Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Made in Canada

I just celebrated my birthday lately and I always try to give myself a challenge for my new year. A lot like a New Year's Resolution but without the gym membership. This year's challenge was inspired by this September's Vogue magazine. It's been a long standing tradition of mine to buy that edition and make myself a pot of tea and peruse the pages of this "bible" of fashion. It used to be that I'd dream of owning clothes like that or to look like the models on the pages. Well, that was then and this is now. Now, I study the pages and try to decipher the trends not in clothing but in the images that portray women and what that says about us and the world we live in. I include my daughter and her little friends and ask them what they think of the pictures and the clothes and what it says to them. I get some pretty funny and honest opinions. The sociologist in me is doing an informal experiment on social norms and views.
I was reading about Fashion Week and seeing the different countries who participate in the makings of the world of fashion. I didn't see a mention about Canada or so very little about Canadian designers and thought that that was a great shame. We have many great designers and I thought of the innovative and industrious spirit of Canadians. We should be in these Vogue pages. Then I realized that most clothes even all the ones in the Vogue are really made in China or Indonesia. Not much is made in Canada anymore. And I wondered if I could buy Canadian-made anymore? So that was it! My challenge for this birth year is to only buy Canadian made clothes for myself. The cost would be higher per item then what I'm used to now but I'm past the phase of buying new clothes every week or even month so it should be fine. Since it was my birthday I'd try to find a piece or two to start me off. Well, that search was mostly fruitful in eliminating most of the stores I usually buy from.
I found one store that sell women's clothes. It's in a nearby mall, ,and has lovely clothes manufactured in Canada for their own stores. I'm sure the fabrics are not Canadian-made but it's made here which is a good start. Then I found another company who makes jeans.
They make these very comfortable jeans in Montreal and I found a store who sold them. They actually make them in my size and for a whole year's jeans budget I bought a pair that I love. The store who sells them went above and beyond in service and that is commendable.
I am pleased with my start to this challenge. Of course, I'll wear what I have now but my money is going only to Canadian-made for at least one year. Is this going to get Canadian designers in the Vogue pages? Maybe not but it will be my small act to get them there.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Little Black Pearl...

This PCAGOE challenge was started with a little black ball of clay. We could turn the rest of the project any way we wanted as long as you could see the little black ball somewhere in the piece. As an added twist we could take inspiration from a piece we saw in one of Sage Bray's The Polymer Arts magazine or her blog.
This piece sprang forth from a blog post showing off the work of Daniela D'uva shown on August 6 2014. I had been thinking of doing a  black pearl and seeing her piece put me in the mood of making something 'sea-like'. So, Black Pearl it is! I wanted to show the insides of a shell and a black pearl as it is when you first open it with the sea foam still there.
The seashell is a mg cane made of pearl green, pearl blue, purple and black. I covered the black pearl with iridescent mica powders and sanded a bit off of the top to show the black through. The sea foam is from a neat trick I learned from a fellow sculptor.
This piece was a lot of fun to make. I have learned so much from making this series of bowls and have pushed my Art in new ways. So, what pushes you to learn new things?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ironcraft is Embellished!

This Ironcraft challenge was about embellishing something and I thought of adding bling to something. Bling is, however, not really my style and I wasn't getting very excited about that. I like to make things that I will use and I love to find new uses for old things. I was looking at some bracelets at a local craft show and it got my ideas flowing to make some. I have made lots of bracelets and they have always been my favorite adornment to wear. And I've been sewing and quilting up a storm so I've got all these bits of fabric everywhere. I was cleaning up some remnants left over from a up-cycling project. I used an old Gap jean shirt to make a journal cover and I noticed the rolled hem of the bottom of the shirt. And inspiration hit me! What if I used that to make bracelets? Would they be sturdy enough?
Well, they are. I think they make the cutest friendship bracelets. I used some buttons from my eternal stash and added some ribbon for the closure. I painted one, braided another, embellished as best I could with the tools I had on hand. They are quite sturdy and the button closure with the ribbon is an easy way to put them on and take them off.
Not to toot my own horn but sometimes I think I am such a clever girl. Using the hems of shirts to make friendship bracelets, inspirational indeed. I gave them to my daughter so she could test drive them. She was all for it. I know I'll make more because I up-cycle old shirts all the time. I'm thinking of using plaid shirts or braiding coordinating colors together. These bracelets take minimal sewing and I've found something to keep my hands busy while I watch TV at night. You know, instead of eating chips!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Something for the Home!

This PCAGOE challenge was about home decor. A very wide range of ideas can apply to this criteria. I decided to show off a bowl I just finished. I had made the shell, the genesis of the bowl some time this winter but it wasn't finished.
I usually know what I want a bowl to look like when I start but this one was an experiment with liquid clay and fabric. I had tried this with various fabric not knowing how they would react to the clay or the heat.
Over the last few months, the bowl progressed to its now finished state. The fabric is a satin polyester, very pale pink with some darker bits here and there. When I saw it in the remnants pile it reminded me of the petals of a peony. It wouldn't be anything I'd like to wear, just not my style but I liked it anyway. Applying liquid clay to fabric is fairly straightforward, it's like paper mache only with clay. It does use up a lot of clay. I added a base to the bottom of the flower. I decided to embroider some dyed hemp cord to look like lines and then I added the bone and glass beads to give the cords some weight. It still didn't look finished. I strategically added inks to look like blotches and lines in the petals. Now I am happy.
It looks like a fragile flower but in reality the fabric with the clay make a very sturdy material. I am having so much fun making a bowl a week. I have to admit that some weeks I produce more than one. They don't all work out but I learn more every time, about my Art and about myself.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ironcraft au Natural!

This challenge was a head-scratcher for me. I kept trying to think of what I could do that used all natural, outdoors materials and then I remembered a trip I took with my family years ago. We were driving down to Myrtle Beach. We stopped on the highway at this place with play structures so my son could let off steam. It was in North Carolina I think and you could still hear the cars whizzing by but what was amazing were the trees. There were these huge fir trees, some of the tallest I'd seen. And at the bottom of these trees were the biggest pine cones I'd ever seen in my life. I just had to take some home, not really knowing what I would do with them besides admire them. I had these visions of a Santa's village with the pine cones acting like giant fir trees. Well, that was 12 years ago and I still don't have a Santa's village but they did inspire this challenge.
So, I painted the ends with green and red paint and glued them to a flat rock I had in the flower garden. They looked a little lonely so I went back to the shed where I kept the pine cones and the decorative rocks were sitting on the counter waiting for me. I glued them next the "trees" and made myself a nice little nature scene to sit in my flower garden. They have the words; Truth, Wisdom and Compassion engraved in them. Words I try to live by. The gargoyle got a kick out of the whole thing. He's smiling so he must approve.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Ironcraft Gets Its Stars and Stripes!

This Ironcraft challenge was to be inspired by stars and stripes. I had so many ideas for this and so little time to make any of them happen. That seems to be the going song in my life. And then I went to the Vermont Quilt Festival in Essex Junction and my mind filled with even more ideas and projects. What a wonderful day I had. It was my first time in a show this size and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The quilts on display were mind-boggling for a novice like me. I wondered around admiring, gawking and the like and then I'd get tired. So I would go find a place to sit. There was a wonderful room, air-conditioned, that hosted talks from the various vendors. I learned a lot about thread from a nice young man who sell thread as a family business. I learned about Japanese inks and all you could do with them. I couldn't resist them so I bought a bunch. Then I got up again and went to admire even more quilts. Then it was lunch time so I found a table to share with some nice ladies and they shared some funny stories with me. I met up with these same ladies during the rest of the day and felt like I had some new friends admiring along with me.
I pretty well spent the day walking around until I wanted a break then finding a place to sit and meeting some very nice people from both the US and Canada. I bought a few things and met back up on the bus with my guild ladies who had pretty well done the same thing I did. It was a glorious day! How is this related to this challenge? They gave us a tyvek bracelet as proof of payment when we came in. Mine had stars and stripes on it. When I got home I wanted to keep the bracelet and decided to play with it to make me a pretty bracelet as a souvenir of my day in Vermont. I busted my scrap pile and chose some jeans and a pretty blue fabric to make a cloth cuff. I inked the pretty blue fabric and then sewed the tyvek over both the jeans and blue fabric. For the underside I chose a red gingham from my stash and made a cuff that is held together with my bird button. To finish it and add a little more color I sewed an over-hand stitch along the side. I think it picks up the red in the tyvek very well.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Mother's Day Inspiration!

The June PCAGOE Challenge saw it's first flame of inspiration at Mother's Day. I take yoga classes with a fantastic teacher who teaches us the yogic observations before we start the physical class. Inspiring herself from the upcoming Mother's Day, she spoke of nurturing, holding and bringing forth into the world. In her musings relating these concepts to our movements during the practice, I heard her say: "Essentially, a mother's womb is like a bowl on legs." Well, that sparked all kinds of crazy ideas in my head about the possibilities of translating that statement into a bowl. It would be perfect for a bowl theme to continue with my Bowl a Week Challenge that began early this year.
The June PCAGOE Challenge is Mixed Media and I was looking forward to that to try my hand at adding various things to clay. The two became a match made in heaven. Frankly, I was agonizing over making legs. I was afraid that the weight of the bowl would crush polymer legs or they would be too clunky or something. Then I thought of using ceramic legs from an old doll. Perfect mix of mediums if I do say so myself. So I made a base that was big enough and thick enough to withstand some handling, something the legs could stand on. Then I made grass so that my doll's legs could stand in a meadow. I added glass stepping stones and a few metal bugs. I fashioned the bowl to look like a pelvis and hips. The bowl had to hold something and following my yoga teacher's idea the pelvis would hold the earth. I had a glass earth globe in my trinkets and commandeered it for the service of this piece. I didn't want the earth globe to be loose in the bowl. Using my secret recipe for making bubbles the globe now is floating on top of a gush of water coming from the pelvic bowl. I added some Flowersoft grass around the edges of the bowl for a more organic feel and Mother's Hips was born.
It's amazing how a few simple words can jump start ideas and actions in others. Have you ever been inspired this way?