Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Book Ends gone awry

I was going to post a couple of pictures of the newest books I'd finished and call them bookends...because I just finished them this morning and that marks the end of my polymer claying for this year.  But, as luck would have it, I got a new scanner on Christmas Eve, installed it and now don't quite know how to download the scans from it onto this blog.  So sorry...and there just isn't time now to do it.  We are spending Christmas Day with our family here on this VERY cold morning...but it's  all warm inside by the tree.  That egg nog certainly hit the spot! Wishing everyone that reads this a very Merry Christmas.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Move over Movember...

So I didn't grow a 'stache' for Movember this year...I figured why try!!! But there were some things I did try, like making some rolled paper beads for my books.  I have made paper beads before, but not from this type of paper.   I had purchased some very pretty mulberry paper in huge sheets a couple of months ago, and eventually found time to try making something from it.  (Not to mention I thought the paper would make a spectacular liner page for my book cover.)  I had purchased four or five colorful sheets and this one just happened to catch my eye this morning, and it seemed to blend in with the rust (hmmm, don't know if I go with that name) Lumiere paint I had used on some upcycled book boards. 

After painting the covers on both sides, I lined the inside with some torn bits of the mulberry paper and then proceeded to make a focal piece for the front of the book.  Actually, it's just some shards of textured polymer with a button in the middle that I will be sewing onto the cover through the holes when everything is complete.  The unfinished covers will be bound in the Coptic style (what else) and adorning the spine will be a few scrap beads along with two of the rolled paper beads that I bedecked with some wire, ribbon and a few glassbeads.  I hope it all comes together well.  I will be using a co-ordinating color of waxed binding cord and it should be good as I've used that color before with the brown-coppery tones of the book.
Unfortunately, the colors are not the same as they are in real time.  I am finding that the settings of my all in one printer-scanner (the one I bought to accompany my laptop) will have to be adjusted, but I haven't the time to play with that now.  Also, the quality of the scan is not as precise as the other scanner that I use with the big computer.  This does present other problems as well. The other day, I had sent a  sample scan of some light switch plates I was making for a gal, and after I compared the actual colors to the printed scan, they were significantly different. Even different from the picture on the computer screen.  So I had to do some quick clay blending and come up with a batc/blend of colors that was sort of in between the color of the scan and the actual sample.  I hope the colors I made are okay. 

So now with this busy month almost over, and only one more sales event (tomorrow), I can finish the remainder of my custom orders and start getting my own year end preparations ready.  December will be another busy month.  But then, that's the way. uh huh, uh huh, I like it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fish going mobile

This morning we heard what we hope were the last flocks of Geese flying south for the winter  Most of the rivers are frozen here and there's not one bit of ground that isn't covered with white stuff, so those geese who slept in over the weekend are going to have some rough weather ahead on their big flight.  We had a big dump of snow Saturday and Sunday, and it required four hours of shovelling to get the driveways, walkways and Molly's Happy Trail paths cleared.  Of course that shovelling wasn't all at one time; we prefer to do it gradually and not wear ourselves out. 

On the polymer clay front, I have been making a lot of fish...some for gifts, some as decorations, and some larger ones for galleries.  This one is a three part mobile with some fish not swimming in the same direction as his/her buddy fish...but when the mobile turns sometimes they all swim in the same direction.  It's not unlike the geese who take turns being the leader.  I had to lay the mobile flat so that all the fish could be seen because any slight breeze really makes them turn every which way. 

I've also been busy this weekend getting ready for a couple more shows and working on commissions.  I made a bunch of 'headdress canes' (my name for them as there really isn't a name...it's my own creation) in several different colours so that I could make some buttons, bracelets, pendants and a few other accent pieces from it.  I worked on a blue one, a green one, a purple-alizarin one and a darker one. I had to substitute some colours as my clay reserves are dwindling. I hope the colours work well when the items are baked.  They look good in the raw state of the cane and I hope they don't turn too dark.

Just before the big snow on Saturday, I tried to stock up on clay that was on sale, but sadly most of the colours that I needed were all sold out.  It never fails.  When I need clay, it seems so does everyone else.  Whose law is that?  Paula Merkeley's?

Speaking of substituting, I will be busy the rest of this week teaching middle school...filling in for a gal who is going to a conference in the south, probably near where the rest of the Canadian Geese are headed. Hope they enjoy the sun and absence of snow...if they miss it, I know where they can get some.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Buttons R Us

I have been so remiss about posting...life and stuff getting in the way.  This month has been the usual blur right from the get go.  A couple of two day shows, a piggy back event at The Forks (I was on TV for about 3 seconds in the background), a  serious heads-down compacted session of button makinig and a little road trip with my sister have gobbled up this month!  And with four days to go until my next show, I am dealing with a chest cold.  Maybe the frenzied activity has something to do with that, go figure.

Last month I signed up for a journal cover swap and sent the book (the blue and purple one posted in an earlier post) to Colorado Springs.  I received a beautiful set of covers back from my swap partner which (someday) I am going to make into my very own journal.

But no time to think of doing things for meself...gotta get going on inventory for this weekend at the University Women's Club Sale on Westgate.  That is a sale that I love to do each year...it's in a gorgeous mansion in the Gates area and I am going to be in the Wedgwood Room overlooking the River.  Here at home, in between coughing sessions, I have been hard at work supplementing my stock of sale articles.  I've also been trying to make a few fish hangings, but they keep disappearing.  I intend to send them to a gallery in Ontario if  can just keep them in the net!

I mentioned that I spent a few intensive days on button making.  Here is one of the sets that I made for a gal who makes quilted bags.  She sent me swatch images and I tried my best to match up the fabrics.  That's why there are several in each color grouping. 

I apologize for the dark backgroud and the fact that the scan is upside down.  I actually sewed these onto cardstock so that I could mail them in a big Tyvek envelope.  I hope they arrived safely.  I packed some sheets of fiberfill between and on either side of the cardstock.  Maybe she can use the fiber fill in her purses, lol.  Normally I put each button on an individual card, but didn't need to do that as they are all going to the same person. 
Now I am considering what I will do with my day today.
Option One:  Pull a Ferris Buhler today and phone in sick.  But since I am the principal and the teacher and the student all in one...who you gonna call?  (How can you tell I caught a few minutes of Ghost Busters this weekend?)
Option Two:  Keep my laptop in bed with me and watch the coverage of Sandy.  I hope "she" decides to change her mind and turn east into the ocean and disappear. 
Option three: Go to my clay table and roll my last couple of packages of clay for light switch covers. 
Stay tuned for the results! 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Hey Mr. Beadman

Okay, so I have used this title before, but it still works.  I recently completed this guy
who posed in a seated position for this photograph.  In this view, you can't see the beads which he is displaying between his outstretched arms.

In the view that follows, you can see how it's all put together, although I forgot to have a picture of the back taken. 

When viewing the back, his cape is lifted up slightly at the hem, and in that section I put a little label, along with six Chinese characters in cane slices which say "good luck"
 as I hope luck will always be with him and his surroundings in his future travels.

The larger beads in his display are polymer and I have integrated a variety of other types in a coordinated palette, and they are a mixture of metal, glass, wood, seeds and pearl-types.  I like making these figures, although there's a fair bit of intermediate planning involved. There are a lot of things to consider when doing a compositions such as this, like... Do you add the hands (which I sculpt at the same time as the face) before the cape is put on or after?  I never write the process down for these wall dolls when I make them, and I suppose I would save myself having to rethink everything if I did make some notes at least.  However, I love doing these characters spontaneously as I feel that way they come together more 'intuitively'.  It is as if I am on some sort of roll, and don't want to interrupt the flow of ideas.

During the final assembly, I did run out of beads, as my original plan was just to have four strands hanging from his midsection. I changed it to eight when I started stringing them to help balance him out.  I had to remix a batch of clay for the beads between his hands, but since his bead display is just as spontaneous as my original work, it all comes together somehow.

One other thing I should mention regarding the composition is that after the second (and successive) bakings of the face, I cover the face completely and wrap any other light colored parts in cloth and fibre-fill.  These parts may get too dark after being in the oven for a total of more than four hours.  I  antiqued his face after the first baking which may have been in error, but I wanted to do that before I added the whites of his eyes.  For those, I simply inserted small round bits of white polymer in the orbit cavities I had originally created for the eyeparts.  I added a tiny spot of dark pigment for the iris/pupil part, which is barely discernable.

I suppose I could have gone the 'mold' route and made his face and hands less 'ethnic' but I wanted to retain the hand-made character of this guy rather than resort to using someone else's facial creation.  So, even if they're not anatomically perfect, his features
 are his and no one else's

He will be on display at thenext weekend's sale in Dryden, ON, and with that reminder, I'd better get to work.  For us, Thanksgiving is going to be chicken with a few trimmings as the majority of our family will be either at dog shows or out of town. 

Sometimes I need to be thankful for peace and quiet.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Hitting the books, polymer style

This is usually the time of year when hubby hosts his walleye derby, but lately he hasn't been holding this tournament.  Inasmuch as he enjoys seeing the fellows and gals out on the "Red", the amount of work involved is immense, and there just aren't enough hours in the day for the two of us to do all the work, especially the last minute sort.  So sadly, no greenbacks were running on the Red this past Saturday.  I did make a little 'commemorative' fish however, and if the derby had gone on, I would think this one would have been a keeper.

This photo shows it a little "greener" than it actually is, but the
Skinner blend does progress through shades of
green to a beauteous blue hue (boo hoo).
Here is the flip side! (It's the chubbier one)
As well as making fish, I have been preparing for a couple of two-day sales in the month of October.  On the weekend of the 12-14th, we will be heading to Dryden where we'll take part in their annual Art and Holiday event at the beautiful Eagle's Landing Country Club.  I'm getting lots of home accent pieces ready as well as making some handbound books.  Here's one that I recently finished:

I don't think I've ever done one in this combination of colors and I am pleased with how it turned out, even though it's very abstract.  The cane slices I used are from two separate 'headdress canes' that I had made and the window  pane part is one element of that.  There is plenty of texture on both covers and the inside has some cool deckled vellum type papers. 

The following weekend (the 19th and 20th) I will be at the Headingley Arts and Crafts Sale in our city.  I decided not to participate in the Scattered Seeds Craft Sale that is normally on at this time.  I did well at it last year, but found that the hours were impractically long for me, and I just couldn't put my body through twelve hours of standing on a concrete floor for successive days.  It is a huge event and throngs of people attend but I opted for the more personal, less crowded event. 

Today, and a couple other days in the next few weeks will find me in the classroom, so intersperse that with Turkey Day on the 8th and there's the makings of a busy month!

It is a beautiful, warm morning and the leaves are all shades of yellow, brown, rust and red...fortunately they are still on the trees.  Would be a lovely day for a drive...who knows.  Maybe someone will treat me to one after school today!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Parrot sings "A Pirate's Life". [VIDEO]

Parrot sings "A Pirate's Life". [VIDEO]:

I don't normally spend much time on Facebook, but today as I was taking a quick peek through some friends' posts, I came across this little exerpt.  I love the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World and go on it everytime, and sing the song too. 

A couple of weekends ago I was prompted to make some animal sculptures and did this hanging bird.  It's not a parrot and it's not a toucan...it's a new species.  I apologize for the quality of the picture...I just scanned it on the scanning bed. If I have time I will take a proper photo later. 

Just had to do this for some fun.

The bird is about 9 inches from top to tail and the entire hanging is about four feet long so it goes perfectly in a sunroom, gazebo...anywhere where you need a little frivolity.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fall Wedding Book

With the weather changes we've been experiencing here the past couple of days, it is apparent that Fall is fast approaching.  Even the leaves have started to turn--something we noticed as we took a drive yesterday.  It seems they changed almost overnight.  They aren't in full colour yet, but soon...

Fall weddings are certainly something to behold.  We ourselves got married in the throes of a really cold winter, and if we could do it all over again,  fall would have been a much better choice, lol.    One of our cousins is getting married soon, and I volunteered to make their guest book.  I didn't do it in the traditional white, but used the colors suggested by the couple for the covers.

I made the little pen and the holder to accompany the book.The approximately 100 pages inside are a nice quality paper with a beautiful deckle on the edge.  I also did a little calligraphy on the title page, while others were left blank.

The pen is a standard style pen that I've made quite often, but I usually don't add as many flowers and decorations.  Heck...this is a wedding and if you can't go for "BIG" on that celebration day, when are ya gonna? 

I should've added "Ever vine" cuz I did intertwine some vines on this page after it had been photographed!

And speaking of "BIG", some of you know that I am a Sex and the City fan, and have the movie on my DVD almost all the time.  I put it on when I can't sleep (not that it's boring).  Big seemed to like this Beethoven quote, and so I thought I'd add it here.

Friday, September 7, 2012

So now that the summer sales are over, it's back to school and the drawing board, infused with other events like fund raisers, mixers and an artsy-type get together this evening.  Pretty busy schedule for a stay at home like me.
On Wednesday, we had our "Un-Back to School" Reunion, hosted by my former teaching buddy "L'autre PS" (we taught at the same school and would tease each other about our initials).  It was wonderful  to get togethr and hear and see about their activities. Not to mention, the clanging of the ol' school bell while the kids were beckoned back and we just socialized.

Last evening, I attended the Manitoba Wildlife Federation Fundraiser and was invited to display my polymer clay creations as part of a select group of Artists belonging to Uniquely Manitoba.  We each donated a piece for auction and were treated to a delightful dinner at the Victoria Inn here in our city.  The evening was a busy one with auctions and draws, as well as special appearances by football and other sports personalities.  It was a great networking opportunity and a chance to meet some of the other artists that belong to Uniquely Manitoba. I had originally intended to donate my ivory book, but alas, it sold last weekend so donated a wine decanter instead.

In preparation for that I had to go out and buy a new printer so I could have some brochures available.  My old Deskjet was out of ink and the replacement cartridges were more than the price of my new all in one printer, scanner copier etc. that even prints pages that I can send from my Blackberry.  It was a bit of a learning curve for me to get all that technology set up, but after a few hours of set up, all the pages, business cards and assorted promo stuff was all done.  All I had to do was cut the cards and fold the brochures...I am surprised the machine didn't do that too.

Needless to say, the little robots inside my new machine were not quite up to the hype as shown in the Google sign for today.  If you haven't tried it, pressing on certain characters within the sign leads to a cute little animated game...so if you are inclined, just go to www.google.com and see what fun awaits. 

Later on this afternoon we are going to attend an artsjunction gathering...so much socializing!  When will I have time to Clay?  I promised to make a Guest Book for a wedding for the end of the month...yikes.  I have the clay now just need to get going!  I promise to post a picture of it when it's done.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Preparing for a three day sales event (Morden here we come!)

I realize that light switch covers similar to this have been posted on this blog before, but I snapped these quickly with my Blackberry just before I decided to post.  I am getting ready for Morden (and another sale on September 1st) and I don't have much time to set up apparatus and do a proper photo shoot.  Besides, with my 'stuff' all over the dining room and overflowing into the living room, finding a place in the house with good lighting is becoming difficult. 

It absolutely confounds me how much TIME is involved in getting ready for events such as these. Of course the initial time involved in making my polymer and mixed media items is the first consideration, but the  preparation and  other things that are involved in setting up for the sale is the most misleading.   I doubt that the people who visit us in the venues consider the making of appropriate carding, the attaching to cards,  the packaging, the pricing, the packing up and schlepping all the stuff to the sale require an inordinate amount of time and energy.  Thanks to hubby's driving to the venue, I will at least have a couple of extra hours to do some of the carding and attaching that is usually done last minute.  I have my little basket of scissors, tags, thread and assorted paraphernalia all ready to go with me in the front seat and have my 'list' of stuff to take in a place where I can check it off easily.  Fortunately, we do not have to set up our own tent at the Morden Corn and Apple Festival.  It takes long enough once we arrive to unload the car, set up the tables, drape the tables and display fixtures, arrange the lighting and try to remember how to position the items to make optimal use of the 10 by 10 spot allocated to us. 

Setting up is always exhausting, and at Sioux Narrows, a minor tragedy befell us.  As I was wheeling some stuff from the car into the building, one of my boxes with a large glass structure slipped from where it had been precariously positioned in the booth onto the cement floor, and of course I don't have to tell the rest.  The piece is not salvageable, except as a garden decoration for one of my friends.  I am hoping she will be able to grind down the glass part to something wild and extraordinary, and let the polymer part become yet another piece in her already enchanting wooded garden. I realize now that I should have packed that in a more secure box...but it was a large structure and...oh well...

Hopefully, all will fall into place this weekend, (notwithstanding the unfortunate event of last sale) and that all items, including the fragile ones, will make it to their spot in the display without a mishap.  At least these light switch covers are durable as "rock" and should not suffer any hardships in transport.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Never a Dull Moment

As usual, my life is full...so many things happening, so much to do, so many things undone.  So what do I do?  Make buttons, among other things.  We had a wonderful but short visit to Wisconsin after the fabulous visit to Sioux Narrows and since then, well...our lives have been a blur.  How anyone could be bored in this life is beyond me.

On my clay table have have been many items, as I am trying to augment my stock.  Taking two weeks off from claying really shows inventory-wise, especially when I have two weekend sales coming up shortly.  Here are some of the buttons I have been working on.   I realize this group is a rather unharmonious collection, but I am constantly having to make up new and different styles. For me, I just like to make them up as I go along.  I find if I put too much "thought" into them, they look contrived and that is not the effect I am trying to acheieve.  Most of these here have snippets of leftover canes in them, and a few sort of hint at Halloween, but with one event coming up next Friday, I have to have all sorts of styles ready. 

I will be in the Morden Corn and Apple Festival Arts and Craft Tent in the same location that I have been in for the past couple of years.  I am hoping the weather will be nice.  If it is like today, it will be just perfect.  Not too hot, and partly cloudy, but just pleasant enough for folks to enjoy all the carnival-like atmosphere. 

That town is so friendly...the last time I was there was nearly three months ago when we went to the Baseball Hall of Fame Induction ceremony.  Coincidentally, they were having a car show on the main street...Seems they love to close off their main thoroughfare to just have a wonderful time in that town.  My nephew had his spiffy new vehicle on display. 

As well, I have been trying to keep up with making light switch covers. I have about two dozen that are waiting to be finished right now.  Some need antiquing, some need sanding and buffing--like I said...my life is a blur. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Binding and stringing along...

Here is the information about the Victoria Beach Sale that will be happening this weekend.  I am nearly 'ready' for it, but anyone who knows me also knows that I am never totally prepared ahead of time, and use every spare minute sewing things onto cards and tweaking any little thing that can be tweaked.  My set -up will be slightly different this go round, as I have a few new display shelves that I will be adding onto the table that is supplied.  I hope to be adding more new elements to my space as time progresses so that it is more personal and not just a 'table'.  The space at the sports club is rather limited though, so may not be able to proceed with a total 10 by 10 space as is usually available in other venues.  I hope the weather won't be too hot...the building is ancient and the air conditioner is noisy and not very efficient.  It is though, the beach, so one can't expect all things to be as citified as they would be in a modern showplace.  The atmosphere is so laid back and shirts and shoes (for some) are almost optional.  Lots of the folks come in wearing their bathing suits or cover-ups and it's nice to be in such a comfortable and casual setting.  That is not to say that the art work and other items on display are casual...quite the contrary.  For a beach setting, the quality is surprisingly sophisticated.  The organizers, Merrilee and Nancy Lou are very accommodating and do a terrific job, which unfortunately often does not get mentioned.  Kudos to them!!

Hubby Dan and Marvelous Molly will again be located in the foyer of the building.  For the past several years they have helped to 'man' the table that supports the local East Beaches Animal Shelter.  Molly is so blind unfortunately, that she won't be able to see all the passers-by, but I am sure she will be as welcoming as ever, enjoying all the lovable pats and strokes that she gets from the patrons.  And she will welcome the occasional doggie kiss that she will get from furry friends who accompany their humans to the sale.  All the pets that come are so well behaved, one hardly notices that they are there. 

I have been working on some new additions to both the home and personal accent pieces that I will be bringing.  These are photos of the front and back of a new artist journal that I am putting together..it will be ready...I just have to bind it together.  The covers are so warm and tactile.  It is hard to tell which should be the front or the back.  If I hadn't put my name on the inside cover, one would have been able to use the book from both sides, seeing as how the pages are blank.   That makes me wonder if I should make my next journal reversible.

For one of the inserts (in what I designated as the front cover), I used the tear away technique and then stained the impressions with Liquitex burnt umber.  I also used that for the antiquing on the faux ivory.  On the back, the insert was done with a different texture.  I doubt that one will know what it is unless I tell.  Would you venture to guess?  It isn't a contest, but if anyone thinks they know, they can email me and I will disclose the source.  It is a type of texture that I use very often, and I have several 'types' like this and am always on the lookout for more interesting ones that come out amazingly well when used with certain clays.  I have beads for the spine but have not decided if I will add them, thinking that it might be overkill.  I might leave the binding cords long, and make the addition of beads an "optional" thing...

One other thing that is new will be the Kumihimo cords that I've worked on for the last 6 to 8 months.  Last year I made myself a kumihimo loom as I couldn't wait to order one and it was so simple and costless to make.  I have made about 10 necklace length cords and now I just have to finish the beads to match.  Since the cords produced with the Kumihimo are rather thick, it is good to have the cording made first, so that the beads can be fashioned with large enough holes to accommodate the cording.  Otherwise, it is a struggle to get the fibres through.  I have an interesting palette of yarns and fibres that I have accumulated for the cords, and will have a small sample of the finished necklaces at Victoria Beach and a few more at next weekend's sale.

And now it is time to wrap things up and get busy with the rest of my binding and stringing.  No doubt I will be stringing the last necklace as we make the one hour drive up to the beach on Saturday morning. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

What's that smell?


So I have been away from the computer for the past week or so, and here is what I have been seeing in the evenings while doing 'nothing' during the days.  I was at Victoria Beach for most of this past week, sweltering during some hot and humid weather.  Of course, the beach beckoned, but with the recent fish fly period, even the finest sand couldn't draw me there as the beach wasn't at its most beautiful, and the stench was rather choking.  The smell only lasts for a couple of days and now it is mostly gone.  During the evenings however, the weather was much cooler and the views of the sunset you see here attest to the beauty of the location, even though I took these pictures with my lowly Blackberry. 
Now that I am back in the city, I will begin (in earnest) some polymer clay work as I have a couple of big sales coming up at the end of this month (one at the very location where these photos were taken) and the other in our neighboring province during the August long weekend.  I have made a few innovative pieces and am working on some cache coffrets.  I just made the lavender sachets for them as I have been in sewing mode for the past two days. 
First I made a 'crop top' blouse which I am hoping to paint, and then finished up with these easy little lavender pockets.  I had this fucshia organza which I assembly line stitched and then filled them with the lavender.  The 'scoop' was made about six years ago from polymer clay.  It was the perfect size to fill the pockets.  I love using hand constructed implements or ancient 'found items' when I am doing my art work.  It just makes them so much more "authentic". 

When I was putting the lavender in the bags with my little scoop, I felt like some old apothecary in a chemist's shop...all that was missing were the myriad drawers of herbs or other ingredients that would go into concocting some potion or cure-all.

Here are the steps...easy enough.  First I sewed the bags, then turned them open with this old looping tool, and then there's the scoop filling the bag and finally the finished little item.  They each hold approximately one teaspoon full of lavender, which is enough to make a cup of tea or just to provide enough fragrance to make you think about the fields from whence they came.

Here are the finished bags, all tied and ready to be put into their little receptacles. 
You can also see the little scoop.  I remember making these...a real made-from-scratch invention.  I do enjoy doing those kinds of projects when time permits. 

And now, as time is fleeing, I had better get on to my real work for  the day....

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Stringing on a vine

NOW What...excuses excuses.  Well it is nearly a MONTH since I last wrote in this blog, and it hasn't been because I have nothing to write about...quite the contrary, but honestly, I have not had a minute to spare.  I have done the least polymer clay (personally) than in a very long time, but that's not to say that the stuff hasn't been in my hands.  I did a lot of projects with kids over the last few weeks, including Peace Sign necklaces with several groups of Fifth and Sixth graders.  That was to celebrate their "Project Peace" production that they performed over a month ago.  The pendants were traditional peace signs that the kids decorated with flower motifs or other groovy symbols.  They were strung on leather cords (I hesitate to call them thongs as they would have been called years ago) and some kids chose to put them on their foreheads...flashback to the groovy sixties!!

Then a couple of weeks ago I worked with kindergarten children and first graders making father's day key chains.  The kids made little fish....heads with fishlips. a caned eye (that I provided for them) a segmented (beaded) body and a tail that was impressed between two scallop shells.  They turned out very cool and when done, I helped to thread them onto bead wires and attached a key ring onto them.  The kids had fun making them and hopefully their dads or grandpas might even use them for their boat keys or something.

The only clay thing I have done personally was to make a couple dozen 'random' beads from leftover canes.  They are suitable for book marks and hopefully I will get those done before the Canada Day event on Osborne next weekend. 

My time has been so limited because I am working every day at least half day and the preparation and year end stuff is very time consuming.  I will be almost as happy as the kids when school lets out for summer this coming Friday!

I have several sales coming up in July and August, so I will be using those "holidays" to stock up on inventory.  I have some orders that I've had to put on the back burner...the only other thing that I've cooked since June 4th was some delicious dolmades that I made today.  The grape vine leaves are so tender that I picked scads of them, blanched them and then froze them.  But the three dozen that I actually made into dolmades today won't make it through the week.  They were so  yummy....

That's the end of the grape vine today....

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Buttons: The Old, the New, and the Bizarre

Well, you can't really tell it's me in here, unless you know me REALLY well, lol and I just wanted to feature the buttons on this silk jacket so there's no face on this pic.  The big blue button is a triangular type that I made several of in March and April.  The brown ones were made by a friend from Victoria.  They are lucious brown and black ones with an 'animal' feel to them.  Even though the brown and blue buttons weren't made together, I liked the way they seemed to fit on the jacket.  I got the jacket a while back and didn't like the original buttons or the fit of it, so I 'altered' it to make it a little more wearable. 

The brown and black buttons were made for a button swap that I hosted for the Clayamies' group in 2002.  Talk about keeping them for a long time! I did not want to discard/lose them and at the time, did think they'd be used eventually on something and here it is ten years later and WALLA!
Probably there are about a dozen or so more folks out there who have buttons similar to these brown ones.  I wonder what we all did with them?  If you were in that Button Swap a decade ago, you might like to know that I still have an original copy of Polymer Cafe, where the buttons were pictured in an article that I wrote.  Unfortunately, it's been handled a lot, as it has been with me ever since I got the copy.  Silly me...now it's a collector's item but since I didn't keep it in "pristine" condition it is only valuable to me as a keepsake.  I would NEVER part with it.  Some things just are meant to be keepsakes. I hope Liz didn't mind my sharing her buttons with you! Thanks Liz.

Speaking of keepsakes and things "remembered",  this week will be a big family get together with much of our family.  My cousins will be arriving from California and Arizona to celebrate their father's induction into our Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame.  He was a pitcher with semi-pro clubs here and also in some other leagues, before the Goldeyes, our current local team, was established.  There is going to be a ceremony next Saturday inducting him into the hall of fame, along with a banquet that the entire family will be attending.  The next day, there will be an announcement of his (and others') induction into the Hall at the Sunday afternoon Goldeye's Game where we'll also be.
The world is small and crazy.  It turns out the the present 'head' of the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame grew up only two blocks away from me in and was in my class from Grade Four until we graduated from Grade 12, except for Grade 8 when we were put into all-girls or all-boys classes. I remember sitting across from him in Grade 11 Chemistry Class.  I knew he was a sports fanatic even then, but I think baseball was his favourite sport.  On the side of his text book, in ballpoint ben was written:  Al Kaline.  Now, who's to say if that was the baseball player of the day or a play on words of the group of chemicals called alkaline's which we happened to be studying that year. And by the way, he too went on to become a teacher.  I wonder what he would have said to his students in later years if they had been caught writing on the outside pages of THEIR textbooks, lol.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Victoria Day Weekend

 So it was Victoria Day yesterday.
What started off as a rather gloomy weekend, became quite the opposite.  Even though it rained pretty steadily in the morning on Saturday, it did stop by mid afternoon. One of my friends and I had a blast garaging yhat morning, then went to see "The Dictator" around noon, and then headied out for the lake for overnight.  We stayed with some of her family at their cottage in Victoria Beach...like it WAS  the beginning of the Victoria Day Weekend, so why not match up the Day with the Place.  Our time there was very agreeable, although a walk to the actual beach was only that.  Unfortunately, the closest actual beach part was cordonned off, due to erosion and the steps leading down to the sand were boarded up.  There were a few folks walking at the water's edge, but I was not one of them; having decided that the weather wasn't that entrancing and I wasn't being "called" to walk there.  If it had been a couple of degrees warmer, and earlier in the day, I might have been lured to dip my toes in at least.  We did sit out on the porch with a morning coffee the next day, and even that small little relaxing time in the fresh air was enough to rejuvenate my spirit.  There's something to be said about being at the beach; maybe it's the air that just make one feel different and ready to take on or complete projects that previously had not been attended to or started.

For the remainder of the weekend (we came back late afternoon on Sunday), that was indeed the case.  I finished planting the few perennials that I needed to fill the front shade garden and filled several  containers with some of the larger annuals I had chosen.  The remaining perennials went into the back garden after selectively pulling out a few wandering ferns that had decided to sprout where they weren't wanted.  Now, I realize I need a couple more varieties of annuals just to fill in two or three empty spots and maybe make a bit more of a border around the back garden.

On Monday, I received an email inviting me to participate in an early June outdoor event to be held in a nearby town called Oakbank.  It's almost a suburb, but still has that 'country' feel as there are several ranches and farms surrounding it.  About fifteen hundred new homes have gone up in the area; I hope it doesn't lose its country flavour. for the Art Exposition, I think I will only take home or outdoor accent pieces to show, and not bring along any jewelry type polymer pieces.  Maybe I will take some buttons too....

On my polymer clay table, at mid morning, I began working on a fish specimen.  It'll be a keeper.  Not that big, but with trademark lips and almost-human eyes.  (I have to 'humanize' it somehow.)  Hopefully I can post a picture of it in a couple of days.

Speaking of posting a picture....On Saturday, just before we went to the movie, I stopped into my favourite book store, McNally Robinson, and came across the recent edition of Polymer Café.  I was very interested in one of the cover features...a faux dichroic pendant.  I bought the particular issue, and when I looked at the method for doing it, I just about flipped.  I know the method isn't a  trademark secret, but still was quite amazed to see the pendants written up in that magazine.  It was almost exactly what my last year's fifth Grade students did for a Mother's Day project, except for the coating of resin. (And, since that was their first experience at working with polymer, the quality of the published project was considerably more refined.) I am sorry that the pictures aren't stored on this computer, but if you look in my posts from last year's May 9th, 2011 Blog post, (Mother's Day Pendants), you will see the pendants that I am talking about.  I guess what goes around comes around.  When I saw the students and their teacher earlier today, I told them that they were a year ahead of being famous, lol.  So if anyone is interested in making one like that, go buy the current issue.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mother's Day School Projects

It's only a few more days until Mother's Day and as usual, I have been busy in schools making polymer clay things with kids who want to make a 'craft' for their Moms.  I hope I am not spoiling any surprises for the Moms out there that will be receiving these. This one's a pretty basic pendant, but it's one that has a fair bit o' glitz, thanks to the faux dichroic technique that is done with some Jones-tones like foils.  I apologize for the big glare in the center...I had to take the picture with my Blackberry and the conditions were not such that I could set up any photo taking arena...
In the other workshops that I did, we made other faux dichroic works, although with the one kindergarten class, we  rolled pre-measured polymer clay and made colored bead in two of each of the colors. This is part of the sets of beads on skewers just after they had been taken from the oven.  A few of the beads got mixed up in the actual shish-kabobbing, but we got them all straightened out in the distributing phase.  As you can see, we also made one larger focal bead that was done in one of the bead colors and added a few prepared cane slices to make it special.  In the first class with the little kids, I stressed the colors, shapes, and showed them how to transform cube into spheres and discs.  I think this is an important part in conceptualizing the vocabulary, and the hands on approach really helps to ensure understanding of the terms.  In the follow up class, I discussed symmetry and other age appropriate curricular aspects and the kids had a chance to see the different possibilities in arranging symmetrical designs for their necklaces. They put their beads on their necklaces yesterday and they were pretty proud of the way they turned out.  I noticed that over the course of rolling ten or more beads, their techniques became significantly better and I hope some day that some of them will carry those techniques into projects of their own. 

Today will be the last of the faux dichroic workshops, as I have to bake the items at home and return them to the children so the items can be wrapped up and prepared for gifting to Moms.  All the items that have been made have really turned out well...Hope the moms like them!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A tribute to this day

Cinqo de Mayo, May 5th, First Saturday in May...no matter what you call it, this day has extra special significance for me because it marks the 100th anniversary of the day my Mother was born.  It's my "Mother's Day" and if she were still alive, I would probably be gifting her with some buttons, or some other creation so she could add it to her own work. 

My mother was such a fabulous artisan...in the fibre sense.  In her lifetime, I can recall her making or creating every article of clothing and accessories from shoes to hats and everything in between, from her own hands.  Some of the items that I can recall seeing her make ranged from shoes woven from raffia, knit slippers, many pairs of knitted socks; skirts of every variety from 50's poodle-type skirts, to kilts, golf "skorts" worn by myself and our Manitoba Golf Team,  to velvet circle skirts worn by several teams of cheerleaders; all sorts of pants, trousers, capris, even some "strides" that my sister wore; and up through blouses of every genre: embroidered, smocked, tatted, with pintucks and 'roushing' (I don't know how to spell it but I can say it); knit sweaters of absolutely every variation, design and type, hand woven fabric which became dresses and suits; bridal and prom gowns in every luxurious fabric known to tapissieres; and all sorts of accessories including scarves, leather gloves, pillbox hats, tuques and every other type of head covering including a heart 'crown' which I wore to a dress-up golf day while masquerading as the queen of hearts. 

Her creations didn't end at clothing...she knit, sewed, wove, leathered and fancified all sorts of purses and other accessories for homes and for other decorative purposes. If it was doable, she was the woman who could do it.  Her talent superceded the 'crafts people' of today.  She was a designer...professionally unschooled, but with such a natural bent for creating out of 'stuff' that, had she been so inclined, she could have given every designer alive today something to strive for. 

But she wasn't out there to seek 'followers'...she was a sharing, giving woman, who gave of her talents and abilities for free.  During the thirties when she was first 'acknowledged' as a fine craftswoman, many people in our city sought her out to make bridal gowns, as she could make whatever the person wanted, sans pattern, and it looked gorgeous.  She just had that know-how knack of taking a flat piece of 'schmatta' and fashioning it into a fabulous creation that FIT!!! How many times did brides-to-be come to her, seeking out a gown, and because money was so tight in those days, my Mother would make the gown as her 'gift' to the couple.

And in her giving, she gave me life.
They don't make them like that anymore. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spring's the Thing

This Saturday, I will be participating in a Spring Craft Event at a place called "Springs".  How appropriate.  I have been busy culling some of my inventory and replacing some of my stuff with new items.  One of the pieces is this:
I was originally going to use these beads to accompany a much larger focal bead that I had made.  That focal bead is about four inches long and I decided that the whole thing might be too heavy, so I split it into two items...this combination of it is in very 'springy' colors, n'est-ce pas?

The larger focal bead still has to be worked into a suitable setting.  But here it is as just a bead itself:  You might be able to see some of the elements I've included in it.  First, I did a zentangle drawing, made a photocopy of it, and then incorporated it into the bottom part of this bead by transferring it onto some green shimmery clay.  This bead took quite a while to make.  The layering, the backfilling, sanding and buffing seem to be unending jobs.
I still haven't decided how it will be accommodated into a larger neckpiece, but hopefully between now and Saturday I will have a brainstorm and it will turn out. 

I have finished getting all my buttons onto cards, and am just about done getting all my inventory sorted out.  I am short on a few types of items, but I am sure there will be enough. 

I do have to mention one not soooo positive thing.  The new blogger system isn't completely foolproof...Last Sunday when I posted about my buttons, I was in a hurry and didn't get to write all I wanted to.  A few hours later, when I went to edit the button entry, I made a lengthy report about the acknowledgment of some of the contributors to my buttons.  A few of the cane pieces were from the cane swap that I participated in when I was in Arizona, and I wanted to get that into that particular post.  Well, after an hour of typing, searching, naming and identifying, I lost that whole piece of work and can't retrieve it anywhere.  It is somewhere in cyberspace...So to my Arizona Polymer Clay Guild friends whose cane slices are in some of those buttons, I apologize for not including your name by the particular buttons.  I am sure you know who you are.  Could you please comment and say which one of you contributed which part to those buttons?  With my very busy schedule this week (I am teaching every single day, at least half time) I just won't be able to get the names and reposting done on that blog. 

Yesterday, in a grade 6 class, a girl was working on a report she had made for her World War II Museum assignment.  She had been working very diligently on a particular program on her laptop, and came to me almost in tears near the end of the period because she couldn't retrieve her work.  I know exactly how she felt after spending so much time creating an entry that just 'disappears' due to a malfunction of some program...I hope we can both learn from those experiences.  There are still things to be said about having stuff..."in writing"...  It's a hard thing, but the expression, 'just suck it up' is front and center in my mind right now.

Now, it's back to the grind.  I have two hours before I have to leave for my teaching assignment.  In that time, I hope to accomplish great things.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

New Polymer Buttons

I am still getting accustomed to this new set  up of blogger.  I had written a whole bunch of edits and I can't find them anywhere.  Woe is me.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A little off the beaten track and a little Zen

This Zentangle was done some time ago, but it made me think about the two ducks Molly and I encountered during one of our morning sorties...and that I later saw on a little trek by the creek at the corner of our street.

It's been so long since I have posted, I feel a little guilty....but not THAT guilty since my mind has been working and so have I.  Since returning from the desert southwest, and getting over that ugly bout of the twenty-four hour flu that seemed to permeate our park, I have been busy.  Not doing so much polymer clay, but the back burners are definitely staying on, with lots of projects perking.

First thing on the to do list when we returned, was to restock our cupboards, le frigo, the wine cabinet and other storage places.  Then we hosted Easter Brunch (at 1 in the afternoon that may be a misnomer, but no worries) for 8 of our family and friends. The centerpiece consisted of a bunch of little 'giftees' wrapped in cellophane, since I didn't have time to decorate eggs or hide them or even to find a lot of little chocolate bunnies and make confusing, bewildering clues.  Besides, the weather wasn't that nice, so we kept the hunt to the dining room table. (There was no hunt in finding the food...as usual we ate for the rest of the week on what I had prepared, lol.)

Then this week it was back to work with kids.  I actually enjoyed going back and had lots of different experiences.  Everything from Junior Kindergarten to middle schools with attitudes... It is really amazing to watch kids from different areas and backgrounds and to come to some conclusions that might seem obvious about their behavior, but I will keep those to myself.  On Friday, I had a delightful class in a school close to where I taught for many years.  The principal was even one of my former Grade Nine students.  We had a couple of laughs and enjoyed those with the fifth grade class I was working with. 

I had intended to reward that group with a little art lesson, but instead chose to stay with the teacher's plan since they were working so WELL, even up to five minutes before the weekend buzzer.  I HAVE TO SAY...that they were one of the hardest working, intent, and conscientious groups ... something I really didn't expect, but was as I said, a delightful experience. 

What I wanted to share with them, I will share with you.  I wanted to give them a glimpse into the Zentangle idea that I've bandied (bandaid!!! lol) about from time to time.  Speaking of Bandaid solutions, whenever I (as a substitute) get a class that either deserves or needs a break from the regular routine, I have a little bag of tricks that can be classified as 'art' that I spill for them.  I intended to do this as a video presentation, but with hubby having a new camera, we still haven't worked out all the quirks of adapting the video features to the computer.  I am sure it won't be long.  The videos are made, we just have to get them 'functioning'.

Originally this afternoon I was intending to go to the theatre and watch Live at the  Metropolitan  for the presentation of La Traviata.  I have seen it many times before, so opted instead to listening to it live on the KBAQ stream.  So it is still accompanying my typing as I do this.  I am thoroughly enjoying it.  Violetta doesn't go into violenta coughing spasms as does Mimi in La Boheme,  and Verdi's harmonies are gorgeous, even though  I can never forgive the elder Germont for keeping Violetta from her beloved.  But, if you are not into opera, I won't bore you with the storyline any longer, and will get on with my own little chef d'oeuvre....lol.

Here it is ... a little Power Point Presentation on making a Zentangle.  Something that, if you are so inclined, you may use.  It's geared to a younger crowd, and is a little 'non-professional' in that the printing is a little hokey and not always  ... straight.  Hopefully I will be able to use it when I go in to middle school groups next week and the week after.  It's the first powerpoint presentation I've made on my own, even though I've been in lots of computer classes where the procedure has been taught.  I hope I picked up on some of the right things to do...sadly I didn't use any color, and there are no 'pictures' per se, only scans of some of the work I would use to demonstrate the topic if I were teaching it. I did try to get some Zen music in the background, but I don't think I was there for that lesson so I will have to ask a kid in one of the grade 6 classes I'll be teaching how to incorporate background music in it. 


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tempest in a teapot

How bizarre life and the world can be sometimes.  Here we are in the desert southwest, having just returned from a little side trip to Sin City and the weather today is windy, rainy, downright cold (the heat is on) and our friends back home in the great white north are reporting temps in the 80's! (like 27 degrees Celsius). Go figure!

It's so cold here today I can't even go to the "shed" aka my workspace, to condition clay.  So all I have to share in this blog is a picture of this teapot I covered a couple of weeks ago before we went away.  I have been invited to a tennis tournament to display my arty stuff (don't ask) in a couple of weeks, just before we go home, and I was planning on showing the teapot there, as well as submitting it as an item for entry into a show that I would like to take part in this summer.  I guess I will have to make another one because someone at the park was walking by and wanted it then and there.  That is the way things go sometimes. 

As far as life happenings, for the past week, my niece came here for her spring break, and so we spent the week travelling which meant a well-deserved break from long days of claying.  We toured some of the desert and visited a couple of antique towns and then headed (at the end of the week) to Las Vegas.  During that time, I hardly even thought about clay.  I was so 'overtaken' by the shops in the Miracle Mile (Planet Hollywood) and the Venetian/Palazzo that I didn't dare think of my work. It seems a bit 'small' compared to some of the fabulous art work on exhibit there. A couple of the galleries were so fantastic that I was speechless.  We just had to stand and gaze at  the works in a couple of them.  One had phenomenal photography in wall-sized (I am talking 8 feet wide) frames and we simply marvelled at the splendor of the images. Another gallery featured more 'casual' art..but still very appealing to the eye. Some of the kitchsy stuff at a few of the shops was definitely just that, and other stuff was overkill, but the real ART was amazing.  We took in the light/music show at the Fremont Experience the first night and saw a lot of sights both in the 'sky' and at ground level.  For people watching, that sure beats Walmart.

We barely touched some of the other Vegas sites and had no time for shows, but I would have loved to see Il Divo or was it the Canadian Tenors who were performing.  It's hard to take in a lot over the  two days we were there. Of course, we had to do some accessories shopping, so much of our time was spent trying on shoes and other things. Luckily, I found a pair in light turquoise that are just perfect for so many of my clothes.  The style is nothing special, but they're cute and comfy and they fit.  My niece got a few awesome outfits and shoes to match.  They were out of the ordinary and very stylish, but don't know if I could wear that syle.  Ah....to be young again.

As far as restaurants, in Las Vegas, we only went to the Outback on Thursday and took in the fabulous Seafood Buffet at the Rio on Friday.  If you are a seafood aficionado, that's the place to go.  Other than that, we had not much interest in eating, although there were plenty of great places to indulge your culinary palate if you so desire.

We did stop at a little "Canal Cafe" while at the Venetian and enjoyed a glass of wine while watching the  gondolas float by.  I think that the gondoliers must have to pass a singing test before applying  for that job.  Although their voices didn't match some of the Tenors or Il Divo,  they definitely could carry a tune and the acoustics of the canal (even though it's very staged) helped to promote the audibility of the songs.  Speaking of operatic voices, unfortunately we didn't get to visit the Aria, a new place on the strip, but in two days, you can only do so much.  Must put that on my bucket list.

As I look out the kitchen window, I see it is  still windy, thundering and  raining, ...buckets...again, so I will probably devote the rest of this day to rest.  I have a bit of a sniffly cold; my resistance is down after visiting all the bright lights of the big city and staying up w-a-a-y past my normal bedtime!  Or maybe I'll just plan another little teapot...who knows, maybe I can come up with a tennis theme rather than this one that I call Black and White with Purple Pink-a-dots.  The colours are definitely reminiscent of the masquerade shop I saw in Sin City.  Ya think the title sounds kitchy enough?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Give it up for Lentils!

Once again, life has gotten in the way of keeping up my blog.  Yikes. Never a dull moment around here.  Yesterday, we had to get to the Country Store by 8 a.m. and at 7:30 the battery in our car gave out.  But thanks to a helpful neighbor (who will be  getting a 6 pack of MGD), we got a boost and then hubby and I made it to the Country Store just a few minutes late.  DH then went and bought a new battery. It seems  even the inside dash lights are brighter now.

Speaking of bright lights (big city), Bonnie, one of my fellow members of the AZPCGuild, made a swirled lentil bead from my head dress cane that we had swapped a couple of weeks ago.  She does an awesome job of swirled lentils...I gave that up, lol.
You can see the gradation of colors that I used and part of what I call the window pane cane.  I don't know if that is a real name, but that's what I call it.  It is the part that's sort of squarish (in the original head dress cane) and is one of the three options that I put in the cane between the 'swirls' part.  One was the window pane, the other was a checkerboard and one other was a graduated spiral cane that I cannot name.  All I know is how to make it.  I like doing taxonomy, but since there is no taxonomic key for polymer clay canes, I will just have to think of a name in future. Playing name games.

And what's in a name anyway? Earlier this week, we spent some time with my California Cousins...I only get to see them once a year, but this year is different. We usually see them when we visit Arizona and they bring their gorgeous motor home and park it a few miles from here.  We schedule a few get togethers to play 'games'...cards or trivia or dominoes, the usual.  Later  on this spring, after we return nome, they will be travelling up to Canada where her dad will be inducted into our province's Baseball Hall of Fame.  He was a pitcher in the minor and semi-pro leagues back in the late forties and early fifties. The entire clan will attend the dinner and  induction ceremony and the next day we'll go to  a  Baseball Game and my cousins (and their father who'll be honored posthumously) will be out in Center Field. That day the Goldeyes will be playing..sound a little fishy?  The Goldeyes is the team name.  It's named for a favorite fish that thrives in our local waters. 

And just to make things more convoluted, just the other day I completed binding a book with a gold fish on the cover. (Well actually, it's kinda orangey.. How Koi!!!!)
I drew a picture of a fish and then used the crackle technique.  It wasn't an entirely new technique for me, but just a revisitation of something I've been working with.  It's kind of a bird's eye view of the fish and I am not quite sure if that's discernable in the photo.  The book  has watercolor paper in the interior, and like almost all my books is bound using the coptic binding technique.  It measures about 4 1/2 inches wide and is just over 4 inches in height, which seems rather small for a book, but I find this is about the biggest I can make the sheets of clay without having to worry about any slumping.  I did use Kato Polyclay for the covers and find that it is quite sturdy and doesn't have the 'bendiness' of some of the other types of clay after it's finished baking.

Like all my other books, it takes no time to read, lol.  But if a person desires, it can be filled with lots of interesting stuff.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It's (Been) A Slice

The other day I posted about the cane I had made for my guild's swap last weekend.  It wasn't exactly a new cane for me, just a revisitation and revamping with a few little deviations here and there.  Here is another picture of the cane that I made again yesterday.
This is the finished cane that I made, using the headdress cane and the window pane cane sandwiched in between the horns of the headdress.  I made up a tutorial for it and decided to work through the tute exactly according to the directions to see if it would work without the 'innate knowledge' I have, having made it so many times before just out of my head.  I had some pictures taken while it was being made so I could include some illustrations to help folks follow.  I haven't decided what will become of it...I have considered a couple of options, but right now, my plate is just too full to work on it. 
I have a couple of 'events' coming up and need to have some pictures ready to submit for shows, so the cane business will have to stay on the back burner.

The uses for the cane are many and I am illustrating here a few simple things that I made so you can see the versatility of it.  Please keep in mind, that most of these items were made from the ends of the cane, and some of them just use the pieces that were sliced off. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Flat Out

Today was not a normal day. 

Did you know that you can put your back out just picking up a bowl off the table at breakfast?  That was what happened to DH this morning after we finished our delicious French Toast breakfast.  He was in sheer agony and flat out on his back for about four hours until the pain 'miraculously' subsided.  It just went away, or at least 90% of the pain did.  Thank goodness. 

So, with that behind us, around noon, hubby decided he needed to go to exchange some picture frames he had purchased a few days ago.  I asked him to wait for me because I also needed to pick up a couple of items.  Good thing I went.  As we were driving along on the freeway, we heard a sudden "pop".  DH thought it sounded like the gunshots of a couple of weeks ago but this one sounded like it came from under the wheel well. Yep...within about a minute, just as we were exiting the freeway, we could feel the back rear tire just thumping along.  Flat as my French Toast.  Fortunately, a couple from Oregon noticed as we limped into the lot of Discount Tire.  Discount Tire is closed on Sundays.  But, luck was with us, and the lady offered to loan us her cellular phone (my Blackberry doesn't function here!!!) and we were going to call AAA.  Hubby searched his wallet...NO CARD.  I did find mine, and even though it wasn't an up to date card, the number was still the same and our local franchise of the AAA (it was actually CAA) said that the number was good and our premium coverage would look after the cost of a tow, a Rental car for one day and a stay at a hotel if we needed. We passed on the rental and the hotel, but  Molly and I did find riding in the front of the tow truck to the nearby Pep Boys a new adventure.  And the tow truck was there within ten minutes...not the 1 to 2 hours the local representative said it might take.  So I shopped a little at Pep Boys, because I actually needed some ArmorAll for a project I am going to be making this week.  Within the hour the back two tires were replaced (only one was bad) and we were back on our way.

After we got home, I set to work on some light switch covers that I had promised to a friend last week.  She had given them to me this past Thursday, and not thinking anything of it, I set to covering three of them in the faux rocks technique.  I looked in the oven about fifteen minutes into the baking, (I try to monitor the oven regularly) and saw this mushroom growing inside.  I never had a light switch cover go THAT wonky on me.  I have noticed about 1 in 50 will get a few bubbles underneath, but this one literally rose in the centre and the holes for the toggles shrank. It's got a huge wave in it and try as I did, it would not flatten out.  I am gonna save it, to remind me of the Sunday before Lent begins. 

 "FLAT-U-LENT"  Sunday

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Guild Swap Details

This is a little bit about 'swaps' and if you belong to a guild or online clay community, you probably know what this is all about.  If not, then read on...
I have been making this cane and derivations of it for about three or four years.  It is really rather simple as I don't profess to be big on making canes, mostly because I think I am too impatient to make a really huge one.  I am one of those unfortunate people who want it NOW! I have sat through days of instruction to make one huge cane and that was an excellent experience.  However, in my line of polymer clay, I don't have need for five feet of the same design, and three days of workshop caning usually yields such a result.  I love the idea of learning the techniques though, so that is why I do occasionally sign up for workshops of this nature.

This little cane (and I will show more of its relatives in further posts) was what I came up with at "My Quick and Dirty Cane School" in an effort to create something that I could use, that was sort of a 'signature' if you will, and that could be made in under an hour. Usually I use only one half of it, the part with the three (sometimes five) petal shaped thingies with the little swirl at the end.  Quite often, it becomes the headdress for my little face buttons or dolls.  Normally I reduce this cane to about one-half inch sizes which becomes a good little component that can be made into a formation.  I have used it in light switch covers, button encapsulators, fish scales and in head dresses.

As far as the swap is concerned, I will be participating in it today at our guild's monthly meeting.  I had all my canes finished earlier this week, except for one which I hastily completed at 9 pm last night.  Who says you can't work well under pressure!!!

Participating in a swap is a wonderful learning experience for so many reasons.  First of all, it involves planning what you are going to make, keeping in mind that you need to make several (in our case twelve) similar or related objects. It helps to streamline your efficiency, and you quickly catch on to the fact that if you condition all your white clay (for example) in one sitting, that you will have enough for the entire batch.  You also learn how to save time in other ways, by figuring out how much of each component you need to make so that the eventual item will come out in the desired size, so a ruler is critical.  Our canes were to be three inches in length and approximately the size of a quarter coin or about one inch across. I have to admit that mine are slightly less, but I hope the participants will forgive me, as the individual components don't look that good if they are any larger.  I found out in making the cane that it worked best if my initial components were three to four inches long and about an inch tall.  That way they could be divided up and filled and the end result, after a bit of reducing, was three inches, with minimal waste.  Fortunately, the end waste of most of my canes was incorporated into the surrounding packing.  I found a way to utilize most of the left overs in a Klimt-type cane which I used as the packing, something I also have trouble with in making focal canes.  It never fails that I run out of the packing color, or it's too soft, or some other misery that only polymer clayers can identify with.  I saved most of my scraps for future projects and have already used some of it in buttons that are already in the hands of my friend quilters.  It is difficult to discern the actual cane in those buttons, but I have others on the table that illustrate it more clearly. 

Other considerations to keep in mind of course is your supply of colors...if you are going to make the entire batch the same, you need to have a load of  your major colors...thankfully there have been a few sales at Hobby Lobby and Michaels so that buying lots of one color was affordable. You need to figure out  how you are going to package and wrap your cane so that it doesn't get dirty.  Originally I thought of making a Christmas-type Cracker, but in the end, wrapped each portion in waxed paper and surrounded it with my label paper which included my name, particulars, and date of the swap.  I found a bit of ribbon that held it all together, so there's a neat little  package for each person.  Of course, if you are going to be mailing the swap canes to someone, you need to pack them in something like a pill bottle so that it doesn't get squished in handling.

I have participated in at least twenty swaps over my polymer history, probably more, but who's counting.  The best is yet to come...it is the joy and sheer delight of receiving a bit of everyone else's dedication and artistry in this passion which is polymer clay.