Basement Vintage

April 4, 2010

My boyfriend is currently on a cleaning/organizing/purging spree, and of course, I’m getting caught up in it. He has quite a few vintage table ware pieces that he wants to get rid of, so my vintage Etsy shop is going to be filling up in the next few days. Here are a few of the things I’ll be listing.

Be sure to visit my vintage Etsy shop at

to see these and other goodies from yesteryear.



March 7, 2010

I finally did it – shot photos of my hand-crafted jewelry on live models for my Etsy shop. Well, not professional models. Emily is one of my co-workers at WSET – she produces the show “Living In The Heart of Virginia” with Tab O’Neal. Her daughter Tiffany is a pre-teen, but with make-up she looks like a teenager. They met me at the Starlight Grill, which is in an old renovated building with lots of cool gritty details, like faded bricks. Armed with coffee, hot chocolate and muffins, we got to work.

Tiffany & Emily

It was a beautiful sunny day, temps in the high 50’s with a little breeze from time to time. I used an Olympus Camedia D-580 digital camera on a tripod. My models didn’t need a lot of direction – I guess they’re familiar enough with fashion photography from magazines to know what I was looking for.

The photos don’t show the jewelry in detail, but I have other pics for that. These are meant to sell the “sizzle”, not the “steak”. We spent 3 hours and shot about 80 photos, and my back was aching by the end of it. I’m pretty pleased with the way they turned out, although I wish I had shot more in the shade rather than in direct sunlight. Next time. They’ve both said they would love to model for me again. Hopefully next time I’ll have fewer pieces to shoot & can spend more time on each one.

Special thanks to my friends at the Starlight Grill for letting me use their property for the shoot. You guys rock!

(I would show more photos but WordPress is not working well for me today. You can see more at )

Jewelry-lover’s Heaven

February 10, 2010
I felt like a kid in a candy store yesterday! Many of my co-workers know that I make jewelry – some have even bought a thing or two. So Stacy in Sales decided to present me with a challenge. After her late grandmother’s things were picked over by the family, she ended up with a lot of “junk” costume jewelry, much of it broken and unwearable. So, knowing that I often make new jewelry out of old, she asked me if I would try to make something out of the lot for her and several members of her family. Of course I said yes.

And these are just the rejects!

Yesterday she brought me a jewelry box and a bag full of the old jewelry – imagine my excitement! When I got home, I went through it all – feeling like a little girl playing with her mother’s jewelry. Sure enough, most of it is junk, but I was able to pick out quite a few things that have potential to be turned into something new.

Of course it will all need a good cleaning, then I’ll see what I can come up with. I’ll be sure to blog about the results.

They Work Hard for the Money

February 9, 2010
I’m so proud of the tv station where I work. I don’t say that often, being semi-cynical about our news department. But this winter, they’ve been proving any skeptics wrong. Our usually-mild Commonwealth of Virginia has suffered a rough winter so far – three major snowstorms in a state where one semi-major snowstorm is par for the course. And they’ve all happened on Fridays and Saturdays, for some strange reason. (I remember several years ago when we got snow on every Thursday for awhile. Virginia likes to keep things orderly, apparently.)

A typical sight

Our news department has risen to the challenge and produced live Saturday morning news programs each snow weekend to keep the viewers informed about what was going on in the community – plowing updates, road closures, road conditions plus a little bit of fun here and there.

News anchors Len Stevens & Noreen Turyn

Chief meteorologist Sean Sublette

Len & the obligatory snowball

The entire news team has been involved, most of them freezing their butts off with live remote reports. They’ve done a really good job too. None of our competition has done as much so I’ve had an easy time making proof-of-performance (bragging) promos to air.

Reporter Jeremy Mills & some joyriding idiots.

Reporter Dhominique Ricks is stylin' !

Reporter Brian Damewood by I-81 in Lexington, VA

I hope the bad weather will leave us alone after this, but it is good to know that my co-workers are people I can be proud to work with.

What to get the Fur Kids for Christmas

November 27, 2009

When times are good and money is flowing freely (more or less), it’s tempting to splurge on gifts for our loved ones – including the family pets. I usually hang stockings for the pets on the mantle and sneak down in the middle of the night to fill them (like the animals don’t notice – HA!). There would be gourmet pet treats and little electronic toys for chasing and luxurious sweaters etc. The resulting reactions ranged from “What-is-this-crap-leave-me-alone” to overwhelming confusion and excitement. Once, a dog names Katie became so overwhelmed that she jumped up on our bed and peed – extremely bizarre.

As the economy worsened and times grew leaner, the fur kids’ stockings were filled with gifts of a more mundane nature: grocery store treats, catnip mice … and the most wonderful stocking stuffer of all – Vienna sausages.

These little canned treats have proven to be the    most popular items on Christmas morning for the dogs And, unlike dog treats, humans can sneak a bite too).

For the cats, it isn’t the canned salmon that gets their purrs going – it’s the deli turkey slices. They gobble those down as if they were mice meat.

So, for happy pets this holiday – don’t bother with the rhinestone collars and the “I’m with Stupid” tee shirts. Just pay a visit to your local grocer for treats that will really get them excited (but shut the bedroom door first).

Anatomy of a Muse

November 22, 2009

Although my first love is jewelry-making, I’ve always had a fascination with all things miniature. (The work of art that has always stood out as my favorite was someone’s tiny model of an art museum, with tiny paintings on the walls.) Maybe it comes from a childhood of playing with dolls, who knows. But it led me to the idea of making papier mache figures that I call muses. Why muse? They’re not angels or fairies, though they fly. They’re women who have discovered a way to soar with wings of their own making – thus, inspiring … thus, muses.
Pirate Muse
A muse begins with a wire and styrofoam base. The torso & head are carved (roughly) from styrofoam and the arms and legs are wire. The whole thing is wrapped with masking tape to fill out the extremities as well as to give the papier mache mixture something to adhere to.

half-mached muse

I find that poking a stick in their butts and sticking that into a styrofoam base (yeah, go ahead & laugh) is a good way to support them so I can use both hands to apply the papier mache. After everything dries, I cut the stick off & cover the butt with clothing.

Muse butt

I use good old Mod Podge for the next step. I’d rather not spend the time making up my own mixture and I use so little that the expense is not high. I wear latex gloves so that when I’m done, I can just peel them off & throw them away – washing the stuff off my hands takes forever. With a bowl of water nearby to help smooth the papier mache into place if it starts to dry out, I happily cover the framework and mold it into shape – kind of like making mud pies. Then it must dry for at least 24 hours.

muse rejects

After that I paint it a “skin color” with craft paint & let that dry. Then it’s time for clothing & hair, both made with tissue paper and Mod Podge. It’s important to get the kind of tissue paper that is non-bleeding, and it must be handled with kid gloves (or latex, in my case). The paper should be torn, not cut, so the edges blend in easily. Once again, drying time is at least 24 hours.

skin painted, dress begun

After that, embellishment can be done. This is where I have the most trouble because it involves making tiny jewelry & other tiny things. Finally, I drill holes in the hands with a small-bit on a Dremel tool and insert the feathers, with a little glue to hold them in place.

In flight!
The process is time-consuming and often frustrating, but it is satisfying to create something that looks like nothing else, and truly expresses a unique idea. And the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

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Inspired by Muses

June 28, 2009

People have been asking me about the mysterious new project that I’ve been working on – and now I’m finally able to reveal it.

I think I am not alone in seeking inspirational symbols – pictures or items that speak to me and remind me that I’m trying to be a better person, or to remind me of a goal or dream that I’m working towards. I’ve always wanted to inspire others & thought tv would be a good vehicle for that – not so much. Jewelry making didn’t quite achieve what I wanted either – so now I’ve turned to papier mache to create a collection of MUSES.

These are the first three that are ready for prime time. They are faceless because a face would give them too much personality, and they are meant to be the embodiment of spirits of inspiration. I could call them cute names & make up a cute story about each, but I would rather that the person who buys one see something in the figure that inspires her personally, and let her decide what the figure represents.

Of course it’s taken a lot of experimentation to get to this point. There is a pile of rejected figures (“Oh the humanity!”) and “Buster”, the one I try things out on (named after the dummy used on “Myth Busters”)

Here are some other shots of the first three:

I plan to list these in my other Etsy shop “Holy Xuxa”  after I re-design the header etc. I’m also working on  more muses, including a Goth one. I’m not sure how to price them, so any suggestions would be welcome, as well as any other comments about the figures, good or bad.

This is a lot more time consuming than making jewelry, but I can envision a lot of different ways to have fun with it, and I hope others like it too.

A moment of gratitude

June 21, 2009

I know my stated goal for my blog is to entertain & amuse, and not be political – but I can’t help but express my feelings about what is happening in Iran.

I was born free. I had nothing to do with it – a woman gave birth in America and luckily – it was me. I have, at times in my life, wished that I had been born rich or beautiful. But I was not born deformed or ugly, I was not born poor, I was not born with health problems, I was not born to abusive parents. All of this is worth being grateful for – but I am most grateful for being born free.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to live in a third world country, with hunger and disease around every corner. And I can’t imagine what it must be like to live in a place where women are seen as souless property, to be used and beaten by men. And I can’t imagine what it must be like to live in a place where gunfire is a familiar sound – and where you’re not allowed to speak your mind, and where – if they could – you would even be condemned for having free thoughts.

I don’t want to imagine it. I know it’s all out there and I try not to think too much about it, but this week it could not be avoided. When I heard the Iranian woman’s poem on the rooftop about the plight of her people – I changed my Twitter avatar to green. When I saw the video of Neda’s death, I went to a funny movie. But later that night, I could no longer hold back the tears. I don’t cry easily. I can be a heartless bitch. But not this time.

I don’t know what I can do to help except to join the millions of Americans and others around the world to express love and support for the people of Iran – the REAL people of Iran.

They had no choice in where they were born either. I’m so grateful to be free.


June 12, 2009

Holyxuxa is a moniker that I use on Twitter and other online places – and it’s no surprise that people wonder what it means. So I’ll tell you!

The story begins with a popular Brazilian star named Xuxa. I was told that she was a former porn star but it turns out she just posed for the Brazilian Playboy magazine once.


After that, she became the singing hostess of a children’s show in the 80’s, and she shot to stardom in Latin America. In 1993, she brought her show to the US, but it was short lived. It seems that Americans aren’t as welcoming of sexy blondes in hot pants & thigh-high boots entertaining their kids.


The year that Xuxa’s show was airing in our country, I hurt my back & my doctor told me I had to lie in bed for two weeks so it could heal (since that time, doctors discovered that it’s better to stay active). Every morning while I was off work, I watched Xuxa’s show – I loved it! It was so bizarre! She ended each show by slathering on red lipstick and then selecting one lucky child to receive her “trademark” kiss on the cheek. She was so cute – how could I not love her?


Anyway, when I later got a dog, I named her Xuxa.

Then when I joined Ebay, I wanted to use Xuxa as part of my ID. Back then I was into collecting rosaries so that was what I was mainly shopping for on Ebay – so “holy” seemed an appropriate addition to “xuxa” – Voila! Holyxuxa!

My beloved dog Xuxa died at age 12 of cancer, so I like to remember her by continuing to use the name. Besides – it just rolls off the tongue, don’t you think? I leave you with a (poor quality but that’s all I could find) clip from her American show – her famous welcome song. Go ahead – sing along!

Analog’s End – behind the scenes

June 11, 2009

Although this blog is still under construction, I wanted to go ahead and post my first entry. Why? Because analog tv ends tomorrow, and if you’re not ready for it, then make sure you have some good books to read.

I work at a tv station in Virginia and for the past year & a half, have been creating public service announcements informing viewers about this change. This is not something we are doing voluntarily. The federal government has mandated that all stations broadcast in digital only by June 12th, and it also mandated that we had to broadcast a certain number of psa’s every day about it. People have called & complained – but this week we’ve REALLY ticked them off.

A year ago, we started putting a small “bug” in the bottom right corner of the screen that said “analog” which only showed up on tv sets that were still not set up to receive digital signals. It looked like this: Frances bug wide

Throughout the year, it grew in size from time to time – and this week it finally ended up looking like this :

analog giant

At the station, we think it’s hilarious! Do you think viewers will get the message now? They’ve been calling in, saying “Take it off the screen!” Don’t worry – it will be gone after Friday …. but so will the rest of the picture, if you haven’t converted to digital.

I love my job.