Friday, January 29, 2010

Steampunk Princess: Mechanical Butterfly

I finished it! *dances* Last night, with 10 minutes to go before I was supposed to be getting ready for date night, I finished the necklace I started next week (and even made some earrings... because that's only the right thing to do :P ).

Like I said in one of my previous posts, this necklace was inspired by a bracelet design featured in a book called "Steampunk-Style Jewelry". Mostly, I used the idea of coiled wire helping filigree pieces look like cogs or mechanical parts, which you can see in the focal of my necklace. The book had the coiled wire a bit tighter but I couldn't get the wire to stay tight. I'll admit, I didn't read the directions... I was on lunch and just flipped through the book. But I think I like the way the coils look like springs. It works for me.

The focal is pretty much the only part I kept the same from the original design of the necklace. I originally was going to have the pretty green Magatama drop beads strung on hemp, but it proved too much of a pain to find six beads that would fit over the cord. I decided to just do four whole strands of the pretty bead and I rather like it. It think it works out better and looks prettier. Kind of liquidy with their shininess.

Another part that changed was the chain. I originally had the chains be equal length. But that looked a bit boring and unbalanced with the boldness of the green Magatama beads. Also, the necklace was a bit long... so I shortened a piece of chain on each side and then hung the other two off the shortened pieces so the chain scalloped. It gives it a sort of elegance that I think it was missing. To the chain, I also added a few of the Chinese glass beads I have on the focal. I thought it brought a bit more green to the piece.

The earrings I made from two more copper connectors and the bit of scrap chain I snipped off the necklace. Added some of the green beads (both the Chinese glass and Magatama beads) and I think it matches the necklace nicely.

I wore the necklace and earrings on date night. And they made me feel so pretty... which I think is important to a piece of jewelry. I originally thought I would sell these pieces, but I just can't bring myself to part with them. I will just have to make a sister necklace.

My boyfriend thinks I should add some of the Magatama beads to the chain or maybe the focal. I might try that. They're such pretty beads. I'd also like to try making a matching bracelet. Hmm... maybe that's how I'll spend my day off today...

Happy Friday, everyone!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Who is "Ahtee?"- Week 4

So, of course yesterday, after being sick in bed the whole day, I couldn't sleep! I sketched these out at around 2am this morning. It's how I see myself.

I'm told I don't have quite as big a face as I draw. Or a double chin that is as noticeable as those in my drawings... but when one does a self-portrait, sometimes they focus on what they don't like and highlight it. At least, that's what I do. These sketches were drawn with pen in my little sketchbook (little meaning 4"x6" maybe...). I wonder. Each sketch is different, but each is me. Do you think so?

This self-portrait project is fun. And I'm glad I'm doing it because its forcing me to post at least once a week. And that's good, I think. Keeps me on track and reminding me that I have an art/jewelry blog and need to keep at it!

I did a semi-autobiographical comic once... I wonder if I should give that a go again. It was fun.

Sleep calls... hopefully some new jewelry next post!


Saturday, January 23, 2010

WIP- Mechanical Butterfly

While my boyfriend and friends go out to watch my friend's band's first performance, I am sick in bed! I had to call out because I was feverish and now, though the fever is gone, I feel very weak.

I wanted to finish this necklace yesterday but was so busy with work. I thought, when I went to bed last night, I could finish it today, but woke up sick! How unfair. Haha.

The idea for this "mechanical butterfly" sprang from a project I read of in a book at work called "Steampunk-Style Jewelry." In it, there's a project where coiled wire, when sandwiched between two filigree pieces, look like cogs! I thought "Wow. I want to have a go at that..." And I'd seen these butterfly pieces probably the day before at my bead store. Sooo... after the project sat in my brain, growing, for about a week, I went to the bead store on Thursday and asked them for my first bit of freshly cut wire and chain just for this necklace (I'm a bit shy and barely talk to the lovely ladies who run the store and though I've wanted to try my hand at making my own ear wires, I haven't had the courage to ask them to cut me some wire. Something must be wrong with me, no? Hahaha) along with those butterflies I'd seen but didn't buy.

To me, the color that copper turns when it oxidizes is beautiful. And I thought that the two Chinese glass beads that sit atop the face of the butterfly pendant are the perfect color. I added some shiny copper chain to contrast the aged copper of the butterfly (and, in all honesty, to give something for the loops that hold the glass beads in place something to hold... :D).

The necklace is almost done. Here is a close up of the chain. Its also aged copper and hangs off of a connector that holds hemp cord with green Magatma drop beads. I felt like the cord and Magatama beads would add an organic feel to the necklace. That's the part that I need to finish- add the cord to the other connector, cord tips, and a clasp.

On a side note, I love the chain that I found at my bead store. Its hammered half-way through each link. I don't know why, but it made me feel like it was a perfect match to this necklace. It was a wonderful feeling when I saw this chain.

Hopefully I can finish this necklace soon. I don't like having something so close to being done but am just unable to finish it.

My head is spinning slightly so I think it's time to rest my eyes for a bit. Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rainy Day Beading

It has been STORMING here in southern California. I'm sure other parts of the United States are used to this kind of weather, but a "tornado warning" for Orange County? Really?

Personally, I love the rain. It's calming. And I felt ready to tackle a project that had been growing in my head for a little while. Not a complicated one, but a project nonetheless.

I can't reveal what is going to happen to this bracelet/earring pair just yet... because I have no idea who is going to be reading my blog. And I'd like to keep it as a little bit of a surprise, but I did want to share this design with whoever does happen to read my blog.

This bracelet was made using memory wire and five-holed spacers. The seed beads are from a bead soup I mixed up with purples, blues, white with a slight gold finish, and a touch of hot pink and brown. Four little metal dragonflies are worked into this bracelet. The dark blue beads are glass and look like stone. The purple beads are glass crackle beads. There are also lavender glass pearls and lavender fire polished glass beads. Its really very spring-like in my opinion.

I finished the ends with more spacers and chain on two of the three pieces of memory wire. Without the chain, the bracelet felt un-secure when I tried it on (is that a word? Un-secure?). On the middle piece of memory wire, purple Crystazzi crystal beads dangle and add just a touch more sparkle. Not really in a noticeable place but something that is waiting to be found.

Not one to waste, I used some of the scrap wire from the Crystazzi dangle beads to start a pair of earrings to match the bracelet. More seed beads and metal dragonflies. A touch of lavender fire polished beads. And a bit more Crystazzi sparkle.

Purples and silver really are my favorite colors to bead with right now. Hopefully, I can branch off and do something a bit different for next time.

Happy beading, all!

Note: I feel compelled to tell you that I watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy while I make things... drawing, painting, bookbinding, beading... all things made by me are made with Lord of the Rings playing in the background. Movie, movie with commentary, or special features. While making these, I was listening to the cast commentary of "The Return of the King." And Billy Boyd, who plays Pippin, has a fantastic Scottish accent. Well, while writing this, and even while I'm writing this little note, the words are being said in my head in his voice. Isn't that odd? It makes me giggle.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Who is "Ahtee?"- Week 3

I cut my own hair (for the first time since I was like 5) this week. I had one of those days on Thursday where I just wanted to hide under my covers until Friday, and I did. And when Friday came along, I found myself to have survived what had gone on and just took a pair of scissors and lopped off the hair.

It's not really a new start. I've had plenty of those. But its kind of a reminder that I am fully capable of doing things myself. Even something as silly has a haircut.

BTW- That diet I had planned for myself? PLLBBTTT! (is that the proper "raspberry sound effect" spelling?) Our fridge is broken. How can I store healthy food without a cooling unit? Oh well. :P

Friday, January 15, 2010

Re-Design W/ My Christmas Beads

Here is the original necklace I made using the beads my boyfriend bought me for Christmas. I wore it. Didn't like it. So. I changed it today.

This is the new design which I think works well with the upcoming lovey-dovey holiday. It was made using a two-needle weaving technique I read about in a magazine. They used four beads per section... I used a few more (they're seed beads and four didn't seem like enough).

The sections aren't quite hearts but I think they'll do.

I think it might be a tad too long but I can always change that. One of the joys of making my own jewelry is being able to make things that fit ME. :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rainbows and Puppies

My world isn't always full of rainbows and puppies. It's raining right now and after a cold and sad night, it isn't cheering me up like rain usually does. So, I thought I would share some puppy sketches that I did a few days ago. Puppies always cheer me up.

I've drawn quite a few different animals in my 22 years of living. I think I can honestly say I struggle the most with dogs and cats. Wolves, I can do. Tigers, lions... those I can eventually get something decent out of my pencil. But domesticated cats and dogs? I just am never happy with my ("realistic") sketches of them.

These at the top were some doodles I was fooling around with when my eyes grew tired of staring at a computer screen. I think the puppies came out ok. They look a little like Blue from "Blue's Clues," but I rather like the one holding the heart in its mouth. I was thinking of Valentine's Day when I drew that.

Here's to hoping we all get through this Wednesday and make it to Thursday, the beginning of the end of the week :D

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Who is "Ahtee?"- Week 2

I'm not gonna lie. My job leaves me feeling drained and cranky... angry at humanity for treating me and the rest of the managers and booksellers like we aren't people. Like we exist to serve them... and are able to discount the world for them. Perhaps living in southern Orange County (home of the "Real House Wives of Orange County") makes my customers feel more entitled, but ugh. Really? "I want a damage discount on this book because it's the last one on the shelf."

After work, usually, I go home and nap. And nap. Dreaming of beautiful things. And this week's picture is me after my nap (hand carefully placed to block part of my double chin :P).

I almost didn't post a picture. Thinking "Ugh. I just want this day to be over." But. Blogging/journaling makes me feel better. Just like beading... painting... drawing. Reading a good book. Snuggling.

I started keeping a regular journal. I've tried doing it in the past only to just give up after a week or two. This journal I keep is a bit different. I write down all the positive things that have happened to me that day. Today will be no different. Because, no matter how crappy the customers are at work, there are still those customers who make you laugh and feel like you're doing a good job. And there are highlights to my day that have nothing to do with Miss Cranky-Pants Customer... the kind of person who can just ruin your shift.

One thing about today I will share with you: I found a book of puppies. Just a simple bargain book with nothing but Labrador Retriever puppies being weighed. And it made me smile. Because I love puppies.

Friday, January 8, 2010

WIP- Belle Bracelet

Here is a current work-in-progress. This is my first ever bead weaving project... and let me tell you, I'm loving it. Its hard and makes me curse and squint my eyes, but I absolutely adore it right now. I know, I'm tooting my own horn, but its just so much fun!

The project is taken from the Dec 09/Jan 10 issue of Beadwork Magazine. I thought that the bracelet called "Arabella Bracelet" by Regina Atkins would be perfect for these charms my brother's girlfriend sent me one day. I'm planning on using the blue cameo charm.

Now, this being my first bead weaving project, it's not perfect. The peyote stitch isn't as tight as I would like. I used white thread that is easy to see, but I didn't have anything else when I decided I just had to start making that bracelet right that second. And you can see the knots (if you look hard enough, which I do...). BUT, I still love it. Because it's my first. And the idea of it just tickles me.

My brother's girlfriend sent me thEse charms because they reminded her of these sketches I did when I was thinking of writing and illustrating a version of "Beauty and the Beast" (my favorite fairy tale). My brother's girlfriend, Jie, is so sweet and thoughtful for sending me these charms. Now I just need to finish the bracelet and think of what else I can do with the rest of the charms.

Here are the sketches I did last year. I was heavily influenced by Alphonse Mucha.

Etsy- Ahtee's Designs

Oh my, I have an Etsy!?

I finally got brave enough and listed some little goodies for sale. Its only 3 pairs of earrings, but hopefully I'll post more.

Its all very exciting, really. And I'm glad I'm doing this. I've been sitting around for about a year feeling sorry for myself for having to leave art school (I keep saying its been put on hold, but I don't know if I'll ever be able to afford to go back). And everyone in my life has been so wonderful and supportive and have been encouraging me to DO SOMETHING. Anything.

Well, there it is, everyone. Ahtee's Designs on Etsy.

I feel like my face is glowing.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Thoughts on Thursday: Room for 1

My life cannot be contained by a 10'x10' room.

I live with my cousin's family and I pay rent and have my own room and go to work and pay my bills. Its a pretty good deal I have going on... but over the course of 4 years, I have gathered books and books and books... toys, and more books. And it wasn't until yesterday I realized just how bad my room had gotten.

We're getting new windows. And I had to move my junk a few feet away from the window. Well. JUNK is what I had. And I realized how filthy my room is and how much crap I've accumulated in my little room.

I do everything in my room. Sleep. Eat. Create. Be lazy. I don't have a space in the living room or garage. I don't really have a space in the fridge (the kids sometimes eat my food anyway) so I keep everything in my little room. But I think I've out grown it. I mean, it serves as my studio, sleep area, and eat area. Its smaller than a studio apartment. Its smaller than the break room at work. But I can't afford much else. And I don't want to get rid of my books! Contrary to what you may think, I use those books. They're my reference material. And entertainment in a house without TV.

I'm not sure what I should do, but something must be done.

Wish me luck.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Caged Cage Earrings

The February issue of Bead and Button was there in the magazine section at work yesterday and I bought it! Inside was a beautiful necklace designed by Nealay Patel and there was one part of the necklace that I thought would make pretty earrings. He uses seed and filigree beads to create a cage.

I tweaked the design a little and added metal cages inside the seed bead cage. The little cage dangles instead of being attached to the bottom filigree bead. My "cage" is less cage-like than Nealay's because I was having trouble getting the wire through the holes in the filigree bead, but I still like how it came out. There is a dark blue glass pearl for some contrast in color. The cage is made of 11ยบ seed beads in silver lined lavender.

These earrings might go to work with me today... I wonder if the top I have that matches is clean or in the laundry bag... hmm. Does anyone else do that, sometimes? Choose to wear an outfit because it matches this piece of jewelry you want to wear? Instead of vice versa? I find myself doing that a lot these days :)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Who is "Ahtee?"- Week 1

I read somewhere some bloggers did a project that lasted the whole year--- post a new self-portrait every week for 52 weeks. I am going to attempt it. I thought it would be fun and interesting to see if there's a change (that's me on the left there... hello).

5 Random Things about Me
1) I have very thin hair that I am very self concious about. I bleached my hair to death in high school and now am left with hair that my mother likes to comment on- "Are you going bald?"

2) See my eyebrows? They're triangles. And I like 'em. I used to wax and tweeze but only because people made fun of my eyebrows... but I think now they're kinda unique. A little bushy, but eh.

3) I'm told my laugh is a good one. But sometimes, people look at me funny when I laugh... because I laugh loud.

4) I can't remember a time when I didn't have bags under my eyes. I work hard. I stay up late. And it seems I'm always lacking sleep. Oh, I love sleep, but I rarely get the recommended 8 hours of sleep a night.

5) My hair in this picture (and most pictures) looks black. But in the sun, its brown. A pretty light brown compared to the black in the picture. But that's only on a sunny day. I wonder why that is.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Cupcake Bliss

I spent my New Years in my hometown, Palmdale, CA. Most of it involved eating and sleeping... my mother managed to get me to make some earrings for some family members in the Philippines, but mostly, it was eating and sleeping. The highlight of my two-day-food/coma-stay with my family were these little cupcakes.

My sister, Michelle, and sister-in-law, Jie, introduced me to these mind-blowing cupcakes. They know the best places to eat and aren't afraid to try new things... Well, when this shop popped up in Palmdale, my sisters fell fast in love :P These pretty little things come from a shop called "Nadia Cakes." The first one I tried, and which is still my favorite, was the red velvet cupcake with a cream cheese frosting. The cupcake itself was moist and delicious and the cream cheese frosting was light and airy and overpoweringly sweet. I ate the whole thing and asked for more (I know, I know... diet, right? These cupcakes are WORTH it).

Later on, when we went to go pick up a pizza for dinner, I decided we needed more cupcakes and dropped by the cupcake shop to pick up some more treats. Now, they're not cheap, but you do get what you pay for. Each cupcake comes out to under $3. And if you buy a dozen, its $28. But you get to pick from flavors like strawberry, lemon drop (my second favorite with its lemon filling), caramel macchiato... and more! Each one is just as pretty as the next and I'm sure, just as moist and delicious.

The cupcake I had today were left overs from yesterday and they're still oh so yummy. The guy who helped us yesterday said, "We try to focus on the moisture." Let me tell you, keep doin' it, because they totally rock.

So. If anyone from Palmdale is reading this, or if you're planning on visiting (I don't know why you would but if you do), do check out Nadia Cakes. Their address is 39604 10th Street West in Palmdale. They do custom cakes too. Check out their site on