Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hector, the Mexican Cancer Killing Bastard...

Hi Everyone,

I've written before about Renee, whom I've gotten to know through the One World One Heart giveaway earlier this year. I also got to meet Renee in person when I was on a business trip to Winnipeg. We've become good friends.

Renee has Stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer and she writes a wonderful blog about the goings on in her life. I check in now and then to see what is happening with her and yesterday I was stunned to read that the last few weeks have been complete and utter turmoil for her.

It turns out that her sister, Jacquie, has a cancerous brain tumour. At the same time that her sister was going under the knife, her sister's son, Sheldon, was also going through surgery for stomach cancer. Sheldon has had his stomach and any piping up through to his esophagus removed and was in surgery for over 12 hours. He is 25.

Anyhow, I've offered to make Bottles of Hope for both Sheldon and Jacquie. Renee was able to give me guidance on Jacquie and I have something in mind, but I had to go looking for inspiration on Sheldon. It came in the form of one of Renee's blog entries here.

Sheldon has created an alter-ego for himself in the name of "Hector, the Mexican Cancer Killing Bastard". So I thought I would give Sheldon a physical representation of Hector.

It took me about three hours to make this guy. I didn't really know where I was going with him, but I had a bit of a Zorro idea in mind. I think he looks more like Sonny Bono.

I've been giggling all night about him because he's so cute (not the macho that I was trying for) so he's infused with laughter, which seems appropriate because Sheldon is known for his sense of humour.

I did put a bit of seriousness in it by decorating the cape with words of inspiration (stamps created by Bev, which, if you ask Marg at Shades of Clay nicely, she might start carrying).

I also listened to the Sarah M. CD that Renee had given me as a thank-you for her Bottle of Hope that I had made which you can see here. So even when Renee isn't with Sheldon, some of her spirit is infused in the bottle.

I hope Sheldon likes this Bottle of Hope.

Tomorrow's effort will be on Jacquie's bottle.

Huge hugs to Renee and her family. She's an incredible woman and I don't know how she does it.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The results of the day...

Hi Everyone,

We're done with BOHs for the day and here are some of the results. Janice and Karen came over and kept me company for the day. Karen tiptoed through my scrap clay bin and got creative with the castle. I wish she would come over more often as she really does have a talent for seeing art in what I consider unsalvageable. I made some more monsters and added leaves to a tree that I had considered not worth finishing.

Karen also completed the penguin finding just enough of the right colours in my clay bin. The googly eyes make him very cute. Karen also made the teddy bear on a blanket BOH, again using mostly scrap from my bin. She says she's not good at miniatures but I think she's mistaken because the teddy bear is adorable. Karen's final result isn't finished yet. She's making a hot air balloon BOH using a tiny glass Christmas ornament as the topper.

At Guild this weekend we learned how to make Donna Kato swirly striped beads. I didn't make beads out of my creation from Guild, but I did think it would make a perfect candle for a cupcake. And, speaking of cupcakes, the flag on the mountain BOH is from cupcakes from Canada Day. Karen made the little climber, complete with quilted jacket.

Janice, as usual, did her beautiful work on more artistic BOHs. These two sets of BOHs are from Janice. It's amazing to watch her in action and somewhat humbling. There's not a whole lot that Janice doesn't do well. We're hoping she'll do a tutorial on how she does her lids. I can never even think to make lids like she does.
She's also very talented with detail - note the cute little sea turtles on the bottles that she did. There's quite a difference in Janice's pile of scrap clay vs my piles. She's always been very precise at segregating her colours, so these bottles are all made out of scrap clay, according to Janice. We sometimes hate her, but in a good way.

Two other clayers joined me in spirit by making BOHs today. I find that touching and again I'm reminded of how wonderful the clay community is and how fortunate I am to be a part of it.

We listened to the Sarah McLaughlin CD that my friend, Renee gave me. A litte of her spirit is passed on in these bottles.

My husband had left for the day to allow me my time with my friends. But when he came home he presented me with the following stone. I hadn't thought I had needed a memorial because everything is in my head and my heart, but when he gave this to me, I realized how perfect it is. It's now in our front garden, next to a rose bush that I had planted in memory of a friend who died years ago. I'll be able to look at it and say hi now and then as it's very close to my car.

All in all, I can't think of a better way to have spent this day and I can honestly end this with my usual...

Cheers (okay, and maybe a few tears, but they're good tears),


I have friends...

Hi Everyone,

Today is the first anniversary of my due date. My child, if he had lived, would be turning 1 today. I've taken the day off to work on Bottles of Hope like I did last year (which you can read about here).

This year I've decided to change my approach and yesterday I sent out an e-mail to my claying friends asking if they would join me. Two of them have dropped everything to come see me and they will be arriving in a few hours (which is a very short time to clean up my hobby room so that we can work). One is unable to attend as she's dealing with the grief of recently losing her brother, but has sent her spirit to participate. Another one I haven't heard from but I wouldn't at all be surprised if she showed up on my doorstep.

It turns out that Toronto Sick Kids is able to receive our bottles for the children with cancer. Yesterday when I was contemplating how I wanted to spend the day I thought how I should be having a birthday party for my child. It's supposed to be a day filled with love and laughter, not tears and sorrow. So I've decided to invite my friends over and we will make children themed BOH. I can not think of too many things worse than losing a child and the parents of the children at Sick Kids must be going through their own particular brand of Hell. My heart goes out to them and I hope with our little gift we can at least bring a moment of brightness to others.

I made the guy in this photo last week. He was inspired by the magazine "Stuffed" that my friend Janice had bought. The artist, Diane Koss, makes whimsical stuffed animals that I thought would translate well to clay. You can see a cute video of her work here, and her blog is I will be making more of these guys since they seem to be a perfect way to use scrap clay.

Anyhow, to get back to my friends, I am fortunate to have these ladies in my life. They have held my hand and their quiet acceptance of my emotions and indignant chatter at when they perceive that I've been threatened by insensitve comments has gone a long way to help me recover in my grief. Others have touched me via long distance, but sometimes there's no substitute for the physical presence of smiles and friendly voices. I am honoured that they are a part of my life.

And the truly wonderful thing is that I met them through claying.

I can't guarantee that there won't be moments of quiet and sorrow today, but I'll be surrounded by women that care and for that I am blessed.


Sunday, July 26, 2009


Hi Everyone,

Here is a piece that I put together at Morrisburg. It involves flakes, but in a slightly different way. I took a microscope slide and coated one side with a thin layer of Future to use as a glue. I then added uncoloured flakes before the Future had a chance to dry so that they stuck to the slide.

Once the slide had dried with the flakes still stuck on it, I added some drops of Ranger Butterscotch, Meadow, and Stream (my new favourite colours for inks) in random patterns and let dry. Placed it onto a sheet of pearl clay, gently but firmly burnished into the clay and started framing around it.

The other elements include a bit of frosted glass that had some inks dropped onto it, a small piece of clay that had the dichro slide layered on it then stamped, and another piece of square memory glass. I had tried to use a decorative paper under the square memory glass but it didn't show through as much as I would have liked, so I added the leaves as accent.

Borders were done primarily using one of Bev's new stamps. She no longer maintains her website but I'm happy to announce that Shades of Clay
is now carrying some of her stamps with more to be added soon. If you haven't already previously seen my gushing about these stamps, know that they're flexible, fit through the pasta machine, and are one of my favourite tools.

I'm pretty sure I borrowed the flower stamps that border the "Imagine" but I don't remember from whom or what the stamp looked like.

I'm not certain what I'm going to do with this piece. I do like it quite a bit, and may try to do a box with it.

That's it for today. I'm off to guild where we're going to learn how to make candy striped beads. It'll be fun.



Saturday, July 25, 2009

Flakes Part 1...

Hi All,

I haven't been claying as much as I would like lately, but that seems to be changing. In the mean time, I thought I would talk a bit about flakes since I taught them at Morrisburg.

This photo shows some of the range of colours that you can get when you simply add Pinata or Ranger alcohol inks to them. I put some flakes in a small disposable cup and start to add the inks drop by drop into the flakes. Stir with a toothpick to coat the flakes and let dry.

During baking there's a reaction with the clay and the inks can change colour. The reds and pinks are particularly prone to this but even the Ranger Slate colour can also change.

Use them where you'd use flakes for accents. I'll have some BOHs to show in a bit (I have to make them, but that's this afternoon's task) that will use them.

I'll post more options as time permits.



Friday, July 10, 2009

Announcing my husband's blog...

Hi Everyone,

My husband has started a new blog at It documents our travels. He's slowly but surely starting to relate details of our Tahiti/Easter Island trip and there will be other entries on our hiking and canoeing journeys as well.

For an introduction to our trip, go here.

Days 1-3 are here.

And, his most recent entry is here.



Thursday, July 9, 2009

What pure and utter relaxation looks like...

Hi Everyone,

We have two cats. While they're a part of our lives we're not fanatical and I wouldn't normally post photos of them. But my husband took this photo the other day and it makes me smile. It just makes me think "carefree, not a worry in the world".



Sunday, July 5, 2009

My Easter Island Bottle of Hope

Hi Everyone,

I had a clay day with the girls today and my goal was to complete a Bottle of Hope that was inspired by my visit to Easter Island.

I had purchased a small carving (approximately 5 inches tall) and used him for inspiration. My BOH is about 2.5 inches tall.

Turns out I'm not a sculptor. I didn't enjoy making this guy at all. So he's going to be a one of a kind.



Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I was here...

Hi Everyone,

I haven't been posting lately because I've been otherwise preoccupied on a halfway-round-the-world 17 day trip.

More than 30 years after reading Thor Heyerdahl's Aku Aku book, I finally realized my dream of going to Easter Island. We were there for almost a week.

Amazing. Haunting. Beautiful. Perfect.

We also went to Tahiti and Moorea, and they were great. But Easter Island was the highlight.

The photo is just a taste of what we saw. More to come later. We just got back after 30 hours of travel and are a bit lagged.