2009/03/27

Little Dude & the Macro Lens

DaGoddess @ 01:39

A couple weeks ago, Little Dude used Charlie and Precious (the camera and macro lens, for those of you new to the blog) to take a few photographs. This kid has some serious patience when it comes to photography and I’ve very proud of him. He took his time, carefully setting up each shot, adjusting exposure, and then evaluating every angle and nuance before taking the photo. We’ll need to work a little bit on composition, but not much.

My dad, who was watching the session, was impressed with the amount of care LD put into every image. I believe he’s beginning to see why I think LD’s ready for his own camera soon. (I was a little younger than he is when I got my first SLR, so he’s pretty much right on track.)

Legoman in Battle

Hey! It looks like Uncle S

The Bearded One Who Reminds Us of Rufus

All pirates need cannons!

The little boat

As you can see, I didn’t do any editing on these except for a little color correction on the last one (which I did just to see how it’d turn out) because I didn’t want to change the images or the way he shot them until he was ready to get into editing himself. I think he did a pretty good job! The top photo, of the Legoman in battle is probably my favorite. He could have easily moved the other Lego character, but he said, “then how would you know he was in a sword fight, Mom?” Precisely. He had it all reasoned out and I couldn’t argue with his logic.

I love that my son has the ability to envision the “action” and then translate it into photos. If I can, I’ll upload his Lego Indiana Jones stop motion movie and link to it for you. He and a friend of his put it together last year for a school project.

I tell ya, I gotta watch this one carefully. Next thing you know, he’s going to want his own mega computer with iKItMovie or something similar. Then he’ll turn the apartment into a studio and I’ll never be able to get him outside again. It could happen!

By the way, is anyone else as bothered as I am by the tiny boat with the big cannon? I mean, seriously, it would sink! I guess in the realm of Legos, physics isn’t that big of a deal.

2009/03/25

Interview Time! Meet Miachelle DePiano

DaGoddess @ 17:00

MiachelleI’d like to introduce you to someone very special me. Miachelle of Cosmopolitan Accessories and I go back several years, back when I used to be a semi-popular blogger and someone whose name was occasionally mentioned by the Big Dogs. Luckily, when I gave up my seat in that club, Miachelle stuck with me (much like a couple other great folks who stop by here). When I went to Phoenix in February, I missed meeting up with Miachelle by thismuch. I should have planned better. I wanted to hang out with her not just because she’s a cool lady, but because I wanted to actually put my hands on some of her glorious jewelry.

Folks, if you ever have the desire to invest your money into unique, beautifully handcrafted jewelry, Miachelle is the lady to see. Her pieces are created with love and are quite distinctive in appearance. Each piece is different from the next. The materials she uses aren’t necessarily different from what others might use, but it’s the way she puts them together that really makes them special. If you want to stand out in a crowd, wear Miachelle’s jewelry. People will recognize you as the bold, discerning woman you are!

Because I can’t do true justice to Miachelle and Cosmopolitan Accessories with just a couple paragraphs of gushing praise, I figured the best way for you to get to know her and get a feel for what she offers was to let her tell you in her own words.

So, without further ado, let’s begin.

How/when did you get into creating jewelry?

I’ve always been artistic. As a child, I drew because my mother drew. She was my idol. When I was in high school, I realized I didn’t want to be told what project to do, and how to do it, which I knew spelled disaster for an artistic career. I joined the military, and quit drawing altogether because of a drill sergeant (a whole different story). I still had these creative urges though, and kept trying different outlets. After I was out of the Army, that urge got even worse. I had two co-workers who made their own jewelry, Saoirse and Cappy, and I was constantly envying their accessories, Saoirse in particular. She was an art deco kind of designer. Saoirse loaned me a how-to book, and I spent two weeks thoroughly engaged. That was seven years ago and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Do you have a particular influence or are your creations something more organic and spontaneous?

Cosmopolitan AccessoriesI’m usually inspired by colors and shapes. For example, at an art show there were some local glass artists in the booth across from mine. They had a beautiful glass necklace on display. I kept looking at that necklace — it was blue glass sticks in a rather non-symmetrical fan design, and an inspiration to combine chain maille and glass kept nagging at me. I talked to them throughout the day, and by the time we were tearing down, I’d commissioned them to make me some black and white glass bead sticks. I wanted to use my red and silver jump rings to create something very industrial, yet tribal. They made the glass bead sticks for me, and after 20 hours of linking and designing on the fly, I created “Fab Tribe”. It’s one of my all-time top three favorites. I would love to do some more pieces combining the glass and chain maille. The colors and reflectiveness in the glass add a completely different design dimension that I love working with.

How do you go about choosing your materials?

I’m not a person who goes and buys tons of materials in bulk. First of all, I run my business purely on cash flow. No loans, no credit cards. So I have to be extremely cautious and picky when I make a purchase. Usually I buy materials based off an immediate image that pops up in my mind. There are things I buy that are basics, like sterling silver wire, anodized aluminum jump rings or pearls. You have to have the basics. But for the center focal points of the necklace? It has to speak to me as soon as I see it. Those are crucial to my pieces. If I can’t get a vision out of those pieces, it’s not worth spending the money or the time on.

Do you have a favorite piece?

Cosmopolitan Accessories - KatrinaMy all-time favorite piece is one called “Katrina”. I made it four days after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. I had a call for entries (for a book) for which I needed to create a piece. As I worked on this piece, the shape of the necklace (a reverse question mark) really began to overtake me. I was thinking about New Orleans, and what people were going through. It occurred to me that similar to the shape of my necklace, their lives were thrown in reverse, and few of them really had an answer to get themselves out of the upheaval caused by the hurricane. The colors were beautiful — turquoise and green mixed with smoky quartz, like the lushness I grew up with in the South. That necklace became “Katrina”. I remember that day. Once the emotions took over with the image, I couldn’t stop making it. My husband was a little exasperated that it was a chore to get me to eat and do family things that evening. All I wanted to do was finish that piece. It only took six hours. Six hours, over 24 feet of sterling silver wire, and lots of pearls, crystals, smoky quartz, and a really nice dichroic glass pendant. It now belongs to a woman in Baltimore who became a friend of mine years after she bought it. It was also published in the book for which it was made: Beadazzled: Where Beads and Inspiration Meet by Penelope Diamanti and William Allen, my first time being published. It was also the first time I really remember being inspired by something outward as a jewerly designer. That feeling was really a rush, something akin to the endorphin rushes I used get when I used to run.

What has been your greatest accomplishment in jewelry-making?

I think my greatest accomplishment in jewelry making has been my own growth and expansion as an artist. I have had a lot of material accomplishments, such as being published numerous times, having my jewelry in local movies, and winning some local awards, but I yearn to grow and evolve as an artist. Because I actually do have a practical and logical side, I desire financial and public success with my work, but above anything else, I have to continuously grow as an artist, both in skill and artistic expression. I look back at what I was making seven years ago, or three years ago, and I’m so very different now than at those times, and I’m proud of that. Until now, I’ve been nearly a completely self-taught artist (I’ve taken three classes in seven years), but I’m about to embark on the metalsmithing path and take the next level upward in skills and design techniques. I want to evoke a response in people, and I think I am just now at that level where I do that. People may not always like my work, but at least they respond. I think if you are making things that don’t elicit a response one way or the other, you’re wasting your time and your audience’s. Perhaps that’s why I am so anti-department store jewelry!

Who should wear your work?

Not to be cliché, but (laugh) EVERYONE. My company motto is “Dare to be BOLD”. I see that many women like things like my jewelry, but they’ve allowed themselves to be molded and boxed in regarding their self-image. I want women to break out of that mold. I don’t believe a woman is too old, too short, too fat, or too inelegant to wear my pieces. I believe if a piece speaks to you and you can afford it, WEAR IT! Life is short, and unexpected. Why cheat yourself out of something that gives you innocent pleasure?

Many of your pieces are very sensuous. They seem as though they’d feel delightfully cool against one’s skin no matter how long they’re worn. Is that intentional?

I don’t know that the appearance of temperature in my pieces is intentional — I pay more attention to the weight of the pieces, because I’ve heard so many women exclaim how deceptively light my big pieces are. Women are sensitive to how how heavy a necklace is — at my age I am not as bothered by the weight of a piece, but older women are more so. That’s the challenge of marketing my pieces. Older women have the money and art appreciation to buy my pieces, but they also think they are too old to wear them beautifully. (Hogwash, I say!) I think because I focus on the weight of the pieces, the cooler appearance goes hand-in-hand with that design aspect.

Thinking back on all the work I’ve seen, silver is “IN”. Do you work with gold at all? What other metals do you use, if any?

Actually, two years ago I began using anodized aluminum, because silver was peaking at $18/ounce before processing (and about $21/ounce after processing). When you figure in materials and labor to come up with the price, that makes for a very expensive piece, especially when I am spending 10+ hours on one necklace. I love silver, and would prefer to work primarily in silver (though that would make some of these pieces much heavier). I have not worked in gold because gold has been bouncing in the $900/ounce range for three years. I would love to find a financial backer willing to pay for me to work in mixtures of gold and silver. For example, I think if I took “Fab Tribe”, made it in a mixture of argentium silver (doesn’t tarnish like regular sterling silver) and rose gold, and changed the color of the glass pieces to complement the silver and rose gold, what a fantastic piece that would be! I’d have to charge $3000-5000 by the time I made it using those metals, and it would definitely have to be marketed to the high-end/celebrity customer base. Anodized aluminum is great because not only does it come in bright silver, it comes in a rainbow of colors and it really adds a whole new design dimension. Titanium does as well, but that is expensive and it’s heavier.

Have you sold to any celebrities? Seems they’d be the perfect customer for unique pieces like yours.

Not yet…though my jewelry has been used in some locally produced films. Two can be viewed in a movie called Blood Moon Rising, a Warner Brothers DVD due release this spring/summer, and it features a cameo with Ron Jeremy. It’s kind of a pulp fiction vampire movie, and should be lots of fun. I also had several pieces in a recently filmed feature movie called Red Corvette. It was made for a non-profit organization with an anti-drug theme geared towards the high-school/college age audience. If you search for my company on www.imdb.com, you will find me credited on a number of small films. I also list my filmography on my website.

Do family members wear your jewelry?

But of course! I have given and sold a number of pieces to my mother and my mother-in-law. I have to say I think my mother is my biggest fan. She’s also tall and striking in appearance, so she’s a great model for my pieces! My best friend/soul sister has a few of my pieces as well, and borrows jewelry when she comes to visit me. We keep the love in the family!

How much should someone plan on investing in your works of art?

Depending on your perspecitve, my pieces are pretty affordable given the effort and time put into them. I have really nice artistic (but simple) sterling silver chain and earring sets that run about $149, and my big pieces run between $250 and $450. They are an investment, but a small one. Given that I don’t repeat pieces, the uniqueness also adds to the value.

Do you create custom pieces for clients?

Absolutely! I have done wedding sets (one was for the bride, bridal party, and her daughter). I have created pieces intended as gift items. I like doing custom pieces — they are actually more challenging than you would think. You have to make your customer happy with the request, but sometimes they aren’t completely sure of what they are looking for, so combining creative freedom and the restraints of the customer’s idea is challenging. However, the feeling of making that customer happy is an incredible one, and well worth the effort!

Back to the sensuous question: your work does have a certain sexiness about it. Is that a reflection of you, the materials, or both?

I enjoy making women feel sexy with my jewelry. But sexy can be anything — as long as it comes from the inside. Sexy can be a simple strand of pearls, or it can be a piece like my front/back necklace, “Diadem”. If it doesn’t start there, my jewelry won’t be sexy on a woman. I think I like pushing the envelope though, and I try not to do “sedate” pieces, although sometimes those are the bread and butter of a jewelry business.

Where can people find your jewelry besides your website?

Currently, I sell at Art on Boston (www.artonboston.com) and at the new Hilton hotel gift shop in Chandler, AZ. I am currently researching locations outside the state of Arizona, though, focusing on resort/vacation areas and high-end galleries.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with me, Miachelle! As always, I’m in awe at the depth of your creativity and the absolute genius of your work.

Please go have a look at Miachelle’s enchanting designs. I guarantee you’ll find something that takes your breath away. And, if you’re smart, you’ll pop a link to this interview in an email to your significant other and a link to your favorite piece, along with a reminder of an anniversary, birthday, or a “just because you love me” day. As she said before, these pieces are an investment, but not a huge one. And it’ll be worth every penny when you put the jewelry on and feel like a million bucks! Plus, you’ll be the envy of all your friends!

2009/03/24

iHeartFaces Week #11 – Adults (No Flash!)

DaGoddess @ 03:37

Now it’s time for an entry in the adult category for the iHeartFaces contest.

Henry Gray is a bit of a legend in New Orleans and Chicago. He was born in Louisiana but he settled in Chicago after WWII. Once there, he played for bluesman Howlin’ Wolf, among others. At 84, he’s still got the chops for some serious boogie woogie. He’s seriously sweet, too. (But that’ll be our secret, okay?) Again, no flash for this one, unless you count the flashing fingers across the 88s.

Bluesman Henry Gray

Whew! Three posts in one day. Will wonders never cease?!

iHeartFaces Contest Week #11 – Kids (No Flash!)

DaGoddess @ 03:06

After getting permission from the super duper blogging mom, Cheri, I’m presenting you and the folks at iHeartFaces with this image of Young Miss L.

Young Miss L

No flash, just lots of rain and a smattering of sunshine here and there. Mostly, it was just fun and a real delight to work with Miss L because she’s inquisitive, bright, funny, and she really pays attention to what’s happening all around her.

PROMPTuesday #48 – It Ain’t Me

DaGoddess @ 02:24

There’s a blog proposal about to happen and I know it’s not happening to me. Still, I like to believe that love is possible and love is grand. Honest! I’m not nearly as jaded nor as disbelieving as I pretend to be.

Luckily, this post also counts as a PROMPTuesday entry.

I remember the one proposal I had that actually led to marriage. (There have been others, but all were called off for one reason or another.) But at one time I did walk down the aisle. Yep. And I remember how it felt to see someone before me on bended knee, how it felt on my wedding day, and how, for a while, it was good.

The funny thing about the proposal from my ex is that it came about in an odd way. It was Christmas Day 1994. We were at my sister and brother-in-law’s old house. The presents had all been opened, the paper picked up and thrown away, Mojo was running around having a good time, and the man and I were in the living room putting toys and other gifts in bags for easier loading into the car later. I looked at the man and asked, “so are we going to Mr. and Mrs. next year or are we going to continue to be just ‘You’ and ‘Me’?” It was a rather big question because I’d uprooted my daughter and our home in Colorado to move back to San Diego because of him (and because I missed my family, if I’m being 100% honest). He looked at me and said, “we’ll always be ‘You’ and ‘Me’, but I know there’s a Mr. and Mrs. in our future.”

I’d given my mom a date book for Christmas so we grabbed that and started looking through it to see when might be a good time. We picked a date: September 23. It was the first day of autumn and it was also the day after his mom and dad had been married. We also chose the date because it was out of the prime wedding season, which is when my brother-in-law is always booked and we wanted him, and only him, to shoot the wedding. So, we had the date and then we began loading vehicles with presents to clear the house out a little. It was also an excuse for the man to talk to my dad about us getting married. My dad was thrilled. He hugged us both and then sent us off to talk to my mom. The man got tongue tied and ended up asking for my mom’s hand in marriage, but once he got it all straightened out, it was okay. My mom wasn’t as enthused as my dad was and we had a bit of a discussion. She was worried we were rushing things. Having known the man for ten years already (though our dating history had been rather on/off/on/off and eventually ceded to friendship), I was confident we were heading in the right direction. Not so much. But that’s a different story.

Eventually, once my mom and dad had been notified, the man got down on one knee and proposed to me in the studio in front of everyone. I still have photos of that moment, too. Mojo was excited that we (she and I) were going to marry the man she had chosen as her “Daddy” (forget the father she knew, she wanted the man as her daddy).

We went shopping for a ring the next day, I believe, and while the man was convinced he needed to spend a lot for a ring, I bristled and said, “I want something small, tasteful, and uncomplicated. I’m always having to pull gloves on or off at work. I don’t want to not be able to wear my ring all the time.” So I got a small diamond. All three rings — engagement, plus his and hers wedding bands — were less than $400. I was happy and I know he heaved a huge sigh of relief.

I remember the moment the wedding band was placed on my finger, 13 1/2 years later, even though we’re no longer together. It meant the world to me then and I would hope that I will feel that way again someday, standing before some officiant, pledging my undying love for someone. (I didn’t pledge anything last time as it was a Greek Orthodox ceremony and you don’t say anything at all during one of those!)

Anyhow, to whomever is receiving the proposal, I wish you all the love and luck in the world. My advice: Don’t hesitate to take a chance on love just because some people get divorced. All that proves is that some unions weren’t as solid as they should have been in the first place. Don’t be afraid of love. And don’t forget to work on it every single day. When you make that commitment, make it fully and don’t be afraid of the bad times. You will get through them, especially if you have chosen well. You better believe I’ll choose well next time and I’ll commit fully. I believe in love that much.

Now, when do we get to find out who this is?

2009/03/23

Pam’s Angel

DaGoddess @ 06:00

Pam's Angel

The gentleness of this little angel means the world to me.

2009/03/22

Just One More

DaGoddess @ 20:27

Promise!

I took photos of these flowers last year, back before I’d really figured out my camera. Of course, that day, there was bright sun everywhere. Not so when I shot this flower today.

The Flower

Busy Bee

DaGoddess @ 20:10

That’s what I was today: a busy bee*.

My Bee

Same Bee, Same Photo, Different Crop

* These two images are actually the same photo with a different crop. Couldn’t decide which one I liked best. Before the lovely ladies showed up at the park, I played around with my macro lens. I couldn’t resist! (More proof of goofing off below)

Met up with Cheri and her beautiful daughters this morning. We had ourselves a photo shoot in the park, dashing between raindrops at times, trying to hide from sunshine other times. Mostly, it was just fun. Cheri is gorgeous, sweet, and just all around likable. Not surprisingly, her daughters are, too. The youngest, Miss L., is just too cute for words! At some point, I’m going to have to introduce her to Little Dude. Between the two of them, there’d be lots of giggling and creativity and some serious scientific wrangling. They’re alike in many ways, even though they are a couple years apart in age and the obvious boy vs. girl thing. Trust me when I say I see very similar traits in LD that I saw in Miss L. What a great time! Thank you, Cheri! Thank you for sharing your family with me. It was really an honor to photograph you.

After we finished up, we said our goodbyes and I headed over to meet up with one of my photographer friends. We had to do a bit of shopping (we found some great bargains on tutus for little girls and I had a gift card to use…perfect timing!).

Then I checked in on my mom. Sigh. My heart is really hurting for her. She’s in the same condition I was prior to my latest surgery: one day walking, the next several days completely unable to do more than cry while hobbling to the bathroom. She’s been given the thumbs up on surgery, but only after her kidney function is back in the normal range. I seriously don’t know if she can wait that long. She’s in too much pain. Please say a prayer for her.

Once home, I had to put in a call to the pres of the blues society to straighten out that mess. Things are “okay” for now. I don’t know what will happen beyond the next month or so, but for now, I’m going to remain on the board of directors, continue volunteering, and just wait to see what happens. However, there are a few things that still need to be addressed with a couple of other people and I can only hope that’s settled before too long. We’re a small group and we need to get along. That’s just how it is. At least some of this is cleared up, though, and that’s a good thing.

Now I’m doing my best to dig into the photos from today’s shoot. What I’ve seen thus far is very good. I can’t wait to show Cheri and her daughters how beautiful the photos turned out. (Yay!)

Sweet Bud

Bud's Hips

Glazed and Confused

DaGoddess @ 06:00

What does this remind you of?

Glazed and Confused

Hey Moms! Photographers!

DaGoddess @ 00:02

If you have little girls who like to play dress up (and you know who you are), you should check out Forget Me Not Kids. They currently have a lot of their dress up items marked down. I mean, these prices are so reasonable, it’s making me wish I had known of such a place back when Mojo was little.

Just sayin’.

And if anyone would like to buy something for me, can I have a princess gown?

But seriously, there are some great deals. Shop now and save while prices are down.

Also, if you’re a photographer in need of a larger camera bag (one that’s rugged), there’s the Burton Zoom Pack from REI. It normally sells for $129.95 but is on sale for $69.93. It even has a padded laptop compartment. It’s a busy photographer’s dream bag!

2009/03/21

Waves and Ridges

DaGoddess @ 14:28

Waves with Ridges

My Dad

DaGoddess @ 10:00

I finally had a chance to get over to my dad’s house and take some photos. I’m not entirely sure this is the one I’m going to use, but at least I got to spend some time with him. This photo is supposed to go with the ones I took at Christmas. They don’t quite match up, and I doubt I’m going to get any that will.

Dad

What was most troubling about this particular photo is that I keep seeing the pain my dad was in. I don’t think it’s apparent to most people just looking at the image, though. He was hunched over while standing up, favoring one leg over the other, and generally looking ill at ease the whole time, even when sitting. It hurt my heart to see him that way. He was so frail. Even after his surgery he seemed much hardier than he did the other day. My heart sank and I had this terrible knot in my gut when LD and I left. I know, I know. He’s 78. But he’s my DAD!

Sigh.

I guess my folks are both getting to the stage where I’m going to have to accept that they’re older than I care to think. Truly, I have this picture in my head of each of them: younger, busy, and full of life. They’re still full of life and generally busy, but they aren’t as young as they once were. And I have to adjust my way of thinking.

Sigh.

2009/03/20

Trouble Waiting

DaGoddess @ 23:53

I think it’s a sad, sad day when I come to you and tell you what I’m about to tell you.

Yes, you see, there’s a problem. With me.

I’ve developed a crush on Tom Bergeron. Oh, it’s not so bad that I watch Dancing With the Stars or anything. No, I just sneak glances at the TV when LD watches America’s Funniest Videos. It’s sick, isn’t it?

Tom or Tony?

But I think I know why this has happened. He’s the Safe Bourdain. That’s right, I’m saying he’s kind of like Tony Bourdain, but without the edge. Do I have a thing for Bourdain? I don’t know about that. Could be. Could be that I like his chutzpah, his travelin’ bones, his…Bourdainness. Yes, it could be, but I’m not entirely certain. And perhaps that’s why Tom Bergeron has suddenly started registering on my radar. Then again, when I think of him, he’s almost a little too safe, a little too subtle. Perhaps if they could meld into one person, a Bergedain or a Bourderon, the near-perfect man would exist.

They’re both expert smirkers. And they both sport salt and pepper hair. I love salt and pepper hair on men. Roowr! But, um, what was I saying? Oh, yeah…smirking. One’s a little bit corny. The other’s a little bit into cooking with corn. Except perhaps that’s not entirely true. I heard Bergeron hosts dinner parties. Hmmm…

Either way, I do think I’d enjoy spending the afternoon with both men. A little food, a lot of laughs, and some quality TV time. Yeah, that could work. After all, my little “crushes” are never anything but chaste and totally innocent. Except for Craiggles. That’s different. And we don’t discuss that.

I think I’ve said too much.

Maybe it’s the lack of regular TV when my child gets hold of the remote control before I do. Maybe it’s the meds.

Lest Ye Think I Forgot

DaGoddess @ 23:23

…about sharing photos, I haven’t!

Here’s a photo I took of my roommate’s daughter and her husband last weekend. I haven’t seen them since they got married and they look very happy. Nice couple. And LD loved talking Marines with the guy, naturally.

M and J

2009/03/19

Camperitis and Other Diseases

DaGoddess @ 15:27

For some reason, every single time Little Dude is scheduled to go camping, he ends up with swollen tonsils (with spots!). Usually Strep. So, was it really any shock to discover that my child has a sore throat yesterday? Nope. Not only that, but it hit him suddenly, as it usually does.

Today included a trip to the doctor’s office. The ex took us. Then we stopped at Walmart for all the supplies: chewable Tylenol, Gatorade, chicken noodle soup, Jell-O (lime, thank you very much), and some cereal.

What have we been doing since we got back? Watching movies, playing with Legos, and I was photographing shells. Oh! And a dove that came to visit us. Why not?

There was also some fun business with the blues society. Seriously, I’m about thisclose to resigning my position on the board. Last night’s meeting was horrendous on many different levels. I don’t know how much longer I can take it. For the most part, I love the people involved, but it’s become apparent that there are problems that I’m just not able to ignore. It makes me sad. Really sad.

Now I’m off to upload the photos from this past week. I have a few of my dad, some macros that LD shot of his Legos, and then the stuff I did today.

Sigh.

Just sigh.

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