April 20, 2007

Tony Payne's Custom Jewelry

The second web site I added to my Links section is Tony Payne's Custom Jewelry. Based in Madison, Mississippi, he extends his reach to the online world after more than 20 years in the business.

Tony's trade deals mainly in pendants, rings, and pins. He can make them in the shape of most anything you can imagine: animals, religious symbols, business logos, or some creative stone setting. He'll even make you a championship sports ring! And you don't have to do anything to earn it, either! Materials he works with are sterling silver, white and yellow gold, and platinum. He can even insert custom cut precious gemstones and diamonds into your piece.

What goes into getting your own custom piece of jewelry from out of your brain to hanging around your neck? Or pinned to your shirt? Or hugging your ring finger? First, you either describe your idea of what you want your piece to look like to Tony, and he'll e-mail you a sketch of what he feels you're thinking of. Or you can do a drawing yourself and e-mail it to him. After you both settle on a design and a 50% down payment is made, a wax carving of your piece will be made. He'll e-mail you a picture of what that looks like, and if you approve, he'll cast it in whatever material you chose. He'll show you the result, and if you approve, you send the dough, he sends the jewelry.

I happened into Tony Payne myself back in 2004. Entering "custom jewelry" into an Internet search engine, I chose his site out of all the results specifically because he dealt with sterling silver. I browsed his pages to check out his work, and decided this was the place I was looking for. I drew a quick mock-up of the vision I had for a pendant( the Callous "CS" symbol) with some size specifications and e-mailed it to him.

Tony e-mailed me back saying he could do it. It's a good thing too, what kind of crafter would he be if he couldn't get this thing into the third dimension? He gave his prices for carving, casting, finishing, material, shipping, and insurance, and would begin as soon as he received the down payment from me. After sending him a check, and waiting for my turn to come up, he e-mailed me a couple of pictures of the wax carving for the pendant.

I was pleased with his wax sacrifice and gave him the go ahead for the casting. About a week later, he sent me this picture.

He told me that his quality control department, Mrs. Payne, noted that the pendant doesn't hang evenly, so he supplied me with some options on how to correct this. I chose one, and he got to fixing it. Soon after, he showed me what we hoped would be the final result.

We had a winner!

My pendant is a simplistic piece, but I assure you that Tony is capable of far more complex designs than this. But... you don't have to take my word for it. (LeVar Burton impression.) Check out his site yourself, it's peppered with his handiwork.

Now let me tell you a little bit of history on the Callous Symbol. The origin of this pendant is seen in my first short story Enter: The Callous One, posted in the Writings section of my web site. Basically, when Hunter Cameron, the main character of much of my writings, turned over a dark leaf in life, he wanted to bear something on his person that symbolized his rebirth. So he went to the local silversmith in his small town and asked him to create a pendant that was basically an abbreviation of his new nickname "Callous". That being the first and last letters of his title fused together.

The best logos aren't complex, they should be easy to recognize. I guess I'm fortunate that my drawings aren't highly detailed, case in point the logos I create for my characters. The whole reason I even looked for a custom jewelry site was to see if the Callous symbol pendant could exist in real life. It was affordable, it was created by competent hands, so I went for it. I'll utilize his services in the future, but the CS pendant more than suits me for now. Oh, and Tony Payne is the official jeweler of James-Gannon.com

And that's just the way it is.

April 12, 2007

Stephi Heaven

Today on The Epitaph, I'll discuss in depth the first web site I added to my long dormant Links page. Stephi's Paradise, online home of Stephanie... no last name on file. Underneath her site banner are links that take you to pages where you can vote for her in online contests, and also view more pictures.

I first saw "Miss Brown Eyes" at her original, corporately owned web site where she was featured alongside six other models. In my eyes, she was the standout. I made it a point to stop by every so often to check out new pictures. But then a day came where she disappeared without a trace, possibly due to contract dispute/creative differences/different career outlook. Curses, I'll never be able to witness her beauty again, or so I thought. About a year later, I entered some key words into an internet search engine and managed to find her new site. No longer having to share the spotlight, Stephi has staked claim to a portion of the Internet's vast real estate and set up her own virtual paradise. Even planted some palm tree graphics. She's mostly a bikini model, most appropriate given her site's theme, but she'll occasionally dress up in themed outfits and even show off her intimate attire.

Even though I don't know her personally, I have exchanged a few e-mails with her and she comes across as a sweet and level-headed lady. I also won a contest on her web site by correctly guessing which of a series of outfits she would be modeling in the future. My prize was a mouse pad emblazoned with an image of her in one of her most risque bikinis ever. Makes me wish I used a mouse instead of my notebook's touch pad. Although at least I can't ruin the image by endlessly dragging a trackball over it.

My goal for linking her web site? While not interacting with her directly, I want to see if I can in some small way, help her become successful. Although I'd have to generate more traffic towards my own site in order to do that. Oh yeah, if you visit her MySpace page, you'll probably find a few drawings I did for her. It gives me a chance to draw a subject most of my material isn't geared towards. Bikini models. But unfortunately, I don't think she is a fan of my work. Did I mention she wants to be a stewardess, too?

Descriptions of contests Stephi is involved in circa 4/12/07
In Search of the World's Most Beautiful Woman: An online beauty pageant hoping to extend into television as a reality show. If this were to happen, it'd be the only one I'd ever watch if Stephi was featured. You can vote with or without registering every sixty minutes. I've gotten no junk mail after registering my e-mail address, so don't let that worry stop you. There's a big problem with the voting process where people will repeatedly give low votes to contestants and decrease their score an alarming amount. Even if the web site staff decides to do something about it, they don't repair the damage, so I'm guessing that doing well in this contest is a crap shoot.

Ms. Bikini World: The grand prize at year's end is to be named Ms. Bikini World for that year. I guess that's good for padding your resume. Registering is required to vote, which is once every twenty-four hours. Also had no problem with unwanted e-mails after doing so.

Biker Dolls: Whoever can woo the most votes from judges is rewarded with a $25,000 prize and an opportunity for some exposure at Biker Week 2008. But there's actually an incentive to vote... a chance to win a $30,000 custom motorcycle and an expenses paid invitation to Biker Week for yourself. There's a few steps to signing up, one of which is to agree to a three day trial of Sirius Radio online. But like the other contests, unchecking various boxes will prevent you from getting junk mail.
Strange as it sounds, I don't want to win the judge's contest. The only thing I like about motorcycles are the models that usually pose by them. I'm not a biker bad ass, I'm a 150 pound jabroni. I'm sure lots of bikers are of high class and intellect most of the time, but I'll probably be required to discuss issues important to the majority of the crowd at the event. Those being bikes, beer, and bitches. If I attempt to ride a motorcycle, I will fall. And if I fall, I will cry. Men aren't supposed to cry, so I best avoid situations where tear-shedding is an outcome. (I'm not a wuss, I just know my limitations.)
In the slight chance I do win, I'd only attend Bike Week if Stephi is there. What would be the point if the model I supported the whole way doesn't win? Chances are I'll be required to have my photos taken with my motorcycle. That would make me a poseur. But it could give me some of that coveted "street cred".
I will request a picture be taken featuring Stephi and I with my bike, because I feel that would make a great picture to post on my homepage.

Is She Hot?: Savvy Girls is some kind of online version of a men's magazine. You know, the ones that actual men don't read. Registration required, make sure you unclick offers to receive mail, you get the picture by now.

Rockin' Profiles: Vote for the best MySpace profiles in different categories each month. Mostly geared towards musicians, but will have contests for ladies every once in a while. Prize for winners is an "awesome" banner and added exposure on their web site. Another contest where you can vote whether you register or not. You can vote once at the beginning of a new hour. A plus for registered judges is that every vote you make is added up that will someday give you bonuses from their sponsors.

Stephi is the official model of James-Gannon.com. I should also add that Stephi does not endorse James-Gannon.com.

And that's just the way it is.