Sunday, April 29, 2012

Transition door closes and another one may be cracking open

This was a significant week for my transition towards getting back to making one of a kind 3 dimensional pieces. I shipped out the last of my mini crackle resin earrings. They were really popular and it was  hard to say," They're discontinued." when I had two orders for LOTS of them. The popularity had a huge drawback in that I spent HOURS upon HOURS making them and the fascination had faded after the first few hundred and no one ever saw the behind the scene work buggle detecting!  I realise now I don't even have a pair left for myself as a souvenier. I still have a healthy supply of my other resin work though!
The other good thing was that I was chatting with a local gallery owner who expressed enthusiastic interest in seeing my kelp baskets! It's very good timing as the kelp should be starting it's annual drift to the beaches any day now and I plan to start my days with a coffee fuelled beach stroll with a big plastic bag. After all the classes and courses I've taken in the last six months I'm excited to apply many of the techniques to this wonderful material!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Kissing Frogs....the grimm part of the creative process

I spent all day yesterday metaphorically kissing frogs. It was a day full of "just going for it" with several experimental basket/clay creations. I started 2 lamps and one random bowl and  abandoned all before going further. These "frogs" are usually pretty ugly and as they are not going to magically turn into anything "majestical" are set aside as valuable learning experiences. Frogs need to be on a small scale as they can be costly consumers of materials.
Kissing frogs can be discouraging. It's good to have the right attitude. Attractiveness is only skin deep.

"Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day"
Mark Twain

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Japanese Inspired Basket Weaving- the good the bad and the ugly photography

My retreat to Saltspring Island for Joan Carrigan's Japanese Inspired Basketry Weekend was an exercise in using different hemispheres of my brain. It wasn't always very comfortable. The first day introduced us to Hexoganal Basket weaving and I was a basket case in the worst sense of the definition. The process involved brain and hand functions that showcased my dyslexic tendencies and reminded me of being in high school algebra class and feeling and completely flumoxed as my classmates chewed their way through the assignments leaving me bewildered in their dust. Happily by the third basket Joan managed to find a way to get my head and hands in synch so that I was able to complete the project. My baskets were sad little efforts though and I was so mortified with them that I put them under the table during the class-end photo shoot.
Day Two was the class I had been itching to take from the first moment that I began my basket oddessy- Random Weaving and the process was all and more I hoped for-- I was in Head and Hand Heaven! Joan introduced two methods for random weaving and if you have a chance to sign up for her class I heartily recommend it... I'm not giving away any of her secrets here!

One major discovery - it is hard to photograph random baskets. The photo makes this piece look dreadful in reality I actually like it a lot! Random weaving is going to play a major role in upcoming integrated polymer clay/ basket weaving projects. I'll have to work on photographic strategies!

What happened to the sad day one baskets? Good news- I was able to assimilate what I had learned and was able to do a bit of unwinding to rejig the projects to the point that I'm willing to display the edited versions here now....
Here's some eye candy for colouristas- it's Joan's stash of willow . All natural colours!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Lovely Weekend Coming Up.....

I'll start this by saying that I'm a little bit blue because this is the weekend for the Morrisburg Polymer Clay Retreat in Ontario. I had such a great time there last year and I'm feeling very nostalgic about missing  so many good friends and exceptional Canadian polymer clay artists. I know EVERYONE attending will have an unforgettable time!
Morrisburg 2011
I'll be a long way from Morrisburg Ontario. On Saturday I'll be catching an early morning ferry to Saltspring Island to take a a two day Japanese Inspired Basketry workshop weekend at Joan Carrigan's Studio. We'll be making Japanese Hexagonal Flower Baskets and learning random weave techniques.
Baskets by Joan Carrigan

Who knows, maybe next year I'll head back to Morrisburg with a basketry influenced approach to polymer!
Saltspring Shorline.

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Celebration!

On Saturday morning I finished carding my FINAL production batch  of polymer clay and resin earrings. I felt absolutely delighted- I hopped up and danced a jig!.


Production with a finicky buggle prone ingredient is extremely difficult and in spite of all best efforts many pieces have to be redone because of dome spills, errant bubbles or sub-clay resin leaks that can ooze out months after the earrings have been finished. I traveled up a long learning curve to be able to make 20 earrings at a time and have a 75% no-buggle run.  When everything works with UV resin on layered clay the  resin covered piece looks crisp and simple. Simplicity is not always a good thing.  I recently endured a comment from someone that implied covering clay with resin was a "shortcut" and should be valued as less than a sanded and buffed clay piece when the time comes for formulating pricing. It took me a week to stop fuming.

I think resin covered clay is gorgeous- it's lit from within and well worth the work it takes to get everything just right. I do caution anyone trying to do this work as a "line" where dozens of items must be made in a single run to maintain orders. In spite of all best efforts and days of waiting for air pockets to release, the buggles can sneak out during the cure to sneer at you when you remove the pieces from under the lights. Sometimes the bubbled resin and clay can be pried out of the bezel without damage but there are frequent bezel losses that are co$tly.I will still make occasional resin pieces- I have some bezels set aside but each one will be made as a "one off" for fun - no more production.  I sort of feel like a little buggle that has been released from the resin with a happy little pop!

 Is this perhaps why I've become a "basket case"?!

I celebrated the conclusion of the last resin run (pun?) by completing a project from the basket conference, Here's my cedar and sweetgrass covered spray bottle. Yes, those are polymer BeachStones.

Spray bottles are to basket weavers what tissue blades are to clayers, an absololute at-hand neccesity. A covered one is quite cool!

My project today is to crack open my fresh off the press copy of Stella Harding's "Practical Basketry"...

Friday, April 6, 2012

Basketry Exhibition at NW Weavers Conference

The highlight of the conference was a Gala Exhibition celebrating the past, present and future creations of this thirty year old organization that started with the "Ditch Ladies"- a title bestowed to the founding members by a state trooper that inquired why a cluster of women were repeatedly spotted gathering twigs and grasses in the ditches along the state highway.
Today the Northwest Weavers Guild is a thriving organisation that sponsors many basket-weaving related activities in the Pacific Northwest- or- if you are a Canadian- the Pacific Southwest.
The Gala was breathtaking. Here are some of the creations I saw. I apologise not to have recorded the artists' names- it was a very crowded bustley venue!