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text 2018-01-11 15:47
Am I being (too) mean?
Amateur Gemstone Faceting Volume 1: The Essentials - Tom Herbst

Yesterday afternoon an artist friend acquaintance of mine introduced me to her new neighbor.  As you know, I play around with rocks, and because this new neighbor is also a lapidary, my friend wanted to introduce us.  Fine and dandy.


After two or three minutes of pleasantries, the new neighbor mentioned that she wanted to get into faceting, that she had done some freehand work but wanted to do more.  I contributed that I have a faceting machine.


She immediately invited herself over to my house so we could play with it together.


Um, isn't that supposed to be my job?  The inviting, I mean?


I said nothing, partly because I was a little astonished at her cheek.


She then went on to say that she had done some work for a guy in California who sent her "Andara crystals." 


I blurted out, "They're glass. Andara crystals are glass."


"Oh, no, these are the real ones from California," she insisted.


"They're all glass," I told her.  By this time I was a bit testy, since I absolutely despise the scammers who sell this shit.  And I will not be a party to enabling other scammers.


I purchased the Amateur Gemstone Faceting book when it was advertised by the author Tom Herbst on the U.S. Faceters Guild email list, to which I have been a subscriber for many years.  I also purchased the second volume of this phenomenal guide.  I can't say that I "know," Tom, but I have certainly read a lot of his posts to the list.


I acquired my faceting machine from a friend who literally would have thrown it in the trash if I hadn't taken it off his hands.  At the time, I had no idea what it was worth -- way, WAY more than I could have afforded if I'd gone out to buy it! -- and frankly I just haven't had the time necessary to learn all of its ins and outs.  I've played with it a little, but not much.


As I mentioned in my post earlier about my acquisitions at the Mesa Flagg Gem and Mineral Show last week-end, I picked up an inexpensive chunk of amethyst that I intend to do some practicing on.  I could just as easily practice on some "andara" crystal, since scrap glass is very inexpensive and easy to come by. 


But that doesn't mean I'm going to let some virtual stranger into my studio to use my expensive equipment to mess around with her bullshit.


I see since starting this post that she has sent me an email, probably to further extend her invitation into my studio.  I'm just not into that crap.


Besides, I have a two-day show coming up this week-end, so I really don't have time for her.



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review 2014-06-11 09:52
I feel Inspired! To rewrite this book myself - The Handmade Marketplace (2nd Edition) by Kari Chapman
The Handmade Marketplace: How to Sell Your Crafts Locally, Globally, and Online - Kari Chapin

[I was provided with book for the price of No Monies thanks to the publisher, Storey Publishing, and the ever wonderful NetGalley. It is available (hopefully) today: June 11th!]


[A very important note: this is not one for the ereader. You will want either a hardcopy, or a tablet/computer to read on. The layout is more like a magazine sans pictures.]


I love it when people give me money. I love it even more when people give me money for something I'm doing anyway, so I'm always on the lookout for ways to turn what I'm doing anyway into monies which I can then squander on unimportant things like the gas bill. When I saw The Handmade Marketplace on NetGalley, I was immediately interested.


I hoped for a book which would give me some guidance to how one goes about selling things, both online and in general. I already have some knowledge about the avenues available and I spent many a Saturday as a teenager manning a stall for my Mammy's craft business. I have a degree of knowledge, but it's mostly out of date.


What I got was a book which was ... mixed.


The style is initially pleasing. The writing is chatty and positive without getting too rah! rah! about everything. Throughout, soundbites from crafters are provided and these often covered the points I felt were missing from the text. There are also some useful little Q&As which, again, raise the points I was going to complain weren't covered.


It looks quite nice too, initially. The layout suits the chatty style of the writing, but it doesn't gel enough. If you're giving me something I can't read on my kindle, I'd hope there's a reason for it. Most of the cartoon images could have been taken from a stock site - they don't have anything to do with the text. There are a few places where some diagrams would have been useful, such as when talking about how to set up a home photography studio. I also found some of the more cursive fonts (used in the quotes from crafters) difficult to read (which I was doing on my PC).


Where I struggle is in knowing who The Handmade Marketplace is aimed at. The style and the substance is pretty basic, but overall the book is teaching you how to set up a crafting *business* - rather than starting with where to sell, how to sell stuff, it begins with inspiration, branding, logos, and business practices. These are all useful things (I'm very glad to see branding covered, even if there are some massive gaps in the content, such as information about fonts and how visual identity works) but for a book which has the subtitle "How to sell your crafts locally, globally, and online"? Not so much.


Branding is not the only place with gaps. There is a short section about photographing your work, which include the rather bizarre assertion that:


Some cameras allow you to easily adjust the white balance, which can result in crisper, clearer photos.


While it's true most cameras allow you adjust the white balance it has nothing to do with the sharpness of a photograph. White balance is the temperature of the photograph. Setting it correctly means the colours in your image will appear accurately. This can be done in camera or as part of the post processing if you're shooting in RAW (which is like shooting a negative rather than a Polaroid - if you're adjusting it afterwards, shoot RAW) The sharpness is effected by things like the size of the aperture (which you can only control if you're using an SLR and which in turn affects the depth of field), the shutter speed, the use of a tripod etc none of which are talked about. No tips on how to create certain looks - not even the classic "put your camera on a bean bag to keep it steady" tip. (I'd also advise making use of the 2 second shutter delay to avoid creating blur with your finger pressing the button.)


When it's not missing things out, it offers some pieces of advice worthy of #Pippatips. In the evaluating a craft fair section, the book suggests you consider the time of year the fair takes place.


If you knit winter hats or make letterpress Chistmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa cards, a show in the middle of summer might not be the right one for you.


But, it also has some excellent advice which may not have occurred to anybody who's new to craft fairing, such as asking what other kind of artisans are going to be at the fair. It does a good job of covering the (very) basic things you need to know and suggesting ways to research the fair, but much of this information is bogged down in the chatty style - it's not a book to reference easily. Checklists would have been a big plus.


It also covers things I wouldn't have thought to cover, like what happens if you apply to attend a fair and get rejected, and I think that's probably a really good place to explain why this book doesn't do it for me.


I'm not precious in general, and I'm utterly unprecious about business things. Yes, I get the same sense of pride as anybody else putting my stuff out there into the big wide world for people to part with money for - and I'm talking about all sorts here: writing, design, illustration, craft - but once it's out there I'm done with it; anything from that point on is just numbers. Sure, it's disappointing when things don't get accepted places you thought they would, or something doesn't sell as well as you hoped, or any other form rejection can take. There is a flipside: the unexpected joy, or more often bewilderment, of something doing better than you believed it would. Even that, though, is just numbers. When somebody tells me to give me a hug for all my hard work, especially when it's for something fundamental to the job I am trying to have, I want to respond with a Grumpy Cat gif.


I particularly dislike the way the book is so firmly on the side of the crafter: it may work for you, it didn't for me. When talking about how to deal with somebody leaving a negative comment about the work, the book sensibly advises addressing the customer's concerns, avoiding an argument, and doing so promptly. Unfortunately, it goes on to say:


You come out smelling like roses compared to Ms Crankypants.


Which is right up there with being thanked for a negative review so the author can show everybody how nice and great they are even though this meany-boots didn't like their book. It's passive aggressive and it's not on.


Although I liked the style and the structure, I feel this book is too much about the chatty style and pleasing layout to be of use to anybody looking to become a crafter. There are a few gems of advice (loved the idea of providing drinking water and dog biscuits at outdoor shows) but it also has some major omissions. (I did a bit of Googling afterwards: if the author is a crafter, she doesn't connect that fact with this book, so that may be why there are these gaps.). The best thing to take away from it are the chapter headings so you can do your own research: 2 stars.






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review 2012-08-20 00:52
The Craft & Business Of Writing: Essential Tools For Writing Success (Editors of Writers Digest)
The Craft and Business of Writing: Essential Tools for Writing Success - Writer's Digest Books,Robert Lee Brewer Number 1! book for that spare tool in the toolbox or cement and brick work! :)
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review 2012-02-29 11:47
Games: American Boxed Games and Their Makers, 1822-1992 : With Values
Games: American Boxed Games and Their Makers, 1822-1992, with Values - Bruce Whitehill Mick Sullivan and Boot Quinn have been enemies since the day they first met. They have had countless fist fights and have already been suspended once in the first month of their eighth grade year.

Mick Sullivan is big for his age which make people think he likes to fight way more than he does. Actually, Mick likes to read more than anything else. He considers the library his second home. Mick's father is constantly trying to get him to be tougher and get him involved in sports, but Mick just doesn't enjoy them. Boot doesn't have many friends. He likes to play the guitar and wants to someday be in a band. His biggest goal for the day is to give Mick a hard time by teasing him about his father who has a drinking problem. Both boys have difficult home lives that they really keep hidden from everyone else. They also like Tabitha Slater, the most popular girl in the eighth grade.

Things start to change when a new principal comes to the school. After their latest fight, instead of suspending them again, he assigns the boys to come to the office to play games for an hour every day. This extra time together, without adult supervision, leads to some heated exchanges and ultimately some extremely devastating consequences for both Mick and Boot. While cooperation and civility don't happen in the traditional sense, they do start to learn about each other.

Carol Gorman, the author of the Dork in Disguise series, takes us on the emotional rollercoaster of middle school where what your friends think is what drives the majority of your decisions and with most people there is more than meets the eye.

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review 2011-06-08 08:39
Mary Engelbreit Decorating Ideas: Projects to Make for Indoors and Out
Mary Engelbreit Decorating Ideas: Projects to Make for Indoors and Out - Mary Engelbreit It's really a nice book for everyone who is tight with money. It has numerous ideas how to do beautiful and practical things from scratch, we may do everything from every available material: from fabric, clay, flowers to rock! The pictures made by an author are also helpful and gives you some idea like a given thing should look like. I really enjoy things made by yourself, it is also a great gift-book or a way of spending time with children. If you like handcraft this book is definitely for you. Very nice.
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