Friday, December 30, 2011

A Year End Treat For You!

To celebrate the end of a very unsettling year I'm offering to lift your spirits with a re-run of my all time ever favourite commercial. It was so fitting that Time magazine made "The Protester" the person of the year. How blessed we would be if all problems requiring people to take a stand on the streets could have been solved this happily.

Enjoy the video and the uplifting music by Charles Trenet which you may end up happily humming as you pour your champagne, then.... add a comment in the box below - I'm celebrating years end and the opening of a shiny new 2012 with a draw for three surprise gifts- each item is handcrafted here in my aMused Studio. I'll do a blind draw and contact the three winners on New Years Day for your addresses.

I know Blogger is sometimes cranky for people posting comments here- I've never been able to resolve it but Blogger recently added lots of cool new features so maybe the issue was resolved....if not you may be able to post as "Anonymous" just indicate who you are. I'm sure to find you!



Thursday, December 29, 2011

Reflections on a year....

As usual I'm spending the waning daze of December cleaning out the studio. It's in transition. Polymer Clay is on the worktable but baskets of reeds and coils of dried kelp, bark and roots line the walls. Currently all my polymer is production work- earrings, rings and Fusion Bangles. Muses, large pieces or even smaller canvasses that are already underpriced don't sell in this economy and I'm finding it very difficult to be creative when work made with love and expensive materials ends up sitting unsold on my own walls.

Along with the econmic downer I suffered a blow early in nasty 2011 when I made the mistake of applying to a show that I never really had much interest in or respect for. Everyone told me it would be great to go into it. They said  "everyone gets in- you'd  be a shoe in"... not me. I was rejected. What a disheartening kick in the creative butt. (Maybe that's where my back issue came from!) It hurt. A LOT.

I've missed being accepted into shows or galleries before and everyone knows how it takes a while to get over it but when you miss one that you don't respect- that's particularily tough. I was also baffled because some of the images I sent to the jury had been accepted by prestigious shows! Several had even sold! I must be recovering because I'm sharing it here. Lesson learned- don't submit to a show if you don't respect it. Similarily- don't approach a shop or gallery to consign your work if you yourself wouldn't choose to shop there!  Another tip- don't apply to any venue close to where you live- it's no fun walking by a place that has turned their noses up at you! Think- what would happen if they say "no"... is it right next door to a store you go to on a regular basis? A similar experience affected my shopping practices when I lived in Richmond and was trying to market my gourd art.

After that demoralizing morass  I was in need of some sort of tonic to regain my equilibrium. I crawled out from under my rock and good things started to happen. We serendiptously accquired kayaks. That was a huge move for me- because I can't swim. A non swimmer in a kayak faces something even scarier than a jury that has issues with polymer clay. Falling in! (I have a very good flotation device and capsize lessons will be scheduled in the spring)

Next I began to explore basketry with the idea of combining polymer with intertwined organics. I took wonderful classes and am able to travel to lovely locations like Saltspring Island and the Olympic Penninsula. I've joined the Northwest Basket Weavers Guild and I'll be going to the annual retreat in March! I'm also eying a basket making workshop in Oregon in June.

I ended 2011 by being humbled by a seized back and hip  embellished with horrible spasms. It made me grateful for knowing I would eventually get better with a modicum of discomfort compared to that suffered by many others including many very dear friends who often read this blog. I'm well into recovery now and can even perform such impressive feats as picking things up from the floor! I vow never to be in that condition again and I have booked myself into a local yoga studio!

Thanks for reading through this missive. I got some stuff off my chest and maybe even gave some good tips.You have earned a treat for following my progress, sympathising with me, encouraging me and giving me a lift by deciding to follow this frequently discombobulated blog blob.

Check in tomorrow- I have a year end treat in store!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Windows

My daughter Gen has been as busy as a North Pole elf painting local windows! Her work can be seen at the Subway restaurants at Fort and Foul Bay Road and the Stadcona Centre, the Oak Bay Pharmasave, the Oak Bay flower shop and the bay windows of a private residence on Hampshire Road display the entire family!

 Gen's windows are unique as they reflect her wonderful sense of humour - she has Santa's sleigh being pulled by eight tiny Subway sandwiches, on another pane Santa is grounded as a group of local teens who have taken his sleigh for a spin over the neighbourhood- They are SO on the naughty list! One of my favourites is Mrs Claus and Santa in the local flower shop- if you look closely you can see tears in Mrs Claus' eyes as her husband offers her a lovely bouquet.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah and all other celebrations you may be endulging in over the next days- Cheers!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Catch-Up

I'm happy to say I'm a lot more mobile than last time I checked in here- thanks to everyone who sent good wishes and /or helpful suggestions for treating  and coping with a spasm-ing back. I think my favourite suggestion was to use satin bedding and lingerie to be able to move more easily in bed when in pain! It makes good sense if you've expeienced being unable to turn over in bed and certainly handy once you've recuperated. I'm getting a CT scan as an early Christmas present tonight and I've also found a great accupuncturist and have booked  myself for regular yoga in January. I'm hoping to either get a diagnosis to fix what caused this or simply get on a path to prevent whatever it was in the first place.

On a happier note-

I was especially happy to pack a little pillow to cope with insensitive restaurant chairs and get out to meet up with some creative friends for a Christmas lunch and an annual gift swap- this year I received a pendant  by my pal Wanda Shum- isn't it gorgeous? If you are in the Victoria BC area Wanda will be teaching a millifiori clsss at Island Blue on March 18th.

Monday, December 5, 2011


I haven't posted a while because I did something to my back and have been well and truly out of commission.  There was no specific injury that I can recall other than a silly stumble on a step last spring but perhaps a lifetime of falling out of trees, slipping down stairs and falling off ladders, bridges and chairs finally caught up with me and was pretty immobile for a few weeks. In order to get rid of the spasms and pain I ended up being very drugged.  I have been on combinations of tylenol 3s, celebrex, dyclofenac and oxycodone and  I think the drugs had nastier effects than the back pain but it's all a fog now. It was painful, boring, humiliating, scary and it's not quite over yet. I am still still very sore and have the physical sensation that somewhere along the line someone took a swipe at my lower back with a baseball bat. A CT scan is pending. I am on the mend though but am very aware and humbled to think what people who are really ill have to endure. Today I was able to get out of bed without having to strategize or ask for help, I was able to pick up my socks and drive my son to work then go do some shopping at the grocery store and I was grateful for every mundane movement and moment. 

There were bright spots here and there through the two dreadful weeks and they came c/o of friends I've met here online-

One day I hobbled to the mailbox and found an unexpected parcel in the mail. An anonymous "RAC"- (random act of clayness) sent from Ontario- a fascinating collection of extruded polymer clay that suggests facinating basketry applications. 

Thanks for the fun of the inspiring  mystery package goes to my dear friend Georgia Ferrell- it gave me a lift on a dark day! she's well aware of my excursion into combining polymer and basketry- a great nudge iggy!

Another bright moment came from my neighbour across the water- Port Angeles resident InaRae who forwarded this wonderful image of a basket created by Deborah Kruger who is participating in the Crafts America show in Washington - I love the textural mix of she uses in a 3D object! Thanks for thinking of me InaRae- and you're right- this is the sort of direction I have in mind!

The latest bright note came from master basketry artist Stella Harding who emailed me to invite me to visit her lovely new Storylines Blog! She's posted fascinating descriptions of her process as well as marvellous photos of current work and exhibitions. There's a description of her new book Practical Basketry Techniques that has me marking May 2012 in my calendar. Hope she has an North American book tour! I long to take a class with her!

I have to say- I''m HAPPPY to be able to sit here and type- sitting on  a chair was impossible this time last week . We are all so lucky when our bodies work as they should-it was a painful lesson but I'm changing my ways!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gifts For Myself and Others- Sunday- final day

I was on shift at our Group booth at the Gifts for Myself and Others Show yesterday. Our booth showcases the work of nine artisans and it's really fun to represent other artists!

The entire show is of the usual high standard that has been exemplified many years and it's a pleasure to stroll around the booths to see what everyone has been doing over the last year as well as see the work of several artisans who are new to the event. The show closes at 5:00 pm today.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gifts for Myself and Others- 2011

Gifts for Myself and Others starts at noon today! If you are in Victoria this is the place to be! Top quality jurored fine island-made craft, outstanding food by the International Womens' Co-Op and Brad Prevedoros supplying  beautiful music. I'll be on shift on Satuday and Sunday mornings so look for me in Booth 31.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Micro Booth!

While I've been building foundation skills with basketry I have continued making clay items for sale in shops and galleries although not on the scale as in previous years. When I heard that my favourite craft event- Gifts for Myself and Others was offering space in a cooperative booth I signed up right away! It will be my only show this booth has shrunk from last years corner 8x10' booth to a svelte 2x3' section of a table. No grids or wall backing! Here's my ubiquitous pre-show dining room set up with art cards, earrings, Fusion Bangles and rings being my sole offerings. No baskets or woven projects this year.
I love my new 3 sectioned table top sized shutters- our neighbours tossed them on the boulevard during a home renovation and I snagged them along with several others - after a rejuvenating spray of copper paint they look very spiffy.

Today we'll set up the booth. The shelves and displays will be "loaded" tomorrow morning and the show starts TOMORROW! My feet will appreciate that a group booth means we work in shifts so we'll have time outs through the show.

To be continued....

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Joan Carrigan- Bark Basketry Workshop

Some of Joan's Baskets
This past weekend I ferried over to Salt Spring Island to take a 2 day bark basketry course with Joan CarriganIt was a small class of six- and we all enjoyed ourselves immensely. The class began with a demonstration on preparing cedar and willow bark and we all had a chance for hands on use of the bark.
Joan demonstrates how to prepare cedar bark
Cutting willow bark strips
Work begins!
We were taught how to use various plaiting techniques to make three different pouches.. The bark was absolutely gorgeous in colour and texture and it was  hard to decide which side of the willow bark should be on the inside or outside of the basket!

 Joan teaches at her home studio on Saltspring as well as at the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific 
in Victoria.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chicago- my kind of town.

My first visit to Chicago was in July and we managed to fall in love with the city in spite of a humid 105F. Our friends there reminded us that their door is always open for hosting a return visit to see a Canucks game. A few months later I spotted that the SOFA show was in Chicago in November and on a whim I checked the NHL schedule and was astonished to see that both events were on the same weekend! Calendars were synchronised, airmile points were applied and the trip was on!

The SOFA and INTUIT show were beautifully overwhelming.  
The exhibitors are primarily galleries from the US but many Canadian artists were in evidence.  I have to say there was a modest showing of polymer clay but I wasn't looking at the many jewelry booths so I may have missed a lot. The RAM book was on a table for perusal and there was a lady there giving an enthusuastic  explanation of what polymer clay actually is.
As there was so much to see my focus was polymer clay, basketry and mixed media. I was over the moon when I found out that I could take pictures!!!! 
My two favourite booths were The Jane Sauer and the Tai Gallery which are both from Santa Fe and have a powerful focus on  basketry. The bamboo work in the Tai Gallery was fascinating.
Blackboard backgrounds were used in several booths- on walls or table tops

By the way- the Canucks won 6-2!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Another Fantastic Mixed Media Basketry Artisan

My Google searches led me to many wonderful basketmakers and I have to say when I found Shannon Weber's earthquakingly fantasmagically amazing work on her website.  I believe I yelped "WOW!!" out loud!  I emailed her right away a. to ask about workshops- especially since she's in Oregon- one of my favourite states- and b. if I could have permission to bedeck a blog page with images of her work. She's a fun email correspondent who I look forward to meeting in person!

Pictures are worth a thousand words-

You can see how she has made this polymer clayer want to continue combining clay with fibre! Even better than pictures you can view her at work here!

Thanks Shannon-- and um, when is that next workshop?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

My booootiful daughter Genevieve!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Making Progress!

kelp before....
In August I untangled, sorted and dried a raft of slippery kelp on a Pender Island Beach. I brought it home and it has rested ever since in a salt crusted pile in the basement. My ever patient family have ignored it. I've read numerous basketry books, googled for info and have taken real time workshops and have finally tried my hand at making kelp baskets! It is absolutely addictive and one of those processes where the irregularity of the materials sometimes lead me far away for any pre-project sketches.
My supply stash of kelp has been wiped out and here are my first kelp baskets.

...kelp after.
I need more basket making materials, happily my garden needs pruning and I'll be heading down to the beach to see what supplies I can find there!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cedar Demo Basket Completed

I won Kathey Ervin's partially completed demo basket with the understanding that I had to finish it. Yesterday I collected up all the leftover cedar from the workshop and set to it. Here's the completed basket embellished with a piece of fungus I found on the forest floor during a hike on Galiano Island.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cedar Bark Basketry- Kathey Ervin in Sequim Washington

 I'm home again after a marvelous weekend on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. I caught the Coho ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles on Saturday and drove to Kathey Ervin's Basketry Studio in Sequim  to participate in her Beginner's Cedar Bark Basket Class.
The Basketry Studio Classroom
The Olympic Mountains - Kathey's willow grove in the foreground
Kathey's classroom gallery was tantalizing inspiration as we settled in for the day's work
I LOVE this cedar bark basket- it took a year to cure after it was shaped.
Kathey's Classroom is fragrant with cedar and the walls are lined with shelves of her beautiful work as well as a generous supply of ready made kits that she offers for sale. Kathey is an enthusiastic and thoughtful teacher who stresses the importance of materials collection in the creation of baskets. We weren't able to trek into the bush to harvest cedar but we did watch two exceptional videos showing us how cedar and sweetgrass are harvested using traditional methods.
Kathey has bundles of prepared cedar available for sale

Kathey demonstrates splitting the strips of cedar

Kathey collects her own cedar bark from her local forests and log sorts as well as  taking an annual trip to Alaska to collect the coveted Alaskan yellow cedar which, when soaked after a year of drying feels like smooth strong and pliable leather.  We all learned to splice and slice the cedar bark to prepare the  spokes and weavers... 

The class was a fun group and we enjoyed a delicious potluck lunch, lots of laughter and a sense of accomplishment  at the end of the day! I look forward to heading to Sequim again- I highly recommend Kathey's classes!
Here is my second ever basket...

...once again it contains many mistakes as I learn but the good thing is that as I examine it I know how to approach the next one and the next one is not any "ordinary" task!
Kathey worked on a basket through the class and at the end of the day offered the partially completed piece in a raffle with the condition that the winner was responsible for completing the basket and -omg- I WON! So here is the basket as it awaits completion....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Good Feelings

I just got home from an extended long weekend celebrating Thanksgiving on Saltspring Island and that was a good feeling!
The feeling continued when I got  home and received a back-ordered shipment of bezels so I could get an order finished and it sits waiting for me to take it to the Post Office- once mailed I'll have another good feeling!
The good feelings continue as I share some pictures and links of some of the creative people I met in New Mexico!


I met Karen Gardiner at the Artisan's Show in Santa Fe. Her Assemblaged Angels spoke to me and when you visit her blog and read her story you'll be very moved. She's a lovely lady and good naturedly allowed me to photograph the rear of her booth- admit it- we artisans love the contents AND construction of show booths! You can see more of Karen's work in greater detail in her Etsy site.

I like Karen's use of frames and wire grids for her booth

When I was in Taos I visited an outdoor craft show and found a booth displaying an array of baskets, gourds and bark containers made by Byron Williams
Byron Williams (left) works constantly between sales
The last creative person of the day is Annette Randell. She is the proprietor of Artemesia Gallery in Taos. Her store is a visual feast and I LOVED every second as I explored the racks of gorgeous handcrafted artwear.  Sometimes I think I'd love to own a shop like that!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

My First Basket Making Workshop!

I went to my first basket-making workshop yesterday at Victoria's gorgeous Glendale Gardens
The Honeysuckle Rib Basket class was taught by Salt Spring Islander Joan Carrigan .  Joan is a brilliant basket maker, a very effective teacher and an absolute delight as she peppers her instructions with inventive words and phrases that make absolute sense as you poke, pack, weave and swoosh the materials into place. It was a lively class and as there was a psychiatrist and psychologist in the group we had no end of laughs about the therapeutic benefits of our choice of activity!
Joan helps us get started

At the end of the day- great work!

The verdict is in- I LOVED the process! Good thing as I currently have two more workshops ahead and I'm looking for more through this "Sabbatical" year. I need to give myself a good grounding in basketry before I'll be able to tackle some of the mixed media concepts that stare at me from my sketchbooks.
Here's my basket. As with all "firsts" it has approximately one million mistakes but I will cherish it always and I doubt I'll ever learn more from a single basket.