Saturday, November 24, 2007

Last of the season's leaves

I sold the last of my finished fine silver leaves in Lake Placid on the 18th; and until spring when new leaves burst out for me to collect and use, the four shown here are all I have left. I had rolled and cut these some time ago, but have found that they clean up so much better if they're left to dry natually .. the longer the better. Any moisture left when you put them in the kiln, and bad things happen.

Shortly after taking this photo, I added bails to all four and they're currently drying. I'll be able to clean them up some time this week. (I'm sorry I didn't put a half dollar in the middle so you could see the size comparison. I'll have to remember that next spring).

I've found it easier to add the bails later rather than trying to work them into the design when cutting out the leaf. They just end up looking so much better. And it's easier to clean up and "polish" the dry clay without the bail being in the way (I've broken one or two bails this way, one of the reasons why I switched). I've toyed with the idea of creating the bails, letting them dry separately, and then adding them later. But I've been making the leaves with Standard (or original) PMC, and I haven't been able to find paste (or in clay terms, slip) in this version of PMC, so I have to make my own PMC Standard paste. And the few times I added water to the PMC powder that results after sanding, I ended up with a moldy mess when I went back to use it. Not good. Scary, in fact. So now I still collect the powder, as the stuff's too expensive to waste; but I keep it dry in its own container, and create paste as I go by just dipping a wet brush into the powder. Takes a lot of wet brush dippin' to create the kind of paste blob one occasionally needs to "glue" one really dried piece to another. So .. while at least the bails are still moist and willing to stick to stuff, I form them with greased up little straws, attach them, muck around with their placement, and hope I've been able to create enough of a sticky mess at their connection points to meld in the kiln (the PMC version of soldering!). I haven't been disappointed yet. Mostly 'cuz I'm a bit of a stickler for overkill. Not a bad thing in cases like this.

Anyway, I was really pleased with these four .. I think they're the best I've done all season. Can't wait till they come out of the kiln!! The one on the far left is my absolute favorite local leaf with which to work. It sticks nicely to the clay while still being easy to remove when I'm done with it. It has a lovely shape, great veining and they're the perfect size for working with both Standard (which shrinks 25-30%) and PMC+ and PMC3 (both of which shrink about 10-12%). I can't tell you what it is - I've tried to find out, but can't find it in any of our collection of books on trees and local flora. It comes from a grapeleaf like vine and is found at the base of several of the maple, oak and apple trees on our property as well as in among the honeysuckle the birds have "planted". If anyone has any ideas, I'd love to know! The next one is a birch and the third and fourth examples are a red maple and a white maple (one of which is already spoken for, just don't know which one yet).

OK .. I'm off to run errands. One of which is to stop at the local Agway and see if they have any house plants from which I can raid leaves over the winter! I haven't really thought about house plants as a source, but there just may be one out there with the perfect PMC leaf! I'll keep ya posted.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Rubber stamps .. not just for scrapbooking!

In between all those shows, I do occasionally have time to create something new. This piece came out of the discovery of a local rubber stamp dealer at a show I did at Clarkson University's Cheel Arena back in October. I purchased several from her over a couple visits to her booth (from among a collection SO much more interesting than what's available at Michael's or the local JoAnn's!!), but this particular one was the only stamp that barked at me for immediate use. I really liked the long twining vine theme. I initially thought I might attach the precious metal clay piece that resulted to a strip of leather, as I've been toying with the idea of creating some sort of leather design with a sterling clasp - but for some reason I decided on something more delicate. The pearls are faceted, dyed teal and are hand knotted. Aren't they a great color!?!? I call the piece "A Secret Garden". The silver piece is a 1/4 ounce of .999 silver, yet it's still a dainty, elegant bracelet.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Show Circuit

It won't be long now before the 2007 Show season will be over .... whew! I'm not even out there every single weekend like many of my artisan friends, but I'm still tired! And longing for January when I can dive back into some new designs, play around with some cool new PMC tools I've been collecting and try out some of the tutorials and lessons I've purchased over the last year (as a reward here and there when I did well at a show!)

The photo above was taken in early November at Jefferson Community College in Watertown. It was one of the last times I used the black velvet table covers. It's a nice look; but I had originally purchased several different sizes of velvet to fit over a variety of display cases at the show that followed this one - and they weren't meant to be long term (though I've been using them now for two years). They're wide open in the back, which leaves all my boxes, tubs, bags, lunch and stuff visible whenever my booth doesn't have a good backing ... like another vendor's stuff or the back panel of a pop up canopy.

This was taken at the next show, the Jefferson County Historical Society, also in Watertown. I was the featured artist here in 2005 and have tried it a couple more times with good results - thanks to several great fans from the area! These are three women from my Artisans Guild - all four of us were at the JCHS Holiday Victorian Faire on the 9th and 10th. From left to right, Carrie Sweredoski , who makes awesome handmade soaps, lotions and potions using real essential oils - no fake 'r phony scents here. She and her husband are off to California Dec 15 and won't be back til Spring. Color me green; Moi, in the navy jacket; Mary Ellen Tyner in front of whose decoupage plate booth we are standing. She's an FIT graduate and can actually make a wedding gown from scratch - this skill amazes me - AND while a student there, she's the one who designed the famous Isotoner glove!! No recognition for that whatsoever .. life is most definitely not fair; Susan Lyth makes beeswax candles .. the kind of candle EVERYone should be burning in their homes instead of those high-pollutin' wax and so called "soy" (not 100% soy, but soy and paraffin blends that are sold as soy candles) .. or those especially nasty, artificially scented things you find in the grocery stores and gift shops .. yes, ladies, I include Yankee Candles in this category.

It was fun being all together at the same show .. that doesn't happen very often. Though several of our group will be at Lisa Nortz's Open House at the Fire Hall in Croghan on the 24th - if you happen to be in the area, stop in! Lisa does silver jewelry, Marcia Walligory makes gorgeous baskets (including sturdy pack baskets), Lis Barsuglia-Madsen is a weaver and makes all those warm winter things you like to have this time of year, as well as very cool woven handbags, table runners, placemats, etc., Susan will be there with her candles, I think Sharon Stewart will have her herbal blends, teas and animal treats, and Lisa's husband will be displaying his wooden lazy susans and cutting boards. Worth stopping in if you're the type who likes handcrafted things. We're a pretty cool bunch, even if I do say so myself.

These shots are from a show on the 18th at North Country Community College in Saranac Lake. It was the first time I used my new table covers!! A very good friend of mine made them for me from material I found on sale at JoAnn's in a color that matches the blue on my business cards and stationery (I can do buttons and hems, that's the extent of my sewing ability) . . and I had a graphic art company in Watertown put the logo on the front of one of them. It was supposed to be only six inches from the top .. I'm not sure what happened, but it still beats hauling that little wooden sign around with me, and I love the way it turned out regardless! Oh, and the covers all have back flaps that velcro shut .. so I've got a ton of privacy for all my show "stuff" now! I just love progress!