blog on fleek.

Hammer on FleekFor several months last summer and fall, Torchlight II was my go-to game, and I really loved the style of play (which, for lack of another term, seems to be generally referred to as Diablo-like). Tiny characters in a big bowl of a world, with an easy-to-see perspective from above, and no fiddling with camera arrangement. A finite number of buttons to use, and very satisfying battle effects. It was a pretty good sweet spot of physical comfort, ability and fun for me.

Until it got frustrating, for what I consider really unnecessary quality of life reasons. I had a character I loved (Engineer), with a build I loved (Fire & Spark), and I leveled her up to the cap and was so happy when I got my first really good weapon. I kept playing well past that point, but as it turned out, that weapon was my high point. There’s plenty of better gear and good sets, but the game is set up in such a way that you can only get them by very rare random (i.e. not geared to your specific class) chance and endless grinding. Given that I enjoyed my character, that might have been okay in a larger world. Torchlight II isn’t very big, though, so after I’d played through the entire game three more times without being able to complete a full set of end game gear, it was tedious in the extreme.

During this ordeal, Phil watched patiently over my shoulder as I got more and more shouty and frothy at the mouth, and finally bought me a copy of Diablo III. I downloaded it ten days before the start of Season V. Just enough time to get used to the look and feel of it with a practice barbarian, before saddling up and making a seasonal character. I am, by now, very definitely a fan of bashy melee characters, and I chose a Barbarian with an Earthquake build. Her name is Fleeke (seen here all in pink, while pursuing the Pink’d achievement, and with Phil’s crusader, also dressed like a hulking Rococo boudoir of doom).

Pinks on Fleek

Gherkins in Pinks

Season challenges are really nicely set up to walk you through learning how the game should be played. Ticking off the chapter tasks kept Fleeke leveling up nicely, with good gear and XP rewards. I level capped her in 3 glorious days, and set about perfecting her stompy destruction skills.

Level 70 on Fleek

I’d been concerned that the dark look of the game would be off-putting. Playing anything with a very dark dungeon palette tends to make me feel bad after a while. It is a fairly grim-looking game, but it’s turned out to be so fun to play that I have a pretty high tolerance for the dark palette. And then, there’s always Whimsyshire to look forward to, if you’re lucky enough to stumble into the rainbow wormhole of hilarity:

Gherkins go to WhimsydaleWhere Torchlight II was disappointing and withholding, Diablo III is positively profligate. Endless gear drops of increasingly rare and high quality, all built around my class and level. And lest you lose the fun of looking for just that right last piece, there’s always a slightly better version of your best-in-slot gear to be found and/or enchanted.

In short, I’m having a great time. My video game time is pretty limited at the moment, but I’m still finding 30 minutes several nights a week to run rifts or bounties. There’s also a last Season V challenge hanging over my head, undone, but I think I’ll save talking about that for another post.

radical economist.

Radical Economist Earrings 1

I have a long-time customer who years ago became a proper real life friend. Recently, I posted a new pair of Goblin Charm earrings on Instagram, and she was lamenting the fact that she already had a pair with these sequin bead balls. Ever a sparkle enabler, I said well, I can also get those in black and in copper, so… She was into it, so I sent her some photos of the other colors and some beads I was thinking about ordering. We bounced some ideas around and the sparkle went to our heads and somehow we ended up with a visual cue of Smaug the dragon sitting on top of his hoard of riches. Or, in a perfect world, Benedict Cumberbatch sitting on top of a hoard of jewelry. The dragon idea went perfectly with the scaly sequin beads, so I took it from there.

Radical Economist Earrings 2

A few days into my design process, Phil tweeted something about the dwarves of Middle Earth destabilizing the economy with all their mining and making. He has always had a theory that dragons are pitifully misunderstood creatures who just want to sit peacefully in their pile of gold, but people just will. not. stop. coming in and picking fights. (This theory is nicely supported by a wyvern in The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, by Catherynne Valente: “If people show up to a dragon’s mountain yelling about sacrifices and O, YE, FELL BEAST SPARE MY VILLAGE this and GREAT DRAGON, I SHALL MURDER THEE that, well, certainly, a fellow might have a chomp. But you oughtn’t judge any more than you judge a lady for eating the lovely fresh salad that a waiter brings her in a restaurant.”) This segued neatly into my making process, and these earrings became Radical Economist.

radical economist tweets

 

This is often how my process works, particularly with custom orders. An initial exchange of “Hey, I like that, but what if…” turns into a tumble of ideas and influences that sort themselves out into something new. Radical Economist was enormously fun to imagine and to make, and I love having all these elements of other people’s ideas woven into them.

Radical Economist 3

fond farewell.

The Goblin Charms project has been going really well the last couple of weeks. I got the stickers with Phil’s goblin drawings for the packaging. My rubber stamp technique is much improved, and there’s only a small pile of discarded smudged box tops. Best of all, I’ve been incredibly happy with the things I’ve been making. Several Lucite pieces have sold, and all of the glass pieces I’ve made so far except one have been claimed.

For the most part, I’ve not taken more than a couple of photos of these pieces. There’s a piece I made this week, though, that is extra special and I’ve taken dozens of pictures trying to capture it. None of them are exactly right, but I’m out of time to keep trying. The earrings have sold and are on their way to their new owner, with my gratitude and affection.

Velella Earrings 1.47

Velella is made with two rare antique molded glass Art Deco beadcaps, and my last handful of luminous vintage opalescent glass spacers. These beads represent two of my most beloved earlier designs.State Street Earrings 1.24855459

The purple beadcaps were used in a pair of earrings I called State Street. The caps hung from brown steel retaining rings, which were suspended from oxidized sterling silver chain. I had about a dozen pairs of these beauties, and when I was down to my last pair of caps, I squirreled them away for something special.

dream of the fisherman's wife earrings

Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife is my favorite pair of earrings I’ve made, ever. They were so, so beautiful, and I’ve have gone on making them forever if I could find the beads. But this is vintage life, and nothing lasts forever. They were a cascade of opalescent beads in a flattened bell shape, hung from a length of darkly oxidized sterling silver chain. Fluttering above the bead cluster were two vintage brass stampings in a curly wave shape. I applied heavy verdigris patina to these to give them an aged, green look. Between the grit of the metal, and the luminous pearly grey of the glass, something utterly magical happened. I loved them.

dream of the fisherman's wife earrings - Nicole Young

When it came time to say goodbye to the last elements of these designs, I gave them the very best send-off I could: I put them together. Velella is a decadent, glowing Art Deco jellyfish, both gritty and delicate. I’m so happy with this design, and I hope her new owner will be, too.

Velella Earrings 2.13

stolen day.

Last Thursday, I got up at the should-be-outlawed hour of 4 a.m. and went downtown to catch a bus. Some of Phil’s family were in Seattle for a few days before shipping out to Alaska on a cruise, and I went up for a whirlwind day of sightseeing and family time. I’ve been to Seattle just twice before, so I don’t know it very well. This time, though, I was playing impromptu host and tour guide, so I did my research and had a fistful of maps and bus schedules.

My weather app said it would be cloudy and drizzly all day, but Seattle saw us coming and decided to be gracious. It was a perfect 70 degrees, brightly sunny and a little windy – an ideal day to spend in a beautiful seaside city. There were two things I for sure, absolutely, wanted to take us to see: Pike Place Market and the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum by the Space Needle.

Pike Place Market is a feast for the senses, and shouldn’t be missed. It’s old, it’s packed with people, it’s noisy, it smells of fish, and it’s utterly magical. Stalls with rows and rows of flowers, strange and wonderful produce, enormous glittering seafood in frosty piles of ice, steep and twisting cobblestone alleys, and sudden, glorious views of the ocean. I’m always happy to wander there for hours, and we did. We spent most of the morning soaking up the sights, and wrapped up with a happy hour or so with some local beer and wine at The Alibi Room.

After that, we were off to the Space Needle. Again, I’d seen it before, but I’d never been up to the Observation Deck. This time, we took that trip and soaked up the incredible 360 degree views of the city and the bay. It was a bit windy up there, but completely worth it. It was so clear, and we could see for miles. Beautiful and exhilarating.

The Chihuly Garden was the star of the show, though, without question. Exhibits covered Dale Chihuly’s complete career from early work in woven blankets and freeform glass bowls to his elaborate, twisting contemporary glass sculptures. We all took dozens and dozens of pictures (our phone batteries died early in the afternoon), but no matter how good they are, they can’t entirely capture how alive these sculptures are, and how perfectly attuned to their settings. I’m still dribbling pictures onto Instagram, and will probably continue for weeks. I’m so glad I got to see it.

In the evening, it was back to Pike Place for cups of clam chowder, eaten in contented silence while we watched the boats in the bay. I was on the bus back to Portland by 7:30, and by the time I got to work the next morning it felt like a stolen day in Neverland. Which is a pretty good result for a day’s outing, I’d say.