Monday, November 28, 2016

Newly Listed: Copper DNA Chainmaille Bracelet

I can't stop playing with this inverted spiral weave. The shape is just such a great way to represent DNA's double helix structure. It's addictive and gorgeous!

DNA sciart chainmaille biologist bracelet biology jewelry
Copper and aluminum DNA chainmaille bracelet by Kokoba
After I put out a few two-tone DNA necklaces and bracelets, I felt comfortable enough with the weave to try a monochrome version. (The nature of things is that this weave can be a little confusing at first, so using two different colors makes i easier to keep track of things.) I had some extra copper rings on hand, so I decided to see what I could make out of them.

DNA sciart chainmaille biologist bracelet biology jewelry

I didn't have enough for a full bracelet, but I had plenty of other rings to finish it off. I actually really like the "focal point" look of the spiral weave and then just a plain, utilitarian one for the rest of the bracelet.

DNA sciart chainmaille biologist bracelet biology jewelry

I think I also like how the spiral weave looks in rings in a slightly heavier gauge. (Or, to be more precise, with a slightly smaller aspect ratio.) The weave is a little tighter and feels a little more solid. I think the lines of the spiral also show up a bit cleaner as well.

DNA sciart chainmaille biologist bracelet biology jewelry

I think I have well and fully mastered this weave. Next on my list is Persian 3-in-1 (I have really exciting ideas about what to do with sheets of it) but it is tricky as hell to pick up and the urge to mindlessly crank out something I know can do is strong. I guess it's also good stress relief; there is something meditative about chainmaille that beading lacks. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Friday 5: You Too

Image courtesy quicksandala

What are you too short to do?

LITERALLY EVERYTHING?! I'm 5'1"; let me sing you the song of my people:

  • "Do you carry this in petite sizes?"
  • "Could I get these hemmed?"
  • "Can you reach that for me?"
  • "Hey, wait up!"
  • *silent fuming at tall people who use the side-mounted handholds on the subway instead of the ceiling-mounted ones, leaving me NOTHING within reach*

What are you too smart to do?

Get into Facebook arguments? Most of the time...

What are you too fearful to do?

Oh, so many things. Start conversations with people, make phone calls, put down cash for advertising either of my small businesses.

What are you too lazy to do?

At the moment? My homework.

What are you too young to do?


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

What I Read: The House in Paris

When you have a list of books you want to tackle, sometimes you have to make do. One of the books on the TIME Top 100 Novels list is Elizabeth Bowen's The Death of the Heart. I could never find it in any library I visited, so I consoled myself with her The House in Paris.

Image courtesy Knopf

I don't know, man...this list has a flair for the melodramatic, doesn't it? All I could think of while I was reading The House in Paris was a GoodReads comment about The French Lieutenant's Woman: "Heterosexual nonsense."

I would group The House in Paris, The French Lieutenant's Woman, and Possession together in one "type" of novel: they all deal with melodramatic failed romances and broken engagements (The House in Paris and Possession even share an illegitimate child in common!). I think I like Possession the best out of all of them, if only because it's such a technical feat. The French Lieutenant's Woman is my least favorite; reflecting on it now I have to say that there isn't really anything interesting about it at all. The House in Paris is square in the middle: it isn't any kind of technical achievement, but it's more interesting than The French Lieutenant's Woman by virtue of having more interesting characters.

Maybe I just didn't have the patience for Bowen's writing style. There are long, complex sentences with multiple dependent clauses; the dialogue doesn't sound the way anyone talks, at least not anymore; there is so much unsaid and implied and hinted at in terms of character and social psychology that I felt like everyone was basically the same and also incredibly boring. (And always, in the sections taking place in the present, having to keep "Mme Fisher" and "Miss Fisher" straight in my mind!) As it was a library book, I had the deadline of returning it hanging over my head; I couldn't exactly read it at my leisure. But maybe that would have made it even more unenjoyable, because then I would have had no incentive to finish it, so every time I picked it up I would have to struggle to remember who was who.

The only parts I did enjoy were some of the scenes with Henrietta. Bowen captures the thinking of children quite well; I would have rather spent the book with Henrietta (and, I suppose, Leopold) than in the past. Ah well.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Newly Listed: Bright Pink Physics Gravity Bracelet

I tried to dabble in polymer clay, but ultimately I decided that I wasn't cut out for the task. JV, on the other hand, is a pro at making tiny, delicate things. One of his tricks is folding origami cranes no taller than cigarettes—no joke! (I'll have to ask him to fold a new one sometime, so I can show you.) Other media for tiny, delicate things besides paper? Clay!

At the beginning of the year he experimented with making beads, and gifted a bunch to me. I loved their bright colors but wasn't sure what to use with them until a couple of weeks ago.

Bright pink green physics sciart jewelry bracelet
G in Pink, Green, and Orange by Kokoba
I think my color tastes are all out of step with the seasons. Cold, dark weather makes me crave bright spring colors; hot summer weather has me thinking about cool autumnal hues.

Bright pink green physics sciart jewelry bracelet
G in Pink, Green, and Orange

G is always a tricky one to memorialize in jewelry because it's had to measure. Every few years, as technology improves and measurement because more accurate (and sometimes also more precise!), CODATA comes out with new values for some of the physical constants, G included. They've made two updates since I started making and selling jewelry as Kokoba. When this happens, I tend to redo a piece if possible. This isn't always possible, however. In those cases, I indicate which year's value I used. 

Bright pink green physics sciart jewelry bracelet
G in Pink, Green, and Orange

I look forward to more pieces featuring handmade polymer clay beads! Maybe I'll commission him to make some pi beads next time? What do you think?

Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday 5: Fair Use

What was the last thing you put in the freezer not to freeze, but just to chill?

I don't usually do this, actually. Maybe a bottle of soda, but that was years ago. Pinterest says it goes faster if you wrap the bottle in a wet paper towel, but I can't confirm or deny that.

What’s a non-food item you’re storing in a zippered, plastic bag?

Some jewelry supplies, and also some copper jewelry. (Air-tight = less tarnish)

What’s the most unusual item you’ve used as a bookmark?

For all of the reading I do, I rarely use bookmarks. I dogear, or I remember page numbers. I'm actually pretty good at that, and even at remember different page numbers for different books over a fairly long period of time. If it's a library book, I use the receipt for a bookmark.

What’s something unusual for which you’ve used a kitchen utensil?

Hard to say. . . all of our kitchen implements see fairly standard use.

How many different kinds of balls do you have in your house?

There's a bocce set somewhere, so that makes two (the bocce balls and the pill). There might be an old soccer ball floating around somewhere but otherwise, I think that's it.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

#TBT: Pi Necklace Inspired by the Thoth Tarot

For as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated by the esoteric and the occult. It doesn't really jibe well with my whole STEM niche here, so I don't talk about it too often. Besides, there's not usually much to say except "Wow, it's fascinating how humans will build complex systems out of almost anything!"

One of the more infamous Tarot decks is the Thoth Tarot devised by everyone's favorite British occultist, Aleister Crowley, and illustrated by the much less notorious Lady Freida Harris. (There is one thing the occult has in common with the sciences: men enjoy the lion's share of the credit and the fame.) While the deck is considered a classic among Tarot enthusiasts today, neither Crowley nor Harris lived to see the actual deck put into commission. Harris finished the art, but nothing came out in a deck form until the 1960s. Its notable for its symbolic use of color and sacred geometry, which is a fancy way to say that it's one of the more abstract decks around. Still, the imagery is arresting.

Image courtesy US Games, Inc.
Once in a while the colors and the geometry get me to thinking about jewelry, and I end up incorporating some of those elements into this or that piece. That's how this pi necklace was born sometime in 2013.

A sciart mathart pi necklace in moss agate, carnelian, and Swarovski, inspired by The Hermit from the Thoth Tarot deck.
Pi necklace by Kokoba
In addition to trying to recreate Harris's color palette in beads, I also deliberately chose the yellow Swarovski crystals to echo the crisp lines and angles of the yellow light emanating from the lantern.

I read an article years ago—I want to say that it was in Jewelry Artist but I'm not 100% on it—about one artist's ongoing project of creating a ring for every Major Arcana card. My Google-fu is failing me, but it looked like an interesting project and I would love to see how the whole thing turned out!

A sciart mathart pi necklace in moss agate, carnelian, and Swarovski, inspired by The Hermit from the Thoth Tarot deck.
Pi necklace by Kokoba

Sometimes I think about opening up another store for jewelry inspired by Tarot rather than STEM. Maybe one day?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Talky Tuesday: Where We Go From Here

It's never too late to become an engaged citizen! Especially if right now you're an enraged one. Here are the easy things to do that don't involve uncomfortable conversations with people you care about:

1. I will repeat what others have been saying for a while now: call your representatives. I mean, if you want to make any point to them ever, you need to call them, but if you give a shit about anything touched by the Trump presidency then you need to conquer your phone anxiety and call them right the fuck now. Tweets and Facebook comments are useless; letters aren't quite as useless but aren't as good as phone calls. Here's an example of what to say to them (concerning Stephen Bannon):
If your congresscritter is a Democrat or Independent: “Hi, I’m [Name], one of [Name’s] constituents. I am calling because I strongly believe that the [Senator/Representative] should follow the lead of their colleagues, such as Ed Markey and Nancy Pelosi, in condemning President-Elect Trump’s appointment of a white supremacist misogynist, Stephen Bannon, as his chief of strategy and chief counsel.” 
If your congresscritter is a Republican: “Hello. Hi, I’m [Name], one of [Name’s] constituents. I’m calling to ask if you can confirm your candidate’s position on white supremacy and white nationalism for me.” 
After they answer, then you say, “In that case, I would call on the [Congress(man/woman)/Senator] to condemn President-Elect Trump’s appointment of a white supremacist misogynist, Stephen Bannon, as his chief of strategy and chief counsel in no uncertain terms.”
They may ask your address. Give them the address from which you vote. It’s how they confirm you are for reals.
You can fill in any cause you think is important, of course.

2. Also, call all your representatives. If there's one thing I learned from The Great Suppression, it's that local elections and regulations can be significant bulwarks against bullshit. They can also be great promoters of it. Who represents you at the state level? Get their contact information and give them the same spiel. Remember to vote in those piddly little dog catcher races as well.

3. You can pony up some cash and/or time for good causes: the Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU might be a good place to start. Volunteering is good if you have the time and ability to do so.

4. You can also pony up cash for good reporting. ProPublica is a place to start. Also look for who's doing investigative reporting on a more local level. (For me, it's Walter Brasch.)

5. Don't forget to also follow the good reporting once you pony up. Snopes is another good place you can add to your RSS feed so that you see bullshit stories debunked before your racist aunt shares them on Facebook.

6. Read this article on how to engage with everyday bigotry. Knowing what you can say, or how you can articulate your feelings when you are too flabbergasted to think properly, can be the difference between speaking up and staying silent.

(We should all make the good faith effort to have the uncomfortable conversation with someone we care about, especially the straight and white among us. But sometimes we can't and that's okay.)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Newly Listed: Yellow Glass Speed of Light Bracelet

I wasn't sure if I should blog this one under new, or #tbt, since I cannibalized an older bracelet for the beads in this one. At the end of the day, since I had never listed the original, I decided it should count as a new item.

Physics science sciart speed of light jewelry nerdy yellow glass bacelet
Speed of Light bracelet by Kokoba

This one features the speed of light (in meters/second), which flowery pillow beads as spacers in between each digit. It's cheerful, and we're all going to need as much cheer as we can find for the next four years.


Physics science sciart speed of light jewelry nerdy yellow glass bacelet
Speed of Light bracelet by Kokoba

Can we also talk about how Google Photos is a mess? I just got sucked into fiddling with it for at least two hours. I also wiped my Google+ account out of rage. And nothing of value was lost.

Physics science sciart speed of light jewelry nerdy yellow glass bacelet
Speed of Light bracelet by Kokoba

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Newly Listed: #TBT Fiber Optic Necklace in Purple

It's going to be a rough four years, so this week's #tbt seems appropriate. This is a deep cut, back from when I had just started making jewelry. One of my alpha releases, if you will. That dates it to around 2008, when our President elect was a fresh-faced newcomer named Barack Obama.

Purple fiber optic necklace from Kokoba

The seed beads are the usual Czech glass. The larger beads are actually optical fibers fused together and cut into beads. Those are the same kinds of fibers that power the telecom world today. Pretty cool example of wearable (if non-functioning) tech, right?

There's no number included in this one. It's all about the materials.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Talky Tuesday: Election

Please, please, please get out and vote today.

Ladies (and most of my readers are probably ladies), our right to vote was hard-won. It was even harder won if you're a WOC.

Anti-suffragette postcard, John Hassall

If you want to feel miserable, feel free to Google anti-suffragette postcards. Some of them are laughable (if we give women votes they'll make us MEN do all of the household drudgery!) but the lengths other images to go to demonize women and celebrate violence, abuse, and physical restraint against them is terrifying. Those sentiments have hardly disappeared, whether it's in the way that we discuss female candidates or in actual legislation (voter ID laws ~~just so happen~~ to fuck women over because, due to social conventions about marriage, we're way more likely to change our names and thus have discrepancies among identification documents). Voting matters—why else would there be voter suppression?

Friday, November 4, 2016

Friday 5: Peaches and Herb

First of all, obligatory:

What’s your favorite way to consume peaches?

Image courtesy DodgertonSkillhause from
As a fruit they're delicious but messy. Nothing makes you feel like an overgrown child like a really juicy, sloppy, messy peach. I don't like the canned ones you can get in the supermarket, but I liked the ones that Teacher Dad canned one year. Otherwise I like to have it in fruity girl teas. Also, obligatory:

To what dish does basil make its best contribution?

I don't have strong feelings about basil.

What’s something you’re feeling peachy-keen about?

My revisions for NaNoWriMo 2016 are going pretty well. I'm already something like 75% done with them. It remains to be seen if I want to start another round of revisions when this one is done, or move on to the first draft of another project (just for funsies).

What’s a cooking herb you dislike?

I don't have strong feelings about any herb, actually. Cilantro doesn't taste like soap for me, so it's all good in the hood.

What’s something in your residence that’s peach-colored or nearly peach-colored?

My new debit card!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Newly Relisted Pi Bling for Throwback Thursday

There is a weird gender divide around jewelry, particularly when it comes to beaded things. Somehow jewelry by default has been codefied as femme-by-default, with unisex or men's jewelry needing its own special categorization and design aesthetic. And while I think that men should get to wear whatever they want, right alongside women, I still recognize that we have arbitrary gender standards for the most trivial things—so once in a while I try to branch out from beads into other media, to target men as well as whatever spectrum of butch-presenting genderqueer punk rock riot grrls nerdcore people who are out there who want something a little more androgynous.

The struggle is real.

One of those solutions I've found has been through chain. I hoarded up on some bulk chain ages ago to play around with, which led me to develop what I call The Second Variant of my jewelry. I don't have as much of this as my typical First Variant stuff, mostly because I went a little overboard with using bulk chain in other designs and now need to restock. For now, I just have a bracelet and a necklace set. (Bracelet coming soon in another #TBT post.)

Unisex math sciart mathart nerd jewelry necklace
Unisex Pi Bling by Kokoba

It's not necessarily my style, but I still like the look. The different kinds of chains, the different amounts of strands, and the jump rings between sections add interest and variation to what would otherwise be something uniform and repetitive.

As you can see in the picture, I actually used three different styles of chain:

Light curb chain

Flat anchor chain

Heavy curb chain

The curb chains are both aluminum, so despite the sometimes bulky appearance of the necklace, it is surprisingly lightweight. The only portions that have any significant weight to them are the base metal sections: the jump rings, the clasp, and the flat anchor chains.

Sometimes I toy around with the idea of using chainmaille in this sort of design, but I think it has the potential to get very bulky very fest (unless I use relatively small rings). I don't know. I might still try it, just for funsies. After I rework all of this back catalog!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

What I Read: The Vegetarian

What piqued my curiosity about The Vegetarian was the story of its translation—or rather, its translator. An article from the English edition of The Korea Herald sums up the situation:

[Smith's] evocative translation has been the topic of much debate here since the Booker win last month. There have even been reports comparing excerpts from the original text and translated version line-by-line, with some suggesting that there are instances of mistranslation. . . 
Aware of the controversy here concerning her qualifications as a translator of Korean literature, Smith, a 28-year-old British national who first learned Korean six years ago, spoke of the “danger of excluding or prioritizing certain translators” based solely on qualifications. “Love of literature, patience and dedication are more important,” she argued.

It's inspiring, in a way. If Smith can do it, why can't I? Maybe not with Korean, but still. I put the book on my GoodReads TBR and went about my business.

Some time later, a friend of mine posted her own vacation TBR stack on Facebook and I saw The Vegetarian in the pile. I commented on my own interest in the story, and said friend was kind enough to mail me the book after she was done with it, so here I am!

Image courtesy Portobello Books

The Vegetarian is a weird little book. I definitely felt drawn to keep reading and to see how this would all play out, but I don't know that I enjoyed it. Or to be more precise; I'm pretty sure I enjoyed it, but I definitely didn't understand it. But I don't think I needed to?

The novel, like so many have pointed out, isn't really about the protagonist becoming a vegetarian. It's not even about the protagonist at all (which makes the appellation of "protagonist" kind of doubtful), but about how important people in her life respond to her decision: her husband, her brother-in-law, and her brother-in-law's wife (her sister). It's also about control and how people react when faced with a woman practicing her own autonomy.

It's a short read; Smith's translation is graceful and fluid, and the story (such as it is) is compelling, so it's definitely the kind of story that draws you along. Perfect for commutes or vacations, or for people looking to add to their #weneeddiversebooks list.