Saturday, December 12, 2009

Out of the Frying Pan...

Well, it has warmed up a bit. We are no longer threatened with burst pipes, but now it has started to rain and it hasn't really warmed up all that much. The weather people are predicting it to freeze and cover us with a blanket of ice tonight. Isn't winter fun? :-)

I made another little pod face, this time in a seashell. The shell itself is 2" from tip to tip, and the little face measures just 3/4". Sculpting on such a tiny scale was a challenge, but also a good learning experiece. There are at least half a dozen things I will do differently next time, but I'm still satisfied with this little practice piece.

I want to make a little faux-coral stand for him, and maybe hang some pearl dangles off his tip. I didn't intend for him to look as if he has horns - that's just the way the shell is!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Baby, it's cold outside!

Can you believe this? This is our 5th day of single digit temperatures. We are just not set up to endure this! Fortunately, there has been no rain or snow. Yet. In case you can't read it, this thermometer is reading about 7 degrees F. Brrrrr!

I am taking a break from present making to take a class from Pattee Graham on her ning site. She makes the most wonderful quirky, slightly dark and twisted characters, and I have learned a lot already just watching her work. These little pod people are so much fun! I am quite happy with how my pod turned out, but even though I tried hard to copy her piece, the quirkiness just didn't come through.

Maybe on the next one...

Monday, December 07, 2009

Mount Hood in another mood

An arctic high pressure system is sitting over the Willamette Valley this week. I don't like the cold so much, but I am enjoying the sunshine. However, it was a different story up on Mount Hood yesterday. This is what we saw from our front door as we came home from church yesterday morning. Just look at all that blowing snow!

Temperatures were already well below freezing up there, but I don't even want to imagine what the wind chill must have been with these wind conditions, which gusted up to 60 mph. Brrrrr!

I'm sorry I haven't been posting much lately - even though I have been creating my little fingers off, most of what I am doing is for Christmas presents and must remain secret for now. I LOVE Christmas!

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Pause

The creative wave I have been surfing since September seems to have run its course, so all I have to share this week are a few of my favorite time fillers - Zentangles. I discovered Zentangles while blog-hopping last summer, and I find them to be a wonderful way to keep up an artistic habit even though I may be unspired to create bigger things. They are also a great way to kill time during boring meetings. (Shhh... don't tell my boss.)

This is the first one I ever made - I was delighted with how well it turned out, even though I had only the barest clue as to what I was doing.

It didn't take long to start experimenting with less "traditional" formats. I have even seen some done in color, though I haven't tried that yet.

You can learn more about Zentangles at the website, as well as purchase their
official starter kit. The price seemed a little high to me, but I was glad to have the instructional DVD, and the pens and papers included are of very high quality, as is the box they arrive in. It would make a splendid gift, even to yourself.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Photo of the Week - Moonrise over Mount Hood

We are having a late burst of beautiful Indian summer weather, just in time for this month's full moon. (I used to know the monthly moon names, but my memory is failing me today. I think November's is the Hunter's Moon?)

Anyway, I got outside a little later than I intended, but it was still a most rare and beautiful sight, don't you agree?

If it is still clear this afternoon I am going to try again and see if I can catch it while it is still just clearing the horizon. Ahhh... I love the moon.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Can you stand one more?

One of the things Jean told us to do in our techniques class is to try to visualize a picture in the backgrounds we are painting. Kind of like finding faces in the clouds I imagine, which I've never been very good at by the way.

Anyway, I stared at the purple canvas for a while and I began to see (really!) a bird emerging from a starry sky. So I painted one in. I got a little carried away with the pearl white I'm afraid, and once again I had a horrible time trying to photograph the gleam-y surface. ("Gleam-y"... is that a word? LOL)

On my monitor, this photo skews a little yellow - the whites are much brighter in real life - but otherwise it's a pretty good representation. I think this canvas is my new favorite.

I need to go shopping for some more of these little canvases!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Too much rain... already!

The winds and rains of November have come early this year -- it is storming like crazy outside today and there is no way I am going out there, much less with my camera, LOL. (I think I would have made a good cat!) So this week's photo is once again of a completed project. I got the idea to finish one of the canvases I did in Jean's class with a little steampunk-style heart.

I really like the idea of the steampunk look, but judging by the sky-rocketing prices of watch parts and antique keys, it is going to become mainstream-trendy soon. (I wonder if the fact that someone like me even knows what it is means that it already has, LOL!)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Another little canvas

These little 4"x4" square canvases are so much fun - imagine creating an entire painting on a surface the size of the palm of your hand. This latest one was an experiment with several new techniques on a subject I love - nautilus shells. Their geometric perfection fascinates me!

I first drew in the lines of the shell and it's chambers, then drew over them again with a clear dimensional glue. I painted the image, then shaded it with micaceous iron oxid (that is some cool stuff!) and them added the iridescence using a large flaky opal glitter. For a pleasant change, I got exactly the effect I was after - now that's a great feeling.

When everything was dry, I applied some heat activated foil in a copper color to the raised outline. I managed to burn my fingers in the process, but it was fun anyway. That stuff could prove addictive. Oh dear...

I wish now that I had used copper rather than gold inside the chamber sections, but I have some more of these little canvases to play with. I think I just might make a series of them in different colors.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday's photos - 2 Little Canvases

This weekend has not gone as planned - nothing new there for life on a dairy farm - but it wasn't completely without a bit of free time. I got some work done on my Retreat piece, but when I just couldn't concentrate any more, I dug up a few little canvases and started making colors without thinking. These paintings are based on an online class taught by Jean Bernard, though I'm afraid that there is an essential connection that I have missed while trying to learn her techniques.

(I'm sneaking these in as my Monday photo because I am still trying to learn to shoot interference colors accurately. Can you see them?)

I am not disappointed in how they turned out, only that paintings are "splotchier" than hers. I am going to try again for the smooth color transitions that she achieves.

And she didn't instruct us to add the sprinkle of microbeads, but I can't seem to resist the little things. Using them just makes me so happy!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Retreat Wings Finished

I didn't make as much progress on my Retreat doll as I had hoped this week, due to dealing with the symptoms of a sinus infection. (Finding and redrilling the support hole for the right upper wing was an adventure let me tell you, LOL. Ugh.) Anyway, I managed to finish her wings/stand this morning and snapped a few quick pics this afternoon.

Layers and yet more layers of cheesecloth, art tissue, and paint were slathered on, and then the whole mess was frosted with some "Bernardization", a process which consists of a mixing up soup of Grrrip glue, micromarbles, glitter, and whatever else I feel like throwing in, which is then scooped up and applied with a craft stick and allowed to dry. The very cool frosted effect that this produces looks like meticulous work, but is actually delightfully messy and quick. Sweet, huh? (Thanks Jean B!)

The textures and embellishments on the upper and lower wings are a little different - lots more cheesecloth on top...

... and more tissue and glitter on the bottom. This is quite a large piece and I felt there needed to be some differences in order to keep it from being one overwhelming mass of yellow and gold.

By the way, I now realize why I don't work much with yellow. A little goes a *very* long way, LOL!

I gave the doll herself some little breasts just to even out her shape a bit, and I am still pondering what I want to do to finish off her head. I should take more in-progress pics as I go so you could see better how they develop, but I never remember to do it until I pause to think "what's next". Oh well... if you want to know where I am going with all of this you can see the original of this doll at Sherry Goshon's blog.

Sherry and Jean's Retreat doll

Monday, October 12, 2009

Photo of the Week - Night Photography

One afternoon last week in the middle of the milking we had some trouble with the milk pump, or so we thought. Jake couldn't find anything wrong, so he called out a technician, who also couldn't find anything wrong. That is, until he put his little gizmo on the power line to check the power feed and saw that we were getting only a trickle of the electricity that should be flowing - the failsafe switch on the transformer that feeds power to the milking parlor had been tripped. (Fortunately we discovered this before the pump burned out!)

A call to the power company brought out a lineman to reset the transformer. It is always fun to watch a lineman do his thing, but just imagine our surprise when a huge tongue of flame shot out of the transformer when he flipped the switch! Fortunately noone was hurt, but... now we had a very big problem. No electricity in the middle of the milking shift, and it would be hours before the power company could send out a crew with the equipment to deal with the situation.

Jake and the guys hooked up the generator while Lydia and I went into the house to cut the power to all sensitive electronics. Sigh... It was going to be a dark and cold evening at Cascade View Dairy.

I was a little shocked by how absolutely dark it gets around here with no moon and no barnyard lights. It was a great feeling to watch the big utility trucks pull into the driveway.

I didn't have anything else to do, so I grabbed my camera and attempted some night photography using full manual settings. It took some trial and error, but eventually I hit upon a good combination of settings.

I think I ended up using ISO 800, F/4, and a shutter speed of about 1/2 second. I was able to take these shots hand held using "da grip" - I am making an effort to always compose my photos with my left eye at the viewfinder after this!

I had plenty of time to experiment, as it was nearly midnight before they finally finished. They actually replaced all 3 of the old transformers, so here is hoping that we won't have this issue again!

I have gotten some good work done on my Retreat doll as well, but I will save those photos for another entry.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Now we're getting somewhere

I finally have my Retreat piece to a place where I feel that she is structurally stable enough to really start going to town on her, and so here she is.

My main problem was caused by my stubborn insistance on using the head and hands that I sculpted out of polymer clay especially for her. They are VERY large (3" from chin to forehead) and HEAVY, and the wings-stand just wasn't sturdy enough to support all that weight. Also, her torso is stuffed fabric and the armature wire she is built on wasn't heavy enough to support the weight of that head either. Most of what I have been doing to her since I got her home has been building, rebuilding, enforcing, and reinforcing her inner architecture, but now I think she's ready for her makeover.

The second wing is lying on the floor because I haven't yet reamed out the hole it sits in. I want to try this wings-as-stand concept again, but next time I will protect those holes with a lot more care, LOL!

I see now that she could use a little more chin, but I was so proud of this head that I just really really BADLY wanted to use it.

I practiced for weeks sculpting hands and there was no way I was going to let these babies go to the spare parts basket.

Oops... didn't mean to get gesso on her fingers, but right now I just don't care. I finally get to start on the fun stuff!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Monday's photos

I fully intended to put up some in-progress photos of my Retreat doll today, but have you ever had a project where everything (Every. Last. Thing.) just goes WRONG? I keep plugging away, and at last I have an assembled doll and base complete, but I still need to add paint and ream out a support hole that somehow got filled in with apoxie. And so it goes... sigh...

Trust me, she is not ready for photography, LOL!

Instead, I bring you one of the most spectacularly beautiful nuisances of this or any other region - a swarming flock of starlings.

There is a vineyard across the street whose fruit is irresistable to these voracious pests. The owner of the field has set up a noise cannon that keeps them from settling on the fruit, so they settle on our barn roofs instead.

Watching them dip and swirl in the sky is quite a sight. HOW do they know how to move in such perfect unison??

You should just hear the racket they make. If the cannons don't deafen you, this flock will.

"Firebrand" the alpaca doesn't really care about the birds or the noise. Until some feed shows up, he is content to sit and enjoy one of the last beautiful sunny days of the season. Smart critter!

I really will try to get some of those doll shots posted soon.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


As expected, the Iowa Retreat was a pleasure and a treat. Sherry and Jean are very special teachers, and it was so delightful to reconnect with old friends and also make new ones! (Hi Sue!) I got home happily exhausted, but I am refreshed and ready to rock and roll now.

I took my camera with me, but I spent most of the weekend with my hands covered with sticky stuff, so I don't have much in the way of photos to share.

I have developed a bit of a reputation as a messy worker. I don't think it's THAT bad, but I am used to what my table looks like and I can function just fine. I really should invest in a box of gloves though. The ingredients in some of those paints are toxic and my fingers were definitely cut up after working with that wire.

I don't have a photo of my project yet -- it is nowhere near finished, and I have lost count of the number of challenges this piece has thrown in my path. So far I have met and overcome each one, the most serious of which was a base that simply wouldn't stand still. As of this morning though it is as solid as a rock and I am ready to move on with more interesting parts. It should (knock wood!) go much faster now. I just spray painted all the pieces black -- I'll put up an in-progress pic when the paint is dry.

Oh, oh!! I almost forgot - My Challenge doll won the "Most Creative" ribbon. I'll post a pic soon. A picture of a ribbon? Well, yes. This is a special hand made ribbon which is now most proudly displayed in my studio. It is COOL!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

One for the Road

Earlier this summer, one of the members of an artist's chat group I belong to issued a challenge to create a collage based on a "Sunset" theme. My entry is late, but it's not as if I am going to be arrested for being a slow artist, so here it is anyway. The colors are nearly true on my monitor, though I had to darken the highlights a bit to cut the glare. (Do you think it is even possible for me to work without Pearl-Ex or interference colors??)

The photos are all images I have taken of sights on and around our farm. My favorite is the old tractor on the upper left - I think I want to do another canvas featuring that photo on its own.

The techniques I used I learned from videos featuring Ann Baldwin and Jacqueline Sullivan. I wish I had laid down some of the color before adding the photographs, but oh well, live and learn. It was a lot of fun to do, and I am pleased with the way it turned out.

Thanks Linda!

Monday, September 14, 2009

It May Have Been Worth It...

One of the more interesting tasks you can expect to be faced with when you live on a dairy farm is the rounding up of animals who have gotten out of where they are supposed to be, and are now wandering around where they have no business being, usually causing damage as they go. Early Saturday morning we awoke to the sound of a commotion in the calf house. (Oh no... not the young stock!) Sigh... the yearlings were out.

Older cows are pretty easy to convince to return to where they belong, especially if they are hungry. The young ones just like to run, and they are agile and FAST. We did get them rounded up eventually, and as I trudged back to the house I looked up and this is what I saw...

There is nothing as beautiful as September in Oregon.

I have a few other little things to share to make up for being absent last week - these are my bring-alongs for the Iowa Retreat. (This week!) This is a 4"x4" canvas to commemorate the first Retreat held at Sherry's new school. It is collaged with foil gum wrappers, then painted and glitzed up with some metallic paint and microbeads.

There is also going to be a pincushion exchange one evening... This little frog is my offering. The lily, pad, frog, and pin heads are all of polymer clay, while the cushion itself is needlefelted wool/mohair blend embellished with yet more microbeads. (Is there life without microbeads, LOL?) I still need to paint the details on the ladybug pins, but I have a little time left before I leave to get it all done. I hope!

I can't wait til Thursday!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Am I done yet?

I worked all weekend on my challenge piece and got so much done, but I think she still needs "something" - I'm just not sure what. If I get some inspiration between now and when I have to leave for Retreat I will add it, but in the meantime she is pretty much finished.

This year's Retreat challenge is to create something with a Halloween or Harvest theme. My ghost was inspired by a project Lydia did for her college cultural anthropology class where they collected urban legends. Lydia focused on "white lady" stories and collected many from her international group of internet friends. (It was interesting how similar they were no matter what part of the world they came from.) That gave me the idea for my lady ghost, but she still needed a story of her own.

Last December there was a tragic drowning not far from here. A pair of young lovers were walking along the Coast near Neskowin, OR to a place called Proposal Rock when a large wave rushed up and swept the young woman out to sea. The gentleman had just been about to propose to her before she was carried away.

I've been haunted by that story since I heard it - it makes my heart ache as it's so very sad. So I dressed my ghost lady in wedding finery and posed her in the moment of falling into the waves. I tried to get as much movement into her body and clothing as possible to suggest the swirling currents.

I still think she needs something tough.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Another Quick Peek

I am meeting myself coming and going this week - doesn't it always seem to be that everything happens at once? Sigh...

I am still managing at least a few minutes of creative time a day though, and so I have been adding the "ectoplasm" (silk charmeuse, silk chiffon, and cotton gauze) to my Ghost, layer by layer. Fortunately my non-creative time doesn't feel wasted as the paverpol has to dry between layers. I love the sense of movement that the hardened fabric has given to her pose.

I have one more layer of silk to add to her costume, and then (finally!)I will be ready to tackle her hair style. I know I am cutting it very close as far as the deadline goes, but I still think I will get her finished in time. Wish me luck!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Photo Monday and a Work-in-Progress

As a rule, sunsets here in the Valley are not very colorful. However, the farmers in the region are going full blast harvesting crops such as late beans, wheat, wildflowers, and hops, which throws up a lot of dust into the air. I know my little sunset can't compete with Mike's extravaganzas from Florida, but I still think it's pretty.

I have pressed on through the freeze that follows an "I can't do it" panic attack on my Ghost for the Retreat next month. I sculpted those darned hands and the foot. I feel a little silly about that foot because there is no way it is going to be visible in the finished piece, but at least I will know it's there. She is finally ready now for her draping. Her face will be attached last.

Why are white things so darned hard to photograph well?

Anyway, attaching her hair took most of Saturday afternoon. For one thing it was a major headache working around her foot (which is almost touching her scalp) and for another, the superfine silk yarn I chose is maddeningly tempermental. If I had known what I was letting myself in for I would never have chosen it; however, now that it is on, I am thrilled and it is going to do exactly what I want it to do once the Paverpol is applied. (Fingers crossed...)

If only I didn't have to go to work tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lydia's Dragon Tree

My oldest daughter Lydia is 20 years old and will be a junior in college this year. She went with me to Washington last weekend and this is what she made in Jean's class. I'm her mom, so of course I think she is amazing, but keep in mind that she has never ever sculpted before.

It was difficult to find a camera angle that shows this piece at its best, so I have included several views. From the back left...

... and facing full front. I love that dangle!

Right rear profile. Here you can see the perfect beads she chose for his eyes as he is gazing from under his wing.

And finally the right front profile.

I love the deliciously twisted way her brain works!

Monday, August 17, 2009

An Unexpected Pleasure

I found out late last week that Jean Bernard was scheduled to teach her Tree Woman class at a quilt shop in Auburn, WA this past weekend. I asked the shop owner if there were any spaces left and lo and behold there were 2! So on Friday afternoon, Lydia and I packed up for a weekend of creativity.

About 3 seconds after we got into the classroom, Lydia had already been nicknamed "Junior", LOL.

Over the next 2 days, we twisted wire, mixed up apoxie, sculpted, dipped, draped, painted, embellished, and bejeweled. No bills, no laundry, no INTERRUPTIONS - just fun. I could get used to this...

This is my tree. She is brown Aves Apoxie over a wire armature. Her face was provided by Jean. Please click on the photos to get a truer feel for how detailed she really is.

She is embellished with everything I could lay my hands on.

I know trees don't have butts usually, but she wanted one. As soon as I sculpted it, she came alive for me.

Can you spot the 4 other little faces embedded in her trunk?

I wish I could show you the incredible tree Lydia came up with, but she took it to a friend's house this morning to show it off. I can't say as how I blame her - I would be proud of it too! - but I wanted to photograph it first, doggone it! That's OK... I'll just put it up in a day or so. You won't want to miss this one.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

July's UFO - Finished, and oh WOW!

At long last, I have finally completed a white-on-white project that I am absolutely delighted with! I finished fringing and assembling the components of the White Collar the day after we came home from the Coast. (Well, I still need to get to a bead store and buy a suitable clasp for the end of the chain, but other than that it is FINISHED.)

Forgive me please for gloating, but I am so in love with this fringe.

On the other hand, I spent half of the afternoon today trying to get photos that show it off to its best, but this is the best I can do, even with a tripod and a timer. (Hmmmmm... perhaps it is time to clean my lens.) It looks fantastic with everything I have tried it on to wear it with, but I can't find a suitable background fabric that really lets it shine as it should in a photo, and I am getting frustrated. Anybody have some advice as to what do you think I need to do with this piece to get better photographs to upload on to Etsy?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday's Photo - Lincoln City, OR

Last Monday was our 25th wedding anniversary and to celebrate, Jake and I took the girls and ran away from home for a few days. The cool grey days on the Oregon Coast were a wonderful antidote to the crushing heat we had endured the week before.

We did have one nice sunny day while we were there. The Pacific Ocean is colder than cold on the Oregon coast no matter what time of year it is, but Jake and the girls decided to try some wave diving anyway. I stayed on the beach with my camera like a sensible person, LOL.

The waves look bigger than they actually were because I took the photo crouching in the sand at the edge of the waves. That's as far into that freezing water as I was going to go!

I couldn't believe it, but he actually dove in.

This pair of sea lions was cruising around much farther off the beach, but they were fun to watch nonetheless.

Tomorrow it's back to the ordinary routine.