Friday, May 30, 2008

Sandra McCaw's canes - my first attempt

Hi Everyone,

Just a short post (for me). Here is my first attempt at Sandra McCaw's canes. I did these at Morrisburg a while back after having watched the video twice and not really remembering whether I was doing something right or not. I can't say I'm overly thrilled with these (they're not really bad either), but it's entirely my fault and in no way related to Sandra's excellent teaching style.

So, a few lessons learned from this.

I was playing with the canes just to get the flavour of the technique so I wasn't anywhere near as precise as I could have been and it looks like precision is a requirement.

I really, really, really need to watch the video a couple of more times. It's a complicated technique with all sorts of rotations and cuts and, as I've already admitted, I can't do rotations in my head. As I was trying to remember the technique I couldn't remember whether I was supposed to rotate it this way or that way or even rotate at all. As I was playing with it I kept saying to myself "I just wish I could remember...".

But my video has disappeared, it's in the hands of a woman who I'm slowly converting over to a caner so I can't complain too much.

When you play with the technique the first time, choose your normal colour pallette, this isn't one of mine and I think I would have been happier with it if I had done it in my usual colours (which try as hard as I want to avoid it, always seem to gravitate to the blues).

But I'm really looking forward to trying this technique again. I'm hoping to drag a couple of clay friends over to try it. I'll post more successful results next time.



Sunday, May 25, 2008

It's all about Bev - her new website is up!

Hi Everyone,

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Bev's stamps. I found out today that Bev's new website is up and actually has been for a while. It's and here are some images from it. This first one is a good demo of the variety of stamps that she's created.

She's got her patterns listed with photos of the print of the pattern. If you want to see what the stamps actually look like, you can see a couple of samples on my blog here.

The website is still in progress - she wants to add prices, shipping and handling costs, and a few other things, but there's certainly enough to give you ideas and she does provide an e-mail contact there. I'm honoured to be on her website - if you click on the sample gallery page you can see my Christmas boxes that I posted on my blog last year.

Another design in the sample gallery was generated by Cathy M. from our guild, it's the third on the right of the bottom samples. Cathy attended a conference and noticed a man doodling. She took his doodles and had stamps generated from them - it's a wonderful stamp and I have a copy of it.

If you look at her background of her website you'll notice that it's the same pattern as the one that I've kept mentioning as my favourite stamp (until the shower curtain revelation, and each has their own place in my tool box). The pattern is called Feather Boa and it's on the second page of the galleries.

Here's a sample of another pattern that I've decided I quite like. It's wonderful in metallics and I think it might make a great mica shift (something else to play with).

Anyhow, I thought everyone should know that we've got a new addition to our repertoire of tools. While Bev wasn't able to attend Morrisburg she did send along her stamps and they did very well there. Karen, who acted on Bev's behalf, was hardly able to accomplish anything because people were constantly pestering her for the stamps.

Wendy did a wonderful job at Guild today but I didn't accomplish anything to show since I'm not sure whether I've got allergies or coming down with a cold. I'll finish my projects later and post those, as well as links to Wendy's sites.

Have a good week everyone, it's brutal crazy for me at work and I don't know when I'll post next.



Never Ending Card - Take 1

Hi Everyone,

I finally attempted the Never Ending Card that Leslie was kind enough to teach us at Morrisburg. She was inspired to try this in clay after receiving a paper version in the mail. If you're interested in making a paper copy - check out the instructions here. I was excited about this project because I've always enjoyed these types of play things.

The blue side is side 1.

For my project I used scrap clay and covered it with PearlEx. Even though I'm an engineer, when it comes to rotating things in my mind I become a complete and utter moron so I thought I'd keep my first pattern simple. The one texture is obviously the shower curtain texture that I've written about previously. The other texture is another one of Bev's stamps that I bought.

On a side note on the stamp - it's printed diagonally but it can be sliced so that the pattern goes horizontal. It's just perfect for the lips of tins as a decorative border.

When you flip open the card you get side 2. As Leslie pointed out several times, this is where the planning becomes important. I wasn't patient enough to do a mock assembly and my side 2 ended up having the pink and silver in it. I was originally going for a solid silver look. But, it's pretty and it's a good lesson for me for when I attempt a second one.

Flip it open again and you get side 3. There are multiple bakings involved in this project. I found it a real chore to keep the clay clean - mica and old clay and other things kept getting onto the surface. I found I was constantly brushing it off.

To finish it I covered it with Future floor polish. It then had to be baked a couple of more times and I found the Future would get sticky during the baking and pick up anything that was on the tiles or the papers on top of the tiles.

I also used WeldBond glue to hold it together - I'm lazy and used my finger to spread the glue which meant that I had a bit of sticky stuff on my fingers. This didn't come off easily but sure left a mess on the clay card.

I haven't trimmed the card to make it look neat. I learned that it's not enough to start with shapes that make a square. I've got to allow some room for the fabric holding the clay together. You can see that in this image which is the back side where the silver clay overhangs the yellow clay.

But, all in all, great fun and thanks very much to Leslie for teaching us this. I'm looking forward to doing one of these for my Dad as a Father's Day present.

Cheers all. It's a beautiful sunny day here and we've got guild meeting this afternoon.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Shower Curtain Texture and Magic Glos

Hi Everyone,

As I mentioned in my previous post - one of my best finds from the Table de Junque at Morrisburg was a piece of a shower curtain. It originally looks like your typical shower curtain - plastic, nothing fancy, very flat feeling except that you can detect a bit of a ridged pattern. Thanks very much to Jaycee for bringing these in.

Here's what it looks like when it comes out of the pasta machine with the pattern on it. I applied PearlEx first, then ran the sheet and the clay on the same setting as I had the clay without the sheet. There definitely is a front and back to the shower curtain and I got lucky with this sheet by putting it through the good side first. It's really hard to believe that this isn't 3D.

Marg from Shades of Clay donated a couple of bottles of Lisa Pavelka's new Magic Glos for the group to play with. It's a UV curable coating similar to Envirotex or Liquid Glass or other products. I had been warned by a couple of people that it doesn't like edges and will pull away from them if you're not careful. It certainly lived up to that when I put it on to play with it as a coating for a tin lid that I did. You can see how it's pulling away from the edges. Leaving it for a few minutes only made it worse. We did some trials on other clay objects and it really liked itself more than the surrounding clay. Size, shape, raw, cured didn't seem to matter, we all had problems with it. There's quite a bit of the liquid on this surface (which is a 3"x 5" tin cover), probably over half of a bottle.

The good thing about it is that you can pour it off the object and wipe the object down with a wet wipe and finish it some other way if you want.

I never did use the coating on the tin. Instead I tried using Fire Mountain Gem's Topcoat for Faux Dichro, but it doesn't look like the bottle on their website and it was old. That didn't work either and went murky though it could have been the age of the bottle rather than the product. So the search for the perfect product continues.

But, the shower curtain has opened my eyes to hidden textures and I'll be paying more attention to those in the future. I'm currently working on a never-ending card that Leslie taught using the shower curtain texture and I'll post photos of that once I'm done with it.

Next up - my attempts at Sandra McCaw canes which I tried to do from memory a week after seeing the video a couple of times.



Morrisburg 2008

Hi Everyone,

Haven't posted in a while - we had Morrisburg 2008 a couple of weeks ago, an annual gathering of clayers from Ontario and Quebec (and this year one from Nova Scotia). Thirty plus talented and wonderful ladies participated this year. We learned how to do hearts, wire wrapping, a never ending card, mica shift pendants, masks, free forms, chinese simulation canes, and a whole host of other things. Marg from Shades of Clay was generous enough to donate a package of the new Kato Clay to each of us. I haven't played with mine yet.

Here are some of the photos from the class. I had a couple of friends stop by and visit and they were astonished at the absolute chaos that happens when this many clayers get together in such a limited space.

We had were a cane and bead exchange table. The cane exchange table allows those of us to get rid of canes that we're done with and allows newer caners to see details in canes that they might not otherwise see.

We also had a Junk Table where people brought in stuff that might not be exactly clay related but could be used for clay or clay supplies that people don't use. Storage bottles, tins, textures, beads, paints and other tidbits got put on the table and scooped up. My favourite was a texture sheet made out of a shower curtain - I'll post photos of that later.

The Hawk and Gawk table offered items for sale or for show-off. Last year at Morrisburg we had a bead exchange that I got very keen on and ended up making a bracelet (the bracelet base was again, kindly donated last year by Marg from Shades of Clay) with. To my surprise someone from outside offered to buy it within an hour of it being put on the table. What a wonderful tribute to the talent of the clayers at the meeting (I didn't sell it, of course).

As one last exercise, we were each given a small photo of what appeared to be a random bit of something. We were told to duplicate the photo in size and colour as much as possible. On the last morning of the class we put the cards together to form the completed image. Here it is here.

It's meant to be a replica of Picasso's the Dream, which you can see here. This was a lot of fun. The final project became a gift to Christine, who unfortunately, suffered some cardiac distress while she was at Morrisburg and ended up in the hospital. It's now in her hobby room.

I'm always exhausted by the end of these things but incredibly grateful and honoured to be associated with so many wonderful women. I met a couple of new faces this year and saw a couple that I hadn't seen in a couple of years. The sense of community and sharing is amazing.

Last year at Morrisburg I completed just about every project - this year I didn't complete any though I do have plans to finish many of the projects. I did very much enjoy the learning process.

And, as always, thanks so much to Margi and Vio who organized the event - without them this wouldn't be near as much fun as it is.

Next up - my new favourite texture sheet.

And apologies to those that are on some sort of notification that my blog has changed. I kept finding typos after posting.