Saturday, December 17, 2011

December Buttons 2011

Here I am trying to get caught up on stuff.  It's Saturday and after another busy week, I am doing catchup. With still lots of Christmas preparations to do, I thought I'd do some computer stuff before I go shopping for food and the few remaining gifts I need to purchase. For Christmas get togethers this year I was lucky to get my choice of what to bring, so it will be appetizers to the events where I am slated to bring food.  In doing appetizers, I commit to being on time, so there is some method in my madness.  I will take some shortcuts though and have them prepared ahead of time so they just need to be put on plates, or warmed up just prior to serving.

As for my other "work", I have been filling some last minute orders and taking care of all the business part of my polymer clay work.  With that mostly done (I still have two projects on my table), I figure I can relax a bit and spend an hour or two at the computer.

Yesterday, I got an email from a gal who had purchased a button from me at a Quilt Show this past summer.  She asked if she could use a link to my blog and I said yes, and that I would post some more of my buttons.  I have been so remiss at keeping up my blog lately that I kinda feel like a school kid having not done my homework.  In her blog she showed a pink button that she used on a hat which she designed. The button itself was a bit 'busy' but she deftly created a textured pattern in a solid color wool so that there wasn't too much interference with pattern and texture, if you know what I mean.  I realize that some of my buttons are just too "much" and that busy-ness gets lost in the pattern of the fabric or fibre that they are to be placed on. The gal that crocheted the hat is Joanne and here is her blog, if you are interested in following:

She also twigged me on to a very interesting site which some of you knitters and crocheters can peruse and maybe sign up for.  It is called Ravelry and it looks like a site where I could spend a good amount of time. (I noticed that one of my very creative polymer friends from Arizona already has already mentioned Ravelry in her blog, so it's gotta be a good one.)

All that being said, I admit that it is so  nice to see my work incorporated into other people's creations.  Often when people get my buttons, I encounter them later and they tell me that they haven't used them yet, or are saving them for something.  I completely understand, because I have to admit I have purchased things, fully intending to use them in a creation and then get sidetracked and the things get put on the back burner.  I think that's one of the 'resolutions' that I will make in use the things that I purchase.  Even if it means burning the midnight oil or digging out my portable sewing machine.
These buttons are about one inch in diameter and they are all in the same basic colors, just with repositioning  of the colors.  They're a bit in the 'southwest' palette. I am thinking I am going to use them myself.  I hope to get a shirt or blouse (or other kind of top--who knows what they are called) in a solid color and add some of my work as adornments.  I am thinking not just of functional buttons here, but as kind of trim around the edges.  I have found with some of my other garments that have my buttons on that they go through the washer with no problem, and I just ensure that the drier heat is minimal.  I take the garments out before they're "baked" and hang them up without any worries about the buttons at all.  Of course, I hate having clothing that has to be drycleaned only, but if that is the case, I will remove them from the articles.  The drycleaning hydrocarbons might just be too much for the polymer.  That makes me wonder if anyone has ever done a study on the reacion of the polymer to the chemicals used in the dry cleaning industry.
This button is one that has lots of colors in the foreground.  It's a takeoff on Alice Stroppel's cane that she posted for many to share a couple of months ago.  I think I will be more judicious in how I select my leftover canes for future projects of this sort and try to stick to a palette that is more monochromatic, or at least has just analogous colors in it.  However, this button would look cool on a hat or a knit or quilted bag.  Who knows?  I just may make a woven bag on my next car ride.  I have the weaving materials all prepared and just need to make the "loom" and tie on the warp.  I spent one entire morning organizing my wool into colors so that I can just grab a couple hanks and get started on the weaving. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mama's got a Brand New Bag (almost)

Well, this bag  isn't exactly brand new.  I had woven it last year some time, but had forgotten about it.  When I was looking through my stash of wool I found it, and it was all complete, except for the lining, button loop and the cord.  I found some matching fibres for the long cord, crocheted enough for a loop closure then proceeded to make the lining, a little of which I am purposely showing in the top in this picture.  I made the lining into several layers, including a pocket, so as to make several sections inside.  I stitched everything together and voilà!   The button was from my collection and it was amazing how well it matched all the colors in the bag.  The finished size is about 6 inches on each side, so when opened it has plenty of room for a phone or Blackberry, some make up, keys, a couple of credit cards, maybe a Passport, and whatever else a girl has to carry.  It's not huge, so not great for 'overnighting' but suffice  to say, a savvy girl can find other ways to carry necessities for occasions that warrant more stuff.

I will be taking it to my last sale of the season, which is at Miles Macdonell Collegiate, tomorrow.  It is the school where my husband taught many years ago, and I myself did a stint there when I was in Teacher Training.  The sale is huge with  a couple hundred vendors, and it is  very well visited.  I have to admit that it is a bit overwhelming for some folks, and a bit repetitious because of the huge number of vendor spaces, but there is a lot of interesting stuff, and some of my fellow craftspeople that I know from other shows will be there.  I am quite sure mine is the only booth that will feature polmer clay exclusively, along with a few other items which include polymer in a secondary role, such as this bag.  As well, I will count on seeing some of my former students and colleagues there, some of whom are now in administration at the school.  It's good to see them all and I am looking forward to this sale on a lot of different levels. 

So, in preparation for tomorrow's activity, I am signing off now and hoping I will see some of you tomorrow!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Olden Daze and another "find".

Okay, so I have to admit today is a "play" day.  Not working, at least not at my part time job but working on stuff around home.  I have a to-do list made, but it's rather short so I decided to play a little. 

You see, I have these old photo albums of  black and white pictures taken when my aunt was younger; she loved to take photos whenever she and friends got together.  I went through one of the albums and found about six photos of people with or on bikes.  My deduction is that they were taken in the late thirties and early forties since my aunt was born in 1918 and did not marry until after the second world war. 

I was going to do one of the 'altering techniques' with pattern pieces, some of my 'paper art', snippets of fiber and all sorts of stuff,...well I did make a start and the results were so-so.  Even after doing all sorts of fun 'commands' on the computer, I wasn't really happy.  I think I will print out a few of them on some watercolor paper and that might make a difference.  I think they need more embellishing.

But being the curious person that I am, my eyes kept on going back to this one photo in the batch.  It is the only one of just one guy; the others were of girls, (should I say ladies?), and some of children. I have no clue who the hunk in this picture is.  There is a name on the back but it is just a first name, and not one that I recognize from my aunt's list of people she used to talk about.  I knew a good many of her friends and relatives, but this guy isn't one of them.  If he had been, I would have remembered...wonder why.

The photo itself looks like one of those James Dean poses...with that askance look and all.  (I can't believe I spelled that word correctly.)  As for his overalls, they are not something anyone with a movie background would wear unless they were filming. 

Those were the days when they used patches for the reason they were intended.  I doubt whether many people patch things now, except perhaps in decorative stitching.  I have done a couple of patches on my hubby's at-home pants.  They always seem to tear by the pockets, so I have taken to making patches that are 'way off' when it comes to matching and done in a zig-zag stitch with contrasting thread color, that really draws attention to the patch.  I figure if the things are 'patched', why not celebrate that. 

My mother is probably shaking her finger at me right now.  She was so good at mending things that you couldn't tell where the mend was.  I recall one episode when I was in organic chem lab.  My lab coat was open, and some 'substance' splashed on my cerise red double knit jumper. It made a hole right in a very obvious location.  The jumper was quite new, and I had a lot of accessories like shoes and bag, not to mention several tops that went with it, so I didn't want to relegate it to the 'unwearable' section of my closet.  (Don't get me started on that!!!).  So I showed it to Mom, and she said she would have to do some invisible mending on that.  I couldn't believe it. I had never heard of the technique. Unfortunately, I didn't learn how to do it, but I did mention it to some of my co-workers a few years later, and my Mom, bless her, saved those people a lot of money that would otherwise have gone to art menders.  Suits, trousers, blazers, sweaters, skirts...they all got fixed.  (Those were the days when a lot of people smoked...some casually...and needless to say, the holes were more than likely cigarette burns.) 

That's another good thing about not smoking.  Fewer clothes ruined. Don't think I will get any federal funds for initiating a no smoking campaign for that reason, but it is something to consider, lol. 

Boy have I gotten side-tracked.  Back to the askanse guy.  The only other clue to his identity is that there was a stamp on the back with the name of Hafford Photos, and the name Hafford, Saskatchewan underneath.  Guess the picture was taken in that province, so once again, another reason why there were no movie stars there at that time.  I have never heard of Hafford. 

And check out the rest of the picture.  Notice the double bars and the handle bars have that rail between them on the bike? I haven't seen that on a bike since I was a kid.  The barrels behind are pretty unusual too.  I wonder if they were located by a well?  Since the picture looks like it was taken in a rural location, there probably wasn't running water in the area at the time. 

My computer 'clock' just announced the time.  I have been on this thing for over an hour now, so must get on to my other jobs.  This was a nice little brain exercise.  Now, on with the polymer clay.  I have a couple of orders for light switch covers to finish before the weekend.  I have been pretty busy with orders and have been delivering them here and there.  And NEWSFLASH! I have some pieces in a new location.

When I was at one of my big 'shows' in October, the manager from The Manitoba Museum Gift Shop approached me and asked if I would be interested in having some of my items in their gift shop.  I stopped by there a couple of weeks ago and dropped off some things.  They aren't nearly as interesting as the photo above, but maybe when I get done with all my picture-altering I might make a few cards from them...kinda like What's in a Photo that really isn't there.  I hope I am living up to the Museum's motto:  encouraging Discovery.  Although I am not much of a reader, I do like to read a mystery every now and then, and finding and interpreting clues, whether they're in photos or in real life, has to be part of the Discovery technique, n'est-ce pas?  Hercule Poirot...Salut!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Listening to something I like

So sad to report that our team came second in the recent Grey Cup.  So it has been a down turn, but still they played respectably, especially toward the end.  But like some of their efforts this season, too little too late.

On a completely different "tack" today,  I am embedding a video here.  It is quite possible that you've seen and heard it before, but I am including the link just for you to have a little 'feel good sound'.

Hopefully this works.  I am not the greatest at all this cyber stuff.  I thought I'd have time to study it up yesterday, after all it was Cyber Monday, but I think I was busy that day, lol.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Grey Cup Garb...the Lyin', the Hitch, and the Wardrobe

Well, I am not really lying, I am tellin' the truth but this could be classified as a whopper!    This morning and most of the day I've been busy getting ready for the great big day tomorrow, (Grey Cup) and I wanted to show some team spirit so, as I said in an earlier blog, I have been making some things. 

I sortof drew this logo, I know it's copyright but it's only staying inside my house and maybe it'll go outside on  the dog's sweater.  She wouldn't be 'advertising' it, because she only goes out in the back yard on a leash and she is blind, so she can't go out meandering for Pete's sake.  But I digress.

I drew the logo thing; made a couple of photocopies in different sizes, (the dog's has to be smaller) and Dan's has to be bigger and the one for the table...well, that one isn't important.  Then I colored them. Do you know how much my markers have dried out?  Of course some of them are ten years old or older, so that isn't a surprise.  I did the gold with yellow marker, then gold Prisma color pencil on top, then another layer of yellow marker.  That shading makes the color quite realistic.  As you can see, the blues are not all the same because the markers were running low.  I even went over one of them in blue highlighter because the concentration of ink was getting very pale.  It doesn't's just for an at home get together.  And no one cares if the blue's the right hue.

After I had colored the designs, I used the trusty Singer and sewed pieces of acetate on top, all around the designs like  little borders.  Next step was to attach the thing to a garment, and I was using this old embroidery floss I found in my cupboard.  (The cupboard is  like an old fashioned wardrobe, hehe, and its contents are so much fun that it is always an exciting adventure when I pull something out.  It's one of those things that someone is always telling me to "CLEAN OUT" but it is far too much fun to keep the stuff.  Some of it I could part with, but when I make a find like I did today, I vow I won't clean it out until it absolutely has to be done.)

So, (or should that be sew) I've already hand stitched one logo onto my goldish plush vest.  From far, it looks pretty good until you see the uneven stitches.  But I can live with that.  Its 'kitschy stitchin'  and adds to the fun of it.  It's almost like a 'hitch' or whip stitch.  But the big thing is THIS...See that blue embroidery floss that I am using to stitch with?  Well this is where truth is really stranger than fiction.  Have a look at the scan below...
 If you look really closely at the little paper wrapper, it will kind of give you a hint of how old that embroidery floss is.  You may need to enlarge the image because I want it to be very subtle.  I think that I must have inherited that cigar box of floss from someone who did work in the middle of the 1900's, or maybe earlier.  Doesn't that sound like ages ago?

And yet, we remember songs from that era.  For example, one of the big auto firms is presently using a song that one of my aunts used to sing in its commercial.  (I think it's the same aunt who used this floss.) You know the one with the fake birds flying around?  I believe the music was from one of the Sigmund Romberg 'operas' that were all the rage when Hollywood did those big lavish musical productions.  If my numerical demagnification ratios serve me right, keeping in mind the relative cost of the embroidery thread, one of  those musicals could have been made for a few thousand dollars.  Now, that barely pays a month's living expenses.  Not to mention a football player's salary.  And I ain't lyin'.

Book Club Babe Mascot

This is not the greatest scan of this little gal, but she really is a cutie.  She is meant to hang on a wall and holds a multi-page book replete with matching beads. 

My original idea for these little "mascots" was to have them made for Book Clubs, and the hostess of the meeting would keep the doll and hang her up until it was the next hostess' turn.  Most of the people I have spoken to said that they didn't want to "share" but would use the book to write down all the books they were reading like a kind of 'log' book. 

I will be taking one of them to my next book club meeting ... it is to be a Christmas Pot Luck.  I don't know if this is the lady that will accompany me...she will be privvy to all sorts of banter at that get together.  And even if we do decide to keep her as the "keeper of the books" so to speak, we can rest assured that she won't breathe a word about what (or who) was discussed at the gathering. 

Her book can be removed quite readily from her rather oversized arms.  She seems a little disproportioned when she isn't holding on to her book, but I am including the scan of her with the book on the side so you can see how the whole thing works.

The scan makes her look a little displeased with something, but I think it's because the camera is angling downward and when you look at her hanging on the wall at eye level or above, her expression is much kinder. 

Maybe it's that way with people too...when people look "down" on us, they may see a less pleasant expression on our faces than when looking at them head on or from just below eye level.  And maybe that's why we 'admire' people we look up to, and frown upon others...we are just reflecting what's been projected towards us.  Ah, but I've said too much and don't want to get into some discussion that I am not prepared to carry on with. 

Me, I'm with the book club babe and just don't want to tell all!!!

It's Grey Cup Weekend here, and I've got to get back to fashioning some Blue and Gold Bomber football gear to wear while we watch tomorrow's game.  I am in the midst of sewing a hand-made logo onto a gold plush vest.  I have the blue turtle neck washed and ready to wear and will co-ordinate that with some blue sweats so that if need be, I can reinforce the team from our family room in between snacks.  One of the appetizers I made is a cheese ball that I made in the shape of a football.  I topped it off with slightly salted home roasted sunflower seeds and the bowl scrapings tasted yummy.  After the flavours have a chance to mellow it should be really good.  I have the table decked out in a gold table cloth with blue runners along the side.  If  I have time, I'll make a couple more hand colored logos to intersperse among the other goodies that are mellowing in the fridge.  I've decided to make a few little trinkets in blue and gold ... maybe like toothpick decorations and maybe I'll cover a couple of knife handles to spread the cheese ball onto crackers.  And maybe swizzle sticks.  But we shall see.

Go Bombers!

And one more pass while I'm on the football kick...(How's that for a literary device...)I saw the highlights of yesterday's Vanier Cup...(McMaster contre Laval) and I am pretty sure my niece and her husband who are in the Crystallography Department at McMaster are happy about the outcome.  According to the sportscasters, that game was probably the best Canadian College Football Final of all time.  Hope the Bombers can mimic the McMaster outcome.

Friday, November 25, 2011

In the Buffer Zone

About a week ago I purchased a new 6 inch muslin buffing wheel for my bench grinder.  My old one was so well worn, that I was nearly touching the metal plate when I was buffing and there was very little surface area to work on.  I had ground the old muslin wheel down to about 1/2 inch away from the protective plate! Needless to say, it had been a long time since I had put on a new muslin wheel. 

I remembered the trick about taking the first couple of rows of stitching out of the new muslin wheel before I put it on the housing.  That was easy enough.   I just clipped every second stitch and the rows were done in about a minute.  Then was the fun job of taking the old wheel off.  It was on there TIGHT!  Fortunately we located the right size wrenches and got the old one off and then put the new one on lickety split. 

Yesterday (American Thanksgiving) was one of the warmest days  we've had in a long time and so I grabbed the chance to get some buffing done.  I don't want to buff in the house and it was a good thing I didn't do it yesterday.  With the new wheel (Whee!) I started with some simple beads.  There were pieces of muslin and threads flying all over the back yard and all over me!  I looked like a partly de-feathered Thanksgiving Turkey with all those little farfotzlies of fiber and string strewn all over me.  They were even in my hair!  After about ten minutes of buffing, the major edges of the wheel were broken in and things went smoothly after that.  I had about two dozen buttons on order and needed to get them buffed and ready to send out.

Then I set to work on some other larger pieces that had to be buffed and got them all done before the sun set.  There were many things to be thankful for. 

Not only that, I got it all the work done by Friday, so I can relax and get some Grey Cup goodies ready for a little get together here on Sunday.  I have decorated with a few garlands of Blue and Gold outside on the shrubs and have a couple of little banners made for the inside t.v. room to help our team on to victory.  I know they won't hear us shout, but we'll give a couple of blasts on the bull horn and maybe they'll hear those all the way to Vancouver.

Go Bombers!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Manly, yes, but I like it too!

I remember that tag line from a years old commercial, where the Irish girl makes the comment about soap.  The comment could apply to lots of things, but I've chosen to include it here along with these significantly larger editions of one of my favourite things to make. 

Recently, a neighbour did a favour for us and I am going to be gifting him with one of these.  Another will be for hubby (of course...he provided the wrist for the original model) and one is going to be a Christmas gift for someone whom I hope isn't reading this blog.

Some years ago I obained this very heavy hide, I think it might be deer, but not sure, in a size that was really too small to make anything. The piece was irregularly shaped, and had a few little notches in it here and there.  I was able to spot a few places where the hide was long enough to make a wrist band, so that's where I started.  I used the quilting ruler, the Olfa board and the trusty cutting blade (wheel) that I had inherited a few years ago and cut some thin type strips of the hide. 

It seems to fit well with the natural organic feel of the stones, which are larger than the ones I usually make.  I had to make the holes quite large as the first set I tried wouldn't allow the hide to pass NO HOW, even after pulling it with my pliers.  So I baked the stones on a larger type knitting needle to ensure that the stones would fit the heavy duty hide.  I had to make the 'stopper stone' hole even bigger and found the right bore on a piece of metal tubing from a pasta machine that I had once tried to clean.  (Long story...I will leave the cleaning of pasta machines to those that know how to put them back together once they've been taken apart!)

I regret that some people out there will not take to these...but then again, if I think back to yesterday's post, I can live with that! I must add that I have seen similar bracelets to these and hope that I haven't "infringed" on anyone's property.  I realize that a lot of people make stone bracelets (I have been making them for about ten years myself) and that being said, I just wanted to show my take on a more manly style.

Now, to think of an appropriate name for them!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Zen-doodle all the day long

Well, these zen-doodles weren't all done in one day...far from it.  They are some of the work I did a while back while being a patient passenger.  Some works of the series are framed and some of them are waiting for just the right moment to become part of a larger work that I envision for 'future considerations'. 

It is really difficult being a 'composer' with snippets of things you know are good enough to keep, but just not 'enough' on their own.  And the line between the two parameters is not clearly demarkated.  It's not like there's a double yellow solid down the middle of your work saying Do Not Cross but an arbitrary thing that you just have to hope is in synch with the work(s), the media and all that goes into a composition. 

Speaking about compositions, last weekend my friend and I went to the symphony and one of the main works was the familiar Beethoven V.  As we were getting our coats on, I overheard a fellow a few rows back who berated the conductor for leading the orchestra to play it altogether too fast for his liking.  I didn't say anything but did have an opinion.  When Ludvig composed the piece, he had in mind a certain pace at which he felt the piece ought to be played at, and so noted that in the time signature.  Everyone's interpretation has to vary slightly, I feel. We do not all walk around with metronomes in our purses or back pockets, and even if we did, there would still be room for personal interpretation. 

So is the way people interpret art and in this case, my zen doodles.  Some of you may get nothing out of them.  So be it.  Others may feel there is a picture there, and may even imagine a creature from the deep lurking in the compositions.  Again, others may feel it is just a series of dots connected by a five year old. To me it is an expression...perhaps a little intuitive, but that is what appealed to me at the time I made the particular piece. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Presentation Plus

A few weeks ago I was approached by the manager of a museum in our city asking to carry some of my products in the gift shop there.  I have items in some other galleries, gift shops, and I was looking forward to getting a few more of my items 'out there'.

So this morning, after completing the promised number of items, I set to getting them ready for presentation.  For the longest time I had been using the same type of hand crafted background paper for some of my items, mostly jewellery, which also contained a picture of some of the local scenery, since it went well with the items.  As with most things, change was needed, so I came up with a slight modification of my background's much less time consuming to create and doesn't require the same amount of drying time as I had been accustomed to with the stamped, brushed, calligraphed, spattered and top coated effect I was using previously.  I stuck to spattering and rolling this time and even though the finishing coat of thin gold is missing, there are still a few sparkles here and there, thanks to the pearlescent effect I mixed in with one of the rolled techniques.  I made about twenty variations on the theme and although I'm not sure if this was my absolute favourite; they were all so similar, it was hard to pick out my #1 choice.  Besides, once the rest of the printing and the accompanying picture gets on the page and the background sheets get cut up into card size pieces,  much of the total picture is gone.

I called the museum this morning in hopes that I could drop off the finished goods, but alas, the manager was on an extended weekend, and so I'll have to wait until Tuesday  when she returns.  Hope you all have a fun weekend...Mine is nice so schlepping and setting up today and quite frankly, I needed the break.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Craft Season in Full Swing

Thank goodness for that extra hour of sleep last night.  This season of 'sales events' has wiped me.  The packing, unpacking, hauling things upstairs in ancient mansions, loading and unloading dollies to who knows where in huge exhibition halls and just the general 'busy-ness' of this time of year has caught me with my knickers down (so to speak) and I have fallen victim to the latest bug to hit our city. The weather has been fine until now, but I guess my resistance and lack of proper sleep have just set my body level to "succumb".  I now have a throat that produces sounds on a very random basis, and the projected pitch ranges from squeeky mouse to bass baritone in the same sentence.  Needless to say, I won't be asked to sing any operatic solos in the near future, lol.

Fortunately, I am not sneezy and wheezy, and my muscles aren't all achy, so I am still able to function if I don't have to speak in dulcet tones.  We do have a family get together today where we'll celebrate a birthday and have the annual 'who buys for whom' draw for Holiday time.  Thankfully the restaurant we will be visiting has an extremely varied menu so it will fit the many tastes of our group.  I think I will sit on the end, or maybe I'll be ousted to my own private table and have to communicate in sign language with the rest of the pack.  In any case, I am looking forward to a break from 'production' and sitting at my clay table.

Actually, I have a hiatus in events, and this weekend I'll be able to enjoy an evening at the Symphony on Friday night...a big change from the normal hurrying and scurrying getting last minute tags ready and making sure I have all my necessitites piled in boxes near the door.  Heck, I may even have time today to finish reading that book that will be discussed at our book club get together...oh's Tomorrow.  Better get off this and get to page 32.  Think I'll get done?  It's only a couple hundred pages so I'll read in the car on the way to the restaurant and tell hubby to 'take the long way'. Wish me luck

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Scattered Seeds, Shattered Needs

Yikes!  One more day until set up at Scattered Seeds and I am still working 12+ hour days.  It's incredible...the amount of work involved in preparing for a "BIG" show.  I have stuff all over my dining room, living room, kitchen, not to mention that my kitchen counter is not visible having been taken over as a work station for sanding, staining and drying my pieces after they've been washed and buffed. If I ever have a studio, having a 'work sink' will be one of the gotta haves. 

I think I have enough light switch covers made to light up the entire city. Well, nearly. I have about fifty. 

It is so difficult to predict how many of any particular item to make up for a three day sale, especially if you haven't been in the particular event for a long time (say ten years).  And it is being held in a new  (for me) building so I am just not quite sure what the set up will be like.  Last time I was in a long but rather narrow 'booth' although I am pretty sure the new layout for Scattered Seeds is all for 10 by 10 foot areas.  I can do both types of  set-ups as my 'props' are pretty adjustable, consisting of a number of tables, three repositionable backboards, a couple of easels and sufficient covering material to blanket Mount Everest.  I bought draping material last weekend at a local JYSK (sort of a Pier One type store, only not as eclectic) and although the drapery length panels are too long to cover my backboards, I am not going to cut them, just in case I NEED  to use them later on to fashion window draperies in a little flat if I should be ousted outta my residence.  ( prep does have psycho-social, need I say marital, ramifications.)

Life is very difficult just before a show and among other things dysfunctional at this time, food preparation has slowed to a stop.  In preparations for the crunch, I made a huge crock of soup the other day, whipped up a couple of ready-to-be dressed salads; and sandwiches and wraps are in the freezer so that meals can be made (or should I say thrown together) in between sanding or drying sessions.  The only thing that isn't condensed  in my life right now is sleep (wish that could be done) and dog outings.  Instead of taking Miss Molly for a walk, I am doing the back yard thing, where I walk her in about twenty circles around the back yard.  Heck, she can't see anyway, so her walks are not excursions, but rather just an opportunity for us to have a little fresh air and get a tiny bit of scenery change from my work stations in the house. 

Yesterday afternoon while I was buffing outside, I realized it is starting to get really cold out. (Glad that sentence didn't read 'in the buff outside') I had a tuque on and actually required mittens to be out for thirty minutes of buffing at the wheel.  I don't know what I will do when it gets really cold... I refuse to buff indoors as the dust created is just too much to deal with.  I suppose I should invest in a dust vent...but don't know where I'd put it.  I do wear face protection to keep the stuff out of my orifices, but the polymer dust and cotton from the wheel does collect on surfaces.  I have noticed that the old school desk on which I do my buffing has  almost taken on a different patina, with the 'old school etchings' in it a different color from the rest of the wood.  I do dust and scrub it down after each session at the bench grinder, but my guess is that after numerous buffing sessions, many of the particles have become  permanently engrained in the wood. 

Well I am off to my  begin my last day in preparation for the show.  I am just doing a few smaller pieces today as I have quite a pile of buttons and jewelry bits that need to be tagged and priced.  Hopefully I will get it all done by Thursday.

So...with that...I am off to work.   
And yes, I know this is an older picture, but it's kinda where I am at right time to upload newer pictures.  Thanks to the gals in Arizona who took this during my demo there last January...This was one of  the sets of covers of I used for demonstration purposes. I had many in different stages of completion, much like where I am at right now in preparation for the Scattered Seeds show. The little insert on the front cover is  from Tina Holden's Batik and Shimmer tutorial, which I did not  demonstrate, but did include it as a focal point on one of the books used for demonstration. 

So if you would like to attend, Scattered Seeds is being held this weekend, Friday through Sunday, at the Assiniboia Downs Exhibition Park and I will be in Booth #152.  Friday and Saturday hours are 10 am to 9 pm and Sunday is from noon until 5 pm.  Stop by and say Hi! and see what I've been doing for the last few months!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Let's Face It...It's Crunch Time

These little gals are all set for their annual trek to Dryden to participate in the Holiday Arts Festival this weekend.  Some of them look pretty bundled up, and I understand that warm weather is being forecast, so hopefully they won't experience any hot flashes!

I made several of the little faces, and then chose some to be book club babes, some to be little finger puppets and this glee club grouping is a set of twelve buttons.  The buttons can be sewn on to clothing, especially winter hats, to make cute little additions, or they can be sewn onto premade muslin dolls.  Then they can be adorned with beads, costumes, jewellery, and made into any doll of your choice.  I like to call them the Maharincess of Franistan Faces, because one or two of them actually look like Lucy Ricardo in her early series with bandleader Ricky.  If you remember that series, or even the reruns, Lucy got herself into plenty of trouble.  Thing is, these ones don't have any 'splainin' to do.

We will be packing up the van tonight with hopes of getting an early start out tomorrow so we can drive leisurely, without having the time element being an extra burden. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Box and Book Presentation

For the past couple of weeks I have been making items to present in a few upcoming shows, the first of which will be this weekend in Dryden, Ontario.  Since I wasn't in the Sioux Narrows Arts Festival this summer, I hope to see some of my friends in Dryden, which is about an hour drive (or so) away from there.  The weatherman is forecasting sun and slightly above normal temperatures so the drive through the Canadian Shield should be wonderful.  Of course we will be taking chaperone Bichon Molly, who will accompany DH during showtime and perhaps they'll explore some of their favourite haunts that they've come to love in and around Dryden. Since she is now totally blind, I am hoping that she will use her other senses to recall her familiar places there.  She loves being out of doors with us, and I think she can still sense the sunlight because yesterday when I was out buffing beads, she just wanted to sit on her cushion on the chaise lounge. 

As for my polymer work, it has been extremely varied of late, as is usual for crunch time just before a show.  I've made several new items that haven't been in my usual repertoire, including many mixed media pieces.  This one, for example, includes a bit of needle felting, a covered box in luscious turquoise, blue and purple, a little handmade journal with an organza drawstring bag to keep the book inside the box.  There certainly were a lot of elements that went into the creation of this little collection.   It required a fair bit of planning and crossed fingers, to make sure that all the colors in the grouping went well together. 

I began by painting the interior of the papier maché box in a deep blue with Lumière Paint, and then adhered the collage of blended polymer on the outside.  You can't see the impressions on the sides of the box in the photo, but I think you can see the little metal scrollwork (thin strips of polymer with gold leaf) on the sides. The book covers also carry on with the colour theme and the Coptic binding is finished off with a mixture of beads made from the blended clay, separated by glass beads. I opted for a blue binding for both the bag string and the binding which I fashioned from 6 strands embroidery floss that I waxed heavily so that it would be strong.

The bag and book fit nicely inside the box.  At first I was just going to fold the organza and nestle the book in it, but I thought it looked a bit untidy when the book was out, so I chose to make  the little drawstring bag.  I just happened to have some organza in a subtle blend of teal and ultramarine, and it goes together so nicely with the colors in the book and box. 

The top of the box is festooned with a couple of needle felted balls that I had made in the spring.  I threaded them onto some purple wire which kinda looks like the box might be able to receive satellite signals from who knows where.  All in all, it is quite a project.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fish going Globe Bowling...Part Two

If you haven't seen Part One of this little video, please go to the previous post where the elements that make up this little puppet show are explained.  Not too much detail, but a glimpse. 
This is about the umpteenth time I've tried to load and process this video.  As you can tell,  I ended up having to do the video in two parts because Blogger just couldn't do it all in one.  I am not that savvy when it comes to making movies.

In any case, I made and baked the inner fish on a little copper wire, and right now, it just dangles inside the globe.  For the exterior, you can see where I covered the vase with the bowling balls (which hid where I had to nip the glass) and also adhered the premade, but unbaked fishies to the outside of the crazy-quilted exterior.  When all the exterior collaging was done, I baked the vase for about 45 minutes.

The little wire which suspends the fish still isn't attached so I will be finishing it off a little.  Similar ones I made last year were suspended by some fibres around the rim of the vase which coincidentally helped to hold the wire that controls the little puppet fish inside.  In this way, the vase can be placed on a table or suspended according to one's whims. 

My idea of  Clay Mation or is it Motion...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Another Fishing Expedition Part 1

I did  further 'retakes' of the video I published yesterday, and although it is still not of Motion Picture Quality, the sound and pictures are quite a bit better in this third attempt.  The Blackberry video camera on my phone isn't of the greatest quality so I chose this other option.  This time I used the digital camera, a Fuji, and used the video application.  There are still a few blurry spots where I got too close to the objects.  Also, holding the work and the camera requires a high degree of ambidexterity which, unfortunately is not one of my fortés. This is evident especially when there are little 'movements' that you want to tweak with one finger inside a vessel. 

In this first part of the video I have the glass ball and the clay requirements.  They are pretty visible.  In the next post, the finished item will be visible.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Two, two, two posts on one day

Some time ago I tried to make a clown fish cane.  I started with an incredible drawing, only to find that the useable part of the cane was very small.  In my efforts to reduce it, the shape was just too convoluted so I only got about twenty good slices of fish.  Or would those be filets? 

In any case, last weekend I made a little drawing of a dog, and decided to give another animule a chance at becoming a cane.  Now this could go a lot of places.  Since my little bichon Molly is blind, a  'white cane' might be appropriate.  Not that she could ever carry one or learn to use it in that constant contact method that vision impaired people are accustomed to.  Molly would rather use her nose.  She sidles up against walls to help her negotiate the familiar walls in our place, and that keeps her away from the stairs she abhors (she has fallen down them twice).  When she wants to jump onto the sofa, she does the 'nose' test by touching her nose to the front of the sofa seat, and then hurdles her way up the premeasured height.  It is almost tearful to watch her get 'lost' in the house, but in some of those adventures, she has discovered where the bag of dog food is kept.  I've even seen her get on her hind paws and stuff her face right into the bag for a few extra goodies.  Nope...she doesn't need that kind of cane to get around.

To get back to my original idea for this post, I did want to mention that I almost succeeded in making this dog cane.  Not that it looks anything like Molly.  With her being totally white, it is a little difficult to make any kinds of facial demarkations, and those are rather necessary in making good canes.  The contrast between features is critical to making a successful cane.  So, I put a little greige in here and there on her face to kind of indicate the contours of her face.  Unbeknownst to me, one of theose greige lines came between her 'eyes' and it almost looks like she's wearing glasses.  Now if any dog wants to make a spectacle of herself, it would be Molly.  She loves being the center of attention, so now, I will go and give her a cuddle and end this post. 

Oh yah, I have used this cane.  I also encircled it with other surrounding colors...some blue, some pink and some grey, which I believe is the only thing she sees.

The Lights of Fall

It is really noticeable with the frost on the cars in the mornings, that we are experiencing FALL here.  Following an absolutely fabulous summer, the cooler weather really hit hard almost overnight.  So in keeping with the season, I decided to imitate the colors of fall in these crazy-quilt patchwork light switch plates.  I recently went and purchased a good selection of blank plates and will be busy covering them in the hopes that they find happy homes at some of the sales that I will be doing in the coming months.

I am not one for production, but with the huge events I will be attending this fall, I have to succumb to that line of 'work'.  The upside is that although I will be working with similar palettes for the covers, at least I can make each one slightly different.  When doing these I actually put the completed ones in another room so that I don't 'copy' my work so that they can stay dissimilar.  

The next few months should prove to be 'interesting' as I will be integrating substitute teaching, some travel, and concentrated efforts in completing several large projects in polymer, so I may not be posting as regularly as I would like.  The leisurely hours of sitting at the computer are one of the things that will have to be whittled off my days so that I can be more productive.  And with the noticeably shorter days and my eyes not attuned to working when it's dark, I need to make light switch covers (among other things) while the sun is still shining. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Beachy, Just Beachy

Beach, Beach, Beach!  And I mean that in a good way.  This weekend will mark the final Victoria Beach Art Sale for the season, so I chose to include this as a tribute to what has probably been the best summer for beachin' it in YEARS!  Yes, there were difficulties, in particular with the high waters at the start of the season and the erosioin of the shore line, but as for weather, sunny days, no rain and mosquitoes, this has to be a topper for them all.  At least as far as I can recall. 

In July, I did manage to spend three lovely days (except for my aching back) out at Victoria Beach and had hoped to spend a few more on a weekend in September, but alas, I think that is not to be.  Schedules and preparing for heavy duty fall commitments has left little time to idle at the beach.  However, I do think that taking a day off here and there would do wonders!

I've done lots of market type events this summer; almost one every weekend.  At the most recent one, (The Morden Corn and Apple Festival) I encountered Breanne, who is also a polymer clay person of sorts.  I say that tongue in cheek, because she is also an aeronautical engineer. (Yah, really) but she has a fun side to her, that makes an explanation of why the extrusion of a Klimt Cane in mathematical terms makes sense; in terms that a mere regular science type can understand.  (Watching too many of  Big Bang Theory Lectures I think!)   Anyway, last year I had made a few of these light switches and she asked for a couple more, so I'm showing this one here, before it's gone.

This weekend I'll actually be at two 'events'.  On Saturday I'll be at the "Christmas in September" Art and Craft Sale at the Victoria Beach Sports Club, and then on Sunday we'll be setting up the tent at the Locks Market under the bridge by Skinner's in Lockport.  Two weekends ago they celebrated the Lockport Dam Festival there and in spite of a cruel wind on the Saturday, the Festival was a great success. Unfortunately, Hubby's $20 000 tagged catfish wasn't caught (again) this year, but the committee did see fit to award some substantial merchandise prizes to a few lucky participants who entered the contest.  Those tagged catfish are swimmin' around somewhere wondering, "Why am I wearing this tag thing on my dorsal fin?"  I wonder just how many of those dam catfish have similar 'garb'? 

But I digress.  It's almost daylight here (5:35 am) and I need to get to actual work.  I have many projects in the nearly complete stage and if I am going to have enough items to fill my spaces over the weekend, I'd better get off this chair and into the one in my workspace.  So I'll just turn lights off in this room, pour myself a cup of Joe and get to work.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Venn Zen

So I am going to the Lockport Market again tomorrow, after about a month's hiatus. I have been busy, and life got in there somewhere, and well, life is life.

I have been doing lots of experiments with different projects, with a modicum of success, but have found that the clientele at the market are looking for little things and are not after bigger ticket items.  So this led me down the road to this very complex Venn Diagram.  Taking all the things into consideration, some people liked cutesy, some people liked vintage, some people liked bold brassy colors, some people liked "frugal", some people liked simple.  So taking all those things into the Venn intersection of how things 'interweave', I came up with the common 'denominator' if you will. 

These Venn circles are not drawings, but the solution to the above set of considerations.  I was able to locate some very (shall we say thrifty) necklace wires, which close by screwing the end bits together.  I had paid $8 a piece for similar items a few years back in Arizona, and although the closure is a bit different, and the colors slightly different, they were a 'bargoon' just waiting to be gathered into my basket.  So I bought a few recently and made some bicone beads that I placed on them.  I mainly did them in shades of blue as that is the color of the wires, but methinks I will head over to the store and get some more. 

The one 'snag' that wasn't a consideration of the above intersections of the circles was the size of the bore in the bead.  It had to be big enough to house the screw bit, and yet I didn't want it to be so large that it would become overpowering in the smallish type lentil shapes I was making.   The first few were (Goldilocks here...) way too small. So I decided I'd try baking the lentils on the wire.  Just before I put them in the oven, I placed small black polymer dealy-bob 'bead caps' on the holes to make the holes appear a bit smaller.  The bead caps resemble o-rings but really are just little disc beads.  I cut a 'radial' cut to the centre of the disc, placed it around the wire and covering the majority of the bore of the bead, then secured it back into its circular shape.   Doing this also prevents the bead from coming off the wire when the necklace is removed.  

All these considerations take 'pre-planning', something which I rarely do well.  I mainly work 'intuitively' and luckily for me, that works most of the time.  The pre-planning and consideration phase is something I will have to become accustomed to, because, I guess, in the long rum, I do mean run, it is a time saving method.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Going Mobile with Polymer Clay part two

I guess the 'wind' was blowing when this picture got snapped.  It is one of the natural life mobiles complete with pearl in the shell that was done at the camp workshop in the middle of July. 

Unfortunately, I am not into all the Harry Potter insignias, crests and other related markings but Sydney certainly is.  She did all these crests for her mobile and  she can justifiably be very proud of it.  She worked incredibly hard for someone who was at camp and althought the project was probably a little too time consuming, she did a great job of capturing the essence of the coats of arms.

The hamburger (now that's something I can relate to) in this mobile is replete with all the trimmings.  Madison even had me chopping up little bits of 'pickles' for the relish. The whole thing was delish, even though inedible.  Of course there are the healthy parts like apples, pears, tomatoes and all the other nutrients that we can identify with as well.  She also included a wire 'sculpture' of her initial as an additional component to her mobile. 

I feel badly that I can't put in a picture of everyone's work.  All the kids worked so earnestly and co-operated by helping to get finished.  I also wish that everyone has an opportunity to work with kids like this and help to fulfill art needs. These kids had so much potential.  Bravo!!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Back to Work

I realize it is nearly a month since posting here..and as a follow-up to the last post (sounds slightly military) I did get a few slices off that clown fish cane.  Most of them went to work as examples of how (not) to do caning while I did a camp workshop slightly more than a week ago. 

Earlier in July, I was at an art camp about 20 miles from here and worked with a delightful group of 9 to 14 year olds.  They were probably one of the most dedicated group of clayers that I have ever had the privilege to work with. will just wanna have fun.  Well, we did have some fun but mostly they were a very task oriented group and extremely receptive to soaking up techniques in polymer clay. 

The workshops ran one week in length on a daily basis for a time of two hours.  After spending a bit of time the first day introducing polymer clay and its nuances, we set to making items.  We did some rudimentary caning and color blending, and of course, one of the favorite activities was rolling the pasta machine.  By the end of the week, I was no longer having to respond to "How many times do I roll it on this setting?" as the kids became extremely familiar with the machines.  No doubt some of them will have them on their wish lists for birthday or even Christmas gifts. 

There were fifteen kids in the class, and I had seven pasta machines for them to share.  It worked pretty well, with one kid cranking, and the other passing the clay through.  Of course, they did the rock, paper, scissors thing to see who would roll first, and I thought of renaming the procedure "Let's Rock and Roll", but I think that's been said before somewhere.

The title of the activity was "Going Mobile with Polymer Clay" and their big project was to make either a linear mobile, a stabile (no one chose either of these two) or a regular three or more strand mobile.  I don't know if there are correct 'mobile' terms to use for the suspendables, so I had to make up words.  Pretty soon 'thingies' and 'gizmos' became part of the week's vocabulary for kids who weren't familiar with such high-tech terms.  Speaking of high tech, my "smart white board" was a long piece of off-white newsprint which I taped to a window and just moved up as new techniques were introduced. 

After making a couple of projects (beads and light switch covers), we set out in earnest to make the focal elementss/structures for their mobiles.  I gave them free rein and let them choose which ever theme appealed to them.  Warning to potential instructors in this type of project:  Be prepared to make anything!  I did have a couple of days to access their abilities in the preliminary projects, and croyez-moi!  I would not have allowed such freedom if the group had not been so task-oriented or willing to work so diligently.  Our time was very 'committed'.  We had essentially two two-hour sessions to make as many focal elements as needed to convey the theme.  These ranged from spelling out a name to various sports activities, equestrian memorabilia ,undersea critters, to favorite seasons, foods, "modern art" and to the extremely challenging Harry Potter Shields/Coats of Arms that one gal chose to do.  (The words keep echoing...Sydney needs mores scrap clay...)

The final day was reserved for finishing and assembling the mobiles. As the days progressed,  I would bake all the pieces in my home oven and took them to the class.  On Friday,  we put a simple coat of acrylic finish on each of the elements, and then they had the most daunting task of all ahead...stringing the mobiles and getting them to balance.  We used 20 pound test fishing line as the suspending agents.  From somewhere in the depths of my basement, I had  located some extremely useful bamboo 'sticks' which (Thank YOU someone) were pre-drilled at three strategic locations. This took away all the problems of making the mobiles balance.  Every single one balanced perfectly.  I was amazed;  when I make these things myself, that is when the air is the bluest.  For the kids at camp, it was a piece of cake.  They simply laid the sticks on the floor, got their fishing line, interspersing beads, focal elements and went to work.  No twisting and getting pieces tangled up...And when we went to make the final "suspending" cord, all we did was put a long piece of line through the two end holes of the bamboo, skipping the middle one, and made a triangular 'hanger' and it all worked.  We also used fishing 'sinkers' beneath each of the focal elements to suspend them in what would seem like mid air.  I did have pictures taken and will post a few of them when I can 'find' them on hubby's camera. 

It has been sort of anti-climatic since that week of high-energy activity.  As a follow-up to the camp 'routine', I've made the elements for a couple of my own mobiles.  One is a garden theme and I am going to assemble that one today.  Hopefully it will work as uneventfully as the ones at camp did!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fish, fishing, finding the right fish

So I really appreciate people who make canes extremely well, because, frankly, I can't.  I mean I can make the simple, everyday canes that EVERYONE can make, but picture canes are really not something that I have the patience for.  As well, my hands get really warm, they are very large and there are some other issues that I have to deal with (including lighting) which make my canes less than what I would like. 
That being said, I don't give up trying.  I can make 'abstract' canes, because of course they are not supposed to look like something identifiable.  I have even made some passable complex canes under the tutelage of Jana Roberts Benzon.  I know the basics.  Every so often I make a stab at trying to construct a cane that is supposed to look like something. 
This morning, I began by drawing and coloring a "Poisson Clown" which mostly everyone knows. (If you look very carefully, you can see where I colored over the lines into the white part of the little fish on the right, the one I am going to use for my modèle.)It is not exactly like Nemo, but the type of fish is certainly one that little kids might mistakenly think was Nemo.  Not that I want to make I want to make a clown fish cane, with dimensional fins. 
I have spent the last two hours mixing a batch of orangey-colored I can't take it straight out of the packages.  I did write down the "recipe" of the mixture, because, I NEVER make enough of the color I need.  So far, I have the eye made, the white 'stripes' and a sort of tail  If it comes together the way it is 'supposed' to, I will post a picture here.  Fish me luck!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Zen Doodle Inspirations

In my last most recent post, I indicated that I had used some of my amassed collection of pen and ink zen diagrams as inspiration for my polymer clay textures creations.  I tried to include this picture along with the post, but was having trouble including it with all the other material in that post so decided to use it by itself.  This is not my favorite Zen thing, but I think it gives the idea of what I was striving for.  If I had a chance to do a do-over in this one, I would have balanced it more, with some heavier coloration on the right.  The eye doesn't go to the little 'fat globule' on the lower right.  Also, in my spraghetti presentation arrangement, I think I would have not made the emerging balloon so lonely.  It does give it a balancing point, but there isn't enough foundation for it to maintain the equilibrium on its rather testy fulcrum.  But it does bring to mind the Cirque du Soleil, in one of its moments where the next movement would be a swing to the right!

School's Out for Summer

Okay, school is almost out but I thought I'd share this method for making a zentangle in polymer clay.  Since my original work with zentangles began as "a long string of spaghetti", I approached making the textures in the polymer clay in much the same manner. 
Instead of a piece of spaghetti, (TOO LIMP A NOODLE FOR MOI) I used a piece of linen string which I impressed into the scrap clay.  Perhaps there are too many "cells" or spaces in this one to fill.  I usually like to have a different texture/design in each discrete section, and this would mean  ... a lot of textures in small spaces and might be too busy.

After the impression is made with the string or thin cord, I next get my tools for impression making collected so that I can use them.  You can see in this photo that I have collected a few different bits and pieces, most of which have ends that can be manipulated into the clay.  I will use the ends on their sides, or points, or the whole thing.  Ya gotta improvise a little.  A drill bit used straight on will give one impression, and when used on its side will yield a completely different look.  The bits and pieces are parts of aluminum, brass or other metal cylinders, tubes, needles and whatnot.  The collecting of these things can be a trifle time-consuming and often that is the most fun.  Yes, I even have a clicker pen in there, as well as my trusty tracing wheel...something I cannot live without!
I realize this is a tad difficult to see due to the muddy color of the clay, but I think you can see the texture, even with this shoddy photo taken
with my blackberry. 

Originally, my inspiration for this adaptation in polymer clay came from an old art "lesson" that I used to do with my Grade Six students to get them to try to expand their repertoire of shading techniques.  I presented them with a "spaghetti noodle maze" and they had to fill each section with a different design or shading technique.  Over the years I have amassed a number of these that I have done on my own. The current zentangle-zendoodle approach in doing mixed media is nothing new.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Well these aren't exactly new pendants, just a revamping on a similar idea I've been toying with for a couple of years.  This time I whipped up a couple of colors, including a few of the new Premo shades, which I of course adapted through blending and such, and decided to try some textures instead of the same old same old reflections pendants.  In this particular series, I used only three basic colors and added funky textures. With the different textures and color placements I was able to do several perms and combs (no that is NOT hairstyling jargon) in composing a lot of various pendants.  For the textures on the upper layers, I used a sheet of foam protective material (like shelf liner), a piece of copper wire mesh and the small holes on the cheese grater.  How cheezy is that.  For the background bronzy part I used one of my favorite wallpapers and then brushed some Pearl-Ex combined with Fimo Pulver to create an interesting as yet undefined metal.  Add that to your Periodic Chart Dimitri Medeleev...The pendants look almost metallic until they are touched and then the clay reveals itself.  I am in the midst of preparing for a very busy week and weekend, so this post is short.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Crazy Days of Almost Summer

With the summer solstice less than a week away, it is high time for me to really get the motors in gear and get lots of stuff  done while the days are long.  We have many things on our plates these days, with the year end at school, visiting relatives, school reunions to attend, camp projects to plan, book club meetings, and did I mention that next weekend is the start of the summer market days?  My inventory is at a critical low and it is in desperate need of replenishing.  This sort of explains my absense from the blogworld lately, but I thought I'd steal a few seconds and at least post, even if I didn't have a picture. 

Days have been scheduled almost down to the minute and of course I don't stick to them absolutely, but at least writing To Do lists gives me an idea of things to prioritize so that I can keep my head above water.  I'd love to call the lists TA DAH lists, but that would mean everything was done. 

And so, since it is Friday, I'll call this a TaDah! because at least I got a little blog done!!!

Have a great weekend everyone and I hope to post after my next three days of heads-down concentrated work!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

On the Rocks

I recently had a request to make some light switch covers for a gal who was doing some re-decorating and she wanted to co-ordinate several shades of neutrals, blacks and browns.  After auditioning a couple of brown tone plates, I suggested that she try one of the rocks type that I have been making recently.  They are so organic and neutral, that they complement almost any décor. 

There are what appear to be several limey-green type rocks in this cover plate, but, they are not even close to green in real time.  The background (or cave interior like I refer to it) is not nearly as dark as this scan makes it appear.  In reality, it is more of an off-ivory, with antiqued areas of deep umber and light black. I haven't decided if it looks better with the double rock path near the bottom or up at the top.  That is the beauty of these can flip them up or down.

Getting textures that look natural onto these things is not as cut and dried as just using a texture sheet or plate.  As a matter of fact, I seldom use the "prepared" textures as some of them look too cookie-cutterish if you want to achieve natural textures.  Seldom in nature do you notices the same striations and cracks repeating every so many inches as you would get in using a prepared texture.

It's raining a bit here today, not heavily, thankfully, but enough to keep me out of the garden and busy in my clay area.  I've got a lot of clay things to get ready, so I can't be on this machine too long...But if later I hear the tinkle of ice cubes in a frosted glass, I will be sure to heed that little 'on the rocks' sound.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

On Board

Yesterday after teaching, I had an opportunity to visit the Titanic Exhibition of Artifacts.  I understand there are several of these exhibitions available to view all over the continent and I was really excited about going to this.  After all the hype in the movie of a few years ago, it was a calmer, more intimate, glimpse of what this historic event was all about. 

As we entered, we were each given a document which was in the name of one of the actual passengers, and a brief synopsis of their situation.  I was cast as Miss Edith Corse Evans of New York, age 36, and the reason for my travel was to return home after visiting cousins in Paris.  I boarded the ship in Cherbourg on the 10th of April, 1912.  Shortly before this, a fortune teller had warned Edith to beware of water.  We were told as we went "on board" that our fates would be revealed to us at the end of the visit.

There were so many artifacts to see and learn about--it was incredible that they were preserved in such wonderful condition, considering that they had been submerged for seventy-five or more years.  Following the recording of the items many of them have  been made available to be in the exhibits.  Of course they were encased in glass and a few of them showed signs of breakage, but a surprising number of them seemed to be complete and none the worse for wear and tear over time.  I love looking at such documents authentiques which are actual proof that an event took place. 

There were also recreations of several parts of the ships quarters, in addition to posters, and hand-held sound devices which all made the exhibition appeal to so many senses.  Of course the artifacts were untouchable, and highly sensitized; should anyone dare touch anything anything we were warned that an alarm would sound.  The one thing which was tangible was a huge formation of ice which was at the actual temperature of the icebergs.  I tried to put my hand on it for as long as possible, and it was less than a minute when I had to succumb. 

Nearing the end of the walk-through, we were introduced to a re-enactment of how the survivors got onto the life rafts.  There was a little problem-solving situation and an explanation of why so many lifeboats were not filled to capacity.  It was so tragic, but the play-acting helped bring home the feelings of how some folks just could not bear to be separated from loved ones.  However, it was difficult to comprehend why some of the unfilled lifeboats abandoned the ship being less than half full. 

At the conclusion of the exhibit was a list of passengers and their fates.  All of my travel companions made it to safety...sadly Miss Edith Evans did not.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Busy Weekend

After a very busy Saturday, which included an incredible walk to a movie (we were trying to save on gas and get some exercise) we had a blast watching Bridesmaids.  Lots of laughs from some way-too-talented people.  I did enjoy the walk, but it was a bit far for a first time effort.  My shoes were good, but the socks I had worn should have been a bit thicker. Next time I will be better prepared.

Today I spent the day organizing my summer calendar and filling out forms.  In the meantime, I got another call to participate in a summer art camp. I have done it before and it was fun. The theme is The Art of Craft and I'll be working with 9 to 14 year olds.  It runs for  a week, in the middle of July, and it's a day camp, so it's not like I'll be totally enveloped in teenage hormones.  But it will give me an opportunity to try out some cool techniques.  I still have two weeks to get my proposed classes ready. With all the other stuff I have on my plate for the next while, I am going to be scrambling.  Thank goodness I went to the movies yesterday!

What little time I had left to clay today was used making a couple of flower canes (I did a sunflower and a blue un-named speices).  I also made about five bangles, mostly using the sunflower cane, which have been sanded and buffed, but are not totally put together yet so unfortunately no pix of those.  And then I made this box with a faux ivory front.  It originally started with  a tear away transfer of a little village I had sketched, but after baking, and staining, I didn't care for the image that much so I sanded it away and buffed it until the ivory was gleaming! That's the beauty of this medium.  It is so 'malleable' that even in the midst of a project you can take a different route. I decided to do some carving and back filling in the ivory.  I didn't know where I was going with the carving, so it ended up a little unusual. 

Inside the box is a little book...really little, but it has all the important parts including covers, 5 signatures and the coptic bound spine enhanced with tiny beads which are mostly glass.  The finished piece doesn't fall into the realm of "pretty".  Does everything have to be "pretty"?  It is a solid piece and if it doesn't end up on someone's neck, it can do very nicely, thank you,  on one of the narrow 'columns' in my kitchen. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Almost forgot about Mother's Day stuff

Last week saw me very 'busy' in classes with kids.  Some were working on cards and a couple of groups did some polymer clay pendants for their Moms.  I hope they were well received.  The kids did an awesome job and I tried out a technique that I hadn't done with them before.  I was gifted with a 'supply' of foils for Christmas, and was able to use some of them in these faux dichroic (with a PS twist) pendants.  These were done by children (more than half were boys) in a fifth grade class.  Instead of using UTEE as the finish, I just gave them a couple coats of acrylic finish.  The kids liked them.   

New Books

Lately I have been frequenting book stores, partly to see what's new, and partly to spend my gift cards which I seem to be collecting.  I love just being able to go into a book store and pick an item or two and not feel the pinch in my wallet.  My last trip there was shocking to a decided 'non-reader' (I must admit that my English 201  prof would look scathingly upon me).  Of the twenty or thirty books that were on the most popular or "picks" list, I can honestly admit to having read at least 10 of them! One new one appealed to me and I skimmed a few pages of it.  I cannot remember the exact title but it was about the Brides of New France in the 1660's (Les Filles du Roi as I knew them when I taught about this concept to my Grade 6 Social Studies groups).  I am thinking that as soon as I finish my book club 'assignment' that book just may be my next purchase. 

Speaking of books, some books I have NOT seen were the journals I recently finished, or am in the process of completing.  One is for a gift, and the others, well, they might be gifts for up and coming graduates.  It is that season, and these art journals have become popular as graduation gifts.  They are unique, and to my mind, are ideal for starting out in a new phase of life.  When I talk to people about what to use the books for, I suggest that they not be used for shopping list or phone numbers, unless that is of importance to the owner.  Rather I suggest that these books become repositories for significant events, special quotes, sketches, or for keeping small photographs as in a mini-'scrapbook'.  Then they can be looked through in years to come as personal autobiographies.

This one, which has some dimensional sunflowers  on the cover, is particularly 'bright' even though this scan doesn't do it justice.  It is a bit on the small side, but that can be a plus so as to eliminate any fear of having to 'write too much'.  It does contain about 100 pages of archival vellum, so should last for a long time. 

The other one,which is in a sea-green-blue is done in a mokume gane
style, with a couple of strings of beads to match.  Its interior is a heavier weight cardstock, and I even included the measurements when I did the scan so I won't have to measure each time someone asks about it.  Of course the colors in the scan are a little "off"; the deep blues are a little more like turquoise in actuality and the darks are a little less intense.  The back is quite similar in the colors, but the mokume effect is totally different.  I realize that both these journals are linked to shades of blue and aqua.  It wasn't intentional but things sometimes go that way. 

This third one, sporting a Zen-doodle type cover, isn't quite finished.  I am undecided as to whether to enhance  the spine with corresponding beads, fibers, or leave it plain. I think I will wait for some direction on this.  I don't have the beads made, but can do them in the faux ivory as I have plenty of that plug made up.  I also scored on some luscious brown fibers recently and might just add a few of those to my constantly growing stash of mid-tone mixes.  Maybe I'll do a combination with some fibers and maybe one strand of beads.  Or another twist might to make some felted wool 'beads' in corresponding colors and use those.  I did that with a couple of funky items I made in Arizona. 

Speaking of things "States-side", I recently sent a couple of my journals as contributions to the Orlando  Polymer Clay Guild's Fandango Conference which is taking place very soon.  The funds raised during the auction of their collection of items will go to support that Guild's charity.  I would love to go and see what the folks down there are doing clay wise.  And I do miss going shelling along the gulf shore beaches ast we used to do during Christmas vacations when I was still teaching full time. I did keep a few of those shells, and every so often, they pop up as textures in my polymer clay work.