issues might turn heated. But we are both touched by the glory hidden in a crusted rock.

#91 ::: Rachael de Vienne ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2010, 12:55 PM:

Pretty rocks and science fiction? What a tug on my memories. … I collected rocks when I was very young. I picked up any rock that interested me: agates from the desert near our home, bits of petrified wood from the hills, beach pebbles from along the Columbia River. Sometimes I found spectacular things. I found a fulgurite, once It was broken off near where the boiled sand first fused to glass and ended about six inches down the stem. I never found the rest.

I transmitted that hobby to my parents and grandparents. They collected for years after I stopped. They gave it back to me later in life, and my mate and I have gone fossil hunting on the pacific coast.

My parents transmitted a love of books to me. Science fiction came my way from my father and his mother. I’ve read it since middle school and I began by pulling one book after another off my dad’s shelves. They were mostly older things, early Asimov, Fletcher, and his contemporaries. My mom introduced me to fantasy by reading the Oz books to me. And she gave me a love for a well turned mystery by reading Nurse Pinkerton stories to me.

My dad is without religion, even vaguely anti-religious. I taught Biblical Studies, but I am not without sympathy for my dad’s irreligion. My dad writes science. I write history and fantasy fiction. Probably the closest we are in disposition is where we touch in our reading interests, and we both collect stamps. We approach life differently, but we both can imagine life in space or adventures in a Pixie-haunted forest. We differ in how we express our social responsibilities and a discussion of some ethical issues might turn heated. But we are both touched by the glory hidden in a crusted rock.

#92 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 05:40 AM:

So happy to see the rosaries and the bears!

Also, in case I haven't said lately, you are the bestest bead scout evar, you know.

#93 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 06:41 PM:

So happy to see the rosaries and the bears!

Also, in case I haven't said lately, you are the bestest bead scout evar, you know.

#94 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2010, 06:43 PM:

OK, that was a weird double post thingie. Sorry about that.

Choose:
Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

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