Ordinary Meats

December 4, 2016

We have had a variety of meats lately, but I have been missing something this fall. As squirrel hunting wanes back home and rabbit hunting gets underway, I have been missing those seasonal rodents of my youth. Mom would brown them in a pan and then bake them in the oven. Squirrel and rabbit had distinctly different flavors. I liked them both.

They were ordinary meats. Not grand meats like the Thanksgiving turkey or the Christmas ham. And not trophy meats like venison or moose or elk. They were everyday fare. Each a part of its season. Squirrel in the fall, rabbits in the winter once their tracks could be seen in the snow. They fit into the calendar like the progression of vegetables in the garden, from the greens and radishes of spring to the squash and carrots and potatoes of late fall. Sitting here in my city apartment, I miss the taste of squirrel and rabbit as a part of that progression.

The Democratic National Convention 2016

July 28, 2016
I have been missing most of the 2016 DNC because I have been at work afternoons and evenings and because my computer’s audio is shot. But it does seem to have far exceeded my expectations. The DNC is like a breath of fresh air after the RNC. It is good to hear what I have caught of speeches that are positive and not based on hate.
Meanwhile Trump continues to prove that he is all about sophomoric insults and very sloppy facts. His attack on Kaine’s record as governor of New Jersey when Kaine was governor of Virginia is just one striking example.
I would like to have a real choice when I go to vote this fall, but no responsible citizen could want anyone as rash and irresponsible as Trump running our country. I understand people’s anger. But, when you come down to it, poor rail service is better than a train wreck.

The Republican Convention Is Over

July 23, 2016

Well, the Republican madhouse convention is finally over. I remember when the Republicans nominated Bob Dole in 1996 and John McCain in 2008. They were both men of proven courage. Dole and McCain also had honesty and integrity. They both tried to come up with reasoned solutions. Donald Trump, by contrast has no integrity and presents no reasoned solutions. Trump makes grand proclamations of what he can do, and expects us to just have confidence that he can deliver. And many people will believe him because he gives them an emotional high by fanning the wildfires of hate, fear and prejudice. Trump targets people Americans can blame for the disappointments in their lives. He energizes their anger and promotes willful ignorance.

His radical supporters carry this attack message further. “The Muslims are to blame!” they shout. “Ban Islam!” “The Mexicans are to blame! Build a wall against them! Deport them!” “Hilary used a private email system! Shoot her!”

People. Trump is not a man with the answers. He’s a confidence man. A huckster selling you a snake oil that will cure all your ills. Do you think he is a self-made man? He went from college directly into his family’s New York real estate business. Do you think he is a brilliant business man? His businesses have repeatedly gone bankrupt. He comes out ahead. It’s the people who trust him who lose their money. Were you impressed by The Art of the Deal? His ghost writer says it is more fiction than fact. People spent their money on Trump University courses because he told them he had chosen the teachers. He didn’t choose any of them.

Now Trump has the chance of a lifetime, the opportunity to use wild claims and bravado to con the American people into making him president. Trump isn’t out to save the country. He is out to promote himself. If Trump were captain of a sinking ship with only one twenty-person lifeboat, he would abandon ship with only himself, two or three close aides, and all his money and luggage. Then after everyone else drowned, he would brag about how brilliantly he managed his escape, and, of course, announce plans to build a new ship.

Trump’s political career has been built by inventing “facts” and manipulating people’s fears and prejudices to con us into voting for him. Slick salesmen like Trump have a term for the people they target. They call them marks.

Necklace with Hematite, Gold-Plated, and Glass Beads and with White Glass Pearls, Green Acrylic Flowers with Glass Centers, and an Enameled Shell Pendant

March 1, 2015

This piece was a bit of a challenge.

The basic idea was to use beads that picked up the blue, green and white of the shell. My strategy for beadwork is much like my strategy for making soup. I open my refrigerator and cupboard doors and see what I have that might just go together. The green of the acrylic flowers with glass centers seemed right on for the green enamel on the shell. Since the back of these flowers had two channels for stringing, it seemed natural to do a double strand.

The 6 mm light gray pearls of the outer strand pick up the off-white tones of the shell. The light-blue glass beads of the inner strand pick up the blue enamel on the shell. The 4 and 6 mm hematite beads provide contrast and draw the two strands together. The 4 and 6 mm gold beads add a richness of color and dramatic accents for the green flowers. The last gold bead on each side also hides the crimp beads where the two lengths of satin-gold color wire are joined. A gold-plated lobster clasp closes this 25-inch necklace.

I learned from this project that adjusting two variably curving strands of different-sized beads so that the inner strand does not fall over the outer strand or pull away from it for each of five different segments is a task requiring the patience of Job. And I am not Job.

 

Beadwork by Mike Smetzer - Necklace with hematite, gold-plated, and glass beads and with white glass pearls, green acrylic flowers with glass centers, and an enameled shell pendant

Necklace with hematite, gold-plated, and glass beads and with white glass pearls, green acrylic flowers with glass centers, and an enameled shell pendant

Beadwork by Mike Smetzer - Necklace with hematite, gold-plated, and glass beads and with white glass pearls, green acrylic flowers with glass centers, and an enameled shell pendant - flat view

Necklace with hematite, gold-plated, and glass beads and with white glass pearls, green acrylic flowers with glass centers, and an enameled shell pendant – flat view

Necklace with Beads of Green “Crackle,” Hematite and Pink Fiber Optic Glass and with a Hematite Arrow Pendant

February 25, 2015

This 26-inch necklace came about because I had two strands of beads, one pink and one green, that were too bright and lively to go with the more sedate beads they would normally complement. Although the pink beads are fiber optic glass and the green are an acrylic that looks something like crackle glass, they go very well with each other. The hematite beads and pendant provide a dark contrast that is shiny enough to stand up to the brightness of the optic pink and “crackle” green.

The hematite arrow is flat on the back and curves up to a ridge running the length of the front. The necklace is closed with a gold-plated spring-ring clasp.

Beadwork by Mike Smetzer - Necklace with beads of fiber optic pink glass, green acrylic, and hematite and with a hematite arrow pendant

Necklace with beads of fiber optic pink glass, green acrylic, and hematite and with a hematite arrow pendant

Beadwork by Mike Smetzer - Necklace with hematite, gold-plated, and glass beads and with white glass pearls, green acrylic flowers with glass centers, and an enameled shell pendant - detail

Detail of hematite arrow and beads

Necklace with Four Large Stones and Beads of Green Aventurine and Black Glass

February 21, 2015

I am still wishing for the green of spring. Jade-ite green and black? Well, this just shows I am old enough to be retro when I am just being myself.

This 20-inch necklace features four large stones: At the bottom is an almond-shaped stone which is off-white with green veins that appear to be aventurine. Above this are three black oval stones which have been cut to create an unusually curved surface with subtle parallel facets. Accompanying these large stones are 6 mm beads of green aventurine and black glass. The necklace is strung on braided gold color wire. Although a spring clasp is shown in the flat photo, it has been replaced with a gold-plated toggle to make the piece easier to put on and take off.

At 20 inches, this necklace is short enough and rests high enough to accommodate its long three-part pendant. My test subject tells me that despite the large stones the necklace does not feel heavy when worn. It falls gracefully and has a powerful visual impact. Great for an evening event.

 

Beadwork by Mike Smetzer - Necklace with four large stones and beads of green aventurine and black glass

Necklace with four large stones and beads of green aventurine and black glass

Beadwork by Mike Smetzer - Necklace with four large stones and beads of green aventurine and black glass - flat view

Necklace with four large stones and beads of green aventurine and black glass – flat view

Necklace with Rose Quartz Beads, Stone Cylinders and Discs, Glass Lampwork, and a Carved Jade Turtle Pendant

February 17, 2015

After this last snowstorm here in the Northeast, I want some spring colors and glitz. And, after all, it is Fat Tuesday!

This 26-inch necklace is strung on a single length of braided gold color wire attached to a gold-plated lobster clasp. It features a dark green jade turtle finding with pink tones on one side and lampwork rectangular beads with a pink, mauve and green pattern inside. The other generally darker elements are stone cylinders and discs. These are balanced by the paleness of round 6 mm beads of pink quartz. Between all of these larger elements are Miyuki gilt-lined 8/0 glass seed beads. The gilt lining reflects a gold shine through the white beads.

Vera has made a pet of the turtle which will double nicely this winter as a worry stone.

Beadwork by Mike Smetzer - Necklace with beads of pink quartz, stone cylinders and discs, lampwork rectangles, and a carved green jade turtle pendant

Necklace with beads of pink quartz, stone cylinders and discs, lampwork rectangles, and a carved green jade turtle pendant on gold color wire

Beadwork by Mike Smetzer - Necklace with beads of pink quartz, stone cylinders and discs, lampwork rectangles, and a carved green jade turtle pendant - flat view

Flat view of necklace with beads of pink quartz, stone cylinders and discs, lampwork rectangles, and a carved green jade turtle pendant on gold color wire

Beadwork by Mike Smetzer - Necklace with beads of rose quartz, stone cylinders and discs, lampwork rectangles, and a carved green jade turtle pendant - lampwork detail

Detail of Lampwork

Beadwork by Mike Smetzer - Necklace with beads of rose quartz, stone cylinders and discs, lampwork rectangles, and a carved green jade turtle pendant - turtle from top

Detail of jade Turtle from top

Beadwork by Mike Smetzer - Necklace with beads of rose quartz, stone cylinders and discs, lampwork rectangles, and a carved green jade turtle pendant - turtle from side

Detail of jade turtle from pink side

Necklace with Native-American Style Acrylic Beads, Wood Squares and Gold-Plated Seed Beads

February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine’s Day!

This 27-inch necklace was a Valentine’s Day present for Vera. Strung on a single length of braided satin-gold color wire attached to a gold-plated spring-ring clasp, it features “exotic” wood squares and acrylic beads in one of the styles of Native-American painted pottery. Between the larger beads are gold-plated glass seed beads. Not everyone likes acrylic beads, but I think these look sharp without the weight of ceramic beads. I tried a bit of asymmetry in the bead and wood square colors here.

Vera thinks the piece has a masculine aspect. Hmmmm. I did have a bit of trouble keeping my bottom ornament pointing straight down when I was setting up the photo.

Beadwork by Mike Smetzer - necklace with "exotic" wood squares and Native American style beads strung on satin gold color wire

Necklace with Native-American style acrylic beads, wood squares and gold-plated seed beads

 

Beadwork by Mike Smetzer - necklace with "exotic" wood squares and Native American style beads strung on satin gold color wire - full length, flat

This is a full length view with the lower wood squares turned to opposite sides. The wood squares around the neck can also be turned in but not when the necklace is worn.

Necklace with Wood Squares, Chalcedony Stone Beads, Bronze Color Seed Beads and Glass Pendant

February 10, 2015

This 27-inch necklace features “exotic” wood squares, 8 mm chalcedony beads, and a glass finding as the pendant. It is strung with bronze color glass seed beads on braided satin-gold color wire and closed with a gold-plated lobster clasp.

The surface of the amber finding has an irregularly looping line that has little contrast and is hard to see in the larger photo. It is clearer in the detail below. It appears to be a thin layer of gold-color specks on or in the surface of the glass.

Beadwork by Mike Smetzer - necklace with "exotic" wood squares, chalcedony stone beads and glass pendant strung with bronze color seed beads

Necklace with “exotic” wood squares, chalcedony stone beads and glass pendant, strung with bronze color seed beads on satin gold color wire

Beadwork by Mike Smetzer - Glass Pendant Detail

Glass Pendant Detail

Necklace with Wood Squares, White and Gray Glass Pearls, and Enameled Shell Pendant

February 5, 2015

 

Beadwork by Mike Smetzer - necklace with "exotic" wood squares, white and gray glass pearls, enameled shell pendant strung on gold color wire

This 30-inch necklace is made with “exotic” wood squares and 6 mm white and gray glass pearls strung on braided gold color wire with a gold-plated lobster clasp. An enameled shell finding is suspended by a pinch bail as a pendant.

The contrast of gray and white beads is more subtle than the pink and burgundy in the last piece, but I like it with this finding, which includes gray tones along with the white of the front and the brown showing through from the back. This 30-inch necklace is made with “exotic” wood squares and 6 mm white and gray glass pearls strung on braided gold color wire with a gold-plated lobster clasp. An enameled shell finding is suspended by a pinch bail as a pendant. I tried using bottom squares with the holes drilled through opposite points to give the round pendant more space.

This third necklace of wood squares and glass pearls was intended to be the last in the series as my string of wood squares was down to one square, but Vera produced a second string of squares she had stashed away in one of her supply drawers. I have put away the glass pearls for now and intend to use something else with the rest of the squares.

Beadwork by Mike Smetzer - necklace with "exotic" wood squares, white and gray glass pearls, enameled shell pendant strung on gold color wire - full length, flat

This is a full length view with the wood squares turned to opposite sides. This introduces a wiggle to the beads as they lie flat.