Thursday, July 31, 2008

Time is just spinning out of control

Where do the days go. It's Thursday and I need to get back to the clay. Lou came home today after being gone since Sunday so nothing got done. Tomorrow we are going to my Mom's for dinner. I grew up on a farm and my Mom still grows a huge garden. She's telling me that the sweet corn is ready, the string beans are ready.... dinner should be great but I still won't get back to the clay. Saturday and Sunday....I can only hope that nothing interrupts the weekend. Problem is that I am so backlogged in doing the other work around the's hard for me to sit and just do clay. I've got the house to clean, weeds to pull, bills to pay. If I only sleep like 3 hours a night maybe I can do it. Unfortunately....I like a full 8-10 hours of sleep when I can get it. Things are going insane at work too. Next week the 2009 budget process starts, then effort reporting for the government, and the next big deadline for grants in October I have somewhere between 16-19 grants all going in on the same day. I could spend 20 hours a day just a work and not catch up.

The trick with all this is to not freak out. If I think about it all as a whole...I can't imagine how it is all going to get done. And in fact it won't all get done....something will have to give somewhere. But first.....I take a little trip to Tuscon. Next Thursday I'm heading out to Anne's house to meet up with Cris and Stacey. Four jewelry artists coming together under one roof for a long weekend.....this is going to be so much fun and my last mini-vacation before October.

Back later with some pics.

I'm off to bed......

more cat pictures

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My first firing...

I was antsy at work knowing that the kiln had finished its program. I was trying to think of a way to cut out early. But...I didn't make it home until 7pm. I took the stuff out of the kiln, had some Chinese for dinner and then fell asleep on the couch. I had been up until 2PM last night. So after a 3 hour nap I got up to clean my pieces. Just gave them a quick once over. I didn't get any really amazing colors....some greens.

This piece I cut a groove into and then put faux straps and rivets over the groove. I also put faux rivets on the back to complete the piece. It actually did crack a little on the back right hand side where I started the groove.

I love to use straps and faux rivets. The straps and rivets are both a design element and are functional. In the pendant on the right it allowed me to mend a crack that developed during drying. You can really see it in the second picture which is the back of the pendant. You can see the original crack in between the two rivets plus it cracked on the edges during firing. Without the added strap it may have broken during the firing process. I like the adds to that "just dug up" look.

Nothing complicated with these pieces. Just some components that I want to put together in a bracelet. I still need to make a toggle for this...and maybe another piece or two.

For lack of a better term...these "buttons" turned out nice. Though I don't think I will use them as buttons. I was thinking about stringing them together so they can bounce off each other and make a nice sound when wearing them. The shanks were easy to make. A circle of clay with bronze wire imbedded prior to firing.

I just got a shipment from Vintaj which sells brass findings, chain, wire. It goes really well with the bronze. If you are going to buy from them is wholesale only. You have to have a vendor's license and the minimum order is $200. Otherwise you will need to find a bead store that sells their findings.

I find the bronze clay so amazing because the look it is reminiscent of ancient times. Jennifer Kahn's term of "modern relics" is perfect for the pieces that can be created. I have been doing internet searches to find sites with ancient relics. Here are a two sites for you to take a look at for some inspiration.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I'm firing tonight...

Wish me luck. Pics tomorrow night after I get home from work. In the meantime I will leave you with this........

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Sunday, July 27, 2008

What will these be???

This is the view of the back....maybe they will be buttons......

or maybe they will be charms, or pendants....

But the do look a little like the VLA out in New Mexico. Something like a galactic lens to study the universe.

I still haven't fired yet. I think I have to fire up the kiln tonight. I don't think I can stand it anymore.

Bronz Clay....what else

I finally pulled out the tools and opened up a package of BRONZ Clay. I wish I could be more organized. My workspace always ends up looking like a pig sty. This is my dining room table. Luckily we don't eat here much.

I seem to be repeating things that I made in class. Sometimes it's hard to get the creative ideas flowing so remaking things helps me loosen up. What I love about this clay is that it likes to be manipulated. It comes out of the package feeling a little "parched". So I spray it with water, dab a little oil on it, knead it and roll it up in saran wrap to "marinate". The more I do this the better the consistency and the easier it is to work with. The other thing I like is that I can work with thicker pieces and not worry about being able to recoup the cost in the finshed piece. I've always had a tendency to work thicker...5 to 4 cards rather than 4 to 3. Now I can make big hunky, chucky pieces and not feel guilty. One problem I notice during drying is that it can develop stress fractures if the clay is stuck to the surface it is resting on. I had a large piece drying on a teflon sheet and it was stuck on the sheet because the back of the piece was still wet. It cracked in two pieces along a design line. So now after about 5 minutes I move the pieces to unstick them. I'm trying to hold off firing until I make enough to fill the kiln but I just might have to fire it up anyway.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Right Brain, Left Brain

Last week there was a discussion of right brain vs. left brain and how for most people the logical left brain is dominant and the artistic right brain has to fight to get out. I was thinking about this on my way to work on Monday. After a week of playing in bronze and spending time with right brain was screaming all the way to work....."don't go...turn around..please don't go". I found a Herald Sun article that lists right brain and left brain characteristics plus it has a visual test to see which one you are. Take a look...which way is the dancer turning for you? And can you make her switch directions??

There is such a buzz going on about bronze clay. If you look at the metal clay group on Yahoo it's all they can talk about. My blog hits skyrocketed yesterday to 118 vs. my usual 20. I probably won't get back to playing with the bronze until tomorrow night or Friday after work. I'll have some pics to post over the weekend.

Even bronze clay kitteh is excited...........

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

One More Bronze Pic

Complete with a pair of little bronze balls, a 2 layer pendant, lentil, and 2 flat pendants.

What to my wondering eyes should appear......

A package at the front door. I must have been a good girl cause it's Christmas in July and I just got a present.....

Bronze clay....lots and lots of bronze clay. Woo Hoo!!!! And all the accoutrement to fire. I guess the house work and yard work will have to wait.

Monday, July 21, 2008

More on the PMC Conference

One highlight of this meeting was the opportunity to network and meet people from all over the world. I heard about people from Canada, England, Australia, Japan and France. There was a charm swap one night. And although I didn't participate in was fun to see everyone running around swapping charms that they had made. Another highlight was to see the work of other people...not just on their bodies but in the showcases. There was an exhibit of those people who had been in the Annual and chapters were given the opportunity to display pieces in glass showcases. Below Deb, Jen and Mary Ann prepare the chapter showcase. And being the brilliant person that I am...I forgot to take a picture of the showcase once it was done.

There was a rely race one evening. The teams had four people and they had the task of creating and torch firing a spoon out of PMC.

The first person had to make the spoon.

The second person had to dry and finish the spoon.
The third person had to fire the spoon which was difficult in the sunlight.
The forth person had to eat a pint of ice cream with it.
And Patrik is just lovin' his ice cream

For me the conference didn't have enough hands on time (other than the pre-conference class). I'm not sure I would go again unless they make some changes to the format. The best part about the conference was spending time with Cris.......see how much fun she is.......

and so she is yelling at me...."don't take that picture". I was cropping this photo the image number assigned to this pic is 666....explains alot.

She is going to beat me senseless next time she sees me....which will be soon. Our next adventure is a trip to Tucson the first weekend in August for a play date with Anne. I'm not sure if she is really prepared for us.........


more cat pictures

Sunday, July 20, 2008

PMC Conference....

My own private cow patch
So I have to start this blog with my adventure getting to Purdue University. I am usually Sacagawea and study maps and have things all routed out before I go on a trip. This time I decided to let technology guide me and programmed Lou's Tomtom for the trip. It took me pretty much in the direction that I thought I should be going. Somewhere west of Fort Wayne, "Tom" told me to turn off the interstate and took me on the back country roads. I'm thinking this is strange but maybe this is a back route into West Lafayette and I'll come up over a crest and there it'll be. I'm getting closer and closer and "you are here" pops up. I had come to a house in the middle of BF Indiana. I mean it was cute but I didn't think it was the University Plaza Hotel. I coasted up the road a bit trying to find a place to turn around and I looked up to see a herd of dairy cows across the road. I'm trying to reprogram Tom, the farmer came out and cleared a path for me to drive through. So nice of him...but I had to turn the car around and get back on the highway. Turns out I was still 70+ miles from Purdue.

When I finally got there, Tom had me driving in circles trying to find the hotel. Not really his fault since the hotel lists their address as being on Northwestern Ave when in fact they are on Cumberland. DUH. My bff Cris came in later that afternoon after her own problems with the shuttle company showing up at the airport. At that point the gab fest began. There is some kind of alchemy that happens when the two of us get together. We talk non-stop and giggle like 12 year olds.

Bronze Clay
Class was amazing for a number of reasons. First, it was being taught by Celie Fago who is by far one of the best teachers I have ever had. Second, it was filled with people who had skills. It was an amazing combination of award winners, artists, and teachers. Third, we had this opportunity to work with the bronze clay. I can't explain the thrill of being able to be amongst the first students to work in a new medium. They haven't figured out all the quirks about the clay yet which is what makes it to exciting. As we work with this we'll be helping to figure out just exactly what this clay is capable of.

Cris in the classroom

Pieces ready to fire

Pieces out of the kiln with just a quick swipe with a high grit polish cloth

The patina is variable depending on the type of carbon used

Lisa Cain playing the cymbals that she made

Unfired and fired pieces show the shrinkage

Celie and Jen strike a pose

The class...Bill Struve, the inventor, is second from the right in the middle row

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Off to PU tomorrow :))))

....Perdue Univesity for the PMC conference. I just need to decide if I want to take some tools. Rio said they would provide everything we need in the bronze class but it's hard not to want to take all my own. I will probably end up tossing them in the car. I'll take the computer too. Driving gives me the option to take more....more than I probably need....but more. I still need to pack everything up so I can take off early tomorrw. I want to get there around 1:30PM. I'll take lots of pics to show you

Happy Bastille Day

As my girl Cris reminded me....Happy Bastille Day!!!

Bastille Day, the French national holiday, commemorates the storming of the Bastille, which took place on 14 July 1789 and marked the beginning of the French Revolution. The Bastille was a prison and a symbol of the absolute and arbitrary power of Louis the 16th's Ancient Regime. By capturing this symbol, the people signaled that the king's power was no longer absolute: power should be based on the Nation and be limited by a separation of powers. Although the Bastille only held seven prisoners at the time of its capture, the storming of the prison was a symbol of liberty and the fight against oppression for all French citizens; like the Tricolore flag, it symbolized the Republic's three ideals: Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity for all French citizens. It marked the end of absolute monarchy, the birth of the sovereign Nation, and, eventually, the creation of the (First) Republic, in 1792.

The celebrations begin on the 13th. A number of the fire stations open up for parties.....

Excuse me while I go look for matches...............................

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Housebound Today

I was all set to spend the entire day outside in 90 degree weather working the flowers beds in the back year. Almost our entire back yard is bordered with beds of one sort or another. I haven't worked in the beds for 2 years...I can't believe I just admitted that...and they have run amuck. I have a couple of very invasive plants in the bed bordering our fence. One is Sweet Woodruff, a delicate looking green border plant that has little white flowers in the spring.....

and the other is Gooseneck Loosestrife which grows about 12-18 inches tall and in the late summer has a bloom that looks like a goose stretching its head.

They are both wonderful when they bloom but I rip them out by buckets each year. If I let them go they would have taken over the entire backyard and half the house by now. So my plan today was to clean up the length of the fence. I was able to get out for bit. I cut some lower branches off the pine tree near the house and just started down the fence row when it started to rain. I kept working for a while but Lou started to bug me to come in. By the time I had taken a shower, it was just pouring. So I have been stuck in the house for the day. It's not all bad....I managed to take pics of the rest of my lampwork bracelets.