Monday, December 17, 2012

Ruby and lush green macro

I’m jumping in for a quick word before the holidays swallow us all up – in a good way, of course.  I took these pictures in the summer and found them again while cleaning up my photos.  Just fooling around with macro shots in the kitchen…it struck me that they are Christmas colours, well, sort of!  Close enough and just full of wonderful detail.  My afternoon glass of cranberry juice never looked so rich!




      Translucent ruby veils of colour… followed by the cut up Spring onions on the board to be tossed into the Jerk Pork Tenderloin marinade! (One of our favourite meals…)

          IMG_1944          IMG_1945

           IMG_1942                 IMG_1947

Hmm, some polymer connections too, which is probably why I whipped out the camera in the first place.  I recall ,too, solemnly chopping up garlic cloves and admiring the wonderful shapes of the cross-sectioned garlic.  Can’t seem to find the pictures so maybe I just went ahead and cooked them!

Happy meals with your families!  Happy holidays if I don’t get back before Christmas!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

(Living amongst) Bead Table Wednesday disorder

I certainly didn't intend it to be this way.  I never do.

But the good news is that I'm walking slowly and steadily towards the light and tomorrow at 3 PM will be the first of 3 or 4 scheduled updates for my stores!  I never stopped working over the summer (can't break that flow of ideas, after all..) but the finished work just kept piling up and now it is an absolute priority to get all this work listed.  Closure, and perhaps some money…what a great plan. Just as long as that light I see is not the oncoming train!

  Of course not, it’s the blinding light of my computer screen!     (had to move to the desktop though, my beloved Blackberry is too slow for this!)

Such a familiar and comforting sight, along with the knowledge that I’ll be sitting in front of it for a good little while ahead.  Ugh… familiar to lots of you.

                  IMG_0066                          IMG_0060

I’ve been trying to organize a way to make listing faster, but of course, while setting up any new system, there is a period where you are actually slower than if you weren’t trying to improve everything.  Most of my stuff is one-of-a-kind, but there are certainly groups and subgroups, so I’m trying to make as many ‘generic’ draft listings as I think might be useful in Etsy’s not very user friendly draft listing folder.  (You can’t rearrange them, unfortunately…)  Generic listings such as ‘pod’ or ‘Complex pod’ or ‘strata bead’.  These generic listings contain the basic information such as  basic tags,price, materials and how, in general, this particular subgroup of pieces are made or came to be etc. Then, in theory, you just plug in the information relevant  to the particular piece you are listing, plop in the photos and list!  All this works because the draft folder allows you to copy your generic listing and by so doing, allows you to keep it for the next time that you have a piece in that series! I almost cried when I realized you could do this. This saves a lot of either flipping around in sold listings, searching for sold listings ( I just know I sold one sorta like last year etc.) and copying and pasting.  In a lot of the generic listings I’ve assembled variants that I’ve written about the pieces concerned. SO easy to cut, rather than find and cut and paste.  But it takes time and thought to organize the generic listings to my satisfaction.  When I become that self-disciplined and organized person that I am so looking forward to being, you know, the one who does at least 5 listings a day come hell or high water, I know this system will work well.  It’s already working well for some lines!

                   IMG_0055                IMG_0064   

I’m also changing the way I store the work before it’s listed.  I recently scored a hit on Kijiji and bought for practically nothing lots of those plastic cases with dividers and transparent tops so you can see through the lids without opening them.  Some of them are double-sided, very neat! Thing is, I used to store all my finished work neatly and separately in plastic bags, but they sort of became invisible and I sometimes forgot what I had. Also, there was a lot of  mucking about with bags while getting the work out to photograph, and then a second lot of mucking about putting it back into the bag with my sometimes arthritic hands and fingers. This works better – I have a case devoted to holding what is going to be photographed that session and then after the photo shoot it goes into a plastic jewellery bag and stays there until it’s sold.  (Those tiny jewellery bags drive my hands nuts but they do present well…)


So yes, when I get through this shameful backlog of work, I probably won’t need all these cases.  But it was worth the $15 to have them!  Sometimes, I make work and I’m not sure about it.  It’s great to have a dedicated case for work you’re brooding about. Then, after a little time, ‘tada!’ You can open up the case and see how it hits you with fresh eyes – all in one place!  AND, I might add, without having to paw through those damn bags.

Back to the grind.  Tomorrow, going live!

Monday, September 3, 2012

and the winners are….

I know and I apologise…I’m late.  The run up to school has suddenly included (among other things)  a complete overhaul of the kid’s rooms, including a paint job.  I’ve been meaning to paint their rooms since we moved in (4 years ago, says she with a red face) and it seems that now is the time.  The benefit is that now they can help with the job and learn about the joys of cheap renovation via painting!  Max’s room is a wonderful bright green which rejoices in the name of ‘Lime Freckle’.  Suits him…he has wonderful freckles, though not green ones.


A couple of shots of Max’s new green womb…he coils himself in there and reads for hours…


Rachel’s room isn’t quite finished, but you can see the blue she has chosen.  It looks too Madonna’s robe blue here and is actually a little greener in real life.  My camera doesn’t do blues well.  Here is a demented shot of the wonderful (if a little sinister) Victorian doll’s house that Rachel inherited from her great aunt.  Yes, it is filled with miniatures…

My wonderful daughter also cut out all the entries for the draw and I folded them up into small bundles.  Somehow we like this better than the old random number generator, possibly because we are luddites at heart.  My daughter is no friend to technology (although she can work her way around a computer just fine, thank you…) and I’m seeing at school that it isolates you from your peer groups if you’re not connected.  But that is her choice – we all have to use technology in a way that works for us!  But I digress…you’d like to hear the winners, no?

              IMG_0015                      IMG_0014     

                                        IMG_0016                  IMG_0017
         And the winners are.......Peg Gerrard and Linda Sudimack!
I don't have email addresses or shipping addresses for either of you, although I see that Linda has an Artfire shop linked to blogger, so I'll try sending a message there.  If either of you see this please contact me through Etsy or this blog so I can get your mailing addresses and send out your winnings!
And please, check in with me tomorrow as I’ll be adding my first video (made by me…) to my blog.  It will be up tomorrow barring any more unforeseen technical glitches.  Oy, the world of video formats and converters is horrible….

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

30-40-50 sale and a celebration giveaway!

                   giveaway August sale1
                          This collage features GIVEAWAY #1
I'm coming to the end of my necessarily unproductive summer, filled as it is with childish frolicking and short vacations here and there.  Also some teenage moaning about not knowing what to do....a first for this family!  Admittedly, the continuous heat has sapped our enthusiasm for endless outdoor stuff, except for biking over to the nearest public pool and jumping in as quickly as possible.  We have one more week of vacation and then my two will have to start practicing in earnest for late summer and early fall auditions, and get mentally ready to start the new school year which begins on August 30.  Music school starts on the 21st of August, if they are accepted!  Toooo early.......
I have a lot of new work to list in the store and it seems to me there is rather a lot of older ( but hopefully still interesting?) work in there that's been around too long for my taste.  I'd like to clear some of this out in preparation for the newer stuff so this would be the time to buy if you've seen something you like but thought it was 'a bit dear', as my mum would say!
Here's how the sale will run, for 3 days only !
Thursday, August 9th, 30% off all items in the shop (use coupon 345august9 to receive 30% off )
Friday, August 10th, 40% off all items in the shop (use coupon 345august10 to receive 40% off)
Saturday, August 11th, 50% off all items in the shop (use coupon 345august11 to receive 50% off)
All purchased items will be shipped out the following Monday and anything left from sale items will be moved to a permanent sale category ( of 30% off) in the shop.

                               giveaway August sale
                               This collage features GIVEAWAY #2

The giveaways are to celebrate reaching 1000 admirers in my Etsy shop and the amazing number of blog followers I seem to have.  Seems like yesterday when I had absolutely NONE!  All you have to do is comment on this blog (on this post, if you wouldn’t mind…) and I will enter your name in the hat to win one of the 2 giveaways featured on this post. The centre photo in each collage shows the total collection – focal beads, experiments and other good stuff.

I’ll be making the draws on Thursday, August 16, so you’ve got 9 days to enter the draw!  Good luck!

I wish you all the best, the most relaxing final weeks of summer…..

Monday, July 9, 2012

Shamefully overdue shop update

Just to let anyone know who might be interested that I'll be doing a big shop update at noon tomorrow. I have been diligent about working and finishing, but so much less so about listing.  I confess that I have at least 150 listings to add to my shop - by this, I mean work that is finished, tagged and ready to be photographed and written up.  There won't be 150 new listings tomorrow, but there will definitely be close to 30 or so -  some pods sets, some single pods, and some interesting new beads in sets, pairs and singles.  ( and some old bead friends as well.....)

I can’t explain this delay except to say that lately, I’ve felt compelled to experiment continuously with all kinds of stuff. Some ideas have proved to be fertile and interesting directions, others… not so much…but – I feel compelled to try anyway.  As though it were a race to the idea I have in my mind.  This may have something to do with the fact that the polymer world changes so rapidly and images and ideas go viral almost instantly.  For me, this creates a self-imposed tension ( I stress the self here) to try to resolve ideas and incorporate them into my vocabulary.  Perhaps a kind of ‘taking possession ‘ of the idea!  It’s ridiculous really, but there it is.

I think I just need to turn off the computer for a while…except to list, of course!

Listings will go live at Noon tomorrow in my Etsy shop!



            If you’re wondering what these are, well….

I think my kids might think I’m a little nuts getting out the camera to take picture of the sanded paint ridges on my old, old front door.  My wonderful kids are helping me with painting the trim on the front of the house – you know, sanding, scraping, primer, then 3 coats instead of the optimistic one coat you were hoping for.
I didn’t sand these cracks until after the first coat of the final paint  ( shoulda…).  But the paintings created by sanding back through the layers are so beautiful in their simplicity.                            


              IMG_0008                               IMG_0013

And now they are gone…

Permanently covered by 2 more coats of this blue (totally influenced choice after seeing the Van Gogh exhibition…).  I will play with these images in my computer and see what else can happen!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Old friends/new friends

Seeing Van Gogh up close....and meeting a new/old friend in the flesh.  What could be better?
The Internet is a strange classroom where friendships spring up and thrive in surprising ways.  You find yourself writing about purely personal things to people you've never actually met, and finding great satisfaction and comfort from this. Although, I have to say, I do tend to keep the personal stuff out of my actual blog, so neither I or my readers have to get squirmy reading it, and so my children don't have to kill me later....others bloggers understand how to write about their personal lives and I enjoy reading them:  I don't  do the personal well, unless it has to do with the progress of my polymer work.  Then, it's fair game, and I'm a little more relaxed with it.
                                                              Seascape #3 necklace
                                                                 jibby and juna,  Seascape #3 necklace
But last week polymer became more personal when I had an opportunity to meet Genevieve Williamson of jibby and juna, an artist I've admired for more than 3 years and with whom I've been corresponding for almost as long  (I just looked back at our 78 Etsy conversations about everything under the sun....).  Finding that the Van Gogh exhibition was sold out in Philadelphia, she and her family decided to visit the show's next stop at the National Gallery in Ottawa. I am so happy they decided to come here!  It was the first time they had been to Ottawa and there is lots to see and do.  Both of our families saw and enjoyed the Van Gogh exhibition.   I was surprised that I so enjoyed the IMAX film that was on at the same time.  There were many, many close-ups of his work.  These were exquisitely lit so that it was easier to see the texture- the swirls, hills and valleys of Van Gogh's frenzied brushstrokes.
                                                                        Image 1
                                                                        Carved ring
I think that if it is at all possible, the kids and I will be paying them a visit in Pennsylvania!  A wonderful family!   The only thing Genevieve and I would have enjoyed more is to talk endlessly about polymer and get playing with it together.  But you can't do that to your long-suffering family, can you?  My kids suffer my obsessions enough, I think.
                             Atlas earrings                                       Carved pods
                             Atlas drop earrings                                                                                 Carved pods
Obviously, I’m including some photos of Genevieve's work.   I'm thinking that most of you who read my blog regularly already know her work, but on the off chance that you don't, take some time to study her serene and timeless constructions.  These images are just a tiny dip from the jibby and juna bucket……And anyway, great work can never be enjoyed too often, can it?
                                          Sediment bracelet
                                           Jibby and juna     Sediment Bracelet
                                                    Echo necklace
                                                      Jibby and juna       Echo necklace  (click on the picture to see more about this lovely…)
Back tommorow with news of a shop update…

Monday, June 18, 2012

Macro – rubbish beads

Since I work a lot in white and translucent clay, sometimes tinted, I generate a fair amount of colorless scrap which isn’t very interesting.  Lately I’ve been playing around with ways to use it up with stuff I already have lying around – Pan pastels, Genesis Heat set paints and alcohol inks, for starters.  I’m always drawn back to making Natasha beads ( inside-out beads) because I enjoy the process tremendously.  Who doesn’t love looking to see what they’ve got after cutting the bead open?  It’s the same thrill you get from revealing what your ‘stack’ contains in the mokume gane technique.  What I’ve become more obsessed with is the idea of controlling the result ( bad idea, Claire – relinquish the iron fist…) so that I can make bead sets.  And also, just because I like to understand process.  There is the distinct possibility that if I gain control, I’ll also loose interest or fall into a rut.  Will take the risk as I suspect that will never happen.

IMG_2597              IMG_2589               IMG_2594

Just made these all in the same basic shape and tried to work some contrast in – contrast is all-important in this sort of design.  I love the softness of the colour lines, and discovering which colorants bleed and migrate and which stay put.  Very interesting discoveries to be made for making other sorts of beads.


This pair has very soft and subtle color.  I love white paired with off-white, ivory or translucent.  Some lines are crisp and some are not…



     Just lines…

     Could be a little monotonous, but there are so many ways to manipulate the results and they are quite soothing compared to many Natasha beads. 


Then there are the wildly contrasting ones for a bit of excitement.  Not sure I really like them, but I certainly exerted control over the result.  See, you have to let loose…

                               IMG_2607                            IMG_2609


All in all, I think I really like these ones a lot – and the ones with just lines! Rubbish can be so satisfying…expect periodic updates along these lines.



   By the way, Live Writer let me crop the photo to the left by just clicking on the ‘crop’   command at the top left of the format header.  SOOOO convenient, instead of opening up another program to do it and then uploading it again.

So, a fun beginning, or, more truthfully, an extension of my investigations.  The blurred versus sharp lines are most interesting to me.  Side by side, they can really make things pop forward or sink back, depending on how your eye interprets it!


And of course, every post which includes macro shots needs these photos of my rotting bananas!  You’ll be happy to know that these beauties became part of a Banana chocolate loaf about an hour after these shots were taken!  I just really like the spots and freckles…

Oh, and I’m going to be in a book!  Great excitement, more on that to come…

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What planet was I on?

I love it when people comment on my blog.  Especially, I might add, when it alerts me to problems I didn’t even know I had!

A wonderful blogger from Australia took the time recently to tell me that it was impossible for her to leave a comment ( the comment box wasn’t visible) and perhaps I didn’t know?  I didn’t!  I had wondered why I had received so few comments, but then found that there were some funny issues that had developed with the new template I was using.  After fixing those problems, I received another letter from my blogger friend telling me that she used Microsoft Live Writer to help her format her blog posts quickly and easily – this after I had complained to her about how difficult it was to put photos where you wanted them in your blog posts.  Honestly, I can’t count the minutes ( and possibly hours) I’ve spent trying to wrestle with Blogger formatting. Perhaps some of you out there have struggled with this as well – perhaps I’m just lame and didn’t notice this program.  Whatever the case, I had never heard it mentioned until my hero Davinia mentioned it.  You must check out her blog – she’s funny, enthusiastic, generous, talented, and has great fun and results with polymer!  Check her out here:  Deez News

For me at least, there are 2 big advantages to using Live Writer.  The first is the easy placement and sizing of photos.  The second advantage is that what you see in Live Writer is what gets published.  I mention this in italics because the first time you use it, you might be fooled – when you ‘migrate’ your blog post to Blogger, the formatting appears to change and the photos get moved around and it generally looks dreadful.  Do not be fooled!  Preview your post on Blogger and check it – all will be exactly as it appeared on Live Writer!  Magic!

Photos are easily resized by clicking the image and pulling the arrow on the corner.  You don’t have to upload them as on Blogger, you just open them straight from your computer. Mine always disappeared on Blogger after I uploaded them, which I really hated!  You can choose frames for them, and you can do so much more that I’m slowly discovering…

microsoft live writer screen

The above is a screen shot of the main screen....

Below are  the possibilites open to you while inserting a picture…… note that there is an option to place your image within text!  I’ve seen people asking about watermarks for their images and they are right there as an option.

microsoft live writer screen.jpg1

Davinia wanted me to warn you that Live Writer works best with Vista and Windows 7 – Windows XP does not support the latest version of Live Writer perfectly.  Placement of images is not perfect in XP.  She says, though, that it is still better than wrestling with Blogger. 

SO, there it is – ease of blogging, finally.  Maybe Microsoft can help me with composition now...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The lure of transparent

Being a currently ex glass person, it goes without saying that I’m a sucker for things transparent.  For a long time, translucent was as close as you could come in polymer.  With the (newish) Pardo clay, you can go just a bit further down that road.  The results look a lot like sandblasted glass, which to me is a great plus, as I spent a good deal of my 18 years in glass with my hands in huge gloves peering into a sandblasting cabinet trying to take that pesky shine off my glass.  Who knew it could be so easy?

        IMG_2055        IMG_2051        IMG_2056

I’ve been messing around with this for a little while between other projects, but I did take the time to actually try and put a necklace together from some different elements that I’d made.  Oh, my sad and sorry wire work – I apologise in advance to all those who do wonderful wire work!  Just part of the ‘big picture’ learning curve that I seem to be stuck at the bottom of…I know this is not new material since I’ve already posted these on Flickr, but I wanted to talk a little more about the technical aspects of these.  Besides, not everyone looks at Flickr!
There are a few things to figure out -  whether the almost transparency stays if you add new parts to your polymer piece.  This is important to me as I like to add things sometimes, or at least, have the ability to ‘tweak’ something after curing the polymer.  I think, on the whole, that my experiments show that the best clarity comes after the first high temperature curing and it’s downhill from there.  Plan accordingly.  I’m also experimenting with adding various colorants to the polymer before curing, or applying them to the surface and curing again. On these beads I’ve used alcohol inks and Pebeo SetaSilk.  Not sure which I like best yet.

A funny constructed focal bead.  Love to play with elements and don’t seem to do it enough lately….
                      IMG_2299                      IMG_2307                    IMG_2309              

These Pardo elements are amazingly strong and flexible, in case you were wondering.  I’ve never seen a clay to match it!  It makes possible so many more design ideas that I have.  It’s not brittle at all…In fact, my only criticism of it is the way that it takes texture:  I don’t quite know how to describe it, but it sort of oozes and looses the texture unless you are very careful.  It’s worth remembering that no one clay is going to have all the characteristics that you want, and that perhaps, a better strategy is to work with and learn all the tricks of each brand and choose your clay according to the needs of your project. 


Ok, I know…a lot of pictures of the same stuff, but did you notice how nicely the photos are PLACED?  I’m going to have something to say about that in my next post.  Oh, the time I’ve wasted trying to get photos to work well in Blogger and it turns out that it is all so simple.  Placing them 3 in a row is just showing off, but I just wanted to do it because I never could before!
I’m making some of these beads to sell individually in my Etsy shop – what do you think?  I’d love to have some feedback from you, my patient and faithful readers.