Wednesday, September 27, 2006

So far, so good...

This is where I am so far in my attempt to create a finished figure from one of my head sculpts. I'm practicing on this guy because he is good enough to finish, but not my best piece so I won't be too discouraged if he isn't totally remarkable. I aim high. (grin)

I'm not at all happy with his hands. I forsee more sculpting practice in my future. Not a problem -- I adore getting my hands into the clay!

I am VERY happy though with his boots. They almost look real up close. I sculpted them in brown, painted them black, then sanded them lightly to make them look like worn leather boots.

The next step will be some needle sculpting on the body to give him a little more shape, and then I can begin his costume. Right now I am thinking I want him to be a Father Christmas type figure. I already have some lovely brown-ish velvet that will be perfect for a robe or cloak.

Just for fun I'm putting up this photo I snapped of the very first head I ever sculpted. Isn't it so awful it's funny?! I know most faces are slightly asymmetrical, but I don't think there is a single feature that even begins to resemble its counterpart...

At least I learned that I hate paperclay, and have never forced myself to endure touching it again.

The last shot for today is the necklace I promised in the last post. This is Eni Oken's "Chaos" pattern, done with blue and pink peruvian opals and sterling silver. The charm on the center stone is the chinese character for "Happiness". I have some small drops I am considering attaching as dangles as well, but I haven't decided yet. As much as I adore fringy stuff, I am liking this one just as it is too.

Monday, September 25, 2006


There is *nothing* like September in Oregon. The days are so painfully beautiful, and even more beautiful because you just KNOW that they are numbered. The rains are coming. They are going to stay for a very long time, and the sun may not be seen again until next February when the late winter high pressure systems come.

This was the view from my front yard at about 6:15 a.m Sunday morning. My heart ached with the beauty of it.

I injured my back last week, which is why I haven't been posting. Nothing terribly awful, just enough to make sitting at the computer a little painful. It's all right today. I've even been able to resume my workouts.

Anyway, this was a good opportunity to lounge in front of a few good movies and finish some of the wire work I began last week. This is the bangle I made using the pattern from Eni Oken's site. The main "stone" is lampwork glass. It is set with sterling silver, turquoise, bone, and carnelian. I am extremely pleased with how it turned out, right down to the hand shaped hook and clasp. The little length of chain with the clasp is so that it can be extended in case the buyer has a larger wrist than mine.

I'm also working on Eni's "Chaos" necklace. The beading and wrapping is finished. It just needs the chains and a clasp yet. I can't wait to finish it -- unfortunately I won't have any more time to play until perhaps Wednesday. This wire stuff is as satisfying as sculpting. I just can't get enough of manipulating things with my hands.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

More faces

In between the tomatoes and other things, I've been able to sculpt 3 more heads -- these things are addicting! I still have issues with final smoothing, I really feel I am getting the hang of moving the clay around *just* the way I want it to.

I've started adding some Cernit to the ProSculpt -- smoothing is easier, but it's also easier to mash a feature totally out of place. The trade off is worth it though and I will just have to learn to be more careful.

This lady face was done while watching a Patricia Rose video. It's so much easier to remember how to do each step when you work along with an expert. I love the production quality of her videos too -- the camera maintains a nice tight focus on her hands, which is just what I want to be looking at.

This grinning guy was sculpted while Jake was watching football last week. He is modeled after a drawing by Brian Froud from his book "Fairies". The original character from the book is a bit more menacing in appearance, but I think once I get some ears, hair, and a cap on him, he is going to look very close to the way I intended. That doesn't happen to me very often!

This little creature was also modeled after a Froud drawing. I added a little bit of Premo! green and metallic gold to my ProSculpt/Cernit blend and got such a wonderful alien skin tone, not as dark or as green as this photo shows.

He is also good enough that I think I want to go ahead and turn him into a finished figure. For one thing, I have finally managed to use inset eyes successfully. He also survived the final smoothing with almost all facial features completely intact! The left side of his grin sagged a little during baking, but nothing fatal.

I am going to make a mold of this face for my Sculpt-Along list. I can't wait to get some ears on him!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A different kind of Creating

Today is the 4th day of the corn harvest, and so far everything is going well, praise God. No breakdowns, accidents or injuries, and the corn itself looks like a quality crop. I am managing to keep my cool and stay loose and go with the flow and all that... but I will still be thankful when it is all over for another season and everything is safely stored for the winter.

With Jake on a tractor all day, working like a machine and almost no time to eat, I have been indulging myself in a massive cooking and baking effort. He SAYS he doesn't have a sweet tooth, but in 4 days he has demolished a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies and a loaf of banana bread almost by himself. I haven't baked since I started my diet last January, so the girls were not happy with him when they got home yesterday and all the goodies were gone already!

I'm doing monkey bread today. There should be enough to keep him going and provide an after-school treat for the girls too. There should be enough...

I don't know if you can tell from this photo, but there are 4 different varieties here of tomatoes here, all from my garden. The bushes are going crazy right now and it is all I can do to keep up with the harvest. This family LOVES tomatoes. No tomato, whether red, yellow, or purple, raw or cooked, whole, sliced, or chopped that is safe from any of us. However, even our greedy appetities can't keep up with this year's bountiful harvest, so I am making soup base this week.

A pot like this will make enough base for 2 or 3 meals next winter, all tasting just like the jewels of summer these beauties are. Can you see how good they smell?? A steaming bowl of tomato soup with a warm slice of garlic bread on a cold evening... Yum!

In the meantime, I am slicing and dicing as fast as I can. Thank goodness the weather is cooling and I'm not pouring hot steam into an already hot kitchen!

Monday, September 11, 2006

It has begun...

The corn trucks started rolling in bright and early this morning. That means that controlled chaos will reign at Cascade View Dairy for the next week or so. Sigh... This is my 23rd corn silage season. You'd think I'd be better able to cope with it by now!

Here you see the results of my playday last week. I took all the "CF style" leaves I had made and positioned them around the edge of a little craft mirror. It still needed something though, so I went ahead and made the little frog to sit on a boring stretch of clay.

The detail in the photo isn't as clear as I'd like -- it is very difficult to photograph a mirror! -- but if you look close you can see him looking up at you with the most quizzical expression on his face.


Saturday, September 09, 2006

Clay lessons

I had a nice long afternoon to play yesterday. I made up a few armatures, conditioned some clay, and decided to let my fingers come up with whatever they wanted.

This is the first head I made. Just look at those moonies! I intend to make a mold from this one, so the moonies don't matter so much in this particular piece, but I can tell you I won't make faces from anything other than ProSculpt ever again. This head was made from a flesh/translucent blend of Premo Sculpey. I've never had this problem with sculpey before, so I'm not sure what happened.

This photo was taken in the light of a north window. There are more wrinkles in her than show up in the photo. You can still see the rough spots where she wasn't smoothed properly before baking however. Go figure!

I really like this guy, even though his eyes aren't set evenly into his head. (If you look carefully, you can see that the eye in the right of the photo is set noticeably deeper into the skull.) I think I feel a Santa figure coming on, even if he does look more like Jack Elam than a jolly old elf. Maybe if I give him an eye patch... Just dig that nose though!

I now know that there is more to making a wrinkle though than just carving a line in the clay. If I could only just figure out what it is!

Anyone got any hints??

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I have been home alone pretty much all day today. It's a lovely September day, and I feel great, so I put on some music and went upstairs to play with some clay... and stopped cold at the door to the room. Couldn't even get IN to the room.


It took quite a while, but the light in that room is fantastic, and I was enjoying the music too, so it felt good to clean and it REALLY feels good to be able to move and find things in there again!

I decided to save the face sculpt I had intended to work on for tomorrow, and instead sat down to practice some techniques I have been learning by reading Christi Friesen's books. I admire her style so much!

This red heart just sort of formed under my fingers. It's pretty big -- about 2" square, and has a chunkiness and carved-from-rock feel to it that made me reach for copper wire for the embellishments instead of the gold I usually use.

The small stones are turquoise and carnelian. The central faceted stone is a ruby briolette that I broke yesterday trying to thread it onto a too-large piece of wire. (Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!!!) I had no way of wiring it into the clay, so I made a "cage" for it out of more copper wire. One beautiful ruby saved!


It must have been one of those things that was Meant To Be, as I very rarely work with red.

Monday, September 04, 2006

It is a relief to the mind to actually be *finishing* a few of the things I have bought supplies for and put so much time in to. The paper dolls ARE finished for the Doll Street swap -- I never want to touch them again, even though I can think of a few touches I'd like to make... No No NONONONONONONOOOOOO! No more!

I've been on another bead kick lately too. This time it's stones and silver. Yum!!

This bangle is the first wire piece I made. As you can see it is VERY simple. I learned that I prefer more ornate styles, and I DON'T like working with 12 gauge wire. Never again!

I have some of those white marbled lampwork beads left over. I am going to try again -- I can do better.

This ring is made using the instructions from a tutorial on Eni Oken's site. Such eye candy!
I think I want to blacken the silver, but I don't have the chemical to do that yet. I've also heard that it smells dreadful, so maybe I will just let it tarnish the old fashioned way. Heaven knows, the climate here is damp enough!

I just finished this bangle this morning. It is made of sterling and Balinese silver on 14 gauge wire (MUCH better!) featuring a lampwork bead, and set with citrine and peridot faceted rondelles.

The lampwork is a little washed out in the flash. In normal light it picks up and tosses back the colors of the stones beautifully. I almost hope this one doesn't sell!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Life is Good!

It has become a tradition in this family to spend the last few days of summer break before Labor Day at the beach in Lincoln City. There is an outlet mall there, so we also do some back-to-school shopping, but the main purpose is to goof off before the mad rush of September begins.

We all agree that it's a Very Good Idea.

Although the girls did drag us through 5 consecutive hours of "Project Runway" one night, we spent most of our time on the beach. The water was way too cold for swimming, but the tide pools are always fun to explore. We never disturb anything beyond teasing the sea anemones a little bit, although Lydia has been known to try to feed things to the crabs.

I had my best trip ever for beach combing. I have loved sea shells since I was very little, and this year I found a bunch of intact shells of species I have never collected before, which was pretty exciting. I kept a bunch of broken ones too -- they "broke pretty" into lovely spiral designs. Very idea stimulating!

The sun decided to show off in a major way on Wednesday evening. We took advantage of the incredible light conditions to play with some portrait photography. Lydia snapped this shot of Jake and I after I decided it had gotten too dark for photography. What do I know???

Time to get back to Real Life now!