Wednesday, August 29, 2012

We want to offer you the world...

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It's a wonderful world

The world will seem a little smaller this weekend. Bloggers from all over will be showcasing a selected country: its colours, people, landmarks or architecture, customs or dress. 

We have each created an accessory that captures the spirit of that special place, and on Saturday, September 1st, we are going to share our creations with you.

Please join us for a blog hop celebrating a world of difference. I think you'll find it much less tiring than flying around the planet, and a lot less costly as well!

Here are the participants and the countries they will be showcasing:

Monique Urquhart       Burkina Faso
Niky Sayers   Egypt
Therese Frank    Kenya
Raychelle Heath     Lesotho
Joan Williams      Mauritania
Sherri Stokey     Senegal
Regina Santerre    Seychelles
Raida Disbrow   Tanzania
Kristi Wodek    Zimbabwe  

Sally Russick  Brazil
Melissa Trudinger   Mexico
Tracy Stillman       USA

Sandra Wolberg    India
Tanya Goodwin       Japan
Susan Kennedy      Japan
Beth Emery    Japan
Lisa Cone    Japan
Tanya Boden    Japan
Inge von Roos    Laos
Erin Prais-Hintz       Nepal
Dee Elgie      Phillipines
Carolyn Lawson   South Korea
Lisa Stukel  Sri Lanka
Elly Snare       Thailand

Shelley Graham Turner    Austria
Mallory Hoffman    Bosnia Herzegovina
Paige Maxim    France
Jenny Davies-Reazor     Germany
Sharyl McMillian-Nelson      Greece
Evelyn Shelby       Iceland
Holly Westfall   Ireland
Rebecca Siervaag     Ireland
Toltec Jewels       Ireland
Lee Koopman Ireland
Laren Dee Barton      Italy
Cindy Wilson       Norway
Kathleen Lange Klik        Poland
Shaiha Williams      Portugal
Jennifer Justman         Romania
Elsie Deliz-Fonseca   Spain
Lola Surwillo      Sweden
Kim Hora       Switzerland
Leanne Loftus       The Netherlands
Patti Vanderbloemen   The Netherlands
Marcie Carroll       Turkey

Marlene Cupo Federated States of Micronesia
Ine Vande Cappelle   Fiji
Tammie Everly        Guam
Alice Peterson      Kiribati
Elisabeth Auld      Nauru
Susan McClelland      New Zealand
D Lynne Bowland        New Zealand
Denielle Hagerman  New Zealand
Rebecca Anderson      Papua New Guinea
Mischelle Fanucchi    Samoa
Kari Asbury   Solomon Islands
Cece Cormier       Tonga
Emma Todd   Tuvalu
Debbie Price        Vanuatu  

Friday, August 24, 2012

Welcome Home, Miss Lucy!

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Kramer and Lucy relax on the ironing board: just tolerating one
 another. I know she looks big in this pic, but Lucy's only about
3 lbs.,  and Kramer is 12 lbs!

This is a quick update on our newest family member. Last Friday, Lucy came home with us from the local Animal Shelter where she has been living since January. She is a sweet non-neutered female, about one year old. Since she lived in a big "cat room" at the Shelter, with about 14 other females, she was not at all intimidated by our Kramer. On arriving at our home she immediately began running through all the rooms, exploring this big unknown space.

Kramer, by contrast, seemed VERY intimidated by this nosy little interloper. He is a neutered male, almost two years old, and he has been King of the Hill in our home since we brought him from the same Shelter as a young kitten. He's had very little contact with other animals. We've dog-sat for my sister, but poor old Cailloux was no match for Kramer, who quickly put the shy dog in his place (the bottom rung).

No such luck with Miss Lucy! In one short week she has muscled her way into all of Kramer's favourite spots. She pushes him aside when the food bowl is filled (we tried serving them in separate bowls, but it made no difference). She is like the tough kid who grew up in a big family, and she knows how to make her way, despite Kramer being four times her weight!

I know they will eventually become friends. Today I came home and found them sharing space on top of the basement fridge. Looks like they are completely ignoring each other in this pic, doesn't it!

I'm in charge here...                                   No, I'm in charge! 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

It's a party... and we get the gifts!

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Lesley of The Gossiping Goddess is celebrating a special milestone! She is sharing the LOVE by having a give-away, with the chance to win £25. (approx. $40. USD) worth of goods from one of her Etsy shops:

Handcrafted jewellery components:

Jewellery with personality:

Winner's choice! Hurry over if you haven't yet entered! I love Lesley's gorgeous goodies...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How NOT to sand your beads...

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Over at the Art Jewelry Elements blog, Jennifer has come up with a great tell-all topic: "Everyone Starts Somewhere". The idea is to show off our sad, pathetic, scary, weird, wonky or otherwise undesirable early efforts.

The two polymer clay beads above were SUPPOSED to be a matched set... Ha! They were kaleidoscope cane slices I tried to make into lentil beads. The one on the right isn't too bad, a little crooked and off center. I must have been mad about something when I started sanding the bead on the left... there's hardly any pattern left! Not to mention the fingerprints and dings all over the surface. AND it's shaped more like a dinosaur egg than a lentil LOL.

I hadn't even realized I had kept it all this time... I must have hoped it would be good for a laugh some day!

**AUGUST 22 ADDED TO POST**: Based on several comments I received (below), I am now thinking part of my explanation must have been confusing... must work on that... The polymer clay is shaped into lentils BEFORE being baked. There is a particular way to give the soft, unbaked clay a swirl design, which I was just attempting for the first time. The sanding is supposed to be a finishing "touch" after baking. Also, part of the reason I wore away the surface pattern, was that I used TOO THIN a slice of cane over a white (probably scrap) center. I think that is a common mistake for beginners. So there you have it: a bonus boo-boo!

Hope everyone has a similar "horror" hidden away in a drawer or bin, and you're proud to show how far you've come.  Link back to AJE and join in the fun! You can also scroll to the bottom and instantly link to any current participant.

Ooops... almost forgot to post more recent work:

Some PC components I made earlier this month for a Art Bead Scene challenge. While these were mostly experiments, the improvement is that I only have to try something two or three times... instead of a dozen LOL.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Should I whistle for the cat, dear?

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I rarely buy polymer clay articles. Not because I don't find them totally amazing, it's just that... well, I come from that heritage of "doing everything yourself". My mother was a child of the Great Depression, and for those people, it was almost a part of their religion: Don't buy what you can make!

Cat whistle by Joan Tayler: no, it's not to CALL your cat!

Sometimes, you just GOTTA buy... like this little fella. I admit I was overcome by my maternal cat feelings. We have Kramer:

Please Grammie, why can't I go out and chase the birds?

And waiting to adopt Lucy later this week:

I am She Who Must Be Obeyed...
 so get me out of this shelter!

So when I spotted the little sweetie over at Joan Tayler's blog this afternoon, I was hooked. Thankfully, Joan includes instructions for use, just in case I was hoping to use said whistle to have the kitties come a-runnin'... 

I'm just bragging, here, 'cause I got the only cat whistle. I'm guessing Joan will be making more (pretty please?) There are lots of other cool whistles at her  Etsy shop , and if you love rubber stamps, she sells her original design stamps (I'm  getting the Dragon parts design) and other neat creations.

I placed my order... I got a Shipping Notification from Etsy, like maybe an HOUR later... The woman must be psychic, or live next door to a Post Office. Both handy if you're a designer and Etsy seller, I guess.

Now I'm eagerly awaiting, so I can start stamping and whistling, possibly at the same time. The cats will be SOOOO impressed...

Monday, August 13, 2012

Arts & Crafts and Imported Strawberries...

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Blue Reflections on Emerald Fields

I'm taking a break from extruder experiments right now. I thought I would show one of my designs. After I made this 18" long necklace a while ago, featuring a Round Rabbit Arts & Crafts Floral Pendant, I found I just couldn't part with it. I am constantly making excuses to wear this-or-that blouse, just for a reason to put it around my neck yet again. I've gotten so many compliments on it, wearing it is a bit addicting, if you know what I mean!

I love the pools of dark glaze and the stylized floral motif.

Porcelain Arts & Crafts Floral Pendant in Emerald & Blue
from Nancy E. Schindler of  Round Rabbit

Around the same time I purchased the pendant from Nancy, I had received these gorgeous coordinated lampwork beads from Perth, Australia glass-maker Faye Blennerhassett of feyglass, and they were the perfect match. Keep in mind that I'm relatively new at jewellery design, so "matchy" is still a hot concept to me!

Hand-made lampworked glass by Faye Blennerhassett 
of feyglass

Textured surface scrolls

Pretty "paint" effects

Some Czech glass beads, silver mini washers, and some lava beads and a Nunn design toggle (both from Michael's) to complete the design, and I was one happy chick.

Momma's got a brand new purty jool!

These were amongst the first art beads I purchased FROM OTHER ARTISANS. Up til then I had used mostly my own polymer clay beads, so it represented a big step for me.

So right now I am awaiting some handmade strawberries from Hazel Ward at Continuum Designs who creates from her studio in Nottingham, Midlands, UK. She has kindly included me in her give-away/blog hop, which we will be revealing next Monday, August 20. That is, if I receive my berries in time. They come in assorted sizes, so while I have a design started, sight-unseen, I may need to do a few last-minute changes.

Hazel's polymer clay strawberries... Yummy!

More of Hazel's original bead designs were also featured on the Art Bead Scene last week for summery green inspiration. Also check the Continuum Designs Etsy Shop for more beautiful flower and nature themed beads. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Celebrating the fish and those who gather them...

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Blessing of the fleet, a fishing tradition in the Acadian
and many traditional societies worldwide.

On an earlier post I talked a little about why the sea and fishing is meaningful to me: as a descendant of fishermen, I came to understand the power of the water over these men and their families. Visiting the small village of my grand-parents during childhood summers, we went to their parish church, which was named Notre-Dame-des-Flots (Our Lady of the Deep). Behind the altar was a floor to ceiling painting of the Child Jesus, held in the arms of his Mother, as she keeps watch over a fishing fleet in a storm.

The relationship of this and other Acadian communities with the ocean was deep and complex. Most families relied directly or indirectly on fishing as livelihood. But even in recent years, there were still accidents and loss of life in the fishing boats. So the sea gave much, but she exacted a price. Long before I held a fishing rod in my hands, I had a sense of the frightening majesty of the water that surrounds the home of my ancestors.

Fishing Boats, Key West, 1903 by Winslow Homer

In contrast, when I saw the Art Bead Scene August Challenge painting, I was struck by how bright and celebratory it seemed. The occupants of both vessels seem to be carrying on a friendly banter. I decided to make a design honouring fishermen everywhere, but concentrate on the playfulness I observed.

First, some pretty tropical ocean colours

Then make a faux sea glass bracelet focal with a cut-out
of a little fishing boat. It's approx. 1-3/4" square

Thread some embroidery floss through and do a simple
square knot macramé on each side. Anyone else think that
looks like Poseidon's trident?! Unintentional.

Ooops, baked these guys a little too long. Blackened
catfish anyone?

I am wondering if this is because I used Premo brand in this project? It was the brand I used when I first started experimenting with PC. Then last fall I switched to Kato; I prefer it for caning and anything sculptural (firmer and bakes stronger). However, I have all these  leftover packs of Premo, so I thought, what the heck? I may have been less than vigilant with my baking technique, as one bakes at a higher temperature and is less likely to burn. Actually, I've never burned Kato... *

*I may be "eating" THAT statement next project LOL. Would serve me right!

UPDATE  August 11: just read about MIXING THESE TWO BRANDS over at Betty Jo Hendershott's blog. Wow, that's a new concept for me!

That's better! The fabled silvery polymer clay
fin-challenged fishies.

We need a suitable button for the loop closure. Buy one?
Uh, not while there's polymer clay around.

I christen thee "Catch of the Day". That's just a white cotton
twisted trim, but it looks just like a boat line. (Thank you, Walmart,
the only place for "supplies" here in the middle of nowhere!)

Couldn't resist a few glass pearls for bling, attached with
what else, fishing line. No metal was harmed in the
making of this bracelet.

So, I had a lot of fun with this theme. I maintain my childhood respect for the sea, but I guess she can be a little playful when the mood strikes her. 

Be sure to check the Art Bead Scene flickr group for more original art jewellery by talented designers, all based on the colours and/or motifs of the challenge painting.

Take this to the bank...

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I saw this by blogger ROSGETSSERIOUS on the Sparkpeople website today and thought I would pass it along:

"Imagine that you won this prize in a contest:

Each morning the bank will deposit  $86, 400. into your private account for your personal use. However, this prize comes with rules:

* You must spend the money each day. 
* Everything that you don’t spend in that day will be taken away from you. 
* You cannot simply transfer the money to another account. 
* You cannot give the money away and it can't be used by anyone else. 
* Every morning, upon waking up, the bank credits your account with another $86,400 to be used that day. 
The bank can cancel your account and stop depositing at any time without warning.

When the game is over, IT IS OVER!! 

What would you personally do? 
I guess, that you would buy anything and everything that you wanted, right. Not only for yourself, but for everyone you know and love. You couldn’t spend it all on yourself, and you would try to spend as much as possible every day, wouldn’t you? 

Actually, this game is reality and you are already playing! The only difference is that you don't receive money. 

The magical bank is the BANK OF TIME and you already receive this gift every morning. 

Every morning, we receive 86,400 seconds as a gift of life, to spend that day and anything left over is lost. 

Whatever we haven’t lived today is lost forever.

Every morning, the bank of time is replenished, but we never know when it will end – without warning!! 

So – what are you doing with your time – and you really getting the maximum value from the time you have – are you really living your life to the full?? 

What do you plan to do with the 86,400 seconds that you will be given when you wake up tomorrow. If it was your last day, what would you plan to do?? 

Enjoy every second of your life, cause time races by so much quicker than you think. 

Is it really worth wasting it in meanness, unhappiness, jealousy, disagreements, and all those other negative emotions that suck the life out of us? 

Take care of yourself, spread happiness and love to those around you and enjoy your life.”

Source unknown*

*As usual, Source Unknown, that prolific author (along with his cousin Anonymous), needs to receive proper credit, so if any one knows the actual name of the writer of the above passage, I would love it if you shared that information.

Til the next post, take care of one another (and don't forget to hug your puppies and kitties, too!)

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Help! The right side of my brain is keeping me up at night!

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This "learning to be creative" has its downside... like being awakened at 4 in the morning so my right brain can share a few design ideas. *sigh*  It's almost like it's getting back at me for being ignored so long.

Tomorrow I'll post about my entry for the August Art Bead Scene Challenge. These are the polymer clay elements I created for a bracelet, based on the colours and themes of the challenge painting. The fish are made with my adaptation of a mica-shift scale pattern developed by the Polymer Clay Tutor, Cindy Lietz. The mariner's wheel button and faux sea glass focal plate are my own original designs.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

When prayer is not enough: the mirror is calling my name

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I've always loved this prayer. Though it's very short, in my mind it is big on content. I know it's popular with those "Get wealthy with God" movements, but I've always seen it as the soul's simplest and first hopeful search, to somehow have a positive impact, however small, on what lies outside itself. Whatever I do affects someone, somewhere. I want that to be for the good. Sometimes the best we can hope for is to "not cause pain", but we can't stop there. 

I have been pondering the tragic news from Wisconsin, the ultimate betrayal for a faith community gathered in what should have been a place of sanctuary. I have prayed and continue to pray for all involved.

Yes, prayers are essential, and not only for the victims and their families. This is something I wrote in response to a fellow blogger's post, referencing the July 20 theatre shootings in Aurora, Colorado:

"Whenever something like this happens, I am always shocked yet again. In our western society, supposedly with so many resources at our disposal, why are we so inept at preventing these tragedies? This act was not perpetrated by someone ignorant of the consequences; rather, he seems to have been a highly educated grad student. How can we be failing to identify and help these troubled individual? How can we continue to turn a blind eye to the pain and social isolation that MUST be present for these acts to occur? My thoughts and prayers are of course with the unfortunate victims of this horrific attack, and their families. But I fervently pray also, that we as fellow humans in a distressed world, we will have the courage to help our brothers and sisters find the healing they need, and prevent any more such horrifying occurrences."

 I was brought up in a traditional home, where prayer for victims seemed to me an "automatic" response to tragedy. Without disrespecting, or questioning the faith, of my parents, or any other kind souls, I have come to believe it is also my duty to spare a thought for the "other victims" in these news stories: the perpetrators of a level of violence most of us have trouble imagining. I try to "walk a mile in their moccasins", as heart-wrenching as that is. These lost souls are somebody's son, brother, father, husband. They were not born possessing the evil necessary to commit these acts. Somehow, in plain sight of, and in the company of, their social circles and their larger communities, evil found a home with them. And we stood by and allowed it to happen. 

My personal pewter Jabez prayer, less than 1-1/2" high.
He's in my purse, beside my cellphone
and ID cards, hoping to help me see
how God's hand is always holding me up.

Being a brother's keeper doesn't seem that popular any more. It's mighty convenient to find blame, and any news media worth their salt can provide plenty of scapegoats. I just think it would help if we checked the mirror once in a while. I'm going to go looking for some stories of Good Samaritans and other rare phenomena now.  I know there is a lot of good out there; sometimes it's just too well hidden. If anyone has a positive thought or a link to share, I sure need to receive it.  And I'm going to keep peeking in the mirror, searching for a hint of what more I can do, to enlarge the territory of my understanding and my compassion.

Friday, August 03, 2012

This stuff floats my boat: MNS Ceramic Sale and ABS August Challenge

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Make sure you check out the sale at Marsha Neal Studio's Etsy Shop for lots of beautiful porcelain components. See Marsha's blog for more details.

And the reason for my baaadd pun... a new month, a new challenge: the  Art Bead Scene August Monthly Challenge will be inspired by this Winslow Homer painting:

Fishing Boats, Key West, 1903 by Winslow Homer
Watercolor and graphite on off-white wove paper

Seeing Homer's name brought back memories of the print  (below) displayed in my grandfather's home during my childhood. "Pépère" had been a fisherman back in the day, and whether this painting was a gift or something he chose himself, I'm sure he felt kinship for the hard-working pair struggling to bring their catch into the tiny dory. Learning the artist's name as a young girl just learning to speak English, I often reversed his names and he became "Homer Winslow". That still brings a wry smile of remembrance. 

The Herring Net, 1885, oil

I may have taken on more than I can chew (and digest) this month, but I can't resist taking part in this challenge; in honour of my ancestors, who so intimately loved and feared the ocean, for she gave sustenance and income, but often took life and health. 

Calling all Would-Be World Travellers...

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If you haven't already joined Erin Prais-Hintz' Challenge of Travel Blog Hop, head over and check it out. Create an accessory inspired by any aspect of the country of your choice: landscape, architecture, food, dress, etc. Participation is open to the first 80 who sign up til August 4th. 

My Dream Jewelry Studio Sweepstakes from CraftArtEdu: THIS IS A BIGGIE!

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I'm not gonna say much... except MAKE SURE YOU ENTER! There are prizes from Rio Grande, CraftOptics and CraftArtEdu, total value over $4,500. Here's the link to take part : 

This is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada (except Québec... sorry mes amies) and you may enter until September 30, 2012 at 11:59 pm ET. Make sure you check the Official Rules (link included on the entry page). 

O.K. I changed my mind... I AM going to say something else. How cool are these CraftOptics Telescopes?? The ultimate toy tool for anyone working with seed beads, miniatures, detail work of any kind... or aging eyesight like mine! I seriously considered purchasing these after reading this Margot Potter Craftoptics Review a while back. My eyeballs would be so pleased. This is just PART of the Grand Prize. Check out these beauties:

Good luck everyone! And please pass the word! 

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