Friday, February 26, 2010

Busy Weekend ahead

Erica left for Seattle this morning. With luck she will return the happy co-captain of the Munecas Muertas after having won a couple of games. Go Dolls! In the meantime I will try to clean up the house a little (dishes, laundry, vacuuming), pay attention to the baby, and hopefully get to work in the shop (after bedtime, and during naps). There are certainly plenty of projects to work on. Not that I will get to all of them.

My forging sessions usually only last an hour or so since that is about how long a batch of charcoal lasts. I usually have enough irons in the fire that as soon as one goes back in after hammering, then next piece comes out, so there are no breaks. And my anvil is on the floor, so it’s a lot of up and down also. An hour is usually long enough to get me a little tired out. As a result of all of this, it takes a while to get things done in the forge.

Of course the real reason is that people start to make inappropriate comments if your right arm is significantly bigger than your left.

Here are a few of the ongoing projects:

BDoodles, who ordered the antler letter openers, would like a carving knife to deal with her family’s game. I’ve started two of those. One is about a 6 inch blade, the other about 5. You’ve seen pictures. The 5 inch is almost ready for a handle! The 6 needs some love to take out the grinding scratches.

Unfortunately, getting the scratches out is a long and tiring process using little bits of finer and finer sandpaper, and occasional trips to the buffing wheel. But the final product is pretty. Maybe I will do a post about knife finishes some day… that could be interesting.

An Australian gentleman has requested a camp/utility/hunting knife. This one is almost ready for heat treating, it’s been an interesting project so far, and I picked up some new wood for this one: Staghorn Sumac.

My former neighbor, whose father was a knifesmith in Tennessee, would like me to make a knife from some Damascus that his father forged. This is a total honor! It would be only my third Damascus knife. I don’t have the piece of steel yet, and he hasn't been able to find it so I get to wait for that one.

A good friend of mine, whose mother received the odd kitchen chopper, is interested in either a Kukri/Machete type or a boot knife. I’ve got something along the lines of the big knife pretty close, but the style doesn’t quite feel right for him. It’s a little too Lord of the Rings – which is fine, but not really the feel that I’d like for that one.

My wonderful wife wants a “creepy cleaver”. I started a post about this one, and will post it eventually, when I get farther along. It has gone through one forging. Its from a BIG chunk of steel, and it takes some effort to move all that around.

I’m working on two Puuko Style blades, one in CM154 stainless and one in high carbon. I have hopes that these will get to the heat treat stage this weekend. But I’m probably dreaming.

My Aunt sent me a Henkel Santuko that snapped off inside the handle. I’m debating hammering the bolster down to make more handle, but I haven’t worked with X50CrV15 steel before, and am a little worried.

And then there are the daggers…which I will ignore. Have I mentioned that daggers are a pain in the butt?

If you’ve made it this far through this, are there any topics that you all might be interested in me talking about?

Have a great weekend all!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Off for the weekend!

SO, I am headed to the Seattle area to play in a roller derby tournament this weekend. We will be, more specifically, in Bremerton, Wa. The tourney is hosted by the Slaughter County Roller Vixens. I am excited to play, but it is always very difficult to leave Autumn and Adam for a weekend. It is bittersweet for another reason though, it is our first travel game without our former Captain, Kamikaze Kim. I really thought she was an excellent captain for MOST of the time that she lead the Munecas Muertas and it was a sad day when she left duke city for almost everyone. It is also The first bout that Killer Queen and I will be captains. I am a little worried because our team has changed a lot and we are missing two of our top scoring jammers this weekend (Kamikaze Kim who moved to Seattle, and Muffin who will not be attending for personal reasons). I think that we have made some progress in some areas, and I also think that with better attendance at practice and positive attitudes we could really be an amazing team this season.

I am also afraid I will forget something important...

Mouth guard........check
Helmet Covers...........check
Hotel Reservations............check
Clean Underwear .............check
Knee High Socks..........check
Team Merch to sell..........check
Maybe some clothes, if they fit in the bag...
Charger... need to remember the charger....

Anyway, have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I've Lost 12 Lbs!

Since I had my gall bladder removed I have lost 12 pounds. I have no Idea what my gall bladder has to do with my metabolism. I have been working very hard to lose the 60lbs left of the 100 lbs I gained during my pregnancy for over a year and have had no real luck, so while 12 lbs is still 48lbs shy of my goal I am very happy to be making SOME progress since before this I had not lost or gained a single pound since my 6 week post-partum check-up. before the surgery I couldn't really eat for about 10 days, but the weight loss did not occur until a few weeks later. I can't see any lifestyle changes that would have caused the loss, I have been eating more calories than before the surgery, and I could not exercise for a little while after the surgery either. Now I am back to my regular activities, but I am so shocked and excited to have seen the scale steadily fall each time I go visit the Doctor.

It is also very confusing to me, since I didn't even lose A POUND when I was trying so hard to. Two other small changes occurred. I stopped drinking. I used to drink a glass of wine a night. I have been enjoying blue sky cherry vanilla creme soda more often, and that has way more calories than a glass of wine. I also do not eat anything with Corn Glucose (high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup etc). That actually added calories to my diet as well. I didn't eat much that had corn syrup, but I was surprised what did have it. The problem with corn syrup is that it is even worse for you than sugar, especially if you are very active and need your calories to work for you. Sugar at least turns to energy before your body stores the unused calories. Corn syrup goes directly into fat storage. The reason so many products have corn syrup is because it is much cheaper than real sugar. So, as a result of my new aversion to corn syrup I no longer eat Special-K (or the store brand equivalent) and have switched to Kashi or "Mom's Best" shredded wheat. We only get the kashi if it is on sale. I also switched from yo plait light yogurt to the smiths brand yogurt. It has way more calories, but it tastes so much better and it is healthier because it doesn't have corn syrup or aspartame in it. I have also let myself eat pizza twice in the past month (it had been about 8 mo since I last had eaten pizza) and made my delicious but fatty green chili chicken enchiladas last week, and have been enjoying the shortbread cookies adam got me for valentines day.

Anyway... don't look a gift horse in the mouth I guess, I am happy for any progress, even if I can't explain it! Maybe whatever was wrong with my body has finally worked itself out!


Here is a cute picture of Autumn after eating a chocolate sucker that I got her from See's Candy when I got candy for Adam For Valentines day:

It looks a little like she killed something and ate it's bloody carcas or had a massive bloody nose, but that is really just chocolate.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

PhotoEZ Screen Printing Kit!

I have wanted to learn how to screen print for a long time, but have been pretty nervous about the whole thing. I wanted something that seemed fool proof, I didn't want to mess with making frames and I didn't really want to mess with the chemicals either. I also had a very unusual fear of printing transparencies on my home printer- which was dumb, because it is REALLY easy as long as you get the right transparency paper. I looked into getting a Yudu, which was expensive but looked easy. Before I committed to buying a Yudu I looked around a little and that is when I found this PhotoEZ starter kit for about $100 including 5 sheets of the screen paper 6 colors of printing ink and everything you need to get started. I read the reviews and was SOLD. The kit does not have the exposure light that the Yudu has but in sunny New Mexico that is not a problem.

This is a burned stencil. I am keeping them in protective plastic sheets in a binder. I like that they are so easy to store and take up no space at all. The stuff was also really easy to use! Have made 8 stencils now and only made a mistake with one of them (I under exposed it, and I have to admit, I was not paying much attention to how long it was out in the sun)

I used some muslin to test the stencils before printing them on something more expensive. It worked very well and it gave me a pretty good idea of how to pull the ink across the stencils. Fabric ink like this has to be heat set, so I washed the muslin, expecting all of the ink to wash out. I was surprised when it didn't, but it created a really cool effect so I will probably save the muslin with the faded images for ... I don't know... something.

I was really impressed with how EASY it was, and was amazed by the detail I got from my images. These shirts will probably be going in my "new" store, Caustic Threads. I have 5 printed that I am happy with.

This shirt says "If god had intended us to walk he would not have invented roller skates"

This is made from a popular piece of art of mine. I love how it turned out.

I am not really sure how to take pictures of shirts yet though. I will have to work with it a little. Maybe if I use a sheet or something I will be happier because the background wont look so distracting.

Anyway, anyone interested in getting started screen printing should TOTALLY check this stuff out. It is as easy as they say, and I love the results!

I have a few more items on my "workbench" right now, but I Will share those with you all later! Have a great day!


Monday, February 22, 2010

Featured Seller:TilTcreations

The featured seller on my etsy Blogger team is TilTcreation!

you can go to her store here:

Her store is filled with super-cool bags that are totally my style and she is having an awesome sale: buy one get one 1/2 off Feb 21st - 28th

Here are some of her great items:

Please take a moment to visit her store, and also her blog:
at buy one get one half off I am very TEMPTED to buy a few things ;)
I hope everyone had an excellent weekend! Mine was pretty good, though the weather played tricks with our practice times this weekend. We almost canceled practice on Saturday, and did cancel on Sunday due to rain. Fortunately I still got a good bike ride in on Sunday. The weather is bad today, cold and wet, and is expected to be bad tomorrow.
We are going to a tournament this upcoming weekend in Washington, so I am a little stressed about that. Our travel team is not the same as it was last year, and we have a lot to overcome. As one of the captains I am having a difficult time trying to make things fun and still work towards a competitive team. I made some great roller derby inspired items this week! I will share them when I get a post up about my screen printing kit (LOVE LOVE LOVE IT).
Have a great day!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fashion Friday: New York Fashion Week

Another New York fashion week has come to a close, with a Finale show yesterday by Tommy Hilfiger. That show will be the last fashion week show at Bryant park, fashion week is moving to Lincoln Center after over 16 years at Bryant park.

Lincoln Center, New York

I thought I would share a little fashion week history. The first fashion week was held in 1943 and was called press week, not fashion week. During World War II Nazi's canceled Paris fashion shows and fashion insiders could not travel to Paris so they wanted to highlight domestic designers. Obviously this was successful, influential fashion magazines that had neglected American designers in the past started featuring them more and more, and now New York is America's very own fashion Mecca.

Press Week 1943

In 1994 Fashion week moved to Bryant park. It took 50 years for fashion week to be in one central location. Be fore that designers would show where they wanted, some would show in lofts, and others would display their clothes in hotels.

Bryant Park

In 2001 the first day of fashion week was scheduled for September 11th. After the twin towers collapsed it was cancelled. In 2003 New York fashion week and London fashion week switched dates so that New York Fashion week would not fall on the anniversary of September 11.

Currently Mercedes-benz sponsors fashion week, which is why we call it "Mercedes-benz Fashion Week" but only a few years ago it was sponsored by Olympus, so that may change any time. London fashion week is being sponsored by Cannon.

Speaking of London, Today was the kick of for fashion week there. It opened with a word from the prime ministers wife, Sarah Brown, and a tribute wall for Alexander McQueen.

So, back to New York. Something else interesting about new york fashion week is that while I would LOVE To just go to fashion week festivities, there are celebrities who are paid for making an appearance. Rhianna was offered 100,000 for a front row seat, others who got big payouts just to show up were Beyonce and Mary Kate and Ashley Olson... and that is not for the whole event, that is PER SHOW. I did not do the research to see which shows they actually attended, I am just not that into celebrities, I just think it is amazing to be paid money like that just to make an appearance. There are so many people that work really hard every day, I would rather the money be put to better use than A-list seat fillers. Notably, Marc Jacobs BANNED celebrities from his show. I have a lot of respect for that.

Anyway, the best part of fashion New York Fashion week is obviously the fashion shows, but those are much better if you get to see them for yourself
. Click here to see Mercedes-benz Fashion Week.

What did you think of the shows?


Thursday, February 18, 2010

It's Getting Better all the Time.

Well, Adam autumn and I all caught a nasty flue. The onset was sudden, starting with poor little Autumn on Monday night. She has never really been sick and she made some strange whimpers before projectile vomit covered our kitchen floor with milk curdles and orange juice. She seems to still be a little unwell, but her spirits are high. Adam got sick very suddenly starting at about 9pm on Tuesday, and was sent home from work on Wednesday. I left work on Wednesday feeling OK and was really achy and nauseous by about 6pm. Adam and I headed to scrimmage and ended up having to go home before we even got there. I AM REALLY GLAD I brought a plastic bag with me in the car. I was sick all night, but woke up feeling OK. It is amazing to go from feeling like you are dying to feeling decent in a matter of hours.

I have not had a flue in over 15 years. I can't even remember the last time I had a flue.

This is also the first year I have ever taken a flue shot, it was recommended that we all take one since autumn is young. I don't know that I can say that I think they are related (I kind of do), but I do know I am very TIRED of getting sick. I think I have vomited more in the past month than the rest of my life combined!

I hope everyone is well, I will see you tomorrow.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

THANK YOU The3Maries

I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to Jennifer of The3Maries for featuring my shop on her blog! It is a wonderful feature, please visit her blog to read it:

Jennifer has two etsy stores, please take a moment to visit them:

For vintage items like these awesome salt and pepper shakers:

go to:

For handmade items like custom painted saw blades:

go to:

Click on either picture to go to the listing.

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Adam and I both had a long weekend, and we had a nice Valentines day.

On Saturday we drove up to Santa Fe for roller derby practice and then came back and went for a nice bike ride. My dad treated us to dinner at Black Angus and the food we had was really delicious. I had practice on Sunday, too and enjoyed riding my bike to that and we celebrated with some small gifts and handmade cards, a nice dinner at home and a netflix movie.

Monday biked to the zoo and autumn was way more interested in the animals than the last time we went, so that was really nice. I was off work today also, because I had an appointment with my regular Doctor. It was a pap (BLAH) and he prescribed some anti-depressants. I have never taken anti depressants, but have definitely had issues with depression throughout my life so I am sure this will be a positive move!


Monday, February 15, 2010

Featured Seller: Black Sparrow Jewelry

Hi! Today I am featuring Whitney from Black Sparrow Jewelry! Please visit her store!
Black Sparrow Jewelry has lovely items that have antique pieces and I find very fascinating. Granted, it is really easy to win me over with skeleton keys! This store has awesome Items if you are into the steam punk look, or just love pretty things with a vintage flair.

You can go to her website or her etsy store to see much more than I am showing here!

Here are a few of my favorite items:

Antique Sterling Silver Spoon Ring With Elegant Design

Vintage Whistle On Quality Ball Chain

Vintage SCRABBLE Necklace

Coin, Black Glass Bead And Star Charm

You can click on any picture or on any link to get to the items above! You can also find Whitney on twitter:

and she has a blog:

And a word from the seller:

"My name is Whitney. I live in Daytona Beach, Florida.

I started my first online business five years ago. I sold horse related products because of the love I have for my horses. Five years and a number of business ventures later, I find myself doing something I never could have imagined. I started designing jewelry for myself to save money without sacrificing style. Now I am fortunate to be able to share my designs with my wonderful customers.

My designs are made from vintage finds. Each unique piece embodies enchanting history and is made from quality finds."

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fashion Friday: Farewell to an Excellent Designer


At some point last week I decided to do a new "fashion Friday" segment on my blog. It seemed only natural as an indie designer working on my own grass roots label (caustic threads) that I would do a fashion segment on my blog. I am already reading fashion news daily, watching shows, and working on my own pieces, so I have a lot to share. My first post in the segment was going to be about some of my personal thoughts on fashion, style, and trends, along with something about New York fashion week which was kicked off by BCBG Max Azaria yesterday (2/11/10) But yesterday some unbelievable news broke! Iconic Fashion designer Alexander McQueen was found dead in his apartment at age 40. The believed cause of death is suicide, though no official statement about that has been made.

Alexander McQueen was known as "l'enfant Terrible" a french term for a child who embarrasses his parents by being very blunt towards adults. He was also known as "the Hooligan of English Fashion". These titles were earned after some controversial early collections while he was working at Givenchy (predecessor to John Galiano, another amazing designer who now designs for Dior and his own label) .

I can not say I like everything Alexander McQueen designs, and I especially did not care much for his last two collections , but I do always love seeing what he comes up with and there are occasions when something he has designed leaves me breathless.

In time I expect that he will be remembered alongside Coco Chanel, Ives St Laurent, and Christian Dior as truly a talented designer.

It may very literally be "yesterday's news" but I didn't want to go without paying homage to such an inspirational designer.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Steampunk, Steam Engines, Google, and African Blacksmiths

I have some interest in the Steampunk Genre, and as a result have learned quite a bit about some things that I probably would never have even thought about much in the past.

First, what is steam punk? I would call it Victorian era style and machinery, plus computers (analytic engines) and some other additional technology, usually powered by steam.

Image by Kyle Cassidy

Wikipedia is a little more complete: Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction and speculative fiction, frequently featuring elements of fantasy, that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used — usually the 19th century, and often Victorian era England — but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date. Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of "the path not taken" of such technology as dirigibles, analog computers, or digital mechanical computers (such as Charles Babbage's Analytical engine); these frequently are presented in an idealized light, or with a presumption of functionality….

There are steampunk movies (Steamboy, Golden Compass, …), books (the difference engine, the Peshawar lancers…), comics (Hellboy, Girlgenius…), role playing games (Iron kingdoms…), computer games (Arcanum…), bands (Abney Park…), in fact there is a steampunk wiki that will tell you all about it, so I don’t have to:

I even went so far as to make some steampunk jewelry:

All this got me interested in steam engines and trains. So I thought I’d find a book about them. Enter GoogleBooks. Through this marvelous resource I was able to read a good chunk of “Set Up Running” a book about the life of a Pennsylvania Railroad fireman and engineer in the early 1900’s. Although I may not have learned a great deal about the technical aspects of the jobs that Mr. Orr did, the anecdotes are interesting and entertaining.

Anyway, the sample satisfied my need to know a little more about the great railroad era. And living in an area where trains are still an everyday experience, it sheds a little light on what the world was like in the past. So if you are interested in steam engines, trains and biographies, check it out.

But now I’ve moved on to… the Mande Blacksmiths.

The Mande are a cultural group in western Africa. I’d heard that African Blacksmiths were held in some kind of awe and held a special spiritual significance. As a result, I picked up this book. Turns out it is also partially available through Googlebooks, but I have a real copy, which I think will be better in the long run for me in this case.

I haven’t made it that far in yet, but already I know a lot more about the cultural place of the blacksmith in that society. I wonder if I will learn any technique…

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Handmade Wedding: Custom Wedding Dress FINAL PICTURES.

So, For those who have been watching the progression of this custom wedding dress, here are the Final pictures (which also means that if you are tired of looking at it you will be glad to know that it is finished! ) You can see the original sketch for this dress here:

This project ran so smoothly I can hardly believe it is over... I keep thinking I MUST HAVE MISSED SOMETHING- but at this point it really just needs to fit, and most minor changes I would expect the customer to have done locally by a tailor, and we used a muslin fitting garment so I expect the fit to be pretty good.

This dress is Designed By me, the patterns are made by me and it is entirely sewn by me as well, including some beautiful hand sewn details. This is a finished project that I am very proud of. I knew I could do it of course, but sometimes you have to DO something to convince your knowledge of your capabilities to overcome your insecurities.

I was also commissioned by the same person to make this birdcage veil and facinator:

The facinator which can be worn without the veil

The veil, which can be worn without the facinator too, of course.

The dress is very versatile and has four pieces, a bolero, a top which is fully boned, an underskirt with alencon lace details, and an over skirt with an inner tie up system that adjusts the length of the skirt (and then several pin on flowers)

That means it can be worn like this:

(this is the alencon lace underskirt)

Or like this:

(this is the over skirt when it is all the way down)

(This is the back, it has a very small train)

A few detail shots:

(The bottom of the dress worn as it is intended)

(this is to show the detail of the pleating on the bolero)

And this is how it is meant to be worn:

I took these pictures in old town in Albuquerque, New Mexico

We got a lot of comments about how beautiful the dress is, which means a lot to me, because they see a LOT of dresses as it is a very popular place to get married and get wedding pictures taken, so the shop owners there see a LOT of dresses.

I should have taken some business cards :)

For future reference... (you know, like market research...but less organized and targeted)

I have a question for YOU...

How much would you pay for this handmade custom designed wedding dress?

What about the veil and Facinator?

Consider it a guessing game. I will tell you in a few days how much I charged for this dress, as long as it is known that I will never ever make a dress like this for that price again ;)

that is...unless, I just feel like designing, or you are my good friend, or....

I really loved making this dress because the customer had some ideas but she really let me design it myself, and that is important to me, but I know I underpaid myself by a pretty long shot.




PS- if anyone is interested in a custom wedding dress, veil or facinator, feel free to contact me either by email: or by convo in etsy