Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Decided Not to Sell Them, But Here Are the Pix.

I have decided not to sell these two polymer clay elves.

Here is the original one. He is a forest elf and his job is to shine the snails' shells. I always wondered who was in charge of that, didn't you?

This is the new one I started two days ago. I am learning a lot as I go.

Because this is a new medium for me, I just don't feel confident that I know enough about the materials to feel good about the long term stability and durability of the items.

I have been working with wool for a long time, so I know exactly what it is likely to do over time and in different conditions. I think I need to do a bit more research about polymer clays.

I plan to work on about five (or so) more clay items, will see how they do over a period of time, and then will decide if selling them works for me.

I am a stickler for customer happiness and would feel just awful if someone purchased one of my creations and wasn't happy with it.

What do you think? Is erring on the side of caution wise or overkill?

Super shine is only $3 extra.

A little new shell smell, perhaps?

Right in front of the oven from which she came.

(I finally got a thermometer to test out my cheap-o oven. W-A-Y off in temperature. No wonder I fried a few things!)

Put on some pants, please. This is a family blog.

Teeny stretchy ones. Should work!

Much better! Tonight when the kids are in bed, we'll work on a shirt and hat.

Thanks for popping in! Any suggestions are welcome, especially if you have a working knowledge of polymer clay. *hint hint*

I have a wool piece that is almost ready to show as well. Toddle on by to check that out next week, if you like!

Until next time, happy creating!


Monday, June 29, 2009

TIME! Glorious TIME!

I FINALLY had some time last night. No one was here. Quiet reigned.

I made a new polymer clay elf with a really charming (in my opinion, that is) expression and a baby smaller than a quarter.

Now to photograph them and take the final photos of the other guy that I have been referring to as a "troll-esque" figure.

I have heard from many people that he is far too wee and not ugly enough to be a troll. He may soon fall under the forest elf category as well.

More soon! Gotta jet!

Until next time, enjoy peace and quiet!


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Our (Invisible) Visitor

OK, he isn't REALLY invisible. He just wants us to think that he is.

Lately we have seen this little guy running around our property at all times of the day.

I found this odd, as opossums are usually nocturnal. But hey, who am I to judge?

Thankfully, this little baby is not aggressive or behaving in any other bizarre manner. He is just easy to spot and very, very young.

My children have had the odd glimpse and are dying to try and catch it to have a "pet". We have had the, "Wild animals do not make good pets. He will not be happy in a cage." talk, but I can't blame them for pining just a bit. I mean, how cool would it be to walk around with a possum on your shoulder? Plus it would be a way to gain insight into a creature that one rarely sees up close for extended periods of time.

We have always had possums around, but always at night and never alone when so young. And the usual ones are stealthy, not clomp, clomp, clomping through the bushes.

Did mom get hit by a car?

Yesterday when we were returning home from church, my middle child happened to see the gray furry lump waddling from the front yard to the back. It was a very, VERY lucky day for that opossum.

D watched where the critter went and saw him tuck up under our BBQ cover. Good thing! I was planning on BBQing some burgers and had my son not seen the little guy run under there, we would have had a well-done-yet-under-seasoned possum to go with our meal.
He didn't just sit on the ground under the cover, but climbed up and hid in a nook to the front of the BBQ that is out of site from where I stand to grill. I wouldn't have seen him, nor would his presence have impaired my firing things up! I shudder to think of the consequences! Ugh!

I removed the cover, hoping to scare him into the bushes. No response. I brought out a broom and gently touched his grizzled gray fur. Not a flinch. He didn't even hiss like the big ones will do when cornered. He just held still and pretended that he was a part of the BBQ.

They don't call it playing possum for nothing!

I pan fried the burgers.

I am a bit worried for him. If we can see him scurrying about, so can the cats, hawks, and neighborhood kids. But what to do? Trap him and cage him? Animal control won't want him.

I think he deserves the chance to live free. Hopefully he will stay in our yard until he is bigger and more capable.

I'll just have to make salads rather than hot dogs this summer. C'est la vie.

Until next time, happy BBQing. (At least one of us can enjoy it!)


PS This post was supposed to be about my polymer guy and his buddy, which is now done. I am just deciding if it is worthy of selling or if I should keep it. And if I sell it, WHERE to sell it? Ebay? Etsy? Oy! I'll save this for tomorrow.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Mary Blair-Artist

My dear, dear husband decided to take me out on a date last night. That might not sound like a big deal to many, but we usually don't get out all that often due to his crazy work schedule.

He had a conference to attend at Disneyland and suggested that I meet him at the end of the day for a movie and dinner at Downtown Disney. (Those who have read some of my previous works know that I am not a rabid Disney fan. I don't 'hate' Disney, but I also don't care to become impoverished, which many of the prices at the park are sure to accomplish if one actually wants to DO something while visiting there. Downtown Disney is a bit more like a mall with some Disney related stores. Not bad, for a shopping zone.)

We saw The Hangover, which was surprising NOT as ridiculous as I thought it would be. Let me explain that thought more fully; it WAS ridiculous, but in a not predictable sort of way. It is replete with profanity, however, so if one is easily offended, skip it. That being said, I laughed a lot during the movie. Out loud. And giggled. Stupid/funny. It works sometimes.

I don't want to bore you with the finer details of dinner. It was yummy. 'Nuf said.

Back to Mary Blair.

You may think you have no idea who she is, but you definitely will recognize her work and style. She was the mastermind behind the artwork in Small World. She also did a lot of really funky cool illustrations and graphic art for advertising during the 50's-60's. Her style became a standard.

To think, I never thought about the actual names of the artists working behind the scenes....probably because I am not a huge Disneyphile. Mary's work is iconic, though. Deserving of specific praise, in my opinion.

Her color choices were stunning and her vision was unique. (The occasional stereotyping is not lost on me, though I recognize it as a somewhat typical, though unfortunate, feature pertaining to society's attitudes within that era.)

I just wanted to share some of the visual candy I was able to enjoy last night!
Hope you liked it, too!

There is a book out about her that is now on my wish list.

Until next time, happy discovering!


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Feeling Less Than

Does anyone else out there look at the sheer amount of beautiful work that some artists can produce and feel a little envious? (I feel awful as I reread this. How petty of me!)

I have been so busy with the kids and the house stuff that I haven't had the time to do much this week. By the time everyone is in bed, I am asleep on my feet myself.

It makes me feel a little sad and sort of lacking.

Especially because I feel a mental timer tick-tick-ticking. My youngest is almost ready to go to "real" school, at which point I will most likely have to go back to work. It breaks my heart....I really would like to be home until all of my babies are up and out. (I also realize that my "full time job" that I do now will then be two full time jobs. I don't know how to balance everything. The laundry will still need to be done, etc. Hmmm.)

Plus I know that anything artistic will have to be shoved into even less time.

I would love to make enough money at the artistic things I do to be able to justify staying home. I just don't seem to be very good at the marketing piece. Perhaps I am lacking the business gene? Or, more likely, I don't have enough time to invest into marketing, as I barely have time to make the work to be sold!

People ask why I don't work on items throughout the day. The answer is that I do. I just have a hard time doing the finish work on pieces when people are talking to me or needing my attention and, let's face it, having three kids is all about people talking and needing attention.

Therefore, I have eleventy-seven half done projects all waiting to be finished.

Any thoughts from my more prolific art friends out there?

I suppose if I slept only two hours a night I would have more time to work. I might even get some cool ideas from the fun hallucinations that would be sure to follow.

I shall ponder my plight and try to work out a plan. Any suggestions would be welcomed!

Until next time, happy finish work!


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Jammy Jam Jam- More artsy stuff tomorrow

Here is the obligatory shot of me in a do-rag. Whenever I cook ANYTHING, I am terribly paranoid about getting hair in the food. (I do shed something awful. The paranoia is not without merit!)

The plums! The gorgeous plums! This is about one-fifth of the total amount ready to be made into jam. I love love love our plum tree! Not only do the kids have lots of fresh fruit to eat, but it helps me to make gifts for friends. (It is a lovely tree, too, so it is a great addition to the backyard.

It takes about 4 pounds of plums to make a batch. That is roughly 6.5 cups of chopped plums (skins on, please) and a ton of sugar. Definitely not a health food, but SO good!

Washing the jars prior to sterilizing them. I am a total freak about

cleanliness when it comes to canning things.

Getting some of the equipment ready for it's once a year debut. File this under "stuff my husband has to store on the already overburdened garage shelves."

Two hours later, I have the first batch of the finished product. Oh YUM! This will last about a week.

Until next time, happy toast and jam!


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Icky Pix (but here is a glimpse)

I had these up and ready to go last night, but my hubby booted me off of the computer before I could post them. I guess summer vacation research takes precedence over my blog. No complaints...I love vacations!

I am only showing a few pictures of his hair and hands and such, though keep in mind that the pictures were snapped in artificial light at night in my kitchen. He still isn't quite done. (We have been busy, busy, fun busy the past few days. Beach, anyone?) His companion is not ready to shoot. I am not quite sure what is bugging me about the other component, but it would make me nuts to have to see it posted in all of it's flaming not-quite-rightness. Not that is has to be PERFECT, but a little better will do.

Keep in mind that his hands are out for a reason and he won't seem so odd.

Sadly, I probably won't get to work on anything today. I have to make plum jam or we will run out of sink space. When the plums are ready, the jam has to follow!

Here we go:

Until next time, happy times!


Friday, June 12, 2009

The kids are out, the troll has hair and life is good.

This is a brief one! The kids are finally out of school so we are taking the opportunity to get to the beach before things get super busy.

Update: The troll guy has some sparse hair made from a scrap of Tibetan lamb's wool. I think it makes him look more vulnerable and soft. I didn't make a full wig, but just hand placed each hair. I think it works. I will post pictures on Monday. (I would promise to post them sooner, but I know myself. Now that the kids are out, things will just take a little longer to do.)

Did I mention he trolly guy has a companion now? One of an insect nature? I'll post that picture on Monday as well. Hopefully it will be more fully fleshed out by then.

Until Monday, happy summer vacation!


Monday, June 8, 2009

Oh So Cocky!

Well, I have been officially humbled. I was fairly pleased (imperfections and all) with my first attempt at polymer clay, so I figured it would be very easy to crank out the legs for my little troll-esque guy and be done with the body and start the clothing. I can't wait to dress him!

I crafted two different sets of legs and feet and popped them into the toaster oven I purchased specifically for that purpose. Of course, not knowing if I would take to this craft or not, I purchased the cheapest toaster oven I could find. When I baked with head and hands, it was fine. When I baked the feet, it was definitely NOT.

I set the oven temperature to what I thought was the same as last time. I set the timer for less time than needed, so I would be back to check on it early...just in case.

Good thing! When I went to check on things, the legs and feet were black! They looked like obsidian. Or possum poop. I guess it depends upon your background experiences. And talk about stink! Whew! Gack!

Weeeiiird! Why would it do just fine with the first batch and botch the next one? Needless to say, I will be spending some time today being VERY careful and trying it again. And possibly again, if necessary. Never let it be said that I am not tenacious. (Though I do have laundry that needs to be done. Clothing the kids should probably take precedence...)

On a more positive note, look what I found in my yard! Darling!

Maybe I should make a little toadstool umbrella for my clay guy. That might translate well.

Oh! And many, many posts ago I showed a picture of my plum tree and I have been waiting and waiting for this moment. PLUM JAM TIME!!!!! The kids (and birds) have been eating them out of hand, but there are so many that I will have plenty with which to do my jam this year. Hooray!

Until next time, try and try again.


Friday, June 5, 2009

My Day

First, there was this. Pretty good, huh?

Then there was this.

'Nuff said? A really good day all around.

PS I am still hoping for some polymer clay helpful hints! (see previous post) If you have any experience, any at all, please send me suggestions. Many thanks!

Until next time, happy nature!


Thursday, June 4, 2009

I DID IT! (and it is definitely not perfect)

I DID it! FINALLY! I have had that polymer clay forever and I just kept putting it off and putting it off.

Warning: The guy that I made is not meant to be "cute" per se, but I think he has a certain rudimentary charm. And I learned a lot making him.

First off, I blended two different colors of clay to get a less "beige" tone for the skin. I don't like an orange-y cast. It looked pretty good until I baked him. That was when it became evident that the fabulous blending that I did was not so fabulous. I guess I should have kneaded for a longer amount of time. Lesson: When you think you are done, go for five more minutes.

Next, I threw together a loose wire armature. I knew I was supposed to build it in such a way that the head would be up off of the pan when I was baking him. But, in my total novice wisdom, I decided that it wouldn't matter too much because I was going to do some color washes and a mohair wig, which would cover his flat spot anyway.

Well, his ears cooked more quickly than the rest of him, given their lack of bulk, and they are of a darker cast than the rest of his head. Lesson: If someone 'in the know' suggests something, it might be a good idea to listen. It saves headaches from "fixes" later on.

Once I had him done, I tossed him in the oven for the allotted time period.

That part was easy. What I noticed when he came out, however, were all of the slight imperfections where I didn't quite smooth out the joints where extra clay was added. Lesson: Smooth and smooth again.

Note to self: Get smaller tools. My regular clay tools weren't all that helpful due to the small size of the guy.

All that being said, I actually kind of like my little creature and can't wait to color wash, dress and wig him. I'll post final pictures when he feels done.

Thanks for popping in. PLEASE PLEASE, if you are a polymer clay person (not a person made of polymer clay, silly...one who WORKS with it), please feel free to leave me any helpful hints. I am a glutton at jumping in with both feet and reinventing the wheel. Very time consuming.
Any and all suggestions would be appreciated!

Until next time, happy imperfection!


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Baby steps..

I got out the Sculpey. And the glass eyes. I even opened the packages! No going back now. Today, folks, will be the day that I FINALLY try polymer clay.

I have had lots of ideas tripping over themselves for years, but I have always been hesitant to try to make them come to fruition. It's a perfection thing. Yeah, I'm getting over it, but it hasn't been easy.

Hopefully I'll have some pictures to post by tomorrow. Either that or I will have learned that clay is not for me. (But maybe, in the spirit of not trying to be perfect, I will post the lumpy pictures anyway.)

Time will tell.

Until next time, happy risk taking!


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Are You Happy?

I am a questionnaire fiend. I love to answer questions and learn things about myself and those around me. This is a good one, in my opinion. I like it because it can be taken year to year with different results.

Happiness over time. What could be more relevant?

Oxford Happiness Questionnaire Written by Dr. Steve Wright on October 17th, 2008

The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire was developed by psychologists Michael Argyle and Peter Hills at Oxford University. Take a few moments to take the survey. This is a good way to get a snapshot of your current level of happiness. You can even use your score to compare to your happiness level at some point in the future by taking the survey again.

Below are a number of statements about happiness. Please indicate how much you agree or disagree with each by entering a number in the blank after each statement, according to the following scale:
1 = strongly disagree2 = moderately disagree3 = slightly disagree4 = slightly agree5 = moderately agree6 = strongly agree

Please read the statements carefully, because some are phrased positively and others negatively. Don’t take too long over individual questions; there are no “right” or “wrong” answers (and no trick questions). The first answer that comes into your head is probably the right one for you. If you find some of the questions difficult, please give the answer that is true for you in general or for most of the time.

The Questionnaire

1. I don’t feel particularly pleased with the way I am. (R) _____
2. I am intensely interested in other people. _____
3. I feel that life is very rewarding. _____
4. I have very warm feelings towards almost everyone. _____
5. I rarely wake up feeling rested. (R) _____
6. I am not particularly optimistic about the future. (R) _____
7. I find most things amusing. _____
8. I am always committed and involved. _____
9. Life is good. _____
10. I do not think that the world is a good place. (R) _____
11. I laugh a lot. _____
12. I am well satisfied about everything in my life. _____
13. I don’t think I look attractive. (R) _____
14. There is a gap between what I would like to do and what I have done. (R) _____
15. I am very happy. _____
16. I find beauty in some things. _____
17. I always have a cheerful effect on others. _____
18. I can fit in (find time for) everything I want to. _____
19. I feel that I am not especially in control of my life. (R) _____
20. I feel able to take anything on. _____
21. I feel fully mentally alert. _____
22. I often experience joy and elation. _____
23. I don’t find it easy to make decisions. (R) _____
24. I don’t have a particular sense of meaning and purpose in my life. (R) _____
25. I feel I have a great deal of energy. _____
26. I usually have a good influence on events. _____
27. I don’t have fun with other people. (R) _____
28. I don’t feel particularly healthy. (R) _____
29. I don’t have particularly happy memories of the past. (R) _____

Calculate your score

Step 1. Items marked (R) should be scored in reverse:
If you gave yourself a “1,” cross it out and change it to a “6.”Change “2″ to a “5″Change “3″ to a “4″Change “4″ to a “3″Change “5″ to a “2″Change “6″ to a “1″

Step 2. Add the numbers for all 29 questions. (Use the converted numbers for the 12 items that are reverse scored.)

Step 3. Divide by 29. So your happiness score = the total (from step 2) divided by 29.
I recommend you record your score and the date. Then you’ll have the option to compare your score now with your score at a later date.

The results won't tell you if you are happier than your neighbor, if you will win the lottery or if you will live a good life. Some of the questions, however, may remind you of the kinds of choices you should be making to improve your "happy" scores.

Hills, P., & Argyle, M. (2002). The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire: a compact scale for the measurement of psychological well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 33, 1073–1082.

I’ve used “don’t” rather than the more staid and formal “do not” in the phrasing of the questions above; I decided to give preference to my own sense of what is more natural and conversational in American English. (Remember that the questionnaire was developed in England.) I’ve also added the phrase “(find time for),” which psychology researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky uses for clarification in question 18.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Disney at Night

Disney at Night
Originally uploaded by etrusia_uk

Two blond bookends holding in waves of book free words. That about sums up our trip to Disney for my son's birthday.

We took a friend that D met during soccer season. He seemed like a nice boy, but I didn't realize just how perfect a match he would be as an amusement park buddy.

The two of them talked. And talked. And talked. And they totally "got" one another. My son was talking about negative G's and M not only failed to have his eyes glaze over, but he understood what was being said. AND he contributed some new ideas that D hadn't pondered before. Go figure!

They made up stories about each ride. They came up with code names for one another. They requested the same kinds of food. They negotiated using rock paper scissors. It was charming and heartwarming.

Let it be known that I am not a huge Disney fan. I don't love most of the characters and I DEFINITELY don't love the prices for...well, just about everything in the park. That being said, it was the best day I have had in a long time.

It is a beautiful thing to watch two young people using their manners, enjoying one another's company, and being absolutely and unapologetically silly.

And I also got to have a date with my husband on top of it.

Until next time, happy observing!