Friday, August 28, 2009

Button it up

Not much time to blog today, as it's Friday which means getting stuff ready for the weekend. But I figured half a loaf is better than none, so I just threw these buttons on the scanner and let 'er rip.
I made several sets in similar shades (different configurations) but all with black backgrounds. May be good for fall wardrobes, and speaking of which,
it's sad, but they are predicting just a few degrees above freezing (gack!) for the early mornings this weekend and that's really pitiful. We've had no summer to speak of, and if it starts getting really cold soon, we'll feel so gypped! Guess we'll just have to head to Arizona sooner this year (like that's going to happen) to capture The Summer That Never Was. (I am thinking of calling my first book that, hehehe). It wouldn't be my first real book, but maybe the first one to be really published.
Now, to get back to work. Sorry this was such a boring post, but sometimes life is uneventful and probably I shouldn't post on those occasions.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hit the bricks

This weekend I'll be participating in two events, and in an effort to make something very "provincial" I thought of the many quarries that are located within about a 50 mile radius of here. Some of the greatest limestone is within the region; I guess those deposits are remnants of the great glacial Lake Agassiz or some other geological wonder. Fred Flinstone would know more about that than moi so I won't continue on in that vein.

In preparing some of my 'art' items, I did, however, attempt to keep within the theme of one event. It is the St. Andrew's Harvest Fair, and the history of St. Andrews (in Manitoba) is one that I am fairly interested in. The area is around the Red River and is quite nearby. In actuality, Bunn's Creek, for which our street is named, flows right into the river less than a mile away.

During the last decade of my formal teaching career, I really concentrated on teaching about the social aspects of the Red River Settlers in the early 1800's. Lower Fort Garry is a national historic fort and is right in the midst of the St. Andrews region. I loved spending time discussing the location and business of the Forts in and around Red River, and the collaborative efforts of the aboriginals who supported the early settlements. About twenty years ago, I created a walking tour of the area of Winnipeg known as "The Forks" and took my classes on those field trips. One year, we wrote a play, complete with poetry and music, (with another artist in the school) and in another year, students from my class won prizes for their posters they made while participating in an event sponsored by the Hudson's Bay Company, when it was still entirely Canadian. I miss that kind of interaction now that I am not teaching full time, as the kid's participating in those kinds of events gave them a real connection to their subject fields. I hope it also helped the history to come alive for them.

This week, I created this artist journal, a little different from the kind I usually make. I used a ready-made journal and simply (well not really simply) covered the front and back in polymer clay. The coil binding was relatively easy to remove and put back, so that saved a little time from the normal Coptic binding I use. For the front cover, I attempted to make it look like some of the limestone or naturally occuring rock of the area, since when the original St. Andrews area was settled, most of the settlements used this stone for the larger edifices. Unfortunately, it looks a little like some bathroom tiles. (Maybe that was the influence of the renovations being done in one of our bathrooms this week, lol.) I didn't use a particular 'limestone' recipe for mixing the clay, and the blocks of stone are a little off, but I the next ones I make will be more like the real thing, fingers crossed.

Since St. Andrew's Harvest Fair will be located near the rectory of the historic church, I guess one could actually call this "an altared book", if you catch my drift.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fabriqué en France

One of my favorite blogs recently asked us to post about a
'fabulous' thrift store find. A few days ago, I found this item in one of my usual 'haunts' where I normally don't shop for clothing. Most of the time I look for nifty little doodads, or whatevers that I can either use as textures for my polymer clay, or inclusions that can spiff the projects up a little. I couldn't resist this t-shirt, oh so Français, that was reminiscent of the t-shirts qu'on porte pendant l'été quand le soleil brille! It's been some time since I have visited France, but these shirts are the kind that all the smart demoiselles were wearing waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back then. Some things like t-shirts are ageless, and even though this one may be a decade old (I dunno), I still loved the colors.

The tissus is a bit softer than North American t-shirt fabric, and the neckline is not the traditional ribbing. I even wore it to the market today and so many people asked where I got it. I didn't tell, but just's from France, which is correct, n'est-ce pas?

Speaking about this morning's market, finally we had gorgeous weather and the crowds were there too. It reminds me of the summer a friend and I spent in France. One of our assignments was to go to the market to do a "study" and utiliser le français avec tous les gens du village. It was there that I first learned the custom of the baguette. Needless to say, when I bought my baguette this morning from a neighboring vendor, it was already "bagged" so I didn't have to 'bag it' the way the French men do after a hard day's labor on the way home from work, if you catch my drift... Oh what fun we had making comments about that manner of carrying bread. Bien garni...

Well, I'd better quit this train of thought before I get myself in trouble. Some of my best friends are French and I don't want to sever my relationships with them over a measly loaf of bread...oops I see Marie Antoinette looming in zee distance. I really shouldn't use the word 'sever' and reference Marie Antoinette in the same sentence!

So, let's just say Ça suffit and let it go at that!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Gettin' it all done by FRIDAY

Friday! Whoosh what a week! It all started in a flurry on Monday when I was trying to get caught up on the dates for all the fall shows and just as I was getting ready to go and do my Demo at the Forks Market, the phone rang. Another date on my calendar in October. We'll be taking the shows on the road to Brandon's Victoria Inn on October 17th where several other presenters and I will be doing all sorts of interesting things! It sounds wonderful, but I'll report on the details later on.

The Forks Demos (on Monday and Wednesday) were pretty fun...There was a huge (well by some standards) number of people gathered around on Monday and they were amazed at what polymer clay could do. Lots of interesting questions and a fun group of multi-ages. Wednesday the crowds were smaller...oh did I mention it was raining yet again that day. The weather! Ugh! But at least we haven't had tornadoes and hurricanes...just not any weather that seems like summer.

Thursday, I was interviewed for the Manitoba Craft Museum and Library's archives. They are doing a series of 20 interviews of people associated with the 'guild'...which it really isn't, but that's what it formerly was called many years ago when I first was introduced to it through my Mom's weaving. The interview lasted 2 1/2 hours...(well we had coffee too,) and the lovely Katie had her video recording for most of the time. (I wonder if I ate all my lipstick off!) I forbade her from visiting the den of iniquity in the basement, and brought all my stuff up to the main floor for her to see me at work. I told her there wouldn't be enough light to photograph in the basement. (Quick thinkin' huh?)

Today, I was finishing off a few pieces for this Saturday's Market. My inventory is so low; I had to take a lot of it to the display at the Forks during their stint there, and I don't know when it will come back or if it will head for the Medea Gallery when they're finished there. So, it meant "make more stuff" or I'll have an empty tent tomorrow. Fortunately I had a number of unfinished pieces left over from Sioux Narrows, so I spent yesterday afternoon and all day today sanding, buffing, stringing, carding and all that necessary stuff to make the things presentable. Now maybe I can relax a bit ... and hope that the weather prediction for NO RAIN THIS WEEKEND actually comes true!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Artist's Books

In preparation for my demos at the Forks again this week, I have been working on my latest book, and thought I'd show some pictures of the work in progress. I made the covers for this one a while back, and just "relocated" it prior to going to Sioux Narrows. I knew it was somewhere...

The stitching went smoothly. The funny thing about Coptic binding, at least for me, is that the first five or so books I made were so difficult to get the tension just right. Now, it is a 'breeze' so just a reminder to those of you who are struggling, to keep practicing, and eventually it will be easier.

After I got the spine done, I attached the little thingie that goes into the front as a 'lock'. Thanks to doing several macramé projects a thousand years ago, I got that done pdq.

Finally I added the beadwork to the spine. I combined a few glass, metal and other beads along with the faux ivory beads I had made and antiqued and strung them onto the two hanging threads and added a couple more so there are actually four strands.
I don't know how this is all going to get 'organized' when I finish this entry....Oh well. I do not compute. I am not a geek. Hope that the print version can be matched up with the pictures...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sometimes When We Teach

Okay, so I stretched a little on the old 70's song by Dan Hill, but I just had to use that little intro to what's going on in this crazy place. Everything. Demonstrations. Class preparations. Show preparations. House cleaning. Interviews.... ah, but I did digress in the house cleaning department.

Today I will be teaching a class I've hastily titled "Polymer Clay for Family and Friends" which could be an umbrella title for many of the classes I teach these days. It is perhaps not surprising, that over my long teaching career, in polymer and in the public school system, to get re-acquainted with people whom I think I have met before, usually to find out later that they were former students, who now are classified as friends. Even though the age differences may span generations, I still enjoy revisiting with those who have been in class with me. Today my encounter in class will be at a private home, hosted by a relative of a teaching acquaintance and there the family group will be learning about polymer clay. Again, the group will be very mixed in ages, but I am sure there will be something for everyone. Isn't polymer clay wonderful for bridging that age gap?

In the picture today I am showing how I attach the beads to a box lid. Everyone does it differently, but this way works for me. After the box is made/covered (sometimes I do entire vessels with lids of clay, and sometimes I cover papier maché boxes), I drill a hole in approximately the middle of the lid. Then I thread a wire through, attach a bead or two under the lid of the box, and then take the wire out the top where I add many more beads. Sometimes I add fibres to the beading array, and sometimes not.

That's the fun and beauty of working with this medium and creating your own're allowed to stray away from set parameters and even (I am saying this rather boldly) to step outside of the limits frequently imposed by teachers and those who stick strictly to the straight and narrow.

I was reading yesterday, some of Victoria Hughes pronouncements on creativity. If you ever have an opportunity to be in a session with her, it is an experience you will long remember. Did she teach me any new techniques? Well, to be honest, not really, but what she did was to help me open myself up and let my work take a new direction and help me find my 'way' with clay. I read her blog/guidance column (LOL) whenever I feel a little expressionless. Even though I don't always "get it"all, I think/hope I get the general gist of what she is saying. To entirely rephrase it for me is impossible. To my mind, the creativity process is an internalization of what you want to depict, a feeling deep inside that you often can't state in words. But then your brain/hands/materials/impetus/intention becomes the vehicle of your expression, and guided by intuitive efforts (I am a great fan of intuition), your map is set and you go forth from there. Sometimes you are on a guided tour, and other times, at least for me, that tour becomes a path of just meandering through the woods, breathing in the fresh air and listening to the brook...that tiny little rivulet that later on becomes the rushing river of expression. That is the process for moi.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What's Happening?

Unfortunately, no pictures to post today, as I haven't had the time to take or scan any. That would mean that I'm busy and out and about, right? A couple of times this week and next, I will be demonstrating p0lymer clay at The Forks Market in Winnipeg under the Medea Gallery Banner. The crowd yesterday was rather small but I did see a few familiar faces and some from visitors that have come up for Folklorama and other vacationing frolics.
While I was there, one gal, a seamstress, asked me to make her some buttons while she watched. It was a unique opportunity so I did them just with the small cane I made while she was there. The buttons were pretty hastily made, but they turned out okay. She will have to bake them herself, but it was a fun thing. Maybe I need to have a sign made..."Buttons made while you wait" or something like "Buttons to go-go". In any case, I'm looking forward to demonstrating again today, and to the rest of my busy week...teaching a private class on Thursday and then doing another Art Show at Victoria Beach this weekend in the luxury of an air conditioned venue! It is supposed to be sweltering, so the air will be a welcome addition.
Off to work now....I have orders to fill!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Summer, what summer?

Last weekend, we journeyed to Sioux Narrows to participate in their annual arts festival. It was great, with the weather being too windy for folks to go out on the lake, so they ventured to the festival. Of course with my wierd sense of humour, I enjoyed the liberties taken by this would-be sign maker, but hope that one would never actually host a festival for that cause. In any case, the weekend was well attended and we capped it off by taking a little visit to visit family south of there. We enjoyed fabulous weather there and the pups had fun on the pontoon ride. Cap'n Kirby (the Westie) was in charge of spotting all the dogs on the shore, while first mate Penny (the Yorkie) made sure everything was okay on the poop deck. Cruise groupie Molly (the Bichon) played it cool, just soakin' up the rays trying to steal on board every chance she could. Man does that dog love water. Guess it's her heritage. I understand that bichons are distant generations removed from Portuguese water spaniels, and their love for water is second only to their love for humans and little kids. Now that we're back home, it's busy busy as usual. This coming week and next I will be doing polymer clay demo's at the Forks Market under the Medea Gallery banner. I was originally scheduled to do only two, but due to a list minute cancellation by another artist, I opted to fill in. Next Saturday, I will be at Victoria Beach again for their mid-August Northern Lights Art Sale and am looking forward to that.

Problem is...with all those things going on, who has time to make stuff? Guess I had better get off my duff and get to work. Sooner than we know, summer (what summer) will be gone!
Those little books with buttons on the covers are all gone and they go like hotcakes. Down to the dungeon now and make some more!