Thursday, December 30, 2010

Recent Creative Projects

So, yeah, it's been quite a while...  we got to talk to Emily on Christmas Day, and she reprimanded me for not keeping up the blog and posting pictures of the fun stuff I've been doing -- not that missionaries can read blogs anyway -- and even though she's my baby sister, and I'm the one that's always right, I had to admit she's got a point.  ;)  I've had other friends asking when I'd be updating the blog, too, so here come lots of pictures of the fun I've been having lately with clay -- and since I don't have the time or desire tonight to figure out how to create a slide show...  I'll post them as small pics, but I'm pretty sure if you click on them, you can see a full size version if you'd like.

These first two are the front and back of a little pin I made for Emily to put on her scriptures or something.  I was thinking kind of like a guardian angel, but I'm not that fond of those little winged figures, and besides, a missionary is an angel, right?  So there's the "Oh, that I were an angel..." scripture reference on the back, and her name and mission.  She wrote and said she really liked it and would keep it pinned to her scripture case for her whole mission, which naturally made me feel happy and appreciated.  :)  I think she's doing a wonderful job, and I miss her.

Here's a little elf man I made with movable arms and legs and his head swivels around.  I need to make him a little girlfriend but I haven't gotten around to it yet.  He sits on my desk at work and makes me smile.

I introduced my friend Brianne to clay, and she took off with it.  She made herself a set of mini-ornaments for a Halloween tree that she had, and then our other friend at work, Randa, wanted a set too.  Brianne made her one, but when Randa went to the craft store to buy the tree itself they were out.  So I volunteered to try to make a tree.  Here it is with Brianne's ornaments decorating it.  It's got a rock in the bottom for stability, and the limbs are all foil wrapped wire under the clay.  This isn't the best picture, but hopefully you can see it okay.  The eyes I did with glow-in-the-dark clay -- ooooo, spooky!  ;)

Randa's birthday was at the first of this month and she really loves giraffes, so I made this picture frame for her.  The pictures really aren't the best (kinda blurry), which is a shame because I put gold clay in the mix, and each orange spot has a strip of more gold around it, and the mica in the gold clay gives it some cool depth.  I thought the giraffe had a sweet expression, and Randa was thrilled with it, which made me really happy.  The photo inside the frame is all her friends at work just being silly.

I wanted to bring a little greenery to my desk at work, so I made this pot (vase?) for some lucky bamboo.  I did the basket weaving and the flowers both out of clay, right onto the glass, and baked it glass and all.  You can't really tell from the picture but the flattened marbles inside that hold the bamboo are colored ranging from clear to lilac to dark purple.  I was pretty pleased with the end result, and it looks nice on my desk.

And finally, my Aunt Linda remembered the hand bound journals I used to make and decided she wanted to get some for her family for Thanksgiving for gratitude journals, hoping that keeping a gratitude journal would help improve everyone's mood and attitude.  She thought that a personalized, hand made journal would encourage everyone to actually use them.  Apparently they were a big hit -- she ordered 3 more for Christmas presents for friends.  These pictures are only of the front covers so you can't really see the stitching on the spines, but all the names on the front are done in clay.  I've wanted to try combining clay with the books, and this was the perfect opportunity (not to mention some much needed extra spending money for Christmas).  :)


In other news, Christmas was great because it was really nice to spend time with family and talk to Emily on the phone.  My newest nephew, Stanley Sanders Lund (picture below) was just born on Dec 20th and he's absolutely adorable, of course.  Christmas was also miserable because I got a stupid sinus infection and now I have to take the most disgusting, bitter tasting pills until they're gone so it won't come back.  Blech.  But, I did get a Wii! Yay!  I'll be able to do some boxing and sword fighting and tennis to exercise.  I'm very much looking forward to that -- I start as soon as the infection is really gone.  The doctor advised I should probably wait until at least Monday.  Hopefully I'll be able to get into some kind of better shape this year -- the family is planning a cruise when Em gets off her mission, so I've got approximately 14 months to get myself ready to go.  It's a race with the clock, and I think it will be a lot of fun, too.  :)

Here's my sweet nephew!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Two months!

Well, I've been getting used to a new job, remember?  Yeah, I know, not much of an excuse for two full month's absence, but it's all I've got.  :)  I wish I could say I have tons of great projects to post pictures of, but I've only got two.  Hopefully, there will be more in the near future.

My sister, Emily, is leaving on a mission in a couple weeks and as a good-bye present for her two roommates, she "commissioned" some work for them.  I made Em some dragon bookends for Christmas this last year (that I still haven't gotten pics of to post...) and her roommates really thought they were something cool, so she asked me to make some for them.  Actually, only the one roommate got dragons, the other -- well, pics are below.

 This roommate loves pink and bold, bright colors.  I took Emily at her word and went super bright!  When I delivered them, Em's roommate really seemed to like them, so I guess it worked.  I had fun with the rainbow backdrops -- they remind me of thermo images.  You know, the one's that you need special equipment for that show differences in temperature through color.  Pretty cool, huh?  I made them using the same technique as for the faux abalone I used on the bottle I gave my mom (see earlier post).  It's all clay -- no paint -- and they have hematite beads for eyes.

Emily's other roommate apparently prefers more mod-ish looking things, and her favorite flower is a tulip.  Emily asked me to do a scented oil bottle basketweave like the one I had done for Rachel (see earlier post).  I thought black would be nice, but a single bottle didn't seem like enough when the other roommate was getting two pieces.  So I did this matching relief sculpture -- it's got a picture frame stand back on it to hold it upright.  You can't really see it in the picture but both the flowers and the leaves have gold clay in them which gives it a really cool sheen and depth.  I was really happy with the way these turned out, and I'll have to do some more.  The bottle is a flattened sphere rather than an actual sphere like the ones I did before, and the craft store had all sorts of shapes of bottles for only a couple bucks each, so my mind is buzzing with ideas.  Whether or not I'll ever actually get to them....  well, we'll see, I guess!  :)

Oh, and that's a nice glimpse of my really cluttered creation station, don't you think?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Stories and Art

Through a polymer clay email list I subscribe to I was directed to this wonderful post by writer and artist Luann Udell.  It really resonated with me.  I left a comment, and decided to copy my comment here.  I recommend reading her post first, but if not, that's okay too.  Here's what I wrote back.


I don't think I've ever cried reading a blog post before.  It especially started to pour when I read the comment by RK.  I struggle, not with not knowing my story, but with believing my story could be worth anything to anyone but me, and because of that (admittedly illogical) belief, I have a hard time finding the courage to really jump in and purposefully try to express something meaningful with art.  I'm not a professional artist but I love to create.  I've jumped around from medium to medium, craft to craft.  I love trying new things, and my current obsession is polymer clay, which is how I found your blog -- but the part of this post and its replies that really resonated with me is the idea of believing in oneself enough to willingly lay your heart bare, to share one's story without (or in spite of) fear.

I've always had a hard time believing artists who claim they only do art for "art's sake" and don't care what other people think of it.  What's the point in engaging in communication (which art undeniably IS) if you don't want a reply?  The fear of negative, derogatory responses to one's work must be something every creative person has to deal with.  It can't possibly be just me, can it?

Writing has always been my first and most terrifying dream.  I'm trying to finish a novel that my family has been pressuring me about because they all want to know how it ends (which is gratifying).  Of all the creative forms I've played with, writing is the one that makes me the most vulnerable because it's the most important to me.  My story will best be told through the stories I write, like yours through the horses you create, and I'm frightened of opening myself up like that -- I let that fear stop me from reaching for my dream.

Understanding, BELIEVING, that the importance of expressing one's own story is greater than any technique mastered or possible financial gain, is a wonderful, inspiring concept that I think all creative people struggle with remembering.  I know I certainly do.  I thank you for reminding me so beautifully, and encouraging me to express what's in my heart.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day

It's nice to get a three day weekend, and I have been thinking about the freedoms we enjoy and those who fight to protect them.  I'm grateful for them, because I know I wouldn't have the courage.

I got up this morning to walk -- oh yeah, I guess I haven't mentioned that yet, but I've been walking every morning with a lady who lives a couple houses down.  Started the same day I started work.  We walk for about a half hour, which at my speed is only about a mile.  Still, it's good for me -- no matter how freaking difficult it is to get my eyes open all the way and push my body into motion every morning.  I am SO not a morning person.

So, anyway, I got up to walk and then I spent three hours out in my garden.  I found some big black plastic garbage bags so I cut them open for a ground cover to hopefully cut down on the weeding I'll have to do.  I have six plants each of cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower that I got in, and my two tomatoe plants.  I still need to plant the cucumbers, squash, and zuccini, but it's starting to get a little muggy outside and I'm really low on energy.  I just realized I haven't eaten yet today, so that might have something to do with it...  Either way, though, I'm bushed, and feeling really discouraged at how little I got done in three hours -- I am trying to listen more to the part of me that is glad of what I did get done, but it's hard not to swing back and forth, especially when my legs and back ache and I feel so heavy.

I might have to spend the rest of today working wth clay.  :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Just Checking In...

I've been out of the loop for a while because I started a new job last Monday (the 17th) and it was completely unexpected that I'd be starting so soon (if at all) so I've just been adjusting to having a full time job again.  This is also a test to see if this post will import into Facebook like I just set it up to do.  I've got so many friends on Facebook, but I'm really bad at keeping in touch that way, so I wondered if this might work.  :)

I'm excited about this new job, mostly because the company seems really cool and it's a noticeably more positive atmosphere than anywhere else I've worked.  Today the other two trainees and I left formal training to join our teams for the first time, and I'm really excited about the team I'm on -- they're really nice with a great sense of humor, and I already feel pretty comfortable with them.  I'll be getting a plant to put on my desk as soon as I can, and I'm working on a neat plaque made from clay that I'd like to have sitting on my desk.  When I get it finished I'll post pictures.   

I got my corn, beans, and peas planted last week.  Those were all seeds.  I've got plants I need to get into the ground too, but it's been too cold and rainy.  I'll probably get those in this weekend.  I'm really looking forward to seeing how this garden experiment of mine works out.  I kind of wish I'd done more flowers than vegetables, but it's still not too late and there's always next year anyway.

Well, that's about all the new news.  I haven't had time to do much.  Yay! for employment, though, right? 

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Garden is all ready to go!

I spent today getting compost spread on my garden plots, putting up a fence to keep out the neighbor's free range chickens (Heather actually did most of the fence, I helped), and cutting down branches from the crab apple tree so my garden won't be in the shade all day.  It's pretty much all completely ready to plant and I've got all the starts or seeds I need.  Yay!  But I'm also completely worn out, so even though there's still a few hours of sunlight left, I'm calling it a day.  I really wish I were more healthy and in shape so I could get more work done.  :(  Then, again, that was part of the whole purpose behind growing a garden this summer -- a way to get me outside and active, and it's working so far.  Hopefully by the end of the summer, I'll be able to do a lot more in one go. 

Here's a picture of my garden area.  You can see there's still a small area of the closest plot that will be in shade during the late afternoon.  I'll just have to plant veggies that don't mind so much in that area.  :)  The tree is really pretty right now with all those big pink blooms, and standing under it is like standing near a beehive.  I couldn't believe how loud the buzz is!

Heather and I also went to see Iron Man 2 today.  It's my second viewing, but she hadn't seen it yet.  Awesome movie!  I love it!  I'm really such a nerd.  ;)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Yay! Presents!

I didn't go to Manti until this last weekend for Mother's Day, so I didn't get to give my mom and sisters their presents until now.  So here are the pictures of them.  They are bottles for scented oil and diffuser reeds.  I encountered this new company, Cierra Ashley, at a craft fair a few weeks ago and I splurged on one for myself because it smelled so nice (and was less expensive than a candle).  Then I decided to play with decorating the bottle with some clay before adding the oil and this is what I ended up with.

It's a really basic polymer clay technique but one I hadn't tried before, so I thought it would be fun.  I just sandwiched a sheet of gold foil between a sheet of dark blue clay and a really, really thin sheet of transparent clay and sent the whole thing through the pasta roller a few times to crackle the foil.  I painted the glass with PVA glue and let that dry so the clay would have something to grab onto, smoothed the sheet in place, and then added the gold accents.  I was so pleased with it that I decided it would make an excellent gift for Mother's Day and for my sisters' birthdays, so I called up Heidi from Cierra Ashley and ordered 3 more.  I wanted 3 more round bulb-like ones like this one, but she only had two, so I had to get a square one.  That one went to Mom.

This is supposed to be faux abalone, so I was really thrilled when -- with no prompting from me -- Mom said that was what it looked like.  I thought the pearlized clays and pretty pastels really suited her.  For my sister Rachel, I made a clay basket, which was a great idea but took forever.
I textured the horizontal strips to make it look more like a straw basket, so before adding the final sealing coat they all got, I added a patina with some burnt umber acrylic paint to emphasize the texture.  There are three flowers around the rim of the "basket" and when I set out to make them, they were going to be sunflowers, but I just couldn't get them to look right, so I just made up these.  I call them "Rachel Flowers."
The idea for Emily's came from a turtle shell (she collects turtles) and is made from an extruded hexagonal cane.  The hexagonal shape didn't survice the process of making the pattern sheet very well, but I'm still pretty happy with the results.  I had a bit of that pattern sheet left over so I made a couple of cabochons that now only need a head, 4 legs, and a tail to look just like cool little turtles.  Not sure what I'll do with those yet...  I have a lot of the abalone cane left too, so I'll probably try to do something cool with that as well.