Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas, Tiffany!

Merry Christmas, Tiffany!

This entry is my Christmas gift to Tiff, since she'll wake up on Christmas Day by herself and won't have family around until later afternoon after she gets done with her work shift.

Tiffany, not shown above, is my Little Sister and truly one of the greatest joys in my life. I love her more than she can possibly know. We were matched through Big Sisters more than 10 years ago and she's been a beautiful part of my life pretty much ever since. Even now, just typing this entry I've got a grin on my face from ear to ear because it's hard not to think of Tiff without a smile or laugh bubbling to the surface.

Tiff has had some detours along the way, at times her family situation wasn't the greatest. We lost touch for a while when she was in her late teens due to some of these detours and family tensions. She resurfaced about three years ago, a phone call out of the blue where she started chattering to me as if time had never stopped. All the while I'm listening wondering "who is this person talking to me?", because it hardly ever occurs to Tiff that you don't recognize her voice. She actually sounds very much like my friend, Janice, which can make things doubly confusing at times since Janice doesn't always introduce herself either. This is Tiff in a nutshell. We picked up like it had been only yesterday since we had talked.

Tiff waited until she had turned her life around before calling me (not something she needed to do, but I understand the reasoning). She had gone back to high school, had a new and very wonderful boyfriend, and was planning on entering a veterinary technology program. She'll be graduating from that program in May 2010 and she's still with her very wonderful boyfriend (I really do like him). We've kept in touch through Facebook, phone calls, e-mails and visits. I'm so proud of her my heart feels like it's going to burst at times and we'll be cheering her on at her graduation.

As Big and Little Sisters we did many things together. Some of my favourite memories are getting dressed up for Halloween, she as a mummy and me as a witch, taking her to Glamour Shots and getting her all done up for a celebration of a milestone, movies, Canada's Wonderland and the video of her lip synching to Brittany Spears, and a whole host of other treats.

The photo above is of her dog who recently certified to become one of the types of dogs that goes into nursing homes to bring joy. Tiff brought this dog from a cringing unpredictable quivering lump to a disciplined, happy, and terrific pet. In her other spare time she volunteers with Girl Guides, tutors others at school, and works with laboratory monkeys. Listening to her sometimes makes me tired, but mostly proud.

Tiff, I wish I could be with you on Chrismas Day as Christmas is about family and you are definitely part of my family. Instead, I publicly proclaim that you are the greatest Little Sister ever. Joe agrees as well and you know that that's not easily earned.

Merry Christmas, Tiff. I love you!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

12th Day of Christmas

Christmas Cakes to feed 12

Hi Everyone,

On this last entry before Christmas I thought I'd post some miniature Christmas cakes that I purchased for my mother for Christmas Day. These are made by our guild's very own Jacey Culham. She's a generous teacher and I've shown her work before here.

Jacey and her husband, Francis, have a website that's under development and will be fully operational in February. You can still click on it now here, and if you click on home a few times you'll get some different images of Francis' work. I'll post an entry when their website is fully operational.

A note on the holly wreath cake... Jacey has a lot of good short cuts and I was hoping she'd have one for me on the holly leaves. Nope, not to be. She had her husband manufacture a wee little holly leaf cutter for her. That's the type of detail that she and her husband are known for.

This concludes my 12 Days of Christmas. There is one posting tomorrow and then I likely won't have anything until the New Year.

Seasons Greetings to All and may there be moments of brightness for everyone during the holiday season.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

11th Day of Christmas

11 pieces of clay make a penguin.

OK, so that one was a bit of a reach.

My friend Barb loves penguins. I was going to make her a penguin cane but simply ran out of time. However, as I was conditioning scrap blue clay, I noticed after one of the passes that the colours were beautiful and that there was a hint of an iceberg in one section which you can see in the upper left of the ornament. For once I stopped where I should have and at that point I decided that it would be possible to do a penguin ornament.

Barb appeared to be quite happy with him.

I probably should stop with the googly eyes, I used a lot of them this year.

Maybe for next year I'll get on the ball sooner to do a penguin cane for her.



Tuesday, December 22, 2009

10th Day of Christmas

10 ornaments from the Clayamies 2009 ornament swap.

Hi Everyone,

These are the ornaments that I received in this year's ornament swap. They'll on my small tree with all my other Clayamies ornaments from previous years. They've done a stint at my office already where they decorated my cubicle. Many came by and oohed and aaahed. What's so great about claying is that everyone would have a favourite and then on their second trip by it might become another ornament because there's something to notice each time.

It's always a treat to get ornaments in the mail and Georgia is a saint for her organizational skills. She's been coordinating the swap for the last several years and does a wonderful job.

Two more days of Christmas to go. Not sure what 11th day is going to be but 12th was easy.



Monday, December 21, 2009

9th Day of Christmas...

There are 9 letters in the words "Elvis Ball".

Hi Everyone,

I have a friend, Karen, who in the last couple of years has become endearingly obsessed with Elvis. This year she's decided to have an Elvis tree.

I had been making an ornament for her with the idea of the lights and the snowflake ball, but my attempts at making a teddy bear weren't working out and I ended up ruining the ornament before I was able to give it to her. Once she mentioned the Elvis tree, though, it became so obvious what I had to make her.

The good thing is that there's no such thing as too tacky in Karen's mind and she likes bling. A few hours of mucking about with clay transfer paper, several coats of Future floor polish, and here's the finished version of the ornament.

If you press a button on the back of the ornament three lights start dancing around Elvis in red, blue, and yellow. I got the lights from a Dollar Store drinking cup.

Anyhow, I'll be giving the ornament to Karen today and I'm almost positive that she'll like it.



Sunday, December 20, 2009

8th Day of Christmas...

8 Beads to make angel earrings

Hi, Everyone,

One of my claying friends, Barb, does a lot of beadwork and is quite talented at it. This year's present from her, to me, is a pair of angel earrings.

Here's the photo of them.

They're quite fun to wear and I'm thrilled to be a recipient of Barb's talent.



Saturday, December 19, 2009

7th Day of Christmas...

7 Ingredient Lemon Squares

Hi Everyone,

I'm pretty sure I posted this recipe last year, but just in case I haven't, here's a recipe for lemon squares that is simple and now a command performance at my office Christmas Pot-Luck.


1/2 cup melted butter
1.5 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/3 packed cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda (seems to be optional, since it comes out OK without it)

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Mix first four ingredients together, press into 9 inch pan. Do not bake yet.
3. Mix lemon juice and condensed milk in separate bowl until well mixed.
4. Add vanilla.
5. Pour juice/milk mix over crust.
6. Bake 20-25 minutes. It might still look a bit runny.
7. Cool or at least wait until warmish rather than hot to eat so you don't burn your mouth and can't enjoy them.

I've been tempted to add a thin layer of dark chocolate between the graham cracker crumbs and the lemon filling, but my husband can't have chocolate.

Recipe from "Company's Coming, 150 Delicious Squares" by Jean Pare which you can buy at their website here. This is one of my favourite books for desserts and I haven't had a bad recipe from it yet. In general, the Company's Coming series of books are wonderful, spend some time browsing if you like.

While I was looking for a photo to make the blog entry somewhat interesting, I came across the following recipe which eliminates the baking and is something that I might have to try at my sister's house at Christmas. The hard part appears to be waiting 24 hours to eat.



Friday, December 18, 2009

6th Day of Christmas...

Six, and six Santas

Hi Everyone,

A good friend of mine from Montreal, Louise, is a caner and does beautiful whimsical work. I've posted photos of her Bottles of Hope before.

Today I thought I'd share some of her Santas, which, just coincidentally, come in batches of six and allows me to get back onto my theme. I love these.

She makes me want to cane again and I do have an idea that I might try on the weekend.

Please visit her site and see some of her clever work. It'll bring a smile to your face, particularly if you look at her Bottles.



Thursday, December 17, 2009

5th Day of Christmas

OK, I've got nothing that relates to five, but here's a photo of an ornament I made for Janice. We had seen a metal one eyed snowman ornament at the One of A Kind Craft Fair and this is my attempt to make something that had the same whimsy.

Two things about this were hard. He is intentionally imperfect and kind of irregular. Turns out that rolling and flattening imperfect balls is a lot harder than mostly perfect balls since now there's so much muscle memory involved in making nice round things. Any flaws are intentional in the clay.

Of course, if I were trying to make something perfect I'd be saying just the opposite.

The other thing was the branches. I tried making clay branches and they didn't work out. So went searching on the Internet to see how others had done branches. Saw some wire ones and I used them for inspiration.

Overall I'm very happy with the ornament. He made me smile as I was making him.

And Janice was happy to receive him, too.



Wednesday, December 16, 2009

4th day of Christmas

Four tutorials from 2 Good Claymates.

Hi Everyone,

There are many wonderful clay sites out there and if you haven't found the 2 Good Claymates site, you should at least take a look. They do beautiful work and also share the occasional tutorial. Their instructions are clear and offer advice on things you may not have considered.

So here are four tutorials in no particular order.

Rondelle beads

Making a Lentil Swirl

Making Beads

and their most recent one, Stringing Bracelets

There are other tutorials on their site, just scroll down on the right on their site until you see a section called "How we do it".

There are, of course, many other wonderful sites out there that offer tutorials. Tina offers tutorials for sale and also publishes some free ones. One of my earliest favourite sites is Desiree's Desired Creations. And, of course, there's always Cindy Lietz' Polymer Clay Tutor.

So there's another set of four, four different sites to peruse if you haven't already.

No photos this early a.m. as clicking on these people's sites is quick and easy.



Tuesday, December 15, 2009

3rd day of Christmas and three snowflakes...

Hi Everyone,

Today's entry has nothing to do with clay. This snowflake website has consistently been one of my favourites. It's been around for several years and each year I discover it again at Christmas.

Go ahead and spend some time playing. You can browse other people's snowflakes, edit your own, save them as jpg files and e-mail them. I like the preview feature and the undo feature. It's very easy to spend an hour playing and one year we lost my mother for several hours to this site.

Here are three of the ones that I made in preparation for this blog entry.



Monday, December 14, 2009

2nd Day of Christmas...

Two tins are pictured.

Dollar stores are just the greatest things. On my latest haunting I found several Christmas themed tins. This one was just begging to be covered with my favourite green colour clay. I used the crochet lace pattern from Bev's stamps which you can purchase through Shades of Clay. It does a great mica shift. Handmade candycanes and ornaments, and voila! a nice tin. I know exactly what's going in it but I can't say much more since the recipient is a reader of the blog.



Sunday, December 13, 2009

On the first day of Christmas...

Hello Everyone,

I figured out that we're only 12 days away from Christmas today so I thought I would make it my goal to do a blog entry a day for the next 12 days. Other than the title, there is no relation to the Christmas carol.

This photo is of the ornaments that I created for the Clayamies swap this year. I've been participating for the last few years with the exception of last year. We were to do up to 20 ornaments in batches of five. Normally I'm very much the keener and do an ornament for everyone but this year I only accomplished half of the batch. They're made with the variegated snowflake cane that I did earlier.

The hardest part was gluing the two jewels at the top of the tree together. I had to get my husband to help out on that one. Overall I was pretty happy with them.

Now to figure out what the next 11 entries are going to be...



Friday, December 11, 2009

Hi Everyone,

Janice taught a class at Guild a couple of weeks ago on what she calls "shrines". They're basically three dimensional clay window boxes that can incorporate mixed media.

Here's my attempt at it. I'm particularly in love with my flames cane which isn't done justice by the image here. It was a white, red, and yellow bullseye cane that I had created for something else and simply by distorting it and merging it I got a nice fire effect.

Not sure who I'm giving this to yet.

I'll make more. The concept is really nice and is very adaptable to all sorts of things. And, of course, as well as being a good friend, Janice is an amazing teacher.



Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ornaments for my older nieces...

Hi Everyone,

Now that my nieces have seen the ornament that I created for my youngest niece they've asked for their own. Here are the ones that I've made for them.

One thing that might not be obvious is the one on the left has a lip ring. My oldest niece has been experimenting with piercings and tattoos and currently has a lip ring, much to the consternation of several family members. She's planning on giving it up soon so this will be a reminder of who she once was.

That's the last of the gingerbread ornaments for now. I have a couple of other ornaments that aren't gingerbread that I'll be posting later.



Monday, December 7, 2009

Snowflake Bottles of Hope

Some Bottles of Hope made with the snowflake cane. Tops are the rubber tops painted with the Lumiere Paints and then a plastic jewel glued on top.

Easy and fun.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

This year's ornament for Lauren

Hi Everyone,

Thought I'd post a photo of this year's ornament for my youngest niece. I think I'm going to continue with the gingerbread theme for the next while.

Apron is made out of the snowflake canes that I played with earlier.

On the back you can see that I've imprinted a lot of letters - there's a reason for that. If you look to the left of the word "with", you'll see a sideways "W". I accidentally did that and then tried to figure out how to correct the mistake. The rest of the alphabet seemed to be an easy solution since I didn't want to mush up the figurine and start over.

My niece is too young to appreciate this at the moment, but hopefully in a few years when she understands decorating the tree she'll start liking my annual gifts. My older nieces have now started asking for ornaments so it looks like a tradition I'll have to do for a while with pleasure.



Saturday, December 5, 2009

Clay Day with the New Girls

Hi Everyone,

I've been delinquent in blogging but hope to change that over the next while.

A couple of weeks ago I was very happy to have four wonderful women from work over for the afternoon for a clay day. These women had participated in the monster Bottles of Hope which I had posted here so this was their second time playing with clay.

We started off with simple earrings. I always find it fascinating how the same instructions can generate so many different results. We used foils, Pearlex powders and some bracelet links that I bought at Walmart a while back and can no longer find.

One of the lessons learned is that embossing powder in clay doesn't really do well with a thin layer of liquid clay on top. You can see the effect on the purple earrings up top. It's an interesting effect and when the earrings are worn the pattern in the background is very subtle but it does make people look twice.

The girls were happy with them and so was I.

We then moved on to individual projects. This was a bit more challenging as there were four very distinct personalities in the room and I was run a bit ragged (in a good way) trying to provide support to everyone. Jenn wanted to cane and you can see her leaf cane on the bottle. I'm going to incorporate the cane into something.

Anoushka really liked the saying "Be Still.." and she made a magnet out of it to give to her husband. She also likes big earrings and was happy with the Dollarama pieces that she was able to incorporate into blue clay.

Lauren and Talar worked on clay ornaments. Talar is on her way to losing a lot of weight so it's appropriate that she made a gingerbread clay person with a bite out of it. Lauren's ornament is a gift to some friends who are expecting a baby. They already have a son with curly hair so the ornament is a pairing of that. It's personalized on the back as well.

Lauren is a yoga teacher and made the OM symbol for a pendant. She's a bit like me in that she's a hacker and can bulldoze her way through things. Anoushka has a very delicate touch and helped out with the pendant details.

It was a lot of fun and we're looking forward to doing something again in the New Year.