Friday, December 31, 2010

A Different Kind of Challenge

This is the time of year when some Etsians post challenges for others to get involved in. For those who sell handmade, these usually involve making items to sell: "One a day for January" or "One a week for 52 weeks" etc. Here's a challenge for people like me who are so obsessed with making whatever it is they make that a challenge like that is no challenge at all; in fact, it can add to the problem. Another advantage of this challenge is that anyone who sells on Etsy (or has a small home-run business) can get involved with this challenge - not just those who sell handmade.

What I need to do - and what I want to challenge others to do - is keep up with financial record-keeping once a month. You know, get those receipts entered, expenses recorded, income tracked. I'm writing this during a break in taking inventory. I'm now going to have to hunt all over the apartment for receipts from purchases of materials I bought during the year, so I can figure out my cost of goods sold. I never throw away necessary receipts, but I don't have any kind of a system for keeping track of them. It'd be a lot easier to take care of this as I go along, while the receipts are still at hand.

You can use any system you want and keep track however you want, as long as you get yourself caught up at least once a month. If you want to enter things every week or every day, that's great.

I'll put a post on this blog at the end of every month, so people in the challenge can leave comments, tips, frustrations, questions, or a link to their own blog and/or shop (only one shop link a month, please). This doesn't mean you have to do your record keeping at the end of the month; it's just a way to make commenting more convenient. Hope to see some of you join in.

Friday, December 10, 2010

What's Hot and What's Not

You wouldn't think that rosary makers would be affected by swings in fashion. But if we buy our beads from many different sources - most of them secular - it does make a difference. I've run into it three times now.

Earlier this year, when I wanted to make a "real stuff" November birthstone rosary, I wasn't able to find topaz-colored topaz. I could find tons of blue topaz, lots of pink topaz, and a fair amount of "imperial" (golden yellow) topaz. But topaz of that dark golden-brown color we call "topaz"? Not a stone. I found some reconstructed topaz-colored topaz on a site selling rosary parts, so ended up using that; reconstructed = reformed from the scraps left over after stone cutting.

I asked about this in the Etsy "materials and techniques" forum, where some knowledgeable stone/gem people hang out, and was told that, these days, most of the topaz that's mined is heated to become one of the more popular colors, so there's not much sold in the original color and what is sold is very expensive. That's probably one reason citrine has become a widely-accepted alternative to topaz as the November birthstone; I already had a couple of citrine rosaries for sale, but really wanted some topaz.

As the flip side to that, I also have a blue topaz rosary for sale as a December birthstone rosary. Although, actually, the traditional December birthstone is blue zircon, both blue topaz and turquoise have become accepted alternatives. With all that blue topaz out there, some of it is relatively inexpensive. I wasn't surprised that it was difficult to find nice, not over-the-moon expensive blue zircon, as it is rare - especially in stones large enough to make a rosary from. I was able to make a miniature rosary from the "real stuff". What surprised me was how difficult it was to find blue zircon glass beads. One Etsy seller had some for sale, but not enough for an entire rosary. I even asked at a couple of the big online Czech glass sellers. They didn't have blue zircon listed but tried to sell me some teal instead (one actually told me they had blue zircon but sent me teal). What's up with that? It's a birthstone, after all, and really quite a pretty color. I finally found some on Ebay - and it was my first and still only Ebay purchase. The people I bought it from are now going out of business and I plan to buy a lot of blue zircon glass beads from them before they shut their virtual doors. My requests - and possibly requests from others - do seem to have made a difference, as I can now find blue zircon Czech glass at a few places I wasn't able to find it eight months ago.

So much for birthstones. My latest obstacle, and the one prompting this post, is black obsidian. Somewhat like the search for topaz-colored topaz, this one seems counterintuitive, I mean, what color is obsidian? Black, right? But what's mostly for sale is snowflake obsidian and mahogany obsidian. Now, I like snowflake obsidian well enough and I love mahogany obsidian, but I have a customer who's requested two rosaries made specifically of black obsidian. I've ordered the stones for one of the rosaries: 6mm rounds, which weren't too difficult to find on Etsy. But the second rosary needs to be larger, and finding 8-10mm beads (preferably in oval or rice shape) has turned out to be a problem. I haven't given up yet. I still need to look in a couple of local bead shops that carry stones. I also have some sitting in my "shopping cart" at an online site - but it's a site where I haven't found the stones to be of very good quality. If I can't find something locally, I'll probably order from that site and keep my fingers crossed. (There are also some things out there called rainbow obsidian and gold-sheen obsidian. I don't know anything about these, but suspect they're not naturally-occurring. They're not what I'm looking for, anyway.)

I don't know what the point of all this has been, except to vent - and maybe find out if other people have had similarly frustrating experiences or discovered sources I've missed. But that's the way it is.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

To Wear or Not to Wear

Just posting a link today to a blog post and related comments that rosary makers and users might find interesting. The post was written by a Franciscan priest and is called "Faculties for Blessing Fashion Accessories".

A new thing for Etsy shoppers  - coupon codes! Any reader of this blog can receive a 20% discount on their order from my Etsy shop (not counting tax and shipping) by entering the coupon code: BLOG2. If you haven't been to my Etsy shop, you can find it here. This offer is subject to change. 

And since it will soon be December, here's a link to a December birthstone rosary I made recently using genuine blue zircon (as usual, clicking on the picture will take you to more photos and information). When I have a chance to take photos of it, I'll be listing one made of blue topaz (sometimes used as a substitute for the pricier blue zircon); when my supplies arrive, I'll be making one of blue zircon colored Czech glass (which is almost as hard to find as the real thing).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Tale of Two Rosaries

At least some of my vast following (ha!) have said they like to read stories about how particular rosaries came to be. The last two rosaries I've listed have a tale to tell. They were originally going to be one rosary. In fact, I'd been planning it for months. The gold twisted beads looked very Christmasy to me, and what better to go with them than my most recently discovered angels? This set was lampwork, and cute, and I especially liked them because, with their dark hair and eyes and duskier-than-usual faces, they could be seen as almost any ethnic group.

So both sets of beads had been sitting in the drawer where I keep those that have been paired up and are ready to be made into rosaries. Every once in awhile when I opened the drawer I'd catch a glimpse of them and get excited about how that rosary would look. Then I started making Christmas rosaries and, a couple of days ago, it was time to actually put the beads together. As soon as I had them on the table in front of me, I knew it wasn't going to work.

Not only were the angels "cute" while the twisted beads were "beautiful," but I evidently hadn't noticed the pastel trim on the angels' robes, or how very yellow their wings were. The disconnect of tone between the two was jarring. And when I set up a decade to see how it would really look, the angels were overwhelmed by the gold beads. No good at all.

So I headed where I often do - to my "stash". I think everyone who does any kind of crafting must have a stash. It's the place where you keep things that you don't know how you're going to use but, somehow, know they're going to be useful some day. My stash is mostly a result of three things: 1) beads being on sale;  2) buying a set of beads I specifically need for something, and ordering more stuff from that Etsy shop (or other online source) in order to save on shipping cost;  3) buying a set of beads simply because I love them, even though I don't know what I'm going to do with them. 

The twisted gold beads found a partner through a combination of numbers 2 and 3. I'd fallen in love with the black and gold rectangles and had bought them when I was ordering something else from an Etsy shop. I knew they were gorgeous - stunning, even in the photos - but I also knew it was going to take a special kind of bead to hold its own with them without the whole effect being too much. I'd been holding onto them for ages.

As a writer, I'm familiar with the process of trying to find the right word, possibly for hours or days, then having the moment of excitement when the perfect word comes to mind: "Yes! That's the word I want!" It's a triumphant feeling. And I've had it a few times when I've been putting beads (or sometimes a center or cross) together for a rosary. I definitely had it when I put the twisted gold beads together with the black and gold swirled, glass rectangles. Here's the result (more pictures and a description if you click on the photo):

The little angels were more difficult because, at first, I couldn't let go of wanting them to be "Christmasy". I had a Christmas Rosaries section in my shop, after all, and had to have a few things there. And every rosary I'd ever made using angels for the "Our Father" beads had been Christmas themed. But that pastel trim on the angels' robes said something different. I'm putting the rosary in my Christmas section, but if it's still around when I next have a Springtime Rosaries section, it'll go there, too. Half of the angels have pink trim on their robes and half have light green. In my stash, I had some light green cats-eye beads that were a perfect match for the green trim. It wasn't as exciting a moment as the black-and-gold one, but I'm very happy with the result.

The cats-eye beads were in my stash because of reason number 1 (see above). I'm on Fusion Bead's email list, and whenever they have a sale I get a notice about it. Occasionally they have something on sale that I'm interested in. This time it was for a number of types of beads that they were discontinuing. I bought a few, including these light green beads. I wasn't thinking at the time, "I really need some light green cats-eye beads," but they were certainly something that might be useful in the future. And they were. (I still have some beads from that order that I haven't yet found a use for, but I'm sure I will.)

Oh, we should look at that rosary, too, shouldn 't we:

By the way, the center of that rosary is one I had left over from my Lutheran prayer beads experiment. You just never know.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Another Vote for Tornado Crimps

Ever since the Christmas in July/August sale, all rosaries in my Etsy shop have been ones made with tornado crimps. Or so I thought. When I was pulling the older ones out of commission, I ran across one that surprised me. I'd thought it was one of my earliest rosaries, but it was clearly made with tornado crimps (it's easy to tell which kind of crimp has been used just by looking at it). I shrugged and put it down to my poor sense of time. I'd evidently made the rosary more recently than I'd thought, so it stayed in the shop.

Then last week, when I was packing up rosaries for a craft show, that rosary fell apart. I was shocked - out of the couple of hundred rosaries I'd made with tornado crimps, none had ever come apart (that I know of)! I looked more closely at the rosary and realized that its crimps had been half-and-half. It had originally been made with old-style crimps, but then must have had the stem reattached with tornado crimps. It was those on the stem I'd seen when deciding to keep the rosary in the shop. It was, of course, one of the old-style crimps that had come loose. I feel better now, although it still means I'll have to completely restring the rosary - using all tornado crimps this time.

Here's what the rosary looked like before its demise - and pretty much what it will look like again after I restring it:

Monday, November 8, 2010

Because of How He Lived

Because I've been really busy lately, and because busyness doesn't lead to profound thoughts, I'm copying something straight from my website.  It regards a saint's day coming up this week, on November 11:

November 11 is Veterans Day. It also happens to be the feast day of one of the patron saints of soldiers, Martin of Tours. Somewhat ironically, this patron saint is someone who left the army when he became Christian - but that was the Roman army. There's a legend that says Martin met a beggar on the road who had nothing to wear against the cold. Martin used his Roman army sword to cut in half his luxurious Roman army cloak, and gave half of the cloak to the beggar. Then he had a dream (vision?) in which he saw Jesus wearing the cloak he had given to the beggar. An experience like that could certainly make someone think about changing careers.

Being a liturgy geek, I find Saint Martin's feast day to be particularly fascinating. It's officially labeled a Memorial, which is the normal run-of-the-mill remembrance for most saints. But everything about its liturgy - the prayers and Scripture readings at Mass, the psalms used in the Liturgy of the Hours, etc. - is set up as if it were a Feast (one step up from a Memorial, to commemorate Very Important Saints). As far as I know, there's no other day like it on the calendar. By all accounts, the explanation is that Saint Martin was once considered to be a Very Important Saint, important enough to rate a Feast. Over the centuries what had made him special became pretty hum-drum, so he was demoted to a Memorial. But evidently no one's had the heart to take away his Feast-like celebration.

What made Martin special was that he wasn't a martyr. If that sounds hum-drum to us, well, that's the point. But Martin was the first person to be officially declared a Saint who wasn't a martyr. So at the time it was important news.

The whole Saint (as opposed to saint) thing started in the Roman catacombs, where Christians met during the Roman persecution for "the breaking of the bread" (a.k.a. the Mass). Now that Mass is in English, the priest has a number of options for the Eucharistic Prayer, the central prayer of the Mass which in "the old days" was called the Canon. But for most of its life, the Latin Mass had only one Canon, and our current Eucharistic Prayer I is simply a translation of that Latin prayer into English. And embedded in that prayer is something that remains from the days of the catacombs: a list of Saints. The priest today has the option of shortening the list if he wants to, but the long form names quite a few Saints, all of whom were martyred during the Roman persecution. The origin of the list is the practice during the persecution of announcing the names of members of the community who had been put to death. The names were also inscribed on walls in the catacombs. Adding a person's name to the list that was read during the Canon was canonizing the person, which is still the word used for declaring someone officially a Saint.

But a strange thing happened when Christianity became legal in the Roman Empire: since members of the community were no longer being martyred, no one was being added to the list. As is true today, the early Church considered the people who were canonized to be examples of holiness and dedication for other members of the community. With the end of the persecutions, the Christians in Rome had a couple of choices: they could either stop where they were and not offer the community any new examples of holiness, or they could begin recognizing the holiness of people who hadn't been martyred. Of course, they chose the latter. But as with most new ideas, some people needed convincing. They could hopefully be won over if the first non-martyred person added to the list was someone whose holiness was so widely recognized that no one could question it. We don't know much about Martin's life, but we know that the community was so sure of his holiness that they picked him to be the first canonized person who wasn't a martyr.

The mentions of Martin in his feast-day liturgy speak over and over about how he glorified God not by how he died but by how he lived. If someone doesn't know the history behind his canonization, it sounds pretty hum-drum. But if someone does know the history, it can be interesting and even somewhat exciting to know that this bit of the past is still recognized in the present. After all, most of us will also be called to glorify God by how we live - which the early Church understood when deciding to give us Martin as an example. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Adding to the Inventory

Well, the craft show was a total bust. It's some consolation, I suppose, that it wasn't a total success for anyone; the organizer said she'll do better on publicity the next time - when, hopefully, they'll give her more than three weeks to pull the whole thing together. My main problem, I think, was that I didn't have anything for sale below $20 (there was too much to do, so I didn't sell greeting/note cards as I'd been planning to). People just weren't spending that much money. The person next to me was selling jewelry in the $20+ range and had one sale all day. 

So, anyway, this means I'll be adding a lot of Lutheran prayer beads to my inventory. I did give out a number of brochures and business cards to interested people, so maybe we'll start a trend. The more I read the brochure on "Praying the Small Catechism with Beads" the more confused I am by it. I'd love to discuss it with a traditional Lutheran; I was actually hoping I'd be able to do that yesterday, but the chance didn't come up. The meditations seem more fearful of God, and more centered on living correctly, than I'd expect from a denomination with the mantra of salvation by faith alone.

I did learn some things I'd do differently at my next craft show - whether or not it's at a Lutheran church. Some of these involve my display, although I was basically happy with it. An acquaintance of mine whom I hadn't seen for a decade or so was also selling, and she took photos of my display on her Blackberry; when she emails them to me I can share them.  Until then, here's the first set of Lutheran prayer beads that I've added to my Etsy shop. I started with it because I wanted to send an appreciation picture to the Etsian I bought the cross from. I used this set of beads as my central display and both it and the cross got a lot of positive comments - although, of course, it didn't sell:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Time's Getting Short

It's now only five days until the craft show, and I've still completed only five Lutheran rosaries because I'm still waiting for more crosses and centers. The crosses I could buy locally but they'd be more expensive. Finding non-Catholic centers is more difficult - I've been ordering two-to-one connectors that are meant to be seen and that are in a triangular shape (that is, not just a bar with two loops on one side and one loop on the other). But I have the bodies strung for 17 more rosaries and have beads set aside for three others. I'm getting a little tired of stringing beads and I imagine that later on I'll be tired of attaching stems and crosses.

If all of those get completed, I'll have 25 rosaries for the sale. I have no idea how/if they're going to sell, so I might stop with that number. Besides, there's so much else that has to be done - I can't spend all my time making rosaries. If I'm going to sell greeting and note cards like I'm planning, I need a good number of hours to work on them (after I make a trip to Staples for a couple of colors of ink I'm running low on). I think I have about everything I need for my display, but still have to make signs and price tags. I even have to find something to wear. One list of tips on the Etsy forum says to be "casual but chic." I'm pretty good at casual, but not so hot at chic.

A lot of the things I'm worried about are issues because it's my first show (oh, and I can't forget to pick up change). I'm glad it's a small show. I'm not so sure I'm glad it's one I'm needing to make an entirely new inventory for.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

So It's Our Fault. Is that Bad - or Good?

Some time ago, an acquaintance of mine who's Catholic - a Secular Franciscan, in fact - twice sent me a petition to return prayer to the public schools (with the idea, of course, that I would sign it). The first time, I sent back an explanation of why I wouldn't sign it. The second time I just said, "Didn't we talk about this already?" and I never received it again.

I was reminded of this episode while watching God in America this past week on PBS. For anyone who didn't see it, it was a 6-hour history of religion in the United States, beginning with colonial times and continuing to the present. Besides some brief overviews of historical periods, the series basically picked out certain stories to tell at greater length. The one chosen for the period of Irish immigration to the United States was that of Bishop Hughes (not sure of his first name - John?), who worked for the right of Catholic kids in New York to get an education while still remaining Catholic.

Up until that time, public schools in New York, like most of the country, were openly Protestant and much of the material used was virulently (the program's term) anti-Catholic. Not surprisingly, Catholic parents weren't sending their kids to school. Bishop Hughes argued that, under the Constitution, each child should have an equal right to an education and, because of this, religion shouldn't be taught in the public schools. He lost a public debate on this, then turned to the ballot box by endorsing local candidates who agreed with him (something that wouldn't be done today). A number of "his" candidates won, and the measure to remove religious education from New York City public schools passed by one vote. Following this, there were violent (literally) reactions against Catholic locations - by good Christians, I'm sure.

A couple of things to note about this: There was no court case involved, so no other school district was in any way obliged to follow New York's example. Since the PBS program concentrated on specific stories, it didn't say much about how/if the idea spread. (There was a story told of the son of an atheist - decades later - sitting in the hallway while other students received religious education from their own pastors during the school day.) And taking religious education out of the public schools wasn't the same thing as removing prayer from public schools; that didn't come until much later, and the effort wasn't led by Catholics but by a group of Jewish parents (whose homes were violently attacked - by good Christians, I'm sure). It should also be mentioned that, during the time he was pressing his case, Bishop Hughes raised enough money to open a dozen Catholic schools, so the Catholics of New York weren't depending on the public schools to do everything.

Bishop Hughes and his family, like many Irish, had immigrated to the United States to escape religious persecution. He was especially insistent on his work regarding the public schools because he felt he was making the nation live up to what it said in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He considered his a very American stand. The Bill of Rights is specifically meant to protect the rights of minorities. Without that protection, a democracy could be a dangerous place for anyone who's different from the majority. During the section of the program on the Supreme Court declaration that prayer in the public schools was unconstitutional, Billy Graham was shown saying that, if a vote were taken, 80% of Americans would vote to keep prayer in the public schools.* It was that other 20% that the Court ruling - and the First Amendment - protected. When my acquaintance made the point that most parents were Christians and the majority should rule, I asked him how he'd feel about that argument if he were sending his child to a public school in a predominantly Islamic or Hindu community.

I also reminded him that Catholic schools came into being for a real reason - to allow Catholic children to escape the rule of the majority that made public schools into Protestant institutions. My aunt was denied a job teaching in a public school system during the 1930's because (as she was told to her face) "We don't hire any damn Catholics." If any group should be standing up for the separation of religion and state, it's Catholics.


*Later on, there was a very interesting part of the program on how hard Billy Graham worked (behind the scenes) to keep JFK from being elected President, solely because he was Catholic.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

First Finished Lutheran Rosaries

I've received enough centers and crosses to finish 5 Lutheran rosaries, so here are some pictures. I'm not listing these on Etsy - at least not until after the craft show - so I've taken only one view of these. Clicking on the photos won't take you to any more, but it will let you see a larger version of the photo - use your back button to go back to the blog.

I've purposely taken photos that show the configuration of the beads. The basic layout of the body is 6 sets of 6 beads each, with one large bead following each group. Each set of 7 beads (6 small and one large) is for meditation on a particular theme (I'll post more on that after I've done more work on the brochure). The stem has 4 small beads followed by a large one. This set is for meditation on the Cross.

Before it had the meditations on the Small Catechism attached to it, this rosary was meant to be a prayer aid for Lent. The configuration makes sense if looked at this way. Beginning with the stem, we have the four days (Ash Wednesday through the following Saturday) that lead into the First Sunday of Lent, with the Sunday represented by the large bead. Then are 6 sets of beads for the 6 weeks of Lent, each with 6 small beads followed by the large bead for Sunday. The final large bead on the body is the "Easter bead" and should be larger and/or lighter in color than any of the other beads on the rosary. This has been fun, although something of a challenge, because it means coordinating three kinds of beads. Note that the addition of the Easter bead makes the body asymmetrical, which is different from both Catholic and Anglican rosaries, which have symmetrical bodies; you can't hang a Lutheran rosary from a central point and have it fall evenly on both sides.

The plan I'm working from shows the use of a center, giving it a meditation on the Holy Trinity. There's one person now selling Lutheran rosaries on Etsy, and she doesn't use a center. If you go by only the original instructions (they don't have a picture) for the Lenten rosary on the ELCA site, you wouldn't use a center. But since my rosaries are being made for Missouri Synod Lutherans, I'm following the Small Catechism plan rather than the one from ELCA (seeing as how the Missouri Synod refused to join ELCA when the group was forming).

That should be enough background to understand the photos. The first rosary shown uses a set of Maryse's (GlassBeadArt's) lampwork beads for the Sundays - the Easter bead is a store-bought porcelain bead:

I've made 5 more bodies that are waiting for centers and crosses, and more beads coming to make more rosaries. I have no idea how/if these will sell, so I'm going to make as many as I can before the show on October 23. While I'm waiting for more materials to arrive, I'd better work on the brochure.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What to Do with a Cat Sleeping on Your Lap

Since I've been basically trapped in my chair, I decided to go ahead and post the Etsy treasury I've been working on. It's a rather contrary response to a challenge to make a Halloween treasury - I decided to go with All Hallows instead of All Hallows' Eve. Items from four of our prayersonawire team members are included. And if you want, you can play "Find the Franciscans"; there are seven Franciscan saints represented - some of them are a bit tricky.

You can see the treasury here.

For those not familiar with Etsy treasuries, they're collections of things for sale that follow a certain theme.

Friday, October 8, 2010

More on Our Lady of the Rosary - and the Rosary

Someone in my SFO email discussion group shared this today. It's the St. Anthony Messenger "Saint of the Day" from yesterday, October 7, about Our Lady of the Rosary:

It gives some history as well as thoughts on why someone might want to pray the Rosary in the first place.


For the sake of tradition, here are a few of my more traditional-looking rosaries. As usual, a click on a picture will take you to more photos and a full description: 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Alas, Poor Luther

Occasionally, I'll run across a quote from Martin Luther that makes me feel sorry for him. I think he must have struggled against fear his entire life. I've just run across some meditations that support this. 

I've been invited to have a table at a craft fair at a Lutheran school towards the end of October, so I had to find instructions on how to make a Lutheran rosary and how to use it. I knew such a thing existed, with meditations based on Luther's Small Catechism, and it didn't take too long to find what I needed online. I read through everything, to see if there was anything I wasn't comfortable supporting, and didn't find a thing. There were a couple of implied disagreements with Catholic teaching, such as a meditation about having the "confidence to pray directly to God," which, of course, isn't a disagreement with Catholic teaching but may have been a disagreement with Luther's understanding of it - especially since so much of his own spirituality seems to come from fear.

Some examples:
  • On one set of beads, you have the choice of praying “For the sake of your name, O Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.” (Psalm 25:11) or “Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, for I am a sinner.”
  • At the end of the meditation on the ten commandments, the prayer is, "Save me Lord, I am afraid, I have not done all you have commanded.”
  • And one of the meditations says: When we are terrified by our own sins, we can seek assurance that God has selected us for salvation and forgives our sins.
There's nothing wrong with any of this, but it certainly does sound as if it was written by someone who knew what it was like to be afraid, and to be terrified by his own sins. For myself, I don't recall ever being terrified by my sins. Discouraged, frustrated, impatient, contrite and embarrassed, yes; terrified, not really.

In an essay elsewhere, I've put two analogies side by side. One is Luther's statement that human beings are like dungheaps and humans saved by faith in Christ are dungheaps covered with snow. The other is from Thérèse of Lisieux, who compared us humans to a small child who stands at the bottom of a staircase and wants to climb it because her father is at the top and she wants to go to him. The child lifts her little foot but her legs are too short to reach the next step. As she keeps trying, her father's heart fills with love and pity for her; he descends the stairs, picks her up and carries her in his arms to the top.

Both of those analogies make the point that we humans aren't capable of saving ourselves - there's no way we can earn our salvation. But I don't think of the little child as being "terrified" by her inability to climb the stairs, especially if (as Luther seems to have felt) that terror would be directed at her father. Unlike Luther's dungheaps, the small child doesn't need saving because she's basically evil, but simply because she's incapable.

Luther seems to have gone through a period in his life when he did believe he had to be responsible for his own salvation. In fact, that attitude became part of the sin that had to be repented of:
  • When we rely on ourselves for salvation, we turn away from God. The part of us that wants to do this must be drowned in contrition and repentance, so that a new person can arise and live before God in righteousness.
I don't think Thérèse suffered from the delusion that she had to rely on herself for salvation. Toward the end of her life, she did experience spiritual darkness, but seemingly not the fear that Luther battled. For Thérèse, "the good God" was always there, although there were times when she felt she couldn't reach Him. I think that difference between the two of them shows itself in many of the differences between their spiritualities. 


I haven't made any Lutheran rosaries yet, so how about some Anglican ones?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Happy Feast Day

I don't have any great thoughts to go along with this. I just wanted to wish a happy Solemnity of Francis of Assisi to all the SFO's, OSF's, OSC's, OFM's, OFMCap's, OFMConv's, TOR's, and any other Franciscans out there - and those who wish they were (you could be, you know).

The only wisdom I'll leave you with is my favorite quote attributed to Francis. I think it pretty much sums up Francis's life - and Franciscan life:

Preach the Gospel at all times. 
When necessary, use words.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Angels and Saints

I love Clarence in It's a Wonderful Life, but he's not an angel - he's a saint. Humans and angels are two different types of beings; people don't become angels after they die. A friend of my mom's stopped me on the way out of her funeral and said, "Now your mom's an angel," and I replied, "No, she's a saint." But if saints aren't angels, why do we have angels who are saints? (I don't know the answer to that.) In the story of Tobit, Raphael did take on definite human form. Gabriel became "human" enough to be understood by Zacharia and Mary. But as far as I know, Michael (who most often gets the "St." in front of his name) didn't have to take on human form in order to fight Lucifer.

I'm writing this between the feast of Michael, Gabriel and Raphael on September 29 and the memorial of the Guardian Angels on October 2. Unless my caffeine-deficient brain is forgetting someone, those are the only two official commemorations of angels on the liturgical calendar. The Liturgy of the Hours provides so much specific material for October 2 that it looks like a feast instead of a memorial, but, then, there's no "Common of Angels" to refer people to, so everything has to be provided on that date. .

To celebrate this time between the two angel days, I've made a rosary using a center that has two full-color pictures: St. Michael on one side and a guardian angel on the other. The colors used throughout the rosary coordinate with the backgrounds of the sky in the two pictures. (Note: These photos link to the full listing for each rosary.)


Speaking of saints, I've just sold another St. Gerard chaplet. I've lost count of how many of those I've sold (not that I make much money on them - I pretty much sell them at cost). The stories about St. Gerard don't give a clear reason for his becoming the patron of safe pregnancy and delivery, as well as of becoming a mother in the first place, but the job evidently keeps him pretty busy. As someone who's never really been into that kind of prayer, it fascinates me that these are so popular. I think a large part of the explanation is that in most cases the chaplet is being bought for someone else. It's a way for a friend to show compassion toward someone who needs support.

I haven't been particularly good at keeping these chaplets in stock. After I sell one it often takes me awhile to list another - and then as soon as I list it, it's bought. I've tried to do better this time, so here's the one I've just listed. Because I use leftover beads for these, each one is different. The one I just sold had faceted peridot glass beads. This one has yellow hearts of pressed glass:

I'm leery of promoting/selling something that could be taken as superstitious or theologically questionable. Following is the "disclaimer" I put at the bottom of the page whenever I list a St. Gerard chaplet: 

A note on praying to the saints:
Praying to the saints isn't magic, and it doesn't mean we can't pray directly to God. We simply ask the saints to pray for us and with us, as we would ask any Christian friend. Prayer doesn't "change God's mind," but in some way we don't completely understand it makes us partners with God in bringing about God's will, whatever that may be.


The third piece I took photos of today is also saint related. Its center has a full-color picture of St. Patrick on one side and St. Brigid on the other. It's my first step in rebuilding my collection of Irish-themed rosaries after that's dwindled to one. Following the St. Gerard chaplets, these are my best sellers, so it doesn't make much sense to leave the selection so sparse. This one's actually a repeat rather than a one-of-a-kind; I've already sold a few of these over the past year:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Scraping the Bottom

Okay, after reading this it will be obvious that I need some ideas on what I should write about here. Since it's not really a personal blog, I don't want to spend too much time ruminating on my own life but would like to post things helpful to people as far as rosary making or general Catholic geekery. And, of course, a mention of J.R.R. Tolkien whenever I can sneak one in (Tolkien being a traditional Catholic, that's not as farfetched as it might seem).

Jesse is putting up some novenas on the Prayers on a Wire team blog. He mentions that October is the month of the Rosary. I just thought I'd point out that the actual feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is October 7. It's probably best if we just forget the fact that the feast came about because of a military victory that the winners attributed to Mary's intervention. Anyway, for a novena to end on the feast day, it would have to be started on September 29.

Of course, "feast day" is a misnomer here, because Our Lady of the Rosary isn't a feast but a memorial. But it would be kind of confusing to talk about a "memorial day".- especially since there's a holiday with the same name. 

As I posted in the team thread, in case anyone doesn't know, the reason Catholics pray novenas (nine days of prayer) instead of septenas or decatenas is because of the nine days the disciples prayed in the upper room for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Because of that, about the only novena I really like to pray is one to the Holy Spirit that I keep in my Volume II of the Liturgy of the Hours so I can pray it between the feast (although it's really a solemnity) of the Ascension and Pentecost. However, Volume II is one of the two volumes I haven't been able to find since I moved the last time. I bought a new Volume IV a few weeks ago, and I'll probably have to buy a new Volume II before we get to Lent, but if so I'll kind of miss that novena.

Since we've already established a bit of goofiness here, how about my favorite (and only) joke about novenas? It loses a little by putting it into text instead of telling it live, but ---

A priest was hearing confessions. A man came into the confessional and said, "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. I stole some lumber."

The priest said, "Well, for your penance, say three Our Fathers."

Two weeks later, the man came back and said, "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. I stole some lumber."

The priest said, "Since this seems to be a problem for you, for your penance this time pray the rosary."

Two weeks later (you'll notice this is a good Catholic, as he goes to confession every two weeks) the man came back again and said, "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. I stole some lumber."

The priest said, "Now, this is starting to get pretty serious. Do you know how to make a novena?

The man said, "No, Father, but if you've got the blueprints, I've got the lumber."

---Of course, in the real life situation any good priest would make sure the man was also doing restitution, but that doesn't fit into the joke.

My all-time favorite confession joke requires sound effects so really can't be put into text. If anyone ever meets me in person, ask me about it and I'll be glad to act it out.

On that note, since we're moving into October soon, let's listen to two saints who have feast days* in October:

Saint Francis said that it's not fitting for disciples of Jesus to go around with sour looks and long faces.

Saint Teresa (not Saint Therese) said "God save us from gloomy saints."

*St. Francis' celebration is a memorial for the universal Church and a solemnity for Franciscans. For Franciscans, St. Francis trumps the Sunday, so on the evening of Sunday, October 3, use Evening Prayer I for the solemnity instead of Evening Prayer II for the Sunday. Now, that's just for Franciscans - everyone else, behave yourselves.

St. Teresa's celebration is a memorial for the universal Church and a solemnity for Discalced Carmelites (not for other Carmelites, I'm guessing, since they didn't go along with Teresa's reforms, but I don't have any personal knowledge of that). If I was still with the Carmelites, I'd get **two** recreation days out of it.


And because I have to, to placate the Etsy gods, here are some new rosaries. Clicking on a photo will take you to more photos and a description:

September birthstone rosary

October birthstone rosary

Autumn harvest rosary

And a custom order (so not for sale) Franciscan Crown rosary

Monday, September 13, 2010

Two New Treasuries

I've never had this happen before - two of my rosaries have been in Etsy treasuries within 24 hours! My "autumn colors apple cider" rosary is in a treasury called "Love in fall or fall in love," and my "leaf green" rosary is in one called "Left my heart in Ireland." Since views and clicks will move them up higher in the treasury listings, please take a peek.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Photographing the Angles

There's no way I'm going to try to give tips about taking good, professional photos for listing on Etsy or anywhere else. I can't tell a white balance from a light meter. But lately I've been noticing some rosary listings where it looks like someone took one photo and then cropped it differently to fill the five photo slots, or where multiple slots have been left empty. I think this is really wasting valuable opportunities, and I do have some ideas on how to change that.

It's easy to see how this is true with leaving slots empty. The problem with using only one basic photo and then cropping is that you're not showing customers anything new in the following pictures. They can see the details in the initial photo simply by zooming in on it; and, often enough, zooming in on the cropped photos just makes them pixellated. Jewelry sellers are often told to think of how a customer would look at a piece in person - picking it up, turning it over and around - and take photos that will show those customers the same thing by taking pictures from many different angles. This might not seem like a consideration for rosaries, but I think the same idea holds true there. If a customer were picking up your rosary in a store, what would they look at? Online you have the added advantage of being able to direct their views to what you want them to notice. Not that you won't show them everything, but you can emphasize what makes that rosary special.

So, for a quick trip through the angles I photograph most often:

First is an overall, horizontally-oriented view of the rosary. This may not end up in the first photo slot, but I try to photograph it as if it will: that is, so it will look good in both "gallery" and "list" views on Etsy. The reason for taking a horizontally-oriented shot, of course, is because gallery view is oriented that way. Following advice from the forum, I try to leave blank space at either end so that when the photo's cropped to a square for list view it'll still show the entire rosary. Sometimes I'm better at this than I am other times. Here are a couple of examples that came out pretty well, although I should have left a little more horizontal space on the ends:

The next thing I do, unless the center and cross are completely blank on their reverse sides, is flip the rosary over and take another shot of the full rosary. This one probably won't end up as the first photo, so you don't have to worry too much about what the thumbnail will look like. If you want to show a vertical view of the entire rosary, this is the place to do it.(In the first example shown, the backs of both cross and center are blank.):

After that, I turn on my macro (the only piece of technical advice I'll give) and start taking close-ups:.two of the stem, showing both sides of the center and cross (often even if the backs are completely blank) and one of part of the body of the rosary showing examples of the "Hail Mary" and "Our Father" beads. In the actual listing, these can be zoomed in on to show more detail than you see here:

That adds up to five views. Depending on your photography skills, you may want to take multiple photos for each view. I generally do 6 or 7 of each, meaning I take around 35 photos of each rosary. Out of those, usually at least one of each view will be good enough to use, although there are times I use only four pictures or even go back and reshoot because some are too blurry. 

I don't always follow this exactly. For example, if I'm using stones for the "Our Father" beads that look very different from each other - such as some kinds of jasper - I might take two close-ups of the body and only one of the stem, so I can show close-ups of all of those stones. Or, as in the example shown below of a set of lampwork beads that are all distinctly different from each other, it might be possible to show all of them in one shot. If a rosary has a special feature, you may want to show it from more than one angle, and drop out one of the other views.

The first photo taken doesn't have to be the first one shown. Quite often a shot of the entire rosary looks too generic, and one of the close-ups is a better choice. You can try different options and see which one best represents the look and feel of that particular rosary. Pay special attention to what a photo looks like as a thumbnail, since that's what needs to draw a customer to take a closer look.

And, yes, you'll find lots of examples in my shop where I haven't followed my own advice, either intentionally or unintentionally. As I said, I'm certainly no expert in photography. But I hope this has given some ideas on how to add more views to your listings, to better "show off" your rosaries to Etsy shoppers.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Doing Less of...

I generally take a peek at the weekly list of blog articles Etsy admin posts regarding small business topics. Some of them I'll read all the way through, and some not. There was one this week that has me thinking, and I haven't completely come to an answer yet.

The article was titled, "What Will You Do Less Of?" and pointed out the obvious fact that so many of us live already packed lives but keep adding things to it - or at least planning to add things to it. New goals, new activities, or maybe spending more time on current ones. If our lives aren't going to come apart at the seams, that means something has to be removed.

I added a lot to my life last fall when I got into making rosaries and started my Etsy shop. Now I've added a second shop. I've just gotten a new Volume IV of the Liturgy of the Hours to replace the one I've finally admitted is lost so, of course, I plan to pray the Office more. And I keep intending to get more involved with my Secular Franciscan community (some serious overinvolvement led to a meltdown that's made me completely uninvolved). And I'm always vowing to clean my apartment and get more exercise.

So what can I do less of?

Spending time on the Etsy forum comes to mind first. I've learned a lot there, but now it seems I'm learning the same stuff over and over. I'll still spend some time there so I don't miss important announcements and news, but I can definitely cut down. My rebellion against that cutting down is to say, "But I have to have something I can do while I'm drinking my coffee!" Well, it's getting close to the equinox which means pretty soon I'll be spending 40 minutes a day using my prescription anti-SAD lamp. I can't do that at the computer, but I can do it while drinking coffee. It's usually been a good time for reading. I'm not sure I can really pray the Office while drinking coffee, but I might give it a shot.

The Etsy shop really does complicate things. Besides the time it takes to make rosaries, photograph them, list them, and mail out any I happen to sell, there are supplies to worry about. Right now I have a shipment from India that I'll most likely have to pick up myself at the FedEx office; that seller was the only one I could find who had a particular kind of pearl that a possible customer wants for a custom rosary (no, I don't even know if she's going to buy it yet). But if I cut down on the shopping and buying except when it's necessary for a custom order, or when I'm running out of something I really need - like beading wire - that would help a lot. And I have an incentive now because I'm broke. I don't know that I could shut down the Etsy shop right now - I have too much money invested in it. But I can cut down on the shopping and use up the supplies I have. The rosary making has slowed down some from the days of building inventory, when I used to make a half dozen a week, but if I just go with current supplies it could slow down even more. I already spend very little time on marketing/promotion.

I obviously can't give up my day job. But I can concentrate on leaving the office at the end of the day when I'm supposed to. Being able to leave everything behind is one of the few perks of being on wages instead of salary, and I'm not taking advantage of it. I generally waste at least an hour a day by not going home when I should.

So... we'll see.

None of these specific things was mentioned  in the article I read, but it made me think. You might not have any of the same issues, but possibly you can think of your own. I'm certainly not finished with the process yet (but I have to leave for work).

Friday, September 3, 2010

More Than You Wanted to Know

During this last week, I went from a high of 132 items in my Etsy shop to 114. Although about half of the drop is attributable to purchases, the other half is simply due to the end of my "Christmas in July/August" sale, which was a true clearance sale - anything left isn't going back to a regular price but is disappearing from the shop to be remade. As you might guess, the rosaries in that sale were the ones that have been sitting in the shop for the longest time - most of them were made in 2009.

When you make things by hand, you're always gradually improving. While there's nothing wrong with those earlier rosaries, they're not quite as well made as the ones I'm making now. Around the beginning of 2010, something happened that made a not-so-gradual change: I discovered tornado crimps. Once I started using them, I never went back to traditional crimps, and the dividing line for what went into the sale was pre- and post-discovery. I wanted to be able to say that every rosary in the shop was made with tornado crimps, and now I can! I was going to post a picture here of a rosary with a good view of the tornado crimps, but even with the close-ups you have to enlarge the picture to really see the them, and I don't know of any way to do that on the blog. But you can see them now on any rosary in my shop if you enlarge a closeup of the center and crucifix. The telltale sign is the spiral around the crimp, which looks like diagonal lines in the photos. (There are four crimps on every rosary: three connecting the center and one holding on the crucifix.)

Some people don't like tornado crimps because they're not quite as pretty as traditional crimps used with a crimp cover (a metal bead placed around the crimp so you don't see it). A crimp cover doesn't fit around a tornado crimp. Most of the people who don't like them make jewelry, and if I were making jewelry I might agree. But I consider rosaries to be functional objects - it's a plus if they look nice, but that's not their main purpose. And one thing tornado crimps are is strong. Once they're on, they're there to stay. If for some reason I need to undo one, I have to take my memory wire cutters to it.

That's probably more than anyone wants to know about tornado crimps. I can't tell you why they work as well as they do, but I assume it has something to do with that spiral design. This is supported by the fact that the wires have to run through it in a specific arrangement in order for it to work well. That takes a little more care than traditional crimps, but it's nothing compared to what I used to go through with crimp bead covers. And, besides, they're just so strong.


In more important news, the Prayers on a Wire Etsy Team is having its first blog giveaway, which happens to be one of my rosaries. There are a lot of options for entering, so please check it out.


Just yesterday, the mail brought some opals I've been waiting for in order to make an October birthstone rosary. That will get done hopefully this weekend. In the meantime, here are rosaries for September and November. Also, in honor of the sapphire month, all the rosaries featured in the righthand column of the blog are blue. As usual, clicking on a picture will take you to more photos and a full description:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

New Toy

My new printer came. So I've been playing with it when I've had a chance the last couple of days. Serious playing. First, I figured out how to print greeting cards on it. Then I worked on the proper settings to print out 12x12 scrapbooking pages, and started going through the thousands of tiling backgrounds I've made to find ones that print out well. So I'm now at the point where I could start doing what I came to Etsy to do in the first place: sell paper goods of my own design. (In fact, the link to Etsy in my bookmarks is in the "paper and cards" file.) Since printables aren't one-of-a-kind, like my rosaries, I can even try selling them on more than one site.

So, does that mean I won't be making rosaries anymore? No, I'm working on one right now. But it does mean that I won't be making as many rosaries as fast. Since I now stand at 130 items in my shop, building inventory isn't as big a drive as it used to be. This is true even though a half-dozen of those items are destash (supplies I bought that I've decided I'm not going to use), and what's left in the Christmas in July/August Sale section will be going out of the shop at the end of August to be remade into new things.

Some destash:

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Thought-Provoking Question

I'm filling out a questionnaire this weekend. One of the questions is how my faith relates to my rosary making. I've noticed that not everyone who's had their replies posted so far has answered this question, but I'm going to try to tackle it. The following will be a "thinking out loud" to figure out what I'm going to say.

As I said in an earlier post, I don't pray the Rosary much, which makes this a more difficult question. I certainly wouldn't be making them if I weren't Catholic (although some non-Catholics do) and I wouldn't make Franciscan Crowns if I weren't Franciscan. I don't mind making Anglican rosaries because, at the base, they're ecumenically Christian. But I don't plan to ever make a Lutheran rosary, even though they exist, because they're specifically Lutheran, based on Luther's Little Catechism; I'd feel as if I were poking my nose uninvited into someone else's religion. Same thing with Buddhist malas or Islamic prayer beads. If a Lutheran or Buddhist or Moslem asked me to make a religion-specific set of beads for them, I would, because they'd be inviting me to (that's how I got started making Anglican rosaries).

So, in that sense, my "faith" has a lot to do with my rosary making. I'm a Catholicism geek, so I love all the little in's and out's and why's of putting rosaries and an occasional chaplet together. And being Catholic means I'm part of the family, so I don't mind providing spiritually useful things to other members of the family even if it's not something I would choose - kind of like making sure someone has a birthday cake if that's important to them, even if all I care about on my own birthday is the ice cream. 

But, of course, talking about "the Catholic faith" is a very limited use of the word "faith," and I don't think it's all the writer of the question had in mind. It's a bit tougher to explain what rosary making has to do with my spirituality.

One of the things I miss about the Carmelites is how the work that's done each day is meant to be work that can be done in a state of recollection. I spent a lot of time working in the garden and the kitchen. This is a luxury I don't have at my current job, where I pretty much have to be actively using my mind all the time. But it is something I have while I'm making rosaries. If there's something I specifically want to watch on TV, I might turn it on, but it's usually off, I'm not someone who fills silence with the radio or other music - I love music, and when I listen to it I tend to get completely pulled into the music, so listening to it while I'm doing something else is really difficult. I also love silence - I'd probably make a good anchoress if the job still existed (I don't know about a hermit - anchoresses tended to have lots of people come to visit them for spiritual conversation). Since I live alone, there's not much to bother me while I'm engaged in rosary making except for the cat, the occasional phone call, and the constant feeling that I should really be cleaning my apartment. Rosary making does take some thought, but most of it usually precedes the actual work, while I'm deciding what beads and findings to use.

This could be an ideal situation. The fact that it isn't is mostly my own fault, for a couple of reasons. First, I'm not involved enough in Christian community, specifically my Secular Franciscan fraternity. Several years ago I overloaded on "involvement" and the house of cards finally collapsed under its own weight, so I'm more leery than I should be about any involvement at all. Second, I need to pray the Liturgy of the Hours more regularly, so that thoughts coming into my head are related to psalms and other scripture passages instead of the latest song I heard piped in while at the grocery store (currently we're working on "Good Morning, Starshine"). My recollection would also be better if I actually did clean my apartment and then kept up with it, so I could spend my rosary making time without feeling guilty.

I'm grateful for this question, since it got me thinking about what I need to do to make the experience more faith-filled.

A few of my rosaries that I'd pick for prayer, if I used such things. As usual, clicking on a picture will take you to more photos and a full description:

Friday, August 6, 2010

August 6

Ever since I was old enough to notice such things, August 6 has been an intriguing date to me. Is it simply coincidence that the first atomic bomb was dropped on the feast of the Transfiguration? I'm sure it's not among the reasons the date was picked (I'm not even sure August 6 was the feast of the Transfiguration during the 1940's). I find my thoughts about it coming from two different directions.

My first, almost subliminal, reaction is to notice the similarity between both events as explosions of light and displays of power.

But that's where the similarity ends. The power displayed in each event is poles apart. That of the atomic bomb is destructive and supremely impersonal. That of the Transfiguration is life-giving and supremely personal. It's also self-giving in a way that no bomb can be. The glory we see in Christ at that point is based on his total gift of self, not on any desire to draw power to himself or to have power over others.

If I may be allowed a Tolkien digression (since he provided the title of this blog, it seems right to bring him up occasionally): he said that none of the characters in The Lord of the Rings is a Christ figure and, because they all have their own flaws and faults, I totally accept that. He said specifically, when asked, that Frodo was not a Christ figure because, in the end, he failed - as any finite creature would have. But like several of the main characters in the book, Frodo also has some Christ-like qualities. The most obvious, to me, at least, is his total gift of self. Unlike Christ, Frodo's "all" simply wasn't enough. His moment of transfiguration is also simpler, and witnessed by only one faithful follower, as Sam sees light coming from within him and thinks, "He's like that, and sometimes it shines through somehow." It might be interesting to apply Sam's reflection to Christ's Transfiguration. What Peter, James, and John saw in that event was always the truth - just not always visible: "He's like that, and sometimes it shines through somehow."

For many more reflections on Tolkien, see my The Lord of the Rings as a Fundamentally Catholic and Religious Work

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Is I an Artist?

There's a thread on the Etsy forum about how people who make their own beads can be dismissive of those who "just" assemble ready-made components into jewelry. The consensus was that it takes a good eye and a lot of creativity to put together a beautiful, unique piece of jewelry.

I sometimes feel like I'm a rung below someone who makes jewelry, because I really just "string beads". I don't even use headpins. I do have to be able to count to ten. Other than that, I just choose two kinds of beads to put together... and what spacing beads to use... and which center and cross. The one thing I do that may be technically more difficult than making jewelry is getting the tension just right when making the second attachment to the center. Most jewelry doesn't involve a "closed system" like that, where the ends can't be adjusted separately.

Another consideration with rosaries is usability. How much space is needed between the beads and how is that affected by different sizes and types of beads? I'm working on one now with narrow beads where color contrast becomes an issue in telling where one bead ends and the next one begins. The fact that I like to use all different sizes and shapes and types of beads makes usability more challenging - and more fun. Not huge decisions in the broad scheme of things, but they at least make me feel creative.

I like the line some of the jewelry makers use when someone at a craft fair comes out with, "I could make that." The reply is, "Sure, you could, but will you?" Not only will you put the pieces together, but will you take the time to hunt for the best pieces to be put together?

Here are a few of what I consider my more "artistic" pieces - these all happen to be Franciscan Crowns. Clicking on a photo will take you to more photographs and a description:

Monday, August 2, 2010

Christmas in August

Just a short note to say that in my Etsy shop, the "Christmas in July" sale is continuing into a "Christmas in August" sale. I'm leaving all of the sale items in the special shop section, with each rosary still marked down to $10 apiece. Click on just about any picture in this blog to get to the shop.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


There've been a couple of comments about the new woman in some of my photos, so I thought I'd introduce her. I think of her as the "fiat woman".

I first met her when I was in college. She was in the chapel at a retreat house I went to occasionally. It was an informal chapel where you could sit on the floor, and since she was also on the floor I saw a lot of her. What impressed me then - and still does - is her posture of total openness. Hands open at her sides, head facing forward to whatever might come. A complete fiat ("let it be") attitude. But it's not a passive openness; her hands aren't relaxed and she's leaning forward as if she's listening intently to something. Her eyes are open, not closed in contemplation. She's actively holding herself open.

I hadn't seen her since college, except for a few years in the Abbey Press catalog. I didn't have the money or the space for something as frivolous as a statue, so I didn't buy her although I wanted to.

Then, a few weeks ago, I unexpectedly saw her looking at me from a vintage shop on Etsy (I don't need a reminder that anything from my college days is now considered vintage). Her description there was as an "ethnic woman"; the seller hadn't been able to figure out what ethnicity she was, so listed a number of possibilities. This surprised me, as I'd never thought of her in that way. In fact, one of the things I've always liked about her is that she's really an everywoman. Her features are undefined enough that you can see anyone - even yourself - in her. Maybe that's why the seller had a hard time connecting her to one ethnic group.

For the same reason, I've never thought of her as being Mary. Although Mary's "Fiat" can be a model for us, we each have our own fiat moments - some big and life changing, others so buried in everyday life that we may not even notice them. She reminds me to be aware of those moments, rather than drifting along not paying much attention to how I make decisions, large and small. Am I responding to God's call? Am I even recognizing God's call?

So I'm glad to have her back; I need those reminders. And, yes, she'll show up in my photos from time to time when I'm listing rosaries that aren't too large for her to hold. Because of her vertical orientation, she probably won't be in the first photo very often; she'll have to be looked for.

Even though I don't see her as "Mother Mary," I find her very much "speaking words of wisdom: Let it be."

Monday, July 26, 2010

Another Push for "Christmas in July"

Ever heard of a Cyber Monday for Christmas in July sales? Me neither, but it's today, and someone posted about it at Etsy so I said I'd mention it here. Evidently Target started it (according to the poster).

I guess it does give some notice that this is the last Monday of the sales being run by people - like me - who are having them through the end of the month. This coming Saturday is the end of July.

So anyone who does their internet shopping at work has to get on the ball. If you've had your eye on something, now's the time. My "Etsy mini" running in the right-hand column of this page is already full of my on-sale-for-$10.00 items, but here are a few more (click on a picture to see more photos and a full description):

...and they'll be gone after Saturday.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

It Can't Be

To anyone reading this: I seriously need to sell some rosaries. Not only do I have 122 of them in my Etsy shop (124 by the time I finish listing this morning) but I'm running out of rosaries to make - which I didn't think was possible, because I had so many of the parts grouped in little plastic bags just waiting to be put together. But back when money was coming in because people were buying Easter and Mother's Day gifts I got brave and decided that I wasn't going to add funds to my PayPal account: anything I spent would have to come from sales. And there haven't been too many of them lately. There have been some, for which I'm very grateful - I had enough to buy two sets of lampwork beads to go with two sets of glass pearls that were still waiting for "Our Father" beads. But otherwise I'm starting to catch up with myself.

This could get serious. I might even have to start cleaning my apartment.

I do have a whole group of rosaries that need to be taken apart and restrung. When I got my one neutral feedback on Etsy because some of the seed beads broke on a rosary, I pulled all the rosaries made with those same seed beads. They've been sitting in the inactive section waiting to be remade with better (I hope) beads. Since the broken beads were green, these include half of my Irish-themed rosaries; I'm down to two of those in my shop, so I really need to get them listed again. I haven't been taking care of this because, of course, it's not as much fun as making new rosaries.

But it might be better than cleaning my apartment.

I now have three rosaries listed that have lockets as centers - two copper ones and one gold-tone. I feel kind of proud of myself for having found these. The seller had them listed as "connectors" and said there was "a woman" on them. Well, the connections are set up perfectly for a rosary, and the woman is Our Lady of Grace. I think, myself, that it would be kind of fun to have a rosary with a locket on it. It would make a great gift. Anyway, here are the current three. Clicking on one will take you to more photos and a full description: