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.