Erika Hammerschmidt: Author, Artist, Speaker

My first name is Erika. Not Erica. Not Ericka. My last name is Hammerschmidt, which has thirteen letters, including five consonants in a row. People still find it easier to spell than my first name.

My email is humanalien at gmail dot com.
(That’s “Human Alien,” not “Humana Lien” or “Hum Anal Ien.”)

In college I majored in German and Spanish. I also accidentally minored in art, just by taking so many art classes for the fun of it. I grow my own vegetables. I am obsessed with pet birds. I make jewelry that looks like a Renaissance Fair gone wild.

I’m an author, artist and speaker living in Minnesota. I work in a pharmacy as well as giving speeches on autism and writing books. I am married to a space alien named John Ricker, who, like me, is on the autism spectrum.

Some books I have published:
Born on the Wrong Planet
Kea’s Flight
If the World Ended, Would I Notice?

Below you will find my latest news. Add me to your bookmarks! I’m always up to something.

Also, check our calendar for upcoming events!

Wire Wrap Class coming up Jan 28th! (Sunday, January 28th, 12 to 3 pm)

The Goddess of Glass / The Warren
4400 Osseo Road
Minneapolis, MN 55412

I’m so excited to teach this wire wrap class at The Goddess of Glass! Price has been lowered to $25 +$10 supply fee. Hope to see some of you there!

Thoughts about children’s songs

When I was a kid, my cousins had a tape of children’s songs that included one about an alligator raiding a department store and taking a refrigerator.

The first several verses were funny, light-hearted and not that remarkable, mainly playing with the rhymes of “alligator,” “refrigerator,” “elevator” and “escalator.” As a kid I guess I found it entertaining.

But the last verse was very out of place. It seemed as if it had been tacked on as an afterthought, to address criticism about the song being unwholesome because it depicted stealing.

In the last verse, the singer reassures the listeners that the alligator was honest and paid for the refrigerator, by mailing fish from his swamp to the department store afterwards.

Okay, but this made it way worse.

The first several verses were never going to give children the impression that stealing is okay. Children know from a very early age that you’re not supposed to take anything from a store without paying. Children hearing the song will fully understand that it depicts something they are not supposed to approve of, but that they can laugh at anyway because it’s ridiculous.

But the last verse? That could actually confuse children about what is right and wrong.

While young kids are totally aware that you have to pay for what you buy, they may not be clear on the details of how payment works. And the last verse teaches them that

1. stores accept payment in non-cash goods, like fish
2. stores accept payment mailed in after you have taken unpaid merchandise out of the store.

Your kids were never going to raid a department store and steal a refrigerator. And you know, they probably still aren’t going to steal something just because of this song. They’ll probably just ask you questions about the parts that don’t make sense, because asking questions is what kids do.

But, if any part of this song was going to convince kids to shoplift stuff, it would be the last verse, which basically tells them it’s okay because they can pay later by mailing some random possessions to the store they stole it from.

And this is typical. I have seen so many songs and stories edited to make them more kid-friendly and the editing actually worsens the message.

Adults have seriously no idea how kids think. I don’t know what happens in most people’s brains when they grow up, but in the vast majority of cases it seems to involve totally erasing the memory of what being a kid was like.

Assorted pendants

Here are a few more pieces for the steampunk event: some pendants I made with wire, stones, and old watch parts. I’m pretty happy with them.

Steampunk earrings

Here are some earrings I’m hoping to sell at the 13 Gears Steampunk Bazaar this February 10th. I made them out of wire and old wind-up watch parts.

Steampunk bazaar

Have I mentioned I have a table at the 13 Gears Steampunk Bazaar this February?

I am so excited! It’s February 10th, 11:00 am – 6:00 pm at the Grain Belt Bottling House in NE Minneapolis.

I will have a table with all sorts of fanciful jewelry and trinkets that I’ve made.

Playing around with watches

Here’s a choker necklace I made with old watch parts, brass wire, pearls and amethyst beads.

I don’t like how I look in pictures, but I modeled it anyway. I like the fit.

Hoping to have it for sale at my table at the 13 Gears Steampunk Bazaar this February 10th.

My left middle finger is a non-conformist

Today I sketched a picture of my left-hand fingerprints.

Now, this is not an exact depiction of my prints. (I would not publicly share an exact depiction, because, while I don’t plan to commit any crimes, I also don’t trust the motives of every person who might see my public posts.) But I’d say it’s a fair approximation.

As you can see, most of my fingers have the world’s most common print pattern: the loop, an inverted U-shape of nesting curves alongside a triangular delta.

All my right-hand fingers have this pattern, and all but one of my left-hand fingers. They all have it symmetrically, too, with the delta toward the thumb and the loop away from the thumb. The thumbs have it as well. Very normal, with only the smallest irregularities in the concentric curves.

But my left middle finger?

Well… I suppose its pattern can be considered a loop too. Sort of. At least, that’s the closest known pattern to what that finger has.

It’s like it tried to grow a loop, but the loop kind of flattened, squashed, lost most of its layers, and fused with the delta into a vaguely tent-shaped mess. Fingerprints can be arches, loops or whorls, but this finger refuses to look like any of them.

I guess, in its own defiant way, it decided to give the whole concept of biological labels and categories a big middle finger.

More wire wrap classes!

Remember that wire-wrapping class I taught at the Goddess of Glass in November? It went really well! I’d never taught a class like that before, but it was really fun to see all the different styles that emerged around the table, from different people starting out with the same materials and instructions. Some people made wire trees, some made pendants, some made both, and all of them were unique in fascinating ways. You never know what your style of art is going to be until you pick up the tools of the trade.

Anyway, I had a great time, and I’d love to do it again! And luckily, Connie from The Goddess of Glass has offered me that opportunity! I’m teaching 2 classes this winter: (Sunday, January 28th, 12 to 3 pm) (Sunday, February 25th, 12 to 3 pm)

Both are at

The Goddess of Glass / The Warren
4400 Osseo Road
Minneapolis, MN 55412

Cold weather phone calls: a PSA

Just a reminder that if you are going out in the kind of weather Minnesota has around this time of year– do not rely on smartphones to make emergency calls!

If it gets cold enough, a smartphone will stop working. It can look like a battery failure, but I think it’s some kind of safeguard to make sure you don’t use it in weather that could damage it.

For example, on my way to work on the last Friday of 2017, a five-mile bike ride at -3 degrees Fahrenheit, my phone completely lost power. Luckily I didn’t need it while I was out. But when I got in to work, I tried to check my email and was met with all the signs of a dead battery.

But it can’t have been an ordinary dead battery, because when I plugged it in, it was almost instantly fully charged again. I think it just refused to admit it had battery power until it knew it was warm enough.

(Wish I could do that. “Can’t get out of bed this morning. I’m dead. Ooh… you turned the thermostat up! Yay! I’m alive again!”)

So– don’t assume your smartphone is gonna be there for you in sub-zero-Fahrenheit weather. Don’t assume a backup battery will help, either. Bring a wall-plug-in charger, and if you need to call someone, take shelter in a warm place with an outlet.

If there won’t be any places like that along your route, be sure to make plans beforehand with whoever you might need to contact. For example, John knows the route I take on my bike, so if I go missing and can’t call him, he knows where a search team will need to look for me. And, before I leave, I always tell him what time I’ll leave and whether I’ll take my bike route or the bus route, or ride with a coworker.

It’s getting into the negative double digits! Be safe out there!

Etsy shop

John has been helping me by putting some of my jewelry up on Etsy.

I’ve been tinkering around with my websites and social media, and just recently added some info to my jewelry page at …including a link to my Etsy page and my Google Calendar, where I’m posting events I’ll be attending.

They say that having an Etsy shop can increase sales, but I’m uncertain about their search algorithms and promotion protocols. It’s hard to get noticed in the sea of other artists selling online.