Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Such a busy weekend

The clay room at Morrisburg

I'm still recovering from a fun weekend at Morrisburg, Ontario.  It was the annual retreat for the Clayamies of Ontario and Quebec, and we had a good, but tiring, time.  As usual, members gave interesting classes and demos, and I think everyone learned a lot.  Just being in a room with a lot of dedicated clayers and seeing their remarkable work was inspiring and made the trip worthwhile.   The clay room was open 24 hours per day and at least some members made good use of the time.  

This year we started off by going around the room and telling secrets about ourselves, an ice breaker that led to a lot of good stories at Happy Hour.  For a small fee, I will repeat some of them....

We did have an unfortunate drama, however.  One of our members was rushed to the hospital at 3am with life-threatening heart problems, but she seems to be improving.  We all wish Christine a fast recovery.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My first, um, .....

I call it Reef Dreams, but I'm not sure what it is - a sculpture, a miniature, a cute knick-knack? It is about 5 and 1/2 inches across and about 4 inches tall, so it's larger than dollhouse scale.  The image just popped into my head and I felt compelled to make it.  Now the question is: would anyone buy this?  Apparently people buy little scenes with fairies and dragons or mermaids.  Scuba divers would like it, I think.

Everything, including the large shell the scene sits on, is made of clay except for the string of "pearls", the jewels on the crown, and a few beads in the chest.  If I make any more, I would probably try to make everything out of clay.

(For those who don't scuba dive or snorkel:  the purple thing is an anemone with a clown fish peeking out of the tendrils.  It is poisonous, but the clown fish is immune.  The tall, thin lavender thing is a sea fan.  The green ball that looks like a brain is Brain Coral.  The tall red thing is a sponge and so is the yellow thing behind the sea fan.  You really do see those bright colors underwater.)

What do you think?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Workshop Quirks

This is the sight that confronted me as I approached my workshop this morning.  You see, I'm just renting my house and there is wall-to-wall carpet everywhere.  I can't afford to muck it up by tracking clay around, so I put down some make-shift floor covers in the studio and I keep one pair of shoes to wear in there.  I kick off whatever shoes I'm wearing, go into the room, put on the "studio" shoes and go about my business.  When I leave the room, I reverse the procedure.  It's a pain in the you-know-what, but it will keep the landlord from suing me for damages.  Sometimes when I leave the studio, I don't bother putting the original shoes back on, and then later, end up wearing ANOTHER pair of shoes to be deposited by the door.  I decided they were a tripping hazard and put them all back where they least, for a little while.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Cane Slicing

I'm pretty good at "eye-balling" measurements, but I wanted to be even more exact for slicing canes.  Anything to lessen sanding requirements, right?  I've tried different cane slicers, but none have given me the precision and uniformity I desire.  The Precise-a-Slice from ValKat Designs worked the best for me, but I was still having problems.  The stiffer blades are thicker and had a tendency to mash down the cane and make marks on the slices, while tissue blades are so flexible, I kept getting curved slices of varying thickness.   My hands couldn't hold the tissue blade rigidly enough.  Then this morning I had a brain storm - my jewelry saw might hold the blade!  Sure enough, it did, and it worked especially well when I cut the blade to the shortest length possible.  For paper thin slices of canes with translucent sections, I'll probably still hold the cane and blade in my hands, but so far, this method is working very well.  (The Precise-a-Slice is available at Polymer Clay Express.  Scroll down the equipment page to find it.)

Here's how I did it.  I used tin shears to cut a tissue blade to a length of 3 1/4 inches.  It was very easy to cut, but be sure to wear eye protection!  Then I put the blade in my adjustable jewelry saw, making it as taut as possible.  Again, be careful doing this because the cutting edge of the blade will be up while you are pushing against the saw to tighten it.

I centered the cane in the Precise-a-Slice and stabilized it with some Super Sculpey (putting some on top of the cane, at the back, keeps it from rising when you slice), and then I sliced by holding the saw so that the blade was against the guides and angled slightly.  So far, I've had good luck slicing at the thinnest increments marked on the device.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Another vessel

Here is a second vessel from Seth Savarick's class.  I'm quite pleased with it.  The top and cord are navy blue, which is the same dark blue in the mokume gane.  It just looks a lot lighter in the mokume gane.

I'm glad I'm not the only one feeling some creative malaise lately, probably as a result of a much too long winter.  Libzoid has been feeling the same way.  If you check out her blog, you can take a peek at the studios of different clay artists.  She features a new one each week.