Thursday, September 14, 2006

Easy Tips For Figure Drawing Like the Masters in Minutes

by: Todd Harris

Drawing people and faces is not very hard to do. Well, that’s not one hundred percent accurate if you want to achieve a likeness to the person that you are drawing. This is very challenging and hard to do because each person is unique and poses their own individuality. Figure drawing and drawing faces is an artists ultimate challenge because of this uniqueness, everyone is different. Mastering the human form can be difficult but with these tips, it may be a little easier.

First, when you are starting out, draw everyone you know. Draw your friends and family. Draw at church, the baseball diamond, the park, a funeral, a wedding, wherever you go! Take a sketch pad with you everywhere.

Another good tip is to copy an old master’s painting. Take a Bougereau or Da Vinci or some other master’s painting and copy it. This is a tip that a lot of artists find the most useful when trying to master figure drawing. What is it that makes their work great? Study their technique and line usage, make notes so that you are able to incorporate these into your drawings. Observe the boldness of their lines, what about their hatching and cross-hatching, or shading? Make notes!

Do a self portrait. Check yourself out in the mirror and get drawing. The reoccurring theme with these tips are get drawing people.

Do studies of the hands, eyes, mouths, and noses. Draw hundreds of each of these trying to get the anatomy right and also focusing on the likeness of the persons or illustration you are sketching.

Do several gesture drawings every day. These will help you in your efforts to bring life and vitality to your drawings. Gesture drawings help in capturing the emotion of what you are trying to convey in the portrait.

Take a digital camera with you everywhere. This will help you when you come across something that strikes your eye for a reference. I use mine also for interesting textures or if I see a piece of clothing that would make an interesting practice piece. Never go on a trip without one!

Finally, you know where you struggle. Look at these areas carefully and practice, practice, practice. Go back to the basics. Get a good look at your weaknesses and turn them into your strengths. Is it drawing hair? Drawing clothes? Or is it mastering eyes, or capturing a likeness to your subject? Whatever it is, study it out and get drawing. You can do it. These tips will help you get started.

Copyright 2006 Todd Harris

About The Author
Todd Harris is a master artist who is currently working for a multi-billion dollar company as a concept art director. He is trained in the Florence Academy Method of Art.

Learning2draw.com is a site devoted to aspiring artists, helping them to master the human form and achieve their artistic talents. For more information on drawing people or faces and to receive a free newsletter with hundreds of tips and tricks, visit http://www.learning2draw.com .

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City Of Heroes: A Travel Power Guide

by: Matt Marvellous

We at the Marvello Corps supergroup like to give help where we can. Where as City of Heroes isn’t the most complicated MMORPG out there, it’s always good to have a little bit of information to help those who want it so I have written this guide to one of the most fun parts of both City of Heroes and City of Villains; the travel powers.

Over the 50 levels of both games you are going to do an awful lot of travelling around. You have the choice of 4 different powers that you can take to help you get around the different zones. They each have their benefits, drawbacks and pre-requisite powers that need to be taken before you can access them.

The powers themselves can be accessed at level 14 at the earliest and they are so prevalent in the game it is just assumed that by level 14 you will have one. It’s important to remember this when choosing your early powers, especially if you want to PVP, as the terrain of the higher-level zones (and the distances you have to travel between missions) is much easier and quicker to navigate around with one of these powers. So you want one right?

This means that either at level 6, 8, 10 or 12 you have to make the choice of travel power and pick a pre-requisite. The travel powers themselves are Fly, Teleport, Super Jump and Super Speed. Which one you choose will greatly depend on personal preference or character concept. I chose Fly with my original character because I was new to the game and wanted a flying character. My main preference, however, is for Super Jump as it is very versatile. This doesn’t stop me taking other travel powers though, sometimes for character concept or sometimes because I like a change. Sometimes I like to pick powers based on the pre-requisite power. This is always a good idea if there is a power that you want because it saves you having to access 2 travel pools and gives you a further power selection that otherwise would have been lost to you. As you can see there are many things to consider when deciding on your power.

So here are the powers along with some of their pre-requisite powers and pros and cons.

Fly:

This seams to be the one power that every new player wants and you can see why. Flying is so ingrained into the concept of a super-powered hero it almost seams wrong to have a hero without it.

Some say it is the safest power and it has certainly been designed as such. With it you can often completely miss mobs. Within missions it is not overly versatile but can be a benefit to the right character. It has a fairly high endurance usage (even though changed recently) and in order to use it with powers you will need to optimise your build. One option is to take Hover (one of the pre-requisite powers) as it has a much lower endurance usage and gives a defence buff as well, all be it a small one. One thing to remember is that it has a suppression effect so if you fire your powers you can not simply fly off, it takes a few seconds before the power comes back.

On the down side Fly is very slow compared to the other travel powers. Recently the option to slot Swift to enhance fight was added but it gives little benefit to a fully slotted Fly. The power its self needs to be slotted. I would recommend at least slotting with 3 flight speed enhancements. If you find you are having problems with endurance a 4th slot with an endurance modifier should solve that.

As far as Pre-requisites go you have a choice of Air Superiority and Hover. Air Superiority is actually quite a nice attack that deals a fare amount of damage and knocks an enemy out of the sky (or off there feet). It’s handy for Defenders and Controllers who don’t get many Melee attacks. I would warn against it for characters who use weapons though as you will have to re-draw your weapon after firing this off.

Hover is like mini-fly. It has a very slow speed but this can be enhanced with Flight speed enhancements to give a fairly good speed for use in battles. It does not suffer from suppression and has an incredibly small defence bonus. It is good for non-melee characters that want to fly above a battle and attack/buff/de-buff and can be useful for avoiding floor traps like Quicksand and Caltraps. This isn’t as good for Melee characters as you tend to stay away from the fight more.

Teleport:

Teleport is fast. In fact it is the fastest power in the game. You will get to everywhere as fast as super-humanly possible and it looks really good and has a very useful pre-requisite power.

It’s a very nice power to have in some respects. In others though, it is sadly lacking. For the benefit of speeding across zones you will have to 6-slot this power. Firstly 3 you need slots for endurance reduction. The endurance usage on Teleport is very high. When you first get this power you often have to take breaks between teleportation, as travel across zones will leave you drained. With the slotting however it is manageable and with Stamina as well, it is even more so. The last 3 slots you can use to boost the powers range (using normal range enhancements) that will speed up your travel.

As far as versatility goes this is probably the least versatile of the travel powers. Its speed is great but changing direction is sometimes a pain. One of the redeeming features of this power though is the ability to teleport away from slowing effects. It is useful in missions even if it takes some thinking outside the box to find some of the uses. Teleporting between ledges in missions is not the easiest thing in the world and if you want a power that is useful in that respect then maybe one of the others would be better for you.

Recall Friend and Teleport Foe are both useful powers as well and really help to make the power a better choice. Recall Friend lets you teleport team mates to you. This can be useful if you are getting people away from trouble or helping people reach missions quicker. It is less useful in PVP but this is where Teleport For really comes into its own. Teleport Foe allows you to teleport and enemy to you. It’s occasionally used as a pulling technique in PVE but it has a large agro range so you often find that the whole mob will follow as well. This is not always the case in PVP though and the power can be used to target individuals and either move them away from one of your allies or move them closer to another one.

If you can afford the slots then this is a nice power to have, even if it takes a little getting used to.

Super Jump:

I find this to be the most versatile of the travel powers. It combines a good speed with a decent vertical movement allowing quick crossing of maps as well as useability inside missions for reaching some of the tricky ledges. It also has the benefit of allowing you to control where you are going to land. The only down side to this power is that if you are not careful you may land near or on mobs who can quite easily kill you. It does not take long, however, to learn some of the tricks with Super Jump and it will afford you safe travel around zones with not much practice.

Super Jump is another power that has the suppression effect however and is greatly affected by powers that slow you or remove your ability to jump. It also has a very subtle power effect and it has been known for some people to run out of endurance during a battle because they have left this power on. That is not to say it is heavy on endurance, in fact outside of battle situations you never need to worry about endurance at all. The power is at a premium with just a single Jump enhancement and is actually quite fun to use.

The pre-requisite powers are equally as good as those of Fly. Combat Jumping is to Super Jump as Hover is to Fly. It gives you a very minor defence and can be use as a minor travel power. It is a toggle of course and endurance heavy builds, or those who already run many toggles may have a problem running CJ at the same time as fighting. Jump Kick has a funny animation but is every bit as good as Air Superiority. Once again using this power will have the effect of sheathing any weapons you may be using, but that does not stop it being useful for the right character.

Another thing to consider when taking the Jumping pool is Acrobatics. I have deliberately left out the other powers in the travel pools because on the whole they are not much use and do not have an effect on whether a power is chosen or not. Acrobatics is different. It is a toggle that allows some protection from holds and knock back effects. It’s worthwhile considering if you have a character that does not have a power like that available within your own sets.

This is my favourite power for travelling. It’s a good all rounder.

Super Speed:

This is the second most versatile of all the travel powers yet is suffers in one great respect. Unlike all of the other travel powers Super Speed is the only one that forces you to go around objects. The payoff for that is that you have a very speedy power that grants you a limited stealth effect. Travelling with Super Speed is not the easiest thing and you often have to re-evaluate your route half way through but the speed lone means that you still tend to end up at missions before your teammates.

In missions as well this is a useful power. It can help you keep up with your team. It can help you stealth through missions, avoiding those tricky mobs, and it has a very low endurance drain so it is possible to use this power in a fight.

For enhancements, you can just slot one for running speed and you are all done, saving you valuable slots. It is a good idea, however, to get this power with Hurdle from the fitness pool as that will give you some benefits vertically and allow you to jump over some obstacles you would otherwise have to run around.

Super Speed has the benefit of having one of the most useful pre-requisites; hasten. This power speeds up your attacks recharge time. Some see it as a must-have power but I have never thought of it as such. It does however give you great benefits in some fights and is a very worthwhile power to take.

The other option is Flurry. Much like Air Superiority it is a punch, but one that deals damage over time. The animation is a little long for it but you can get a good attack out of it if you are prepared to slot it for damage and accuracy.

Super Speed would be my second choice as a versatile power and again is one that is a lot of fun to use. Sometimes allowing you to see parts of the maps you otherwise would have missed.

And that’s it. As I said before, a lot of this comes down to preference but I hope that this, in some way, is a useful guide to those wanting to know a little more about travelling in City of Heroes and City of Villains.

About The Author
Mr Marvellous and Miss Marvellous are the founders of Marvello Corps, a City of Heroes Supergroup. They have been playing since the European release of the game and spend a lot of time trying different builds and power sets. Marvello Corps can be visited on the internet at http://www.marvellousweb.co.uk where more information can be found about the couple and the characters they play.

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The Beauty of a Pendant Necklace

by: Morgan Hamilton

I am truly fascinated by all kind of jewellery but on top of my list stand pendant necklaces. There is absolutely nothing which can be more beautiful. It isn't the glimmer I like. I often find myself enchanted by a plain and tarnish pendant necklace. I try not to pay too much attention to gems - sapphires, rubies, emeralds and diamonds, so I am not really taken away by shiny things. And I surely cannot afford to have a necklace like that. What I like best are unique pendant necklaces which have a story of their own and have a character.

My favorite pendant necklace was not originally designed as pendant jewellery. It was made up of a piece of pewter and it was a figure I liked to put on my mantle piece. The figure depicts a wizard, not an ordinary one but such without a long beard, a straight cap and long robes, and there is not a red stone in the wizard's staff, either. On the contrary, it is a typical but an eccentric pendant necklace.

The only thing that helps you recognize this figure is actually a wizard is the staff inscribed with imaginary runes that he holds. My wizard figure has a big casual hat with a puff ball, chubby cheeks, and a large friendly smile. He looks quite similar to a regular guy, so people often ask me about him. This is what I call a good pendant necklace, such that draws attention to you not for its gems but for its uniqueness and charm.

Making your own pendant necklace is not a very difficult task but the majority of people prefer purchasing them from stores. With a little creativeness you can make almost any miniature a lovely pendant necklace. Sometimes you might need to solder of bend the material, knowing something about shaping wire might also be helpful but most of the times you wouldn't need to do that in order to make a pendant necklace. All you need to have is patience and desire to learn. Having these two, you can easily make your own unique pendant necklace.

About The Author
Morgan Hamilton offers expert advice and great tips regarding all aspects concerning jewelry. Get the information you are seeking now by visiting http://www.gemsandjewelryinfo.com/gems--jewels/jewelry--watches/the-beauty-of-a-pendant-necklace.html

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The Nostalgia of Macramé

by: Kristy Pass

I grew up in a small town in Indiana where entire families, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents, lived within blocks of one another or sometimes, as was the case in my family, within houses. It was a close knit community where the neighbors enjoyed telling stories of your parents and grandparents exploits as young people and every house, no matter who lived there, was a safe place.

My grandmother, a teacher, lived just two houses away so I spent almost as much time with her as I did my parents. Together when it rained, we sat on the front porch listening to the pitter patter of raindrops just as my grandmother had done with her grandfather on that very same porch. And when it was too cold to sit outside, we wiled away the hours playing cards and doing crafts. It was at my grandmother's side that I learned the joy of macramé.

I didn't know at the time where macramé originated nor that it had been around since the 13th century. It didn't matter whether it was born at the hands of bored sailors occupying their time on long journeys or, as might be the case, Arabian weavers creating ornamental veils. To me, it was yet one more example of my grandmother's many and surprising talents.

As I sat working with the twine, I didn't know what I was creating. I listened. I followed. I learned. It was such an enjoyable past time that each moment I was free, I could be found at my grandmother's making tiny little twists and even small knots. Little by little those knots grew. From what started as a ball of nothing, a piece of art was being born. And when my grandmother and I finished, what we had was not just a beautifully decorative plant holder, but a magical memory only we two shared.

About The Author
Kristy Pass is a stay at home mom, marketing mentor, and amatuer writer. If you've found this article enjoyable, you'll love what you find at http://0e1b.easyurl.net


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Doll Collecting: How To Get Started

by: Anne Miller

If you like dolls and having them around then you might try starting your own doll collection. You can look on the internet to start as there are many clubs and chat rooms specifically for doll collectors.

There are also magazines and books to help you get you started. In many areas there are also doll stores which will probably know quite a bit about dolls. The most important thing is to make the collection something you will be happy with not just for the worth or how popular they are.

You should start by deciding what kind of dolls you want to collect. You can have dolls from different countries, or only by exclusive doll makers, or a collection of totally different dolls. It’s all up to you.

If you pick a certain type of doll you can do some research on it to learn about the dolls history or value because if you collect a certain type you should be an expert. In learning about the doll other aspects of the doll that should be known are the materials the doll is made of, the clothes and the doll. The more you are an expert on the dolls that you have the better off you’ll be when you want to buy a doll that can be worth something.

A nice aspect of collecting dolls is that it can be a financial investment and profitable over time. Dolls, like other collectibles, increase in value over time. This is a good and bad thing when collecting as a doll you would really like but perhaps too expensive but on the other hand a doll that can be reasonable now could be worth a lot later.

You can start a doll collection anywhere from a second hand store to an antique doll store. You can pick whatever collection you would like whether it is a fancy valuable collection or a personalized one where the dolls have more sentimental value. Whatever you choose, doll collecting is a great hobby for young and old alike, and will bring you countless hours of pleasure.

About The Author
Anne Miller writes for http://www.doll-collector-ideas.com a website for http://www.doll-collector-ideas.com/dolls/index.html and http://www.doll-collector-ideas.com/collectible.dolls/index.html of all kinds.

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Planespotting, a Peculiar Hobby

by: Levent Bergkotte

Spotters are a separate breed. Many people would indeed wonder what makes it so attractive to write down airplane registrations. Well, it’s a hobby. Nothing more and nothing less. Or is it?The term ‘spotter’ applies not only to planespotters. There are also spotters who take pictures and write down numbers of trains, buses and ships, for example.

Die-hard spotters will go a long way for their hobby, sometimes literally. They could easily travel a great distance just to ‘log’ a particular aircraft. A rare aircraft mostly, of which there are only a couple in the whole world (such as the Antonov An-225) or a plane from an exotic airline operating on the other side of the world that is on a delivery flight.

Pure spotters ‘log’ registrations. They have complete logbooks with airline fleets, in which they mark off a plane when they see it for the first time. They might take photographs as well, but seeing the actual aircraft and writing down its number is their main goal.

I have always been interested in aviation, and I started to photograph airplanes when I was about ten years old. In my case, I go more for a nice picture than for the registration. However, I do take a note of the registration whenever I can read it on the picture. It is quite interesting to do, as you end up ‘collecting’ various aircraft of an airline this way and might end up having photographs of all the planes in the fleet. And once that is achieved, you will want to catch any new plane that joins the fleet as well. Often airplanes change owners during their operational lives and you might get pictures of the same plane in the colours of various companies, with or without the same registration.

Another nice aspect is when an airline changes the livery, or the company colours, and you have pictures of the same airplane in two or more different colour schemes of the same airline. Some airlines paint their aircraft in special colours, to commemorate the company’s anniversary for example. Logojets are airplanes that are either painted in another company’s colours, such as a car rental company’s, and also planes painted in a special scheme of the airline alliance the company belongs to. Airlines that belong to the Star Alliance for example have one or more aircraft in their fleet flying around in special colours, which consist of a dark blue tail with the star logo, ‘Star Alliance’ written in large letters over the fuselage and the airline’s name in smaller letters in the front of the fuselage. Another trend is painting the aircraft in retro schemes, which means that the planes are painted in a previous livery of the airline. This makes for an interesting combination of a modern plane bearing old colours.

I think spotting is a great hobby and as an aviation enthusiast love to visit airports to take pictures. It is also a hobby that brings many people together. Spotters organise meetings to visit spotting locations together and share valuable information.

Via the website mentioned below you can download the FREE ‘Spotter’s Guide to the World’s Top Ten Airports’.

About The Author
Levent Bergkotte's site http://www.aircraftspotting.net contains tons of information for spotters, including airport spotting locations, aircraft and airline info and aviation news. There is also an airplane photo gallery and an aviation forum.


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Solving Sudoku Easily

by: Carol Smith

Sudoku is a new trend in brain games. There are two types of people when it comes to Sudoku: those who look at the puzzle and know exactly what to do and those who are overwhelmed with the complexities of the puzzles themselves. The truth to Sudoku is that you don’t have to be a genius to play this exciting numbers game. You simply have to know what you are doing. Warning: Sudoku is addictive.

Sudoku’s eighty-one square grid makes it look more complicated than it really is. The grid really breaks down to smaller nine square grids. There are nine of these grids altogether. There are nine squares horizontal and nine squares vertical.

The game consists of the numbers 1 through 9. The player puts the numbers 1 through 9 in each of the squares. The player may not put the same number more than once in the small grid or on the horizontal line or vertical line. If you have two of the same numbers on the same grid or line than you have to start over again.

When you are first learning how to play Sudoku, play in pencil and have a big eraser nearby. You are going to need it.

Start by looking over your puzzle. Some of the eighty-one squares have been filled in for you. Start by checking each of the nine smaller grids. Some of the numbers may be easy to fit in by the numbers already given.

To learn more Sudoku strategies, and learn the lingo from a true Sudoku pro follow this link.
http://www.ezniche.com/data/article.php?l=182

About The Author
Carol Smith

I am an amateur writer with a strong interest in Sudoku. I wanted to share my knowledge with others who have the same interest.


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The Wonderful Hobby Of Magic

by: Alex Tsui

Have you ever watched a magician in action and secretly wished that you were the one performing all those amazing feats and getting the audience's applause? Magic has fascinated countless millions of people through the ages and used to be a mysterious art shrouded in deep secrecy. Now its sealed doors have been opened and almost anyone who has an interest in magic can take it up as a rewarding and potentially lucrative hobby.

Before I go further, I would like to clarify that when I talk about magic here, I'm referring to magic tricks- the art of illusion. It is the branch of entertainment whereby secret principles, props and skills are used to make impossible effects look like they are really happening.

Magic tricks are sometimes mistakenly assumed to be supernatural events caused by spiritual forces, simply because they look so real. No matter how incredible they look, magic tricks are not created by any supernatural means whatsoever but through some clever logical methods.

Okay, so where do you go to learn magic? If you happen to be born into a family of magicians or if someone you know is a magician, you are very fortunate because you can ask that person to be your magical teacher. Magic used to be passed down from generation to generation this way.

Don't worry if you don't know anyone. There are other ways to go about it. Try to look up your local phone directory or yellow pages for magic stores or shops. They are available in most big cities in Western countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Europe. Unfortunately however, they are not usually found in other countries.

The next best thing is to search your local library or book stores for magic books. These are books that teach you various tricks that you can perform with cards and common household objects. Most of these tricks are quite simple but they are good enough for a start. You can also try looking in toy stores for magic kits. These are packaged magic tricks that come with complete instructions and the props that you need to perform them. They are good as gifts for aspiring magicians too.

If all the above fail, the last resort is to visit an online magic store. Just do a search at any of the good search engines and you will find many good reputable magic websites that sell a huge variety of magic tricks, props, books, and DVDs. Any magician, from a beginner to an advanced professional, would be able to find something suitable for his or her skill level.

What are the benefits of taking up magic as a hobby? As a semi-professional magician who has been performing magic for as long as I can remember, I have found that magic has improved my confidence, public speaking skills and mental alertness. On top of that, it has also provided many hours of fun on many boring evenings and through the years, has helped me gain many friends.

Therefore, if you have even the slightest interest in magic, I urge you not to wait any longer. Jump right in and enjoy the wonderful hobby of magic!

About The Author
Alex Tsui is a semi-professional magician who has been performing magic since the age of ten. He has created a magic resource site with magic articles, news and updates to help all levels of magicians to advance further in the art of magic. You can check out the site at http://www.magic-tricks-guide.com.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Clues for Dating Vintage Clothing

by: Karen Richards

With celebrities such as Barbara Streisand, Sarah Jessica Parker, Winona Ryder, Sharon Stone, Drew Barrymore and Michael Richards flaunting their trendy wardrobes vintage fashions have become very popular. Whether you want to establish a collection of clothes from bygone eras or you would just like a few unique pieces to add oomph to your wardrobe, it is interesting to know the history of your piece.

How do you know if the 1930’s silk charmuese nightgown advertised on Ebay is really from the 1930’s era? Now if you absolutely love the colour or style well maybe the age does not matter. If you do not want to pay a premium for something that is not as advertised, it is important to learn a few pointers.

There are numerous ways to date garments. You can shop with confidence when you know what clues to watch for.

For instance - How are the seams finished? Are they pinked, Frenched or serged? Sergers and overlock machines have been around since the 1950’s, but were not in homes until around 1964. Inspecting the seams of custom-made items may not tell you for sure when it was made, but it can let you know for sure when it wasn’t made.

Examination of the seams on store bought, mass produced clothing of the 1950’s, shows that most were pinked. Overcast seams, welted seams or Frenched seams were usually only found on very expensive garments. Overlock seams did start showing up in lingerie during the 1950’s. By the early 1960’s all lingerie had overlocked seams, and the use of the overlock stitch was beginning to appear in other garments made of fabric that would frey easily.

A 1965 catalogue ad mentions that a garment featured overlocked seams, while another ad boasts overlock seams in 1960’s lingerie. The term is not a selling point in fashions of today as most attire has overlocked or serged seams.

Another indication of age is the use of the zipper. Patented in 1893 the first zipper was called a clasp locker. These zippers were not practical. Although a zipper was developed in 1913 with interlocking teeth, it was slow to catch on.

Zippers were first put in children’s clothing in the 1930’s and replaced the button fly in men’s trousers around 1937. There were a few zippers in women's clothing of the 1940's, but most garments still possessed button fasteners, until the 1950’s when they finally became popular.

Catalogues from the mid 1960’s boast about the wonders of nylon zippers. Nylon zippers were thought to be less bulky, easier to hide and more comfortable than the old metal zippers.

Keep in mind that the presence or absence of a zipper and the type of zipper provides clues to the age of the garment but that other factors still need consideration. As zippers can be replaced, metal zippers are not a guarantee that the item was manufactured before 1960. Similarly, a vintage garment may have had a broken zipper replaced by a nylon one.

These are just a couple of points to consider when identifying vintage clothing. Other factors to take into account are fabrics, styles and labels.

Use a bit of logic with what you learn to decide if the item is desirable.

About The Author
Karen Richards grew up surrounded by collections of all kinds. She inherited her love of anything with a history from her parents who have collected and dealt in antiques for over half a century. Her passion is vintage fashions, textiles and catalogues. She owns The Cats Meow- Classics in Vintage Clothing and Accessories a great place to find that one of a kind quality garment. Visit her online at http://www.catsmeowclassics.com. If you would like to sign up to this newsletter directly, please go to: http://www.catsmeowclassics.com/subscribe.html.

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Home Made Baby Quilt

by: Rachel Lynn

Gifts are a common site when a couple are about to become parents. The most common ones being diapers, toys and clothes. But not all can be bought, the most cherished items are those made with lot of selfless love made by aunts or grandparents.

A home-made blanket is generally a sign of love and care for the baby. Here is a great crafting site http://www.thecraftyfinger.com. Made with lots of love, skill and extreme care, a baby quilt becomes a part of legacy, bequeathed from one generation to the other and choice of the quilt pattern becomes an inseparable component of the process.

The most common baby quilt patterns are trains, planes, the alphabet, ships and ducks. The patterns summarize what the quilter need and how to go about finishing the project. If you are not experienced in the task of quilt making you might weigh the option of a tutorial to get acquainted with the technique of quilt making.

Generally, communities exist to offer different classes to the local citizens. One that might interest you may be a quilting class, which might turn out to be a perfect means of making a baby quilt.

Many a times participants have a facility to bring the supplies and patterns of their own choice. This is a great opportunity for someone considering baby quilt patterns. You can achieve two goals at the same time, one of learning to make a quilt and the other of sewing the quilt of ones personal choice, with the help of the instructor, who guides you at every step.

A fabric store is a great place to choose a design, especially when you don’t have an idea about the design. If you are a first timer choosing a simple pattern is a good idea, which could be anything like sky with some white clouds. Patchwork is a common pattern for baby quilts, which can be done in different shades of either pink or blue. White or yellow is always preferable when you don’t know the gender of the baby.

Having learnt the basics of quilting you will be equipped to complete any quilt pattern. Several women of a family working together on a project is a noble idea. To do this, copies of the chosen quilt patterns can be made available so that everyone knows what to do.

It will be a sight to see the new parents overjoyed at the thoughtful gift which will surely be treasured even after the baby has grown.

About The Author
Rachel Lynn enjoys working with: http://www.hobbiesforfun.com
http://www.myartportal.com

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Starting A Photography Business? - 11 Reasons Why You Should Not!

by: Roy Barker

We are always confronted with the positive if not the encouragement to look at why we should open or think of starting a photography business. Sometimes it is suggested by those around you and often it's a personal whim. I thought it would be beneficial to perhaps look at the 'other side of the coin' and answer why some people should not be starting a photography business even if you've got enough money to do so.

Here are eleven reasons why you should not be starting a photography business. For the sake of easy reading I've placed these in bullet point fashion,

- If you believe that your fantastic photo ability on its own will attract an abundance of customers, think again because there are some great phoographers out there and there will always be one that you can learn from

- If you like to avoid conversation with strange people or just people in general you are unlikely to survive running your own photography business

- If you think that the term customer service is a useless cliche and is an overrated term, then starting a photography business is not for you. The 'best of the best' keep on surprising their new and existing customers with little extras they simply were not expecting. As a result their customers become loyal and won't go anywhere else

- Being pleasant in unusual circumstances or when the subject is getting tired and irritable is essential - do you have that skill?

- Living on a budget while you struggle to make ends meet but still do all of the above is not for the faint hearted - discipline and staying powere is also essential

- Someone who jumps in without learning anything about starting a photography business and equally important, making it profitable is bordering on stupidity (this one is for the cheap skates who blame everyone else except themselves when it all falls down)

- Not having enough cash flow to see the early period through before the business becomes profitable. Some of you are clever enough to have another job while they build a clientelle if they don't have enough cash in the tin

- Not deciding on what photography business(es) they would like to specialize in before they start

- If you're aren't sure whether you enjoy photography or not

- If you suffer from any kind of depression regularly

- If you have difficulty in understanding why 'the customer is always right' then starting a photography business is not a good look for you

None of these points are intended to be offensive just factual. I apologize if any of this information struck a nerve but better you think about this now than too far down the track - right? Starting a photography business is a big move.

About The Author
This article has been supplied courtesy of Roy Barker. Roy often writes and works closely with Profitable Photography Business. This site is dedicated to coaching you in starting your own photography business but places a strong emphasis on profitability issues & guidelines. You can also gain many photography resources (some free) from Digital Photography Equipment If you seek further guides, helpful hints, articles and news, you can go to http://www.photography-business-tips.com which also has a Photographers Forum for exchange of views with other photographers.

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Treasure Hunting In Unlikely Ways

by: Steve Gillman

We never thought about it as treasure hunting, but as kids we searched the bushes and alleys for empty bottles that were returnable for a deposit. Looking back on it, I realize that this is the essence of treasure hunting. We were never sure what we would find, but always hopeful that peaking into the next bush would reveal our "treasure." We were excited by our finds, of course, and eager to cash them in so we could buy candy at the nearest store.

Interestingly, this is actually a fairly profitable treasure hunting activity for some adults now. Since the various deposit laws have gone into effect in many states, almost all cans and bottles are worth ten cents each. When I lived in Traverse City, Michigan, there was an old man who rode his bicycle around and collected empty bottles and cans from bushes, garbage cans, and anywhere he found them. I caught him on a park bench one day and asked him how much he made doing this. "It pays all of my rent," he told me. Rent wasn't cheap in Traverse City.

Other "returnable hunters" have told me that they can make $100 in a couple hours at outdoor rock concerts. Collecting a thousand sticky cans and bottles doesn't sound like a great job, but it works for them. Some other forms of treasure hunting follow.

Treasure Hunting - The Unusual Ways

Searching for gray water dumps. If you see a depression behind an old building, with bushes growing around the edges, it may have been a "gray water" dump. Before sewer systems were common, this is where the drains from sinks and showers emptied. Small rings, coins, gems and other old treasures are regularly dug out of these by treasure hunters. Just watch out for the razors.

Looking inside walls. One couple found that there can be treasure in the walls of old houses. They bought a home that had belonged to a movie theater owner in the twenties. When they decided to remodel, they opened up a wall and discovered that the walls had been insulated with classic and rare movie posters. It was a fire hazard, but one that turned out to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to collectors. makes you want to poke around in the walls of an old building or two, doesn't it?

Harvesting gold from moss. A man found piles of dry moss in an old barn on a property he had bought. He learned that the moss was collected and sold to garden-supply stores. He burned it to dispose of it, and found with globs of gold in the ashes. The moss was from a gold-bearing stream, where he now regularly harvests more. Gold flecks get trapped in the moss.

Collecting electrical insulators. Old glass electrical insulators can still be found on telegraph poles laying in the weeds along many train tracks. I've found and sold a few. The thousands still out there are getting shot at and destroyed by kids and hunters, so don't feel bad about taking them.

Searching lake bottoms. Drought lowers the water in ponds, and sometimes reservoirs are emptied. When either of these happens, things appear that have been out of sight for years - sometimes valuable things. Treasure hunting in these cases may just mean walking around at the right time.

Straining through the dust. Some car-wash owners have been finding treasure in their garbage. They search the big vacuum tanks when they empty them (what did you vacuum up under that car seat?). Both money and jewelry are common finds. Treasure hunting takes many forms.

About The Author
Steve Gillman has studied unusual ways to make money for thirty years. To learn more, including more treasure hunting secrets, visit his website; http://www.UnusualWaysToMakeMoney.com

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Fun Wicker Picnic Basket

by: Daniel Roshard

For those of us who like to enjoy some of our time in the outdoors, and prefer to make a little effort in order to enjoy a nice lunch or even dinner outside, in the nice relaxing environment of nature and tranquility, a picnic is one thing that will bring a lot of pleasure.

A picnic reminds us of a romantic era, when people went out to enjoy a lunch and a nap in nature, in some cases it was even a little more than that as some of the older people can probably tell you. Today most people prefer to have a picnic on a weekend and combine the meal with a hike or a tour of the environment, this is a family activity although sometimes you will find couples that are very passionate about this kind of activity.

If you go out to enjoy nature frequently you know how messy it is to load all you food and lunch accessories into plastic bags and other kind of bags, praying all the way to the spot that nothing is broken or spilt on the other things. It is also not very comfortable to set the dining table when all your things are all over the car. Although the wicker picnic basket does not solve the overall problem of setting up to eat a lunch in nature, it does make thing a whole lot nicer and much more organized.

Have you ever seen a wicker picnic basket? If you have you must know how nice it looks and how very practical it is, it got slots for all your picnic needs, everything can be secured in place and you will never worry about the glasses getting broken or the nice plates getting cracked from the bumps on the road.

The simple wicker baskets will have one compartment to hold things, it can be used for light lunch, sandwiches and other small things, other, more advanced wick picnic baskets will allow you to place much more into the picnic basket and plan a long lunch or dinner in nature.

As you examine the different wicker picnic baskets you will find many that can serve a couple up to a family, some have specific use like a wine and cheese basket that has a place to hold the wine bottle and the different chesses plus a place for plates and glasses. The fancy wicker picnic baskets will have place to hold almost everything you want or need, a blanket or books and hidden slots to place a camera in or anything relatively small you want to take with you.

For the romantics among us there is no importance for the size or the practicality of the basket, as long as it is a wicket basket, just like you saw in those old movies, what can be better than taking someone for a magical date in nature with a wicker picnic full of good things that you can eat while enjoying each other.

About The Author
Daniel Roshard is a designer fascinated by garden architecture, Wicker Furniture and Wicker art has long been a subject of his interest, he know writes wicker furniture tips and advice at http://outdoorwicker.zupatips.com

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All About Silk Fabric

by: Charlena Stadelman

If you like to sew, then you know just how fussy silk fabric can be. The edges have this tendency to fray and pull, and the fabric will literally crumble at your fingertips if you are not careful. However, the upside to fabric that is made from silk is the luxurious feel that you get when you touch it. Like you imagine wrapping yourself in it over and over until you are all covered. Silk feels good on your skin, it feels great between your fingers, and it is a fabric that many people love to use and wear. There are many different kinds of silks, how do you know which one to choose for what?

When you are investigating silk fabric to find the best one to use for the purpose you need it, you are more than likely going to run into dupioni. You will find that dupioni silk is the best of all silks, it feels the best between your fingers, and on your skin when you are wearing it. This silk is the most expensive that there is, and you will find that there is none more luxurious anywhere.

Chiffon silk fabric is another one that you are likely to come across. While this type of silk fabric is elegant is gorgeous, you will find that it is also affordable. More so than the dupioni. This is good news if you are looking into getting into a huge project with silk, and the kind that you are to use for the project is up to you. You will find when using chiffon for your projects what ever it is, that it is the easiest to work with, and you will have no problems getting this fabric to cooperate.

If you are looking for silk fabric to go into a crazy quilt, you will find that any kind will do. In this kind of quilt any kind of fabric goes, silk or not. It is always great to add a touch of silk to this type of quilt. However, it is mandatory to do so. You will find that the silk in a crazy quilt will pull out the softer side, and you will love the end results as will the person that you are making the quilt for.

Silk fabric has many different uses. You can use it for whatever you want to. You can be creative and put it in a quilt, make drapes, make clothing, or just drape the fabric over a curtain rod without ever sewing a stitch into it. There are so many things that you can do with this fabric that you will have no problems using it all up. Use your imagination and have fun with it. You will love the end result.

About The Author
Charlena Stadelman has over 10 years of experience in the silk apparel department for a large retailer of clothing. She enjoys helping customers with their gift selections and giving them insights on the latest trends and styles. Charlena shares views and comments on http://www.silkfacts.com which includes detailed grading of silk as well as a buying guide.

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The So-Called Evils Of Roleplaying Games: Courage, Opportunity, and Friendship

by: Claire Cruver

I was never a normal child. My parents split when I was eighteen months old, and, living with my mother, we always struggled with having "enough" - enough food, enough clothing, enough for bills. My stepfather had no desire to help raise us three children, and as my older brother hit the seventh grade, my stepfather uprooted our still very young family and moved across the city.

In the fourth grade, having just moved schools, I was friendless. Because of some oddly placed school district line, I would have to attend another school in another district after that year. With this knowledge, instead of trying to be social, I turned to the books. That year, I found out that I was able to do complex algebra. By sixth grade, I was into factoring multiple-page geometric formulas; I switched schools again from elementary to middle school to attend seventh grade. I was on the fast track there, taking every excelled course that the school would allow me to take.

By the time I reached 10th grade, I had a 4.0 GPA, a high IQ, and no social skills. I could count my friends on one hand. I was living in a family situation that was less than desirable; my mother was divorcing my stepfather and my brother was moving away. Again, I poured myself into studies, graduating two years early and going to college on a state grant. Though my history may sound like the typical, run of the mill social misfit's background, mine was given a light when I came across a multi-user dungeon called "World of Darkness".

Despite its cheesey title, I had hopped aboard because I was an angry teenager, and I just wanted to chop the heads off all the little, text-based fanged bunnies, but I found that the community provided by the game was something like a chatroom mixed with a video game. While I was gleefully lopping off limbs on dwarfs, I started speaking with my groupmates, and found that I was not precisely the odd one out when it came to problems. The online world effectively introduced me to the notion that other people had problems, too.

The older generations believe that chatting and being part of an online community exposes you to the evils of the internet world - the evils that are the people purposefully choosing to hurt others by misrepresenting themselves and their intentions. What is often overlooked is that, for people like me, it is much easier to speak freely with your peers if you do not have the physical awkwardnesses that accompany speaking to them in person.

In gaming, I also relearned how to interact with people. Gradually, I made friends, switched games, and fell upon a game called FiranMUX after a random search for something new and original, for something that required more brainpower than typing "Kill Bug" fourteen times in a row to level up. FiranMUX, written and run by the husband and wife team of Stephanie and Adam Dray, is an original-themed text-based roleplaying game with heavy leanings toward the Greek and Roman periods in our own history. The characters, storyline, and playerbase have been the spawn of this original story ever since. FiranMUX became my new escape from the ordinary and my vehicle to speak with people like me, who actually cared about me and my hopes and dreams and problems.

For once in my life, I felt truly accepted. Acceptance is one of those feelings every misfit strives for throughout their adolescence, and a feeling that few people actually find. At the risk of sounding egotistical, I was too advanced for my immediate, school-aged peers, but the people I spoke to online accepted me without seeing my face and judging me based on age or IQ. They accepted the important parts of me - my mind, my feelings, my personality.

With their ready acceptance of me, the struggles of my real life melted away. I had people with whom to speak. My parents' divorce, my lack of a normal college life, my frustration at the world holding me down because I had not reached that perfect age of 18 and therefore only semi-employable, my constant fights with my siblings -- everything melted away. Call it an addiction. Call it me deluding myself. Call it turning my back to the world.

I call it finding an audience. As my new home, I soon found that FiranMUX hosted an annual event called FiranCon, where all able players congregated in real time on a hotel in Maryland for one three-day weekend of laughter, stories, amazingly strong friendships, and three long evenings of insomnia. Although I had missed that year's Con, I did make the next one. Then nineteen, I found what would turn out to be my first love nearly a year later, a new home in the world, and more opportunities to better myself than I could ever hope to count in my little town across the country in Washington State.

Con was held in May; by September, I had packed up myself and my belongings into a car purchased from the estate of my dead grandmother, and moved across the country into a better job, a better city, and a chance to start again. Now, three years later, I am still very much a part of what the Firans term "Firan Culture" as well as an active member of the local social group. I have a job that pays me three times what I could ever hope to earn in Washington State, creating a comfortable living for myself. I have a home. I have friends who care about me, and whom I actually care about. I am gradually achieving the goals that I set out three years ago to achieve.

The old cliche is that hindsight is 20/20. If I had known that gutting elves back in my World of Darkness days would lead me through romance, heartache, friendship and tears, I am not sure I would ever have had the courage to ever meet the Firans in real life. Online roleplay communities are not the evil that they are made out to be, but windows to alternate futures and betterment of oneself.

In truth, FiranMUX changed my outlook on life by changing my outlook on people. The game helped build my social skills and gave me the self-esteem needed to shed the walls I had so firmly put up around myself. In improving myself, I improved my abilities to make my world better. I shed the once angry aura and gained enough belief in myself to leave everything I knew behind for a chance. In short, the online community presented to me the leverage needed to foist myself from the hole that my life began as.

Looking back at where I have come from and what I have built for myself, I can honestly say that without games like the World of Darkness and, very specifically, FiranMUX, I would probably be a depressed word-processor, stuck in a bad neighborhood with few, if any, friends. As a person, my personality has warped into that of an optimist, always looking at the bright side instead of allowing circumstance to drag down my attitude. Instead of hiding from troubles, I face them. I could not have done it without an audience to listen.

I was never a normal child. In all honesty, I may not yet be a normal adult, but I am definitely a better person than the abusive, introverted, angry child I was once. Blame this turnabout on the supposed evils of chatrooms and text-based games. Blame this turnabout on the ability of a seemingly harmless online game to create and promote such an outstanding sense of real-life community that FiranMUX has achieved. Regardless of the reason, the fact that online gaming can impact even a single life in such a way is an incredibly geeky notion, but perhaps not one so far-fetched in this new age.

By Claire D. Cruver, of FiranMUX (http://legendary.org/firan/)

About The Author
Claire Cruver is a young author/designer/roleplayer who currently resides in Maryland.

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Managing Personal Photos

by: Melissa Core

Have you ever experienced the presence of someone who has passed away? A man gets associated with so many things in his life time. Some of them are very special to a particular person, generally the owner, while some are treasured by all. One of the most treasured and hence hard to let go off are personal photos. Every house has photos. You may belong to a small family or a big one but you certainly do have personal photos. The issue is of what to do with these photos.

Personal photos are meant to be shared. It would be bizarre to take a photograph that you don’t like to see again or share it with someone else. Most people would feel that their personal photos are not being shared effectively. The whole idea of sorting, labeling, scrap booking, arranging in albums seems entirely burdensome. Will not gifts be a better idea to share photographs?

Many companies exist which will print the personal photos on a wide variety of stationery and clothing. Gift your grandma a sweatshirt with the photo of grandchildren imprinted on it. Or have mugs with your family’s Christmas photo imprinted on them. Click pictures from your cruise tour and share them through glasses that you share with your company on the cruise. You can share your personal photos through a large number of creative and touching ways.

Objects and clothing are not the only ways to share photos. Computer is a very good means too. Make a favorite photo of yours a background or set is as your screen saver. Email you personal photos to friends and family. I found a great photography site at http://www.photographyforfun.com. The traditional way of having the photos framed and placing them all over the house adds warmth and a personal touch. Each time you see the photo you can have fond memories which can make your day and thus become an integral part of your day to day life.

No matter what you make of your personal photos ensure that the memories are being cared for in a proper manner. Preserve them in area free from moisture and light so as not to harm them. Do have an occasional look at them to revive those warm memories. If you don’t prefer displaying or maintaining photos, limit the number that you click. It is an absolute waste of money to develop photos when they will just gather dust.

About The Author
Melissa Core loves photography and: http://www.myartportal.com http://www.cmminformation.com

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Some Common Jewelry Questions

by: Gary Haag

What is my birthstone?

There are several different lists of birthstones. Following is a list of some of the most commonly accepted birthstones.

January - Garnet
February - Amethyst
March - Aquamarine/Bloodstone
April - Diamond
May - Emerald
June - Alexandrite/Moonstone/Pearl
July - Ruby
August - Peridot/Sardonyx
September - Sapphires
October - Pink - Tourmaline/Opal
November - Topaz/Citrine
December - Blue - Zircon/Turquoise

What is the difference between 10, 14 &18 karat gold?

24 kt = 99%
22 kt = 91.66%
20 kt = 83.33%
18 kt = 75%
14 kt = 58.33%
10 kt = 41.66%

What does .925 mean?

This is another method of marking sterling silver and refers to the percentage of silver 92.5%).

How is gold colored?

Varying the alloys creates the various colors of gold. Red has more copper, green has more silver, and white has nickel or palladium added.

What are the 4 Cs?

The four Cs are Color, Cut, Clarity and Carat weight.

What is the difference between created and simulated stones?

Both are manmade stones. Created stones are chemically the same as the natural stone. Simulated stones are stones that are made of a material other than what it is attempting to copy. Cubic zirconium, lab-grown corundum, lab grown spinel and glass are common materials used to simulate gemstones.

What is stress fracturing?

Stress fracturing is a problem associated with white and lower karat gold. Gold of 10 kt or less are susceptible. White gold often has this problem. Stress fracturing is caused by chemicals that dissolve the alloy out of the gold which, of course, weakens it. This can cause an item to suddenly just break for no apparent reason. This is most often seen as a prong tip on a white gold setting that is suddenly missing. Chlorine is one chemical that can cause this problem. Never soak your jewelry in strong cleaners.

Why does my fine jewelry turn my finger black?

This is most often not a problem with the quality of the metal. Whenever a metal is ground into a fine enough powder, that powder is black. If the hand cream or makeup that you are using contains any abrasive materials, this will rub on the piece of jewelry and create a black smudge. Many of the materials used to color makeup are mild abrasives.

About The Author
Gary Haag has been designing and creating fine handcrafted jewelry for over 20 years. For more information about selecting and caring for your fine jewelry visit, The Gary’s Gold & Silver (http://garysgold.com)

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How to Care for Your Fine Jewelry

by: Gary Haag

Training Your Fine Jewelry:

The first thing you should do is to give your fine jewelry its own little space for when it is not being worn and train it to stay there. Jewelry items do not live or party well together. Much of the damage, other than wear, that is done to jewelry happens in jewelry boxes. Stones scratch each other and the metals around them. Chains get caught in tangles that almost always cause some sort of damage.

Cleaning Your Fine Jewelry:

The best way to clean your fine jewelry is with a soft (used) toothbrush and a mild dish detergent. If the pieces are very dirty, you can soak them in detergent and water. Do not use harsh cleaners such as chlorine bleach or ammonia. It is not advisable to use toothpaste either. Many contain a mild abrasive, which will remove some metal and cause a dull finish. Any competent jeweler can polish items on occasion, but this process also removes small amounts of metal and so should be used sparingly.

Checking Prongs & Stones:

If the stone moves in the setting, put it in some kind of small bag or container and take it to your nearest qualified jeweler. The small bag prevents loss of the stone should it fall out. Loose stones are also more easily chipped or broken. Another good indicator of a loose prong is if the piece gets caught in clothing or hair by a prong.

Checking for Wear and Tear:

Over time, gold and silver will wear down. This can happen over months or years. This can be a problem for people who do certain kinds of work. The solution to this type of problem is the use of heavier metal in the prongs, the use of platinum for the setting or the use of a bezel setting to secure the stone. Prongs should be checked occasionally and if thin they should be replaced. The bands on rings can also become quite thin and eventually need replacing. The thinner the band to begin with the faster this will happen.

If you give your jewelry a little care and check it periodically for wear and overall condition, it will give you many years to a lifetime of joy. A competent jeweler can recondition most pieces so long as the damage hasn’t been allowed to go too far.

About The Author
Gary Haag has been designing and creating fine handcrafted jewelry for over 20 years. For more information about selecting and caring for your fine jewelry visit, The Gary’s Gold & Silver (http://garysgold.com)

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5 Quick Tips For Beginning Magicians

by: Ryan Even

If you are new to the world of magic and you're looking to improve the execution of your magic tricks then you've come to the right place. Follow these free tips and you'll start to improve your magic starting today.

Practice your palming skills wherever you go

The most necessary skill of a person with a great sleight of hand is the ability or skill of palming an object that goes undetected. You could perfect this after some time of practicing palming small objects like coins in your everyday normal routine. You could palm a small object or item in both of your hands or either while writing, eating, watching TV, walking around, or doing other activities. If you practice care about the angles, no one would notice what you are doing, and after some time, what you are now doing self-consciously would later become almost natural to you. From then on, you could be able to palm objects or items more confidently, boldly, and successful each time.

Be Natural

The secret in having a great sleight of hand is your ability to be natural. There should be no shaky hands, no hand waving, jerky or quick motions. You should work naturally, deliberately, and slowly. If you master this, balls, coins, rings, cards, and coins will begin reappearing and disappearing at the tips of your fingers.

Watching your angles

You should be aware of your angles. Angles refer to the sleight lines between the item that you have just palmed off and the eye of your spectators. If you do not have the right angles, the audience could take a glimpse or see the object in your hand and your trick will be caught.

Master your presentation

Practice your presentation. A small trick that is well presented could work wonders even without the most sophisticated of techniques since the audience would most likely relate to your trick or understand it.

What good is a magician if nobody understands or enjoys his or her tricks? The presentations therefore should be straightforward, simple, and understood easily so that your viewers or watchers could understand and enjoy the complete meaning of what you have been saying and doing.

Do not replicate a trick

This is a mistake MANY beginners make... Don't be one of them! Do not ever repeat the same trick for the same viewers or watchers. That is one of the basic rules in doing magic. When you repeat a trick, your audience would immediately know what you are going to do next. What may have been a miracle for you when you did your trick for the first time may not be quite satisfying or dazzling the next time around.

About The Author
Ryan Even has been a regular speaker at magic conventions for years rubbing shoulders with the likes of David Copperfield, Criss Angel and David Blaine. Ryan will now teach you advanced magic at http://www.MasterMentalism.com.

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The Value of an Astrology Birth Chart

by: Morgan Hamilton

An Astrology birth chart is something meant for predicting your future. Whether you believe it or not, there is a grain of truth in all these talk about birth signs and horoscopes. I wasn’t a believer until recently, when some strange events happened to show me that actually my horoscope has indeed predicted, to a great extent, the consequences that ensued!

I started to search for more information about astrology birth charts, and I soon became huddled with information. I also decided to make my personal astrology birth chart, just to take a look and see if things were similar. The astrology birth chart is done with the personal information about the time of birth, date, place and location of birth.

You can have your astrology birth chart drawn in a format that is easy to comprehend. Although each specific civilizations devised its own astrology birth chart based on the celestial chart as seen from that specific region, there is a lot of sense making things in European and Chinese birth charts. It just depends on the perspective you choose to look through. You can find a meaning in both astrology birth charts, and even gain some important information about yourself from analyzing them.

Astrology birth charts are different according to which astrology system they are related. Chinese and oriental charts bring different meaning, European charts have another hidden treasure for you. It just depends on your personal preference: you may believe in both of them, as long as you find something to learn from them, it doesn’t matter whether you consider yourself a Leo or a Rat.

Astrology birth charts cannot tell you your precise future, but they can give you some advice and can show you deeper levels of your personality. By just reading them you can get insight about hidden characteristics in your soul, and can gain better understanding of yourself.

About The Author

Morgan Hamilton offers expert advice and great tips regarding all aspects concerning spirituality. Get more information by visiting http://www.thespiritualitysite.com/spirituality/spirituality/the-value-of-an-astrology-birth-chart.html

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Silk Flower Arrangements

by: Charlena Stadelman

If you are someone that keeps up with the ever changing popular decor for homes, you are probably realizing that silk flower arrangements are replacing fresh flower arrangements in many homes. This is because when you buy a silk flower arrangement, you are going to get an arrangement that will not die in 2 weeks. You do not have to keep constantly replacing the flowers, and you will not have to worry about the water lever in the vase. When you use silk flowers, you can just arrange them, and keep them free of dust, and they will last you a really long time and look nice for a while.

Many wedding decorators are using the silk flower arrangements in decoration as well for weddings. This is because you can buy silk flowers is many different colors, and you will get the same effect as if you were using the real flowers. Arranging them to look nice is easy as well, and many of the people that decorate weddings for a living will keep a nice variety of silk flowers that they will use over and over for many weddings.

Also when you use silk flower arrangements at weddings, you can always find homes for the many silk flowers that you will have left once the wedding is over. Rather than throwing the real flowers away a week later, you will find that you will love having reminders of your wedding all over your home, and you can even send some of the flowers home with your guest if you wanted to, so that they could have the pretty flowers in theirs as well.

Because many people are choosing silk flower arrangements over the real flower arrangements, you are going to find that they can sometimes be a little hard to find. Check with your local florist and many of your craft shops if you are interested in making some for yourself or even someone else. Making a flower arrangement of silk flowers to give as a gift is a great idea, and anyone that received a gift such as that would surely love it.

About The Author

Charlena Stadelman has over 10 years of experience in the silk apparel department for a large retailer of clothing. She enjoys helping customers with their gift selections and giving them insights on the latest trends and styles. Charlena shares views and comments on http://www.silkfacts.com which includes detailed grading of silk as well as a buying guide.

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The World of Miniature Warbirds

by: Bruce Bird

War has never been very much use to the world. The only benefit arising this century has been the massive advances in aerospace technology that have been driven by military needs. If it had not been for the demands of the 1939-45 war, we would still be flying around in airships which were streets ahead of fixed wing aircraft for load capacity, range and safety in the 1930s before the outbreak of war. But if there's a full size airplane out there then you can be sure a modeller will want to reproduce it in small scale - and so were born the model airplane miniature Warbirds.

In the modelling community Warbirds are looked after by the World Miniature Warbird Association (WMWA) , a Special Interest Group of the Academy of Model Aeronautices (AMA). The WMWA defines warbirds, has created a community of warbird enthusiasts, a group directory covering participants all over the world and organises a number of special events.

Anyone with a love of building or flying warbirds is welcome in the WMWA. To maintain this friendly environment the rules for warbird status are pretty relaxed with no specifics about size, or engines or even scale provided only that the model looks like a warbird. It's the definition of the original warbird aircraft that defines a warbird model. The definition runs like this:

“The WMWA defines a 'Warbird Aircraft' as a model of any aircraft used for military purposes by any Country at any time. It must be a scale or semi-scale rendering, recognizable as such, and marked accordingly. Any prototype offered to the military but not accepted would also fall into the category of a 'Warbird Aircraft.' It cannot be a model of any aircraft made to look like a 'Warbird Aircraft' by applying military markings to it.” (WMWA Constitution)

Contrary to the original military purpose of the full size airplanes on which it is based, friendship is the name of the game in the World Miniature Warbirds Association. Members of the association gather in a spirit of camaraderie rather than competition. This niche of the model airplane hobby really does enjoy the process of construction, often replicating the originals in painstaking detail, then taking pleasure in watching those lovingly constructed model airplanes take to the air.

The main miniature warbird event is the fly-in. Spectacular model aircraft make their mark in the sky and on the ground as fellow RC aviators and spectators look on. Fly-in events also include things like intro pilot training programs, guest speakers, and low-key contests. It is quite astonishing to witness tens of museum-quality aircraft, with wingspans from two to more than thirty feet, decorated to the hilt, en masse.

One of the characteristics of the WMWA for model airplane enthusiast is the world-wide network of 'Wings' which specialize in particular types. This can be of great benefit to individual members as the Wing can put them in touch with other members with their specific interest. They can then pool their research efforts, exchange information and generally collaborate to produce the most accurate representation in their model airplane of the full size airplane on which it is based - wherever in the world it may have originated from.

So if you are interested in building or flying a warbird then the World Miniature Warbird Association is the best place to start. You need to base your model on the definition published by the WMWA to ensure that your model airplane qualifies. You can select from any type; bombers, fighters, transport airplanes or helicopters and you can start from scratch or base it on an existing kit or plan. Any type, any method as long as the finished model airplane gives a good representation of the original as defined by the Association. It's a great project for the winter months - so maybe do some planning this summer and then get to it as next winter approaches.

About The Author

Bruce Bird makes it easy for the beginner to quickly get a grasp of the broad range of exciting activities that make up airplane modeling. To receive his free 5 part mini-series visit http://www.modelairplanesecrets.com/warbirds.html

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Backgammon Strategies

by: David Ashiri

Overall Board Game Strategy

As you develop your backgammon skills and begin to test out different tactics during money play, your overall planned objective is always finding a way to get your checkers around the board and off before your opponent does. There are a variety of strategies available to do that. The strategy you choose is often dictated by the dice rolls early in the game and the strategy chosen by your opponent. If your first two rolls are 65 and 65, you will often move your back checkers forward and get into a race. If you are hit early and have checkers sent back, you will choose a holding game or a back game.

The Five Basic Backgammon Strategies

There are 5 basic strategies that you can use when you play backgammon online for fun or gambling on money.

* The Running Game Strategy
* The Holding Game Strategy
* The Priming Game Strategy
* The Backgammon Blitz
* The Back Game Strategy
* Practice Your Strategies

The Running Game

The objective of the Running Game is to bring all your men into your inner board and bear them off as quickly as possible, similar to a competitive race. You should choose a running game when you have fewer pips remaining to get all your checkers off than your opponent, and you already have gotten all your checkers past your opponent or it appears likely that you can do so. Before engaging in a Running Game, it is important to evaluate the position of your men and decide whether it is at your advantage to do so. If your opponent has fewer pips remaining than you, then aiming for a running game is a poor strategy, and has little chance of success.

The Holding Game

The central idea of the Holding Game is to plan on keeping a point in your control that is located highly in your opponent’s board, usually a point in his inner board or the bar point. This is often the best strategy when trailing in the pipcount race. Playing this kind of positional advantage is more of a style than a backgammon strategy. The 20 point or bar points are the best holding game anchors, as they provide maximum chances to hit your opponent as he brings his checkers closer to home. Points further back get much weaker. It is also crucial to understand the right times to offer the doubling cube, and to accept or drop a double when playing or defending a holding game. Another key strategical element to the holding game is the distribution of the opponent’s checkers. If he has only the 8 and 13 points made (as in the starting position), he will often have to leave a shot as he brings his checkers around. If he has made additional landing points in his outer board, your hitting chances go down significantly.

The Priming Game

The Priming Game is a particular type of holding game and involves building a prime – a long wall of your pieces, ideally 6 points in a row – in order to block the movement of your opponent’s pieces that are behind the wall. These pieces will remain trapped as long as you can maintain the prime, and can result in an interesting struggle for your opponent to move pieces around the backgammon board. Hitting an opponent’s blot to trap it behind your blockade is the main aim of playing a Priming Game when gambling on backgammon. The prime can be constructed anywhere between point 2 and point 11 in your board, then you can shuffle it into your inner table as you approach the bearing-off game phase.

The Prime vs. Prime Game

When your opponent has a prime, it is very important to get your checkers to where they can escape with a single number. For example, if his prime is 5 points long, it is very important to get to the front so you can escape with a 6. If his prime is 6 long, you cannot escape.

A variation of the priming game is the prime versus prime, when both sides have strong blockade. The key features are the number of points in the prime for each side, the number of checkers behind the prime, and whether the stranded checkers are at the front of the prime. The most unusual thing about a prime versus prime game is that, all else being equal, strategically the player behind in the pip count is favored to win the game. This is because if neither side escapes their checkers, the one leading in the race will have to give up his prime first.

The Backgammon Blitz

The Backgammon Blitz is essentially an attack on your opponent’s pieces, with the aim of keeping your opponent on the bar while moving your pieces into your inner table as quickly as possible. The ultimate goal of the blitz is to close out one or more of your opponent’s pieces by occupying all 6 of the points in your inner table, making it impossible for these pieces to return to the game until a point becomes available when you are bearing off.

Blitzes are very committal – once you begin to attack, you have to continue to hit and take risks and changes to make additional points. If the attack fails, either because the opponent makes an anchor or because you get too many checkers hit and sent back, you can easily reach a point where you are losing the game.

The key strategy to starting a blitz is usually an early roll where you hit an opponent’s checker and he stays on the bar, or perhaps you hit two and he doesn’t enter both. A blitz is a much weaker plan when your opponent has as many (or nearly as many) points made in his board as you do in yours. Since you are taking risks to make points, you cannot afford to be hit and dance on the bar. It is also crucial to double at the right time. Blitzes, when they succeed, often result in gammons, and you can easily become too good to double if things go well. This is especially true in money gambling games or tournaments with the Jacoby Rule in effect. It is foolish to take risks to win a gammon and not get the full value of them by doubling at the right time. The Blitz gives you a great tactical advantage.

The Two-Way Forward Game

The two-way forward game is not listed as a basic plan, because it is a hybrid of the blitz and prime games. In the two-way forward game, you normally have built a mini-prime of 3 or 4 points, and then have the opportunity to attack your opponent. If your opponent anchors, you hope to have extended your prime in the process and to win from a priming game. Two-way forward games are extremely strong when they come up, because if the dice go badly for one plan, they often go well for the other.

The Back Game

The Back Game is achieved by controlling two (or more) points in your opponent’s inner table. The main game objective is to hit a blot late in the game and contain it. It is a difficult strategy to play in backgammon because the chance of a successful Back Game is influenced by the luck of the dice roll.

A successful Back game requires that you establish two anchors, have at least 10 of your checkers advanced to contain the opponent if you hit, and have enough timing (i.e. are far enough behind in the race) to wait until he rolls awkwardly and leaves a single or double shot. Back games that are unsuccessful often result in gammon or backgammon losses. If your timing is marginal (if you are only down 50 to 70 pips in the race), a backgame involving higher points (like the 2 and 4 or 3 and 4) is much stronger than those involving the ace point. The back games involving the 1 and 2 points is not that strong; the best backgames are usually considered the 1-3, 2-3, and 2-4.

While a weak opponent can often be seduced into overrating his position when you play a back game, it is rarely a good strategy to seek a back game from the start. It will often arise on its own if you attempt a blitz and have many checkers hit. Even then, you would usually prefer to hit an opposing checker early and try to trap it. You should only go all-out for a backgame once you have two back points made and are at least 70 pips or so behind in the race.

Important to note that this tactic is not a strategy to play from the outset of a game , and should only be adopted when you are significantly behind. It is a losing strategy caused by the circumstances of the game and is simply intended to hinder your opponent’s options in order to improve your chances of winning.

About The Author

David Ashiri

Backgammon players of all kinds can find an extensive amound of information at http://www.RedTopBG.com/ whether you play backgammon for money or gamble occasionally http://www.RedTopBG.com/ has news of upcomming tournaments and all your backgammon needs.

To visit please go to: http://www.RedTopBG.com/

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The RC Helicopter

by: Bob Robeson

Leonardo da Vinci created on paper, at least with the first helicopter, and the very first piloted helicopter was invented by Paul Cornu in 1907, however, this design was not successful. Another Frenchman, Etienne Oehmichen built and flew a helicopter 1 kilometer in 1924. An early practical helicopter that flew for a decent distance was the German Focke-Wulf Fw 61 invented by an unknown inventor. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Focke-Wulf_Fw_61)

Igor Sikorsky is considered to be the "father" of helicopters not because he invented the first. He is called that because he invented the first successful helicopter, upon which future designs were based. http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blhelicoptor.htm

So where when did the RC model helicopter begin? Well I do not know who is credited with the First RC Model Helicopter, but it was in the 70’s that the RC Helicopter revolution really began.

For the most part, they were all Nitro powered, using standard Model Airplane engines (40 and .60 size) and 4-6 channel airplane radios.

Using a 4 channel radio to control the 5 functions of a model helicopter was quit unique in it challenges and results. What they did was used a “Y” connector for the throttle and pitch servo. Then you mechanically set up the throttle and pitch curve on the heli.

In the ‘70’s there were 2 basic type of Helis, the teetering head, fixed pitch and soon after came the collective pitch. And just like today, some had direct drive tail rotors systems while other went with belt drive.

The first of these Heli’s where hard to fly, had very poor control and lacked any tail gyros, radio mixing or any of the modern connivances that make today’s Helis fly so well and easy. We even had to mechanically set the lead/lag of the main blades, until we just left off 2 of the 3 bolts on the main blades and let them seek there our lead/lag.

But the RC Model helicopter matured quickly and by the ‘80’s the RC Model Helicopter could fly quite nicely, the radio manufacturers started making good Helicopter Radios, the Helicopters themselves had the modern style Bell/Hiller control system, single point Main Blade attachment for self Lead/Lag and gyros became common place. Direct drive or belt drive tail rotors still were used.

In the ‘80’s and ‘90’s the Far East began to create beautiful Models of all sizes. And the “Ready To Fly” models became common place. The race was one and the things they started doing with the RC helicopter was only limited by ones imagination.

I would think that this century is know as the “Age of Electrics” and today you can get an Electric Helicopter in any size, (small enough to fix it your hand) to 40-60 size.

And can they ever fly, they are competitive with your fuel choppers, only quiet and no smoke, no starting equipment needed and are fully 3D capable.

So if you’re flying interest lean toward the rotary wings birds, check out the new electrics. They make then so simple today that you can buy one, open the box, and charge the batteries and fly, even if you have never flown before!

Bob Robeson
www.globalrcland.com

About The Author

Bob Robeson was born in southern Cal and had such great weather that he was able to enjoy his RC Hobby. So for 30 years I have been flying Airplanes and Helicopter, plus car and boats. I have taught "How to build" and "How to fly". Won and hosted my share of contests. And now is the owner of what is quite possibly the world’s largest online hobby shop!

www.globalrcland.com

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Spotting a Fake Cuban

by: Jennifer Marie Jordan

My uncle always bragged to us about his Rolex watch. He showed it off, wore it constantly, and found ways to bring it up in conversations…...speaking of stem cell research, the other day I was winding my Rolex....

We figured he was just excited: the watch on his wrist was worth more than an arm and a leg. But, upon his death, when his watch was handed down to one of my cousins, we came to find that his Rolex was fake.…and he knew it all along.

Our society is full of these kinds of things, things that are fake. There are fake watches, fake breasts, and, unbeknownst to the male gender, fake orgasms. Not immune to this counterfeiting are cigars, particularly Cuban cigars.

Though Cuban cigars have been illegal in the US since a trade embargo was signed by JFK in the 1960's, they still seem to surface every now and then. In the grand tradition of America, making something illegal makes people want it even more (Prohibition….anyone?), and cigar smokers everywhere have some kind of interest in what they are missing.

While smokers probably aren't bootlegging Cuban cigars, selling them in underground tunnels and publicly defying the law in Al Capone style, many people sell them, swearing up and down that they are the real thing. While some of these cigars may in fact be "the real thing," others are counterfeits and more likely "Made in Taiwan" than "Made in Cuba." In fact, it is estimated that 95 percent of Cuban cigars sold in the US are not real; they are simply masquerading as such, using fake Cuban accents and adopting Communistic views.

How to Tell

The quickest and most effective way to tell the authenticity of a Cuban cigar is simple: go smoke it in front of the Office of Foreign Assets Control. If you get arrested, then it's probably real.

But, for those not willing to risk possible incarceration, keep in mind that there are other ways to tell if a Cuban cigar is real or not.

A lot of these ways involve inspecting the box in which the cigars are packaged. For instance, all boxes of Cuban cigars have a green and white warranty seal applied to them. But, for those who are handed a single cigar (without any packaging), and told it's legit, its authenticity might be a bit harder to prove. Still, by keeping a few things in mind, you should be able to separate the Cubans from the counterfeits.

It Should Be the Right Length

Cuban cigars should be the exact length specified in the vitola (the Cuban name that defines the size of the cigar in terms of length and thickness). Almost always, there will never be more than 1/16th inch difference from the published lengths of Cuban cigars and the actual cigars themselves.

It Should Have a Nice Ring to it

The ringed Cuban cigars should all possess clean bands that are tight, of good color, and, for lack of a better word, pretty. When applicable, the rings should contain the word "Habana." If "Habana" is misspelled, marred, or written in crayon, chances are the cigar is fake. Along these lines, glue stains and creases are typical hints that the cigars have been rebanded; if the cigar contains enough glue for you to make a rubber cement ball, it's not something you want to buy.

However, keep in mind that the banding of Cubans isn't always perfect. Authentic Cuban cigars may still contain some discrepancies: be cautious, but not overly critical.

Clean Shaving

The foot of the cigar should be cut cleanly, with no rips or chipping. Anything that isn't well cut is probably not the real deal. The caps of the Cubans should always be finely finished and appear different from other cigars. Cuban caps have a three to four-layer circular appearance, which distinguishes them from counterfeits.

Miscellaneous

There are a few extra hints to keep in mind when purchasing Cuban cigars. First of all, be aware of any alleged "bargains" that may be attached to your cigar purchase. The terms "clearance sale" and "Cuban cigars" do not go together. Period. If someone is peddling Cubans at an extremely low price, it's because they aren't selling actual Cubans. Learn what Cubans should really cost and reject those who try to sell them much less.

It's also good to keep in mind that Cuban cigars don't need to solicit buyers; they don't need to go door to door begging for people to give them a try. They are in low supply and high demand, which basically means they sell themselves. Any seller who comes across as pushy, or with a semblance of a used car salesman, dressing up his cigars in plaid jackets and gold teeth and telling you that they are "hot, hot, hot," is more than likely desperate to unload counterfeits. Likewise, any seller who becomes agitated at any questions you may ask, grows inpatient as you inspect the cigar, or refuses to let you see the package in which they arrived, is also selling fakes.

Many counterfeiters sell cigars that they say are "Special Edition Cubans." In actuality, special editions are very rare, very expensive, and only distributed between reputable dealers and cigar connoisseurs. If a seller tries to pass off a Cuban cigar as "Special Edition," it's only because he's trying to explain why that Cuban may look different than other Cubans.

While some sold in the US are real, most of the Cuban cigars on the black market aren't any more Cuban than someone born in Oklahoma. Still, if you know your stuff, you should be able to tell when someone is handing you a real Cuban, or when someone is just blowing smoke up your ash tray.

About The Author


Jennifer Marie Jordan is an editor and staff writer for www.whatsknottolove.com. At home in a design firm in Denver, Colorado, she writes articles specific to the finer things in life.

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Candle Making – An Ancient Technique That Is Now A Homegrown Hobby

by: John Gibb

Candles have been used throughout human history to make light at night times. Though we use electrical lights now, people still keep candles for emergencies. Scented candles are lit or used as decoration, and some use candle for meditation or prayer as the peaceful, natural light often brings a spiritual feeling. In ancient times and candles would be used as timekeepers, and also in recent history in the coal mining industry.

Candles are made from wax and have a wick usually made from string. The wick is lit and draws the wax up. Many people make their own candle for personal use or for sale, and the process is relatively simple. People have been making candles as far back as the ancient Egyptians, and the materials used have changed a lot. Early candles used fish oils, insects and seeds to make the wax, and cultures all over the world have different methods of adding perfume.

Firstly a candle maker needs to melt wax. In modern times the wax is usually made from tallow, which is fat from cows or sheep, though in the past other materials have been used. The wax will liquefy at high temperatures but it must be monitored carefully as it will produce highly flammable vapours at temperatures around 300F.

Moulds can be purchased with which to make the candles. These usually have a hole through which the wick is fed. The mould is turned upside down and the other end of the wick is tied to something such as a skewer. This is to keep it vertical so that it will run from one end of the candle to the other straight down the middle. The holes in the mould are sealed with special putty or metal tape, and the wax is poured in. As the wax dries it will shrink, so holes must be made in it to allow it to shrink without trapping air. These holes are filled in later with more wax.

These home made candles are often put into glass containers and become a centrepiece for a display or mood lighting for a special occasion.

About The Author


John Gibb is the owner of candle making sources. For more information on candle making check out http://www.candle-making-guide4u.info

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Thread Count in Fabric

by: Penny Halgren

Thread count is the number of threads per square inch in the fabric. It determines the quality and weight of the fabric. Threads are counted for both the length and width of the fabric. If there are the same number of threads in both directions, the fabric is an “even weave.” Fabrics with an even weave are easier to work with as you make a quilt, since the fabric will have the same amount of “give in both directions.

Quilting cotton is generally 68 x 68 threads per square inch, higher than average fabrics. Fabrics with lower thread counts, those around 60 x 60 per square inch are too lightweight for quilts. They tend to ravel excessively, they will shrink more, they will be less durable, and batting will come through the weave in your finished quilt.

High thread counts and extremely tight weaves can be difficult to work with, especially if you are hand quilting. Although it is tempting to use a sheet for the backing of a quilt, the finish and thread count may make it very difficult to work with.

I remember one year I was very excited to find some high quality Pima cotton. I bought a bunch of it, in all different colors, and made a beautiful quilt. It was an Amish-type Ocean Waves. Cutting the fabric was a dream. These were the days before rotary cutting, and I was cutting the fabric with scissors. Sewing the fabric on the machine was wonderful. Basting it was great. Then came the quilting.

Hand quilting was not pleasant at all. The thread count was so high, that quilting was almost a nightmare. I tried everything – smaller needles, sharper needles, bigger thimble, whatever I could dream up. But nothing made any difference. I just gutted it out, and finished it, because I loved the feel of the fabric and the design of the quilt.

I love the quilt, but won’t ever use Pima cotton again.

Happy Quilting!

Penny Halgren

http://www.How-to-Quilt.com

Inspiration and Education for Beginning Quilters

http://www.Rag-Quilt-Instructions.com

Fast, Fun and Funky Quilts

About The Author


Penny Halgren is a quilter of more than 24 years who seeks to interest new quilters and provide them with the resources necessary to create beautiful quilts.

This article courtesy of http://www.How-to-Quilt.com.

You may freely reprint this article on your website or in your newsletter provided this courtesy notice and the author name and URL remain intact.


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