Saturday, May 30, 2009

Do what you want, you're a rebel...

Do you remember when Pee Wee said, "I'm a loner, Dottie, a rebel"...well, it's really funny because like Pee Wee, that's the last thing you would think of when you look at me. But in my own way I am rebellious, if that means doing things in a way that isn't usually considered normal or traditional. Now I can rock a button down collar with the best of the professional women, and I can still stay upright in a nice pair of 3" heels, but for me it's just more natural to sew beads and handmade buttons on that shirt and to paint the shoes gold.

Which brings me to this. I was momentarily feeling a bit boring and dull and just didn't know what to post today. I had made several things this week, which is surprising when you let your work space look like this...

I made a trinket for a friend, but can't show that because it's already been packaged for delivery, then I remembered that I made this using one of the canes that I built this week. ..

I like the combination of purple and gold. I have lots of purple beads in my stash and after several false starts, I decide to make links from my good gold wire. I placed an aurora borealis faceted bead between two fairly large, textured tear drop glass beads. The links looked really good and I finished off with links of just the aurora borealis beads.

After picking out the purple shirt that I'm wearing out today, I realized that it was wrinkled. So instead of getting out the iron and board, I tossed the blouse in the dryer with a dampened hand towel. While waiting for the dryer to do it's magic, I sat down to tighten one of the links on the necklace. That, of course, led to more. I decided I just wasn't completely happy with the necklace so then I got out the trusty 18K gold leafing pen and added some highlights to the polymer clay focal piece. Still missing something. So I did what you don't usually do. I still had the gold leafing pen in my hand and before I knew it, I painted onto those really nice glass beads. I am sure someone is gasping out there, but they just needed something and after all it's my necklace and I can do what I want, guessed it, "I'm a rebel, Dottie".

So here is a closer view of the beads. I like them much better. The gold leaf paint toned down the glassiness of the beads which goes better with the matte finish on the focal bead.

So, take the plunge. Be a rebel. Dot some paint onto a pre-made bead. There's really no law against it and you have put even more of yourself into the design of the piece you are working on.

We usually have no fear about adding paint to found objects and broken jewelry, but don't limit yourself. You just might have a strand of beads that would look really special with a splatter of paint on them, or a pair of shoes that you haven't worn for years, but you don't know why. Come on, go for it. Paint them. They just might end up looking really cool and no one else will be wearing anything exactly like them. All I'm saying is take the plunge, the shoes aren't doing you any good in the closet, anyway... find a way to be just a bit of a rebel. Even if no one else knows, you will.

Well, that's it for today. I will be cleaning up that table because I must finish the dragon that I'm making for a birthday present. I can't have any distractions on the table. I have to complete this project. Birthday is first week of July and it needs to ship to the West Coast. Wish me luck. I'll post some pictures of the dragon soon.

Take care, and have a great weekend.

p.s. remember you can always click on my pictures for a larger view.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What We Did and What We're Doing

I played with canes this weekend. We had plans to go to some of the local festivals, but it was rainy off and on and I just love an excuse to stay inside. In between watching reruns of The Match Game and other family friendly shows, I organized a bit in my art area (I still can't say studio). I have had this really nice container for several years, but when I tried to take the label off the top it came off in shredded pieces. I was so disgusted with this that I put the container away. I don't know about you, but I could not use it like that. It drove me crazy. Finally I got a piece of scrapbook paper and affixed it to the lid. Then I made a piece of "fabric" using scrap cane slices and cut out the letters to spell CANES. I glued these to the paper and here you have it. Now, it's usable.

I haven't made many canes, but I have a few in my stash...

Canes can be used in many ways, you can slice them thinly and cover a multitude of items with them. When you cover another piece of clay with slices it is called "fabric". You can even cut the clay fabric into shapes and make silly things like this.

You can slice them a bit thicker, pierce them and have very unique beads. You can use the ends to make the magic Natasha beds that I demonstrated here..

Well, enough already about canes. The holiday is over and we all have to get back in the groove. This requires doing mundane chores such as recycling all our ginger ale bottles, plastic containers and newspapers that my hubby has been holding onto for a while. One was from June 2005.

I notice when taking this picture, that there are some things that should be recycled that are not...

Just kidding, Sweetie, I'm glad you take these work shoes off in the garage. The hubs has always worn white high tops to work in. He says you can see immediately where you are placing your feet. When he was working high atop houses under construction, I was grateful for every safety measure that he took.

While he recycles, I'm taking back books to the library. I usually just read "how to" books and mysteries, but I love those little old books about the South and our culture and funny ways.

This last batch included books by my favorite celebrity author, Fanny Flagg. I remember Fanny from my childhood when she did tongue in cheek record albums about the First Family. (for those of you too young to know what record albums are, let me know and I'll bring you up to speed) I still see her on the aforementioned Match Game reruns. The movie Fried Green Tomatoes was based on one of her books. I didn't like the movie as much as the book, but that's just me. The only draw back to her books is that they make me cry. Sometimes through the entire book. She's the best in my opinion. I would love to meet her.

Here is a "how to" craft book that I like so much, I'm going to purchase. I've already sent DH on an eBay search for it. It's one of those books that never gets old.

There are so many fun things in this book. Some are really simplistic, but the designs and some of the techniques can be made as complex as you choose.

Well, DH just called and said he got caught in a torrential downpour and to be careful. It hasn't even rained here yet, so I best get my tennies on and get moving. I think a trip to the thrift store is in order also. If I find any goodies, I'll let you know. Take care and enjoy your week.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Get ready for a long weekend...

I think for many people Memorial Day weekend begins on Friday. That makes for a nice long break and many areas have festivals and art shows and other fun things to do. I hope you are among those with local events.

I, like a lot of others, don't post daily. We all have so many fun blogs to catch up on and leave comments, that it can get a bit daunting. But this time I'll veer away from this custom, as I wanted to let you know that I decided to call the restaurant mentioned in Thursday's post. I spoke to the person that answered the phone, because the managers were unable to break away. I explained the situation and she was very apologetic and assured me that all the proper measures would be made to correct the situation. Well, that was step one. We will see what happens. Thanks for your input.

Since lunch yesterday wasn't up to par, I felt like a special treat was in order for us. You may know that I avoid all sugar and flours, but that didn't keep these crepes from being absolutely delish!
I use arrowroot (cornstarch) in the recipe instead of refined flour and for a light filling, I spread on an all fruit spread (no added sugar), folded the crepes into quarters and topped with fresh sliced strawberries. This crepe recipe is found in Dr. Gott's No Flour, No Sugar Diet book. There are lots of other delicious recipes.

Since there are so many things going on this weekend, I just might take a bit of a break and enjoy the sunshine and shows and such. So just in case you're wondering, that's where I'll be. Now if something really fun pops up, I just might have to tell you about it. In in any event, we'll talk soon, so enjoy your weekend and have fun and be creative.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A bit of a dilemma...

Well, I seem to have a bit of a dilemma. The hubs and I have this favorite little hometown restaurant and have been going there for about five years. We have gotten friendly with the waitresses and periodically the cook will come out to the table and check on things. Our dilemma is that we have noticed recently that the dining room doesn't see to be very clean. The salt and pepper shakers, as well as the ketchup and sauce bottles seem sticky. At first, we tried to rationalized this and attributed it to the nature of plastic, how sometimes it does feel a bit gummy.

Today we asked to have a fresh pot of coffee made, which the waitress gladly did. The coffee tasted ok, but a bit strong for my taste. After several sips, we realized the inside of the coffee cups looked really yucky. You know how a coffee cup gets stained? I thought that this was the case, but the hubs wet his napkin and rubbed lightly on the inside of the cup and the "stain" came right off. Needless to say we didn't finish the coffee and had we not been done with our meal, we would probably could not have finished eating, it was that bad.

What do I do? Should I call and speak to the manager and have them re-evaluate the dish washing procedures? Do I call the health department and have them do an inspection? If the things that are our in the open are this dirty, I can only imagine what the kitchen area must look like.

I certainly am hesitant to return to this little eatery, and it was one of the last food places that I felt was safe. We don't do fast food joints at all for many reasons, but mostly being concerned about what happens out of sight.

So what do you think I should do? What would you do?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hello out there

Well, everyone here has "recovered" from the earthquake. As far as I can tell there was no real damage, but lots of people felt it. Virginia has had earthquakes in the past, but usually no one is aware of them. Does that even count? My sister, who lives in Cali now, says you don't feel the smaller ones if you are up and about, usually only if you are sleeping. Guess what? Last night she felt the one that was about two hours away, in L.A. She said it was quite noticeable.

But it's time to talk art, so whenever I need inspiration, I get out my book by Linda Peterson, How To Make Beads from Polymer Clay. I have been working on some of her carnival type beads. This post was going to be about making canes, but I got involved in something else, which is just as interesting.

Here is a shot of my version of what Linda calls carnival beads, which use canes and other techniques.

They are bright and cheerful and will make a cute necklace as is, but I also love the look of encased beads. I have done lampworking (with glass rods and a flame) in the past, but not to worry, you can duplicate that look using UTEE. If you dip your bead into Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel that has been melted in a electric glue pot, it gives a similar look. I have been using this technique for several years and I never tire of it. This shot shows what some of the beads looked like after I dipped them in the melted UTEE.

Dipping beads in UTEE is not an exact science, you have to develop your own style. The process can be a bit time consuming, holding the bead on a tooth pick and dipping it and slowly twirling the tooth pick. One of the advantages is that if you aren't happy with the result, you just hold your bead on a toothpick and remelt the UTEE with your embossing gun and try again. When the beads cool (in about 30 seconds) they are ready to use.

Here is a shot of both types. Which do you like better?

It's amazing that the same kind of beads can look so different. Here is a close up of two of the beads...

If you are interested in seeing a video using a similar technique, check this out.

Well, that's it for today. Who knows what I'll be up to in the next few days. We'll just have to see what inspires me. Take care and be creative!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My First Earthquake

4:08 a.m....

Sonic Boom followed by the house vibrating? Man, that felt like an earthquake. Susie turns over and goes back to sleep. Forgot about it until DH mentions at 8:00 a.m. that he got up around 4:00 because he felt something. I remembered then and I asked if he thought it was an earthquake. He said he thought so but couldn't find anything online or on news. It was confirmed later. Here is a link.

Typical, huh, he feels it and gets up trying to find out what has happened. Me, I wonder for a split second and turn over and go back to sleep. It sounded like a sonic boom and then the house vibrated-like a huge tree had fallen over right next to it. It was unlike anything I have experienced. Interesting, though. Apparently we were far enough away that things didn't fall off of tables or walls. If I had been up when I felt it, I may have been more alarmed.

Well that's the news from home.

Enjoy your day!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Can you guess???

Can you guess what we did last night?

DH, Me and Brother Kenny went to see Star Trek. Hubby provided the shirts (vintage, circa 1992) and Kenny and I provided the geekieness. While both the Hubs and Kenny are rockers, Hubs has a bit of trepidation when it comes to embracing his geek side. Not so Kenny, he lead us in Spock salutations and Vulcan salutes.

It was fun acting silly and wearing shirts to the movie, but the real fun began as soon as the movie started. Kenny has already seen the movie and said it was great and worthy of seeing again. I agree completely. It is a prequel and introduces you to the crew of the Starship Enterprise as youngsters. If you aren't familiar with the original television show you may not get some of the references, but the story line is great and the special effects are the best I've seen in a while. The music was fantastic and it's definitely a movie to see more than once.

Well, I'm off to the studio to see what fun I can have. While at Michael's, I purchased a jump ring maker and some memory glass slides, so I see jewelry in my future. Wish me luck and be sure to let me know if you were a Trekie. Inquiring minds want to know!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Thoroughly Modern Cameo

Well, I mentioned last week that I was craving bright colors and something funky. As we know, when all else fails...Michael's! I had a bit of money that was burning a hole in my pocket (actually from an art pillow that I sold) and I headed for the local craft store.

I get all my t-shirts from there. They have the best colors and often they are 2 for $5.00. Some folks decorate them with fabric paints and iron ons, but I usually just flash dance the neck and wear them like that. I always cut the crew neck from t-shirts because I can't stand for it to touch my neck. I feel like I'm choking.

Anyway, those colors were bright and kept me from doing laundry one more day, but I still needed funky. I am still working with polymer clay, so I got into the bright clay box and pulled out neon orange and lime green and bright purple. I'm a bit of a romantic at heart so I got a face mold and created a cameo... using neon orange. I carefully unmolded it and placed it on a lime green piece and then added little "flowers" and leaves around the face. I popped it in the oven to cure it and after it was cool, I got out the acrylic paints and painted it since an orange face was too "out there" even for me.

The orange clay did give me a warm base for my flesh toned paint and I painted her eyes and lips with a needle. After highlighting with gold paint, I added a purchased bail from Fire Mountain Gems and added a black cord. I'm into pendants in a big way, and this is a big pendant, measuring 2"x2.5", but it fits me perfectly. I don't know how or why everything I create looks like me. This looks like the me from 20 years ago.

I wanted to say thanks for all the sweet comments regarding my post about my Mom. I hope I was able to show what an unusual person she was, while giving you a hint of the hilarious things she did (sometimes unintentional). Imagine coming home from school and all your stuff is in the front yard because she warned us that if we didn't clean our rooms...

Anyway, that's it for today. We'll talk soon, I'm sure.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Things I Learned From My Mom

I've been tagged by my sweet friend, Lesley (The Funky Art Queen) for a list of things you learned from your Mom.

No one will ever know how much I miss my Mom. My mom was my best friend, but unfortunately, due to several sad things in her life, sometimes she was a bit cynical. Her beloved father drowned when she was 12 years old and tragically her first child died when he was 6 years old.

Some of the things I learned from her were not things that she taught me to do, but things that I wanted to make sure I never did. One thing is sure, she did the best that she could. She was extremely smart, well read and had an incredible vocabulary. She wanted to be a nurse, but couldn't stand sickness. She wanted to retire in Florida, but never made it.

She loved all of us kids and tried to be supportive, but never seemed inclined to encourage us, as some parents might, to do our best. She wasn't a people person, she much preferred to work puzzles than to socialize. I inadvertently hurt her feelings badly several times as a teenager, but we always worked it out. Since my siblings don't read this blog, I can confess...she always liked me the best of us three kids. She kept a paper soda cup of mine on her shelf because it reminded her of me. She always laughed when I offered to give her a picture of me for that shelf.

When she felt bad, she refused to tell anyone. Probably because she hated hospitals so much, due to her son's lengthy illness. If I have any regrets, it is not understanding the pain that she felt from losing that son. No one ever tried to explain to us how much she missed him. So my list may not be what one might expect, but here it is...

Twenty Things I Learned From My Mom

1. Never ride a bike down a steep hill if you don't know where the brakes are.
2. Right Guard sprayed in your hair doesn't have much hold
3. If you forget & boil water long enough in an aluminum pan, the pan will catch fire and melt.
4. When you drop an entire pot of cooked green beans in the floor, scoop them up & serve them anyway
5. If the cake comes out inedible, toss the whole thing out into the yard
6. Try not to have your feelings hurt by children that can't possibly understand
7. Don't rock the boat
8. Don't always believe it when co-workers say they will back you up, they might not
9. Always read your Bible and say your prayers
10. Slippers and crossword puzzle books always make great gifts
11. Reading out loud is a talent
12. Shaking a tambourine and insisting on money being thrown in it is always funny
13. Suffering in silence isn't always the best thing
14. Toasted cheese sandwiches are comfort food
15. You and your favorite daughter can drywall the kitchen with a butcher knife
16. If you don't want something thrown away, be sure to tell people
17. When all else fails, try to be funny
18. A secret is taken to the grave
19. Don't do as I do, do as I say
20. 79 is too young to die.

I love you Mom, I miss you and I am so happy that you come to me in my dreams. I will never forget you and I know that I am just like you in so many ways....and that's a good thing.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Technique vs. Talent

I used to work with a girl that I felt was a snob when it came to art. I mentioned how much I liked Bob Ross and how I thought it was so neat that so many people were learning to paint. She harrumphed and told me emphatically that there was quite a difference between technique and talent. I always thought that was such a snobby thing to say and I never found out why she was so adamant about this point of view.

I have always felt that you could be extremely talented, but if you were unaware of certain techniques, that you could be stifling the creative process. It drives me crazy to spend hours trying to figure out how to achieve the look I am going for. Does it make someone less creative if they use an established method in their art? I think not.

All that being said, there are definite techniques used in making flowers using Clay Craft air dry clay by Deco. I'm not saying that this company invented these techniques at all, I'm just mentioning them because the book I am using (Clay Art for All Seasons) is so very useful and has introduced me to techniques that I know I will use over and over again.

So with no further chatter, here are my flowers...

This is a bud vase with roses that I made using the book mentioned above.

Here is a calla lily. All of these flowers dry to a very lightweight papery/velvety, almost foam finish. They seem to be reasonably durable and I am sure I will continue to make more in the near future.

If this clay is something you want to experiment with, but don't want the expense of the actual Clay Craft product, try Delight modeling compound by Paperclay. It is, as far as I can tell, almost identical to the Clay Craft compound, except it only comes in white. The Clay Craft compound is really nice and performs beautifully, but it is a bit pricey.

Since I've been learning technique and making flowers for an entire week, I need to move on to something else. I need bright colors and I need to make jewelry and I need to make something funky. So with all that in mind, I'm off to the studio to be creative. Hopefully I will be able to combine technique with talent and come up with something fun.

It's almost the weekend, so tie up all those loose ends and prepare to have fun. Take care and don't forget that there is an artist in each one of us. Embrace that artist within.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Dragon the Line

I know that's a silly pun, but Draggin' the Line by Tommy James and the Shondells used to be one of my favorite songs, and today's project reminded me of it. The first verse goes like this...

Making a living the old, hard way,
Taking and giving my day by day.
I dig the snow and the rain and the bright sunshine.
I'm draggin' the line (draggin' the line)

Recently I asked my sister what I could make for her best friend's birthday in July. She reminded me that she collects dragons and although I'm not into dragons myself, I put on my thinking cap and jumped in with both feet. I am going to make several and send them all to her. I have a large one in the works, using an armature covered with paper clay, but just as a lark, I took a piece of Glow-in-the Dark Fimo and fashioned a small dragon.

It is done a style similar to Christi Friesen, that marvelous polymer clay artist and author. I actually used a picture of one of her dragons from an old Polymer Cafe Magazine. Christi has a fabulous website, so be sure and check it out.

I used a clear green glass nugget in the design and painted and antiqued and highlighted (as I am prone to doing) with acrylic paints. I was concerned that I had painted it too much for it to still glow, but it does...

So that's my project for this weekend. I did get my new air dry clay and have been practicing making flowers. This clay is completely different than polymer clay and it takes a bit of getting used to, but the flowers are so realistic you will be stunned. After I get a few more flowers completed, I'll post them. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your weekend and enjoy the snow, the rain and the bright sunshine.