Saturday, December 29, 2007

Assorted Little Cratchitts and Inspiration from the Grinch

As Bob Cratchitt may have said if he was a blogger... "I've been making rather merry and such a long silence on my blog only happens once a year"... (if only someone would interject & raise my salary!!)


Here I am again, very, very rested. Set for 2008 and resolving to stick to my earlier decision to end production work and to focus on OOAK only. My friends the Moxies will remain but I have a new twist in mind and I can't wait to get started on it!

Sojourn is coming closer... I have the task of putting together the "paper infrastucture" for the event -the schedule- assigning people to workshops based on pre-registration forms and putting together some little events in between workshop times. I'm actually having a lot of fun with this- reminds me of being a student teacher and making a lesson plan and playing the scenario in your head searching for something that may cause a glitch. Maybe that's why last night I dreamed I was in university residence again... I digress. I'm hoping to have this project finished asap so I can dive across the room to my worktable and begin claying again!

A final observation (not from Tiny Tim Mr Dickens!) for many, many years we have watched "The Grinch" on the realtime feed from the TV network or with a VHS tape and always thought the colour did something outrageous to my set- it blurred past the contrast setting and sometimes even caused an audio buzz. this year I purchased the DVD and we watched the show in high definition. The colours are absolutely dazzingly wonderful! Pinks and oranges- shifts of tones from the foreground main object to the background colour- someone could write a thesis on the theory employed in this production! I recommend that anyone who loves colour cue the DVD for a look- turn the volume off. Make it an academic exercise- it's a joy.

That's all for now folks!

Cheers and goddess bless us everyone!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Snowberry Ornament

I used some glass disk ornaments that I found at Michael's to make tree ornaments for shows and the Clayamies' Ornament Swap. Here's one with the Snowberry theme that I've had so much fun doing over the last few months. The ornaments were strung on a selection of assorted fibres and embellished with beads and bells. Snowberries and Fish were by far the most poplar designs.
Add one more goofy craft show question to add to the "What Are They Thinking At Craft Shows?" list- I had the ornaments displayed in my booth and lost count of the number of people that picked them off the display, brought them to me and asked,"What can you use these for?"

Monday, December 17, 2007

Weather or Not: 'Tis the Season

This is the time of year that my friends from less balmy parts of Canada who know that I LOVE snow send me photos of the blizzards they are enduring. I always feel less "Canadian" in wintertime. Victoria very occasionally does have a dusting of the white stuff but the area where I live in has a distinct micro-climate so that it may be snowing 2 blocks away but it comes down as rain on my street.
I just returned from a walk to the village and took some photos to illustrate what I mean about my quirky climate. I know I have visitors from many countries to this little blog- perhaps these photos may dispell ideas of all of Canada being covered with snow all year round....this is typical for Victoria in December. (nothing to do with global warming!- )

PS- Speaking of Global Warming-I apologise for my country's bad behaviour at the conference in Bali- I did NOT vote for the current government. most Canadians didn't- it's actually a minority government that embarasses us constantly.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

An Invitation to Sojourn 2008- Nanaimo, BC- Canada February 22-24 2008

Yesterday I spent most of the day putting together a new blog to let everyone know about Sojourn 2008. It's the first ever Vancouver Island Polymer Clay Artists Guild's Retreat and it's shaping up to be a really exciting event. Here's the new Blog- take a peek!
We have a fine group of presenters - here's some eye candy to let you see the inspiration we have in store-
Tina Holden

Wanda Shum

Joan Tayler

Cheryl Trottier

Georgia Ferrell

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Liz Hoar's Polymer Clay Creations- A Feast of Colour

Liz Hoar is a member of our Vancouver Island Polymer Clay Artists Guild. She has a wonderful eye for colour that is reflected in her work with polymer clay as well as the colors she selects in her own wardrobe. Her studio is a treasure trove of gorgeous fibres spilling from bags and containers, reams of glorious fabrics and fascinating machinery and tools. She's an innovative polymer clay artist and anyone who has ever been lucky enough to receive one of her pieces in a swap is always delighted.

Here is Liz's West Coast Forest-inspired ATC from the last guild meeting, two of her bracelets and one of my favourite pc swap treasures- a matchbox vessel with a funky personality .
Love those colors Liz!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Winterfest- A Claynadian Tradition

Here in Canada we have a National Online Polymer Clay Group- Clayamies. It's a close knit collection of polymer clay artists. Each year we get together online and celebrate Winterfest- a cyber party! In spite of vast distances between us and time zone shifts of 3 hours (sad to say no Maritimers were able to join us this year) we partied for several hours last night. We lit candles to begin the festivities, exchanged gifts, sipped assorted beverages, relished snacks and laughed for hours. Before Winterfest began each of us had written a list of wishes for the upcoming new year and we had a little ceremony where we all burned our wishes-sending them up to the sky....

I have a gift for any Canadians reading this- you are invited to join Clayamies! Go to our website at & follow the links to become a member. You can also find links to regional guilds.
Here are photos of some of the gifts that were exchanged. Kudos to all and honourable mention goes to Canada Post!
Snowflake by Vanessa Betcher
Wire legged (& hard to photograph) vessel by Gera Scott Chandler
Stemware charms by Georgia Ferrell
Bottle by Kristine Ovens
Dragon by Tina Holden

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Vancouver Island Polymer Clay Artists Guild Meeting

Today I went to the VIPCAG Meeting here in Victoria. We're planning "Sojourn" -a polymer clay retreat in Nanaimo in February and there was much to discuss. There will be a terrific selection of workshops and demos by Canadian polymer clay artists Tina Holden, Wanda Shum, Cheryl Trottier, Joan Tayler, Georgia Ferrell, Barb Alexander and myself. We'll also have vendor tables and a silent auction. There's a lot to do but we have a terrific organising committee and we're all very motivated and excited.

Once we finished discussions we hauled out the clay and had a great time making ATCs (artists trading cards)... With the Christmas season, kids with flu and craft shows our numbers were down but we still had a wonderful day together.

Here's Kristine and I with Liz in the background. More pics asap.
Our meeting was at the Scouts Hall in Fairfield. There are very old and quite wonderful murals on the walls- 1920s-30s? There is a sign in the hall asking for any historical source info.... they sure piqued my curiosity. You can see a bit of one in the background.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Please Go Back to the Krazy Drawing Board

I use Cyanoacrylate glue a lot and like most people who use it I am frustrated by the inevitable clogged nozzles, unwanted dribbles and stuck-together fingers. When I saw this Brush-on Krazy glue I almost danced in the aisle of the Hardware Store. What a wonderful concept!! Sad to say I can't recommend it, I think that they have somehow diluted the stickiness so that the brush doesn't harden up in the bottle. The hold on polymer clay is not reliable at all, especially on vessel seams. The Krazy Glue people have to go back to the drawing board... it still sticks skin tho!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Studio Cleanup

Today my organiser Linda Lake came by to "do" my studio. She drops by every few months when I begin to have difficulty finding my worktable. Linda has come up with a lot of wonderful ideas for organising the space including the terrific rack for storing all my fibre. The polymer clay is stored in plastic containers turned sideways and drilled into the wall- I credit Genevieve Jenkins for that wonderful idea! Before I begin to wreak destruction once again I've taken a couple of photos.
Here's my worktable, it's far too small- I hope to replace it with something with drawers.

This is the general Storage area, plastic bins with white lids store completed work.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Betwixt and Between and another favourite artist...

The blog doesn't show it but I have been claying! I made some ornaments and an item for Clayamies Winterfest chat- every year we have a cyber party in MSN and exchange gifts that we've mailed to each other. Some years the party has included particpants from coast to coast to coast as we say here in Canada. As everything I've made is literally under wraps I can't share here until after the swaps.

I have also been doing a lot of that in-your- head claying. The kind you do at 3:oo am when you wake up and start manipulating polymer clay while you are neither asleep or awake. The key focus in that imaginary studio has been boxes and once I get out of bed I have been using a lot of scrap mud coloured clay to do make n' toss experiements.

There's no production line work any more but a lot of good wheel spinning.....

Yesterday I was Google surfing for a 2008 day planner. I was looking for one with Klimt images and I saw an image on the cover of a book that stopped me in my tracks. I wasn't familiar with him by name but to me he's up there with Klimt and Modigliani - Friedensreich Hundertwasser - what an incredible inspiration! I spent well over an hour exploring his work and I plan to do more today. I love the way he attacked pristeen architectual lines and added magic to urban landscapes. do a google search to see what I mean. I'm concerned about posting pics here for copyright reasons but here's a sample from a poster website- hopefully they'll appreciate the free advertising.

Friedensreich-Hundertwasser- Arche Noah-

Monday, December 3, 2007

An Exciting Milestone!

I had confirmation that "Salmon Woman" was included in Sue Heaser's new book The Encyclopedia of Polymer Clay Techniques! Here's Salmon Woman- she's currently on display at The Gallery of Artisans in Victoria. This is the first time one of my pieces has been included in a publication and I'm very excited. My friend Genevieve Jenkins took the lovely photographs.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Postponing Production, Presenting Workshops and a Vanity Fair Time Out

In my last blog I mentioned that I really want to move away from all that production work. I find myself bogged down with just too many items in the product "line". I think production was blocking the time I needed to reflect and to come up with new ideas. It certainly restricted the time I needed for making more serious pieces as well as spending time with family and friends, running and working in my garden. I have wanted to take this step for the last few years but as soon as an order for work came in I worked to fill it. This year the focus will be on OOAK pieces.
I also plan to offer more workshops this year. My Secretive Woman Workshop was difficult to arrange as it required a venue with a full sized oven and took two days, so I'm "re-designing" the format so that the workshop can take one or two days and each participant will be able to participate using a toaster oven. I also am planning a box-making workshop. I'll be posting more details after the holiday season-if anyone is interested in participating in a workshop, let me know!
It's exciting to make a big change like this! I celebrated by sitting back and enjoying the December Vanity Fair...(the Christopher Hitchen's article had me in stitches!) The photo of this lamp by Marie Christope made me pick up my roll of rebar wire and cutters... I LOVE pairing polymer Clay and wire and what fun to make something bigger and more complicated than my production line Beachstone Stemware Charms !

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Polymer Clay Fish Purse Completed

I've finished this very funky little fish purse. It's a modified inro design measuring 4x4 1/2.
It's been so pleasant to focus on one complex project. I've been doing a lot of thinking about the impact of production work and my creative may be time to restructure what I'm doing.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Fish Purse- Day 2

Here's a detail of one of the the narrow sides of the purse on the second day of construction.... tomorrow I'll add more surface embellishments and the straps.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Pet Polymer Clay Peeve

Anyone else been all set to make something and you crack open a nice new Premo or Fimo package and realise it's dry and crumbly and that you'll have to stop and spend time conditioning? It just happened to me again... fresh Fimo "Soft"- purchased on sale at Michael's last week. Right now it's in a baggie saturated in Sculpey Clay softener- (actually I'm sitting on it to get it softened up asap. )I once had an old food processor for this issue but it burned out. My main clay supplier actually sends free bottles of clay softener with each order... I think that's thoughtful but it really isn't the answer for people who are working with clay professionally who lose time doing a job that shouldn't be required in the first place. I wish the manafacturers would consider this issue. I don't think I'm the only one who gets frustrated with having to stop in the middle of a project....

The Fish Purse

I started the day by finally clearing off my worktable so I could actually locate my pasta machine! Once cleared I got the main background sheet set up for the purse. A mix of greens and purples.... after the next few steps in the process the colours will be much more subtle and designs will be picked out.....

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Polymer Clay Purses

I received a commission to make a fish themed purse. It's a fun project because it involves purple and green which is a colour combination that I love. I haven't made a purse for several months and it's going to be a pleasant break from the production work I was doing in preparation for the shows.

I made this purse for a wearable art display in the spring. I was beginning to experiment with the flower theme that I've used a lot on the teapots. I used thick buna for the handle. These purses have been used as functional hadbags or decorative vessels. Purses with long shoulder straps and hanging beads are used as decorative wall hangings. A lady at the last show was looking for one with specific colours to hang in a narrow alcove in her home.

I'll begin work on the fish purse tomorrow!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Polymer Clay Paperwork, Trying To Be Green & Looking Ahead

I have spent the last 5 days submerged in paperwork. After the shows I organised all my stock and set it up for shipment to six different outlets. I had to inventory each item- some galleries request that each item be given an inventory code on a price tag. Then all the items needed to be wrapped for shipment. I ran out of bubblewarap after a while... I always balk at spending a money on bubblewrap, it's expensive and when you are an artisan, profits are hard enough to scrape together! My new habit of carrying cloth bags and declining plastic at the grocery store has impacted my packing- plastic bags were a nice light and clean packaging material- better than newspaper- but I have absolutely no plastic bags in the house! I was wondering about putting autumn leaves in the box to act as a form of stuffing but decided not to as I recall having a flea infestation in my house once when I brought masses of autumn leaves in for a papermaking project. Sending fleas to galleries might not make me too popular so I ended up using newspaper. I may consider popcorn in the future.

All boxes have been shipped or delivered except for one that is scheduled to go next week. My inventory is almost all gone. What a wonderful time to consider what to do!

Two years ago I was really interested in making boxes.... I think I'll return to the concept for a while. I also have a new idea simmering- inspired by these photos I found in a google image search... more soon.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Clayamies Polymer Clay Christmas Swap

Clayamies is the Canadian online polymer clay artists group- we have an annual Christmas Ornament Swap and I'm sending 16 ornaments to the group and will receive 16 treasures to add to my collection. I've begun to purchase a "Charlie Brown Tree" each year which goes in my porch and is adorned with these beautiful Claynadian Creations. I took a photo of my swap contributions in the mailing box....I don't want to spoil any surprises so the actual items are camouflaged! I'll do a reveal when everyone has opened the swap boxes.
swapping is a wonderful way to learn... if you are a newbie or a "pro" you should join in! I was so blessed that many accomplished Clayers were swapping when I joined Clayamies.
Are you a Canadian Polymer Clayer?... join us at

Monday, November 19, 2007

Post Show Reflections

aMused Creations Booth at The Gifts for Myself and Others Show- Victoria BC 2007.

Without a doubt- The Gifts for Myself and Others Show is my favourite Craft Show! There's such a wonderful sense of professional camaraderie between the vendors and the visitors are a very arty crowd with terrific insights and great conversation, it's a delight!
There's an odd thing that happens to me at the end of craft shows.... for the final half hour of the event I'm very focused as I putter about the booth arranging like-items together so that when packing time arrives I'll be able to put everything away neatly and once home I can put tightly organised boxes of work and booth supplies in the correct locations in the studio. I suppose some people are able to do that but in spite of all my best intentions I'm not one of them. It all begins very well but then things slowly begin to fall apart... family members arrive to help and items are hurriedly stuffed in bags with unrelated objects. Order is lost... once home I have a pile of boxes requiring several hours of sorting.... and where is the envelope of the proceeds from the show?! (phew!- in my purse! )
Apart from the usual post show organisation disaster area I'm delighted with my show season- next year I'll do more shows!
Of course the booth still needs more work- better lighting is at the top of the list but had really good feedback and excellent sales. Here are some pictures of the booth on the last day. The booth still has that sort of chaotic "organic" look- maybe that's just "me"...I'd love to have a sleek looking booth but then again my work isn't "sleek" in appearence so perhaps the booth reflects my overall style and I should just go with the flow.
Speaking of organic and somewhat disshelveled-I'm taking a week to reconfigure my house.... What a mess! I also have to pack boxes of work for shipment to galleries and a show in Sooke.
As for Polymer Clay... conversations with some people at the show have given me an idea I'd like to explore, I have a couple of commissions to work on- a fish themed purse to start with and I have to bundle up some ornaments for the annual Clayamies Christmas Swap.
Finally--- I surrender!- I'm investing in a serious session with a professional organiser who drops by every few months to re-organise my workspace.... it's a wonderful investment that gives me so much extra time for claying!
The intimidating post show pile..... help!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Linda Rajotte- Precious Metal Clay Artist

Today is the final day of the show it's been so much fun and so busy that I have forgotten to take a photo of the booth in it's latest incarnation! I'll do some when I get there today- my rep Teresa is looking after the booth this morning so I'll have a chance to walk about and get some photos of the fun.

I've had the pleasure of having Linda Rajotte as a neighbour at the show. She's an amazing Precious Metal clay artist. I love the way she incorporates natural items into each piece- it breathes west coast..... You'll be able to see /her work in person at The Out of Hand Show at the Conference Centre in Victoria. She doesn't have a website or blog yet but she tells me it's on her to do list. She's also a certified pmc instructor so I'm hoping that the Vancouver Island Polymer clay Artists Guild may be able to have her conduct a workshop for us.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Gifts for Myself and Others Craft Show

Here's an invitation to anyone in the Victoria area to drop by and say hello at The Gifts For Myself and Others Show this weekend. This is a wonderful event hosted by the Island Artisan's association. The venue is small enough to give a cozy feeling but large enough to present a wide range of exhibitors. The live music is wonderful and make sure you bring an appetite because the International Womans Co-Op caters a mouth watering multi-ethnic selection of food. It's a great weekend destination!
friday November 16th, 12am-8pm
Saturday Novenber17th, 10am-6pm
sunday November 18th, 11am-5pm
The DaVinci Centre -195 Bay Street Victoria BC

See you there!

Muse for a Stormy Day

I finished this Secretive Woman Muse yesterday. I had her on the counter and was considering if I liked her hair... I thought I might take off the grey tones and use black instead when my son came in and said she looked like she was a wintery storm. So no changes- here's Gale.

Show number two begins tomorrow. Vendors will have from 8:00 to 11:45 to have everything set. I'm glad that I had a dress rehersal last week!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The show is over!

I've have had time to catch my breath and take a day to work on two Muses. Here's a scan of the colour palette for one of the pieces I'm doing.

I did quite well at the show- sold a good volume of work, picked up a couple of commissions and made connections for possible future projects! The stormy day was very bad for business- I have to say that was the single worst day I have ever had at a craft show.

I had a major concern that the show had been advertised to vendors and customers as being juried- once there it was plain that the "jurying" process was seriously compromised. There were vendors selling mass produced items. There was even a Regal Catalogue Rep. Some artisans felt as if they'd need to lower prices to compete. It just didn't feel as if Canadian based artisans were competing on a level playing field.

I don't plan to attend that show again... one year they may just discover that they won't have any local artisans attending.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Last Day of the Show

Today is the last day of the show. We have a howling windstorm outside with 90 kph gusts. There are widespread power failures - it may be a rather quiet day at the show....
In preparation for taking down the booth I got rid of the hand cart from hell! Here's the replacement... if you are in Canada and need a lightweight super cool little hand cart head to Canadian Tire- it's on SALE! I gave it a test run yesterday and it's like a little sports car compared to that nasty clunker that gave me so much grief!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Set Up and the Hand Cart from Hell

I really hate that handcart. I got to the show for set up and the evil handcart began its sabotage. It became jammed in the back of the car and when it became dislodged it crashed into the bamboo ladder and crunched several shelves off. The handcart continued to rebel by stoically heading in the opposite direction that I was pushing. It also had a manic tendency to swerve towards pottery and glass booths. I won't go into the weird choreography I developed to manoeuvre the thing but I know I managed to provide great entertainment to several hockey teams standing outside the arena.

The handcart is FIRED. I'll be purchasing a new one before this show ends.

Things continued to be challenging- I left the grid stands in the basement at home so I needed to strap the grids to the tables which has given my table coverings a rather disheveled appearance. Without the stability stands I couldn't use both ladders which wasn't too bad since the handcart had ruined one.

The show began. I had a lot of great response- not only to the polymer clay- but to the booth! During the quiet times I made a to-do list- first item was to get the stability stands in the car and the second was to repair the ladders.

This photo is the day one shot. I predict each day will show modified configurations- when is a booth ever finished?

If you are in the Victoria Area I hope you'll drop by and say hello! Here is the Info Site for the Creative Craft Fair....