Saturday, October 10, 2015

Scent Pollution in a Stinky, Stinky, Stinky World

Dear friends, colleagues, and people who stumbled in here by mistake:  STOP STINKING UP MY AIR.  No, I'm not talking about your personal body odors.  I'm talking about scent pollution, which is a very serious topic.  And so, please, let's not allow any humor into this discussion.

Oh, grow up.  I'm not talking about this!

Scent pollution is a serious health problem.  In the last ten days, Mr. Sprockets and I have been forced to leave several establishments where we of course wanted to be due to overpowering horrible odors coming from patrons and the establishments themselves.  I elaborate.

1.  The library.  We no sooner step in that I'm aware of an overpowering odor of "L'Air Du Stink," also known as "I bathed in it."  A woman had walked by me at a distance of no less than 15 feet, and in her wake she left a toxic cloud.  My stomach turned over.  My tongue began to tingle.  Next to me, Mr. Sprockets started coughing and could not stop.  We had no choice but to leave.  

2. Our optometrist.  After waiting two weeks for an appointment to try to determine why the glasses they made me didn't seem right, we were punched in the the face by a cloud of Death Gas in the waiting room.  "What is that smell?" we asked.  "Smell?" the receptionist inquired politely, her olfactory sense obviously reamed out and scarred by constant inhalation of VOCs.  "Oh, you mean our French Vanilla Serenade Plug-In! Don't you like it?"  

Like it?  Sister, do you know what's in that stuff?  The thing does plug in (and is a fire hazard, but that's another subject) but there is nothing even remotely French or vaguely vanilla about it, and that ain't no serenade.  

Studies have shown that the scent of about 95% of all scented products - and that includes perfumed, candles, washing powders, dryer sheets, cleaning products and all cosmetics - is derived from petrochemicals.  Oil.  Bubbling crude.  Texas Tea.  Brought to you by the makers of gasoline.  The only exceptions to this are cold-pressed essential oils.  And some of them are overpowering, as well.  If a smell makes me nauseous, it's not good for my health.  

That's right, and if most of you want to smear it on your bodies, or eat it, or wear it, or whatever, I guess it's a free country.  Until it becomes my air you're polluting, and that's where your freedom stops.  Because the crap you're spewing into my air goes into my nose and my lungs and my brain.  Studies have shown these VOCs are often more dangerous than second-hand cigarette smoke.  Google it.

We left the optometrist after making an appointment for next week, when they will have presumably taken steps. . .like what?  The office windows don't open.  The VOCs have permeated the upholstery, the carpet, the drywall.  Their decision to allow this pollution means that I have two choices - breathe it in some form or find another office.

In response to continual and pervasive scents, we've had to modify our behavior somewhat.  The local Jo-Ann Fabrics puts their faux cinnamon-scented pinecones in the lobby area, between the two sets of sliding doors.  This allows them to build up such an amazing volume of VOCs that I can smell them 15 feet from the front of the store when the doors are closed.  So we hold our breaths coming and going.  Still, the crap gets on our clothes and in our hair and on our skin. . . .and it's poison.  Apparently (and you can Google this too) employees at various branches have complained about their constant exposure to this rank and unhealthful miasma.  Not only has Jo Ann not reacted with sensitivity and compassion, but this year the pinecones were placed in our local store in mid-September, and will no doubt remain there until well after the new year.  

Many employers are adopting scent-free workplace policies after complaints by suffering employees. There have even been lawsuits, because some unreasonable people don't want to be forced to find another job because of a coworker's stench.  I don't know how an employer could guarantee a scent-free workplace, especially when the employer is always painting and putting down new carpet while people are working.  While it's entirely possible to mandate that employees not wear scent, what about the scented washing powder they use, and those abysmal dryer softener sheets?  What about acrid and poisonous dry cleaning fumes?  Scented moisturizers, cosmetics, etc.?  Few people are willing to forgo their scents.

Here at Sprockets Inside, we live a scent-free life.  We've had to, because of my multi-chemical sensitivity and Mr. Sprockets' allergies.  And that works for us until we go out into the stinky, stinky world.  It's a world where, by and large, people do not understand about scent pollution and act like we're completely out of our tree when we object to it.  These people are inured to smell, as most of us were at one time.  Being desensitized, they use more and more of it.  They buy cinnamon-scented pinecones at Christmas time - which do not contain cinnamon at all, but rather a blend of chemicals which is highly toxic to pets and children, and therefore to all of us.  

I'm testing a new mask to wear when I go out.  In fact, I'm wearing this lovely prototype now as I type.  I sure hope I don't call attention to myself, but if it makes small children run away screaming I'll be pleased.   

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Illiteretsy and the Complimentary Furlong

I suppose all online forums have the same inherent issues.  They are full of humans, for a start, some of whom are not very bright.  The least clever are often the most certain and the loudest.  And any forum is only as good as its moderators.  

I have a history of being attracted by the chatter of forums.  My most recent forum foray happened on an online selling site whose name I shall not mention, but which of course you can guess with incredible accuracy.  I was hooked.  I spent hours a day there, and I consequently wasted a lot of time reading silly questions.  

"Are my photos good enough?"  A cheap bid to get me to look at your shop, seen several times a day, along with "How would you list this?" and "Please help me figure out my shipping costs."  The strain of not being allowed to answer these questions honestly quickly exhausted me.   I soon began skipping these posts.

Others lured me in with their incredible perversion, the ripe, sweet smell of people who should never, ever attempt to engage in commerce of any kind.   

It's Complimentary, Watson

Post:  "I need complimentary items for my shop.  Right now I'm only selling like one type of thing, and I need other things to sell as well.  What could I put in my shop that would be complimentary?"

I pointed out in my very civil and helpful response that "complimentary" means free, and I asked kindly if the poster were thinking of giving away gifts with each purchase. (Some sellers do.) To which I received this response:

"Why do you have to be the Grammer Nazi?  U know what I mean."

I responded that in fact I had only her own words to go on, so I didn't know what she meant, which is why I was asking.  Also that the subject in question was not grammar, and that the reference to Nazis was unwarranted.  I further assisted her in arriving at the inevitable conclusion by pointing out that in a retail setting the world "complimentary" has one meaning, and that if she listed an item using that word she would have no alternative but to supply it free, which would mean also offering free shipping.  

The moderators deleted my posts and sanctioned me.  They directed me to the forum rules, wherein according to them I would find guidelines about "being respectful of other members."  I was instructed to read these rules and not return until I could behave properly.  And that advice was utterly complimentary.  

Going on a Furlong

Post:  What do I do with my shop when I'm on a furlong?  

Various answers from other users suggested putting the shop in vacation mode, changing the shop banner to reflect much longer shipping times, etc.  

Once again - as I am the soul of helpfulness - my remark called attention to the fact that a furlong is a unit of measurement.  This is the response I received:

"In fact a furlong is a 'unit of measurement,' so you are wrong.  But it's used the way I did, as common slang, as well.  I am over 80 years old and I know what I'm talking about.  You should read the classics and then you'd know too."  

Was my education lacking?  I dived right into the "classics," books such as "Misusing Language and then Digging The Hole Deeper" and "Yes I Screwed Up But You'll Never Hear it From Me."  According to these books it's fine and even admirable to make up word definitions and then either choose to blame it on spellcheck or defend it as being a correct usage - dealer's choice.    

The moderators were quick to sanction me again.  Apparently in their world a furlong is not a unit of measurement as I had stated, but more of a "unit of measurement," as the original poster insisted.  Also, if I believed the moderators' assertions,  I had once again been disrespectful to another forum member.  


All forums are as screwed up as their most ignorant and strident members, in an inverse quadratic ratio to the sine of the mediocrity of the moderators.  It would be more productive and infinitely more beneficial to mental health to give pedicures to strangers in bus stations than it would be participate in any public forum.   And furthermore:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Kiss my jump rings

Little donuts of steely goodness.
How grateful am I to have wrists like strong tree trunks?  Sure comes in handy when I have to sit down and make steel jump rings!  I wind the 18-gauge wire by hand around a mandrel, then cut each link separately with flush cutters, then wiggle the ends until they are together and give each jump ring a tap or two with the nylon hammer to work-harden it.  I do this because, so far, no one else makes affordable steel jump rings of the right gauge and quality.  Yes, I suffer for my art.  

I've been working on a couple of lines that came about by accident.  One is the "Kiss My" series (title suggested by spousal unit) which involves my handmade clay buttock units.  This part of the anatomy is humorous in many ways, and a lot of word play in terms of titles is available.  So far there are three in this series, seen here.  
Blue Bottom Bells

Pumpkin Butt

Our Lady of Perpetual Hiney

And finally, two shots of my main worktable as it was this morning, without prettying it up.  Just to prove goodness can come out of chaos.  How do I keep pieces of stuff from getting into my teacup, you ask?  I don't.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

In my drawers and on my shelves

I am not by nature a hoarder. Everything I own is something I need to have, and it's all very organized.  Well, somewhat organized.  I can usually find a thing quickly when I need it.  Recently someone said to me, "Your studio must be packed with astounding things."  It is, and here are some of them.  

On the Shelves

First, some items which are out in the open.  I collected those Dolls of the World at one time.  I ripped off their tacky costumes their plastic shoes and ratty hair.  Underneath, they are lovely androids, waiting for me to give them purpose.  I think they look nice just as they are.

Various mediums, sealants, textures and grounds.  All I have to do is swivel around in my chair and pick one.  They're expensive, but they last a very long time.  My most recent discovery is Yes! paste.  We're working on our relationship.  
Some of the larger balls of twine and string.  There is also a vintage string drawer, in addition to a drawer for threads, string and cord of all types.  There's just something about string that I cannot resist.  

Miscellaneous artifacts.  These are items that I'm certain will be essential to future projects.  But if they sit there long enough, I will consider listing them on Etsy as supplies.  I'm still inspired every day by everything I have.  Nothing seems old to me, or like it was a bad purchase, ever.  

A bin of electrical parts.  I like taking gadgets apart.  I've recently cleared a lot of things out, because I was never going to use some of the old housings, etc.  Only the giblets, the tender inner bits, remain.  These were never meant to be looked at, and that makes them worth seeing.  

More sundries.  I recently found the vintage flashlight at a thrift store for 50 cents.  I'm thrilled when that happens.  I love the old light fixtures, too.  They are so sculptural.  The plastic bag is full of plastic fingers that used to contain bubble blowing liquid.  Now they're just cool.

In My Drawers

One of my charms drawers.  This one contains mainly body parts - hands, feet, faces, etc.  Some of them are milagros, or miraculous medals used for curing ailments.  All of them are of high quality, because there's just no point in working with low-quality materials.  This is one of about four charm drawers, which are not to be confused with embellishment drawers.  

This drawer is just for rivets, eyelets, and the tools to apply them.  When I'm in a creative frenzy I have to be able to find exactly what I want when I want it.  So Unfrenzied Me prepares the way for Frenzied Me. These are organized by metal color, size, and type.  

One of the "white and clear" bead drawers, of which there are three.  Small white beads are so very useful.  These all started life in vintage necklaces, which I carefully took apart.  Doing this, I know very few if any people are going to have the same supplies.  And it's fun.

One of my "focal components" drawers.  My industrial aesthetic is evident here.  On the left are bits of fossilized bone.  At top are some vintage fraternal organization ribbons.  And then there's an old rubber plug and a British knitting needle gauge.  Something will come of this.

The blue bead drawer.  Beads are classified by color now.  I started out classifying them by material but that was obviously silly.  Again, a lot of these came from vintage necklaces.  But some are African trade beads, which are a fave of mine.  Only a very few are new.

Another focal elements drawer.  I have a thing for vintage Tootsie cars and Lesney, their British equivalent.  They make great focal elements.  Also bits of vintage jewelry, paper (in the wrong drawer!), vintage faucets and industrial elements.  These drawers were not rearranged before photographing them, obviously.  

The Studio

Finally, a work in progress.  Some things have to sit around and germinate for a while.  I got some old radios a while back and I'm letting them sit and stew.  Every now and then I rearrange them, put items inside them, and so on.  One day something will click.  At right is a light tower from a miniature railroad.  This will be great.  

So there you have it - some insight into what it takes to work in many mediums.  I've never chosen between jewelry, collage, and assemblage.  I love working with metal, and glue, and I simply must take things apart.  When I go into my studio I rarely know what I'm going to be doing that day - cleaning up, starting a project, ending one, or just rearranging.  I do know I'll have fun.