My most precious treasure (富可敵國的寶藏)

In this modern era, receiving a handwritten letter seems a luxury as people favor the convenience and quickness of sending an e-mail or even a text via phones. I’m glad that the charms of handwritten postcards are not yet replaced by any electronic forms. I have to admit that any electronic form of communication lacks certain warmth, and nothing can beat receiving a postcard from a friend who travels to foreign places.

Not only I’ve been bitten by the travel bug, the friends around me seems to be adventurous enough and enjoy going to every corner of the world (ok, this might be a exaggeration for now… but who knows 😉 ), thus I have the privilege of receiving these precious postcards.

These are postcards from U.S.A and Peru.  My friend went to Peru to hike in the magnificent Machu Pichhu.
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Postcards from England, Ireland, Belgium, France, and Spain.
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Postcards from “fairy tale-like” Czech, Holland, and Austria. P1050602

*From* Rome with Love? Postcards from Italy, and Greece which I’ve always wanted to go but not been yet.
P1050606

Postcards from southern hemisphere–New Zealand and Australia.
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Postcards from mysterious Asia–Tibet and Cambodia. P1050599Postcards from Iceland, Egypt, and Jordan (I’m longing to visit these places too)
P1050608Some are from exotic islands–Maldives, Easter Island, and Tahiti. P1050610More from Phuket (Thailand), Cozumel (Mexico), Bali (Indonesia), Palau, Bahamas, and Boracay (Philippines)
P1050609Not only the postcards and stamps enriched my collections, the greetings warmed my heart. I love reading them; through reading them, I seem to share little pieces of the journey with my friends. P1050613
I love writing postcards to myself too. It’s a weird hobby I’ve fully developed since my trip to France in 2008. Before, I wrote myself postcards occasionally, such as when I went to Italy. I’ve been to Japan many times but for some reason I didn’t send any of the postcards from Japan. I should start doing that next time when I go, haha. 😀

Here are postcards from Hong Kong,  Boracay (Philipines), Guam (U.S.A), UN office in New York (I was told the the postmark would be very special, but when I received it, not only the unique stamp fell off, the “very special” postmark was not on it either, maybe it’s some very special invisible postmark…), Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, and Venice in Italy!
P1050615My trip to France 2008, including Monaco, Nice, Aix en Provence, Avignon, Loire Valley, Mont St Michel, Etretat, Paris. I almost wrote myself a postcard in every city I’ve been in this trip, except Grasse, Chatres, and GivernyP1050618And my trip to England and France in 2009, including London, Cambridge, Bath, Oxford, Saint-Malo, and ParisP1050616These are definitely my most precious treasure. They represent my friends’ incredible trips and priceless travel experiences. Better yet, they can’t be bought with any money. My PRRRREEEEEEEECIOUS~~~~

My good friends, write me a postcard whenever you go on a trip! 😀

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Chateau de Chambord isn’t built in one day (香波堡不是一天造成的)

It has been 4 years since I’ve seen Chateau de Chambord and been astonished by it’s majestic size. Of course, I resented butchering so many animals for entertainment. It was still a bit chilling to watch hundreds of animal skulls and antlers displayed all over the interior walls…

Chambord was the king’s hunting site, but far from being a humble hunting villa, Chateau de Chambord was situated on Loir-et-Cher and constructed by French king Francois I to be the largest castle in Loire Valley. It has some very distinguishing features besides its size–its symmetry, the elaborated towers, and the double-helix staircases inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci’s works.

Ok, so I’ve been there, seen it, but haven’t done that. Done what? Remember the booklet bought by me that would allow me to construct my very own Chateau de Chambord out of paper and glue? Here it is–I finally got the courage and brain to make it. As it says–you only need a pair of scissors and some glue. Sounds easy enough huh?P1040608

Chateau de Chambord is composed with a rectangular structure with four towers on the four corners. The four towers are Francois I, Dieudonne, Henri V, and Caroline de Berry. Outer facades surround the main structure with another four towers on the four corners–the 2 bigger and fancier towers are Robert de Parme and De La Chapelle; the smaller and plainer towers are “tour des princes” and “tour du chaudron.” There’s also a center lantern-shaped decorative tower on the center of the main structure. P1040617

The booklet provides the history and instructions of the project along with Chateau de Chambord’s layout: P1040609P1040610 P1040611 P1040612

Of course it comes with the paper images and shapes for you to make your own Chateau de Chambord, in a reasonable size of 1/300 of the real one. 🙂 P1040614 P1040615

The first part to be constructed is the decorative center tower; this is the most difficult part in the project: P1040619 P1040620 P1040622 P1040623

The center main building is built next: P1040625 P1040626

This is what it’ll look like when the lantern-like tower is placed: P1040642

Tower Francois I is constructed. Same for all four towers, it consists of two parts–the cone-shaped and triangular towers: P1040645 P1040647 P1040648

Tower Dieudonne: P1040650 P1040651 P1040653

Tower Henri V: P1040662P1040663 P1040664

And the last one is Caroline de Berry:P1040665
So this is how it looks like when the center main building is finished. It’s crowded by the extravagant towers: P1040666Now it’s time to make the facades and its two larger towers–Robert de Parme and De La Chapelle: P1040667 P1040669 P1040670 P1040671 P1040675 P1040676 P1040677When the less fancy part of the facades and the plainer two towers–“tour des princes” and “tour du chaudron”– are built: P1040687

Now assemble all the pieces together: P1040700 P1040701 P1040705 P1040736

Tata~~~ Completed! Now I realize that the chateau isn’t as symmetrical as it seems; each tower is unique of its own designs of windows and chimneys, and the outer facades do not have identical towers; in fact, they’re quite different. Furthermore, Chateau de Chambord is definitely not built in one day! P1040737 P1040738 P1040739

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Merry Christmas! (聖誕節快樂!)

Christmas time is probably my favorite time in a year. No, I don’t have a rigid religious cause, nor do I expect tons of gifts (of course I don’t mind getting some, haha 😛 ). Yes I still write Christmas cards and joke that I’m probably the most “low-tech” person working in high-tech industry. So what’s so special about Christmas to me? It’s the vivid decorations and joyful atmosphere that I enjoy the most!

The extravagant light decoration and the giant Christmas tree in front of Shangri-la Hotel in Dun-Hua South road, Taipei. I heard that this hotel elaborately decorated itself and displayed the famous giant Christmas tree during holiday season every year, just that I finally noticed it this year! 😛

There are quite a few trees and lively decorations in Shinyi-destrict, Taipei. How I LOVE this colorful one here! 

Check out this “light-up carpet” here: 

How about this very creative tree full of naughty, seductive legs? 😉 

Oh, and the “starry sky” even it’s raining! 

Very elegant Tiffany tree around 101 building, just right in front of the entrance of the department store and reminding you to shell out some money for the luxurious gift! 

Not choosing anything from Tiffany’s? You can opt Mont Blanc instead! 

Also, a very creative decoration on Eslite bookstore building. It’s not quite a tree, but I think it resembles one! 

Finally, last but not the least, wish you all a very merry Christmas!!

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Day dreaming in Stanford Museum (在Stanford博物館做白日夢)

Cantor Arts Center is one of my favorite places at Stanford. 

The outside of the museum is surrounded by the garden that exhibits Rodin’s sculptures.

 The Gate of Hell, which Rodin had crafted for several copies.

Another thing that intrigues me the most is that the museum itself is also a piece of art, with rotunda roof and the elaborated hallway.     Smaller sculptures by Rodin are displayed inside the museum.  Both classical and contemporary paints are shown. There’s also a section that’s full of modern art, but I have to admit that I have much less connection with modern art. 😛 Another section is for exhibiting Leland Stanford and his wife Jane’s collections. They are the founders for Stanford University in memory of their only son. 

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How to make an illusion necklace (隱形項鍊)

One day I wore a self-made necklace to hang out with my friend and she was amazed by it. “That necklace just *floats* on your neck, that looks awesome!”–she exclaimed. So, I’m going to share some tips of making this type of necklace, known as “illusion necklace” by many beads-making enthusiasts.
First, I drew the general design I wanted. (Pardon my hand drawing, I know it looks awful but I promise the final product looks million times better! )
I wanted to bestow this necklace a neo-classic touch as it was also inspired by the costumes in “The Tudors” series, thus I chose pearls and a cross for my design.
My suggestion for an illusion necklace design is simple and elegance, since it should have this fantasy touch that it magically floats on your neck.

The materials I used are:
Clear illusion cord 0.25 mm diameter or clear fishing cord in 0.32 mm diameter. Please be cautious about using the fishing cord for necklace since it is extremely sturdy and you don’t want your necklace dangle too long and let it get tangled by something else. An illusion cord is soft and less prone to get a kink when bent. However, fishing cord has more sturdy texture that gives the better support to the “necklace frame.”
Fishing cord in 0.25 mm diameter.
Pliers and wire cutters–these are my trusty beading tools, but you can get some more “professional” beading tools like “round nose pliers” to easily make a perfect loop for eye pins and “cutters” to cut your wires and pins in craft/hobby stores.
A 5-cm chain in rhodium-color similar to the one here:
One lobster claw clasp in rhodium color. A small one will do.
2 bead tips in rhodium color, small ones will do.
One head pin in rhodium color, about 2-3 cm long will do.
Some crimps in rhodium color; the size I used was 0.6 mm diameter.
Swarovski crystal beads in 5301 Crystal, 3mm, 6 pieces.
One Swarovski crystal cross in 6866 Crystal AB.
Some Swarovski crystal pearls in 5810 Maroon, 6mm.
Here I’ll summarize the materials you need:
Tools:
Pliers, wire cutters, and scissors.
Stringing material:
Clear illusion cord in 0.25mm diameter or clear fishing cord in 0.32mm diameter
Clear fishing cord in 0.25mm diameter
Findings: (all in silver or rhodium color)
1 head pin (about 2 cm)
2 bead tips
1 piece of linked chain (about 5-7 cm)
Some crimps. (16 used in this project, 0.6mm diameter)
1 lobster claw clasp
Swarovski beads:
Some 5810 pearls, size 6mm, color used is “Maroon.” (13 are used in this project–12 on the necklace and 1 for decorating the extension chain. The space between each of them on the necklace is 2 cm, between the pearl and pendant is also 2 cm, but 1 cm between the pearl and the bead tip at the end)
1 6866 cross pendant, the color is “Crystal AB.”
Some 5301 bicone beads, size 3mm, color used is “Crystal.” (6 are used in this project. Style 5301 is gradually replaced with 5328. It’s a similar style but has more facets, so 5328 will do too)
First you need to make a “bail” the cross pendant. The hole on the cross is going “front-to-back,” but I want it to go sideway.
This is the illustration of how I made the “bail” for the cross pendant
Here I use a dark color fishing cord and colored beads to demonstrate:
First, take 15 cm-length of 0.25 mm fishing cord, string the 3mm Swarovski crystal beads as the photo shows–you string 3 of them, cross the 2 sides of the string into the 4th one, and string one bead on each side of the string.
Now string the cords into the cross.
The red parts represent the cords that are strung through the cross–each of them should be cross the bead indicated in the photo from stringing into it from each side.
So, it becomes like this when seen from the top:
Adjust the string and beads to make that newly made “bail” on top of the crystal cross–the red parts represent the cords now go through each side of the bead. You need to take the part of the string that’s marked with a star in this photo, string through bead marked 1, 2, and 3. Together with another cord, you tie a reef knot. After tying the knot, string the cords into 2 or 3 beads near the knot and finally cut the cord against the beads.
Now you’ll assemble the cross pendant and the pearls. First, take some 0.32 mm fishing cord or 0.25mm illusion cord and string a crimp onto it.
Then you’ll flatten the crimp at the proper part of the cord.
This is the flattened crimp on the cord. You’ll then string the pendant onto the cord from the top bead (marked as 2 on the previous photo) of the “bail” you just made, and add another crimp, flatten it, so now the cross pendant is secured between both crimps.
Do the same thing for the pearls–you might want to measure how long you want the necklace to be and how much space you want between each pearl. I HIGHLY recommend this necklace a choker length. This way, the necklace looks more like it’s floating on your neck.
For making it a complete necklace, you need to take care of the ends of the cord. String a bead tip, then a crimp, onto the cord. Re-string the cord on the crimp beads several times before flattening it. Cut the extra cord and close the caps to secure the crimp inside the ball.
String the pearl on a head pin.
Bend the head pin against the pearl for 90 degrees, cut the head pin to leave about 8 mm of it.
Use the pliers to make a hoop with the head pin.
Now, assemble the lobster claw clasp onto the “hook” part of the bead tip, close the hook to secure clasp. If you want, you can use a 3 mm rhodium jump ring between them. About how to use a jump ring, please reference to “How to make a miniature chandelier.”
Assemble the pearl-on-the-head-pin on one end of the chain and attach the chain on the “hook” part of the bead tip. You can also use a 3 mm jump ring if you desire.
Tata! You’ve made your very own illusion necklace! Wear it, flaunt it!

 

The same illusion necklace on black background.
With the same tutorial, you can do some adjustments with each part and assemble it into different styles for your own unique jewelry.
This one is a sea breeze illusion necklace featuring Swarovski shell pendant and starfish.
Another variation is without any crimps. You use several cords and string beads onto some of the cords, and the next bead should be strung on the other rest of the cords. By using this technique, you can secure the beads on different cords without using any crimps.
This is an example of an illusion necklace without any crimps, featuring Swarovski 5301 beads in Air Blue Opal and Moonlight crystal.
Galactic necklace in monotonic shades of gray, crystal, and black in various sizes of Swarovski 5301 and 5000 beads.
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How to make a miniature chandelier (做一個專屬自己的迷你華麗吊燈)

For those of you who want to make a decorative miniature chandelier, here’s how I did it. No, I haven’t found a way to comprise a light bulb in it so it’s strickly for decoration. Once I know how to add real light properly, I’ll post an update.
First, I chose Swarovski Crystallized components for this chandelier. These are a bit more expensive than other brands of beads, but they have the most shine and their quality is of the highest grade. If you want, you can also try Czech crystal beads, which are still good enough to emit charming beams for the chandelier, for a more economical price.
As much as miniature chandeliers appear complex, they actually only require very basic skills of beading. You just need patience and passion for making it.
Since this time I wanted to make a chandelier with antique touch, I chose Swarovski Crystallized components of “Golden Shadow” color.
When you create your own chandelier, try to think what kind of “theme” you want to bestow on it–for “antique” touch, you probably want to choose more “classical shapes” for your pendants, such as pear, baroque, round, etc. If you want something with modern foliage theme, then you can try leaves, flowers, and even butterflies. How about something sweet and cute? Maybe heart-shaped pendants can do it. However, there’s absolutely no restriction on how you want to make your chandelier, as you can also make something of modern-classical clash!
These are the beads and pendants I used for this particular project:
They are:
5301 Bicone beads 4mm, 5mm, and 6mm. (5301 Bicone beads will be gradually replaced by 5328, which has, generally, the same bicone shape, but with slightly more facets)
6106 Pear pendants 16mm, 22mm, and 38mm.
6401 Octagon pendants 12mm. (one hole)
6404 Octagon pendants 12mm. (two holes)
6091 Baroque pendants 28mm.
The quantities are:
5301 Bicone: 4mm–>72 beads
5mm–>48 beads
6mm–>28 beads
6106 Pear 16mm–>3 pieces
22mm–>3 pieces
38mm–>1 piece
6401 Octagon 12mm–>3 pieces
6404 Octagon 12mm–>3 pieces
6091 Baroque 28mm–>3 pieces
Also you need some base metal findings such as jump rings of different sizes and eye pins with appropriate length. (Eye pins have loops on one end of them, and head pins have a flat end on them)
In order to choose the correct jump rings, make sure that the jump rings can go through the holes on your pendants. Some holes are drilled on a thicker part of the pendents, or the holes are further away from the edge of the pendents, so you need bigger jump rings. As for choosing eye pins, it depends on how big your beads are, because you want to make sure that after you string the beads on them, you are left with enough space to make another loop.
Since I wanted to make an “antique” style chandelier, I chose antique brass color for my findings. Usually you can use 20 gauge jump rings and eye pins. These are firm enough to hold your components but also easy to open and bend, and more importantly, soft enough not to damage the rim of the hole.
P.S. Please note that “jump rings” are different from “split rings” as jump rings have only one loop but split rings are like key rings where you slide stuff in it.
And of course, you need some proper tools. Actually the tools I used are never “proper tools” for crafts. They are simply tools for fixing housewares. I used them because I really got used to using them to cut my wires, make loops, and open split rings. If you can tolerate it, it’s actually a cheaper way to go. If you want to have the “professional” set of tools, you can find “round nose pliers” to easily make a perfect loop for eye pins and “cutters” to cut your wires and pins in craft/hobby stores.
Finally, you need a chandelier frame. If you are good at soldering, you can create your own unique chandelier frame. Here I just used a pre-made frame.
Before you start stringing, you can draw a blueprint of your creation, this gives you a more clear and specific idea on how many beads required, and how you want the chandelier to appear.
As I mentioned, the making of chandelier only requires fundamental skills of beading. Here’s how you should use eye pins.
You first string a bead onto it, then bend the pin against your bead to 90 degrees.
Now you trim the rest of the pin and leave about 8mm. (If you choose an eye pin that leaves less than 8 mm to you after you string your bead on it, you’ll have a difficult time making a loop. However, if you choose a pin too much longer, you might just waste your money and metal since longer pins are, not surprisingly, more expensive)
Now make a loop on the other end of the pin. This may take some practice–you want to make the loop as round as possible and firmly loop back to the base. If you want, you can get a “round nose plier” to make the loop more easily.
Now use two pliers to adjust the loops. You want both loops to open to the same direction. It is VERY IMPORTANT if you want to make a “neat” chandelier, else you may encounter a bit trouble later when you put the links together and place them onto the chandelier frame. In fact, it’s the best if you can make them point to the same direction when you make the loop, because excessively twisting the wire can damage it.
Now, to connect two links, open the loop of a link carefully sidewat, not too big but big enough to let another loop in.
You can adjust the direction of the loops if necessary.
How you want to link the various sizes of beads solely depends on your design. Usually I put larger beads to the middle if the chain of beads goes sideway. If the chain goes up-and-down, I will put larger beads on the bottom for a more balanced feel. Nevertheless, there’s no strict rule to it.
Now, start to place the chains of beads to the chandelier frame and connect them with jump rings. Make sure you always open jump rings sideway.

While chains of beads bring out the structure of the chandelier, you also need these chain-pendants to reveal your “theme” of the chandelier. Also, take a look at your chain-pendants to see which direction the pendants are facing. If you have various number of links on your chain-pendants, they will face the different directions–you can use a jump ring to adjust this problem.
Another important note is that, when you assemble the beads chains and pendants, you want to see which direction each chain relaxingly faces and turns, so you are able to place it accordingly on the frame. Else, you may have a chandelier full of messy and twisted chains.
Tata! The finished work:
If you want, you can try different frames, beads, pendants, and colors for renovating your very own miniature chandeliers.
For this one, I used crystal beads, crystal AB (Aurora Boreali) beads, snowflake pendants, and icicle pendants to comprise this “snowdrop chandelier.”
Stars and moon for “celestial chandelier.”
I used violet, light rose, rosalin colors and many different shapes of beads to give this chandelier a lively spring garden ambience.
And how about bordeaux foliages and raven black frame for some gothic flare?
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