Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Ho Ho Ho

Whistle tree with stitch marker ornaments.
Ho Ho Ho - One day off and one to go.
Joy to the world and all that good stuff.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Things are Looking Brighter

Today is winter solstice and the days will begin to get longer again. This is always a good day. We are back to rainy weather but everyone is cheerful and busy.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Vancouver Does Not Heart Snow

Vancouver rarely gets snow, and when it does it looks great but everyone gets in a flap. If a city only gets a snow fall of any size every five years or so it does not make sense to spend a lot of money on snow removal equipment. So the market was remarkably quite only five days before Christmas, but it was cozy inside and there was enough Christmas enthusiasm to buoy up the spirits.

Friday, December 13, 2013

At the Market a Whole Lot

I got word today the I will be at the market from now until the 29th of December. Not much time to blog.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Don't Go Off Half Baked

If the cone breaks you should cook your piece again
When you have many hours of work in the oven, why take chances?

How many times have you heard someone tell about all the hours they have put into a piece of work to have it break when they were sanding or finishing it.  It is heart-breaking to put all those hours in to have that happen.  A tiny scrap of polymer clay can save you a whole lot of grief!

When I cook my polymer clay work, I use the highest temperature possible to ensure strength, tent it with a piece of card stock it to prevent scorching and include one or two small clay cones (less than an inch long) so I can test the strength of the baked work.  After the baked clay has cooled, I try to break one of the cones.  I do this by pressing the point against the table. It should bend but not break. If the cone breaks, it has not been baked long enough and needs to be baked a second time to strengthen the finished work. You should also check your temperature to see if it is hot enough. Use an internal oven thermometer for this – don’t trust the dial on the oven because oven temperatures vary.  If the point of the cone bends but doesn't break then the work is strong and tears are avoided.

Some clays are stronger than others.  Sculpy III is more rigid and comes in great colours - I would not recommend it for delicate items that will be worn or used every day.  Fimo, Premo and Kato Clays are strong enough for functional items but there can be differences from colour to colour.  The cone is always a good idea to detect the changes.

Some pieces require a number of cookings. Each time I include a cone to make sure that the cooking time and temperature has been sufficient .  If you are working on a large piece in a large oven it is wise to test different parts of the oven for temperature variations. When you are using an oven for the first time strategically placing cones around the interior of the oven.  A test cooking can let you know a lot about the potential of the oven.

In spite of the fact that I am in love with my new Breville Oven that delivers lovely, even heat, I still use a cone and once in a while I still need to cook work a second time especially with dark red items. I do not know why this happens only with red. (Fimo Classic number  #23, my favourite colours, requires extra care to make sure  it is cooked long enough and hot enough to be strong.)

Well, there it is, use a tiny amount of clay and save yourself breakage, tears and money. Just pinch off a little clay from whatever you are working with and make a little cone. The clay can be a mixtures of colour, just a little bit that you are going to use as backing or the core of a large bead. Come on, now you can spare that much clay to save your friend from hearing your weep about a broken piece.

This was first published and a magazine article back 2011 but since it is important and it was not in my blog I am including it now.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Santa Lives at Shawnigan Lake

 I am back from Out Of Hand, a splendid event. While I was there I met a family that does all the Christmas ornaments and puppy art that I get asked to do but don't. Here is your chance to see and perhaps buy some of the cutest polymer clay figures ever. Lasting Impressions by Mirella is the place that you want to visit. Well I exaggerate when I say Santa lives at Shawnigan Lake but for sure a family of his elves do.

The other polymer clay lead came form a energetic woman with a charming French accent. Her name is Francoise Moulin she is currently selling excellent nougat but she has working in polymer clay in a big way. She made a large mural at the Vancouver Convention Centre. I want to track this down but that will not happen until the new year. I the mean time I found a book she illustrated called Jill and Jogero.

Tomorrow I start at Granville Island for a bit of elf work myself.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Getting Out of Hand

I am of to Victoria this morning to set up for the Out of Hand craft fair at the Crystal Gardens in Victoria. If you are in the area drop by and say hello. "No time to say hello, good bye - I 'm late, I'm late..."

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Michelle Rocks PC

One of my favourite things to do is to work cooperatively with another artist to create some thing new. That is what happened here. Michelle Vulama paints rocks. I  mentioned her in the blog back in May when we were in the same pod at Granville Island Market. One day I tossed a polymer clay rock I made to Michelle saying that she might like to paint it. Well Michelle has delivered. On the last day of the Culture Crawl she visited my studio with these two little treasures. Michelle's work is so detailed and three dimensional that photos really do not do it justice. I am honoured to have provided an alternative canvas for her work. If you are in Vancouver check her website for her market dates and come and see the real thing at Granville Island Market.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thank You All for the Crawl

 A terrific event at your our new studio space. Thank to all that came. ( well over 2,500 )

Now we start getting ready for 2014.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Set up for Tomorrow Night

We are all set up for tomorrow night. Seeing my paintings up on the wall makes me want to do some paintings again. It will have to wait for the new year. Now we will wait for the visitors and hope that it doesn't rain too much.
Ray outside the studio and a few of the pictures within.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Walk the Crawl

I am dividing my time between working at my table in Granville Island Public Market and setting up for the Eastside Culture Crawl. The Culture Crawl is a bid deal in this neck of the wood. About 400 artist are participating and some of the building are large with a dazzling array of work. The Crawl area is also dotted with many smaller studios with many wonders of their own. I am hoping that you will give the smaller studios a visit this year. Especially come and see us at:

884 East Georgia ( near the corner of Geogia and Campbell streets.) 

The Crawl hours are :  
Friday,  November 15  - 5:00 - 10:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday November 16 & 17 11:00 am - 6:00 pm

We are also participating in Preview Night 
Thursday night between 6:30 and 9:30

 Please come and see my work and that of my studio mates.

Ray Ophoff  , Philip Mcdermott and  Gailan Ngan

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Not in the Circle this Time Round

Earrings, whistle and pendents almost finished.
For the first time in the last couple of years I have decided not to participated in the big Circle Craft Show at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Instead I will be spending next the rest of this week and much of December at Granville Island. Not charge to get in, I am happy to be able to work during the quiet moments and great company. For any regular customer at Circle Craft I hope they find time to drop by the Island during the holiday season.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

PC Cleaning Cloth

I am sure that most people who do polymer clay know this trick but I include it in case there are beginners that haven't stumbled on it yet. It is sort of an extension of the previous Tidy Clay post, I find that the handiest and most effective way to clay up polymer clay bits is with a sheet of conditioned scrap clay. You just press the sheet in to the stay bits and instead of throwing away a cleaning cloth you just run the mess through the paste machine and it is ready to go again. Of course that the scrap is always good for bead cores and a dozen other used, so with polymer clay there really isn't thing as truly scrap clay unless it has hardened beyond redemption.

If your clay is almost beyond redemption you can take a look at this old post.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Delights of a Vancouver November

Our street today. Real Vancouver rain and the heart of a Taiwanese style cabbage.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Tidy Clay

The clay that you see my son conditioning here is anything but tidy. It is the kind of clay that you mix with softer clay. The kind of clay that crumbles like like stale cake on a bad day. One of the ways we have found  to keep things at least a bit little tidier is to make a sheet of clay that has been partially or completely conditioned and spread it under the rollers of the pasta machine to pick up the crumbles. The crumbles can be folded into the conditioned sheet under the blades and conditioned further. Not ideal but it works. Ideal is to have someone else condition the nasty clay
 Thanks Max.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Classic Pumpkin Heads

One of my talented artist neighbour, Brian Sleeman uses ever opportunity to do something interesting and different. This year Halloween is at home on the farm.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Home Party Hell

My strawberry bowls visiting the real thing. Not Mary Kay.
This is a warning to craft people who get invited to a craft sales, especially corporate craft fairs. Well meaning people that admire your work will invite you to craft fairs at companies, institutions or special events. Beware and do more research into the fair that I did.You might find yourself in the company of Mary Kay, Stella and Dot, Lia Sophia, and the old lady of them all Ms Tupperware. Along with; the party girls there are candles, candy and smack foods sold by freelance sales people that turn up at events that may be billed as craft fairs but are not in the least. This is the situation that I found myself in. One of three craft booths in a room of twenty tables of these party people. Sure I sold a little but I really felt out of place and I don't think that I would put myself in that situation again. It is difficult to compete with "shiny glittery 50% off and maybe you can be a sales person too".

Here is a site that will give you more information on the party people. Then again you might find party life just what you have been looking for. In that case go for it but be kind to craft person that may have wandered into an event by mistake.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tin Can Wonders

This is a polymer clay site but once in a while i see work in another medium that takes my breath away. Tin Can Knits is such a site. Look beyond the POP blanket and you will see knitting patterns that are not only beautiful but adapted to fit all ages. I know that there are those of you out there that don't mind knitting. This is the sire for you. Makes me feel like taking up the sticks myself. Even if you are not a knitter take a look. A great story of what can be done even with the Atlantic Ocean in the way.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Knit City - Now Get Ready for Next Year

Please rotate the image 90 degrees in your mind
Knit City was a blast! Even better that last year. Fiona and Amanda, you are amazing!

Thank you to Mayu Takasaki, my neighbour and helper during the event. She knits the way I would like to in  an alternate universe.

One of your customers came back the second day to show us one of my shawl pins in action. Mayu snapped this picture but my photoshop reorientation seems to be "corrected" when I uploaded the image.

to be cont. tomorrow.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Knit City

Today I will be setting up for Knit City , two days of fibre fun, starting tomorrow. If you are in Vancouver or near by and interested in fibre craft this week end should be fun. I really enjoyed Knit Citiy last year. If you are looking for me there I will be in booth number 37, that is back to back with Nell's Embroidery. We are in the back corner. We have corners. Like corners. I have lots of buttons and shawl pins. Come and say "Hi"

The last few months have been busy in a good way but I would like to get back to blogging more. I will try to get back to it in the future but on the horizon lurks the might commercial behemoth, Christmas sales.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Off to the Island for Two Weeks

Rushing toward the holiday season and Knit City at the end of this month leaves little time to blog. I have to manage my time better nest year. Is not not always so?

Drop by if you are at Granville Island Market.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Summer is Truly Over

Summer is truly over. The rain is boiling down and the garden is looking sad. I have harvested the last of the summer vegetables and I am looking forward to having a cold frame by next spring. It is not the cold so much as the rain here that does so many of the summer vegetables in.

This does not have anything to do with polymer clay unless I make tiny vegetables and count the garden as research. No, the garden is just to keep me reasonably sane.

I have been trying to figure out postage rates for small packages. A good activity for a rainy day. If things are 2cm (3/4 inch) things are okay but if they are thicker the prices get rather high. I am not sure if anyone would be willing to pay six-teen dollars in postage for and item that is eight-teen dollars.

This is more of a rant that anything. I just wanted to make one more post before the month was over.

Monday, September 23, 2013

September - Sliding Toward the New Year

Shawl Pins awaiting shawls
I simply cannot find the time to blog recently. I had visions on blogging from Granville Island but it something that just has not worked out at the moment. This is the time of year that artist and craft people gear up for the holiday rush. There is a constant worry - first that we will not have enough to sell balanced by the fear that we will sell very little. All that we can do now is try to produce the right stuff and take our chances. My next show away from Granville Island is Knit City - I hope to have lots of fibre friendly goods done in time.

A Little view of my table at GI

Thursday, September 5, 2013

It's All About the Edges

Yesterday my son was polishing some of my work on the buffing wheel. Most was fine but some didn't measure up. The front was nice, the back was fine but they didn't feel finished. It was the edges.

I realize that it is always the edges the give the feeling of finish and quality

Years ago when I was working as a landscape maintenance person, my boss told me that even is I could not get a task completely finished by the end on the day It makes the job look intentional and to some degree complete. This is what I strive to do in life.

should finish the edges and rake up the mess.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ruler of a Paper World

I am back working at home after a two week spell at Granville Island. I love the Island but it is good to be a home for a while.

This time one of my pod mates was ndavid, paper artist. Ndavid is a regular at Granville Island. The paper cuttings he does are amazing, from famous buildings of Europe to patterns derived from Japanese playing cards, this artist is always presenting his fans with something new. You can see the magic of his paper cuttings Monday, and Tuesday and Thursday and Friday at Granville Island Market.  Ndavid does not have a website but if you just have to get a piece of his art contact me for more information.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Over the Hump Day

I am half way through my August two week stint at Granville Island Market The ten hour days leave me little time to blog. I thought that  I would be able to blog while I was there but it is proving difficult. I am not able to overcome distractions when it comes to bogging. Luckily I cannot be distracted from making things with clay.  Here are some of the thing coming off my table.

Whistles and bowls made at the market.
The company is great, the atmosphere always interesting and I am thoroughly enjoying the experience. I will be at the market until next Tuesday, August the 27ith. I have a friend looking after my table today and that is why I am able to write this. She also helps me out on Friday and Saturday afternoons. Thanks Lorene I don't think
I would be able to do this without you.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Back to Weather as Usual

After a record sunny spell Vancouver has returned to the clouds and the occasional sprinkle of rain It has not stopped the crowds from coming to Granville Island. Walking back to my car the blackberries were particularly fragrant. They are falling on the ground now and those who want to get a bucket full will havae to hurry. Some many reminders that summer is drawing to a close.

I will be at Granville Island until August the 27th. One of my pod mates will be leaving at the end of the day tomorrow so you will have to come then to see her silver work that uses texture and forms from nature.  She will be back in September and you can check out her web site.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Return to the Garden

Work awaiting polishing, garden awaiting weeding.
When I started earning my living with polymer clay a friend who I had done gardening maintenance with would say to me, " Come back to the garden, turn away from the dark side."

Well I doubt that many artist would think that they were in league with the dark sided, but it is true that the last few busy years I have not been as attentive to my garden as I would like to have been. This year I actually have a bit of a garden and I feel that it is a place of solace and peace. As much as I love my craft it is good to get a away from it for a little while each day.

Shawl pin and earring awaiting sending.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Birds of a Different Feather

Flying bird, heron, and egret - whistles all
I love a challenge, especial if it is not offered as a challenge. For example, another craft person said in passing. "Do you think that you could make an egret whistle?". Well, I am not sure that I have it yet, one of the birds looks more like a heron than anything, but the challenge has set me off in yet another direction. I think that I will try making a chess piece knight whistle now. Yes, there is a connection, but it is structural rather than thematic.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Thank You Comox

Last years purchase used with style.
The Filberg Festival in over for another year. I want to thank all the people who came by the tent to shop or just to say hello. There were many people that I remember from previous years so Filberg always feels something like visiting friends. This feeling is compounded by the fact that I actually get to stay with a friend while I am in Comox. Thanks Janet. It is great to get stay in a home with real people.

Changing light from morning to afternoon.
For those who know me well enough to realize that I don't actually walk with a cane, may I assure you that the cane was a temporary fix for a right hip that went strange for part of the week end. Thanks Laura for the company on the way and for driving on the way back. The road is always shorter when traveled with a friend.

For customers who came looking for buttons and beads,

I apologize for their absents this year and they will be back next year if I am lucky enough to return.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Again with the Limitations

Let your limitations set you free. Who said that? I am sure that someone other that me has said that. How does that apply to production art? For me the limitation of pallet or shape frees me to explore other possibilities. I just finishes a bunch of shawl pins with the same shape, three possible colours of clay, and four possible colours of antiquing and I am happy with the variety that emerged. Limitless possibilities makes it almost impossible for me to be creative. Give me limitations that I can pull against any day.

Right now time is the biggest limitation. The day after tomorrow I will be driving to Vancouver Island to set for Filberg Festival. It's a great event and if you are on the Island maybe I will see you there. I am not sure if I will manage to blog while I am there but I will try.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Production Crazy

I am trying to get things ready for Filberg, starting August 2nd in Comox but tomorrow I will be at Ladner vi. I will not be at the Ladner Markets during August.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Just Whistle

Whistle becoming an orchid
I have come to the realization that there is no way that I will be blogging every day while I am at Granville Island. During the ten hours a day I am there I make enough things from polymer clay that needs some finishing touches at home, that the rest of the day almost is fill up. I have also begun to reclaim my garden from the weeds.

I am happy how things are going though. I am trying a lot of new things and some of my whistle are taking a turn for the botanical.

Across from Granville Island on the Mainland - fish!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Premo Smudge - Just and Observation

I am in the habit of leaving the label or part of it on sheets of conditioned clay, especially for a clay that I have not used before. I usually use Fimo and have had no problem with this practice. When I tried this trick with Premo the ink on the package label smudged. This seems to be old packaging, perhaps the newer packaging will not so this. The printed surface of the packaging was not in direct contact with the clay but the ink dissolved. I will continue to observe.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

New Twist on the Blues

Silver and Carnelian - moving upscale
I am having a rest from Granville Island but the inspiration that comes from being there has upped my game.

Tomorrow I will be at Ladner Village Market. The car is ready to go and I will hit the road at 7:00 AM. I am lucky to be so close some of the vendors start of at 5 AM and some come the day before. If you are in the the area between 10 AM and 4:00 PM, come and join the fun. There is great music, eats and lots to see.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Shoe Shelf Storage

A - covered up. B - Stuff revealed. C - Folded up ready to go
I am away from Granville Island for the next six days. Sunday I will be at Ladner Village Market, but I hope to get a lot done in the next few days.

It is proving harder than I thought to post from Granville Island but that is not for lack of ideas. One thing that is making my life there easier is fold up storage shelf that helps get thing off the floor or my limited workspace - organization will be the nest step. I highly recommend break down shoe shelves for light break down-able storage in small spaces.