Saturday, December 13, 2008

2008 Angels

Each year I make a few angels. I am not really into them as you can tell...they are a little rough around the edges, but they're kinda cute. I made a few others with other hair colours, but they're still 'cookin'. These will be for my sister and her friends.
I spent about five hours trying to come up with something "novel" but in the end, made some cutesy ones, which again, I am not really into.

I made the heads and hair in two steps, then added the body after the first curings. In the subsequent batch I made, I was able to streamline the procedure a little and actually did five heads on one knitting needle. That gave me some time to whip up some different hair colours and also some different "fabric" designs for the vestments.

Another thing I did when making them was incorporate the string right into the body, and there is a little wire in the body to provide a bit of an armature. But with the string where it is, it allows the head to turn or spin a bit, so the angel can face many different directions. No problem baking with the cord in either.

I hope the wings are strong enough...they are pretty thin but I used some strong Kato clay for them and added a little Perfect Pearls powder which I finished with a glossy coating after baking.

They are way too finicky to sand and buff. Besides, I have trouble buffing now with winter here. This year I decided to buff outside only to prevent the dust from collecting everywhere. I suppose if I had a vented duct to direct it outdoors I'd still do it inside, but for as much as I use the buffer these days, it isn't worth the cost of installation.

So much for the plan to use my anime faces for angels. I did some transfers, but they didn't look enough like "angels". Will use those heads for something else. I have made a couple of purse baubles with them and will attach a few of those to some of my packages.

Now to get busy on a few last minute "orders". Will the work ever be done?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Time to Play with the Triplettes

This past Friday was the big workshop where we made polymer clay book covers and tried to get it all done in one short day. The covers the participants made were awesome, but we ran into a few snafus which prevented everything from getting completely finished within the time frame. The venue was great with one exception...the power source couldn't accommodate enough ovens for everyone's work so it was impossible to get the covers done in the scheduled time. Of course, this meant that we had to rush at the end, and as a result, some of the tougher steps (like binding) couldn't get done to everyone's satisfaction before we had to leave. I felt rather badly about this, but it was beyond my control (the time and the power problem) so hope that the workshop was meaningful for the participants. The class was overfull., and maybe this will transfer to the kids out there and there will be a lot of students working with polymer clay in the coming months.

During the workshop, my friend did the paper cutting for the signatures, and although we tried to do it as frugally as possible with little waste, there were some three inch squares left over from each sheet as the signatures were cut. So I decided to use them for some fun artwork...instead of just using them as scraps for writing telephone messages.

For some time, I have been "toying" with drawing anime-like figures, and now with the popularity of this type of drawing ever on the increase, I figured I'd better get on with mine. So, here, on three little pieces of paper, I present, Darla, Marla and Starla. (Gosh I am glad I never had to name children...I would be hopeless in allocating a name for a person that would have to stick for a lifetime!) I did these very quickly this morning, and they are basically just faces, with "wigs" that can come off in case they need to change hats or hairstyles...or colors or whatever. Maybe I can even transfer the faces to polymer clay and make up some little angels or dolls. Who knows what adventures lie ahead for these Triplettes?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Jewelry fit for a Prince of Denmark

In an attempt to create a more substantial vessel for wearing or using as wall art, I've created these vessels which have bottoms made of papier maché and lids of decorative polymer. They were fun to make.

The reason why I went to a bigger size than the usual match box was to accommodate a book inside. The one pictured here has an ultrasuede cover and looks a little bluer than it really is.

I have another polymer book to go with the Bronzy-purply container. It's a difficult colour to describe but looks very rich and shimmery. The skirted effect on the lid is very free and not "confining" at all.

The tiny books that go inside are for keeping pictures. They average about 25-30 pages of cardstock. They would also be ideal for keeping important notes to self...or even quotes.

Speaking of quotes, I had an opportunity to watch about an hour's worth of a dvd of Hamlet yesterday when I was in a grade twelve English class. It's been years since I studied that myself, but I was surprised at how familiar many of the passages were. The production was the one with Julie Christie as Gertrude and Kate Winslett as Ophelia. It was a magnificent
performance. I just may have to go and rent the dvd so see it right through.

Whaddya think Hamlet...which one for Rosencrantz and which one for Guildenstern??? Or would you keep them both for yourself?

Monday, November 10, 2008

One Fish Two Tales

It's turned quite wintery here after a balmy fall, and I'm feeling like a fish outta water. We did a little trip last week and it was so nice to walk around with just a sweater and now it's hard to walk with all the ice and my bones can really feel the cold. Sooooooo, it's down to the clay table to finish some work promised a month ago.

This is one side of a fish hanging I promised to someone. I can't say "who" because it's a gift and that would be taking away the surprise. But I can show the other's meant to hang in a window or opening so that both sides are visible. I think that's one of the neat things about polymer don't need a frame so pieces can be viewed from both sides. That being said, of course it means double the work, but it is so much fun to make fish, and due to their rather simple morphology, you needn't worry too much about proportions. Besides, the gal asked for a funky fish, so even if the fins aren't all there, the fish will say "That's the way I am, and I am what I am!"

And oh yes, I am working on this one's "brother"...also for the same person but for another recipient. Maybe you'll get to see him soon!

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Well I realize now that I have been "tagged" by a couple of people lately and I am supposed to respond so I'd better get busy and get my boots in gear!

Being tagged means I need to publish seven little know facts about myself. I don't know if there
is that much to say, but I am sure I can share seven things.

I have always loved to make things and had an early start by doing what I call my "cave art". Before I could go to school, I used to get up before my parents did and did things like "draw" with lipstick on the mirror of our bathroom's "medicine cabinet".

I guess I wasn't punished severely enough for that because a few years later I used crayons to draw lines on the wallpaper in the sewing room and did some "sample" writing on that. My cousin came over and asked if I always did my kindergarten homework on the walls in my house.

My next invention was a forerunner to the paper cutters that are now all the rage in the scrapbooking trends. We only had one pair of good scissors in the house, and my Mom, a fabric specialist, wouldn't let me use them for cutting paper, as she was determined I would make them dull. So, being the "intuitive type" I found my own ways to cut shapes out of paper using a straight pin and the groove in the sewing machine, where the machine part butts up against the cabinet. I would put my paper over the "slot" and run the pin over it and could cut straight or jagged edges in my papers. Who knew that people actually "invented" a similar tool some forty years later!

When I was in high school, I became the "decorator". I was chosen by my classmates to "wrap" a gift for our teacher, and in so doing, used saran wrap over the package to provide a glossy finish to the tacky gift wrap I had been given. The teacher had a helluva time getting the package open, and perhaps that gave way to the direction some of my polymer clay work has gone recently.

While in University, I studied Science, but was always interested in the workings of the other side of my brain, and was also the "Publicity" chairman for the Council. It was my job to make posters and signs to advertise and promote all the functions that were taking place, and this was the beginning of my murals/painting/calligraphy phase of my work. I still love to do this type of work, and someday envision myself "tagging" a train with pastels or some other media.

During the many years of my teaching career, I had an opportunity to travel a great deal over the summers and during vacation time. Seeing the works of the masters at several galleries in London, Paris, Rome and Spain is certainly inspiring. In fact, this became my inspiration for making lots of "poster" size paintings for wall murals and stage settings at the schools I taught in. One of my backdrops, made in 1989, is still being used for Christmas musicals in the school division. Unlike Michelangelo who painted the ceiling on his back in the Sistine Chapel, I painted this mural lying on my stomach in my basement. Same idea, different position.

Now I am into, I don't read at all, I am not now, and never could get into novels. So now I just make them from polymer clay and bind them, leaving the journalling to others. Like the one pictured above which I recently gave to cousin Elaine. She had plans of going to Texas this winter, and sadly, due to her husband's untimely death, she won't be going this year. But with the book ready for her to keep notes of her travels, hopefully she can get her boots on and do some line dancing which she loves!

Okay, I think that's seven things...Now to get to a sale in an hour!

Friday, October 24, 2008

It's not in the Box

I've been home the last couple of days trying to get some work finished after being in schools for what seemed like forever! And oh yes...teaching Polymer Clay at a couple of locations on Saturdays and Monday nights and...yikes! It's unbelievable how busy one can be.
These boxes are from the class I taught at the Manitoba Craft Museum and Library last week. I did the brownish coppery one as a demo there. Sorry for the very dark scan. No time to set up the camera and do the light box thing.

The work of the participants in the class was very encouraging...lots of ideas floating around and people willing to try different techniques not just what was taught in the course. It's interesting to watch people "grab hold" of something and see their focus shift onto something related; not just what's been taught. That is one of the reasons why I love taking classes too. Even though I am paying to learn a technique I probably have seen or done, I usually revamp what I learn and put my own twist on it. I would have loved to be in Victoria Hughes' class right now in Jordan, MN, but things just didn't work out for that this year. Maybe another time.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fishwifery in Batik

Whew! What a busy month this has been...not even time to come up for a gulp of air! I've been wanting to post here, but I didn't have much time for doing polymer clay, and really didn't have any new pictures to post so when my Batik friend Karen sent me these photos of her creations I thought they'd look great here.

Her totally innovative spirit comes through in these batiks...I love the delicious colours of the fish. Hope friend husband (who coincidentally is out catching lunkers today) brings home some equally delicious fillets from his outing with the boys today.

Karen and I are both busy getting ready for a number of sales events coming up soon. Mid October here signals the beginning of the art/craft sales season and both of us have pretty busy schedules with events almost each weekend from now until December. Karen and I are also both going to be doing workshops for the Special Area Groups of Art Teachers in our province later in November. I'd love to sign up for her batik class, but alas, I'll be demonstrating book making in polymer clay on that day. A few of my other arty friends are also going to be giving workshops that day on a variety of topics. There's lots of fun stuff happening out there.

I have one last day of scheduled work to catch up on and I am looking forward to the next three days following when I can actually devote real time to sitting at my clay table. There are lots of items promised to people and I am anxious to get working on them. Stay tuned as I'll be posting photos of the various works in progress and stages of completion.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Busy Busy and Class Information

Whew! Like a whirlwind is what one might describe the activity around here. No time to even take or post pictures, but I figured I'd better mention what's been keeping us answering the doorbell and the phone simultaneously for the past week.

Hubby's big Fishing Derby and Tournaments are being held this weekend, and entrants are busy signing up. I just checked the weather, and it looks like it is going to be a fine weekend...on the fresh side, but not freezing or raining, so that should make the fish and anglers happy. Hopefully the event will be as fun and as successful as last year's was. The proceeds (after costs) will be divided between the anglers, who stand to win major bucks, and charities. One of the "charities" we'll be supporting is the Manitoba Women's Team Handball ... Gambit is their name. Thanks to them for assisting us in making sure the events run smoothly.

As for Moi, I am up to here in a short-term teaching position, and am trying to help DH out when I can. Clay-wise, I'll again be involved in the Autumn Odyssey on October 4th...a select group of artisans presenting their work in an awesome setting in the Corydon/Lilac District. If you're around, stop by and see the diverse items at Bonnie's.

The following weekend, just prior to our Canadian Thanksgiving, I will be presenting another class at Poco Beads and Creations, in St. Boniface for those with at least a rudimentary knowledge of Polymer Clay. This class coincides with their "pink" time, so I think I will do something in that colour palette for the class. If you need more information about the Saturday, October 11th class, check out their website or give them a call. and the number is (204) 219-2528. Poco Créations and Beads, 575 Archibald Street, Winnipeg. Sign up for a limited number of spots available. We'll be using Kato Polyclay and I believe that is one of the few locations in our city where that clay is sold. And if you haven't been to their shop, it is definitely worth taking it in as they have a wonderful selection of beads and jewellery findings. Then, why not go a few blocks further and enjoy a fabulous lunch or dinner at Inferno Bistro. Chef Kirouac always has the best specials and the ambience is hard to match anywhere. I was lucky to enjoy their cuisine at least three times this summer, and even though I had the saumon deux fois, chaque fois c'était une expérience fantastique. Et la serveuse la dernière fois était si gentille.

Hopefully I can post at least one picture this week...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

More Buttons for Quilters

A few days ago I visited the home of a gal I met at the quilt show back in April. She had left me a swatch of fabric and now that the garment was complete, she wondered if I could match up some buttons. I made a few sets, and upon looking at the fabric and my other buttons, we decided to use an "unmatched" set of different buttons. The collaboration worked well.

She also wanted to have some buttons for another jacket she had fashioned a few years ago, and the ones pictured here are the ones I made. I also scanned the buttons on the jacket, under the ones she had used originally, so it looks a little strange. I didn't want to take off her other buttons in case these aren't suitable. Her jacket is a lovely composition with all sorts of quilting techniques. The flying geese pattern is one of the few I have done myself. I had fashioned it into a wall hanging. Maybe I should pull it out from storage and make some buttons to decorate it! Like I have time for that. Instead of buttons I should learn how to make time. I shall put that on my agenda for tomorrow

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Classes, Classes, Classes

With the fall season nearly here, my schedule is fast filling up with classes, and other polymer clay activities. The items pictured here are a sample of what we'll be doing in one of the classes at the Manitoba Crafts Museum and Library on Saturday, October 18th. The projects for this class include covering a single light switch plate, making some straightforward beads and also covering a papier maché box. Clay and most supplies are included in the class fee. Tools used in the project will be available for loan on this day and items will be baked following their completion.

For information and registration for this class, please contact the Manitoba Crafts Museum and Library. The registration form is available for download there. Their site is and their phone/fax number is (204) 487-6117 The studio is located at 1B - 183 Kennedy Street near the Bay in downtown Winnipeg.

It looks like an exciting class and I hope to meet new clayers there.

I've got some other classes planned, and I will be posting information about them in this blog in the near future.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lovely weather for fish

I am not one to complain too much here, but I have to vent about two things, both of which are beyond my of them is computer problems and the other is weather.

Our computer crashed a while ago, and we are doing our best to get back our email contacts list. I had saved so many important documents regarding orders and so on in that file, that I am super-ticked that I have to go and find phone numbers and do so much stuff in a round about way. Just one more reason to get an external hard drive so that doesn't ever happen again. Believe me, it is a major pain.

And oh yes, the weather. For late summer it hasn't been too bad around here, except for unexpected deluges and wind surges that blow your borrowed craft tent to the ground at a sales event. Picture the scenario: It is early morning with typical rodeo background music...roosters, goats, horses, all creating a very 'country' mood for what looks like a pleasant start to a fun weekend. The tent is in a prime accessible location with the rodeo activities just a hundred yards behind. There are gentle ponies giving rides to little children and Molly (our bichon) is taking in all this with great interest. After two hours of set up we finally have all the items displayed on our three tables and have hung the hanging fish, roosters, boots, and all the other bell pulls strategically from the tent frame. On one table, I have placed about fifteen handmade books, many that I especially crafted for this event. The people are very interested in all the creations, and I have set up a little "observation" area, where people can see me demonstrate how I do some of the work.

It is lunch time and friend husband goes to the concession to get some nourishment. Within five minutes, a squall blows down all my T-posts (with neckwear) and all the books are getting pelted with rain. I quickly cover them with large plastic sheets (JUST INCASE!!) and wait out the downpour. The table cloth is soaked, so we move that table inside and do damage control on the cloth. When hubby gets back, we savour our lunch, look at the sky and decide that the major weather has passed.

The sun is shining, I watched one rodeo event and I've chatted with customers who were very interested in the construciton of my items, and all is well. Unfortunately, some of the rain that fell about two hours earlier has collected in the "canopy" of the tent, unbeknownst to us. We thought we had removed it all. Another storm appears to be brewing, so we begin covering the items again, but alas, we are too late. A sudden gust of wind sends all the accumulated water from the tent top onto my table where the books are, and they are soaked. I am in tears. The wind is really blowing and it begins to rain really hard, the tent pegs are coming loose and the tent is collapsing all around.

We frantically gather our stuff and throw it into the car. We disassemble the tent. We are soaked to the bone. And cold. And miserable.

We decided to call it quits, as the forecast was for more of the same weather for the rest of the weekend. Fortunately, we sold enough items to cover the cost of the weekend's booth fees etc., but lost out on the opportunity to enjoy the rest of the rodeo. And yes, several of the books pages were warped beyond repair when the tent roof water dumped on them. I will be able to salvage the covers and re-bind them, but all the time it takes to make them cannot be regained. It is a good thing that polymer clay is not affected by water, so the other items like jewellery, buttons and wall hangings came out unscathed.

I have accepted all this and gotten over it. What I can't get over is the man who was walking by and laughing at our misfortune. Some people, huh?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Little Red Book

I tried something new on this book and was anxious to see what happened after it was finished. That huge "purply" part was originally a detailed inlay but unfortunately after sanding, it lost most of its features. It looks kind of eerie, like some monstrous sea creature with two squarish eyes.

The inside paper is nice though; it's astroparche in a muted shade of coral so it blends nicely with the covers. I purchased several colors of the astroparche when I was in Grand Rapids, MN about a month ago. After visiting my favorite wool and yarn shop in the old school house there, I spied a paper place just across the quadrangle. It didn't carry all that much in the way of specialty papers, but it did have lots of this type which I have used in my books before. It is archival, and somewhat translucent so it provides a nice surface for any type of pen. Of course, the book is "unwritten"...I shall leave the contents up to whomever gets it.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Where in the World?

It seems like ages since I posted here and the reasons are many. I have been "away" visiting and when I returned, we experienced some serious computer problems.
Not having a computer for a couple of days was almost refreshing, but after a week, we came to realize how much we depend on it. The time not spent on the computer did give me a chance to make this book though.
As for the cover of the book, I realize that some of the countries and their placement isn't all that accurate. I "made" the continents by tearing bits of ivory colored clay and adhering them to the cover. A few of them got a bit stretched or misshaped in the process. If I had spent hours on the laborious aspect of the geography it would never have been finished. Now...just to find the time and resources to take a world trip to fill the journal.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

This makes me feel like dancin'

After not having done any real claying at my table in over two weeks, I don't know if I feel guilty or if I feel like dancing! Actually I've had a great time visiting, attending weddings, demonstrating, beaching, writing lessons and everything except sitting and claying.

August has been filled with some wonderful visits, some far and some only an hour away, but they have all been a wonderful break from the usual. I guess what made the trips so wonderful was the time I spent with people who are very dear to me; most of whom I have known for many, many years. So, it was great to see them all and do fun things.

I returned home yesterday and reviewed my date book. I looked through the posters which separate the weeks in it and came across this one which I had to post, because I love its colours. They reminded me of a garment my friend bought yesterday. She'll be taking it on her cruise which leaves from London in about a week. The colours are so vibrant and they look wonderful on her. I am sure her cruise will be fabulous too. It's not your typical Caribbean or Mediterranean one...she is visiting the Shetland Islands, some Scandinavian countries (including GREENLAND!) then Iceland, and then she heads for St. John's NF, and finally to New York where she'll visit friends in nearby Connecticut. It sounds like a great vacation and I am sure she and her husband will have a wonderful time as they celebrate their anniversary.

I will be content to sit at my clay table and play with these colours. I may have just about as much fun!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Good Morning, Sunshine

Now that the two sides of this sun are visible, I am going to have to bid this work goodbye.
The entire hanging is about 3 1/2 feet long and the focal part is approximately 11 inches across. It barely fit into the oven! I let the finished work hang in our family room yesterday for a few hours just to see how it looked, and much as I would like to keep it there, or somewhere else in the place, it has to go.
I'm not going to suffer any separation anxiety...after having watched the first hour of the opening ceremonies of the Olympics I am in awe, and eager to go and sit at the clay table and work on an idea that inspired me. Actually, the whole production is incredible and I'd love to start doing many things...just goes to show that creativity, in whatever field you work in is boundless.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Hot August Nights and Days

Back to work after a couple of days of R and R. Whatever that means. Mostly we were riding and repacking, or so it seemed. We really didn't travel that far, but did enjoy some lovely warm weather and some beautiful (for the prairies at least) scenery. Even had a chance to dip Molly's toes into one of the lakes at Detroit Lakes, near a resort we regularly visited many years ago. We always went there in August and I recall the weather was pleasantly warm, like it is today.
I had a commission to do a sun face hanging for this weekend and it is nearly done. Hot as it has been I didn't bake it on the sidewalk, tee hee, but hope that the piece reflects the warmth of our summer, which started out rather cool, but has become gorgeous with lots of sun but not stifling.
Now to get back to finishing off the piece...Wonder what the other side of the sun looks like?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A new "toy"

Yesterday I got a call from a gallery requesting more items...right before the weekend's event. That ALWAYS happens to me...something I just can't control. I figured I would make a few small little items to take there (I need to have them done by Thursday) because I really can't imagine how I would separate my inventory that I have prepared for the Art Festival.

One of my quickest things to make are these pods which I will fashion into pins. They are basically made from some canes that I had made recently. The central piece is from a component I used to make Ditty's face cane...

So does this mean I now have an "EYE POD"?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Bitty Book for Ditty

I've decided that Ditzy Ditty will have a Bitty Book to accompany her ensemble. You can see the wires emerging from the hands which will eventually be joined at the elbows with wire. I've decided to leave the wire exposed but won't be exposing Ditty's other parts. I let the world see enough of her yesterday! She's fully covered up from head to torso now, but I still have some work to do on her bottom.

I am thinking of a way to add this little pink leather (suede) book to complete her accessorizing, but still have to work that out. Another engineering feat! Speaking of feet, don't know if she'll have them or just some bejeweled dangling thing. You are the Dangling Queen, feel the beat of the tambourine>>>Oh yah. Can't you tell what movie I saw recently?

Her hands look a little dirty...Dirty Ditty! Maybe she got her fingers on the ink inside the book before it was dry! Bad Ditty.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Not full frontal New Ditty-doll

I made an itty-bitty face cane for Ditty. She's not lovely, but I only wanted a few faces and so I didn't spend too long on her.

She has Trendy-Fendi bags under her eyes. And other bags elsewhere, that will be covered up. But I thought I'd show how I start.

Of course the proportions aren't correct, but by the time I build up all the clothing parts, it will work, I hope. There I go, working intuitively again and hoping for the best.
Now, for that question... Ditty asks: "What am I going to WEAR?"

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Au Bout de ma Ficelle

Well, I'm not really at the end of my rope(string), an expression my mother used to say when she was "fed up" with something. But it's a good thing I have a considerable amount of patience, as it seems I have been doing a lot of "creative" problem solving to get around things that have cropped up lately.

In my preparation for next week's Art Festival, I have been beset with finding innovative solutions to some situations that I've encountered in the past couple of days. Some solutions are necesssary because the kind of work I do is very, shall we say, spontaneous, and not all that carefully planned out ahead of time. I find that is how I work and after many years of trying to do things according to a PLAN, sometimes it just doesn't go that way, so I go with my gut and do things the way they WANT or NEED to go. Utilizing that approach necessitates being a "problem solver" or at least being able to circumvent situations that could otherwise be problematic.

A couple of examples come to mind immediately. Situation One: I am working on this balanced wall hanging, and of course, it has to HANG properly. I have encountered this problem before, so I was prepared for it, but just didn't know how I was going to get around it this time. The thing is kind of a chicken and I want it to hang by the middle of its back. Whenever I make this kind of bird and put the hanger in the piece (before it is cured) it inevitably wants to lean forward, like the chicken is pecking the ground. (NOT enough weight on the back end.) Since the way I make these chickens is one side at a time, I put my five cents in on this one. When I was sculpting and doing the back (the second side), I imbedded five pennies in strategic locations at the chick's rear end, so that it would balance. To my "chicken delight", it worked! The photo on the left shows the plainer side, the one I did first. You can't tell where the five pennies are because they are imbedded in the middle of the body, along with other structural items like copper mesh wire which prevent it from bending, some ugly gray clay to make it stronger and some liquid polymer to keep it all together.

The second problem I anticipate with this type of piece is where to drill the hole for the "legs" to fit in. I am going to use the metal 'found' object', sans coil, as the jambes. I realize it looks more like a wish bone, but think it might add a funky touch if I fashion it into legs.
Of course if I were to go with my gut and just drill away where I think the hole should go, it will probably not balance again. This is when I throw my creative problem solving ability out the window and approach the engineer in the family to determine exactly where the moments of force (or whatever you call them) dictate where to position the hole.
I haven't decided yet if the bird needs to have talons or toes: I might just paint tiny little claws on the end of the metal.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Name that Button!

Next week I will be taking part in an Arts Festival in some very scenic surroundings in the neighboring province of Ontario.I have been busy preparing for it and today my area of focus was on creating a few buttons. I know that technically, buttons may not seem to "fit" the category of ART, but having gone by my past shows there, they have been very much appreciated by the committee and the clientele, so I continue to make them available there.
I have tried to follow up on what folks have done with them, and have often heard they've been used as book closures, quilt decorations, garment fasteners and some have been added to collections as "studio buttons" by button collectors.
This particular series was done with shades of golds, browns,coppers and bronzes. For the background on some of these scans I've used snippets of Gustav Klimt's more renowned works. I don't mean to use his work merely as a's far too precious for that, but if someone were to fashion a fabric akin to his mastercloths, I think the buttons would go well as adornments.
Now it's back to work. Hubby's arm is getting's been two weeks since he "hit" the pavement, and so he was able to cut some pages for some books I am preparing. This afternoon and tonight I have scheduled my "time to bind". And no, I haven't been eating a lot of cheese lately. (That's in reference to a sketch of a table full of cheeses I did a number of years ago that I sacrilegiously titled "Blest be the Cheese That Binds". That's NOT a sketch I will be showing at the Art Festival, tee hee.)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

One for the money, two for the show...

Whew! Starting at about 7:15 am, I got it all together and photographed by 10 am. Binding went pretty smoothly, with one minor glitch, but thanks to the bookmaker muses, it all turned out okay.

With 106 photos and nine signatures in the interior, it was a test of my patience and sticktoitiveness. Fortunately, I have done enough books to know where to watch out and have pretty well figured out the right tension for the type of waxed linen I used. I would have preferred blue, but the black worked pretty well.

I didn't fare so well with the texting inside, as my Pigma pen was playing tricks on me, so I had to settle for a less than perfect fine point no name brand whose ink supply was on the verge of depletion. No time to get another as I finally finished the journal aspects at 11:45 pm after visiting with family on Friday Night. It was the right decision to take some time off. Taking a break from what would have been 14 continuous hours of working on it, my resolve to complete everything but the binding was accomplished by Friday.

NOW to package it up in some super wrap...and to get ready myself...Heck I have 90 minutes to get to the restaurant, bathe, find something to wear, drive the distance and then....ENJOY! t is going to be a great weekend!!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Around a life in 80 Years

This is the weekend of the big family reunion to celebrate my Uncle Ted's eightieth birthday. He is the only remaining sibling of my mother's family still around. His actual birthday was a couple of months ago, but he and his family thought a summer get-together to celebrate would be a little easier on everyone. There are folks coming in from all over North America and for some, it will be the first meeting in a very long time. It promises to be a weekend to remember.

As my gift, I got a whole collection of family photos, spanning nearly a hundred years from when my grandfather and grandmother were young, and photocopied them to bind them into this book, the covers of which you see here. Still I need to make the holes and I have my drill ready at the bit. Then will be the fun of binding the nine or so "chapters" or signatures. The pictures aren't the greatest; I am about the world's worst person to play around with Photoshop, and my uncle, is one of the best. Needless to say I couldn't ask him for help, as the book is his "surprise". His hobby for the last 60 years or so has been photography, so I hope he doesn't agonize over my attempts too much. He was always the one with all the latest photo equipment, and when digital equipment came in, of course he was there right from the start. He has provided the family with many wonderful shots from years ago that he has laboriously printed up on everything from linen to canvas and all the photo papers one could name. Many of his reprints look like the actual paintings of other family members.

Naturally, my book has covers done in polymer clay and since he is basically color-challenged (aren't a lot of males?), I did the photos in black and white. I even did a little transfer of him at age fifteen for the cover of the book, to remind him of the days when he was younger than his grand kids. It is laughingly titled "Celebrating the First Eighty Years". I wonder if anyone knows the words to the song wishing him many more years that was always sung in our family's celebrations???

Friday, July 4, 2008

Holiday Time...Are we in the dog days of summer already?

Canada Day in Osborne Village July 1st was wonderful. My vantage point was incredible and the parade of passers-by was much more colorful than if some committee had orchestrated it. Early in the morning, Captain Canada, regaled in silver breast plate and an ornate helmet passed out paper flags to anyone who needed one. About a half hour later, a "Biker Gang" came through, a troup of about fifty septo-or octogenarians who walked their two-wheelers through the village. Despite their support hose and sun-wrinkled skin, they were all alive with lots of spirited fun which they spread to everyone. The real crowds started appearing around noon, with lots of families with young kids in strollers; many of whom had flag tattoos emblazing their faces. And there were plenty of bandana'd dogs with the families...nice that there was a splash pool beside my awning where most of them stopped for a drink, and the occasional splash and splatter. As the day pressed on, the parade's colors grew more and more vibrant, especially the tattoos and hair shades. I'd say it was as interesting as the past few Halloweens around here. Too bad I couldn't stay to watch the fireworks display after was a long time to spend outside but every minute was enjoyable.

The beautiful weather has continued through to today and today it's the turn for my American cousins to celebrate in their country. I got a call early this morning from Wendy who was out at her beach house in Galveston. We'll be getting together next week and having a family reunion here, in celebration of her father's eightieth birthday. More holiday fun.

We'll do the beach thing tomorrow, as we are headed for Victoria Beach where I'll be at the Art Show. Hubby and the Divine Ms. M (for Molly) will be helping to support the East Beaches Animal Shelter collecting pledges from the cottagers and other beach visitors. Molly accompanies him and is sort of like a "poster girl"...she sits so nicely by the information table that everyone wants to visit with her. The kids are all over her and she laps up the attention. In many ways, she is like a rescue dog. When we got her at age nine months, she had already been in four different homes. I can't believe why anyone wouldn't want her, but then again, I am probably somewhat biased, having been her "Mummy" for the past eight years. And she has gradually grown to like me as much as her Daddy now that she is more mature and can obviously see past all the treats he gives her, whereas I give her different kind of attention like nurturing, g-r-r-rooming, massages, and carry out the more trying duties like cleaning her ears, eyes, and tidying up her nether areas.

In preparation for tomorrow's art sale, I have a few new pieces... several books, and this trio of brown/black and copper pieces. I even made some things I rarely make... earrings. There is this fabulous bakery out at that Beach called Enfield's Bakery. The other day there was a newspaper spread about their cupcakes, so I thought I'd honour them with frivolous fashion in the form of cupcake earrings, replete with sprinkles, to celebrate their cupcakes in a lo-cal manner. My cupcakes won't add inches to the waistline, and seeing as the polymer clay is inedible, these particular cupcakes won't require hours of cycling or running along the sandy beach to wear them off at all!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Hi Ho, Come to the Fair

Whew! It's tomorrow... Canada Day Celebrations all over the city and I will be taking part in the Osborne Village Venue in the Artisans' Market. It is supposed to be a hot one, so I hope that tent is air-conditioned. (Wishful thinking) At least I will be out of the sun. Our tent will be in front of the Medea Gallery, across the street from Carlos Murphy's.

the exerpt from the paper says:

Osborne Village: The two-day Canada Day Street Festival takes place today and Tuesday, during which Osborne Street through the village is closed to auto traffic. Events at the festival include an artisans’ market, live entertainment on three stages, and activities for children.

I have a few last minute finishing touches to finish up my last book so I'd better get on with it...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mokume Black and White

After a few weeks of this thing being in pieces, I finally got it together. The cover is quite wild, with intentional texturing of a heretofore untried means...I like it! I realize the back is somewhat different than the front, but they came from the same stack. The main difference is that I rolled the back cover veneer through the pasta machine a few more times, thus creating a wider annular ring type appearance.

The inside is textured too, and this particular sheet was made by mixing translucent with a type of ink to produce the soapstone-like effect.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fresh Prints of Bel Air

Okay, so this is a little bit of a stretch, and a bit long winded, but here goes anyway.

Last week I attended a "funktion" for art educators and art people who utilize recycled materials in their art work. I would think that all artists use a bit of recycled materials, or at least most of the ones I know do, so here is what I did.

At the "Funktion", there were all sorts of giveaways, ranging from huge poster size pieces of silver cards to baskets to upholstery samples to pieces of buckskin. I gathered up a few treasures and hoisted them into my trunk, where they sat for a day. I had to wait until hubby wasn't around to "unload" my stash, as he is always bellyaching about the "junk" I bring in.

So in my collection of stuff were these document separators, made of just the right weight of paper that I normally buy to use for my background tags for beach bracelets and other items I make from polymer clay. After I have the name of the items printed on the computer, I cut the card stock up into the right size. First, however, I "decorate" the card stock with spritzed paints and sponged prints that I make up as I go along.

They never look like much, but I only use about 1/6 of the design for each card, so in small size, they are fairly attractive. After the paint is dry, I iron the card stock, and use a piece of recycled gift tissue wrap between the iron and the card stock. The decorations of faint red circles you see on this image is the extra ink from the tissue which also transfers to the paper, creating unique prints that I rather like.

After that, I print the information I've saved on my computer with names and descriptors of the items. I don't need to worry about the plastic tags and holes on the periphery of the paper, because I normally have to trim the cardstock anyway.

Oh yes, I also include a picture of some of the real stones I took a few years ago at a beach called "Belair" near where I sell some of my beaches bracelets, so that goes on the tag too. As you can see from the actual scan of the bracelet on the finished cardstock, the real stones aren't quite as colourful as my "factices", but these are the stones I would like to see on the beaches in my dream world.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Necklace and two bracelets

Today was a work at home day. I have a busy week ahead of me, with several evening appointments and lots of daytime things to do, so I thought I'd take advantage of the one "free" day and get claying. On Sunday, I had prepared some sheets of clay with metal leaf and had to use it within a few days as it gets a bit "brittle" and breaks in the most inopportune spots if it isn't used quickly.
Originally, I had intended to use the sheets for books, but I've done several blue books so opted to do simple shaped beads instead. For once, I actually measured the size of the bead cores, and tried to make the beads for the necklace graduate. Well it is nearly the end of the school year, so why not! I made a very simple focal bead for the necklace, and even baked the beads in ascending order of size. For the bracelets, I decided on uniform size as I wasn't sure what kinds of spacers to use. I ended up making blue donuts for spacers for one bracelet along with some blue swarovskis. For the other, I used more spacers and one less bead.
Instead of poring over the sink to wet sand all the beads, I put them in the rock tumbler with sandpaper and let the machine do the work. I find that if I hold the beads in my fingers to sand them, my hand gets quite sore, and I don't want to run the risk of developing a repetitive motion injury. So, even though it might not do as fine a job of repeat sandings at progressively finer grits, putting the beads in the tumbler for several hours does not a bad job. Of course I could leave it running for a few days but who can wait that long! The beads were quite smooth and after the tumbling, I buffed them to a satiny finish.
I'm not much of a jewellery designer, but I am hoping this necklace and one of the bracelets will become part of someone's collection this Friday. If the colours aren't right, I can always start with some other coloured metal leaf next weekend, and hopefully those will be more suitable..and I can put THESE in my own drawer to wear.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Bookmaker, Bookmaker, Make me some books

Last weekend we took a little road trip and while hubby was driving, I had an opportunity to complete some books that had all the elements prepared save for the binding.
Since I hate to waste precious moments when there's stuff to be done, I decided to bind them and add the beads to the sides. Besides, I have seen that prairie scenery MANY times, and other than the usual comments about special roadside rocks and things, there isn't much new on that horizon.

The larger ivory with the map-like surface treatments is my favourite of this group. It has some interesting mokume gane details in it, but they are hard to see. They're rather subtle. I used a new kind of ink in the ivory mix to produce an almost soapstone effect. The books are filled with archival parchment in an off-white tone that blends nicely with the faux ivory.
I also completed another tangerine and green book that I may get around to posting on here someday. It has a curvy bottom (sounds kinky but not) and some cool textural elements on the covers.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Finding the buttons

Here is the collaged jacket that Quilter Judy Morningstar created recently. She did it as a commission and asked me to make unique buttons for it. You'll have to look really closely to see where they are, but if you treat it like a "Where's Waldo" exercise, you'll find them.

Funny thing is, that when she contacted me about making the buttons, our monitor was not working up to snuff and I really couldn't see the colours in the swatches she sent in her emails. So I made up a couple of sets of buttons on spec, and after a few horrific postal experiences, the buttons eventually found their way to Judy's studio and onto the jacket they went.

Judy's work is gorgeous, and friends tell me that her quilting classes are always exciting. I'm thrilled she asked me to make buttons for her and am looking forward to making more.

Judy Morningstar travels all over the country teaching quilting techniques, and the collage work she does in fabric is extraordinary. You can read about some of her quilting experiences at

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Buckles not many Beaux

I am into another busy week, so this is my only chance to blawg today. It's not that nice out so gardening activities are put on hold once again. Will those flowers EVER get planted?

So that gave me a chance to do some updating on my claying "jobs" that just seem to spring from wherever! Yesterday I made a bunch of molds so kids at an art experiential day can make charms. They were fun to make...easy too. The charms have all sorts of backgrounds and hopefully there will be enough variety. Some of them are from my own carvings, a few are from scrounged toys and others are from items I found in my "junk" box that I've had for years. One I really like is a little scottie "Westie" is so cute and petite. Of course there are some fish from my own rubber stamps I had made a few years ago, and then there are some "free motion" sculptures that I made out of leftover polymer clay. I hope the kids will have fun making the charms and fashion them into pendants or whatever. I'll encourage them to write little stories about them to give the charms a special meaning.

Today I got caught up on an order that I've had sitting for about a month. My batik friend Karen, (it seems that I know a lot of Karens)...had asked me to make more buckles for the guys and dolls she makes out of her gorgeous batik'd fabric. Finally I figured out a quickie way to make them. When I had made them previously, I spent a lot of time twisting wire for the buckle frame and then covered it in clay. It was not easy. I decided that since these are just decorative, and don't have to cinch in any waists, that they could just be made from clay without an armature. After doing the prototype, they were a snap to do.

The blue-green ones in the photo are from the sets I just finished...there are other colours too. Some of them have a few cane slices imbedded in the surface clay, some are textured, and others have foil below translucent, as these do. I hope she doesn't mind that they aren't precisely the same size. They are a little on the funky folky side. They're going to be on her musician dolls that she's making for the Winnipeg folk Festival in July. If the weather doesn't warm up, they'll be needing more than overalls with buckles...I wonder if she makes galoshes. Oooh, I don't want to think about making clasps for those things. That would really take some wheel re-inventing!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mokume Gane Trials

Yesterday was a busy day. After completing the image transfer, I thought I'd tackle a mokume gane sample for this Thursday's class, and here are some of the results. I used a combination of black, gold, white and a bit of brown for the layers, and poked the stack with a few things I had laying on my table. I shaved the top slices pretty thin and then applied them to a very organic-type base.

Of course I had to shape the pieces into "something" so I decided on small book covers. I've been making a lot of books lately, and am getting excited about them. You'd think by now I'd have developed a passion for reading, lol.

As for the back cover, it was actually the same mokume stack but I let it get processed a little more by running it through the pm. Then I added a few more scratches to make the cover rather earthy.
This time I remembered to make lots of complementary beads from the remaining scraps, like both the covers and the interior linings (which you can't see here).
I need to get some other stuff ready for the class, so won't have time to drill the holes and bind it for a while yet.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Fish Transfer

I didn't know fish had to "transfer". Can't they just take a direct route????

I did a preliminary transfer and colouring job on this little pescatore...It is still very much in the rough stage, but the transfer took well and with the heat gun yet! I did bake it after the colouring had been added and a layer of translucent slapped on. A little sanding with 400 grit and then a quick pass with the buffer, and it's ready for using as a demo. Eventually I hope to encapsulate this little rainbow fish (with eyes in the back of his tale) into a book cover. It's quite thin, so will embed well.

Speaking of beds, where and how do fish sleep?

Kettle of Fishtales

Lots of fish...images. Next Thursday, I will be teaching a polymer clay class to a small network of participants. Actually, the nuclear group of this class has spent time together at other classes that I've hosted. We'll be joined by a few newbies and even an out-of-province visitor. The topics for the class will be rudimentary surface techniques (transfers and mokume gane) and I will be introducing them to transfers onto polymer clay using the "hic-gin" method.

I have to laugh, because I carry the "transfer medium" in a brown hair colouring bottle. (I liken that to those people who have smoked glass car windows so you can't see what's going on in the back seat.) I have added just one or two drops of scent (one of the perfumes I seldom use) to the medium so it doesn't smell like C2H5OH. When I used it at a "class" the other day, everyone commented on how "nice" the fragrance of the transfer medium was. It didn't affect the transfer technique at all, and so no one was the "Wiser"...tee hee.

We will be using the same "liquid transfer medium" at the class this coming week. With the participants being of "un certain âge", I will disclose what the contents of the bottle are, but will still leave its little label of Transfer Medium on, just in case I have to use it for future juvenile presentations.

In preparation for the class, I wondered what kinds of images we would use to transfer; there are so many around. In the end, I decided to make my own samples out of a personal sketch. I was influenced by a chance encounter from yesterday. I'm carrying the fish theme a little far here, but need to elaborate.

On Saturday, I was at the Folk Festival "Sale" and there really was a lot of "free time" so to speak. So I went into the Music Store adjacent to the sales room, and browsed through the stacks of audio discs, looking for some new music to listen to when I'm driving. I FOUND IT! I had no idea what to expect of the artist, but the name caught my attention...Rupa and the April Fish. This morning, I had a few minutes to do a bit of research and heard a couple of tracks from the cd. I LOVE what I heard. When I go back to the music store to pick up my cheque next week, I'm going to buy the cd. It's partly in French, and very easy to listen to. Of course I was especially drawn to the track entitled..."La Pecheuse". Those who know me will know why, lol.

To get back to the black and white fish images, I am calling this series Fish in the Scale of 'C' and for those in the school of fish I usually attend, the "eyes in the back of my tail" are for you Robbie. (When I first encountered Robbie in a Grade One class, he wondered how I knew who was fooling around. When I last encountered him in Grade Six, he still remembered how I could "C" him...)

As for the original intent of this post, I will be making my samples for the class demo in a day or two, and will post the results here.

Best Fishes on Mother's Day to all you who are reading this today!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

More Buttons to "Fastenate"

So I am on another button kick. Today the palette is in the blue, teal, turquoise, and green range, but you'd never know it by the colour on our monitor. The blasted thing has been playing tricks on us, and I can't tell eggplant from fuchsia on it. We've ordered a new flat screen 24 inch one, but it is somewhere between there and here and I guess patience is the word to go by.

I am making these buttons to go with a jacket being made by a fabulous quilter, Judy Morningstar, whom I met at the Quilt Reflections show a few weeks ago. Her work is killer!

I wonder which ones she'll pick?
BTW, did I mention it is snowing here? May the fourth and two inches of snow on the ground. How intemperate?