Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A dream starter clay kit for my Mom

Hi All,

As I've mentioned previously, my mother has recently taken an interest in clay. She's asked me to purchase a starter kit on her behalf that will allow her to make many, many, beautiful Bottles of Hope. But, because she's played in my play room, she wants the bells and whistles as well. So, here's what I've ordered through my favourite on-line clay site:

What I consider essentials
- Starter pack of all 17 colours of Kato clay (Mom has worked with Kato already)
- 180 mm Makin's clay machine with teflon rollers (I'm no longer a fan of the Atlas now that they've gone away from steel rollers)
- Acrylic roller
- Small bottle of Kato liquid clay
- Kemper tissue blades - these are my new favourites and I keep meaning to write about them
- Two different sizes of Kemper basic cutter sets (she wants to do Bottles of Hope and these will allow her to embellish)
- Two different sets of Amaco texture plates

- Perfect Pearls powders, metallics and jewels
- Silver and gold metal leaf
- Donna Kato's books, all three of them
- Donna Kato's new DVDs
- Mini scalpel (Marg doesn't list these but does offer them for sale if you ask)
- Lisa Pavelka's Jones Tones type foils

I think that covers it, there might be some things that I added, but I'm not sure. Cost was in the neighbourhood of $300. I've generally told people that they can get started for about $100 if they're wise with their Michael's coupons and I still think all you really need to start is a pasta machine (if you're using Kato), a roller, a blade, and some clay.

Interestingly enough, when I was discussing the list with my claying friends, two of them thought that I should have included some sort of needle tool. I probably use mine once every ten times when I play with clay because I tend to use the blades more for everything and my pointed exacto knife fills the bill most of the time. But a couple of others say it's one of their most common tools. Now that I'm thinking of it though, it's because I use the needles from the bead roller kit for piercing and a drill set for drilling. So I probably should have given her a needle tool. But it's probably not necessary for Bottles of Hope.

Other tools that Mom will need, of course, are a work surface, an oven, and something to store all of it together. She's got many suitcases and I think those work just as well as the tool boxes sometimes. And I use my knitting needle a lot.

Thought you'd like to see what a good starter kit is. I'd be interested in other people's opinions on things they can't live without.



Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cindy Lietz's new method for skinner blends

Hi All,

I've been a fan of Cindy Lietz' Polymer Clay Tutor website for as long as I've known about it. She publishes wonderful videos and provides a lot of insight into claying. Her teaching style is very helpful.

She originally was offering her services for free but has now moved to a members only approach to the videos and to the colour recipes. The price is very reasonable, $9.95 each 90 days and that gets you a video a week and free colour recipes that work great if you're a Premo user.

I consider myself an intermediate/advanced clayer and there was almost always an "oooh, I never thought of that" moment in even some of her most basic videos. I decided not to sign up for her members group for a couple of reasons, the first being I'm not a Premo user (go Kato!) so the colour recipes are limited for me, and the second that I tend to like my techniques illustrated in book form.

But I would very strongly recommend Cindy's membership site for those that are intimidated by clay, don't have the resources to buy hundreds of dollars of books, or for those that don't have a strong colour sense, and any beginners. If nothing else, try it for three months and see if you like it.

But the purpose of my posting really is to let you know that Cindy has developed a quicker way and possibly less confusing way of doing a skinner blend and has graciously posted her video for free for a limited time only. I haven't tried the technique yet, but am intrigued with the possibilities and look forward to seeing how quickly it does work when I go to do my next skinner blends.

Please go check out her website. All she asks is that you leave a comment. I'm happy to be a reference for her as she really does do great work in teaching.

Thanks, Cindy, for publishing this. The generosity of clayers that are willing to share their knowledge is one of the wonderful things about the claying world.



Sunday, February 22, 2009

My friend Janice is so disgustingly talented...

It's a good thing I like her because it would be easy to hate her. She's got a great touch with clay and is very good at looking at something and trying to figure out how to make it.

She was inspired by Tim Cotterill's Frogman collection which you can see here and which she saw in person during her visit to British Columbia. His are bronze painted sculptures.

Janice wanted to try her hand at making one in clay. And here is her FIRST attempt.

Isn't it a beautiful? In our small circle of clay friends we have no such thing as false modesty and we regularly send out e-mails claiming bragging rights when we've done something we're proud of. I think Janice gets bragging rights for as long as she wants them.

As I mentioned before, it's a good thing she's so nice, because it would be easy to be jealous of her pure talent. I'm happy to post her photos on my blog.



Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Count down to Morrisburg 2009

I am a counter downer. When there's a big event in my life I start counting down. The length of time that I start counting down towards is dependent on how big the event is. Generally I count down to our Caribbean vacations that we take every year. Sometimes I count down to other vacations. If I'm on a business trip I count down the hours until I get to see my husband. You saw a hint of this personality quirk from me in one of my previous postings when I started counting down the hours to receiving Gera's landscape tiles that I ordered (by the way, they arrived yesterday and are just as pretty as the photo).

I've unfortunately learned that I count down when it's a negative event as well. When we've known that we've had to put one of our pets down and we've scheduled the appointment, I've counted down to that. Sometimes the count down puts things in perspective. Lately, due to the political nature of my job, I've counted down the hours or days until the unpleasant meeting might be over. I generally don't start the work count down until a few hours so it's nice to be able to say "in four hours this will just be an unhappy memory".

But, for most things, counting down is pleasant. Some might say that I'm wishing my life away. But I disagree. It allows me to not let the little stuff get me upset during the count down. Temperatures of -25 C and mounds of snow to shovel during my count down to Caribbean vacation? Go ahead, get cold! It only makes it more worthwhile to be going south. Car problems that cost hundreds of dollars to fix prior to a road trip in Arizona? No big deal, I'll have a rental car without those concerns soon.

And I'm happy to say that I've started a new count down. Morrisburg 2009 will be upon us in just a few short months.

What is Morrisburg, you might ask? It's an annual get-together of clayers in the Ontario and Quebec area. The first year I went I was practically dragged to it by what I considered overly enthusiastic and annoying clayers (Karen and others, I speak of you). I went, and very quickly became one of the overly enthusiastic and annoying clayers. The next year I pressured Sharon to join and she did with the same reservations that I had but now appears to be committed to going each year.

The class postings are up now for 2009 and the classes look wonderful with steam punk, faux clay fabric, miniature junk food (we'll even learn how to make relish!), brocade techniques. If you're at all interested, thanks to the wonders of blogging we've now got a blog set up that shows samples of what we're going to learn. You can see the class listings here. All of the classes look fun.

We've got some great teachers scheduled and it'll be a fun filled but exhausting long weekend. My mother's joining me and will be my roommate this year. That'll be nice and it adds to the anticipation since I only get to see her a couple of times a year.

I'm going to be teaching for the first time this year (I've done tutorials in the past). I'll be showing some options on what to do with the iridescent flakes. You've seen the earrings that I made before here and I'll be teaching an adaptation of those. Another sample of something that I'm playing with is in the photo below. Between now and then I've got some time to perfect my technique and hopefully come up with some ideas that will inspire others to create trinkets and treasure.

Anyhow, Blogger allows for a countdown gadget to be installed and I've added one on the left panel. It's below the polymer clay links and shows how many days until Morrisburg happens. I'm looking foward to it and the countdown begins. 101 days to go...



Monday, February 16, 2009

New links in my blog...

Hi All,

Every so often I go trolling through my links on the left on my blog to see who has been up to what. And sometimes I get to add links based on other people's postings. I've added a couple of links today.

The first one is to a caner, Wes Warren, that I had never heard about. But his precision certainly puts my work to shame. You can see him at I look forward to watching his blog on a regular basis.

A few years ago I found a website with really cute, oddball creations. Over the course of time I lost track of the website but through (a link I added during the OWOH event, please go look at her oh-so-cute penguins), I found the creations at I love the expressions of these creatures and it'll be another one that I check back on frequently.

And lastly, now that Ada is home, Ponsawan's been updating her blog at She's got some amazing mosaics at the moment on her blog and it's inspiring me to at least think of things I can do in the future.

That's all for now.



A couple of Bottles of Hope

Hi All,

I worked on a couple of Bottles of Hope on the weekend. These are what I call Ponsawan style Bottles of Hope as Ponsawan came up with the concept. They work like hourglasses and by turning them upsidedown you can cause the beads to flow through. What you don't see is that there are small clay letters inside the bottle that spell out H O P E. I thought this would be nice for people to take to a doctor's appointment as there's something hypnotic about turning the bottles around and around.

The green bottle is for a friend of a friend who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. I don't really know her, so I have no idea if she'll like the colours or anything, but it's one of my favourites that I've made so far. You can see some other ones that I made here and here.

The other one is for Renee whom I met through the One World One Heart event last week. She's got inflammatory breast cancer , which, from what I can tell is a very insidious disease that is often misdiagnosed until it's too late. Renee had visited my blog during the One World One Heart event and her story touched me. I sent her an e-mail asking what she would like and the blue bottle is the result.

If you're interested in knowing more about inflammatory breast cancer, please check out the following sites.

That's it for today.

I've finally completed everything I promised for OWOH, now I just have to get them in the mail.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

A shabby chic tin for Betty Jo

Hi Everyone,

The other day I announced that Betty Jo had won second prize in my tin giveaway for One World One Heart. Since I hadn't made the second tin yet and since Betty Jo's been going through a very rough time with the recent loss of her husband, I thought I would try to do something a bit special for her. I e-mailed her and asked if she had a style and favourite colours. She wrote back that pinks and greens, flowers, and shabby chic were her favourites at the moment. She sent me the link to one of her blog sites here, and I used a few other bits from her blog for inspiration.

Well, shabby chic, pastels, and flowers are very different than what I normally work with, but I had some leftover clay when Janice had come over to visit that were perfect for the project (Janice would have known immediately what to do). And just by coincidence I had bought a stamp at the Dollarama that seemed to be perfect for the tin. While I wasn't sure of the result, I did think it might make a nice addition to a hutch that she's doing something with.

So here's the tin. It's made from a watchmaker's case and covered with clay. The top photo is what it looks like closed, and the bottom photo is a picture of both the top and bottom. Dimensions are about 1.5 inches across and 3/4 inches tall.

I offered to let Betty Jo choose a different tin but she apparently is thrilled with the result and wants this one. Her thank you e-mail has put a smile on my face that will last all day.

For those of you that do digital scrapbooking (I confess to not having a clue what it is), Betty Jo has an on-line store here. Please go take a look at it and at Betty Jo's blog. If you're at all in the mood for a tearjerker, read her entry on wedding rings on her blog.

Tins for the winners...

Hi Everyone,

I've been playing around with tins for the winners of One World One Heart giveaway. Here are the top and bottom shots of three of them that I've made. Paper Whimsy gets first choice and I've sent her an e-mail asking which one she'd like.

This has been good practice as I'll be teaching how to cover tins at our next guild meeting.

I have a couple of Bottles of Hope to make next and I'll post photos of them soon.



Wednesday, February 11, 2009

And the winners are...


First off, and most importantly - as promised, I've donated a quarter to Plan Canada for each entrant (there were over 200). That places us just under $60. For sixty dollars I've decided to buy:
Mosquito nets in Uganda, which helps to save a family of five, and School Supplies for a child in Sierra Leone

This way I'm contributing to education (very important to me) and to health (also very important).

So thanks to everyone for entering the giveaway. Know that you've helped a good cause.

Before I get to the winners,

One entrant has a very touching and inspirational blog. A fellow Canadian blogger, Renee is suffering from inflammatory breast cancer. I am making a Bottle of Hope for her and will be sending that out to her as part of the giveaway.

OK, OK, so now that's out of the way, I chose the winners by cutting and pasting all the comments into Microsoft Excel. This worked out to over 1600 rows as most comments would go for more than one row. Then I went into the Random Number Generator and had it generate a number between 1 and 1700. I then matched the number it generated with the closest owner of the row number. It seemed to be quicker than printing out the comments and hand numbering each one.

So, the first winner is (drumroll please) - and really, truly, this is completely coincidental, but maybe karma does take effect, Paper Whimsy who is the blogger who inspired me to donate to charity. The random number generator spit out 518 and she was at 519.

And the second winner (for a tin I haven't finished yet) is Betty Jo at line number 882. She wasn't participating in the OWOH other than entering so I hadn't glanced at her blog until now. She's a digital scrapbooker who also posts poignant entries about losing her husband and I'll be reading more of her story soon.

I'm going to be playing around with some more tins on the weekend. I'll post photos of those in my next entry and let the winners choose their favourite.

This has been a great experience. I look forward to participating next year. Congratulations to the winners and thanks so much to Lisa Swifka for organizing this incredible event. I've spent hours looking at blogs and hadn't realized the amazing pool of talent that's out there.