Sunday, December 23, 2007

Pushing the Panic Button

Yes, it's that time of year again. The race to be ready!
Here on the grove, it's a little busier as we will be hosting the annual Christmas dinner on the 25th. For the first time, niece Hilary and her hubby and two kids, aged five and seven will be in town at Christmas. Since we have a slightly larger dining area, the gang will come here instead of gathering at my sister's.

For me, it's rather a nice change, as I love to make the meat and potatoes part of the meal, and um, yes the hors d'oeuvres. I don't make desserts well, so fortunately, my sister has graciously offered to bring the sweets. I have all the food shopping done and the menu is ready. I've made whatever could be made ahead of time, so no worries there. It's just that part of having all the meal elements ready at the same time that gets to me. I really am not that great at doing big birds in the oven, so will have to rely on the meat thermometer and peoples' patience so that it all gets to the table in a relatively warm way.

As far as gifts wrapped and decorations done, I have completed nearly all I intend to do. Regarding party-type events, I have a few things up my sleeve, and of course one can always count on the impromptu actions of the little ones to help the festivities remain joyous and we'll have cameras ready for those unexpected moments of frivolity. We may even have some highly original organ music (they'll PLAY) to accompany any of us who feels like singing carols. Pushing the right keys on the Hammond is not important...they'll have the beat tho!

As for pushing panic buttons, I am really no more concerned with that than I am with the little ones hitting the right notes. What's the point. It will all come together and if there are a few bits that are a little fragmented it's no big deal. I have the worrying department all taken care of. I have this little polymer clay thing I made a couple of years ago as the result of a workshop I took. It was at a very "down" time. I kept the thing in my pocket for weeks, rubbing it and pressing on the button from time to time, whenever I felt stressed, or something around me was "out of control". I called it my panic button and maybe it was just the "action" of pressing it, but it helped me to realize that pushing it got about the same results as going into a wild panic would.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

More playing with blends

In a previous post I alluded to the quilting patterns possible with the extrusions made from blends with polymer clay. Here are some other possibilites for having fun. The blue-toned pendant on the right is the one I received from Violette last year as a Winterfest Gift. I think she may have used a similar technique. Qu'en penses-tu?

The one below is unbaked and is just a combination of the small canes as they came out of the extruder. It could be the basis for some quilt pattern.

It's surprising because it's hard to predict how the canes will exit the the extruder. It all depends on the colours that are used and how you stack them inside the barrel. I suppose if one really wanted, they could prepare a master's thesis on the probability of the extrusions, but I prefer to leave these things up to chance and let the random colours play as they may. Did someone talk about permutations and combinations? Oh no, more Math!

Playing with Clay Blends

Quite a while ago I received the Makins Pro Extruder. I had wanted to play with it but just never did and I regret having made that decision. It's FUN! I've been admiring several Klimt-like Canes that I've seen recently, and wondered how they were done. I had even received a pendant from one of my Clayamie friends with this marvelous work in it. Well, finally, the time came where I could play again, so I picked up a rainbow blend and folded it up accordion style. Then I cut the folded part into four sections and loaded them up in no particular order in the tube of the extruder. I placed the square shape disc in, and then started the extrusion. The outside was almost all one colour...and I hoped it wouldn't be mud.
But then when I cut the extruded part in a number of small pieces to see what was inside, I LOVED the unexpected results. Of course, I put them together in almost what one might call a quilt pattern, and then began to take slices. The patterns change very gradually, but I suppose if you started with a large enough blend you'd have enough to make an exact quilt pattern if that is where you want to go. I like the randomness of the results.

And the beautiful tones of blue pendant is the gift I received last year from my Clayamie amie, Violette. Voilà!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Button, Button

Yesterday was the final sale of the year for moi. It wasn't supposed to happen; originally I had been scheduled to teach a workshop this weekend, but the drive was very long and the temperatures have been so frigidly awful, that the organizers and I figured we should wait until spring.
The sale was poorly attended...can't blame people for not wanting to come out, but sadly, the cause was good and there were tons of cars in the mall we passed. The sale was being held to assist Africa and there were some excellent visual presentations.

I did well with my buttons though, and a lot of people commented on my womanakin....whom I have lovingly named Herdy Gourdy. She has no face, and not much of a life as she only comes out for show; but she is dressed to kill! She sports a black organza skirt and iridescent sequined bodice and she is bedecked with a lavendar boa, beneath a shock of pumpkin coloured hair. She displays the buttons so well. Because of her wire frame, the pinning on of the buttons is somewhat akin to sticking pins in a voodoo doll, but she so far doesn't seem to mind. And of course, we don't stick them in with ill intent.

The button sets are displayed on a table...perhaps one day I will get some prongs for them to hang them up...if I ever find a suitable backdrop! And since it's the last sale of the year, I have some time to think about that!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Hey, It's Mr. Beadman

Hey, Mr. Beadman...over here! Look this way. I want to see the beads you have! Oh, some are glass...and the others, would be Polymer Clay, huh?
I had made a similar beaded guy a few weeks ago, but he is nowhere to be seen. No I didn't misplace him, lol, he's gone!

Molly ready to go!

It has been bitterly cold here lately, and on Wednesday the divine MS. M will be going for a haircut. She'll be shivering with her buzz cut, so I made her some boots and a kind of a sweater from some wool stuff to help keep her from the elements. I know the items don't match, and they're not very decorative, but we are talking PRACTICALITY here. She doesn't mind wearing the sweater, but the booties need to be snugged up a little, as they don't stay on that well. I'm thinking of ways to add a little elastic in the "cuff" part of them.

I made the sweater by cutting up a wool v-neck. I used about half the back for her shortened "front" part and cut off the arms to make armholes. I serged it all together and if you don't look for the "mistakes" it serves its purpose.

The booties were made by taking the ribbing from a turtle neck, and cutting it into four pieces. I sewed each one up tube style, and they look a bit like large, blue, ribbed, cots, with roll tops, if you catch my drift. She doesn't lift her paw to go, so the items don't get soiled, but they do get a little snowy.

She actually likes the sweater a lot, and will sleep in it if we don't take it off after her outings.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Let there be light on Limits and Derivatives

This past Monday, I was called to substitute for the high school Math teacher at Balmoral Hall. I love going there because the girls are so interesting, and they are such great students. Unfortunately, I had three classes of Calculus during the day, and much of that work is stuff that I have LONG forgotten, including the Chain Rule, work on Sinusoidal Curves and and an assignment on Limits and Derivatives. Thankfully the day ended with some work I am much more familiar with, some regular Algebra and Problem Solving, so I felt a little more able to assist the girls with that aspect of work.

Upon recalling the assignments of that day, I actually made a realistic connection of the work to some pragmatic situations. Tomorrow I will be presenting a workshop to art teachers at the provincial Special Area Group Conferences. When I did this last year, I had prepared such a lengthy and detailed presentation, I realized that this year I will have to limit my projections due to a number of uncontrolled factors..time, lunch arrangements, etc. So, it will be a rather basic presentation of some fundamental techniques in polymer clay, making some rudimentary canes and utilizing those in some derivatives like the light switch cover and other items that we'll be working on.

Today I am up to here loading boxes with pasta machines, tools, clay that I've divided into twenty bags, handouts etc., and will be happy when this is done. I am looking forward to the atelier and am excited to present but ....gak...the preparation is a LOT of work. Sort of like teaching, lol.

So if any teachers in my province are reading this, I hope you have a wonderful day tomorrow and best wishes for an enlightening conference, no matter what event you will be attending.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Le coffret

J'ai nommé cette boite "Le Coffret Secret" parce que c'est possible à ouvrir. À l'interieure on peut mettre une petite chose, comme un clef, une photographie, ou quelque chose du choix. C'est fait de la pâte polymère en noir, or, et rouge foncé avec des détails uniques. C'est 7 centimetres par 5 cm. approximativement, et on peut suspendre sur le mur pour garder des scents, ou porter comme un bijou.

SVP, excusez le niveau de mon français, lol.

À la prochaine...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Finally Finished! Whew!

Only one is finished. The others...well it is a long story. I spent an inordinate amount of time looking for my cell phone today. Should have called in Maxwell Smart. He would have twigged me on to its location pronto! In the end I did find it...tried everything including calling myself from the land phone but couldn't hear it. Of course I couldn't, because it was in my workout shoes in the trunk of my car.
But at least I had time to finish her attire. And get the finishing touches of Mr. Beadman done, as well as a couple of coffrets.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Yum Yum nearly dun

The first of the cocoon dolls is nearly ready. Okay okay...I took poetic licence with the rhyme in the title. But she is nearly done.

Her fan is a piece of excellent Japanese paper that I have been saving for eons...don't go there in that closet! It attaches to her left hand little bracelet by a wire and I needed to take it off while I was doing her "makeup". Sadly, she doesn't appear that well made up, but she is a Geisha in disguise, so can't do much about the normal features. And I have her hair sticks ready to put in, but they angle obliquely and those did not rest well on the background fabric.

Photography isn't going well as the battery in the Camedia D-40 has died (again!) and I had to plug the sucker in to take this shot. Hopefully the battery will be replaced later today, and/or we'll find out if it's the rechargeable type.

Her sisters are still in limbo, not quite ready for publication. And the name Yum Yum is only temporary. She might still be Peep-Bo or Pitti-Sing, depending on which of the finished three little maids turns out to be most "bridely" oriented.

Monday, November 12, 2007

How many minutes until showtime?

Here, Yum, Pitti and Peep are wondering when they're going to get the rest of their makeup and costumes on for the big production. And they're worried about whether the hairsticks they've been planning to wear will actually fit in those chignons.
But these Geishas are very modest, and won't reveal their kimonos until every bit of detail is done.
Yum is desperately searching for her netsuke, and Pitti is determined to find her zori, and Peep needs to get her fan back from the repair shop...there was an electrical black out during last performance and hers wasn't working. Talk about sweating in that big wig!

Yum Yum and friends

A few people have asked where my coccoon dools have been, and I have replied that they're getting ready for a show. Actually, this is the first time I'm making the entire trio of Maids from School, and here they are, getting ready behind the screen. All you can see is their elaborate hairdos, which I had to scan as my camera is taking a time out for bad behaviour. Some one took a picture of me yesterday morning before I had combed my hair. Imagine if these geishas were photographed with unkempt hair...'twould be "Toco, Toco, Toco!"
I haven't decided who's who yet, but time will tell..."Three little maids from school are we, filled to the brim with girlish glee..."

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Where in the fog are we?

I am posting this foggy picture on purpose. The fish here is not yet finished, and "somebody" left the camera in the cold, cold garage last night. I took the picture when the fog was still on the lens, and rather like the ethereal appearance of it. Sort of a preview not yet in focus.
The starfish is one I made using an old geometry lesson on making stars from a circle that I used to teach. Radiating symmetry left a bit askew and not "exact" as geometric proportions would have it. After all, it is a critter like Tina says.

Friday, November 2, 2007

a whole new meaning for fishsticks

Playtime for Fishies
A while back a friend of mine asked me to create some characters for her class to use as puppets. Of course, I had to draw them and left them with her.
Today, in one of my many "boxes" I found these fish sticks; I think they're supposed to be swizzle sticks, but I couldn't resist keeping them for other purposes. I think they would make great puppets for kids to use. I love their colour, and I think they could be the basis for some sitcom or SoapFishOpera, yet to be developed in my mind. Or maybe I will use them as inspiration for some new angelic-type fishes I'll create in clay. The ones I make now are anything but angelic. angler-type is more like it!
Speaking of things "angelic", I did make some angel ornaments earlier this morning, not the kind of stuff I usually do. They have feathers for wings. Hopefully I will finish them soon, as there is a sale coming up tomorrow, and the people always buy the decoration stuff first. I'll try to post them on here. If they turn out, maybe I'll use them to decorate packages for um...okay, I saw an ad for Christmas yesterday so I'll say it... Christmas presents. I shudder to think that some people already have their shopping done!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween's Here

Happy Halloweeeeeen! It's gonna be scary...the weather's a bit cool, but not too bad for the treat'n tricksters. What are you dressing up as? I think my little twin-pin gives away what I'll be going as...

What makes it frightening, is that the brand spankin' new LCC opened today...for those of you who aren't aware, that would be your Magasin d'alcools or your "commish". It's located less than a kilometre from our place. We did the tour and wondered if we were the first customers, but we missed the ribbon cutting by a few hours. We had just come home from a luncheon with my former co-workers and wouldn't you know, some of the others in our group noticed the NOW OPEN sign and had to stop by at the same time as we did. It was a great Halloween treat...they were giving out free "samples", so we had a little after luncheon bubbly instead of a liqueur.

The restaurant was okay...the waitress was dressed in a scanty little French Maid's costume and the waiter came as Jason...need I say more!

En route to the "grand opening" of the LC, I stopped by the Folk Festival Office to give in my auction donation. It was neat to see all the other art that is going to be offered at their GALA in December. I'd love to go to that fundraiser, it is a medieval festival of sorts (I think) and after going to a couple of Renaissance Events in the U.S., I'd really like to see one of those here. Great events for costuming!!! Bawdy Wench is what I think would be right for me, or maybe the Mistress of the House from Les Miz...

Time to dim the lights, play some scary organ music and get ready for Fright Night! Happy Haunting all!

Friday, October 26, 2007


Well, after the feeble feline attempts last weekend, I thought I'd try some canine canes...I tried to get Molly to Model, and she did, but the result doesn't look much like her, except for the colour which is almost straight out of the package, lol. I usually don't try for "cute" stuff, but this one I can live with.

The "tags" are little charms for the doggie bags I make. Sometimes the people who browse the craft sales comment on how "cute" items are. Then they kick the tires and keep on walking.

G-r-r-///Be quiet MOLLY! Anyway, in an attempt to justify their "comments" I make these "cute" doggie bags that hold plastic baggies for picking up "doggie presents".

It all came about a few years ago when friend husband went to take Molly for a walk and he reported on her "actions". When I asked if he had acted responsibly, he said..."I forgot to take a bag." So I immediately made a little drawstring bag and attached it to the handle of her leash and filled it full of plastic sandwich bags. Now we're always responsible when she does something...unexpectedly. We've replaced her "poochie pouch" many times as they do get a lot of use, and now I even decorate them.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Cats, Kitties and ?

After I did the larger grey cat this meowrning, I decided to do a "short-cut-cat". I used a bunch of left over canes in assembling this little kitty on the left. The photos are terrible...but it's one colorful cat! I baked a few slices to see if the colour would stay pretty much the same....and it did!
Then I tried another crazy-cat cane, using a mixture of mostly old canes, (on the right) but I don't know how this one will come out because some of the canes (like the huge striped one in the centre) are pretty old, and I went against all the rules and mixed all kinds of clay...mainly because I didn't know what they were any more! I see the eyes are a bit distorted, but I think I can work on that a little when I reduce it.

Molly the Model Dog and ... Cat?

It has been raining off and on for the past week, and today it's cloudy so might rain again. I thought I should do some work considering the less than perfect weather, but hubby left the camera at home...yay... and so I took a couple of pictures. Molly (the white one) was sleeping at the foot of the stairs as per usual, so I pointed the camera right at her. The flash didn't bother her a bit, as she loves to pose. I want to make a little dog pin, so may do something in clay with Molly as the Model. After I took the camera away, she went right back to sleep.

As for the other "thing"...I had a request about a week ago from an old curling buddy, for a cat thing in polymer clay so attempted to make a cat cane. I usually don't do much caning, and didn't really have anything to go by in the way of instructions, so I just went the intuitive route and tried to make a sketch and follow it. Of course the colours aren't very accurate, and who knows what it will look like when it's reduced... I plan on adding a few little non-caned additions to it when it's in user-friendly size. But if worst comes to worst, I always need scrap clay and so even though it took nearly three hours to make this cat, I have a hefty heap of "filler clay" for some of the other projects I am working on.

If it reduces half decently (I am letting it rest for a few hours at least) I'll post some finished things that I make from it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Pendant Previews

In preparation for a few upcoming events, I have begun reworking some of my favourite things. I haven't made many pendants this year as I've been so busy doing buttons. These slightly geometric pendants are not yet "finished", i.e. they haven't been buffed, and a few of them need a little bit of trimming. I haven't decided if I'll put a high sheen on them or not. I kinda like the matte appearance, with just a few tiny sparkles here and there from the flecks in the clay mix that I used. The "sun splotches" were actually tiny cutouts that I did with a paper punch and I thought the effect was cool. The clay took on a deep undertone while curing; that happens a lot with the reds and fuchsias. Each one is textured slightly differently. I am going to make the lengths adjustable.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Little Boxes

I really enjoy using polymer clay for creating faux effects, and love the idea that you can really MAKE things from it, useful or not. Most of the things I make serve some purpose or other, and have some decorative elements in them as well. This one is big enough for delicate jewellery or for putting rings away while doing "work".

This box, about 2 inches by 3 inches, has inlays of pre-baked "amber" imbedded into the faux ivory. The unseen sides are impressed and antiqued as are the bottom and inner surfaces.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Some Day Her Prince Will Come

Last year when substituting in a Grade One Class, the assignment was for the children to make fish. I had made this little polymer clay Princess Fish beforehand. I used this and several others as illustrations, to teach them "morphology" and stuff. The fish they made were awesome...I wished I had taken photographs. They were anxious to take their creations home, and when I arrived with my camera on the following day, alas, there were none.

This little princess has only one photogenic side. She's meant to be hung on a wall or "stood up" on a stand...although as a young princess, she does not like to be stood up. She sports a bronze dimensional crown, that, perhaps she should ditch. After all, she wants to be known for her own personal charms, not for her rank in society!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Three Part Invention - not by Bach

I haven't posted for a while, but when I realized that I had a few minutes to spare, thought I'd just pop in for a bit. Upon seeing Polymer Clay Daily, one of my favorite sites, I saw Loretta Lam's work. In it I saw a piece that reminded me of something that I have been making for quite a while, although it's not quite the same. I call this the Three Part Bangle, because it's exactly that, a rounded bangle cut into three with some co-ordinating spacers. It actually came about because I had "miscut" a two-part bangle and couldn't deal with the thought of having to scrap the original piece. When I realized it might be the start of something new, I made a whole series of them. They are for the most part on the arms of others now, but I did find one that was hidden away in a box. In getting ready for the fall sales, I think I just may do several more like this, in different colour themes.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


For the past two weeks, I have been very busy helping Angler Dan get his fishing derby ready. It was a great day, weather co-operated and the derby was a HUGE success with lots of anglers and many, many fish weighed in. The winner with a "chunky" winning walleye was a first-time derby entrant. He was thrilled with his first prize of a boat, motor and trailer (and a cash prize to upgrade if he so desired). Hard-working hubby spent many days in getting prizes donated and we were both very tired when derby day was over.

Now it's finally time to get on with my own chunkiness...these chunky bracelets are what I am going to be working on over the next while. I may decide to vary their composition, but they're definitely fun to make. I like the contrast of the different colours on the ivory backgrounds.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Composition for a Lifetime.

Yesterday I called a lady from a Quilt Group to come and have a look at some of Mom's unfinished Quilts...I dug them out from boxes in the basement. I haven't been able to look at them since I packed away her stuff in the summer of 2003. Of course I shed quite a few tears in the process of unpacking the boxes.
There were so many hours of labour involved in making the quilts. I remember the two of us discussing fabric choices and I was always encouraging her to use lots of contrast! She definitely succeeded in this one. She made making them look effortless...I wish I could sew well enough to do justice to completing them. They were truly works of art. Just imagining the calculations, planning and architecture in the construction of the pieces to me proves that she really had her act together.
This one is one that I have to get finished. It contains some of my favourite blocks and reminds me of the poem which begins "I am a part of all that I have met..." It's like a life composition.

Tie One On!

This is a quilt that is almost ready for a bed or to be made into a giant wall hanging. Mom loved making motifs from old ties and using them as focal points for her works. First she would take apart the ties by hand, launder them, press them and then incorporate them into one of her quilt themes. She had so many. She would watch the quilting programs daily and as soon as she finished watching, she'd make the swatch so she'd remember tevo or vhs tapes for her.

And to think she only started quilting after she was 75!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Purses, purses, purses

Lately I have been knitting or weaving purses to add to my inventory of schtuff. They are mostly lined, and have little pockets for cell phones. They are also large enough to hold a passport and a small wallet, but not big enough for a water bottle or your lunch. All of them have polymer clay closings or beads as embellishments. The yarns I use are varied, so that I don't get bored while making them. That way I can use the kinds of yarns I really like in several different purses and don't use it all up on one creation.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

When we first spotted this herd of black and whites, they were all looking our way. But then as we tried to take photos, they gave us the bum's rush and headed behind the trees. Those trees were least half of them in a straight path had been "beheaded". It must have been a big blow that hit just that area.

I guess you'd call this one "Little Light House on the Prairie"...the landscape quickly changed from rugged outcroppings of rock of the Canadian Shield to the flatness of the prairies. I suppose the rocks were left there in some terminal moraine deposit or gathered by the stone pickers. I imagine the pines were planted as a windshield.

We had to leave eventually, but I couldn't resist taking a picture of this tiny frame structure we saw from the highway on our way home. It was located somewhere between Whitemouth and Beausejour.

Back safely on "land"...well it's rock, but, I loved the somewhat primordial combination of rock, lichen and moss...again this was near the location of "the lodge" at White Lake.

Near Rainbow Falls, the water started getting a bit choppy, not the kind I like to travel in. I am still somewhat fearful of being in boats when the lakes aren't as clear as glass sheets. I think it has something to do with the large boulders at the surface of the lake...and just below.

One of our first stops yesterday was at Pinewood Lodge near Otter Falls on the Winnipeg River System. This trail led down to a dock where a pontoon plane was taking off.