Sunday, May 24, 2015

Pearl

This month's challenge for the PCAGOE is Retro. I love these themes, they leave everything to the imagination. Retro could mean so many different things. For me it is about a time that my life was simpler and all I worried about was where the next party was. Music was a big part of that. My friends were all musicians. People playing guitar and writing up songs was a daily event. They still play music but our lives have gone in different directions.
My inspiration for this piece came from a friend's obsession of posting photos and songs of Janis Joplin. I wanted a piece that showed the hair and the smile and of course the feathers in her hair. I always wonder what she would look like now had she lived. Would she have belted out all those emotions to make her message heard? Would she had gone into the quiet night? She certainly touched quite a few people in her short life. This piece is to honor her and all those women who need someone to hear them.
The funny thing is that I thought I had captured the smile and the hair. My sculpting skills are not that great as to make it look like a photograph. I knew that it wasn't a great likeness. Then I got a good chuckle after catching a glimpse of myself in a mirror. The sun had darkened my glasses and I was laughing at something someone said and I recognized my piece. The face looks more like me than it does like her. So there is truth to the saying that the artist putting herself into her art.
I welcome conversations about what retro means to any of you or if you have had a similar experience on a piece you made. For now, I think I'll go turn on the music.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Ironcraft Says: "This is Faux? No!"

When I saw the theme for this challenge I was very glad. Doing faux with polymer clay is as natural as knitting with wool. Polymer clay lends itself to so many techniques that making it look like something else is one of the first things that attracted me to the medium. The piece I chose is a bit of conundrum though. We all know that the tools do not make the artist. I cannot blame the clay for this one.
I set out to make faux leather. I've done it before and it turned out very well. I chose this bronze colored clay and made this bowl. I tore the edges to resemble torn leather. This was the same technique I've used lots before. Now this particular technique is baked first and then assembled. After I assembled the pieces together I stepped back to what in mind should look like torn leather strips. Well, it doesn't look like any leather I've ever seen. It has more of a metal sheen, some very new and shiny copper.
This is another lesson on never assuming that things always work out the same even if you do the same thing. The last time I had used different colors and the bronze color has been changed by the Premo company. Either way, it's a cool looking bowl. I'll let you try to guess what it looks like. I'm going back to the drawing board. lol

Thursday, May 7, 2015

We Were All Girls Once!

Our retreat in Morrisburg, ON is over for another year. I've finally finished unpacking and processed the new things I've learned. This year, imo, was the best so far. They are all great but this year had an extra umph. And a big part of it was the generosity demonstrated by the clayers at the retreat as well as those who donated their beautiful creations for our fundraiser. There are things about the running of the workshop that we learned and will do better next time.
The fundraiser, though, was a great success. We had gifts from various small companies and from bigger ones. We had gifts from our fellow clayers willing to share their talent and creations with all of us in order to achieve the goal. And the goal was to raise money which was to be donated to http://becauseiamagirl.ca/ . I am so proud of how much we raised this year. It exceeds my expectations and more.
I always explain the reason for this fundraiser. It is simply because I have a wonderful life where I am safe and can pursue my dreams and ideas without having to think of my survival every day. This gift (because be sure that is it a gift to have been born in the right country) is not a given to every other girl in the world. This always fills me with such sadness. And then I ask myself what can I do?

I am so proud that we raised ourselves up to the task and helped in this way. Thank you everyone! We will probably never know who this donation helps exactly but we can sleep at night knowing that we tried. It is with consistent effort that we change our world. Thank you for accompanying me on this journey.
OK, enough mushy stuff, time for some numbers. We raised 688$ at the retreat this year which is almost 3 times what we raised last year. I donated the amount through http://plancanada.ca/GiftsofHope/products/33-Matched-gifts/ . With the matched items that we bought like: help for children with HIV, bed nets, birth certificates, quinoa, harvest baskets, emergency aid, food baskets for families, a Mom shop, clean water and baby chicks. The total amount of the donation that our 688$ bought is 4626$! That is so cool. This was all possible by every one's small efforts taken together to create something so huge. We are so much more than the sum of our parts!
This photo of a piece I did at a workshop with Gera Scott-Chandler last summer, was the closest I could find to the theme of this post. She was inspired by a portrait of a young girl in my cottage. Thanks again everyone. Together, one step at a time, we can change the world.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

With the Help From My Friends

I'm off to our long awaited Polymer Clay Morrisburg Gathering tomorrow. We are in for a fun 4 days of claying and laughing. I can never remember how many years this gathering has been happening. It will be my 4th. It will also be our 2nd year at joining the event along with a fundraiser for http://becauseiamagirl.ca/ . We have lots of great prizes from all over and I promise to take photos of them all and post them when I get back. I can, however, post those donations who came to my house before the retreat. The ones in the photo below come from my fellow PCAGOE members. I thank those who took the time to share their works of Art. This will enable us to share the wealth with others who need it most.
From the top left, going clockwise, we have a filigree bird ornament from Beth Petricoin of  https://www.etsy.com/ca/people/createmyworld. The beautiful green cuff is from Susan O'Neill of https://www.etsy.com/shop/11boldstreet. The magazines of from Sage Bray of http://www.thepolymerarts.com/. And last but not least is the cool Bib necklace from Betsy Strebe of https://www.etsy.com/ca/people/polyclaycafe. I, for one, am bringing extra cash for this silent auction type of fundraiser. It's lots of fun, your chances of winning are pretty good. And the money goes directly to the organization and the girls who need it. Thank you fellow PCAGOE members, you guys rock!

I Love Making Fish!

This month's challenge for the PCAGOE was 'fish'. I started early in the month and the hardest part of this challenge was to stop making fish. Not all my fish were worthy as a challenge piece. I made a sculpture that was to be a Beta fish. You know the type you buy your kids when they are young because they only need a bowl of water instead of expensive fish stuff. They have long flowing tails and are deep colors. My Beta looked great until I took a photo. There is no way it looks like a fish. I didn't see that though until I took the photo. It was such a strange experience.
Then I made a bowl shaped like a fish and that turned out cool until, again, I took a photo. The bowl has ripped edge that are highlighted with antiquing paint and when you hold it up close it is really cool but the camera does not pick up those nuances.
I decided to go with a necklace I'd made a few years ago that is one of my favorites. It is one of my first attempts at jade and sculpting. The beads are sculpted into fish and the focal bead is two fish together, head to tail. Let me know if you like it and if you have ever had the same experience about the photography. My skills are not at a professional level but I get by. It was almost like the pieces could not translate to photography. I'm sure a professional photographer could get beyond the problems. For my part, I'll keep trying and I had lots of fun making fish for the last 3 weeks.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ironcraft Says the Letter D

This Ironcraft challenge was to let ourselves inspired by the letter D. I chose to make a Dresden Flower from a quilting pattern I tried. It turned out quite well, I'm pleased. The construction time though was wrought with doubt at the outcome. The principle is fairly straightforward. You cut 12 shapes that resemble a wonky rectangle. You fold them in half and sew the top. When you press them open they make the flower petal shape. Sew the 12 together and you have a flower. The stem and center are appliqued.
My self proclaimed project of learning how to quilt has shown me the core issue in successful quilting. It's all about the math. I know I was surprised when I figured that out!
Quilting is about cutting larger pieces of fabric to sew them back together to make a pattern or a design. The precision in the cutting and the sewing makes the difference between patterns being aligned or not. With time I will be able to easily tell between a 1/4" and a scant 1/4". At least I hope so. In the meantime I'll give myself easy, beginner projects to give my brain time to sort out all the details. The learning curve will give me ample time to appreciate the work by the experts and to work up the pride I will feel when my points finally match!

Monday, April 13, 2015

I Have a Dream

Honestly I have many dreams. I dream of fitting into my new jeans, of riding my bike this summer. I dream of finding that the little green trees that jump out of the bottle on the Mr. Clean commercial really exists and that one day I will buy the right bottle. Much like the golden ticket in the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I dream that my children will grow up happy surrounded by people who love them and jobs they love. I'd like to extend that dream to all the children in the world. I'd like to be able to hold them all safe. In this world, however, that seems the dream with the tallest order.
A few years ago I was introduced to the organization  http://becauseiamagirl.ca/. It was a yoga conference and the funds raised were helping local women going to help build a school in a war-ravaged country far away. I've since encouraged many people to consider this organization when choosing a charity to work for. Plan Canada, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCukuAvhBPU#t=148, is the go to organization in Canada. For our 2nd year now, we are organizing a silent auction and raffle of donated items. Last year, we raised 240$ with our raffles and with the matched donation program available on the site (there is little logo that shows you which donation is matched) we managed to make that amount turn to 1900$ for the girls and families of ravaged countries. I felt very proud of that. Now, since we are polymer clayers many of the prizes were one of a kind works of Art and I cherish the pieces I was lucky enough to win. When I look at them I am reminded that together we can change the world, one step at a time. We are having another auction/raffle this year, again with prizes coming from all over. So, for those of you who are coming to Morrisburg this year, bring some extra cash and take a chance to win something super cool. It will warm your heart and your soul to know that your dollars with help a girl go to school or have clean water for her family. These things are basic for you but they are not a given for many families in this world. Together we can make a difference.
The photo is a sculpture I made inspired by The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. I love that story because it's is about a girl who slays the dragon in her own way and learns to live by her own standards.