Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Extruded spirals from 2 Good Claymates - Week 13 of canes

Hi Everyone,

I've become virtual friends with Carolyn from 2 Good Claymates and we frequently check out each other's blogs to see what we're up to.  She's incredibly talented when it comes to the finishing details (as shown in the picture above) and I envy that ability so very much.  She's also very generous with her knowledge and regularly posts tutorials that are exceptionally easy to follow. 

As I was playing with my extruded canes inspired by Cara at Surfingcat, Carolyn was also playing with her version which she came up with without using Cara's work as inspiration.  There must have been something in the ethers as Carolyn and I both decided to use a twist in the extruder.  Sometimes I do think there's some kind of creative mist out there that people get inspired by as all of a sudden there will be several people explaining similar but different techniques or results.  I love that this field in particularly seems to be a very sharing field and I've had fun being a part of this particular creative mist.

Anyhow, I've stolen one of her photos which is shown up at the top of my blog so you can see her extruded spiral cane.  The tutorial is here.  You can also see her recent plaid cane on her blog which doesn't look so great (sorry Carolyn) as a cane, but looks amazing as a finished product (which is why I so much envy her talent). 

Please spend some time perusing her blog.  I'm in the process of arranging a swap with her.  She wants some of my landscape canes and I'm going to get a pair of earrings made specially for me.  I, by far, get the better end of the deal.  I'll post photos once the swap is completed.



Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bottles of Hope 12-32

Bottles 12 and 13 (no I did not make the hats, they were part of a dollar store purchase)

Bottles 14 - 17

Bottles 18 - 24

Bottles 25 - 32

My new way of carrying my BOH.

Hi Everyone,

As part of my commitment from the OWOH giveaway, I'm working on 100 Bottles of Hope which will be given to cancer patients at two of our local hospitals. These are bottles 12-32. I had actually miscounted last time and only got up to Bottle 11 instead of 12. If you've been following my blog you'll recognize the source of many of the coverings.

The bottles were made while listening to the Sarah McLachlan CD that Renee had given me. Unfortunately Renee has passed away so this is my way of infusing her spirit and joy into the bottles. There are some tears in the making of the bottles (though not actually in the bottles) as well, which seem fitting as cancer isn't necessarily a joyous path to be forced to take.

Here are the blogs that the bottles are made on behalf of (somehow I think this might be bad grammar). There are all sorts of blogs in this grouping from crafters to spiritual types to stay at home mothers. Take a flip through a few of them and enjoy.

12. Astrid MacLean
13. Athena
14. Pike
15. Knerten
16. nattyj
17. The Rustic Victorian
18. Carol
19. Louise (my favourite BOH woman)
20. Robin
21. Comfort Joy Designs
22. Sue C
23. Craftymoose Crafts
24. Renee, who unfortunately, and to my great sorrow passed away a few weeks ago
25. Grace Beading
26. carylsrealm
27. Debby
28. Bleubeard and Elizabeth
29. Tammie Lee
30. Michaele
31. Brianna
32. Beadwright


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Extruded spirals - week 12 of canes

Hi Everyone,

Surfingcat's blog has many interesting articles and is a prolific blogger, with 37 entries for March alone. She does a lot of experiments and posts the results. She's also a caner and favours Kato clay so she's a woman after my own heart. She posts her canes including the paisley cane that you can see here.

Anyhow, one of her recent blog entries was about using the extruder to create a cane. She had a unique approach to it that I thought would be fun to try. You can see her attempt here.

For some reason I can't leave comments on her blog so I e-mailed her and asked if it would be OK to post my experimentation on my blog. She's readily agreed and here is my attempt.

I started off by extruding four different colours of clay through the square extruder disc so that I had four long square shaped extruded clay snakes (first photo).

Then I combined the four different extruded bits to make a long four coloured square cane (second photo). I then re-extruded this coloured square through the square disc. I wasn't terribly impressed with the efforts - you can see my attempt to make a bigger cane with them in the upper right of the third photo. Surfingcat had e-mailed me to let me know that her other attempts hadn't been very exciting either so I wasn't too discouraged.

But I noticed that the dregs of the extruder provided these neat spirals and I wondered if I could replicate it. This is where I start to depart from Surfingcat's technique.

Gave the original assembled four logs a few twists and re-extruded. Spirals all the way through! But fewer so in the beginning. So then on the last try I twisted even more. Got spirals at the beginning and by the end they were very much spiraled, almost to the point of looking like extruder canes with different colours of circles. I suspect the correct amount of spiraling is somewhere in between the two levels I've shown. I didn't photograph the second spiraling attempt as it wasn't terribly different from the first spiralled attempt.

Then created this cane with the bits of spirals and original extrusions to make a larger cane. It looks quite nice on Bottles of Hope. I've done four Bottles of Hope with the canes and I'll post photos of those later.

I'd like to try this with blues and whites, I think it would make a wonderful wave that could be incorporated as borders or into a sea scene for a landscape cane.

There might be other variations and it was a fun couple of hours (I'm slow at choosing colours) so thanks so much to Surfingcat for coming up with the original approach!



Sunday, March 14, 2010

My head no longer really hurts - week 11 of canes

The original

My attempt

Hi Everyone,

It's done, it's done! I have tackled and somewhat vanquished my Jon Anderson cane.

It came out OK. I'll highlight some lessons learned (i.e., mistakes) here. It's not that I'm being overly critical, just thought I'd point out what I noticed. Believe me, I'll brag when it's warranted.

I'm pretty happy with the colour selection. For the green background I did a skinner blend and then jaggy cut it (a Mike Buessler term) for the top piece to give it some interest. I didn't need to do that though because by the time it's reduced you don't see it.

I had some challenges with the cane reduction. There's a wee bit of blue that was much firmer than the clay surrounding it. You can see it in the two cane slices on the bottom left in the centre of the cane. That was a pain and slowed down the reduction considerably. I used the same blue throughout the cane but my white always tends to be a bit softer and I think placing the two together in such large chunks only aggravated it. Puckered like mad.

I was worried that the red bits at the end were coming up too far to the sides (cane on top right shows it) but by the time the cane reduction is complete and you put one piece next to another you don't really see it.

My spiral ended up squaring up by the time I got it smaller. Not sure how to change that. I think I didn't shape the skinner blend on the right properly. That's probably a general thing about the cane is the proportions.

I had accidentally cut into the spiral while I was making the cane which interrupted the spiral and it really shows up to me. You can see it just above the blue triangle of clay that was giving me issues and it just looks a little imperfect to me.

The colour placement of my inner skinner blend on the left isn't quite perfect. It curves too high and doesn't align with the highlighting on the other two skinner blends. I think some of that was exacerbated by the dark blue piece not moving with the cane so the white ended up shifting higher and higher.

Will I do it again? Maybe. There are a few other Jon Anderson canes that I want to tackle. We'll see. Something for later in the year.

Anyhow, I'm happy that I figured it out, and there are definitely some lessons learned. I can honestly say this is one of the hardest canes I've ever tackled in terms of mental gymnastics.

But it was fun and I do feel a sense of accomplishment.



Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I lost a piece of my heart today...

Hi Everyone,

My friend, Renee, died yesterday. The picture above is what her daughter posted on her blog to let us know that it had finally happened.

I have written several times about Renee. I met her through the OWOH giveaway last year when she entered my covered tin contest. While she didn't win the contest, I did make her a Bottle of Hope since she had inflammatory breast cancer. A few weeks later business happened to take me to Winnipeg and I was privileged to meet this amazing woman. I knew upon meeting her that I had met someone special. I also knew that our time together would be limited. We have corresponded via e-mails, blogs, and snail mail and her presence in my life has made me smile for hours on end. She has touched so very many people (it's not unusual for her blog entries to have over 200 comments) and I'm honoured to have been one of them.

Renee was one of my moments of brightness that I wrote about here. My favourite Bottle of Hope ever was made for her nephew, Sheldon. When I make Bottles of Hope I listen to the Sarah McLaughlin CD that Renee sent me. Her spirit is infused in so many things and people.

My heart goes out to Renee's family as they deal with yet another loss. In 2008 it was Renee's father, in 2009 it was young Sheldon, Renee's nephew, in 2010 so far it has been Renee's mother and Renee and Renee's sister is not much longer.

I'm very much feeling the urge to make some Bottles of Hope tonight. These will be on behalf of Renee.

Farewell, Renee. I miss you and will continue to miss you.

I close with one of my favourite blog entries from Renee.

The following was written by A. Powell Davies:

When sorrow comes, let us accept it simply, as a part of life.
Let the heart be open to pain; let it be stretched by it.
All the evidence we have says that this is the better way.
An open heart never grows bitter.
Or if it does, it cannot remain so.

In the desolate hour, there is an outcry; a clenching of the hands upon emptiness; a burning pain of bereavement; a weary ache of loss.

But anguish, like ecstasy, is not forever.
There comes a gentleness, a returning quietness, a restoring stillness.
This, too, is a door to life.

Here, also, is a deepening of meaning – and it can lead to dedication; a going forward to the triumph of the soul, the conquering of the wilderness. And in the process will come a deepening inward knowledge that in the final reckoning, all is well.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

My head is really starting to hurt - week 10 of canes

Hi Everyone,

I tend to think of myself as a caner, and a reasonably capable one, but every so often I get completely humbled by my attempts. That was the case today.

I decided to tackle the dreaded Jon Anderson spiral cane that I featured here and which you can see in the above photo. I was feeling pretty good about it. At lunch earlier this week I spent some time sketching it out and figuring out exactly how it was supposed to go together. Easier than I thought it would be.

Yesterday I started experimenting with colours, trying to decide what colour scheme I wanted to use. I've got four separate examples of this particular cane on my Jon Anderson figures each with a different colour pallette. Ultimately, with the landscape canes that I've been playing with I thought it would be nice to have a simple blue and white skinner blend version. But that decision alone probably took me two or three hours. I now have some very nice other skinner blend plugs that will also come in useful.

Blue and white skinner blend, no problem. Trying to decide on the spiral colour, a few different approaches but ultimately happy with this choice. One of the choices, the red white and blue flat cane that you see in the photo, I've decided maybe to incorporate into the cane as the base.

Where things really started to go sideways for me was in the assembly. Generally assembly isn't a problem but I am very much rotationally challenged. I've never been good at figuring out that if I just rotated by 45 degrees or flip-flopped or whatever other thing there is to do that would create the effect that I want. I find that particularly true with skinner blends and today was incredibly difficult. I referenced the sample cane frequently and it's amazing how I had to have it oriented just right even to get a sense on what I was trying to do.

So here's where I got today. It's not perfect by any means and at this point I'm now trying to decide on the background. I'm going to let it sit for a couple of days and think about it. I'm leaning towards a brown or gold although I know that the white would be cleaner. But I'm a bit bored with blue and white.

For now it's time for a break to give my head a much more needed rest than I was expecting. I've got to do something with the top a bit and make the point of the white blend match the spiral a bit more. I think all that is is a bit of mooshing.

Maybe the finished product will be next week's entry. I suspect it's going to take some trial and effort to decide what colour to use as background. Colours were difficult this time around.

We'll see.