Saturday, March 28, 2009

My newest dollar store favourites...

Hello Everyone,

I thought I'd take a couple of minutes to post about my latest dollar store finds. These are at the local Dollarama and are a dollar each. Dimensions are about 2 inches on each side and the plastic bit is probably 3/4 inch thick. I peeled off one of the stamps to be able to run it through the pasta machine. It turns out that I love the plastic piece for burnishing and flattening. It may even replace my acrylic roller as one of my favourite tools. I do use a piece of patty paper between it and the clay. It just feels ergonomically nice in the hand as I'm burnishing whatever I want to burnish and I like the solidity (I don't think that's a word) of the block in my hand.

I've only seen them at the Dollarama just up the street. Haven't seen them in other stores though I'll keep looking. I think there are about four or five different stamps.

I'm likely not going to show too much of my clay stuff in the next while though I have been claying. I've been trying to get ready for my class at Morrisburg and it's called "Fun with Flakes". So I've been experimenting and playing, sometimes more successfully than others. But Morrisburg women get first dibs on seeing what I've been playing with.

Tomorrow we've got a Guild meeting. Janice is teaching different mokume gane techniques and that will be fun. She's a great teacher and I always love seeing how we all interpret things differently.



Science Experiment Week 2

Hi All,

I've been away the last week on a business trip to Winnipeg and got home today. Thought I'd take a look at my science experiment which I posted about below in the previous entry. Here's the latest photo. The Fimo Soft has migrated another inch or so down the bottle. The other two have remained in place and don't seem to be degrading the plastic any more.

I'm impressed with how it has moved and how liquid the plastic looks that's left behind. Reminds me of how DEET bug repellant melts plastic and how we have to be careful when we're camping to not touch too much plastic things. I've had pens stick to my fingers if I'm not careful when I've got too much bug spray on.

Anyhow, I'm predicting that within a couple of weeks the Fimo will be at the bottom of the container. It's getting a bit chalky now so something is leaching out.



Friday, March 20, 2009

My science experiment

Hi All,

Last week I started my official claying science experiment that I wrote about as an accidental science experiment in an earlier blog here. I took three different types of clay (Kato, Fimo Soft, and either Sculpey or Premo, not sure which) and cut out somewhat similar sizes and put them on the plastic bottle at the same height last Sunday. The clay pieces are about 1 cm tall and 2 cm wide. Might have been a couple of steps below on thickest pasta machine setting.

Here is the photo five days later. The Fimo Soft (the blue clay) is definitely on the move and the other two haven't budged. If you look closely you can see what look like bubbles above the Fimo Soft. They're not actually bubbles, but they are melted spots in the clear plastic.

What does all this mean? I dunno. Am I willing to say that Fimo Soft is more dangerous than the other clays? Absolutely not. I'm not a toxicologist nor an expert on clay formulations. But it's obviously got something in it that the other clays don't. For now it's just a cool experiment. I'm actually surprised at how quickly it's moving.

The Sculpey/Premo is softer to the touch than the Kato and is slightly more difficult to pull away from the clear plastic but both the Kato and Sculpey/Premo have left a mark on the plastic and have started to eat at it a bit. I don't think they'll catch up to the Fimo though.

I'll keep you posted.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

I am blessed...

Hi All,

I've been feeling like I am blessed the last week or so. And I have to say it's nice to be back to this feeling.

This is a very personal entry so feel free to stop reading here and move onto other things. I promise to resume my normal programming after this and get back into claying things.

On November 26, 2007, my life changed. Nine years after first starting to try, and five years after having given up, we finally got pregnant. I was 43, my husband was almost 50. It was a shock and the emotions were all over the place. Three weeks later, just about the time that I was feeling complete and utter elation about finally managing this task that so many others make look easy, we were told that there was no heartbeat. A week after that, on December 26, I spent 14 hours in the emergency room waiting for an anaesthetist to free up so that I could have a D&C because my body wasn't willing to give up the precious gift we had finally been given.

And that single month dominated my life in 2008. I have been humbled by how difficult the journey through grief has been. I am eternally grateful to have a wonderful family doctor. Her words to me when this all first started happening were "this is going to be so much harder and take so much longer than you think it will". I am ashamed at how little I understood the devastation of the loss of an unborn child before having gone through the experience. While I knew that I never wanted to have a miscarriage, prior to it happening to me I thought it was something you got over in a few weeks. How wrong I was and much of the year feels like I spent it in a fog-like state where I was only half of who I normally am.

I mourned.

I grieved.

I cried. Tears and torrents. I cried.

I mourned.

Prior to the month that changed my life I was an "I am happy and I am blessed" person. Last year I lost ALL of that. I worried that I would never get back to that person. There were times when I did not care if my life continued. A normal grief process apparently, but I didn't know that. We are not taught how to grieve, nor how to respond to grief in others. Some unknowingly and unintentionally said the wrong thing, or sometimes worse, didn't say anything at all, adding to my pain.

But throughout the year others gave me moments of brightness. I held each one in my palms and the tiny moment of brightness kept me from the deepest of the darks when I needed that protection most.

My husband. My family doctor. My family. My friends. New friends. Strangers. The blogosphere. My grief counsellor. My moments of brightness.

I wasn't always in an emotional state where I could appreciate them at the time, and many times I stamped my feet and wiped my tears in frustration that I couldn't seem to break through the invisible barrier that separated me from where I wanted to be.

I've finally reached that point where the barrier is broken and I've squeezed through to the other side. I've still got some scratches. And there may be a few more to come.

But lately, I've been feeling blessed once again.

My husband. My family doctor. My family. My friends. New friends. Strangers. The blogosphere. My grief counsellor. Thank you all. Words aren't enough to convey the depths of my gratitude. It is for you I write this entry.

And welcome back blessedness. I've missed you.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

More on the Starter Kit for my Mom

Hi Everyone,

Just thought I'd let you know that Mom has received her starter kit and has some comments on it.

Her biggest frustation is that she doesn't have any bottles to cover. I have over 100 that I'll be bring up to her in a couple of weeks but she's been looking in her house for other things to cover.

The Donna Kato books were more intimidating than inspiring for her - she feels she's got a long way to go before she can achieve that level of skill. Of course, she immediately flipped to the more advanced sections of the books so that could be part of it.

I told her that Donna Kato is one of the greats and many of us will never achieve her ease with clay but that we're often happy with our own work and to be patient.

She also refused to anchor her pasta machine to the dining room table because she didn't want to damage the dining room table (understandable). But she found conditioning the clay difficult with the pasta machine jumping all over the place. I've persuaded her to use one of her more beat up end tables as her pasta machine processing area.

The Kato red that she first tried is very crumbly and she thought there was something wrong with it. When I told her how to condition it properly it went much better for her.

She's decided that the other essential piece of equipment is an extruder and I'm to order one for her from Shades of Clay. I'll get her the good green one, not the cheapo ones that are so difficult with the Kato. She did like the figurines with hair that she saw in the books and realized an extruder is the way to go.

She's started making flowers because she's quite talented using fondant and gum paste for wedding cakes and seems to be getting more at ease with the clay. But to work with flowers she wants a needle tool. I will order her one of those as well but told her to raid her cake decorating stuff since she's adamant that she's retiring from decorating cakes (and besides, if she doesn't have the tools for cake decorating then it's a very good excuse not to succumb to others requests).

I've decided that she could benefit from some simpler polymer clay books and will lend her some from my library.

And that's the update. She'll be travelling for the next several weeks so she won't have a chance to do more, but she's looking forward to Morrisburg.



Saturday, March 7, 2009

My Guild demo tin

Hi All,

A couple of weeks ago I demonstrated how to to cover a tin with scrap clay at Guild. Here's the tin that I made as a demo.

I think clayers divide into two groups - those that generate scrap clay and those that don't. I, unfortunately, am in the former group and always have tons of scrap clay around.

But thank goodness for Pearlex and others types of powders. They cover scrap clay beautifully as long as you're generous with the powder and you'd never know that this started off as an ugly sheet of brownish clay. I use a make-up brush to apply the powder, then run the clay with the texture sheet through the pasta machine. I re-powder again, apply to the tin, repowder to touch up if needed, then bake. I've been covering tins like this for a couple of years and I have yet to run out of any of my small Pearlex containers that I bought from Michaels a few years ago so my definition of generous means you use a bit more than you would if you were using your finger to dab.

This tin is about 4 inches across and 2 inches tall. I buy them at the Dollarama. I love them since there are no hinges to futz with and they're big enough that they can be on display in the house.

Anyhow - Barb has laid claim to the tin. The group seemed to enjoy the class and those that generated scrap clay liked the idea that it didn't have to be all mud.



Monday, March 2, 2009

A potential source of steampunk trinkets

Hi Everyone,

A month ago we were in Antigua celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary (I am truly blessed to be married to a man I love intensely and without reservation). On one of the rocks at the wonderful beach was this discarded Seiko watch. As soon as my husband pointed it out to me I picked it up and decided to bring it home with me (because one of the hallmarks of a clay addict is that you see potential everywhere).

This is what it looked like so I doubt that anyone was going to be claiming it sometime soon.

I'm still trying to figure out how to get into it and I have no idea whether the insides will be usable or not. But when I saw it I knew immediately that it might be useful for something steampunk.

We'll see how it goes. If anyone knows how to open a watch back without a lot of special tools, please let me know.



Sunday, March 1, 2009

An accidental science experiment...

Hi All,

This is a photo of an accidental science experiment that I'll be turning official soon. First you need to know the background of how this came to be.

I confess - I am about the farthest thing from a neat freak when it comes to my hobby room. It's a constant losing battle to keep it tidy. I have lots of shelves, lots of boxes, and lots of stuff. But my work surface stays clean for about 10 minutes when I'm playing. I wish I were different, but I'm not. I've been fighting the battle since I was a teenager (almost 30 years now) so it's not like I'm going to change any time soon.

Scraps of clay particularly seem to be my undoing. They're everywhere.

A while back I decided to tidy and came across this bottle. It's a clear plastic container that used to house my Loctite gel adhesive. At the bottom is a bit of Fimo soft. I've played with Fimo Soft a couple of times, but other than the white, I really don't care for it. It stains like mad and is too soft for me to work with. I've got some of it in lumps on my table as I wrestle with whether to throw it out or not. And apparently I let the bottle rest against a scrap.

When I picked up the bottle I noticed it looked like it was wet with a great big drip. Touching it revealed very sticky soft plastic that almost drips. You can see how the Fimo soft has dragged to the bottom of the bottle.

So I've been letting it sit for the last few weeks and the other day it finally reached the bottom of the bottle.

As an engineer with a chemical background I find this entertaining. I haven't gotten as far as trying to figure out the chemical reaction since I never did enjoy that in University and I really don't need to bring work into my hobby.

But now I'm going to make the experiment official. I'll start with a new bottle and three or four types of clay. We'll see which one makes it to the bottom first and how long it takes. I won't be able to draw any conclusions since I have no idea which clays are new and old formulations other than I know I don't have any new Kato yet. But it'll be interesting to watch.

That is if I don't lose it in the clutter of my hobby room.