Wednesday, July 29, 2009

oh dear..what have i got myself into?

I'm finally starting my own website.Yay!

But things aren't as easy as I thought. Long story short, there was some misunderstanding and I signed up my web hosting with Hostgator on July 4th. I had no idea what was supposed to happen after one registers with a hosting company, so I was totally shocked when given a link to this thing called "cpanel", and even more shocked when I saw dozens of icons in it that I had no clue about! Even tho Hostgator's tech support has been amazing, it really doesn't help much if you know nothing about website building just like me, so i eventually had to ask my graphic designer cousin yuli to help me design my website.

Yuli hasn't got a chance to look into it, and I kept asking myself more questions about the website, especially whether I wanted to stay with hostgator or switch to pappashop (known for thier ease of use) before my 45 day trial period ends.

So I downloaded a free html editor online today along with a free template from Hostgator.To my amazement, I actually figured out how to do some basic editing in the html editor, even though I still had no idea what I was doing! It was such an encouraging news for me that I decided to start doing some more reading about website building.

Anyway..the picture above is a test page I just did tonight.I'm really hoping my first website can sorta look like this.There's still a lot of techincal problems to be sorted out, but at least I have a good start now.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How I Started Making Jewelry

Enough people have asked, I suppose, so here is my story.

I was never into jewelry.I didn't even used to wear any jewelry.I never knew I would start making jewelry until the day it happened, and never knew I would be selling jewelry until I actually did it.

I have always been crafty since I was young.I loved making things with my hands.I have also always loved to buy handmade stuff. About 6 or 7 years ago, I went to a flea market in London by myself (I was studying in Birmingham back then), and saw a booth with lots of jewelry made with wire and glass beads. I was the only one at the booth and the seller welcomed me with great enthusiasm. It was the first time I saw handmade wire jewelry, and I was totally drawn to it, although back then I didn't even have a clue that's what I would be doing in a few years. I asked if he could create something for me, and he did.He made me the earrings you see in the picture above.

Except that he did not make the round amethyst dangles at the bottom.
So where did those dangle come from?
Ha! I added them :)
So, technically, they were the first piece of jewelry I made.I added the two little amethyst dangles I had for a while to the bottom of the earrings I bought after I went home, because the original earrings had a loop at the bottom.I had no tools at that time, but I had nails, and that was what I used to assemble the earrings.

I graduated from my school and came to the US for my Master's degree. I loved going to the hobby store because, as mentioned before, I loved making things! I also loved reading crafting books at the bookstore. In 2005, I saw some interesting books under the at the bookstore about jewelry making.I loved one so much and had to buy it.It was Sherri Haab's Designer-Style-Jewelry. Haab remains my favorite jewelry instructor til today.I tried out a few projects in that book, and soon got addicted to making wire jewelry.The following picture shows one of my earliest works.It is an unfinished link bracelet made with glass beads and steel wire.

And here are some of the early "wire sculptures" I did around the same time --



I made jewelry for fun for about a year or so, and then decided to try my hands on selling it, so I could get some extra cash to buy more supplies as jewelry making was becoming too expensive a hobby for me.I opened an Ebay store in summer 2006, which I talked about in one of my early blog posts . Here are some pictures of the old Ebay listings that were sold.





I continued to read books and magazines on jewelry making at bookstores whenever I had time, but I never bought another book on wire working.I flipped through them and almost always picked up the skill right away.Very soon what these books could offer me was not enough, so I started looking for more tutorials online. I bought a few tutorials by Eni Oken, and then I was on my own.I read one free tutorial online about wire wrapped ring, and then came up with different variations.
In July 2007,I started selling on Etsy.Two years later, I'm here selling jewelry full time. :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

How to Use Picassa 3 to Create Cool Photo Effects



As I have mentioned in a few previous posts, I use Picassa to edit my jewelry photos. It's free to download and also very easy to use.On top of that, it can actually create many cool effects to make you look like a (semi) professional photographer.See the photo above? It was taken with a Canon Powershot SD750 and then extensively edited using Picassa. Here's the original photo --
If you are thinking "oh wow!" (and I hope you are) then I know you will finish reading this post.It took me a while to pick an example photo in which I (on the right) look half way decent. The pretty smiling girl next to me is my best friend Rana.I won't be going through the very very basics of the Picassa in this post, and I'm going to assume you have played with it a little bit and know there are three tabs that we use to edit photos. The version I'm using is Picassa 3, in which the three tabs are called Basic Fixes, Tuning and Effects (left to right) and we'll be using a few Effects today.
Since you are reading my blog, I assume you may have more interest in me than my friend(even tho she's apparently prettier than me), so I'm going to crop(under "Basic Fixes") the photo now... Here's me.The first effect I choose is "Soft Focus".It blurs out the background.Move the mouse to determine your focus, and use the slide bars to determine how much soft focus you want to use..
The next effect is glow.It makes the photo..uh..glow...The photo will look like it was taken in a beautiful sunny day :)
Now we're going to switch back to "Basic Fixes"(the tab on the left) and use the "retouch" function under this tab.You can adjust the brush size and remove unwanted spots.Carefully compare the following picture with the one above.Notice the difference? Hehe, I have removed the mole below my lips using the retouch function, and also made my skin tone look more even.Now I look like I have put on some concealer and foundation...
The picture still looks a little plain to me, so I'm going to add more contrast.You can adjust the contrast under "tuning".I tend to use more "Hightlights"(gives a spotlight effect) and "Shadows"(makes the darker part darker) than "Fill Light"(makes the whole photo looks lighter).I am pretty happy with this picture now already, but since we're doing a tutorial, I'll show you one more effect.

Click "B&W" under "Effects", and you will get a black and white photo as shown at the top of this post--


Oops, and now I just noticed my eyebrow was poorly trimmed, so I decided to use "retouch" again to paint my eyebrow.Can you see the difference? :)


Did you have fun so far? There are a few more effects that I have not used, but you can click around and play with everyone of them before deciding what you like the most.

have fun!
mollie xo

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July--30 second chocolate "mugcake"


A facebook friend posted an interesting recipe yesterday.It looked so fun I had to try it out.I apologize for the scary ugly picture,but this thing is so easy to make and tastes good too.
Here's her original post--

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Call me when your pants don't fit as a result of eating too many of these. We'll do kettlebell swings until you renounce anything containing sugar. Here's the recipe if you dare—

4 tbsp flour

4 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp cocoa

1 egg

3 tbsp oil

3 tbsp milk

bit of vanilla


Mix dry ingredients in a large, microwave-safe mug. Mix in egg. Mix in oil and milk. Add vanilla. Put in microwave for 3 minutes on high. Remove.
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BTW, I added some baking powder to my mugcake so it looks a little "overflown".I stared at the microwave thoughout that 3 min because I was afraid the cake would explode, but it didn't.It turned out just right :)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Pearls!

I've been working on these new pearl listings in my supply shop in the past few days and I love this color combo I have now!I admit I stare at these photos and smile, and I'm going to smile now as I post :)

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