Sterling new friends!

You know what they say… new friends are silver… but what kind of silver?  Typically I like to think of them as sterling.

Sterling silver is an alloy (a mix of metals) of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% of another metal, usually copper, although other metals can be used, too.  Why do we do this?  Like gold, silver in its pure form is very soft and not suitable for jewelry or other hard-wearing accessories.  Just that little bit of other metal will make for a harder substance, and thus a more durable piece.  That 925 you see stamped or otherwise marked on silver jewelry?  That denotes it as sterling silver – 925 is just short for the 92.5% of silver metal in the alloy.

Sterling silver stamping blanks available for purchase on Etsy.

Sterling silver stamping blanks available for purchase on Etsy.

Fine silver is 99.9%, and can be seen in jewelry usually as a final plate (a thin layer chemically or electrically bonded to the outside of a piece) around sterling silver.  Like gold, it can eventually wear off and need to be re-plated.  Almost any jeweler can do this for you.

I love working with sterling silver.  Silver has the unique quality of being a very bright, white-color metal.  Other metals that mimic silver just don’t have that bright white shine and the true depth of silver.  It’s a great material for heirloom pieces, because silver retains value in the same way as gold and platinum (if not as MUCH value).

A sterling silver necklace from Charmedseed Studios available for purchase on Etsy.

A sterling silver necklace from Charmedseed Studios available for purchase on Etsy.

Silver will absolutely tarnish!  All metals will tarnish or oxidize because of normal chemical processes.  Sterling silver will tarnish a little more if the alloy is made with copper.  Fortunately said tarnish can be cleaned easily with a polishing cloth, chemical cleanser, or abrasive physical polishing – that’s right, the old elbow grease.

Do you have a metal allergy?  Sterling silver will probably be okay for you to wear, as long as the other metal in the alloy isn’t your allergy-metal (such as nickel, a common allergy-inducing metal.  Fortunately since most sterling silver is made with copper, you’re okay).

Got questions about sterling silver jewelry or other metals?  Ask me!

What are they thinking?

Judges, that is.  Costume contest judges of all kinds.  Those you drop your hard work and dedication in front of for scrutiny.  Those judges.

A friend prompted this post by asking about “unwritten” requirements in masquerades and cosplay contests.  What are the expectations for each level?  For presentations?  For anything?

First off, the written rules are the only ones you need to worry about.  Those are designed by the coordinators or chairs in order to make things fair and – most importantly – keep you safe.  They also remove any liability from the con if you choose to ignore those rules.

Second…  You’ll never know the unwritten requirements. You’ll never know what each individual judge really wants to see. You can’t know that stuff, all you can know is that you love what you did and you did good work.  You might be able to learn them by looking at past winners and participating in the contest – but only maybe.  Those unwritten expectations change from year to year, convention to convention, judge to judge.  They’re always different, and that’s part of the fun!

As an example, the question of wearing colored contacts came up.  Lots of people love to wear them to complete a look.  I do it on occasion too – and I’m in the market for some circle lenses soon!  But is it necessary?

As a judge, I like it because it’s a detail that’s been considered. It’s just like taking the time to choose the right colors or finish your seams. It means you put thought into it. But it’s only one piece in a thousand that indicate your skill and interest level – there are plenty of others to work with.  It’s an extra: like adding a delicately sugar-frosted cherry on top of an already intricately decorated cupcake, but the lack thereof isn’t going to deduct points.  When judging, I wouldn’t be looking for it – but if you did it (and pointed it out, as it’s not always obvious) with the intention of providing just that one more detail, I would love it.

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As a cosplayer, I love the look – especially if the character’s eyes are distinctive – and the way it can really complete a costume.  I don’t regularly wear contacts, though, so it’s a challenge I reserve for distinctive costumes.  OR sometimes it’s an added detail to a costume that’s otherwise rather simple: Princess Emeraude, for example.  I wore blue contacts with her costume – a non-competition piece – because first of all she’s MADE OF EYES, and second because with her simple white shift, it was a detail that I felt really defined the costume.  I love details; I’m a detail fiend.  That’s how I choose to create costumes.

If you don’t, no biggie!  You costume based on what you need and want.  If you can’t wear contacts, focus on another detail that’s important to you, and make sure the judges KNOW it was important and intentional.  There are thousands to choose from!  Finishings, makeup, wigs, accessories, shoes, even music and movement for your presentation –

– tiny tangent here, I just did a fully-fleshed out, dramatic presentation in 40 seconds.  Most of my presentations are under 1 minute.  One minute in stage-time is an ETERNITY.  The music/SFX are super important, and I use them for the utmost effect.  Anyway –

… anything that makes you memorable.  Give the judges a good reason to remember you and your costume, whatever that reason is.  Make a statement, and make it yours.  Enjoy!

Review: Heroes of Cosplay, Episode 2

Here we are again!  All the drama and angst of a cosplay competition!  And some difficult conversations.  This was hard for a lot of people to watch.  Including me.  But it was neither inaccurate nor misrepresentative of the community.

Early in the show there was a dinner conversation.  Two plus hours of footage edited down to 2 minutes, natch, because this is TV and we only have so long.

Here’s what I saw: a group of cosplayers criticizing the choices of other cosplayers.  At least one cosplayer at the table feeling incredibly awkward abuot the conversation.  Like you do.

Here’s what I think: I think that at some point in all of our cosplay, other hobby, even professional careers, we’ve been responsible for needlessly and unfairly judging someone else.  Myself included.  In the past, I’d been particularly nasty, not always intentionally, but sometimes it was just none of my damn business and I thought it was.

Here’s what I say: Ye who have never secretly in your heart and mind judged another, muttered under your breath how you would have done it better, narrowed your eyes at what (to you) was an unacceptable body form, please… throw the first stone at Yaya and company.  Go ahead.

Oh, none of us fit that bill?  I didn’t figure any of us would.

I’ve heard people SCREAM (figuratively, online) that this show is ruining cosplay.  Know what ruins cosplay?  Telling people they suck.  Spewing pure hate at people willing to put themselves out there.  Being a bully.  Being unwilling to allow people to change, apologize, and come back better.  Judging people who are doing it their way.

Cosplayers are not perfect.  As I’ve grown older, wiser, quieter, perhaps a little wistful, I’ve been able to recognize my prejudices and clean them out.  It honestly didn’t happen until really recently.  It was hard.  Letting go of what I had envisioned as deep-seated, worthy platitudes that all cosplayers should follow.  But I realized… it is none of my damn business what other cosplayers are choosing to do.

It’s like I tell my elementary school kids.  “OMG, Mrs. Warner it’s an emergency!”  “Oh?  Is someone bleeding?”  “…no.”  “Is someone on fire?”  “…..no.”  “Then it’s not really an emergency, is it?”  “No, I guess not.”

I feel like we need to have that kind of come-to-Jesus in cosplay right now.  How you cosplay is how you cosplay, and it’s legit.

Additionally, on the subject of someone else working on a costume… perhaps it’s because I teach, and teachers live by the adage of “beg, borrow, and steal.”  (Obviously we don’t really steal, I mean, that wouldn’t be cool.) Maybe it’s because I’ve been dabbling in more ICG-style costuming for a few years.  Maybe it’s because I’ve worked on HUGE group projects where we all had our specialty – sewing, crafting, prop making – and we shared the fruits of those labors.  Maybe it’s because design in itself is an art, and still deserves to be recognized… even if the design isn’t for you, but for your model.

I think we need to start expanding and clarifying the rules about who can be in what costume and who has to have made it.  Create a place for a cosplayer AND a designer who can work AND compete together.  Victoria and Jinyo both deserved a lot of congratulations for creating the Tron dress (EL wire is like…. AAAAHHHHHH).  Again, it’s about the whole sum of the parts – planning, crafting, presentation, and discussion.  Having someone help you – willingly, of course – should be totally okay in competitions.  Just make a space for that person so he or she can share the credit.  Teams make powerful, incredible costumes and simply cannot happen with one person alone.  Let’s honor that.

Final note… I love Chloe so much.  She’s my new favorite person.  I love her bright, open attitude.  I love that she had fun.  I love that she reminded me how fun it is to get up on stage.  Great job, girl!

Havin’ some feels and things, because reasons.

I’ve been feeling a little discouraged (okay, a lot discouraged) by some of the attitudes brought out by Heroes of Cosplay, etc. First, criticisms from folks who haven’t seen it. That doesn’t seem fair to me. We say in elementary school that it’s only fair to refuse something after you’ve had a "no, thank you" portion. IOW, you gotta TRY it at least.

And then, from the folks who have seen it who are so negative about it. Maybe I’m just trying to stick to the old "if you don’t have anything nice to say" adage, but I also didn’t see it as negative. I saw it as real. It’s one of the most realistic reality TV shows I’ve seen in a long time.

I was SO in every one of those positions and perspectives at some point in my cosplay ‘career.’ Now, they’re not all healthy, but they’re part of the reality. I don’t understand hiding what it can really be like. People are saying that it is or is going to give cosplay a bad name, but I don’t understand that. To me, it wouldn’t be right to say it’s all rainbows and unicorns (besides the MLP cosplayers, hurhur ^.~) all the time – that would be a lie, and a great disservice to those who aren’t familiar with cosplay.

It’s like anything else. It’s beautiful and ugly at the same time. There’s conflict. There are amazing moments of synergy and cooperation. There’s anxiety and triumph. There’s disappointment. The show displayed some great positivity; it also showed some of the most negative reactions.

Yes, it was majorly about competitions. That’s going to carry a lot of dramatic weight and make for exciting television. Some people love to compete. I love to compete because I love to be on stage – I have a background in music and it shows. That’s MY perspective, but I would never expect everyone else’s perspective to be the same. The feeling of winning is gratifying. And I have had those moments where I was upset because I felt someone won who didn’t deserve it (I like to think that’s in my past, but who knows what the future will bring?). I’m so impressed that some of the participants in the show had the balls to come out and admit that! It’s an ugly feeling (for me at least), but it’s also real.

And the time and cast is limited. They can’t cover the hundreds of thousands of cosplayers out there. They have six (six? Did I count right?) [Edit: Nine.  I read the synopsis, durhur]. They have to be on coasts because that’s where TV happens. Maybe if this is successful, there will be more and better coverage. There are a lot of things that are the way they are because that’s how TV is made (I’ll tell you what, I wish there were more home decorating & landscaping shows in the US interior, I could sure use some help!). They can’t speak for everyone. But they took a good sample. Hopefully there will be more.

[Edit: It was identified that the cast is mostly white females, which of course doesn’t make for an appropriate cross-section.  I was referring to the sample of perspectives, attitude, and areas of expertise.   Food for thought.]

And at the last, some semantics. Those cosplayers ARE heroes. Each one of them, for their own reasons. But EVERY cosplayer is a hero. It takes guts to put on a costume. It takes heart to put yourself out there. And any one of those people who were on the show would tell you that every cosplayer – every level, every perspective – is a hero.

Maybe it’s me. I’m an optimist. I see the good in things, most of the time. It’s a perspective that works for me. But I’m also a realist, and that can still jive with the optimistic perspective. I can go back 15 years and see from that perspective, and see these important folks having to make the same difficult choices as I did, I can watch them feel anxious and triumphant and appreciated and afraid, just like I did – and do. That made it very positive for me, to know that all those feelings I had and still have are out there in other people’s brains. To know that my perspective was always valid. That makes the show itself valid. They did a great job.

[Again compiled from FB posts, etc.]

Review: Heroes of Cosplay, Episode One

(As compiled from several Facebook posts and subsequently edited to make more sense and follow some kind of grammatical logic.  Hurhur.)

I love it. I love the vast variation of skills and experience and perceptions and behaviors. All the feelings, all the experiences, all the perceptions, it was all so VALID. It honestly reminded me of my earlier days in cosplay, when competing was a priority for me.

No, it wasn’t all pretty. Anyone who’s cosplayed for any amount of time KNOWS it’s not always pretty. No, I wouldn’t have made the choices that others would have made, but that’s why it’s so awesome – it’s another perspective! And each one of them is valid. The joy of success. The tragedy of disappointment. Priorities and perspective are totally different for each person.  That’s real.  Some of it was hard to watch because I KNOW THOSE FEELS.

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My first costume, Super Sailormoon from Sailormoon, made in 1998 (Photo from NDK 1999).  I had on two wigs. For realies.

I swear I’ve been every one of the competitors shown over the last 15 years that I have been cosplaying. I felt like I got gypped, I felt like a performer, I felt successful, I felt like I swept, I felt like I had a rockin’ good time and that was all I cared about. All of those things. All of them.

And I’ve been the bitch. And I’ve been the one hurt by the bitch (or bastard, as it were). I’ve been the grown-up princess with the little girl who loved me for who SHE thought I was. I’VE been the little girl meeting a princess I love. I’ve been incomplete, overdrawn, stressed, blissful, grateful, exhilarated. I think HoC portrayed that perfectly, honestly.

And on top of that, there were any numbers of really amazing tips and tricks – costuming at a professional level!  Automotive paint, head moulds, embroidery machines.  So much to learn and try.

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Rosa of Final Fantasy IV (DS) done in 2008 for Dragon*Con.

It was inspiring. I want to go up to my studio and work. I want the back yard to be done so I can convert the garage into a shop. I want to compete again. I want to be on stage. Yaya Han & company, you should be proud. I am.  I am proud to be a part of this beautiful, fun, dysfunctional, nutty and nerdy community.  I love it.  All of it.

Also love DJ Spider’s take, and I can’t agree more.  Read it here!

Watch the show Mondays on SyFy.

Mermaid Trio Jewelry Set

I don’t often do beaded jewelry anymore as the market is just SO saturated with beaders, but if a commission is asked for I’ll jump at the opportunity!  Here’s a recent one I did; requested was a mermaid theme to go with a dress the wearer had made.  We decided on pearls with a little bit of sparkle!

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Click on the image above to see more images at the Charmedseed Jewelry Facebook page!

Now I present to you… Mr. and Mrs. Nerdy Geek.

I recently saw a post on Apartment Therapy about a couple’s video gamed themed wedding.  I loved all their little details, and it reminded me of all the little geeky details from our wedding.  As part of our first anniversary celebration, I’d love to share them.

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My husband gifted the groomsmen with Star Wars themed cufflinks (and himself, wearing the Rebel Alliance symbol).  Adorably, he gave the Darth Vader set to MY dad.

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For my “something blue” I had a temporary tattoo of the Jedi Order symbol on my upper right thigh, also partly in lieu of the more traditional garter.

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On top of our cake (or rather, our cupcake tower… saved us a lot of time cutting cake slices, tell you what!) were the little Leia and Han peg dolls I hand painted.  I love you.  I know.

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One of the most charming moments of the ceremony was our pastor starting his sermon by saying, “Ah…. nerds in love.”  The entire building erupted into laughter.

Our parents and the wedding party entered to the Final Fantasy Crystal Theme, a consistently beautiful piece of music.

I marched to “Dearly Beloved” from Kingdom Hearts.  This song had been in my heart as my bridal march since the first time I heard it.

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Pre and post wedding ceremony, Nick was sure to constantly be in his Indiana Jones hat.

We and our closest friends appreciated the little details tucked carefully inside our beautifully handcrafted, unique wedding.  Nerdy enough to make us smile, traditional enough for everyone to enjoy!  It was the happiest day of my life, with so many more to come.

An event and a coupon!

Charmedseed will be a featured accessories designer at the RAW Expressions Showcase!  It happens May 10th from 7-11 pm at City Hall in Denver. There will be 40 featured Artists, including 3 bands, 2 performance artists, 4 Fashion Designers, 4 Accessory Designers, 24 Visual Artists, Hair and Makeup Artists, and even a Nail Salon.


What’s better than to spend an evening by checking out and mingling with the local artists community?  Tickets for this exclusive event are only $15!  Please click here to get your tickets now!

Jewelry is BACK!

Being home with my vestibular disorder (see Icarus Falling) is opening up a set of needs and opportunities for me.  To make the best of the situation, I’ve come back full force with Charmedseed Jewelry in all its splendor! 

Of course I’m offering my Anne Boleyn replica necklaces, as well as continuing the wordspell line of stamped charm necklaces.  Custom orders are of course always welcome!

We’re all over the web now, too!  Check us out at any of the following places: Etsy | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest