Friday, April 24, 2009

Elfing sighted!

I went to ceramics class today and all the finished elfkins were there for a photo-op! They posed nicely and seemed happy to be together again. I think Ginny is hooked on polymer clay. She's coming over again tomorrow to play.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Inro Out!

From Wikipedia: ( An inrō was a case for holding small objects. Because traditional Japanese garb lacked pockets, objects were often carried by hanging them from the obi, or sash.

I just finished making my inro. I took Penni Jo's inro class at the Orlando Fandango last month. I used the basic directions and sized up for credit card. Again, a thank you to Penni Jo for coming up with idea of a credit card sized inro and sharing her ideas and pictures online. While she was teaching the inro class, she did a demo for drawing portraits on clay. Amazing is all I can say. After the Fandango, she wrote a tutorial and provided lots personal email and Skype help to get me started doing portraits. You can see her art here:

I used as inspiration a photo of my Mother when she was eight. It is a tiny, blurry, sepia picture. I enlarged it so I could see it better then started drawing it on a piece of baked clay. I used a 10 to 1 Super Sculpey, white Premo mix. The same that I used for the elfkins. It seemed like a nice sepia toned base to work on.
I wanted the cameo to be the centerpiece of the inro. I attached it to the top half of the inro only so that when the inro is opened, the portrait remains intact. I created the bottom half of the surrounding frame so that it will remain stationary when it is opened. I used lots of cornstarch in the baking to keep the cameo from sticking to the bottom frame.

Here it is closed. I used a ribbon for the neck cord. I bought chain for it but I did not like the look. it was too delicate and too modern looking.

This morning when I was at Michaels I went through their clearance ribbon and found lovely sepia toned narrow ribbon. It worked well. I did attach a section of chain to one end of the ribbon and a clasp to the other end so the wearing length is adjustable. (Click on the picture for the big view.)

Here is the open inro. It is just the right size to hold a credit card, a driver's license, a bit of cash and a key. You can see in this photo how the portrait slides out of the frame.
And of course the back could not be plain....

My next project (besides claying).... I think I will try dyeing cotton yarn. I used my Michaels coupon this morning to buy a tie dye kit. I've googled the process, and I think I'm ready to tackle it. I'll knit it into a summer sweater.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Making Babies (Clay that is!)

Yesterday, Ginny, Marsha and I got together. I was the designated teacher as I'd been practicing making babies for the past week or two. Ginny is in a group of porcelain doll artists. They want to learn how to sculpt in polymer clay. Ginny asked if I would give it a go.

I had told Ginny that she would have to learn to sculpt a baby before the class so that she'd be able to help. I wasn't going in to the class without an assistant. As it turns out Marsha is off work the day of the class so she too will be an assistant next month at the 'real' class.

We 'set up shop' yesterday afternoon for a trial run. I preconditioned the clay. Ten parts Super Sculpey to one part white Premo. I had a few preliminary diagrams drawn for Marsha and Ginny to use as size guides. We settled into the craft room and got to work.

First we made little balls of different sizes, using the diagrams I'd drawn and positioned them in the right places.

That's the butt ball off to the right by itself. Every baby elf's gotta have a decent little butt.
We were moving right along and I assured Marsha and Ginny that little hands and feet would magically appear soon. After all elves are magical little beings and given a chance they'd pop right out of the clay. I told them that with just a little nudge of assistance here and there, they'd venture forth into the room. Ginny wasn't quite believing me yet, she was still nervous about finding that first tiny hand. Marsha was very quiet, I think she was trying to sneak up on her elf.
Before we knew it though, we all had heads, arms and legs. We did use a Penni Jo Sweetbrier mold for the face to give us a head start. Those were baked first, then the back of the head was attached. That way, nobody lost their noses in the head smooshing.

That's Ginny's on the left, mine in the middle. Notice both our elves are surprised to find so much of themselves showing. Marsha's elf, on the right, is cool and calm. Marsha apparently gently sort of pulled her's out of the underbrush... very quietly without waking her up. She has a calmer little creature who's still snoozing.

Marsha's elf legs were especially cute! I had to take a separate picture. It seems her elf was going to be a bit chunky.

We went on our search for our little elve's bodies. They were still holding out on us. Using the biggest ball of clay, we asked them to appear. It was amazing!

Here's Marsha's fat little elfkin. It seems this little creature already has the sleepy giggles. Marsha must have tickled her elf out into the open.

Marsha and her baby were starting to bond!

Ginny and Marsha were both engrossed in finding their elves.

Ginny's little girl is long and lean... It took a bit of extra attention for Ginny to get her elf's body out of the underbrush. She pulled and nudged and finally got her baby all the way out. Then suddenly, with one last tug, there she was, a cute little butt nekked elf. There was a big grin on both their faces.

Ginny's elf startled her at one point when she suddenly began to develop cute little baby wrinkles as Ginny move her arms and hands around to find out what position she liked best.

The little elves moved to the warmer (oven) so we could convince them to stay around and not go hiding under bushes again, without permission anyway.

As soon as the babies were out of their warmer and cooled off a bit, it was time for a hairy adventure. We asked their opinions on hair color. Ginny's elfkin was adamant, had to be pink. So pink it was. Marsha's elf insisted on a firey look to help her pretend to be awake.

We found their wings hidden in a bottle of Kato Liquid Clay. A bit of wire from under the bushes and some tiny glass beads for shine, all elf babies need shine, and our elf wings were ready for the warmer also.

We used E-6000 glue to attach the wings. It was getting late so we decided to do the eyes on our own later when the hands were steadier. Here's the three little elfkins, all decked out in their wings and hair. If only they could see! I'll post the final portrait soon...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

HIgh Hopes!

Yesterday's wanderings took us to the Lowe's Nursery department. The yard is a considerable challenge because it is so shady. There is an area at the front door of the house that does get a bit of sunshine.

It had been a mess. It's where all the mistreated variegated ribbon grass used to be. The ribbon grass was relocated to bordering the labyrinth in the backyard. Moving it opened up a lovely garden area at the front door. Something had to be done with it before I had a hissy fit. I hiss a lot, sometimes for reason, sometimes for no reason.

Marsha and I traipsed out to find 'filler'. Now of course it had to be inexpensive (read cheap) stuff since it's annuals and it had to be colorful. We ended up with begonias, impatiens, portulaca and marigolds. All tried and true in this area.

Everything was bloomin' in the Nursery and it took quite a bit of time to find just the right pots, this one... no, this one... maybe this one? It also took quite a bit of time looking at all the stuff that wasn't right. Wasn't right meant it required lots of water or a little bit of attention. Put it down. No, step away from that one too, NO way, that thing needs swampland water levels to grow.

I did weaken and buy a water plant to put in the backyard 'pond' to keep the fat goldfish company. I've wanted a lily since I put the pond in. The water lily requires full sunlight, which it won't get, but it does have a bird's nest a few feet above it, so maybe that will work too. The baby birds in it sound quite sunny in disposition. If it really won't grow there, I'll put it in a pot of water and find it a sunny spot, maybe on the roof. But I digress.

Marsha really coveted a bunch of tomato plants, I jokingly suggested she could put pots on the roof to as it's the sunniest spot in the yard. She took me seriously. We may be sprouting tomatoes on the roof soon.

Darrell, called to reel us in from the store around 6:30. Supper was ready. We headed home with our 'stuff'. After turkey bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches we headed outside to get everything planted. Getting everything planted the day it's bought is a record in our house. Generally, we put everything to the challenge of surviving in a too small pot with absolutely no water for two weeks. If it lives, it gets planted. We're giving stuff a fighting chance this year.

So, here we have a picture of the front garden.... everything's planted far apart with high hopes! If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you can almost see the tiny plants! Marsha tells me that the rosebush from Pasaquan is out there too, I have yet to find it. Oh well...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Inro at 8:30

Here's the inro so far. The inro portrait was done on the Super Sculpey 10 part to Premo white 1 part. I decided to go with a bit of cream color instead of a light base to get more of a sepia look. The flowers and leaves are from a Sweetbrier mold. It's a 'special' one that every student in Penni Jo's class at the Orlando Fandango received in the class packet.

The portrait slides out of the bottom half of the framework when the top is opened. I haven't quite decided yet how to 'do' the necklace cord, although it will be attached to the sides of the inro.

My wanderings today included a trip to the Dentist to double check the crown I got a couple of weeks ago. Everything met with her approval. I don't have to go back until July.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sarah at Eight

This is a practice portrait for my practice inro. I'm making a credit card inro. This is a portrait done from a tiny school picture of my Mother when she was 8. The drawing is done with Penni Jo's tutorial using oil pencils and a waterproof fine nib pen.
I'm using a piece of balsa wood wrapped with paper for my inro form. When I went hunting for something to use as a form, I was very surprised to see just how big a credit card is!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Spring Blossom

Here's my little Spring Blossom. I took Penni Jo's advice and mixed Super Sculpey ten parts to 1 part of Premo white. Eyes are painted with acrylics. Body color is done with pastels and a soft brush.

The 'hair' is made from a cane I made at the St. Augustine Fandango. Lynne Ann Schwarzenberg had us all caning like maniacs in her Petalmania class.

I made the wings of wire and Kato liquid clay. I sprinkled tiny glass beads into it before baking. I was surprised to find that some of the beads were not color fast. Not to worry, it provided a lovely swirl of color through the wings.

Next project is a sepia portrait inro... I think.... (unless I get sidetracked and go off on another tangent.)

Today's Fairy Fun

Yes, I'm obsessed. I've got to 'get it right'. Here's the first fairy for today. I'm finally over the frustration and am finding a degree of satisfaction in the finished fairy. I'll let this one keep her wings.

This little one is made of Premo. I switched back as I simply wasn't satisfied with the Super Sculpey. It darkened too much in the oven. I did find that now that I'm more confident in what I'm doing that I'm working the clay less and the Premo was more cooperative as it didn't have time to melt in my fingers.

Oh! I just pulled the next fairy out of the oven. Penni Jo suggested I make a mix of 10 parts Super Sculpey and 1 part Premo or Kato white. I did. I like the effect. No more little white moons in the clay and no more darkening in the oven. I'll have to figure out a way to add a touch of color as I don't have Genesis paints yet. Perhaps pastel chalks will work with it also. Pictures soon!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Fairy Too

I've been at it again today, trying to come up with a fairy/elf that I can teach to a group of porcelain doll makers who have no experience with polymer clay. This fairy is about 3 and a half inches long... curled up.

They want to sculpt and I gather they wanted to sculpt yesterday. I wrote down some basic directions as I went along making this little lady. Now at least I'll be able to duplicate the size.

I used a Penni Jo mold for the face. It's the only way to go. It's the #1016 Lets Face It mold.

It's available at

I've stayed out of the yard today. I 'bout did myself in the past two days, hauling and digging up plants and then digging holes to put the dug up stuff in... in a different spot. I thought I'd take it easy today although I've been puttering around the house all day and am nearly as tired as I was yesterday.

I did get around to a 'remake' of a pants suit that I got on eBay. It's raw silk so I decided it was worth the effort. The pants had an elastic waist that just didn't fit right. I opened the back seam, measured for darts and then put in a zipper. It's a much nicer fit now. I wanted to get it done for a trip to Durham NC the end of May. I'll be attending the GBS/CIDP Foundation International Board meeting.

Other than that, I think I need to shower and get ready to head to bed. I was up late last night. There was a 'crash' in the night that I had to investigate. Never did figure out what it was. Oh well!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Gardening and Labyrinth-ing

I've been gardening all afternoon and I am tired. I started in the front yard, cleaning out the gardens at the front porch. Dad had planted variegated ribbon grass many (many) years ago. I don't remember the front yard without it. It was his pride and joy, especially when a local Nursery asked if they could dig it up - for a good price. Dad refused and guarded that ribbon grass for the rest of his life.

Well, it had seen better days. I had not taken care of it as he had and the lawn grass was taking it over. Today, I started digging it up to transplant to a better spot. It has certainly opened up the front yard gardens and will make it much easier to keep the area clean. Previously when I used the leaf blower, it was a constant battle to get the grass clippings or leaves up and over the ribbon grass, now it's a 'clean shot'. Without the ribbon grass, small annuals will also be more visible.

The ribbon grass is being moved to the back yard. I'm putting it around the outside border of my labyrinth. It's partway done, it's visible in the picture above, if you click to 'blow it up'. Upper left hand corner and in toward the middle. I like the effect it has, it's pulling the labyrinth and the yard together. The labyrinth feels more organic with it also. There's still a lot of ribbon grass to more, but it will get done.

In the meantime, I'm already in my 'jammies' and am propping my feet up resting. The weather report calls for rain tonight. That will help the transplants tuck in.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Little Elf

OK, I'm not particularly satisfied but here she is. She's a bit rough around the edges.

Definitely need firmer clay for the next try. I do think the wing method has potential. With this little lady, I was just trying for some kind of wing to finish her. I experimented with liquid polymer clay, mica powder and liquid glass.

I bought the liquid glass at the Orlando Fandango and this was my first experiment with it. It does give a very glassy finish. I think I'll add another coat of it tomorrow.

From top of the flower to the tip of her toes, she's 3 and a half inches long.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Elfkin Alert.... or sleeping

I've pulled out my polymer clay this evening. I'm attempting to make a baby elf. Here she is in rough draft. Smoothing, wings and detailing to follow.

I have discovered that the 'new' clay is truly very, very soft and mushy. The other projects I've made, it's been OK, but I really missed the 'old' formula tonight. I think if I'm going to try any more babies, that I need to use something besides Premo.

When I made people before I used Super Sculpey. I don't know if they've upgraded/softened that or not. I also noticed that there's a Fimo clay available especially designed for making 'people' or elves too I suppose!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Pasaquan Picnic

Yesterday was a beautiful, spectacular, warm and sunny day. Darrell packed a picnic lunch for us. We loaded our chairs and ourselves into the car and took out about 10:30.
When we got there we tumbled out of the car, ready to greet our old friend. First into the main house to check in with Penny and John. We met some board members, I tried to sell a few books and then we made a mad dash around, just to make sure the 'haunts' were doing well. We did noticed a bit of deterioration, but we'll all getting older.

We went to the car and retrieved our lunch and headed out to the big pecan tree for lunch. Turkey salad, corn chips, a fantastic 5 grain bread and marshmallow pinwheel cookies for desert. Penny came out and took out picture, wishing more people would make similar use of the wonderful 'tuck in' places that abound at Pasaquan.

After lunch, we soaked in the sunshine and the spirit of St. EOM. All was good.

Bumblebees abounded and we watched them for a long time, wondering aloud about their strange arrangements of flying. Many were flying in groups of three. They'd fall to the ground, then two would fly away leaving the third one to recover awhile before it too flew away. Does it take three bumble bees to mate?! I googled but didn't find out much about the threesomes!

Marsha and I sat and crocheted and knitted respectively while Darrell read. I felt like I was adding a few rows in memory of St. Eom to my sweater. I will think of Pasaquan whenever I wear that sweater now.

When I got tired of knitting, I wandered in to chat with Penny. She told me about her Mother.... 93 years old, still living alone in Atlanta. She said that she is really enjoying her time with her Mother and that when she dies, there will be no regrets... no should haves, no if only's. It's a lovely 'place' to be. I was able to enjoy the same kind of relationship with my Mother.

Before we left, Marsha, Penny and I wandered the ground of Pasaquan. Penny allowed us to take cutting from a pear-apple tree to see if we could root them. It produces the most wonderful fruit. Then I found a small rosebush that had rooted away from the mother bush. She found me a shovel and encouraged me to dig it up. Then she encouraged me to dig up a Canna Lilly from Eddie's garden. Darrell helped with that as it was in a very rocky area.

I left feeling very rich indeed!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Rainy Day in Georgia

And so begins my first blog. I've been meaning to get going on one but I've been a little nervous about it. I mean, what if somebody actually reads the thing?

I'll be posting all kinds of 'stuff and nonsense'. Hopefully this will provide an incentive to make polymer clay things. That will come under the heading of 'stuff'. Nonsense will be reports about everything else. My first nonsense report will probably be about my upcoming trip to Pasaquan. If you're interested, here's where you can read more about it.

I visited there when I was in College. I tucked it into a blank spot of my brain for many years. I wondered if what I remembered had been a figment of my imagination. Last year, Pasaquan was featured in a local magazine. I went there with friends for the creator's 100th birthday party. He was absent, having left his earthly existence many years before, but a fine time was had by all. This weekend's plans include a return to Pasaquan.