Monday, September 27, 2010

Polymer Buttons

I've called these "Let's Face It" buttons for obvious reasons on my part, but I'm hoping that the eventual locations of these becomes a little less mundane and a lot more meaningful in their final destinations.  Last year I incorporated a face of this type in one of my books which I titled 'The Maharincess of Franistan's Journal' because the cover of the book was very textured in a geographical kind of way.  But I wanted to imply the humour aspect of the intention so I utilized Lucille Ball's pseudonym from one of her very early shows with Desi. 

The faces I am now doing include real sculptured noses, as is quite discernable on the scans, and some of them are very  ethnique  with almost detectable facial characteristics, especially in the nasal regions.  The scans don't quite do them justice as the picture is a little shortened as far as the facial lengths go, making them a little pudgier than they are in actuality.  For example, the one on the top left when viewed straight on looks more like Bernadette Peters or Marisa Tomei than she does in the scan.   Of course, the headdress is strictly Lada Gaga, so there's a lot of input into these little compositions.

They're going to be part of my fall display of buttons and other accessories that I'll be taking on the road and to some of the local shows.  The first road show is to Dryden, Ontario for their annual Fall Art Sale on October 1 and 2, and I am very much looking forward to it.  Last year was my first time there, and the show is set at the Golf and Country Club in a very picturesque region near the town.  Hopefully this nice weather will hold (we actually put the air conditioner on yesterday) and we won't have to shovel our way in and out of the clu! 

But I have had to hold production for a week as this week finds me working until Thursday.  Then on Thursday night my former school will be celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, so I'll be involved in that. I've completed my donation item but it's a secret so no one but the committee and myself knows what it is.  Over the decade that I taught there, I helped out with a lot of art projects with the students and some of the vestiges of those still are in the halls of the school in the form of ceiling tiles or on the walls of the gym and hallways in general.  Now when I go there to substitute, I still like to incorporate a bit of art in everything I teach, even if it's only to write good morning in Calligraphy on the chalkboard. 

So, it's off to get ready, because, let's face it, it is going to be a busy week.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Closing the book on another season

Once again summer has come and gone and by the looks and feel of things here, fall is definitely upon us.  The days are rainy and cool and the nights, though cold have not yet brought that first frost, but it's been close.  I thought I'd celebrate the end of summer with this art journal which is definitely one the birds in the back yard can relate to.  There have been so many flocks and types this year, especially now, that identifying them is not possible without the aviary companion.  I once made a 'birdie' tree in which I did watercolor pencil drawings of 18 species of birds common to our area, but I don't know if I could even name them now.  I am not really a bird watcher, but do enjoy seeing them from the kitchen window when I am washing up the dishes, making coffee or whatever else I might do in the kitchen. 

I think the thing I will miss most about the exit of summer is the lack of sunlight and the longer days.  I've really started to notice the early onset of dusk lately and my own internal clock telling me it's time for bed much earlier than during the summer months.  I say the above for purely selfish reasons of course.  I find it so much more difficult to work when the light is not good and need to see the colors in good light.  I recall making a pendant in the evening  a few years ago, thinking it was in one color and astonished to see in daylight that it was completely off.  I do have an OTT light and that helps a bit, but need more than that one illumination to carry out big projects. 

So the sunflower, with its radiation of leaves and face to the sun, is my salute to summer past...Maybe I will write about that in my art journal today. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Who came first?

In the world of Chicks, there's always a race to see if indeed we'll ever finish, or if we will beat out the 'competition' which in this case is ... an egg.  No big deal, except of course if the race is downhill in which case the egg will win, presuming of course that it's hardboiled or in some other way not prone to breaking. 

In making this chick, (as part of a larger composition that I have planned) I utilized a portion of a  technique I saw on a recent episode of Beads, Baubles and Jewels.  Not one who's that into peyote or chevron bead stitching, I usually watch the show and then in a few minutes, it's out of my head.  I do like to see the pretty baubles that they show, and on occasion have seen a few techniques that I think I might use...someday...  But this past Saturday's show had something that I could actually use, immediately, in my polymer clay work! 

I have to state, right now, that I seldom see the show at its actual broadcast time which is quite early on Saturday morning, but thanks to my recorder, I can watch episodes at times that are more convenient.  So, when I saw the re-broadcast the next day, I immediately went to my clay table and did it!  It was the burnishing of foil atop an already leafed piece of polymer clay.  I had this foil (not leaf) that I had been trying to get to stick to the clay.  I had done this in a Donna Kato workshop years ago, but hadn't been able to get it to transfer properly to the clay.  I don't know if I was using a different kind of foil (I think we used Jones Tones in Donna's class) but I know I had tried the type of foil before, and I remember having much better results.  The secret was simple.  After burnishing the foil onto the already leafed clay that had fractured, the raw clay that was exposed had to be warmer to accept the foil.  Hence, the two toned effect in the colors of the clay. The foil adheres to the raw clay that's exposed after the leafing on the clay has been spread thanks to the passing through a thinner layer on the pasta machine.  It produces a multi-toned glitzy look, which is what some chicks are after.

This little chick (well she's about 3" by 4") has a bit of a pained expression about her.  Actually, I'm glad she looks a little concerned. It fits very well into the plan.  When all the finishing touches are added, and the piece is complete, I hope it will be clear why she's a little ... chicken about what she's going to have to endure!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Light altering device

I was going to call this "Another Boring Post" and then decided that was too .. um .. banal.  (I couldn't remember a synonym for commonplace so I had to think back a few years when I had a chat with Lucy...I love her.  She is sooooooooooo interesting>)  But I digress.  So I called this a light altering device.  Which it is.  Well, it is part of it.  The fun part.  I am not going to get into the electrical goings on of the thing, because frankly for me, that IS boring. 

Today I made several of these.  Not all the same and some with different colors and number of caches for those rockers or dimmers or toggles or plugs.  It was kinda fun.  I basically used non-spectral colors as I have been doing way too many of these in blues and greens and wondered why I never have any of the more neutral colored ones in my inventory.  DUHHH!  The light just turned ON!  Because those are the ones people buy more of, and so that means that those should be the kind that I MAKE more of. 

I really am very bad at business projections.  I usually like to make things I like to make, and don't pay enough attention to making things that are good sellers.  I remember when I took the one class in Economics (101 with a sleepy drony prof) that the one thing that he said (in amongst all those supply and demand curves that I copied, and then drew all over) was that companies have to have a business plan that is feasible.  Well I did hear it, but never really paid much heed to it.  At least not in the traditional economic way.

During my career as a teacher, I seldom had to think about a business plan.  Objectives.  Yes, many of them.  Outcomes, yah those too.  But I wasn't really selling stuff, except of course if you consider that I was trying to sell 'learning' which, probably, I did try to do a LOT of. 

When I  started to do this polymer clay art (is it okay if I call it art?) I never considered it  from a business point of view.  I just wanted to make things because I liked working with the material and it was fun to see what I could come up with.  Naturally, I seldom record specifics in  inventory of things that I am making, but just know that I have X number of light switch covers, and ^Y^ number of buttons and "Z" number of books, the colors and styles seldom get recorded.  That would be far too organizationally challenging.  Since most of the items I make are 'original' and I don't want to have them all the same, I usually try to forget exactly what I did on light switch 248 so that when I go to make # 249, it might be in similar colors, but the style and artistry will be different.  About the only times I get really specific  in describing the items is when I have to make an inventory list for a gallery.  The rest of the time, it's basically just in stock or not in stock. 

It kinda sucks though, when someone asks you to duplicate something like a button, because they want them to be the same as the one they bought six months ago. Nightmare city!!.  Even if I have the object in my hands, I can usually not duplicate exactly the same shade, color or hue of purple, since I make the mixtures of clay spontaneously.  It might be close, but what about this:  If you asked Van Gogh to make every petal of his sunflower in exactly the same way, do you think he'd pay any attention to you?  He probably wouldn't hear of it ... ah, but I make light of that fact...

And hopefully, the folks who read this will understand that I really did GET what he (V.G.) suffered, and not be too critical that I made fun of his frailty.  We are all fragile and frail.  And when I say I don't do business things well; that is one of my frailties. 

I say....Make light of it!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Polymer Clay Buttons

Last week I got an email from a lady who has been "gifted" with some of my buttons by a mutual friend.  I was very honored to learn that she'll be using one of the buttons in a piece of wearable quilted art designs that she's submitting in a jurying.  It's good that she got a match to her fabric choices as the buttons were made probably before the fabrics were chosen.  That leads me to pose a question about matching.  How matchy-matchy do things have to be? 
I used to be one of those gals who had to match purse and shoes right down to the cobra skins and unusual shades of turquoise.  I believe I once had seven wearable pair of shoes in that color because they had to "go" with the outfits I was wearing. Now, I still love to have 'different' colors of shoes and purses, but gone are the days when I wouldn't think of wearing those forest green shoes with the two-toned emerald handbag.  Heck...I am lucky if I can even find said forest green shoes.  And as for which handbag I'll be using, well, it's the one that's got the car keys in it.

I think for buttons, it's a little less 'laissez-faire' but still, there's a little more latitude when utilizing a hand-crafted button on a purse, sweater, jacket or whatever.  Of course, I could make drab, go with everything buttons in beige or off-white, but what would be the point?  I make buttons in strange and sometimes unusual colors because I CAN.  I figure if I am just going to cookie-cut some shapes out of some color of polymer clay straight out of the package, why bother?  I must admit that several of the buttons on this page are similar in style, particularly the ones with the 'frames'.  But I like making that kind, and feel they are versatile enough to be a match for lots of different projects.

The other concern I'd like to address is the actual color that appears in the pictures after they've been scanned.  For example, the button in the top right hand corner is really not at all the color it is in actuality.  The background of the for-real one is an ochre-gold color.  And of course you cannot detect the greeny-brown 'antiquing' that's in the second from the left in the top row.  It's oh-so subtle in the background circles...almost looks a bit like an ancient reptilian skin. 

I posted these buttons in response to a couple of requests by folks who wanted to see more buttons.  I also had a digital image taken of the same sheet of buttons.  I am going to post it in a subsequent blog and perhaps the colors there will be truer...or maybe they won't!  Of course the best is to see them in person.  For that, they will be available in my fall shows.  I'll be posting that list too, soon. 

Addendum:  added on the following morning...  Here is the posting of the digital image of the aforementioned buttons.  See the difference?
The colors on this are much truer to the originals so in future I will be posting digital photos rather than scans of things that have to be in the way the movie Sex and the City II ended...with  True Colors.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Polymer Clay Fish

This big brother fish was finished a couple of weeks ago and I just got this scan done.  I called him "Fish with a Checkered Past but Good Luck will Follow" because on the bottom of his other side he has some checkerboard caning, which unfortunately I didn't scan.  On the tailfin (again on the reverse side) I added several cane slices of the Chinese Symbol for Good Luck. 

He is a 'keeper' measuring a good 12 inches plus wire and I am pretty sure he's got a fair sized girth too!  He (it's a he because the lips are not that menopausal pink colour) isn't quite as decorated as some of his fellow fish that have gone to happy havens; but he is a pleasant sort.  He can hang free like a mobile from a long length of fishing line (what else!!!) or can be up against a wall or window.  I haven't placed him anywhere...I don't want to get too attached and I certainly don't want him to think he's part of the grouping in the computer room of Dan's taxidermed collection.  He's much too colorful for that grouping.

Today I have been making buttons and more light switch covers.  I have several in the oven right now and just thought I'd take a few minutes to post, since my posting has been very irregular of late.  Sooo, happy offishal back to school. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Is summer really over?

Last Saturday marked the end of the 'official' summer at Victoria Beach, with the roads now open to the cottages and kids back to school.  We took part in the final Northern Lights Art Sale there this past Saturday, and while the turnout was a little bit lower than during the high summer days, it was still a great day.  As can be seen from this picture, Molly and Dan were welcoming folks at the table helping to raise funds for the East Beaches Animal Shelter and once again they did a great job, thanks to Molly's winning smile and Dan's friendly banter.  I am not sure how much money they raised for the cause, but I know they got several new memberships and lots of contributions.  It is sad how often the animals near the lake are treated and abandoned.  Suffice it to say that now a few more kitties and pups will be neutered and well cared for and perhaps permanent homes can be found for them. 

On another pet-related note, this marks the 10th anniversary of when we 'got' Molly.   She was nine months old at the time, and we were actually her fourth 'parents' so to speak, so it was almost like a rescue.  In actual fact, she rescued us; as I recall.  I was going through some tough times dealing with my Mom's terrible bout with shingles, my own very painful and sleep-depriving frozen shoulder, the loss of our dear Mr. Peabody, and also the loss of a dear student who passed away at the age of 18 from ovarian cancer. Even though Miss Molly was a bit of a 'live-wire' in her younger days,  she has  brought unmeasured joy to our home.  For the first time yesterday, she went to Gimli, on the other side of Lake Winnipeg supposedly to help her dad fish, but that was not the case.  It was quite windy and so instead she simply enjoyed the walk on the long pier and wagged her tail at all the folks there. 

I am not quite sure where this picture was taken while the two 'fisherfolk' were out there, but seeing the choppiness of the water I can imagine what the wind must have been like.  Normally Molly loves going in the water, but I guess she felt that surfing wasn't her style yesterday.  When she got home, she was tired, but not too tired to greet some other family members (whom she dearly loves) when they came over for a barbeque to finish off the summer.  

Now I am in high gear preparing for the fall sales.  I have a few more stints to complete at the Selkirk Waterfront Market over the next few Saturdays, and then the next big show takes me to Ontario again during the first weekend of October.  Following that, I am going to be busy on several subsequent weekends until the first week in December when I call it quits for another season.  I'll be posting the upcoming events in some upcoming blogs.  I have my schedule pretty full and am just waiting for one more confirmation before I can make the official "list".

I have often heard it said that the end of summer is like the beginning of a new year.  School resumes, the colours change and all the new 'events' get underway.  Contrary to a popular advertisement, I don't believe "It's the most wonderful time of the year", but it is an exciting time, especially for all those kids and teachers going back to school and hitting the books. 

And hitting the book is what I'll be doing this afternoon.  I have not finished reading The Girl who Played with Fire yet, and our book club is discussing it tomorrow.  So, polymer clay and computer are off limits for the rest of today.  And as for dinner...we'll have the leftover steak, corn and other goodies from yesterday's BBQ, thank you very much.