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Photographing farm jewelry September 23 2014

This blog post is written by Cow Art and More founder and jewelry artist, Kathy Swift.

Full disclosure:  I am not a photographer.  I barely know enough to be dangerous. 

This is a picture of my setup.  I put my 'smarter than me' camera on a mini tripod, which comes up to my knees.  I put the charm on a box, with some scenery to get the picture.  (The charm may be hard to see, but it's at the end of the yellow arrow.)

In this photography session from a couple of weeks ago, I wanted something very 'farmish' and natural as the background.  I decided some pretty, green hay was in order.

The problem with wanting pretty, green hay in Florida is that WE DON'T HAVE ANY!  The stuff we feed here, quite frankly, are mini tree trunks and it's never pretty.  It's that stemmy, ugly stuff that you have hiding in the back of your barn that you will use to bed with this winter.

So I tasked dear hubby with finding me some pretty hay.


Two hours later, he walked in with this:


Yes, it's a bag of Western timothy hay he got from one of those large scale pet stores.  As you can see, it's meant for rodents and rabbits and such.  What's the price for a bag of hay this pretty you ask?  Why it was only $6 for the one pound bag.  Not bad, until you start thinking about it in farming terms and realize it's $12,000 a ton.

Maybe I'm in the wrong business.











Nonetheless, I think it was worth it.


You can find Kathy and her jewelry charms at the World Dairy Expo, September 30 through October 4, 2014, Madison, Wisconsin.

How to Hang and Showcase Your Artwork September 09 2014

If the walls in your home seem a little too plain, try livening up your living space with some art. Framed photos or paintings are a great way to show your style and add personality to a home. Sadly, many wince at the tricky business of properly hanging art. Fortunately, you've come to the right place. These simple guidelines will help you get that artwork looking great and hanging level in no time.

To start, take your available wall space into consideration. Are you looking for a piece that will dominate the living room, or just something that will add interest to a small section of a hallway or staircase? There are frames and art for almost every situation, so be sure you know what you're looking for before you buy. You'll also want to make sure that the artwork doesn't clash with your existing furniture or color scheme. For instance, abstract works of art will generally fit better with IKEA furniture than a classic Victorian style, though of course the choice is up to you. Also, if you plan on being able to see the art, make sure the area you choose is well-lit.

Once you've got your artwork, it's time to figure out your placing options. Most experts recommend hanging art so that the center of the piece rests at eye level, usually around 60 inches from the floor, although this will obviously not always be possible. Measure and plan carefully before installing hanging fixtures, as you don't want your wall to end up full of holes from botched attempts.

If you're hanging a series or set of pictures together, place the most important one in the middle position, since the eye will be naturally drawn to it. Differently sized pictures will look more level if aligned along their centers rather than their edges.

Now that you've got your artwork and your location, it's time for the hard part, actually hanging the picture. You'll want the picture to rest flush against the wall, and of course, hang levelly. Your own gallery hanging system should be easy to use, simple to install, and most importantly, sturdy and reliable. Avoid using a wire hanging system, as they tend to slide around and become crooked, however, if you must use a wire hanger, try using two hooks instead of one for added stability. Hooks with more acute angles will also hold a picture better and rest flusher with the wall. If possible, though, try solid fixtures such as D-rings or triangle loops instead, as these are much more reliable. Another excellent option are bracket cleats, which securely lock the artwork in place, and are very sturdy. Double-check the fixtures to make sure that they're level. If they're not, you'll have to adjust your wall-mounted fixtures to compensate.

Carefully mark where the fixtures will end up on the wall, and install the other end of your fixtures. Make sure to use a level before and after installation to make sure that you are completely straight. If hanging your art from drywall, make sure your fixtures are well anchored in a stud in order to prevent cracking or tearing.

If you've done everything correctly, you should now have an attractive piece of artwork that looks great, straight, and steady. Enjoy!

Many thanks to guest author Steven Rosen for this post.

Steven Rosen is a marketing consultant and content writer for AS Hanging Systems. He has an educational background in marketing and communications and is quite the handyman in terms of home improvements and decor.

Cow Art and More to exhibit at the 2014 World Dairy Expo August 29 2014

Cow Art and More, the art gallery where 'art and agriculture' meet, will once again attend the World Dairy Expo.  This year's exposition, held yearly in Madison, Wisconsin, will be September 30 to October 4.  Gallery owner and jewelry artist Kathy Swift is excited to announce a new booth location in the exhibition hall.  "We are excited to be in the Exhibition Hall this year with other arts and crafts vendors," says Swift.  "While being the coliseum has always meant being closer to the cattle shows, we're looking forward to being with other exhibits similar to ours."  Cow Art and More will have an array of art and craft at booth 6303 in the exhibition hall.

Find out more about the Expo at

Choosing Jewelry - Which style is most flattering for you? August 15 2014

The right choice of jewelry can make you feel like a dazzling superstar, even as you do your daily errands. It can enhance your best features, while drawing attention away from others.

Here's an easy guide for selecting the jewelry style that is most flattering for your face and body type.


How would you describe the shape of your face? Is it round, oval, rectangular, heart-shaped, or square?

If you have an oval face shape, you can wear just about any style of earring. Everyone else needs to look for earrings that create a contrast with their face shape. If you have a round face, for example, don't go for a round-style button earring or a hoop earring because this style will actually emphasize the roundness of your face. You will probably find that a rectangular or square earring looks more flattering on you.

If you have a long or rectangular face, you'll typically want to opt for studs instead of long, dangling earrings.

If you have a square face, try hoop earrings or round styles to soften the lines of your face.

If your face is heart-shaped, you probably have a fairly narrow chin, so be on the lookout for triangular earring shapes that feature a wide base to balance the shape of your face.


Your choice of necklace can minimize or emphasize the size of your frame, depending on the desired effect.

If you are larger in stature, you can wear larger pieces. People with smaller frames need to be careful that chunky pieces don't overwhelm their frame and their look.

If you wish to create a taller appearance (or emphasize your tall stature), select a longer necklace and a V-shape. A jewelry piece that goes past your bustline (but ends above your waist) will create an elongated appearance. A shorter, U-shaped style that sits on the breast bone (such as a choker), tends to lead to a shortened appearance.


As with necklaces, your stature will determine your best look with bracelets. If you have an average height and weight, a wide bracelet may be most complimentary.

If you are petite, on the other hand, you will probably want to stick with more delicate pieces. If you are tall or full-figured, you will want to go with something a bit more bold. You can also pull off the look of layering bracelets of various sizes and shapes.


The rule of thumb here: if your fingers are short, try an oval setting. If your fingers are long, try a wide band with a round, simple setting.

Anything You Love

These guidelines are here to help steer you toward jewelry that compliments your face and body type, but the most important thing when selecting jewelry is to find something that you personally love.

When you purchase a quality piece of jewelry, it will last a lifetime, so take your time in considering your selection to make sure it is exactly right for you.

Jamie Jefferson publishes the latest online jewelry discounts and special offers for the web's finest jewelry merchants. You can also find diamond coupons and discounts at

Article Source:

How to Flatten Rolled Art Prints August 14 2014

How to Flatten a Rolled Map or Poster

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Rolled wall maps or posters are hard to put on the wall if they're trying to roll back up. Here's how to get them to straighten up.


  • Roll your poster opposite from the way that it curls. Start loose and tighten it up as you go, to avoid creasing it. Sometimes this is enough to flatten it, depending on the paper and how long it has been rolled.
  • Wrap rubber bands around your opposite-rolled poster.
  • Let your poster sit like this for a few hours.
  • Remove the rubber bands and place your poster flat on a clean surface. Put it so that the side towards which it's curling.
  • Smooth out the poster and place weights on the corners and in the center of your poster for 2 to 4 hours. Books are a good choice.
  • Remove the weights.
  • Hang the poster.


  • If your poster continues to curl after completing step 5, keep the weights on for longer.
  • Good substitutes for paperweights include smooth rocks, glass jars, bean bags, and heavy books. Don't put heavy weights on the poster on a soft surface. The poster could crinkle.
  • Work gently to avoid crinkling the poster.
  • If you place the poster on the floor to flatten it, make sure it is out of the way so that nobody steps on it.


Ironing does not work for flattening posters.
If you want to flatten a vintage poster, please take it to a professional.
If you want to laminate a poster, flatten it first.
Do not use rubber bands that have ink stamps on them, as they may stain your paper.

Related wikiHows

How to Cover Your Room With Posters
How to Mount a Map or Poster Without Damaging It
How to Center a Heading on a Poster or Other Headline
How to Make a Poster

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Flatten a Rolled Map or Poster. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

How to keep sterling silver and gold jewelry tarnish free August 12 2014 3 Comments

This is an article from Cow Art and More jewelry artist, Kathy McComb Swift

In the process of designing, constructing and selling sterling silver jewelry to customers, I am often asked how to keep the jewelry clean and free of tarnish. Here are a few of my recommendations along with customer mistakes (and how to fix them!).

1. The first thing you need to know is that "tarnish happens" when it comes to jewelry. Even gold jewelry, after many years, will eventually tarnish. Tarnish is caused by the reaction of the copper, in the sterling silver, to humidity and elements. Even perfumes, lotions, hair care products and sweat will accelerate tarnish on jewelry.

The remedy: Try to make sure all your "body products" (hairspray, lotions, etc.) are dry before putting on your jewelry. After you are done wearing your jewelry, wipe it clean and dry with a soft cloth (I prefer plush cotton or flannel) before storing it.

2. Leave jewelry sitting out, exposed to the air most of the time, tarnish becomes inevitable.

The remedy: Store jewelry in a place that is cool, dark and not exposed to air. Other jewelers advocate placing jewelry in a ziploc bag for storage. You must make sure your jewelry is absolutely dry and the bag is free of air when doing this. Otherwise, you create a "rainforest" in the bag and it will tarnish in a matter of days! If you want to do this, I would recommend wrapping the piece in a soft cloth first, then place in a ziploc bag. Squeeze all the air out of the bag before closing. For those that like having their jewelry in a box where you can easily see it, place a piece of chalk in the box. The chalk will absorb the moisture. Be sure to replace the chalk monthly.

3. My jewelry is tarnished. What is the best way to clean it?

The remedy: Always opt first for a polishing cloth to remove tarnish from your jewelry. I sell and recommend the Sunshine polishing cloths, but have also had good luck with Haggerty's silversmith polish sprayed on a soft cloth. (Do not spray this product directly on the piece.) Sometimes I will use the tarnish removing dip to clean a piece, but ONLY if the piece is metal only (no stones) and if there is no "patina" on the piece. (Patina is the intentional oxidation of the piece to highlight details.) These dips mush be used with care as they are removing the outer layer of metal on a piece (like the cloths) and can act very quickly!

4. I use a tarnish removing dip cleaner for my silver and now it tarnishes so much faster. Why is it doing this?

The remedy: While the liquid dips that remove tarnish will do so, they leave a sulfur residue that makes the jewelry react with the air and tarnish more quickly than before. If you are going to use the silver dip, the jewelry must be rinsed for a minimum of 15 minutes under running water to remove all the sulfur residue.

5. Someone told me to use toothpaste and/or baking soda to clean my jewelry. Is this okay?

The remedy: Using either of these is only okay only IF the sterling silver has a matte finish. If the jewelry has a shiny, mirror polish to it, these abrasives will remove the tarnish but will also scratch that shiny finish. Should this happen, they only way to remedy the situation is to have a professional properly polish the piece again, assuming the damage isn't too great.

6. What about ultrasonic jewelry cleaning?

The remedy: This is only an option for pure metal jewelry (no stones) or jewelry with stones hard enough to withstand ultrasonic cleaning. Stones such as coral, turquoise, tanzanite, and others are not ultrasonic cleanable. When in doubt, please consult the designer of the piece or a jewelry repair expert.



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