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....

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Car That Ate A Polymer Clay Craft Show Booth

I LOVE my car! It's a pleasure to drive, looks good when it's washed and it can carry an entire craft show booth AND a handcart. I hate my clunky unwieldy handcart as much as I love my car.

The show is tomorrow but I always load up the day before. There's nothing worse than discovering the show equipment won't fit as you are on your way to the show! It's also good to occasionally check that all the car doors close as the car is loaded.

It's been a wonderful day so far! I was so delighted to see this blog posted on Cynthia Tinapple's wonderful Polymer Clay Daily. Thanks Cynthia- what a good feeling to get a boost like that on the day before a show! Thanks also to all the visitors that have left kind notes in this blog, in flicker and with emails.

So the car is packed - I'm ready to go. (is there a song like that?) A few little errands to do and I may even be able to play with clay today!
Here's the "booth" packed up in the porch. Luckily the green trunk in the corner isn't included in the load.
It all fits and yes, the rear door closed!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Muses and the completion of the booth design

I've always wanted to do a group shot like this and finally remembered to do it! Here are some of the "Ladies" who will be at the shows. Snowberry is completed and Lavinia has fresh lavender.

The booth is set now and I'm slowly taking items down- packing, tagging, making signs and determining pricing on items. Packing is critical, I have to fit the entire booth into my Nissan Murano. The packing is Thursdays project! I plan to photo the booth at the show so the"reveal" will be posted on Friday night..

It promises to be an interesting week- I'll make some more teapots, a vase and some more fusion bracelets and take breaks to scope the booth and make a to-do list. I also am filling that ubiquitous supply box- so far it has duct tape, extension cords, a power bar, spare light bulbs, bungy cords, scissors, price tags, sharpie pens, advil, spring clamps, rebar wire, pliers and wire cutters.... lots more to add!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Tagging odd shaped items.

Placing tags on items like teapots with knobs and handles is simple but when you have a vase with smooth sides labelling can be tricky. You can tape string from the inside of the vase but that isn't terribly attractive with a wide mouthed vessel. Here's my current way of tagging vases. Put a hole at each end of the label. Put the cord through the holes then thread beads through the cord. Put one bead into the vase and the tag will hang from the cord with the second bead acting as an attractive counterweight.

Label with cord and two beads

The label hangs from the bead in the vase.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The BeachStone Section

I have 2 1/2 feet of grid at one end of the booth where I have placed 2 bamboo ladders. We cut particle board to make little shelves which we attached to the ladder rungs and I glued pieces of the IKEA cutain fibre on the shelves. The grid is covered by red silky drapes. This is my BeachStone Section. Here's a detail of a couple of the shelves with my BeachStone Necklaces, Bracelets and Earrings.

The bamboo ladders are very attractive but they are best placed on carpeting or to have some sort of anti-skid end cap as they can slide on tile floors.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Mix and Match Beachstone Earrings

I found some titanium earhooks while I was looking for something else (what was it again anyway?) and thought of putting together a few earrings that look pretty funky on this wire mannequin. As I can't exactly match the BeachStones I've decided to market these as a Mix and Match item. They are addictively fun to make - sort of like composing lots of little inukshuks.

I'll do a big batch of BeachStones tomorrow- I'd really like to make a few more of those cuffs.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Teapot Corner

Here's a picture of some of the teapots in the Booth's Teapot Corner. Last year I wasn't able to sell them in a show because the jury didn't see covering a pre-made item with polymer clay as being particularily creative. This year a photo of my teapots was used in the newspaper to advertise a craft show! We polymer clayers get used to things like that don't we?

Yesterday I went through all of the work that will go to the shows. Do I have enough to last for seven days? There's a week left- what should I make?