Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunrise, sunset - week five of canes

Hi Everyone,

I'll be teaching landscape canes at Guild at the end of February. Here's one I put together just for fun - I had some scrap clay that I decided to see what would happen if I skinner blended. It turned into a nice sunrise/sunset sky. Started adding the land and then thought it should have a sun.

I'm happy with it and looking forward to seeing it reduced more. I'm saving the reduction for class though. I'm not sure if I'll lose the detail of the land colours as I reduce. We'll see.

I forgot to put my penny in the photo. Cane is about 2 inch wide by 3/4 inch tall at the moment.

All told this one took less than an hour to put together, but that's an unusually fast cane for me. It's all about cookie cutters.

Expect to see more landscape canes over the next few weeks as I practice my demos for Guild.



Saturday, January 30, 2010

We interrupt our normal programming...Operation Beautiful

Hi Everyone,

I lurk at a few other sites that have nothing to do with claying. One of them is from Rachel who is trying to reconcile the journey of learning to live without children and writes poignant blog entries about the very difficult struggle. That's really beside the point, but one of her postings was about Operation Beautiful which is more the point.

Operation Beautiful was started by Caitlin and you can read more about the whole story here.

I posted the link on my Facebook page saying that I would be partipating in the near future. Little did I know that my first real experience with it would be from my brother Mark.

Mark is my youngest brother. He is 13 years younger than me and bears a striking resemblance to the character on the Nintendo DS Brain Age games. He is a tall gentle quiet giant that gets lost when it comes to the right words to say in awkward situations. However, he's very big on hugs, silent companionship, and the occasional simple text message of "I love you". He is wonderful and his hugs are the best, the kind that squish you and surround you and make you feel safe.

This photo is of the text message that he sent me a couple of days ago, I'm guessing after he saw my FB posting. I had my phone on silent so I didn't see it until yesterday morning when I was preparing for a big meeting that was sure to be full of confrontation and exasperation. I ended up smiling all day long.

I offer Mark's text message to all of you, I'm sure he won't mind. All of you have visited my blog, many have left comments, and many have made me smile. You are each and everyone beautiful and I am fortunate to have found a way to have you in my life, even if it's sometimes only very peripherally.

You, my blog readers, are beautiful. Thank you for making my life richer.


Monday, January 25, 2010

One World One Heart, week 4 of canes...

It's One World One Heart Time!!!!

And the winners are:

Gaby from Germany who chose the blue earrings.

Vale from Italy who chose the black and white earrings, and

Assaya from the Netherlands who is happy with the green earrings.

I was surprised that all three winners came from Europe, but I double checked and the random number generator was random and the numbers were what they were. Packages will be on the way some time in the next week or so.

Thanks to everyone who participated and left the wonderful comments that they did. I had a lot of fun perusing the various blogs.

On a side note, I've already started posting the bottles that I'm dedicating on behalf of the first 100 entrants.

For those of you unfamiliar with OWOH, it started in 2007 by the Whimsical Bohemian with fewer than 100 participants and in two years it grew to over 900 participants in 2009. I'm excited to see what 2010 brings. I participated in 2009 and gave away clay covered tins. Through the experience I was fortunate to meet Renee and a few other women. The event is meant to encourage bloggers around the world to connect with each other.

The theme this year for One World One Heart is Magic Carpet. My interpretation of magic carpets turned into three pairs of earrings made with canes that I've created. Earring findings are surgical steel. Here are the three pairs. If you're unfamiliar with canes, please see my blog entry here for some great cane links and here for a bit more pictorial on some canes that I made.

I'll pick three names randomly late on February 15th from people who leave a comment between now and the closing time. People can have until noon Eastern Standard Time on February 15 to leave a comment.

If you want to see other Canadian clayers participating in the event, go over to the Clayamies website and check out the links there.

I'll also commit to making up to 100 Bottles of Hope throughout the year that will be donated to local hospitals and I'll name them publicly on my blog for the first 100 entrants on my website (if I get that many). Since many of you will be new to the idea of Bottles of Hope, they're clay covered medicine bottles that are given to cancer patients. The history of Bottles of Hope can be found here. My bottles may not all be cane related, but here is an example of ones that are covered with canes. You can see other examples of some of my bottles here, here, and my personal all time favourite here. One of my friends, Louise, does very creative bottles so if you're in the mood for a smile, stop by and see her bottles here.

I will post the winners some time during the evening of the 15th of February.

My rules - there are only two:

  1. My giveaway is only open to active bloggers and website owners. You must have a blog or website (Etsy, Flickr, and other such sites count) that I can visit. It doesn't have to be artsy, and half the fun last year was seeing the myriad of topics that people cover out there.
  2. You must leave a comment on this blog entry with your e-mail address or a way of contacting you.
In terms of e-mails, I generally hate leaving my e-mail out in a public domain and I'm sure others of you feel the same way. However, I know that I'll be entering other people's giveaways so I've created a special e-mail for myself through gmail which has the initials owoh in the e-mail address and I'll be leaving that as my contact. Another way of leaving an address is to use the format where you spell out the at sign and the dot symbol. For example: sandy123owoh at hotmail dot com. I will consider that format acceptable for finding you.

Thanks so much to Lisa who created this wonderful event and has the dedication, kindness and spirit. What a wonderful way to touch people.

Cheers, good luck, and happy blog and website surfing. Here's to new friends and linking up with old friends. Let the fun begin!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

My thumb hurts, week 3 of canes...

Hi Everyone,

While looking up sites for last week's caning entry, I came across the following tutorial from Canespinner designs. It's for a geometric cane that can be created with an extruder. I thought it would be interesting to try.

In looking at my canes that I've got collected for my big project, I decided that I wanted some more browns in there. So here are my canes from the tutorial.

The reason that my thumb hurts is that the extruder that I've got is one of the Makin's green ones. Since I'm using Kato clay, a stiffer clay, turning the handle on the extruder requires almost a death grip on the body of the extruder. I didn't realize that I had formed a decent sized blister on my thumb until it was too late.

I got my husband to do the last extrusion.

I'm not really happy with my choice of browns, but I do think this would make an excellent faux wood inlay for something and it turns out that it does work well with the project canes. I tried creating other patterns with the extruded clay but I wasn't particularly creative and ended up not doing anything spectacular.

Please check out the rest of Canespinner Designs' website. I'm in love with his frames and they might inspire me in the future. He also does beautiful bracelets and other things.



Thursday, January 14, 2010

A caning primer, week 2 of canes

Hi Everyone,

One of my regular visitors, Lea, asked about caning. She wanted to know what it was and what reductions were. So, as a courtesy to Lea, this week's caning blog entry tackles the idea of canes. Since the rest of my caning blog entries will likely focus on my canes, I thought it would be nice to offer some exceptional caners' work.

Caning is the process of making a log of cane colours into a picture that you can slice through so that the pattern repeats itself through each slice. It's a lot like what you would do with the holiday themed sugar cookies that we get in the stores.

The easiest canes are the jelly roll canes and the layered canes. This tutorial from Polymer Clay Central, even shows you how to make a jelly roll cane without a pasta machine.

Speaking of Polymer Clay Central, they were one of my first sources of inspiration for caning, with over 30 tutorials on line for canes and a whole host of other projects. Another great site that I just discovered while researching the topic is Craft Stew's compilation of caning tutorials. Some of the canes on this site are repeats of the Polymer Clay Central site, but there are others.

There are many other caning sites around. In Canada, our own Wanda Shum does a spectacular job on canes and it's always a treat to get one of her cane slices in the mail. I've already written a few times about Louise's caning ability. One person I haven't mentioned previously very much is Adria who I get to see every year in Morrisburg. The large butterfly cane pictured here is one of her creations. Click on her link to see how delicate these become. I've written before about 2 Good Claymates. They have some tutorials on caning if you look at their sidebar. While you're at it, take a look at some of their new buttons. I'm sure that there are many other Canadian caners but these are the ones I thought of off the top of my head.

While looking to write this article I browsed a lot on the web. I found this cute little cane tutorial by Kim Korringa Designs on how to do fish here. I think the bodies of the fish would lend themselves very nicely to monsters.

Once you master the caning basics, it then becomes time to move onto bigger and better things. It's important to note that not all canes start out as large as the ones below. Most of mine would be in the 2 inch wide by 2 thick wide by 2 inch tall size. Some smaller, some larger. But I like these examples because they're fun to look at and not something you'd normally see in class.

Here are some examples of very large canes.

Bead Goodies posts an interesting tutorial on how to make what she calls a medium size cane (it's only 1.5 lbs) and reduce it in under 4 hours here. Please do click on her tutorial as she offers some contrasting opinions on how to reduce canes.

A very pretty cane cane that is 3 lbs before reduction is shown here at Kay's Creations. She's got some wonderful clay on her Flickr site. I love her Steam Punk Bottles of Hope and some of her canes are so cute.

For a truly absolutely deserving of reverence cane that is on the large size, check out Julie Eakes' cane here. She used an extruder and it took her 3 weeks to build. I cannot even fathom how to plan this thing. She does some amazing face canes which you can see in a slideshow here. Beautiful!

The reason that this blog entry is almost a week late is that I've spent a lot of time looking for one of my favourite videos on reducing canes and couldn't remember where to find it. Many google searches later and here it is. Kathy Gose shows how to reduce her cane in a slightly unconventional way here.

One of the most precise caners that I know of is Canin' Able. He's got a Flickr site that has some amazing photographs. I've copied a picture of how he does some of his reducing. This particular cane is over 7 lbs. You can read the details of this particular cane reduction here. You can also see some of the tools that he uses for his clay hobby on his Flickr website so take some time to browse there.

The last site that I want to mention for a tutorial and giant cane is Silly Millies. She does whimsical cartoon canes where the distortion adds to the character of the canes. I think she was the first commercial caner that I became aware of. You can see her YouTube videos here where she talks about reducing a cane and here.

If your canes come out terrible you can always post them to the Flickr Group Millefiori Gone Wrong. I just recently added my Poor Little Bear cane to the album.

It's literally taken me hours to write this posting. I'd get so far and then have to dash off into my clay room and play for a few minutes. I wouldn't get terribly much done, but it sure was distracting trying to write this.

Hope this is a good intro. There were so many entries that I could have posted here and it was hard to narrow it down to just a few photos and websites.

I've already got Week 3 lined up with a cane that I made while writing this entry. Week 4 will be my One World One Heart project and Week 5 is actually a discovery that I had tonight while playing around a bit.



Saturday, January 9, 2010

I never want to be featured here...

Hi Everyone,

If you haven't already heard or seen, there's a website that picks some of the more questionable Etsy offerings and highlights them. The website is called Regretsy.

The owner of the website doesn't pull any punches, sometimes the language can be considered a bit coarse. Many of the Etsy nominees wear their nominations like a badge of pride, such as the embroidered toilet paper which you can see here.

Apparently there's a book coming out and she'll also be writing an article for a bridal magazine. There's a bit of a cult following and many of the pieces that she highlights actually sell.

I won't post photos of the stuff here, because really, some of it is just too ghastly for posting.

Anyway, I'm sure many of you will join me in thinking "I hope my stuff is never posted on Regretsy". It isn't an issue with me at the moment since I don't have an Etsy website.



Sunday, January 3, 2010

My Head Hurts, week 1 canes...

Hi Everyone,

With the weather outside a chilly -17C, I took yesterday and spent the day caning. I started with an attempt at a Jon Anderson cane that had intrigued me. His version that shows up on a few of the pieces I own is the first photo in this entry. I was intrigued by the shading and how it looked 3D on a 2D plane. Simple enough to draw so I thought it would be simple to recreate.

Turns out I'm challenged in taking a 2D image and making it 3D in terms of a cane. Skinner blend portion was easy. Shaping the cup itself was easy. But it probably took me 20 minutes to figure out how to do the cup rim and the inner circle. Most of you are probably thinking "silly girl, it's simply a jelly roll around a skinner blend and flattened". Which is exactly what it is, but for whatever reason that concept was hard.

The next important thing was to reverse the blend from the cup to the inner circle. I kept doing that and then as I was adjusting the cane I'd somehow flip it. Started to reduce, realized that I had flipped it one too many times, and had to tear it apart to flip it. But I'm happy with the cane and you can see it in the 2nd image of this blog entry.

Reduction went well. I've decided that I'm a huge fan of creating a block of filler colour and then cutting out what I don't need to pack the cane instead of layers of packing. I'll explain that in detail in another posting but essentially I make the background block the same size that I want the cane to be, then cut out the bits that need to be filled in with the coloured portion of the cane. For me there's less distortion that way and it's quicker. I do end up with extra background colour, but that's easily used in other projects.

I had some scrap left over and played around a bit to make this second cane (which I'm still counting as cane week 1). It's tiny and I don't have too much of it, but enough likely to go around a tin or two.

I spent the better part of yesterday cataloging my canes by reducing them to 1/4 inch high and creating a sample piece that's 2 inches long. Since the goal of these canes is to cover tins, the 1/4 inch high works well and is visually interesting. The summary of those will likely be the topic of next week's posting.

Once my head stops hurting I'll try to tackle the cane below. I need to be fresh for this one I think.



Saturday, January 2, 2010

One World One Heart 2010...

Hi Everyone,

I'm happy to announce that I'll be participating in the One World One Heart (known in future blog postings as OWOH) event like I did last year. For more information on the event, please visit the coordinator's website here. I participated last year and had great fun with it. Through the event I got to meet several wonderful women including Renee, whom I've written about several times.

I have some ideas in mind for my giveaways, and maybe today I'll work on a couple of them. Since this is the year of the cane for me they might be cane related.

I will say that to enter my giveaway you'll need to have an active blog. It doesn't have to be clay or craft related.

More to come on the 25th. I think today will be a clay day for me.



Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 - The Year of the Canes

Happy New Year Everyone,

I was fortunate enough to receive two more Jon Anderson pieces from my mother at Christmas this year, the mother and baby roadrunner. I was thrilled and it's made me realize that I've spent far too much time away from caning. Not that I mind having dinked around with other clay experiments, but it's time to go back to my first love in clay. The images in this blog entry are from the two roadrunners.

So this year's resolution is to post one of my canes a week on this blog. I may not do a cane a week, and some weeks I might do two or three, but I'm going to be aiming for 52 blog entries on canes that I've made. They're not all going to be as glorious as Jon's canes, but I will likely try imitating some of his patterns.

I'm scheduled to teach landscape canes at Guild in the next while so some of the canes will be landscapes, inspired by Mike Buesseler's work. I did a sunset one earlier this week that seems to be on the pretty side.

Also, while I would like to create something as stunning as Jon's work, I don't want to be too imitative.

My goal is to incorporate more skinner blends into the canes and I suspect that there will be a fair bit of experimentation that way.

One other source of inspiration off the top of my head is from Violette LaPorte's use of geometry in her skinner blends which you can see here.

I will post images of other things that I'm sure I'll get sidetracked along the way about, but the attempt will be to focus on canes this year.

Apologies for the image layout on this entry, I still haven't perfected the art of getting the photos where I want them.