Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Abyssal Chimera


A torch fired enamel I made in Ken Bova's class at the Ranch, set in a layered assembly of copper, tube rivets and nickel (German silver) with a stainless steel pin stem and a tube-set citrine.  I used some recycled leather to insulate the enamel, which should help protect it from chipping.  There was minor soldering involved here, just to secure the pin assembly and the stone setting.  And guess what?  The enamel is all either white or black, with firing technique causing wonderful color changes.  That's a specialty of Ken's, and you should see what he does with this style of enameling, which he teaches in workshops like the one I attended.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Wishing you renewed wonder and compassion in servings so generous you must share!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Varmint Alert!

Theme Music; Click Here

Definition of VARMINT

: an animal considered a pest; specifically : one classed as vermin and unprotected by game law
: a contemptible person : rascalbroadly : personfellow

Examples of VARMINT

  1. rats, mice, and other varmints
  2. The sheriff in the movie gets revenge on the dirty varmint who killed his brother.

Origin of VARMINT

alteration of vermin
First Known Use: circa 1539

Related to VARMINT

Synonyms: bastardbeastbleeder [British], blighter[chiefly British], boorbounderbuggerbuzzardcadchuffchurlclowncreepcretincrud [slang], crumb [slang], cur,dirtbag [slang], dogfinkheelhoundjokerlouseloutpill,ratrat finkreptilerotterschmuck [slang], scumscumbag[slang], scuzzball [slang], skunksleazesleazebag [slang],sleazeball [slang], slimeslimeball [slang], slobsnakeso-and-sosod [chiefly British], stinkardstinkerswinetoadjerkvermin

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Snowy Day & Dog Yoga

We woke up to a fresh load of Cascade Concrete this morning.  That's the stuff that is very wet, almost rain, definitely not powder, that freezes up over night and demands metal edges on your cross country skis, not to mention special wax.

No snow closure at the bird feeder. This morning I had visits from chestnut back chickadees, mountain chickadees, juncos, song sparrow, rosy breasted nuthatch and a very jaunty, but shy, red eyed towhee.

But still the dang squirrel problem. The eastern gray squirrel is not a nice creature; it raids birds' nests, eats eggs and young.  Abbie is still out of commission and can't do squirrel patrol as usual, so I keep an eye out, but it's hopeless. We need more effective squirrel control!

Abbie is getting better every day, and I think she will return to full abilities, although there must be restriction of stairs and jumping. Here she is working on a good rawhide bone treat, in the full flying squirrel posture (feet straight back, pads in full view, too cute), evidence that her back is pain free. Before her surgery, she would do the half flying squirrel posture only, favoring a painful lower back.

I'm gradually pecking away at the dreadful mess in my studio. I have a load of new tools coming soon, and want to be able to work there without the distraction of chaos creeping into my peripheral vision.

Friday, December 14, 2012

New Neckpiece

A new neck piece, suitable for either gender, assembled from:
  • A child's playset cookie tray from the turn of the century, with peeling, chippy green paint,
  • An open box made from recycled tin, bolted to the little tray, collaged with a face cut from sheet music of 1913, a watchmaker's vial, and encaustic medium,
  • A scrap of leather and text from a 1860s novel,
  • A polymer clay bead masquerading as a Warring States bead, sold to me as imported glass paste contemporary made in Iran, by a dishonest shopkeeper in Seattle. But it's still cute.

The steel bead chain and copper eyelets complete an industrial, but rustic look.

On the back, to cusion the bolts that were finished as rivets (because, drat, they  were my last two and the nuts that would fit them are disappeared), I papered over with a classic face, either Plato or Socrates (I don't think they would mind the confusion), from an old magazine from Uruguay (from Fanciful Devices, of course).

There may be a story here about what is real, true or genuine, a discourse between Plato and Socrates, but I simply enjoy the way it looks.

The chain is quite long; the assembly slips on over the head and hangs just above the waist.

All these parts hung around my studio for years and somehow introduced themselves to each other  only after being neighbors for a long time.

I love wearing things like this, and may just keep it for myself.

It'll remind me not to get taken in by dishonest bead salesmen, although that is getting more and more unlikely as I get more experienced. That bead was made before I even knew what polymer clay was. I don't really mind having the bead, but it wasn't priced fairly. Well, Plato and Socrates both might advise not to get taken in by illusion.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ma Petit Chou

This just in! My little 2-hour hinged box of upcycled burnt tin from Marlene True's class over the weekend at The Ranch.  Soundtrack, please.

If you want to really upcycle tin, and treat it like pure gold, Marlene's the one to see.  This box began with her pattern cut from a disassembled old whiskey bottle tin. I wasn't enamored of the orange, green and yellow 60s fridge color theme, so when Marlene suggested I torch it, that is just what I did.  And oh, the suble color play and sweet patina that resulted.  Such a great improvement.

Next, oh what to do with such a pretty little, somewhat torqued outta shape little thing? Well, paper over it for starters. But that all started with a wonderful seed catalog ad from The Modern Priscilla, February 1916, collaged to plastic cut from a putty knife, and covered with lovely mica. Still, it seemed a bit underwhelming, but it popped when I used some text behind the oval, and the interplay between the text shaded by the shiny mica and the text as-is introduced some action. At that point, I decided it had to be a brooch, my favorite kind of jewelry to make and wear, especially because the scale is large for that use, but the box has a deceptive simplicity.

Next, I remembered those old corked vials of seeds Randi gave me, after her trip to Haystack in Maine, home of some of the best found goodies ever.

Et voila!  I have a wonderful little wearable wunderkammer.  And this one's mine, all mine.  Besides, I have a way to go before I can fabricate a box that is True-true, untorqued and unwonky.  Meanwhile, I have learned to measure twice and cut once.  A hint for you folks who want to try using the beautiful tin:  use hair-fine sawblades, at least 6/0, and be prepared to break a few getting the hang of it.  Better yet, sign up for one of Marlene's workshops.  What you learn will go straight from class to your work bench, guaranteed.  You can't beet that.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Jingle Bells & Ten Cent Stamps

Theme music.  Warning, it is that music you hear over and over this time of year, but it's Glenn Miller!  So it swings.

You know that tatty old holiday corsage, the one that looks like it's made of a bottle brush and pipe cleaners, trying to be a fir tree and peppermint sticks?

Retire it!

Here's a replacement that I came up with:  a 1974 Christmas stamp (10 cents) with a Currier & Ives  gliding over the snow, held in a rustic frame made from a cookie tin, with a hand dyed ribbon bow and antique bell.  I made the pin from steel wire.

That sort of bell is actually known as a "crotal bell," meant to be worn on harnesses of horses or reindeer to jingle and sound a warning to people on the roadway of approaching traffic. Way better than blatting horns and rude gestures, I'd say, although "crotal bells, crotal bells, crotal all the way," doesn't seem to work very well. But then, it might make it so much less popular you wouldn't have to tolerate it in every elevator and grocery store for two months until the season passes.

I made another one of these with the 1973 stamp, only 8 cents, Raphael's Madonna and Child from the National Gallery of Art.

On both, I used encaustic wax and resin to cover the stamp, and in the case of the Raphael, I added a little fine canyon dirt around the edges for the look of a fine old thing that could perhaps use a touch of restoration.  And around the edges of each I added some faux gold foil for a little bit of shiny bright.  Just right for a sweater, coat lapel, or vest.

And here's Abbie, who is getting better every day and wants to get out of the pen where she has to stay to restrict activity while she heals.

She is wishing our friend, Kumiko, a happy birthday, even though she has to be at work today.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Abbie Has Surgery

My lively, dancing corgi, Abbie, had a bad spell of back pain just after Thanksgiving. We went to the emergency vet and were told she had signs of IVDD, or a possible ruptured disc. After a couple of days of conservative care with pain treatment, I began to see that it was necessary to know exactly what the problem was and what could be done to bring my girl back to her jolly self. Pain affects our personalities, you know.  I'm lucky that my friend Kumi works for one of the best veterinary neurosurgeons in our area, and she set up an appointment for us at Seattle Veterinary Specialists. After an excellent checkup and consult, we scheduled her for an MRI, and found she had a ruptured disc, a frequent malady of corgis and dachsunds, as well as humans. Next, my girl went to surgery, where the surgeon, Dr. Sean Sanders, removed the portion of the disc that was pressing on her spine.  Now she's home, with discharge papers, pages of instructions and lots of pills.  She has to be kept resting for the next 6 weeks, which means she's in the penalty box, poor baby, and she is assisted to the backyard business with the help of a supporting sling.

Here she is, with the zipper installed.  Please send some healing vibrations so we can go hiking in 2013!

She still barks when someone knocks at the door, appetite is undiminished, and once again can roll over on her side for belly rubs, and I am giving lots of those!

About the pills, friends.  You may think you can hide them in peanut butter or whatever, but they have a way of showing up again in the next few hours, mysteriously peanut butter free.  Puhtoooeee!  Go to the pet goodies place and get Pill Pockets and save yourself the frustration.