Of Cufflinks and Wedding Bands

My fiance* and I are huge geeks and also gamers.  In fact, we met while playing an MMO; insert your own joke here about love stories in the age of the internet.  While we both love geeky things, we are a little on the traditional side and didn’t want a geekery-themed wedding.  Instead, we decided on some subtle touches that spoke to our love of games.  That said, when it came time to look for a wedding gift for Dave, and for his wedding band, I looked first to jewelry that spoke to this passion for gaming.

I decided pretty quickly on getting him cufflinks for a wedding gift.  I wanted to get him something Star Wars themed, since he is obsessed with Star Wars.  He told me many times that he likes the Old Republic symbol (it is blue and white I believe), and I thought that it would make a pretty good cufflink design.

oldrepublicOld Republic symbol. I call it the star birdy thing.

After a little google-fu, I soon found Austin Moore of Earth Art Gems.  He has a really awesome portfolio of work, including lots of geek-themed jewelry, and seemed like the perfect person to reach out to regarding creating these Star Wars cufflinks.

Austin is very friendly and cooked up a CAD design for me at lightning speed.  I showed the CAD to Dave and he was thrilled, so I went ahead and ordered them.


Austin’s Original CAD of the design.

Just a few weeks later, they arrived at my house.



Dave loves them, and he can’t wait to wear them at the wedding. :)

Next came the search for wedding bands.  My wedding band was easy; I just picked a band that matches my engagement ring (close enough anyway).  Here she is:


Fine Twig ring from Alex Monroe

 Dave’s band, however, was more complicated. Dave doesn’t like jewelry in general and really doesn’t like having things on his hands.  I am not fussed about whether or not he wears a ring, but his parents were pretty insistent that he wear a ring.  After receiving a mild talking-to he decided that he would, at the very least, try wearing a ring. Then, the hunt for the ring was on.

I wanted Dave to have a band that he really likes.  I figured it he likes the ring, it will be more appealing to wear it. Luckily, Dave has many interests, so finding a design he would like sounded like a piece of cake.  My first instinct was to get him a ring that matched his cufflinks. But, Dave wasn’t interested. Then, I started looking at Zelda designs since I know he loves Zelda; plus, who can resist a chance to have a ring inscribed with “it’s dangerous to go alone?”  These were better, but still not what he wanted.


 Dave is a man of few words.  To complicate things, many of his ‘words’ are cleverly disguised as grunts and sighs.  Normally this is not a problem since I talk enough for the both of us and probably several additional people. The problem became that Dave was not quite sure what he wanted.  And then, when we got closer to what he wanted, he wasn’t very good at verbalizing the difference between what was good about a design and what he wanted to change.  This is probably because Dave has very little interest in jewelry to begin with, which I don’t blame him for, and it gave us something to collaborate on as partners, which is the whole point of being married, right?

There were many designs that I showed him that he liked, but that were not quite what he wanted.  But, since he didn’t know how to say what changes he wanted, he instead made this sound of mild disapproval.  I call this sound “murr”-ing. It turned into a game of Pictionary. I would show him a picture and ask if it was what he wanted. He would say it was fine, then murr at me.  Despite the intense murring, I eventually managed to find this design which was so close to what Dave wanted that it became easy for him to pinpoint what about the ring he liked, and what he wanted to change.  This is the design we landed on:

alliedAllied in Love by Paul Bierker

 Dave loves paladins, and always plays a paladin character. But, he has moved on from WoW so he didn’t really want a WoW-related ring.  He wanted something more generally paladin-esque. So, I decided to reach back out to Austin Moore to see if he could create something paladin themed for Dave’s wedding band.  We actually had two designs made because we were having some trouble sussing out the details and were debating the cost.


Inspiration: Paladin Icon from FFXIV


First CAD design.


Final Design


The Real Deal!

 Now I have Dave’s cufflinks and wedding band sitting on my desk at home, just waiting for our October wedding!

*Technically, we are already married. We got our marriage certificate after getting engaged in February, but are having our wedding ceremony in October.

Saying Yes To the Dress

After becoming engaged, one of the first things I did was start looking at dress pictures. What can I say? I love fashion, and the ultimate fashion statement is the wedding gown. After a few weeks of mooning over dresses, I narrowed down my interest the below three dresses were my ‘dream’ dresses – they all had elements that I loved, but were far out of my price range. While they were out of my range, they gave me a good idea of what I liked in a dress.

swanlakeSwan Lake by Paolo Sebastian


Also Paolo Sebastian

giselleGiselle by Galia Lahav

From there, I started looking into bridal stores, and comparing their offerings against the expensive designer gowns that appealed to me. So, armed with a battalion of photos and some preconceptions of what would and wouldn’t look good on me, I made appointments at three local bridal shops in early October.

My first appointment was on a busy Saturday at a David’s Bridal in Jacksonville. I say appointment, but we actually just walked in and got very lucky. I learned a lot about wedding dresses that day, and especially about what kinds of dresses looked nice on me. The one thing that I thought would look bad – dropped waists – actually looked really nice. The dresses I assumed I would love just didn’t do it for me.

This was the dress that my Mom and Grandma fell in love with at David’s Bridal. It looked pretty good on me (Grandma was ready to buy it then and there!) but I felt like it made me look older. I love a good old Hollywood style gown, but I didn’t want to feel old on my wedding day. Plus, my vision had more of a tulle, faerie airy garden feel.


Next, we had an appointment with The White Magnolia. We arrived a few minutes early, but didn’t come in until right at the appointment start time since we knew they are appointment only and often very busy. Unfortunately, the bride before me wasn’t quite done with her appointment and we ended up waiting half an hour. We had been asked when we made the appointment if we wanted champagne, and I said yes, but we weren’t offered any. It was a disappointing start to what I was really hoping would be a special experience.

When my appointment finally started, I tried on quite a few dresses that looked good, but got caught between two dresses. One was a fabulous mermaid, and the other was the dress I actually ended up purchasing and fit my vision of a light and airy faerie tulle gown – which shall remain nameless so that Dave won’t see it by accident! I saw the mermaid and fell in love at first sight, and liked how it felt on but I wasn’t a hundred percent convinced.


The distractable mermaid dress that I didn’t buy.

You see, I always thought I would be the kind of girl who had a ‘moment’ when they found the right dress. I was waiting to look in the mirror and suddenly become overwhelmed with joy and tears. That’s not what happened for me. I looked at myself and felt satisfied, that the dress looked nice, it fit my vision, and was in my price range. I was content, not overjoyed. So, I went home and slept on it. When I woke up, I looked at the pictures my Mom took of myself in the two dresses, and realized that the mermaid just wasn’t for me.

A few weeks later, my Dad and I made an appointment to go back to The White Magnolia and look at the dress, as Dad had very generously agreed to pay for my dress. I specifically asked for the champagne this time when I made my second appointment (the previous time the appointment setter asked me, which is their usual procedure from what I understand), and unfortunately when we arrived it wasn’t ready – but this may be because we did come in a few minutes early (roughly five minutes) and the store hadn’t really set up yet. Despite this unpreparedness on the store’s behalf, putting on the dress and seeing myself in the mirror, and the way my Dad looked at me, sealed the deal for me. Dad surprised me by paying in full for the dress that same day.

Now, although I tried my dress on with a nude slip, I ordered a white one. I agreed with my Mom who felt it would feel more bridal. But, in January I had a moment of panic wondering if I made the right choice, and tried to call the bridal shop to change the slip color. Apparently this isn’t an uncommon occurrence, and the Kerri from The White Magnolia was very kind and understanding about my sudden case of dress regret. She told me that if the dress was in production, we couldn’t make any changes, but she also assured me that if I didn’t like the slip after I saw it in person that I could buy an additional one in the nude color from the designer.

Fortunately, my dress was already in production and the color couldn’t be changed. I say fortunately, because the white slip was definitely the right choice! The dress came into the store in early February and once I got to see it and try it on, everything was right again with the world.

We took the dress home and it has been stuffed into my closet ever since. I’ve been working hard to lose some weight, so in a few months I’ll make an appointment to have my dress altered – both for my short stature, and for my (hopefully!) slimmer figure.

Of Diamonds and Rings

Now that our Engagement has been announced, I figured it would be a good time to start blogging about the engagement an wedding planning process!

Dave and I didn’t have a typical engagement. There was no bended knee and roses. It was over a Skype call after I returned home from a visit to Canada. We were distraught at being apart again and wanted to start a life together. We couldn’t think of any reason why we wouldn’t want to get married, and it would make it easier for me to immigrate to Canada – which we had already been planning. So, why not? We love each other. Let’s get married.

That was in September 2014. On Valentine’s Day 2015, I finally got my ring. Having the ring made was a wonderful, and occasionally stressful, process – but I wouldn’t change a thing.

When we started looking at rings, I basically knew what I wanted. My favorite jewelry designer is UK-based Alex Monroe, so deciding on a designer was easy. I was originally interested in the Wild Posy Twist ring pictured below – but it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for.

posytwistI got in touch with Susie from the bespoke area, and told her I was really interested in cherry blossoms rather than posies and she let me know that they had a past collection that featured cherry blossoms. I still wasn’t 100% sure if I wanted posies or cherry blossoms, and I’m sure I harassed her quite a bit, and got multiple quotes based on different designs and stones. Here’s a photo of the example ring with a stone for visualization purposes:

ringuIn the end cherry blossoms were just right. We decided to do stones in each of the flowers, have the flowers in rose gold and the band in white gold – to mimic the look of a cherry tree. I ended up purchasing a .47 carat lab created diamond and had Alex Monroe source two smaller morganites to fill the smaller blossoms. I think of the diamond as my science magic diamond.

We finalized our order with just enough time for Alex Monroe’s studio to finish the ring before Valentine’s Day weekend, when Dave was intending on visiting for an ‘official’ proposal. During production, Susie let us know that morganites at the small size required for the smaller blossoms were too pale a pink – basically clear – and suggested using pink sapphires instead. I was concerned about the cost difference, but Susie told us that since this was a change form our original quote that the studio would be willing to cover the difference to ensure we got the perfect ring. How sweet! We went with the sapphires, and I really can’t think her enough for making my dream ring possible.

We ran into some issues with customs – apparently a diamond traveling from the US to the UK then to Canada is a bit complicated – but in the end it safely arrived at Dave’s work, where he let his co-workers puzzle over the Mystery Box on his desk. Behold, the mystery box.

download_20150219_222239Dave proposed to me officially on Valentine’s Day in the morning. It was just the two of us, and we had fun surprising my Mom at breakfast. Without further ado, here is the completed ring – my precioussss!


Lovely Limoncello

I have always loved experimenting with food, and every once in a while I decide to try something new. A month or so ago I saw a recipe on Gizmodo about Limoncello.  I love lemonade in all its myriad forms and occasionally enjoy flavored vodkas (mixed into other things of course), and decided that this sounded like something fun to try.

Of course I decided to put a little twist on things. I made two versions; one with a little lavender, and a second without. I added the lavender to the satchel with the lemons.  I haven’t had a chance to try it yet so I’m not sure it’s made a difference, but we’ll see soon enough. limoncellos

I purchased some cute tear shaped bottles from Save On Crafts. With my one bottle of vodka, I made five smaller bottles of limoncello; I think I actually used too much simple syrup, but I like things sweet and the vodka smelled very strong to me, so I guess we’ll just have to see. I’m waiting for the bottles to chill in the freezer before I try it.

Fragments and Hollow

I have been plugging away (very slowly) at new pages for Fragments, my graphic novel that’s been years in the making. The last version I did was pretty close to what I wanted, but not quite. I feel that I’m closer now that I’m working in cool and warm grays and in marker instead of digital. I’ve never been especially fond of or good at digital coloring; maybe with more practice I could get somewhere, but something about the feel of the marker in my hand feels right. I’ve never felt as good about a digital piece as I have about something done traditionally. That’s not to say that I don’t value digital work of course – I would love to put more time and practice into it – but I feel more natural working with markers, pens and paints. I’ll post up some comparisons this weekend of an old page vs. a new page in markers.

I also wanted to mention that I have been working on an outline for a new story called Hollow. Fragments heavily features insomnia/loss of memory, and I think Hollow follows along a similar route but without the fantastical element. Hollow is based on something that happened to me in real life, mixed together with a little bit of everything else.

While I was in college one of my good friends from high school passed away. Well, passed away isn’t really the truth of it. The truth is that he took his own life. The truth is not what I was originally told, and the discovery of this truth was terrible. Originally I was told that he died heroically, saving other people. I can see why friends and family members would want him to be remembered this way, why they would not want to share the truth, but that just makes it harder when the truth finally comes out.

After learning the truth I started experiencing strange things in my apartment in Savannah. My doorbell started ringing randomly; it didn’t have any predictable pattern. It happened in the day and at night, rain or shine. If I went outside to look for ding dong  ditchers there was never anyone there. I started to have an inkling in the back of my mind that maybe I was being haunted by my friend; that he felt I should have helped him, answered his calls. I have never been superstitious, so I ignored that feeling.  The random ringing started to get annoying after a few weeks, and I eventually removed the doorbell.

But the doorbell didn’t stop ringing. That’s when the sneaking feeling in the back of my mind turned to full blown paranoia. I went outside to talk to the ghost, to ask for a sign. It was raining a lot at the time and I remember getting drenched with rain. Then, after another week or so, my cat decided to mess around with the door to the little closet holding the air conditioning unit. She got her claws stuck in the slats of the door, and I had to rescue her.  That’s when I found it; a second doorbell. It was tucked in beside the air conditioning unit.

My house had had two doorbells the entire time. I took out the first one,  but the second one was still there. It probably got shorted during one of the frequent storms that pass through the southeastern US, and that’s why it was ringing so randomly.
After I took it out, I never had a problem with the ringing again.

In a way, it was disappointing. On the one hand it was good to know I wasn’t going crazy, but on the other it was sad to have let the ghost go – to come to the finite conclusion that my friend was gone. Hollow is going to deal with these elements, a kind of discussion of coping with suicide. I’m planning on writing it out as a novel, maybe for NaNoWriMo, but I think it would actually end up working better as a comic. We’ll just have to see where this all goes.



Portraits I

Last week I fell behind a bit; more out of laziness than anything else. I have been working on artwork, just didn’t get around to documenting it on the blog last week.  I have been doing art related to my comics, in preparation for the One Spark Festival. I’m going to be participating as a Creator and trying to get funding for my graphic novel, Fragments.

I’ve been working on Fragments on and off since high school, so I think it’s about time I actually move forward with completing it. I drew almost the entire first chapter a few years ago, but was unsatisfied with the result. So, I’m working on a new version and I think this is going to be it.

I’ve also been working on a quilt project related to Portal, and I did some portraits for one of my workmates, Ny. They were pretty easy to do since they were based on photographs, and of course it was fun as well.  Here are some sketches and the final results.

The actual size of each piece is about 8.5×11. I charged her fifteen dollars for each one. Took me a few hours per piece to finish them. I think they turned out well. :) I’ll probably be doing more at the One Spark Festival, which I will be announcing more information on in the coming weeks; once the venue for my project is decided!


The Vegas Showbride

It’s been a long couple of weeks. I spent the majority of last weekend rolling around in my bed with a fever and cough and trying not to overdo it on nyquil, which makes me pretty loopy (no surprise there; pretty sure anyone who takes nyquil feels a bit loopy). I started feeling better last week, but it took a while for my ears to clear out.

Unfortunately, my co-worker Diane forgot to take the sparkly light-up kanzashi headband with her to Vegas; since she didn’t wear it she’s returning it to me and I’m still deciding if I want to put it in the Shop (which would make the shop less barren and empty, haha) or feature it in a giveaway or some kind of charity event. I’m not sure yet but I’ll let you all know when I figure it out.

Anyway, to celebrate my recovery from the clutches of the sinus plague, here I am revealing the long-awaited Vegas Showbride kanzashi headband:


Tadah! I think it did turn out pretty well, but I’m not sure when I’ll be approaching kanzashi again. I’ve got some other plans for the next few months so you’ll just have to stay tuned to find out.

And, of course, here’s a gallery of additional pictures:


Heather’s Orchid Pins

As I mentioned before, I did make some kanzashi as Christmas gifts this past December. this is one of my early projects, made just after I finished the dragonfly piece. They are a set of pins that I tried to make look like orchids. My sister-in-law, Heather, wore blue orchids in her hair during her wedding. Those are long gone, so I thought it would be nice to make ones that last.


I’m not a hundred percent sure I succeeded; they are reminiscent of orchids but don’t look exactly like them.

My second goal was to try different color combinations and use doubled petals. Some of the combinations worked better; the first one didn’t have enough of a color difference for it to be noticeable, unfortunately, but Heather liked them and that’s what matters. My favorite one is definitely the one with the leaves and silver deco wire.

That’s all for today. :) Until next time!



Fear of Success

My friend Allison has told me before that my biggest problem is not fear of failure, but fear of success. I’m not afraid of being good at things; I know that should I decide to work on something that I can execute it well. What I am afraid of are the expectations people will have of me if I do succeed. When people start expecting that I should make interesting, beautiful artwork I start feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Suddenly, I am making extensive lists of things I need to do and obsessing over having these lists in perfect order. I spend more time making lists than making art, and even it does nothing to alleviate my anxiety.

Last week Fear of Success and I met again. A couple weeks ago I found some interesting floral lights at WalMart before work. I bought a few of them thinking they would make and interesting addition to my kanzashi work. When I got to work I shared my discovery with my co-workers and explained my idea of making a light up head piece mounted on a headband. My co-worker Diane immediately said ‘If you make it, I’ll buy it from you’.  CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. D:

Since she’s getting married soon I suggested making something for her bachelorette party. Little did I know that her bachelorette party was actually the following weekend in Las Vegas. I had less than a week to finish a piece that ended up being made up of more than twenty pieces, a veil which I sewed by hand and a headband. All in all I spent about 20 hours and $120 or so in supplies on this project.

I knew, logically, that I would be able to finish it by Thursday.  But, knowing that didn’t keep me from experiencing the crushing sense of anxiety I always get when I take on a big project. I got so frustrated at one point on Saturday that I had to lay down for a few hours and take a nap  to get away from the project. And that was early on too, when I had plenty of time to work. Here is a prep-related sneak peek.


When I finished the project (it’ll be showing up on the blog in a few weeks!) my fingers were cramped and slightly swollen from overuse and the tips of them were tender from being accidentally jabbed by wire ends, but I finished it. I thought I would feel more triumphant about it, more excited about swallowing down those anxieties and finishing well.

It turned out beautiful, but not exactly how I pictured it (but what really does?). I thought I would put leaves in originally; I just didn’t have time to do a dye lot and put together leaves and all the flowers. It’s beautiful though, and I can see that it is, but instead of feeling proud I actually felt more relieved when it was done. It wasn’t until I handed the box to Diane that I actually felt pride.

In the end the most important thing is that Diane loved it. I packed it up in a nice black box with crepe paper for protection and she got to unwrap it and test out the lights Thursday morning. I hope it gives her good luck in Vegas!

This weekend I want to do something a little simpler, I think. Maybe try some sewing or drawing. I have been wanting to do a Portal themed or Star Wars themed quilt and I’d have to come up with some designs and color concepts. Luckily this is a long weekend so I’ll be able to relax.

Anyhoo, that’s all from me for today.  Until next time!

Fireworks and Crane

Happy Monday everyone, and Martin Luther King  Jr. Day too! I actually have today of and I’m going to spend it relaxing and having a cooking date with my gentleman friend. He lives in Canada so to stay connected we Skype a lot and cook together. We take turns choosing different recipes, cook them at the same time then Skype as we eat.

Anyhoo, here is another kanzashi project that i actually started after the red white and gold comb. Since it was just after new year I wanted to do something with fireworks.


I think it turned out pretty well, but I do wish that I had had a little bit of gold wire to attach the gold firework to the hair fork with. I think that since everything was silver tone, aside from the gold firework piece, that it ended up working out aesthetically anyway.  Here’s the rest of the progress photos I took for this one. Not too many this time.

And that’s all I got for today. Happy Monday and I hope you have an awesome week!