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RAW Current Wrap-Up, Upcoming Shows

If you get our newsletters, you know that I like to describe RAW Artists shows in two words – Art Party!

The Current show in Richmond, VA this past Thursday was no different. It was at the Hippodrome, which is a beautiful venue. I love the Art Deco look of the place, and the interior is just as gorgeous. Setup went well, and I finally got a chance to try out my new lighting kit! I think it looks pretty good, don’t you? Also, this is the first time Brian was able to show with me at a RAW Artists show, which was a huge help.

I decided to debut some new scarf pins there, along with a bunch of new pendant styles. I want to get them up for sale here on the site soon, but with three local shows in the next three weeks, I might be a wee crunched for time.

Speaking of, if you’re local to Pittsburgh and want to shop in person, I’ve got LOADS of opportunities for you! First off is Shop in Shadyside, which is a multi-weekend event that kicks off on November 29th, AKA Small Business Saturday. That’s when I’ll be there with my goods. Right after that is the Sweetwater Center for the Art’s Holiday mART. It’s a weeklong sale of local artists’ works, and some of my jewelry will be in the mix.

For those of you who don’t dig the craft fair or gallery scene, there’s an art party for you! Yep, I’m doing the Holiday RAWk show on December 10th. You can buy tickets for it on my artist profile page. Some people have had trouble in the past buying tickets (there’s no button, and the text is small), so here’s a handy-dandy guide for where to click on the page to get them. Like the image says, tickets are $15, but they go up to $20 at the door. There’s a cash bar where you can put that extra $5 you save to good use!

Will you Shop Small on the 29th? What are you looking to buy? Tell us!

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2014 Holiday Season Shows

The Holiday Season is upon us, so you can bet that we’ve got a bunch of shows coming up! We’re going to be BUSY.

First off, we’ve got two RAW Artists shows coming up, one this month and one in December. If you’ve never been to a RAW show before, they are nothing like your typical art show. There’s music, runway shows, films, dancers, paintings, photographers, a cash bar – It’s pretty much an art party! Tickets can be purchased through an artist’s profile page. I’m not selling tickets for the show in Richmond, but my fellow Yinzers can buy them for Holiday RAWk by sending me an email. We can use Square or PayPal, and after the Current ticket sales are over you can get them through my RAW artist profile.

November 20: Current – Richmond, VA
December 10: Holiday RAWk – Pittsburgh, PA

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I also have two other Pittsburgh events that I’ll be in, with the first happening in Shadyside on Small Business Saturday! If you’ve not heard of that, it’s the Saturday after Black Friday, and the goal is to support small, local businesses on that day in lieu of shopping at the big box stores in your area. If you’re too tired from Thanksgiving to even venture out in the days after it, that’s okay – It’s happening again later! I won’t be at the next ones, but you can support your local small biz people all the same.

November 29: I Made It! Market – Shop Small in Shadyside

If your holidays weekends are as busy as ours, you can still shop small. My work will also be in the Sweetwater Center for the Arts Holiday mART. There will be lots of other goodies there for the art lover on your list, and it runs for a whole week!

Holiday mART Info & Times In addition to our upcoming Sinclair Jewelry holiday shows, we’re even doing an event for Brian’s new book! We’re going to be at the Steel City Con with copies of his book to buy and some merchandise to go with it. It’s a three day event starting December 5th, and it’s perfect for getting your geek shopping out of the way.

Steel City Con

Go To Our Calendar Page

Hey, I said we were busy! What’re your plans this holiday season?

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“The Horrible Plan of Horace Pickle” Book Party Wrap Up

PictureFor being a small press book launch, we got quite a crowd!

Yesterday was simultaneously fun and terrifying. We’ve never done a launch party for a book before, and WOW it was an experience, to say the least! To sum up – Brian wrote a book during NaNoWriMo five years ago, it got picked up in 2013 by a publisher, and now it finally got out of Editing Purgatory and was published a few months ago. If you liked “Dr. Horrible” or “Mystery Men”, you’ll love his book! You can click here for all the details if you’re interested in learning more.

Anyway, how many people say they want to write a book and then actually do it? Much less get it published? You’ve gotta celebrate that, so we did!

We booked the ToonSeum, a small museum dedicated to the cartoon and comic arts located in downtown Pittsburgh. As luck would have it, they have an awesome exhibit running right now featuring SUPERHERO SCIENCE! Pittsburgh comic book fans, you NEED to see this. Take an afternoon, and do it. I expect your reports on my desk in a week.

Dreux Priore provided some music that fit the book’s 1940’s jazzy swing feel, and our friend Brian Rice cooked up a bunch of delicious potatoes for us! I like salsa and cheese on mine.

If you want to buy a book in person and not on Amazon, here’s a list of where you can find them. “The Horrible Plan of Horace Pickle” happens in November, and if you’d like a “real time” narrative of what’s going on, follow him on Twitter @windsmith. It’ll be fun, I promise! Don’t worry, Brian’s not going to give away any spoilers. He’s using #readalong to mark them.


Brian does a short reading from the book.
Who’s your favorite superhero (or villain)? Share with us in the Comments!

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Dinner from the 14th Century

PicturePreparing Lombard Chicken Pasties from The Medieval Cookbook by Maggic Black

This is something I never thought I’d do: a blog post on cooking. Why? Because I’m a terrible cook. I have set ramen on fire in the microwave. Several times. I have no idea how I set noodles in water on fire, but I am strangely proud that I did. I’ve killed toasters, destroyed pans, and extinguished more kitchen fires than I can remember. Ask my first college roomie. I started a fire the first dinner we had together. (Hi, Rachael! Sorry I still owe you an oven mitt. And a pan.)

So, yeah – I suck at cooking.

Brian makes all the food, but he’s got a lot of stones to cut and the final edit of his book to finish, so he’s asked me to try my hand at cooking again. I agreed, but I hate cooking. To make it fun and interesting for me, I bought two cookbooks on Amazon.

HISTORICAL COOKBOOKS.

I got The Medieval Cookbook by Maggie Black and The Classical Cookbook by Andrew Dalby and Sally Grainger. They arrived Saturday, and I decided to try the “Lombard Chicken Pasties” from The Medieval Cookbook for dinner. Now, these aren’t your typical cookbooks. They’re full of historical information, including cultural notes about how and when food was served. If you’re like me and like to learn as much as you can, however and whenever you can, these are perfect. When I realized that I had spent more than an hour reading a cookbook without even thinking about cooking, I knew I’d made a good buy.

Out of respect to the author I’m not posting the recipe, but they were easy to make, even for someone like me. Most importantly, they were delicious! The Little One loved them! I did make the mistake of not pricking the tops of the pasties before I put them in the oven, though. Considering how my cooking escapades usually turn out, I’m happy I only had to clean up the filling that leaked out and got baked on the pan.

I had planned to throw a steam bag of veggies in the microwave to go with them but I forgot, and I’m glad I did. These things are filling! Granted, I did use slightly more chicken than was called for, but only by a tiny bit. They’re just filling. There were three left over, and while I have them in the fridge for leftover night, I imagine that they would freeze really well.


PictureSo delicious! I have a feeling this will become a regular dinner item.

So far, cooking like it’s 1399 is working out.

Have you ever tried your hand at historical cooking? If you have, tell me about it in the comments; I’m eager to learn!

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Internet Quizzes and Dream Houses

I’m seeing a ton of quizzes popping up lately, and while some are pretty silly (“Which Harry Potter Character is Your Spirit Animal?”*), others have got me thinking. Quizzes that ask about which country, time period or type of home they think I belong in always get my imagination going. While I love our current house here in Pittsburgh, I can’t help but wonder exactly what kind of house I would build with unlimited resources.

PictureIt’s a hypocaust – Heated floors! Why don’t we have these?

I love ancient Rome but I also love having seasons, so a Roman-style villa wouldn’t cut it in this climate. Especially with the whole atrium thing going on. I could turn the giant hole in the ceiling into a skylight, but that’s no fun. Although I would like the heated floor option Romans had. Why don’t we have that? I’d at least like it as a standard feature in bathrooms. Now, with UNLIMITED resources I would build a few of my favorite places from Skyrim, like Dragonsreach and an improved Riften. We’ve got the rivers, why not? If I could take over one of our city’s famous hilltops, I’d build Edoras from Lord of the Rings. I’d be a dwarf if I lived in Middle Earth, but I just love Rohan to pieces. It’s beautiful.

On a more realistic note, I would build a small castle with a curtain wall and a nice, sturdy portcullis. There’d be a forge, a couple of workshops, a drawing room, living spaces, big tower library (of course!) and plenty of trees around with room to garden. I’d like a nice indoor workout area to practice archery in, along with an outdoor range, too. I know Brian would like a greenhouse for his carnivorous plants, and Lemony would expand her flower garden. He’d also love an indoor gym with room enough for his sword practice, and a good cellar for brewing mead!

And as long as I’m dreaming, I’d build a little boutique not far from it to sell mine and others work in. I’d still need it to be fairly close to the city, but this is Pittsburgh! It can be done. I can see Downtown from my back porch, and yet we’re still surrounded by trees and have wildlife all over the place.

We’d totally host mini Renaissance Faires and SCA events if we had a castle, too. That would be awesome!


PictureThis is more like it!

How about you? What would your dream home look like? Let me know in the comments!

(*My HP Spirit Animal is Luna Lovegood, if you were wondering)

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Venus Earrings History and Craftsmanship

Because pearls come from the sea, they gained a permanent connection to Venus, goddess of love, who was born from the waves’ foam and carried to shore on a clamshell. Venus was also the goddess in charge of everyday drinking wine, while Jupiter was in charge of sacred wine used for religious ceremonies. Venus’s wine festivals were celebrated throughout the Empire and were very well attended. As a result, wine-purple amethyst also became a stone associated with love while green stones were connected to spring and fertility. These gems were often placed together in various combinations.

A jewelry staple for centuries, pearl studs can be as fancy or as simple as you’d like. We added our own twist with a granulated border and riveting. I chose to rivet the pearls in place, rather than glue them, not only for added security but also to showcase an ancient technique not typically used today.

These earrings were directly inspired by Greek and Roman earrings discovered in the late 1800s. Flat discs covered in granulation and set with gems or dangling pearls seemed to be a popular earring style throughout the ancient world.

Before I begin cutting the back plate from sheet silver, I had to match the cultured, freshwater button pearls. The pearls are then placed on a silver wire that I soldered to the back plate of the earring. Then, I carefully hammered the end of the wire until it flattened out like the head of a nail. This delicate work requires patience, but results in a secure, timelessly elegant earring.

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My First Cloisonné Enamel Piece

I love to use color in my work. I may wear all black every day, but I love color. That’s why I decided to try enamelling. There’s only so much you can do with gemstones to add color anyway, and enamelling has been used in jewelry to do just that for thousands of years. The type of enamel work I’m talking about is vitreous enamel. It’s pretty much colored glass ground up so fine that it’s like sand or sugar. You put the glass grains on a backing material – gold, copper or fine silver for jewelry – then put it in a kiln or hit it with a torch. This melts the grains of glass and fuses them together to make a smooth surface. It seems like there’s as many different ways to use enamel on jewelry as there are for using paint on a canvas, and just like with paint, it can be simple or complex.

The enamelling technique I decided to try is cloisonné. It invloves the use of thin strips of metal or wire to make cells (cloisons in French) that are then adhered to a backing material and filled in with (usually) different colors of enamel. The cloisons can be used to separate the colors, or be an important design element in and of themselves. Upon reading this article on Ganoksin, I was inspired to make a pendant after the designs on the gold rings from Kouklia in Cyprus, some of the oldest examples of cloisonné enamel ever found. The rings date from around the 13th century, BC.

For my first piece, I decided to use transparent enamel with fine silver. The technique I used to apply the enamel is wet-packing, where the grains of glass are mixed with distilled water and applied with a brush or small spatula. I made a little animated gif of the process, which goes roughly like this:

  1. The shaped cloisons are stuck in place, fused with a layer of clear enamel
  2. Wet-packing in the first layer of color. I used a fine sable brush.
  3. The first layer dry and ready to fire. Note the color change.
  4. Layer one is fired!
  5. This is after a few layers. You can see it’s quite high, almost to the top of the wires. I also decided to try blending from light to dark blue on the curly bits.
  6. Fired and looking good. The jewel tones are gorgeous! Almost finished…
  7. After the final firing. The wires are still a little high, but those will be ground down.
  8. The metal and glass surfaces have been ground down to be even with one another, and the enamel itself is finished!
  9. Now it’s a pendant and ready to wear.

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Heavenly Ring History and Craftsmanship

Sugarloaf Larimar Medieval Handmade Sterling Silver RingOur Heavenly Medieval Ring is modeled after medieval European bishop’s rings, which were worn by both clergy and common folk to symbolize their faith or indicate having made a pilgrimage. The rings were set with blue stones to symbolize Heaven or, in the case of nuns, Mary’s traditional blue robes. While clergy wore rings set with sapphires or lapis, regular folk would have set theirs with more economical choices in a variety of colors.

We selected a cool, refreshing larimar stone with a curved, pyramid-like shape called a sugarloaf. This shape is hard to find today, and Brian cuts the stones in his lapidary workshop before I craft the setting from sterling silver. The stone itself is a fairly modern addition to the jewelry world. When a monk first discovered the interesting stone in the Dominican Republic in 1916, his requests to mine the larimar were rejected. Not until the 1970s was the stone rediscovered and mining allowed to take place.

To date, there is only one known source of larimar, which makes the stone sought-after for mineral collectors and jewelers alike. Larimar is a beautiful stone with light or dark veins running through it. Because of this variety in shades and patterns, each ring will be unique. Rest assured, all of them will be beautiful.

 

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Labradorite Crown Ring History and Craftsmanship

Handmade Labradorite Sterling Silver Crown Ring

Brian and I work hard to ensure our labradorite’s intense colors dance with fire. We think there is nothing sadder than a beautiful piece of jewelry with a dead labradorite in it. Brian selectively sources each rough stone through various dealers and then cuts them to size for my rings in his lapidary workshop.

The stone offers a wide range of color–mixed greens and blues are most common, but you can also find red, orange, and yellow. Purple labradorite is quite rare, but sometimes you’ll see threads of the royal shade mixed with the other colors. Because of the variety in shades and patterns, each ring will be unique as its wearer. Rest assured: all of them will be beautiful.

In medieval times, jewelry was as symbolic as it was decorative. Accessories could signify both your rank within an organization, such as the military or church, and the types of stone or metal were often tightly controlled by sumptuary laws. These laws were designed to reinforce strict social classes–everything from food to clothing could be regulated, depending where you lived. Only the upper classes were permitted to wear fine jewelry and clothes, which meant many jewelers could not legally wear their own creations!

Symbols connected with royalty, such as the crown-inspired setting in these rings, were restricted to those of royal blood and people with a high rank in Court. One theory surrounding medieval portraits suggests that people held (rather than wore) certain pieces of fine jewelry because they weren’t allowed to wear the pieces, unless they were gifted to them by royalty.

This sterling silver ring is a special piece–labradorite is my favorite stone and I craft each ring by hand, carefully tracing the outline of each stone to make the crown-inspired setting just right. This fairly modern addition to jewelry was first discovered in Labrador, Canada, in the late 1700s, but wasn’t used as a gem until spectrolite, a labradorite variety, was found in Finland after World War II.

The stone has been well known to the Inuit, who believe the flashes of color and fire are the Northern Lights shining within the stone. Legend tells us a passing warrior saw the lights trapped within the stone and freed them with a mighty strike from his spear, releasing the wonder into the night sky. Some of the lights remained within, and that’s how we came to have this magical piece of nature.

Handmade Labradorite Rings In-progress

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