Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chainmail Is A Nerd's Best Friend

Chainmail Dice Bag by Tangled Metal on Etsy
It is true, I am a nerd. I am geeky. I love Sci-Fi and Fantasy. That is probably the why I started making chainmail in the first place. Only someone who has played Dungeons and Dragons could create the chainmail dice bag in the photo above. Sometimes the nerd in me takes over and there is very little I can do to stop it.

Chainmail Hacky Sack by Tangled Metal on ArtFire
It would seem that chainmail dice bags were not enough for me. I had to go and create a chainmail hacky sack. Now I will not take credit for being the first one to make one. I will however say that before I made my first one I had never seen anyone else make one. I had seen some juggling balls but they were quite a bit larger. About a year after I started selling these at Renaissance Fairs and shops, I started seeing them all the time.

Chainmail Coif With Mantle by Tangled Metal on Etsy
The above picture shows why I really got into making chainmail in the first place. I wanted to make armor for myself. I read The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy and the Hobbit when I was 12 or 13 years old. I wanted to be like the warriors in the books. I wanted to wear armor and wield a sword. I wanted to be like them. It is funny that I ended up the guy who makes the armor and not the guy who wears it.

Something Blue Chainmail Necklace by Tangled Metal on Etsy
As time went on I started making chainmail jewelry. There were many other chainmaillers out there making jewelry but I wanted to set myself apart from them. I started making things that I thought people would like to wear outside of just the Renaissance Fair. I wanted to create items that were everyday wear.

When I was on the Renaissance Fair circuit I would only have about six months with each new design before I started seeing them done by others. This gave me the opportunity to create new designs on a regular basis. I had to stay ahead of the game. And I did for many years.

I retired from the life of being on the road after the events of 9/11. Traveling just did not seem safe to many people and it was evident by the decline of patrons at the Renaissance Fairs. Though I sometimes miss being on the road I am happy to be in one location where I do not have to wear a costume or fake an accent. Being in one place has also made it much easier to create new items and designs.

Steampunk Pendant "Time Lord" by Tangled Metal on Etsy
As seen with this picture I have branched out from Medieval Times to the Victorian and Edwardian era. I guess the nerd in me will never die. Steampunk is my newest love. I take that back. I have always loved Steampunk but it hasn't always had a name. I do enjoy creating the pendants and brooches.

My father is going to retire from being a school teacher next year. He is going to teach me silver smithing. So, I guess I better get to selling some jewelry and armor so that I can afford to buy some silver. I am looking forward to learning a new trade that will help me with my current one.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Eureka Springs, Arkansas - I Live Here

As far as small quirky towns go, Eureka Springs, Arkansas has them all beat. Located in the heart of the Ozark Mountains you might expect a town full of hillbillies. You couldn't be further from the truth. The residents of this town are as odd as the town itself. I include myself in the oddballs of this town.

The town was established sometime around 1881. On the surface it is a quaint Victorian village. Digging deeper you find that it is a community full of artists and craftsman. There are tons of Art Galleries and retail shops all through down town.

I moved here the first time in 1994. It was a busy time then. The economy was booming and tourism was up. The local newspaper was full of want ads and very few places for rent. A lot has changed since those days. The economy is down and there are three times as many for rend ads as help wanted but the charm is still the same.

One of the main reasons I moved here is because I wanted to be an artist. I wanted to work with metal and make chainmail. I have worked many jobs here in the years I have been here. Some jobs I hated and some I loved. I even became a master stone mason while working here.  I love being here making my art. I can hardly imagine a better place to live and I have lived many places all over the United States.

If you ever make it near North West Arkansas, stop by my little town and see for yourself how cool it is. See how it does not seem like you are in Arkansas at all. It is a place all to its own.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What Will You Do This Summer?

It would seem that Blogger is having some technical issues with adding photos. So, no photo today. Here is a link to the treasury I created today and the theme of my blog post: Summer Plans. Just imagine that there is an image here featuring 16 wonderful Etsy artists. Okay? Good, on with the post.

I remember when I was a kid out of school for the summer. It seemed to last forever, those three months or so. My dad is a school teacher so he was always around in the summer. We would have a huge garden. It was almost three acres of garden. We would grow the vegetables and sell them to make money for school clothes. If we made our own money we got to choose our own clothes.

We would take summer vacations sometimes, if we had enough money. Usually we would head up to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. We would spend a week camping, hiking, walking through town or going out to the river. Eventually I moved here to Eureka Springs. Soon after, my entire family relocated here, but I digress.

Summer now is a bit more fast paced and does not seem to last as long. I plan to try and do some fun things this summer. Things I have not done in years, like hiking, going to the river and walking through town. These things will help me to reclaim my childhood. Don't get me wrong, I love being an adult and I do still have a lot of fun. I just want to be able to play like a child once again.

I want to know what your plans are for the summer. Are you going to take a vacation? Are you going to spend time at the pool or beach? If you live in Australia tell me about your plans for when summer comes around again. Are you going to write a novel? I can't wait to hear what you are going to do.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Arts And Craft Show Vending This Weekend

Pine Mountain Village in Eureka Springs, AR
This Saturday, June 25th,  I will be vending at the Pine Mountain Village Art and Craft Show in beautiful Eureka Springs, Arkansas. My wonderful girlfriend and owner of Curious Crow Design will be set up right next to me. This is the first time in a few years that this show has gone on.

In the official press release I was mentioned for having unusual items. Any press is good press, so they say. Anyhow, if you are in the area, please stop by and say hello.

From the Press Release:
"The recently formed Pine Mountain Village Association will present a craft show entitled “Made in the Ozarks,” June 25, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Pine Mountain parking lot.
Close to 30 exhibitors will display handmade crafts ranging from wood items and fabric creations to jewelry, photography, bird houses and ornaments.
Perhaps the most unusual items at the show are the recycled coats by Nora Viola of Irving, TX, who pieces together various sections of sweaters to create unusual garments, and the chain maille and steam punk jewelry by Eric Young of Eureka Springs."

The show is located at Pine Mountain Village in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. For more information contact Gail Voiles at 479-253-7047.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Spare Time And Extra Money

There was a time, not too long ago, that I had spare timer and extra money. That was before the current economic recession we are in now. It seems that I am always working these days. Trying to make ends meet. I think that sometimes I work a little too hard, though my wonderful girlfriend might disagree!

It is Friday and I have far too much to do to take the entire weekend off. Sunday is Father's Day and I would love a break, but I do not see it happening. I have a show next weekend and I need to continue building up my stock. So, I work outside for a few hours helping my neighbor with her pond and then I work on creating more art.

I am sore all over but it is a good sore. It is the kind of sore that makes you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you have accomplished something. It is also the kind of sore that says that I am getting older each and every day. I don't feel old, I still feel like a kid most of the time. But I digress...

The whole point of today's blog is that when you have spare time and extra money you sometimes take it for granted that it will always be like that. You can lose both at any time. So, when I get around to finding my spare time and some extra money I am fully going to take advantage of it.

This summer I would like to get Penelope (That is my 1951 Nash Ambassador in the picture above) some new floor boards welded in. I would also like to get the engine out and get ir ready for whatever power plant I eventually will put in. I would also like to get her rust stopped. Most of these things will just require my time which is good because I think I have a better chance at finding spare time than extra money.

What do you do with your spare time?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

To Grandmother's House We Go!

A Treasury Based On Memories Of Summers At My Grandparents
When I was young and my grandparents were still among the living, we would spend time in the summer at their home in east Texas. They lived on the lake. My grandfather would take me fishing at 4am and when we got back, breakfast would be ready to eat.

My grandmother had a kitchen full of vintage then, antique now, dishes, utensils, appliances and knickknacks. My grandmother would cook elaborate meals for breakfast every morning. I sometimes wonder if she did that when the grand kids were not around. There was always candy around though I do not remember ever seeing them eat candy.

I remember July 4th cookouts and summer fish fries. It was always fun to go to the lake and fish off their dock or go explore the shoreline. It was a much simpler time then and being a kid made it all the more simple. I miss my summers of nothing but fun.

As adults we sometimes forget to have fun. My goal this summer is to take at least two days a month to do absolutely nothing but have fun. No work, no worries, just fun. I challenge all of you to the same. Let me know what you think about that.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Art Of The Treasury On Etsy

My latest Treasury on Etsy
I create a lot of Treasuries on Etsy. I try to theme them with how I feel at the moment. Sometimes it is a special day in history dear to me or sometimes it is just one of my favorite celebrity's birthday. I never know when or from what I will be inspired. Today I was inspired by an email sent to me yesterday.

When I am creating a Treasury I try and find items that work well with each other. Sometimes it is super easy and I have one done in 15 minutes and other times it takes me up to an hour and a half to find just the right items. There are many times when I end up replacing every single item before I save it.

The great thing about creating a Treasury is the ability to share art or vintage items with people who don't even know they like it until they see it. My goal is to one day create a Treasury that makes it to the front page so that even more people can see it and perhaps buy something from one of the featured artists.

By the way, there are several items in this Treasury that would make a great Father's Day Gift. This was pointed out to me by one of the featured artists in the Treasury. Sometimes I am looking so closely at the trees I fail to see the forest.

That is all for today. If you have any experience making a Treasury, please feel free to share with a comment.

Monday, June 13, 2011

What You Drive Says A Lot About You

My 1951 Nash Ambassador Custom
What you drive says a lot about you. It will define you in may ways. With the high price of gas today we often drive cars that have less to do with who we are and more to do with what we can afford. Sometimes, however, it is what you don't drive that defines who you are.

I have owned my fair share of cars over the years. From "Muscle Cars" to my "Soccer Mom Minivan" and everything in between. I currently own three cars: 1994 Nissan Quest Minivan, 1966 Ford Fairlane 500, and a 1951 Nash Ambassador Custom. Over the three only one is currently being driven. Can you guess which one it is?

I used to drive the Fairlane but ended up taking it apart for restoration a few years back. The economy got kind of bad so I have not done too much with it. I bought the '51 Nash last year to save it from going to the crusher. I just could not let that beautiful piece of art be destroyed. I drive the Nissan every day. It is a reliable vehicle that can transport all of my art, tables and tent to and from art shows.

I would love to have the Nash and the Fairlane on the road right now, but honestly, I don't think I could afford the gas or the insurance. I guess I am a bit of a dreamer when it comes to cool old cars. I can see myself in the drivers seat driving around town and at the moment, being unemployed and living in a bad recession, that is nothing more than a dream. Maybe one day...

Maybe one day I should sell the cars that I do not drive and just move on, but it is a difficult task. Bad economy means not many buyers. I suppose it does not cost me much by having the car sitting in the yard and maybe I can do some work on them, the kind of work that does not cost money.

Sometimes I feel like my art is sitting in the yard rusting. I have big dreams about my art too. I dream that it will one day soon pay the bills. I am hopeful that the economy will pick back up and I can afford to restore my other dreams and the gas to make them move.

Friday, June 10, 2011

How To Better Manage Your Time Each Day

"Cage Of Hours" A One Of A Kind Brooch in my Etsy Shop

In attempt to become more efficient with my time I have decided to get up earlier each day. Today I set my alarm for 6:20am I realized something very important that I should have done before taking this step. I should have gotten organized and had a plan. Because now I am up early but don't know what to do!

This got me really thinking about time management. It may not actually be about just adding more time to your day. It may be about using your time more efficiently. Having a schedule and a plan makes all the difference in the world. Without it, you are still just wasting the time you have.

In the extra time I have today I am going to write out all the things that I normally do in the morning. On a separate piece of paper I am going to write out all the things I need to accomplish each week. I am going to also add how long each task takes me and how many days a week I need to do that task.

I am going to organize this as a day by day list. I know that I need to blog at least three times a week. So, I am going to put "M-W-F: Write Blog" I also need to create a Treasury on Etsy on days when they get the most views. For me it seems Tuesday through Thursday so I am putting down on my paper "T-W-T: Do Treasury." I also need to do a collection on ArtFire. These take a bit longer and I don't know what the best days to do these are. So, for now I'll put "M-F: ArtFire Collection."

After I get all the things I need to do down on paper I will assign times to do them. Then I will create a single list with all the schedule. This will help me to get into a routine. Not everyone needs an outline, but it would sure seem that I do!

Do you have any tips or tricks that help you to be more efficient with your time? Please share them with a comment.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Chainmail Hand Flower Blooms At Tangled Metal

Chainmail Hand Flower with Teal Glass Beads from Tangled Metal
I have been making "Hand Flowers" in one form or fashion since the early 90's. Originally I made only metal ones. They were far from feminine and looked more like armor than jewelry. In fact, I called them hand guards back then. It wasn't until my month suggested that I do some with beads that I even considered making jewelry from my armor.

All of the ones I could find pictures of were pretty simple and had very few beads. Most had beads and chains. The closest one to what I make now only had 21 beads. It was made with beads and chains and looked more like a net on the top of the hand. I had been working with Oriental chainmail patterns for a while and decided to try that technique with beads.

There are two distinct Oriental patterns 4-in-1 and 6-in1. Both are much different from the European patterns because they originated from coins linked together by rings. When you lost a coin you replaces it with a ring. Later they realized that rings were just as protective as coins and weighed less. Or so the story goes. Back to hand flowers.

The oriental 6-in-1 looks like a flower and lends itself nicely to a triangular shape. With much trial and error I finally perfected the process. My hand flowers have 30 beads. Many have copied me over the years and I may not be the first to implement a 30 bead hand flower but I did come up with it on my own. The teal glass bead one above was featured in a treasury that put me on the front page of Etsy.

With the high price of silver and gold these days I work primarily in stainless steel. I do, however, love to work in sterling and gold. So, if you so desire it and do not mind paying the added cost, I can make one for you in a precious metal. I also love to work with stone and gemstone beads on my hand flowers. Let me know what you like and I can surely make it for you.

For more information and to view some of the other color hand flowers I create visit my Chainmail Bracelet Section of my Etsy Shop:
Chainmail Bracelet Section of Tangled Metal's Etsy Shop

Thanks for stopping by and reading my latest blog post. I am always open to suggestions for my next blog, questions and comments and general feedback. If you have something to say, leave me a comment.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Working On Descriptions For My Chainmail Jewelry

From my Chainmail Necklace Section On Etsy
It would seem that my descriptions have been far from descriptive in my Etsy Shop. It was recently pointed out to me that I should be more captivating with my descriptions. I should tell everyone why they should buy my items. So yesterday and today I have been working on rewriting all the descriptions in my shop.

I decided to start with the items that are not selling very well at the moment, the necklace section. In addition to rewriting descriptions, I am also giving the titles and keywords a makeover. It is almost as time consuming as the original listing process but I think it will be helpful to me.

Though Etsy is currently in beta testing for Google Product Search and I am not one of the lucky beta testers, I feel confidant that when my items finally do make it to the database that people will be able to more easily find the items I create.

If you have a moment or two please visit my Etsy Shop and let me know what you think about the new descriptions and titles. I really would like to hear your comments, suggestions or whatever you have to say. Leave me a comment or send an email to