Rachel Bailey’s Kicks, Bryant Paul: Rock Tumbler, Mike Lang’s Album Release, Chris Eller’s Brown Bag

Rachel Bailey’s Collection

Grad student Rachel Bailey has a small obsession hidden in her closet . . . around 250 pairs of shoes.  How she accumulated this massive collection of footwear is an interesting story.  It began between her freshman and sophomore years at University of Missouri, when she took a job in a child psychologist’s office.  Once Rachel began working in a place where she could wear nice things, her shoe collection began to grow.  Then, she took a position as an assistant to the UM’s Vice Provost of Enrollment Management.  Still, more shoes.  “In high school, I only had an interest in functionality.  I owned maybe one pair of heels.  Then, I started getting fun shoes to wear when I dressed up.” Now, Rachel’s massive collection includes boots, dress shoes, casual shoes, and some workout shoes.  She has one closet devoted solely to her footwear, which includes two shoe racks and several dividers.  She has them organized into sections as well: casual, nice, and really nice.  “I keep the really nice ones in their dusters, bags or boxes.  The boots?  They just kind of go wherever they fit.”

A major adventure for Rachel was moving her shoe collection to Bloomington.  “I moved from Austin, Texas to Missouri and from Missouri to here within a couple of weeks.  I’ll never move so much stuff again.  Well, I say that now . . .”  Rachel has a new appreciation for flats since coming to grad school, since walking around IU’s campus in heels isn’t easy.  She justifies her underlying passion for footwear by explaining that clothing trends wear out faster.  Rachel believes that shoes have a bit more staying power.  In fact, the oldest pair she owns are a pair of Nike flip flops from high school.  More importantly, she doesn’t let her clothes define her footwear choices.  “I just like fabulousness.  If I see a pair of shoes that speaks to me, I will figure out what to wear with it later.”

Bryant Paul’s Rockin’ Hobby

As a bright-eyed 4th grader, Bryant Paul was mesmerized by the polished stones his teacher brought to class, and he begged his mother for a rock tumbler – the machine that spins and churns rough pieces of rock into small polished marvels. He got his wish, started his first batch immediately, and (because he didn’t read the instructions) promptly broke the tumbler within a few days. The dream could have ended there.

A batch of Bryant's freshly tumbled stones

Luckily, when Bryant was going up for tenure here at IU, he was on the lookout for a new hobby when his parents sent him a serendipitous birthday check, and he remembered his short-lived rock tumbler of his childhood. Deciding to take another stab at rock tumbling, Bryant used this money to buy an updated version of his childhood toy. “I needed a hobby, so I got a rock tumbler,” Bryant explains. This time around, he researched the basics of rock tumbling before making his purchase, learning that it’s more complicated than simply throwing a handful of rocks into the machine. “With my first tumbler, I just put a bunch of rocks in it without grit or polish, and that’s why it broke,” he says. Many of the rocks are either really strong or incredibly fragile, and both present a challenge. Some stones, like agates, can take as many as 5 months of tumbling before they are ready for the next level of grit, the abrasive substance added to the tumbler to wear away at the stone.

Bryant’s next step on the pathway to becoming a master lapidary (the official term for a stone artisan) is to learn how to shape

One of Bryant's pieces of polished agate

and polish cabochons, the circular or oval-shaped pieces of stone used for jewelry. “Here’s the thing about cabochons: jewelry makers are always looking for them,” Bryant explains. The cabochon-making process requires different equipment to cut and polish the stone. Byant hasn’t purchased the new equipment yet, but it’s becoming a likely future purchase. “I am a tumbler enthusiast,” he says of the craft. Bryant is part of an online community of rock tumbler hobbyists who sometimes post their work on the website, and when he needs help or has a question about some of his rocks, he goes online or, in some cases, attends rock shows (gatherings where tumblers and jewelers present their wares for sale and viewing).

Bryant purchases most of his stones online from websites dedicated to the art, though he has tumbled a few pieces of local rock. His favorite stone so far is malachite, but he cautions that it’s a potentially

Bryant showcases a piece of agate

dangerous rock. “I killed a tree in my backyard working with malachite,” Bryant warns. “I threw the grit out there and the tree started not looking so good . .  . and then it died.” He also advises against throwing used grit down the sink. “It’s basically like cement, so don’t do it,” he warns.

Dangers of the craft aside, Bryant enjoys rock tumbling because it doesn’t require constant attention and commitment. “It’s a really low maintenance hobby. The tenure process was long, and picking up this hobby was good for making me learn to wait,” he says. Bryant has also shared his hobby with his daughter, bringing rocks to her class and giving pieces of polished agate to the students, hopefully inspiring one of them to someday beg for a rock tumbler.

Mike Lang Releases Album

Mike Lang has more than just a passing interest in metal music.  Along with Professor Mark Deuze and Massakren lead singer Parker Weidner, Mike led one of the most talked about brown bag presentations of last semester. While he takes his scholarly research on extreme metal and scenic capital very seriously, Mike also explores metal in a more applied way . . . by playing it.

Now, Mike and his band, Deschain, are celebrating the release of their own album.  It is available for purchase through MySpace or by contacting Mike directly. Congratulations Mike!

Listen here: Deschain

Brown Bag Presentation

Chris Eller, MS student and Senior Systems Analyst at IU’s Advance Visualization Lab, gave last week’s brown bag presentation.

Developing a 3D Advanced Production Class – What’s it like to Teach on the Bleeding Edge

Abstract:  3D movies have come, once again, into the public eye. Modern 3D technology has overcome many of the shortcomings present in the last Golden Age of Hollywood 3D circa 1955. We are now in a position to develop 3D movies that can stand on the merits of storytelling and cinematic craft without 3D problems hampering the success of the production. The technology of stereoscopic production has come a long way since Sir Charles Wheatstone published his paper concerning stereopsis in 1838.

Now, 173 years later, Hollywood and Indie productions are finding fresh success at the box office while at the same time discovering that precious few people actually know HOW to make a good 3D movie or TV show. T452 was conceived of and designed to address this knowledge gap and equip our students to successfully compete for jobs on 3D productions after graduation.

Follow these links to Chris Eller’s Brown Bag Podcast and the slides from his presentation. You can also check out his website here.


Nicky Lewis:  Rachel Bailey’s Collection and Mike Lang Releases Album

Katie Birge:  Bryant Paul’s Rockin’ Hobby and Brown Bag Presentation

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