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 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 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 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 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.