Tuesday, 27 September 2016

My first workshop!

I decided it was time to update my blog and I found this incomplete draft sitting in Blogger waiting for some pictures and publishing! What can I say? It's been a busy summer! Here is the very belated post about the Bettina Welker workshop in Toronto on August 6th.

August 8, 2016
This weekend was the Bettina Welker Polymer Clay workshop I organized. What a great experience it was! It all started when Bettina posted on Facebook that she was coming to Canada on vacation with her family this summer. She asked if any guilds wanted to run a workshop for her to teach. I love Bettina's work and really wanted the chance to learn from her but don't belong to a polymer clay guild. (the closest guild to me isn't very convenient). I have become very active on Facebook and belong to several Polymer Clay groups so I figured that I could find enough clayers to make it work.
There are very few polymer clay events in Canada because we're still a very small number compared to the US and Europe.But there are some very talented polymer artists here.Unfortunately we are such a big country that we're all pretty far apart. I attended a workshop last year with Helen Breil who luckily lives goes quite close to me. That was the beginning of getting to know other local polymer  clayers. Contacting those folks and advertising on Facebook started the process of finding participants for the workshop. Several other people helped out by spreading the word. Thanks to Helen Breil, Jane Penner, Wendy Orlowski of Shades of Clay, and  Pearl Blay from the Beading Gem for getting the word out.
I ended up with 20 students so the workshop was a go! 
I learned a lot about organizing workshops and will hopefully do better next time. I probably took on more work than needed but it resulted in a great day. There are so many factors to consider like venue, cost, parking,diets, sponsors, supplies just to name a few. I was happy that Bettina is an expert at teaching workshops and is extremely well organized . With her input and suggestions from many of the students everything came together quite nicely.
It was a whole day workshop where we learned  many of Bettina's tips and techniques for making her Swivelling Necklace. 
I have to mention that all of the clay for the workshop was supplied by Staedtler, Canada . We were given everything that Bettina  listed on her supply list, including  5 full blocks( 2-3 oz.) of Fimo Professional each and a bottle of Fimo liquid clay to share between  every two participants at the workshop. It was great to have the opportunity to work with the new Fimo and it was wonderful to work with. Really rich colour saturation and easy to condition.

Bettina was an absolute joy to work with and to learn from. She shared so many tips and techniques that I'm sure I will use them for years to come in all of my polymer work. She is super organized and has a great manner for teaching. Concise and on topic but always with a keen sense of humour and a generous spirit.

Concentrated Learning

Besides learning from one of the best polymer artist/teachers in the world the other benefit I realized from this weekend experience  was getting to know so many talented polymer artists and gaining 19 new clay friends. I'm sure there will be many reunions in the future since most of us live within 100 miles of each other plus a few outliers from the Ottawa region.Still only a 4-5 hour drive away!

Sharon : Ottawa

It was fabulous getting to know everybody and seeing the incredible artistry and skill from everyone in the group.I can't really show the work done by everybody here because there were too many of us. Here are some pictures  of some of the results and just a few of my new friends!

Gails's necklaces
Maureen : London
 Sandra: Burlington

MaryEtta: Port Dover
I hope you enjoyed this little visit to my workshop. One of the best times of my recent years! Both organizing and attending it! Who knew?
Here's the teacher and the organizer at the end of a wonderfully tiring day! 
Bettina and me!
Thank you Bettina for a once in a lifetime experience and to all of the participants for helping out before and during the workshop. I couldn't have done it without all of you. 

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Homage to Canadian Women

I went to a wonderful show at a local gallery in Dundas, Ontario. It's a lovely, old town with restored heritage buildings along the main street. The Carnegie Gallery is in a beautifully restored building which was the town's public library from 1910 to 1970. It is an example of the Beaux-Arts style commonly used by architects in the early 20th century.
 It's construction , and 111 other Ontario libraries, was partially funded by a grant from the Carnegie Foundation. It is now the home of the Dundas Art and Crafts Foundation  and an artist run gallery. 

The show was entitled Homage and consisted of 38 different necklaces designed and made by a Canadian jewelry artist, Donald A. Stuart. The collection was created as a celebration and tribute to Canadian women, past and present. Each neck piece was accompanied by a sketched portrait and biography by Susan Benson RCA, curator of the exhibition
Stuart in his own words explains his work.  “Necklaces are one of the oldest forms of human adornment and were worn by both men and women. However, from approximately the 19th century onward they were predominately worn by women to denote style, status and wealth. Necklaces are archetypal symbols of power and importance and are a fitting vehicle to represent [leading] women in Canadian history. The choices of materials for each necklace are as varied as the women themselves, each infused with meaning and significance"

Now here are the necklaces. I hope you enjoy the samples I have included here. It was a very sunny day and each necklace was behind glass so it was difficult to get clear pictures without glare. I have included the ones that appealed to me either artistically or historically, or in some cases both. The first one is a stunning piece of silver work representing Pauline Johnston (1861-1913) a Native Canadian poet and has the tip of a quill pen at one end and feather at the other. The feather is an iconic symbol of the First Nations people and it also references quill pens which were used at the time  in our history.

I'm going to let the rest speak for themselves.

Measha Brueggergosman : Opera Singer

Karen Kain ; Canadian Prima Ballerina

Lynn Johnston: award winning cartoonist

Martha Billes Co-founder and CEO of Canadian Tire ( hardware, housewares and car supply store) (that's a drill bit  hung on a steel cable and CT money which was used like loyalty cards but gave you cash value to spend in the store)

Sonja Bata : Founder of the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto
(Sterling silver shoes and chain with braided leather cord))

Haley Wickenhauser : Olympian hockey player
( sterling hockey stick and gemstone puck)

Diana Krall: Jazz singer and pianist

I found the story of this young woman quite moving and his interpretation quite powerful.

Julia Payette: Canadian astronaut

Margaret Atwood: Award winning author and activist

Emily Carr: artist inspired and influenced by native Canadian art

Founder of Moosehead Breweries (folded beer caps and brass bottle shaped charms)

Of course there was other art in the gallery. Rosemary Aicher's ceramics were also on exhibition. Beautiful work.
Rosemary Aicher’s ceramic work represents a melding of her interests in figurative drawing, archaeology and pottery:
“In this exhibition I lift images from the pages of my sketchbooks and project it onto the enduring form of the ceramic object, the timeless technology of human culture. When Gilgamesh set out to carve his story on the walls of Uruk he was searching for a kind of immortality. When I print the drawing on the surface of a ceramic vessel I seek to mark the brief moments of existence in the arc of history and to make a connection to the past permanent.”

I hope you have enjoyed my little stroll through Canadian History and culture and were as impressed by the artistry and technical expertise of the artist, Donald A. Stuart. Definitely a national treasure!

Monday, 21 March 2016

Etsy shop update.

I've been making like crazy since Christmas and it's almost Easter so I figured it was time to post some of my results. I've been focused mainly on jewelry components made of polymer clay and that's what I've listed in my shop along with some shawl pins. I still have  many boxes full but I only managed to get my listing total up to 60. I'm aiming for 100 in the next few weeks. I've heard that is the magic number!
I don't usually link to my shop in my blog so forgive me if this is a problem. It's not going to happen regularly. Here's the link to the latest edition of my Etsy shop. There will be another one on April 5th when all Etsy shops will be updated.
I hope you'll get a chance to visit my shop. Any comments are very welcome!

These are some of my new shawl/hair pins.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Bead Peeps Swap n Hop partners

I signed up again this year for the Bead Peeps Swap n Hop because I had such a good time last year. The best thing about swaps is getting to know your partner. The admins work very hard at matching everybody up and do a fabulous job at it. My partner this year is Lori Jean Poppe. We wrote back and forth to each other to get to know a little bit about each other which helps us to choose what to send for the swap. We have to swap beads, a focal bead and a clasp. They should be of high quality such as we would gift to a good friend. I have always been so impressed with the quality of beads that I have received in previous swaps. The jewelry making community is extremely generous.
Lori is  an amazing woman who seems to do everything! It makes me tired to just list all of her accomplishments! She lives in Bear Creek , Wisconsin and works a dairy farm with her husband, sells essential oils, designs jewelry and is currently running in the local school board election. Lori is a mother and advocate for her daughter with Down Syndrome She has worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant, Special Education Aide and Special Needs Advocate. See what I mean?
Somehow Lori finds time to pursue her artistic passions. She has dabbled in stained glass, fused glass, lampworking, leather work and metal weaving/wrapping. She is a rock hound and polymer clay artist. I am "gobsmacked" by her life and what she manages to fit into it. I forgot to mention that she is also a housewife and mother of 4 which as we all know is more than enough for any woman! I am in awe of Lori and her superwoman status! Here are some her artistic creations.

I was tasked with sending a bead soup to Lori for our Swap n Hop in the Bead Peeps Facebook group. I have nowhere near the variety of artistic talents that Lori has but have been making jewelry and polymer clay beads and components for several years so I hope I have chosen a selection that will please and challenge her. Here is the teaser photograph I made before I sent her goodies off to Wisconsin.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Art Bead Scene Monthly Challenge

I have to admit that this challenge is one of my favorites. Each month a work of art is posted with a description and history of the artist. The challenge is to make a piece of jewelry inspired by the work and/or create art beads inspired by it. I don't  participate regularly because I frequently am stumped by this challenge. I have started many projects then discarded them in disgust. the quality of the art beads on this blog is quite high so I won't post anything I'm not satisfied with.

This month the art is Simultaneous Dress Next to Simultaneous Car from
Vogue magazine in January 1925. It is by Sonia Delaunay and George Lepage. They describe the style as simultanism, a form of Cubism with a focus of colour...aimed to created rhythm, motion and depth through overlapping patches of vibrant hues.

The colours, shapes and contrast appealed to me. I didn't see red, white and blue but rather a deep reddish orange instead of red and those are the colours I worked with. Unfortunately the orange I used ended up looking quite red once I had finished with it.
I have been working on my technique of building canes of polymer clay. I thought that the geometry of this art translated well into canework so I made a cane of triangles in the contrasting colours. The problem I have is with canework is the rigidity of the designs so I always have to add my own twist to the results and usually  warp the patterns in some way to express my love of abstract designs
. I made beads covered with a veneer of clay made from the cane . Even though I didn't plan it that way the beads ended up with a star in the centre . I was aiming to replicate the triangles in the design.

While playing with the cane I  also made these long earring beads inspired by the angularity and geometry of the art challenge. 
I hope you enjoyed seeing my entry to the ABS February Challenge. Check their blog on the 29th to see all the other entries.