Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Silver price is still going strong...

We all know precious metal prices has been increasing. I got this chart from
It's very interesting to see how fast the price changes. I started selling jewelry around year 2003. By then, silver price is about $5/troy ounce. Recently, it's reached about $16/troy ounce, which is about 22% increase.
Which makes me wonder,... how high would it go. What do you think?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

First Communion Bracelet for Emma...

I received a First Communion order from my website, This one is for Emma. It has been a hectic week for me as First Communion day just around the corner. I'm happy to help. Happy First Communion day, Emma.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Meet Paula from pkillustrations

Whooa.... is that Nessie? The legend monster from Loch Ness?
Well... it's actually "Creature of the deep" illustration from Paula of PKIllustrations. This illustration caught my eyes because it's fun to see. I decided to learn more about Paula.

Bigib: Tell me about your background
PKIllustrations: From a very young age I loved drawing. For years I have been coming up with my own versions of all my favorite creatures. I took every art class available in high school and graduated college with a degree in graphic design. Although I do use a lot of design basics that I learned in college, I much prefer to dream up my own little creations. I find it much more fun and creative!

Bigib: Why do you use wood and colored pencil to express your art?
I use mostly colored pencil because I love how they blend together easily, I can get things looking exactly as I see them in my head. I’ve recently experimented with acrylic paints on wood. I’m really enjoying it! I find it more free and relaxing and I really like the smooth texture of the wood, it really is a great surface to paint on. With painting I don’t think it’s quite as controlled as colored pencil, so it’s exciting because I’m not quite sure how the finished piece will come out.

Bigib: Any new project you're working on?
A new project to look for is various kinds of wood pegs and key holders. I recently purchased a reciprocating saw, used for cutting wood. The design I am working on now is an owl shaped key holder. It is cut out of wood, hand-painted and has 4 hooks on the bottom to hang keys or even a dog leash. I’m planning on making many different shapes, mostly animal forms.

Bigib: How's your design process?
PKIllustrations: My idea process is pretty random! I get a lot of my ideas just doodling in my sketch book; nature is another big inspiration for me as well. I love just observing things around me and putting them on paper. It’s like creating my own little Paula world, with my own versions of plants and animals.

Bigib: Do you innovate?
PKIllustrations: I’m always trying to make things better, but I don’t do things in batches. When I’m creating something I concentrate on it fully from start to finish. It takes a little longer, but working on it from start to finish works better for me, otherwise I tend to lose focus, and nothing gets made. As far as my prints go it’s the same way, when someone orders one I print it out and package it up. For me it’s more personal then just grabbing one from a pile.

Bigib: I'm sure you have tons of illustrations you like. But which are your favorites?
PKIllustrations: That’s such a hard question; it’s like choosing which child is your favorite! I’d have to say my illustrations as a whole. I love making plushies, but drawing is what comes out most naturally. I really like making originals as well, it’s fun because I make something once and that’s it, only one person will have it and I’ll never draw it again. I hope that answers the question, it’s just so hard to choose!

Bigib: Anything else you would like to share?
I love my job and being an artist, and I have a million and one ideas to create, so please visit my shop! I’m always creating something exciting and new!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Milk free soft pretzel recipe

Looking milk or butter free recipe? Try this soft pretzel recipe.
My daughter has milk allergy. So, I have to make up recipes. Since to day is Friday, I thought it's appropriate to blog something on the lighter side ...

I got this soft pretzel recipe from Metro Parent (from which calls for butter. I decided to use vegetable oil instead.

1 pkg dry active yeast
1 1/2 c. lukewarm water
3/4tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 c. + 1 tbsp flour
1 egg beaten
coarse salt.

Put lukewarm water in a large bowl and sugar. Then add yeast. Leave it for 10 minutes. You should see the yeast a bit bubbly. If you don't see anything, throw it away. The water may be too hot and kill the yeast.
Add salt, oil and flour. Mix it until a dough forms. Knead the dough for 5 minutes and set aside for at least 45 minutes to 1 hr. After 45 minutes, the dough should rise. Preheat oven to 450F.

Cut dough into small pieces and roll into pencil thin ropes and shape into pretzel (or any shape you like. I made spiral, heart, sigma pretzels shape). Cover a cookie sheet with foil and sprinkle 1 tbsp flour. Place pretzel onto floured cookie sheet. Brush with egg mixture and sprinkle coarse salt on top. Bake for 12 minutes.

After it cooled, my daughter went to the next neighbor to share the fresh baked pretzels.
Hmm.... lucky kids...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Wooden Apple Puzzle, Teachers' gift idea.

As school year is almost over, you may be start thinking for teachers' gift idea for the class.
Well... I've been there... so I thought I would like to share my experience.

About 3 years ago, I volunteered to coordinate teachers' appreciation gift. As we all moms were discussing, what can we give the teachers as a thank you gift, we came up with the idea that the gift should somehow made by the children but it has to be something that easy to coordinate and has some cohesiveness.

We had a puzzle idea as each kids could make or decorate its own piece. Not so much like the ones in the craft store, but something more sturdy.... what might it be? A wooden apple puzzle... but how do I get it? it is a mission impossible?

I approached a Dave and Judy Peterson from Fantaminals to help accomplish the mission. As I explained Judy what I needed, an apple puzzle with at least 16 puzzle pieces (16 children) so each child could decorate or write their names.
She came up with this design ( as seen in the Scroll Saw Woodworking & Craft magazine, Spring 2007, issue 26 p. 56 ....)

The kids were excited that they can write their names on it, the teacher was thrilled with the puzzle they can use in the class and the moms were all happy with the result.
Thanks Judy...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Santiago Calatrava inspired earrings

Did I tell you Santiago Calatrava's designs inspired my jewelry? Well this is one of the new design inspired by it.

It's made of sterling silver, silver plated nylon coated steel wire (steel cable are usually the material used in the cable structure) adorned with red lampwork.

To learn more about this earrings, you can visit my Etsy store.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

First Communion Gift for Isabella

You don't have to be a mom to get this personalize First Communion gift. Just like Ms. O, she ordered this bracelet through my Etsy store for her second cousin.

It's made of fresh water pearls, sterling silver spacers, Swarovski crystal personalized with hand stamped sterling charm. As always, my children bracelet comes with 1"extender and lobster clasp for more security. I usually ask for 7-10 working days. But if you are in hurry, please contact me conny(at)bigib(dot)com. I will try to accommodate your needs.

Happy First Communion day, Isabella...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Meet Michele and Mike from MnMTreasures

Tic-Tac-Toe... Tic?
Ooooh... I fell in love with this cute tic-tac-toe Cat-Mouse wooden game from MnM Treasures. It's a game, it's a wall hanging... I love the idea of double function.

Michele and Mike lives in Illinois. Michele graduated from the University of WI Green Bay and worked in the Information Technology field until 10 years ago when she devoted herself to raising our 5 children, ages 5 to 12. Mike graduated from Indiana University and works in the Insurance and Health/Wellness field.

So, I'm curious how did all start. Here what they have to say...

MnM Treasures: Michele has always been the creative, crafty person and got Michele and Mike into the craft business in 1992. had purchased a house in Wisconsin that included a complete workshop with woodworking tools and machinery. Having no prior experience, we taught ourselves how to cut, router, sand and finish. We had a lot of success in craft shows and made/sold hundreds of collapsible baskets and other wood plus paper mache products.

Bigib: Why do you use wood as the material?
MnM Treasures: Wood was the natural choice given the workshop that came with our old house. Mike finds it soothing to cut since it requires total focus and concentration. Wood is very durable and we like to make wood do new things like the sponginess/flexibility of the baskets. Wood cuts like butter if you have the right wood, saw and push/pull it the right way.

Our pride and joy is our selection of Collapsible Baskets, each handcrafted from a single piece of oak wood. These amazing gifts lay flat to serve as a trivet (hot plate), and then cleverly fold open to become a standing basket that can be filled with candy, potpourri, soaps, dried flowers, etc!

Bigib: What new project are you working on or anything coming up?
MnM Treasures:Michele is working on new belt buckles all the time. Check our Etsy shop often for new unique, functional gifts!

Bigib: How is your design process?
MnM Treasures: We used patterns purchased from Berry Baskets to start out and then added a lot of shapes and animals based on customer special orders that we added to our collection. The original 5 shapes have grown into one of the largest selections of collapsible baskets in the United States with over 40 shapes and sizes.

Bigib:Do you innovate?
MnM Treasures: We have learned a lot of tricks over the years. For example, when we first started we would make 1 basket at a time from beginning to end. We found it was much more efficient and quicker to do a quantity of the same basket for each step – i.e. cut 10 of the outside shape, then cut out the inside of each of the 10 circles, then cut the inside circle at an angle, etc.

Bigib: I'm sure you have tons of items you like. What's your favorite?
MnM Treasures:

a. Washington Apple Collapsible basket: This Apple basket measures approximately 8.5" wide, 11" tall and .75" deep when 'folded' flat. (Decorative candy and display fruit inside basket not included). This unique yet functional product makes a great gift for any occasion – especially birthdays and Christmas. Of course, you should keep a couple for your own decorating needs!

b. Tropical Fish Collapsible basket: This Tropical Fish basket measures approximately 10.5" wide, 8" tall and .75" deep when 'folded' flat. (Decorative candy and display fruit inside basket not included)

c. Cat/Mouse Tic-Tac-Toe: This is the last one we have left, so it is really one of a kind! This adorable Cat-Mouse Tic-Tac-Toe game makes a unique gift. It is functional as either a game or wall hanging. Comes with the Cat game board along with 5 cat and 5 mice playing pieces on a shoestring that can hang from the tail when mounted on the wall. The game board is approximately 10" wide and 19" tall and comes with a wall hanging plate on the back.

d. Belt Buckle: do you want to choose?

Bigib: Is there anything else you would like to share?
MnM Treasures:
From designing to selecting the wood to cutting, sanding and finishing, each basket is truly a labor of love and creativity. We both love to make unique, functional gifts that are great for any occasion and will be appreciated for years to come! It is very rewarding when customers appreciate all of the hard work and creativity that goes into every aspect of design, manufacture and finishing. Our work can be found at:

Friday, April 18, 2008

How to make "My Little Pony" theme soap

Looking for unique item or activity for a birthday? You can make this My Little Pony soap.

Few weeks ago, my daughter celebrated her birthday. The theme was My Little Pony. We decided that we want to make soap and shrinky dinks activities. Not any soap, but My Little Pony theme soap.

I looked for pony cookie cutter or pony mold. But none satisfy the birthday girl. I decided to make embedded pony soap...

Here's how.
First, find a My little pony picture that has a good outline. Which means, even though it's just an outline, the kids could tell that it's a pony. Then, print it to the size that would fit your soap mold. Using clear acetate, trace the picture and cut it. This will become your pony pattern.

Second, melt the soap and color it. We use pink for the pony and purple for the "cutie mark"
Pour it on the top of waxed paper and let it cool.
Third, trace soap pattern on the soap with sharp pointed tool. I use bead reamer...(well... you can tell from the tool I use, I make jewelry...:). I use heart cookie cutter for the "cutie mark" .

Fourth, pour clear soap on the mold, wait till a bit cool, put the embedded pony soap, and pour clear soap again on the top. This how to make confetti soap will help you with the basic.
The birthday girl was thrilled... and mommy was super exhausted...n

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sterling Silver Name Bracelet SALE

I have a new name bracelet design, so I'm phasing out this design.
It's available for a grab while supply last. Please check out my etsy store

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Blog Contest: What are you going to do with the money you get from Uncle Sam?

OK... tax season is done... yippee...

Now I'm waiting for the return and the 'economic stimulus' check from Uncle Sam. As a married couple with 2 children, I'm expecting about $1,800...
I have some idea what to do with it. I want to get myself a bike have fun with it this summer.

I have been listening to the Nightly Business Report on suggestions on what to do with the check from Uncle Sam, which including paying your debt, saving and investing. Hm... I think I could splurge myself a bit..., right?

Just for curiosity, I would like to have a small survey, kind of have an idea what are you going to do with you money. It's just for fun... no string attached.

To make thing even more fun, you could win ONE lady bug pendant.

Just leave comments (at least from 3 different users) by May 28, 2008 and I will draw the winner. Check back on my blog on May 29 to see the winner announcement. You have 2 weeks to claim your winning item. You have to live in the US.

Have fun...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Wayang Kulit, Indonesian shadow puppet.

Talking about shadow puppet, Andrea's work reminds me of Indonesian shadow puppet (Wayang kulit).

Wayang is a part of Indonesian culture. Other than wayang kulit, one of the more popular ones are wayang golek and wayang orang. I would like to talk more about wayang kulit.

The concept is similar with Andrea's shadow puppet. Each puppet has moving parts and meticulously decorated. However, the material is not paper. It is made of very thin almost transparent leather. Buffalo horn is used for the stick.

Commercial made wayang kulit I've seen are usually colored. Every wayang has its own character. Say like Arjuna is depicted as handsome and has good characters. The puppeteer is called Dalang.

To learn more about Wayang characters, you can visit wikipedia.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Meet Andrea from

We went to Chicago Children's Museum last Spring Break. Our daughter was interested in a class they offered that day, to make a shadow puppet. There, I met Andrea, from Owlyshadowpuppet.

Well... as fellow Etsian, I just have to interview her. I'm always curios about how do people start doing what they are doing. So, I began by asking her about her background.

I think I have been making things my whole life! As a kid I was happiest when left alone but I got into everything. If you turned your back on me you might find me melting things on the stove, or trying to sew my own clothes, or cutting the back off of a wooden kitchen chair (to turn it into a coffee table, of course!). It was a natural progression for me to get a BFA in fine art, but I have never been completely pacified with one medium. I moved from drawing to ceramics to photography to small assemblages to a little bit of puppet theater.

Over the years I gathered up a strange bundle of skills and found myself working for a small company that makes architectural models. I enjoyed the design aspect of the job, and now realize that maybe I should have been a designer! *sigh* Anyway, I was using a laser cutter at my model-making job and I was interested in seeing what things I could laser-cut. And I started designing shadow puppets-- mainly for my own amusement, but!
also because they are the perfect thing to laser-cut. Eventually I was able to quit the model-making job, sell the shadow puppets through ETSY, and do some free-lance theater design on the side. It is scary sometimes to work for yourself, but I do love the freedom of it.

Why do you choose mat-board as your material?
I use black mat-board to make the shadow puppets- I like the sturdiness of it, and it cuts very clean, which is important for some of the more delicate details on the puppets.

Anything new or big project coming up?
Right now I am working on a robot shadow puppet and a "moonscape" to hold it. I think there will be a little space ship in the background. I'm also working on trying to write a script-- I'm hoping to have a month off this summer to produce a shadow puppet show, and I'm not sure yet if I want to work with the characters I have or just invent all new characters. One idea is to do a show and "broadcast" it in sections on Utube. Wouldn't that be neat? Maybe it could be a series of bedtime stories for kids to watch, all done with shadows and puppets.

Bigib: Some people get inspirations when they're in the shower (like me:)
How do you get your ideas?
I think ideas just come to me. When I come up with something it literally "comes up" in my head, I mean one minute I am stumped and the next I am excited and have an idea. I like to draw at my kitchen table to help myself picture the ideas--this is where I keep track of things and make changes. My desk has all these little sketches on it, mixed in with lists and usually sprinkled over with pens and computer cords. If I am making a new puppet, I make a few versions of it before I get it right.

Bigib: Do you innovate?
I'm always trying to do things a little better! I'm much better now at packing and shipping the shadow puppets, and I recently organized all my work and household papers-- it helps so much to know where things are! But there is still room for improvement. I'm trying to find ways to recycle the left-over mat board from making the puppets, and I would like to make a tool that bends wire into the shapes I need. (I do the wire bending and twisting by hand right now, and my wrists get sore) Often my brother has good suggestions for me, he knows a lot about the way materials work and sees possibilities I don't see.

Bigib: I'm sure you got tons of your favorite items. What's your most favorite?
My Favorite Items:
my cats, plants, bikes, funky jewelry, my dish collection, cuckoo clocks, fair-trade coffee, vintage table cloths, wood chisels, bamboo, clear storage bins, starwars postage stamps, Harper's magazine, and smores. Of all of these, I will only tell you specifically about the bamboo: I live in Chicago where it gets very cold in winter... and I love bamboo but always thought it was a tropical plant. But now I see there is this new kind of bamboo called "Green Panda" that can grow here! It grows to 8 feet tall with small leaves, and it's beautiful. I want to plant some in my yard. What could be better than having your own forest of bamboo? Also, it would be fun to make big kites from the bamboo poles.

I hope people out there all get a chance to do what they love, or to find their own happiness with every-day life. If you had to say why you work, what would you say? I'm always trying to remind myself that my "chores" and my "work" and my "free-time" are all connected. A very content person once told me an old Zen proverb: "Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water."

To learn more about Andrea's work, you can visit her website .
She also shares "Shadow Puppet Lesson" on her
(Teachers: this is a great activity for children).

Friday, April 11, 2008

Have you filed your tax return yet?

April 15, 2008 is right around the corner. I have to admit, this week I'm focusing on my taxes. It's just 4 more days. It's now a priority in my list.
Yes, I have to admit...I'm a procrastinator. But then I also wonder, how many people starts submitting their online tax return?

I found this report by Imediaconnection which shows February and April are the busiest time.
First week of February are the time when people receive their W-2 and 1099. And may be people just want to get a head start.
As April approaches, procrastinators (just like me) starts filing the tax.

I know where I fall in this chart... how about you? Have you filed your tax return yet?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Randy Pausch's inspiring lecture.

Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon Professor who has pancreatic cancer, did his last lecture on "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams". It was an inspiring lecture for me.
Tonight, I saw his interview with Diane Sawyer. I'm glad he's still able to see his interview aired.
Despite his illness, I think he is one of the luckiest person in the world. He has the time to prepare before he goes and really enjoy life.
Life is short. Live to the fullest.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Santiago Calatrava's Milwaukee Art Museum

I'm lucky to live in a city where Santiago Calatrava designed our Milwaukee Art Museum.
I am one of his admirer. What I think is so significant about his work is because he incorporates cable structure to his designs.

Cable structure is used when you want to achieve a long or wide span space without any column or structure obstructing the space. Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, CA is one of an example for using cable to achieve long span structure.

What is so interesting about cable, is it could only take tension force. Or if you give push on both ends, it will always make a parabolic shape. This specific feature inspired me to design what I call Architecture inspired earrings and pendant

It includes the feature of cable has plus the beauty of unique design. Wouldn't you agree?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Architecture inspired jewelry / pendant.

Aaaaahhh...another Santiago Calatrava's inspired necklace. It's made of sterling silver wire, copper bead caps and saucer shape glass beads. Dangled on black cotton waxed cord.
To learn more about this product, please visit my bigib store.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Meet Maram from Maram.Etsy.Com

As I was strolling on Etsy, I stumbled on this cute Moo Cow Reversible Purse.

I really like this reversible purse idea. Yes,... I'm going green. I like the idea that you can wear the same item in many ways. Well, I designed earrings that can be worn in many different ways myself. Moreover, as a Wisconsinite, anything "cow" related products, would catch my eyes...

So, I began by asking her about her background.
I've been an artist/creator for as long as I can remember- making costumes, jewelry, doll clothes, drawings and paintings galore. I was always interested in fashion, and when I finally got my own sewing machine as a college senior, I started making clothes. Then I started making purses to give as gifts. Two years later, I got laid off from my job at a museum, and asked if they might sell some purses on consignment. They said yes, and I took inspiration from an exhibit where the artist used old ties as borders for some of her works. My designs have taken off from there.

I'm also all about recycling. My parents are big hippies, and my mom actually started the recycling program in our city. I love being able to get materials from the thrift store, and turn someone's old discards into something new and fabulous. Another great thing is that using old materials really helps to keep my prices low.

Bigib: What's new project you're working on, or anything coming up?
My newest project is called "Oh, Sheet!" I'm using old sheets to create soft, sturdy tote bags - and the straps are old belts! I've cut the tops into inverted triangles, so they are really designed to hug your body. They can all be worn across your chest, keeping your hands are free for more important things!

Bigib: I'm sure you have tons of favorite items. Can you pick your most favorite?
One of my all-time favorite purses is my olive green corduroy purse.
I love the colors, the silver lining and the tie is just too good. Everything works together so nicely - this is the purse I secretly (or not so secretly) don't want to sell.

Bigib: Is there anything else you want to share?
I love to make all kinds of stuff, and then I love for it to find a good home! I also love to help other people - especially kids - make art/objects/stuff. I'm finishing my Masters in Art Education this spring, and looking for a full-time K-12 teaching job.

To learn more about Maram store, you can visit

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Today is Abigail's birthday...

Today, I put my "mom" hat on. I need to get cupcakes for her friends and give her a little surprise. She changed my life... to the better. I'm blessed to have her.
Happy birthday Abigail...

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Bird Nest inspired Necklace.

Last Summer, we found a bird nest in our backyard. It was hiding inside a tree, but Marshall, our next door neighbor kid found it. All the kids on the block was so thrilled. Almost 4-5 kids would gather around and look at the nest. Even grown ups... Soon, one by one flew and left the empty nest.

Few month later, as I was thinking for my new design... I decided to make bird nest inspired necklace. It's made of sterling silver disc, adorned with fresh water pearls....
Sometimes you don't know what things would inspire you...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Lampwork Bracelet

Here's another lamp work bracelet for Spring. The lamp work is made by an artist. I added bali silver and do a wire wrap connection.
To learn more about this bracelet, please visit my Etsy store.