Archive for November, 2009

It’s been a lovely Thanksgiving Day here, and to celebrate, here’s a little tribute to a beautiful bracelet design by Shanna Steele of Auntie’s Beads in Southlake. It uses Czech pressed-glass beads shaped like leaves, with rich colors and coppery highlights.

Following her great instructions, which include a video on the weaving technique, I made this bracelet in about an hour (which I attribute to my total inexperience at beading; Shanna says it took her about that long to work out the design but she “could probably whip one up now in 20-30 minutes”):

They still have all the parts to make this in stock (though as you maybe can tell from my photo, I didn’t use the same clasp they did; I subbed in one they had on sale at the time). I think the beads and clasp came to about $15. A gorgeous thing. Thank you for sharing it, Shanna!

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Below are some ramblings wherein I wonder: Did being smart just simply never go out of fashion in Britain?  But first: There’s even more Python than I mentioned before that you can “Watch Instantly” on your computer via Netflix:

Those latter two documentaries are chock full of goodness. As the Pythons talk about Britain emerging from the stolid postwar era into the “Goon Show” days, it struck me that the rise of television must have been the first time masses of people were exposed to the sight of adults acting silly. Sure, there had been comedy revues, but those were things you had to buy a ticket to see, not just flip a channel. (Similarly, “No Sense of Place” indicates, TV gave women, kids and minorities a window into the heretofore physically walled-off world of workaday white male behavior). I treasure irreverence, but wouldn’t be surprised if this broadening of comedy ties in with the growing infantilization of adults, also.

On a lighter note, I was proud that Dallas viewers latched on instantly when “Python” was first broadcast in America. A KERA manager in the doc says when the ratings came in, it was like, okay, there’s “Masterpiece Theater” at 1.5, then whoa – “Python” at 6? And then it went up to 8?  Despite almost everyone’s assumptions that Americans, and particularly Dallasites, wouldn’t appreciate it. Yee-haw!

A clip of the Pythons taking part in one of KERA’s ubiquitous pledge drives (I worked at one – much later – in high school) shows some long-haired audience members asking them questions… in a Texas drawl that even I find dang near incomprehensible. More evidence that regional accents continue to erode, another process influenced by mass media.

Young comedians in the “America” documentary remember sneaking out of bedrooms late at night to watch “Monty Python” illicitly, which I and many others my age also did. They noted that this was a very geeky thing to do, which is perfectly true. But it started me thinking once again: At what point did being smart become a bad thing in America? Certainly lots of people have talked about this (Bill Cosby, Mike Judge and recent appeals to “make it cool to be a geek” come to mind). But in this context of Python history, I wondered: Did being smart just simply not go out of fashion in the UK? (Until recently, at least; cf. chav *language warning*.) Were the Pythons only funny to educated Brits (after all, five out of the six came from Oxford and Cambridge), or was their appeal mainstream?

Around the same time in my life as I was staying up late to watch “Python,” I stumbled across “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” – I saw the title in the school library card catalog (does it get nerdier than that?) and thought it sounded intriguing. In Britain, “Hitchhiker’s” references permeate pop culture in the way that, say, Beach Boys songs do here, but in the U.S. they are a geek niche. Did British consumers just not label smart entertainment as geeky? (I use the past tense because it’s been widely acknowledged that Britain foisting “Big Brother” and “Pop Idol” on us and being repaid with “The X-Files,” “The Sopranos,” “The Wire,” et al., has closed the gap.)

So. For anyone brave enough to have suffered through all that rambling, I offer an extra Netflix treat: John Cleese presents a sweet 2004 show wherein he tries to de-mystify and de-snobbify wine, titled “Wine for the Confused.” You have to like a program where he invites all his buddies over and then makes them look goofy by proving they can’t tell a $10 bottle from a $100 bottle. Yay!

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I picked up a cute little hutch for a dollar at a craft store, and kept picturing it done up with milk paint and beadboard. But wooden dollhouse-scale beadboard or siding — adorable though it is — comes in big expensive sheets (plastic is cheaper), and is thick enough that it would really reduce the shelf space. (What good’s a mini hutch if your mini laptop and mini magazines don’t fit on it? Hmm? Yes I know I’m crazy.)

Then I had one of those aha! moments and realized that if I have polymer clay, I have beadboard. In much the same way that if you have polymer clay you have buttons… and game piecesdisplay stands for anything…  custom stamps… but I digress.

So I pressed a straight piece of wire into a thin strip of Fimo to make a beadboard tool, which I baked… then rolled out more clay very thin, cut it to size and laid the pieces on ruled notebook paper to help me line up the tool right.  Impress a series of lines on each piece, bake and you have a very thin but strong/flexible sheet that can be trimmed to fit with scissors, then painted any color you like.

It’s not perfectly regular, and my method only creates small pieces of board. But it’s just what I wanted for this application. And see, the laptop and magazines fit!

[Added 2/3/10: I see many people are reaching this post looking for dollhouse beadboard, so I thought I’d share where I buy it: Miniatures.com sells plastic sheets of 7″x12″ or 7″24″, although I actually prefer to use their wood sheets sold as siding. Let me know if you find it cheaper elsewhere!]

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