Friday, August 31, 2012

Light on the Right

Notes and pictures - lest we not forget

Light on the right
Yesterday I spend a good part of the day conditioning clay and making blends. I was the only one in the studio so it was a meditative process.  I thought of a couple of ideas that I would like to share. One is on note taking. I always mean to do write up my notes later but I never get around to it so I decided to act in the moment. From now on I will write my notes while I am working on something and take a photo of the clay and the note. I think that this will work better for me, even if it is just a backup for thoughtful note writing when the project is finished.

The other hint that I want to share is a way of being consistent while making Skinner blends. That is always keeping the lighter colour on the right – nothing political - just a way of keeping everything even because they is often tiny differences in the gap between the rollers of the pasta machine from left to right. This works for me anyway.

The summer holidays official end for many people this week end. I hope everyone had a good summer. For those of us in the craft and art business this marks the time we make a frantic effort to have everything ready for winter holiday craft fair season.  I will go forth, blade in hand and trusty pasta machine at my side. May my oven not fail me now.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Untouched by Human Hands

Wafer Beads (AKA Tiles)
I like this method because you really can make beads largely untouched by human hand. ( well the sides are touched but lets not quibble).

1.You start with the front on back of the tile like bead. Lay a textured sheet of clay or a veneer on a baking tile and cut out your tiles with a rectangular cutter. I am using very thin sheets of clay (1 to 1.5mm thick)  for this because the centre of the bead will give it structural integrity.

2. Carefully clear away the extra clay.(not should not touch the surfaces of the thin shapes until they are cooked.
The exception to this rule is if you see a bubble between the clay and the cooking tile let the air out my make tiny hole with a fine needle and light push the air out.

 3. Cook the tiles for the full length of time. You want them to be strong so I do not shorten the cooking time but I do as always tent the tray and include a test scrap to check for strength.

4. Take two cooked wafers. I am using one that is textured. ( I used one of my stamps for the texture.) the other wafer if a veneer I have made with millifiori slices. For the center I have used a neutral colour clay but you could go wild here it you wanted to.

5. Brush on a thin layer of LPC (Liquid Polymer clay) to help the bond between the cooked wafer and the raw centre. You don’t want much LPC because the wafer will slip around rather than sticking.

6. & 7. Trim of the excess centre clay.

8. Flip over your bead and ably another coating of LPC to the reverse side of the bead.

9. Snug up the bead by pushing the sides together. (now you can touch the front and back of the bead but make sure you don’t have LPC on your fingers because that will give you finger prints - and the whole point of the exercise in beads with no finger prints). You should also push in the centre to make sure there are no gaps.

10. Almost there. Pierce the bead with a needle and bake it. I only make a small hole as a guide and drill it larger after the bead is cooked. I think that it there is less chance of the bead delaminating that way. You can make ask many holes as you like thought after three it might get a little hairy.

So there you have it. Feedback and corrections are welcome as usual.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

On International Sales and Post Canada

On the 7th of July I sent some of my knitting needle to Switzerland. My first international wholesale order. It as sent surface mail – 6 to 8 weeks to delivery – no insurance available. So for 8 weeks I have been wondering if my work was safe and sound. This morning I received this email:

Hello Joan
We received your knitting needles! We are completely happy, we are sure our customers we also love them.
There so beautiful and detailed, your are a great artist, thank you so much that you let us have them.
Wish you a wonderful day.
Best regards
CH-8180 B├╝lach

This made me very happy but I don’t think I want to wait  eight weeks ever again. The postal service may be wonderful but I am too much of a worry wart to trust even them to take good care of my babies.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Friday, August 24, 2012

Getting Orders in Order

This was the day that I was going to work on the tutorial and post it but I got and order late yesterday that has make me put the tutorial off until next week. When it comes to sales the rule is that you have to flog your  before you blog. I don’t get all that many wholesale orders but when I good customer makes a request I like to give them what they want as soon as possible.
Beads modestly closed

What I did today for recreation was make three beads that open. This is an experiment that I have been longing to do. Here they are fresh from sanding and polishing. I think that I will try them on my usual adjustable cotton cord but there must be something better. I am afraid that the cord will wear out on the grommets. Only time will tell but I am please with this mark one attempt.

Bead revealing themselves

This is a market weekend so as usual it will be a wordless weekend – hopeful I will get some pictures. Thank goodness for my phone.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Play Hard Work Hard

As I have worked that this week I have been listening to Life – the autobiography of Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. It is 20 CDs long so I still have a lot of work to do before I finish it. When Keith Richards talks about work hard and play hard it is not what I have in mind. The way I work hard play hard, I could be a monk but some of the same principals are a work. Work is production and play is innovation. I find that heavy production seems to fuel innovation. Sometimes it is difficult to tell where one ends and the other starts. If anyone ever thinks they have a creativity block I strongly recommend production work. It is like concentrating on one small object so hard that when you look away the whole world seems to glow.

So the at is a bit of a tangent – what does that have to do with polymer clay? Well if you every look at the clay table and think “I just don’t know what to do?” Condition clay for and hour, make four Skinner blends and I can almost guarantee that you will not be able to stop creative thoughts.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I Should be Crabby

I got a lot done today. That is mostly because I have been up since 1:30 AM. I got to sleep at 9:30 so I did get a little sleep. I made a lot of whistles, did the shopping and worked in the studio. Some of the work I did may be a step backward instead of forward but that is how it goes some days. One of the things I did that was not on the agenda  was play with one of my stamps. Here is the result. By using one small part of the stamp you can get and effect that doesn’t look crabby at all.

One of the best things today was this from Carole in England,
“P.S.  As a polymer newbie, I'm finding your Blog one of the most helpful sites I've come across - thank you!”
This really makes me happy.

My next goal is to actually get a little more sleep tonight. This was not my sharpest day.

An Etsy note. The Fish and Crab stamp is still available.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

All You Have to Do is Whistle

Lots of little whistle and this in no all of them
One of the reason I like direct sales, is that I can make everything a little different. I think that novelty makes things better and I am not as happy when I have to make a whole bunch of things as similar and possible. Repetition is a good way to own your skills and learn patience but it is really fun to see if you can make each item have its own little personality.

I have figured out how to make little whistle pendants that blow from the top so that they are easy to blow even it you have them on a short cord. I am looking forward to seeing how they go over at the farmers markets this weekend.

On Saturday I will be at the Kerridale market for the second time and Sunday I will be at Ladner Village Market. ( I will no have jewelry at the Sunday market so I am looking forward to seeing how well the new whistles and shawl pins are received.) Now back to the production table, this time to make a lot of things the same.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Model Weekend

 Yesterday and Saturday I took the week-end off from markets. Saturday I: water proofed my market tent with my husband's help (that took part of Sunday too), took some product shots ( attempting to use the tent and a giant light box), and went to visit a friend on the North Shore (doing shopping on the way so that I would not be wasting the trip). Sunday I did production all day. Well, I spiced it up with a little innovation. I think the my next online tutorial will be the wafer bead, I will try to get that out before the end of the month.

Now the week begins. I have to get busy because I have a couple of markets this coming weekend. An so goes the carefree life of the artist.

Some of the weekends work: whistles, shawl pins, and wafer bead bracelet.
A young customer from out of town with a new pair of earrings.

My young model in the tent as a light box. The model was great but not sure about the tent.

Friday, August 17, 2012

At a Good Clip

Something new - pin curl style hair clips
A number of time customer have asked me to make this kind of clip. I had always ment to get around to it, but now that I am growing my hair out the reason people wanted these little clips became clear. With one hand I can adjust them to keep the hair out of my eyes. I have to grow my hair out because it will be easier to demonstrate how to use my hair sticks. I have be borrowing customers heads to do this for the last little while and now it will only be a matter of years before I will be able to demonstrate on myself. In the mean time I thank the patient customers that let me do up their hair in my booth at craft and farmers markets.

I have post a couple of pairs of these clips on Etsy and more will follow if they are as popular with others as they are with me. For Indigo Clip or Dragon Clips click these links.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Adding My Little Bit

City Hall at 5:00 pm

City Hall at 9:00 am

When my friend Linda Coe planned on making a head dress for an show in Vancouver, I was delighted to contribute a little by make some polymer clay crow silhouettes to add to it.

Linda combined the feeling of Hopi head dress with the art deco structure of Vancouver City Hall. Since the city hall in on the flight path of a daily migration of crows she shows the structure by day and by night with the crows wheeling over head.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

As Easy as Falling Off a Blog

Dragon stamp work and a new cat whistle
The plan had been to blog everyday, no matter what – nothing to say, no problem, - nothing to show , no problem. Well a week has gone by and I have failed to blog. Well I am back, nothing to say - no problem, but that is just how it is some days.
I have been working on a couple of orders and some production. Today I have to go to the airport to deliver some whistles and earrings to the gift shop there. It will be good to get out of the studio but after selling at Filberg and a couple of other markets last weekend I am itching to do something new in the studio – I love doing clay work but it is only part of the show.

You can still find my Dragon Parts Stamp on Etsy and I have just added the little cat whistle in the picture.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Slant on Coming Home

Hair pins - and unexpected success
Under the skiff on the way back
Filberg was great and usual and this year was even better because I was able to stay with friends. The festival closed earlier this year, at 6 instead of 8 so there was actually time to visit. We even had time to fit in two claying sessions. Tuesday morning I headed home from Comox.

I arrive at the ferry terminal to be told at the gate that I would not be able to board a ferry until 12:40. Since it was not yet 11:00 I settled in for a wait. I managed to get all cozy lying in the front seat with my feet up against the passenger side window, water and toasted almond at hand, and a talking book on the
CD player. Very comfortable if you are not to choosy. After a few chapters I hear a tap the window. I open my eyes to see the friendly face on a ferry lot attendant saying “ Are you alright?” “Sure, I am just listening to a book,” I reply. “Well you should be getting on the ferry now,” said the young attendant said trying not to laugh. I scrambled into and upright position and started the motor.

On to the ferry I drove and up the ramp and … Well stop right there. Blocks were put my station wagon’s back tires and there we were under the bow of and aluminum skiff. It felt like a 45 degree angle but I guess it was much less then that. I put on my sandals and went to the upper deck to draw in my sketch book and chat with some visitors from Japan.

And so I am home again.  Today unpack and organize and with some luck back to clay tomorrow.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Almost Live from the Pokadot Tent

Tomorrow will be the last day of the Filberg Festival. The weather has co-operated, if a little to warm for some. My tent is in a great location, right between the entrance and the exit, under a mulberry tree. It is fun to watch the people stop by for a snack. The tree is covered with blackberry like fruit with no thorns.

The market awake

My tent and the mulberry

The polka-dot tent
When I get home I will get to find out how to remove mullbrry stains. I experimented with cold water on one of the hanging and I don't think it will be a problem. If the spots don't come out I will have an excuse to doodle over the whole tent.

A Morning View

I am not having a lot of luck blogging while I am on the road. Lots of people, ideas, and activity but not a lot of motivation to sit down and write on my little net book - sorry net book but I miss your big brother at home. This post is just to show what the part of the market looks like when vendors arrive in the morning. I will try to take the same shot when the market is open.

Friday, August 3, 2012

On the Road

I intended to blog yesterday but intentions have a tendency to go awry. Later today? This is the first day of the festival - looking forward to a fine sunny day.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Getting it All in the Wagon

Almost ready - on the ferry tomorrow early.