Sunday, November 30, 2008

zip zero zilch - not

well the zip zero zilch is how much energy I have, I can't seem to shake these ongoing colds, but I managed to teach all weekend anyway (even if I couldn't breathe), and my students made the most lovely painted enamels.
Now bear in mind that these pieces are each the size of a US quarter, under an inch across. Each set of students I have, I keep saying you guys are the best yet, neither of these folks had ever done this before...
cephalopod front and back views; still on the enameling trivet

pussy-willow with heart, and a green branch under the moon

a lovely bit of new Coeur du Val regalia
This was the sample piece that I worked on in class, to demonstrate techniques. Don't know why I so like that barrel shape but it has remained a satisfying shape for several years now. I have a strand of turquoise beads that shape from the first Oregon Country Fair I attended. The kanji on the small, 1 1/2" x 1", enamel say "koromogae" which means "seasonal change of clothing" (if the wonders of the internet are accurate, and my calligraphy isn't too terrible) Haven't ever done micro kanji before, but for some reason that was what was needed, and I happend to have something written out on the inspiration board that fit the design...
Y'know, I've always said that I hated rap.

When I was in college I had to write papers on various metalworked objects, and I loathed the Bauhaus metalworking, couldn't find anything in it that wasn't a waste of good silver. My instructor made me go back and rewrite my paper twice, insisting that I needed to look at and into it more deeply, that convoluted and erudite ways of saying YUCK weren't enough... Eventually I was able to look at it with some understanding, and write clearly about the context. Still didn't make me like it any better, but it became comprehensible...

Friday while riding home from work on the bus, a lively group of folks on the bus started talking to me; seemed like students with time off for the holiday, who had been going around talking to people about "Buy-Nothing Day", offering free hugs, and one young man had a sign that said "Free Gift Rapping" I looked a bit puzzled at that one, so the young man obliged. Somehow I never realised that rapping is can be a kind of extemporaneous poetic commentary, that does that magical thing of drawing attention to the "what is now"... so a big thankyou to the kids with their raggedy signs and bongo drums on the bus, who shifted my preconceptions just a bit.

Friday, November 28, 2008

a very good thing

Guess what is in this big box...
Ta Daa.....
My maslin pan came today. And it is rather larger than I'd realised, which is a good thing. Just like the description, it fits nicely on a burner. I'm really glad that I decided to get the matching lid as well.

It is much larger than any of my other saucepans, and will be useful not only for preserving, but for any time I want to cook for more than a few folks. Soups and stews and suchlike will be ever so much easier when I've guests.

Monday, November 24, 2008

thoughts about paint

I've got an idea now about which colors I want for painting which rooms, and while I had the loan of a car last week (thanks Megan) I took the opportunity to pick up some more of the wonderful (100%recycled and super low VOC) MetroPaint; paint cans are heavy to carry while riding public transit. At the Metro paint facility, they have a great color-mix book, which shows the many different colors you can get mixing the 15 standard colors, and the two gallons I came home with should mix up to a nice medium blue-grey for the living room walls.

I've paint for most of the other rooms too: the workroom will be pale grey with white trim, the kitchen will be a warm taupe stone color, and the bathroom will be lavender, (to look good with the eventual copper sink and ironwork.) My bedroom will most probably be dark grey again, which I find restful rather than gloomy. I've still several gallons of the paint I mixed up and used in Olympia, I'm thinking about doing a white decorative painted frieze again, I loved the one in my former bedroom, even if it did take me three days to paint...

upper frieze with painted faux picture rail trim
decorative silhouettes with a painted faux chair rail

creative upcycled retro-style functionality

Look here! My DIY clock project photo was an example on the current AT regional Cure post for "Week Seven"!
I've been painting and assembling salvaged bits to make a new studio clock; it makes enameling easier if you can watch an analog second hand to judge how long your piece has been in the kiln. Found where the clock mechanism was hiding this morning (I'd put it away in a safe place), and just finished the assembly and final paint touch ups. It looks most satisfyingly "artifacty" in a 1950's kind of way. I'm happy.
not the best photo, it's nighttime

The new mechanism is MUCH quieter than my other clock, tho' they are both the same product, a "non-ticking" movement. (I find ticking clock sound maddening and insomnia-inducing, it is a good thing I'm not a puppy) And while my intention was to have this be a studio clock, it is looking really happy on the wall in the kitchen...

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I've been having very sore arms, due to raking up the very wet leaves in my yard. A task I loathe, so have been doing it in 15 minute increments all weekend. Set timer then go rake. Bell rings, stop, go do something else for a while till my conscience sends me to do it again, repeat. The front yard looks less like the yard of shame.
To help with the job, I made a burden cloth. Leaf raking entails leaf moving as well, which is something I've never really gotten the hang of (how clueless is that?) Last year I simply grabbed armfuls of wet leaves and dumped them in the wheelbarrow, which was well... wet, yucky, and inefficient. So this years innovation was to take a big square chunk of the formerly porch awning (formerly formerly merchant dayshade) and sew webbing loop handles into each corner. Now I can rake the leaves onto a piece of canvas, and grab the corners easily to carry and dump in the leaf compost bin in the backyard.
I started making a new clock for the house, with the intention to evoke the midcentury style of the George Nelson Ball Clock. With wooden beads from the craft store, and a bit of metal salvaged from an old chandelier (a large wire openwork circle with twelve evenly spaced prongs around the edge). I'm painting the beads sky blue, and the metal parts flat black. Somewhere I've another clock mechanism stashed away, I'm sure it isn't buried too deeply, and will be found by the time I'm done with the painting...
I've been quite amused by the Gmail theme I selected: "Tea House". Throughout the day, and night, the characters appear doing different tasks and activities, matched to the day and night of my location. SO far, little fox has picked flowers, and had a tea party with monkey, and is currently climbing the ladder to bed, leaving behind in the garden a lighted fish lantern, while fireflies dance above the birdbath, I know that later tonight small ghosts will play in the garden while fox sleeps. It would be really fun to make a miniature environment to match the images, like in the Rumer Godden books Miss Happiness and Miss Flower, and Little Plum, which I loved as a child, and still do.
In the interest of using up some little bits of the neverending boxes filled with supplies for crafty goodness, I've made five vintage style holiday garlands, using funky old paper "Christmas scrap" ephemera (from England, and from West Germany) backed with wool felt and stitched to ribbons. I'll be putting them into the store, as well as the button heart ornaments, and my mistletoe earrings... Must take more pictures...

Friday, November 21, 2008

If you wish upon a winter star

1. a quart jar of old mother of pearl buttons
I need more accessories to go with my button crown and earrings!
2. two height adjustable office chairs on casters (no arms)
The workroom needs chairs for students, old armless office chairs on wheels work great, I've got two, and need two more
3. two cubic yards of leafmold compost
garden helper, next year will hopefully see the raised beds made higher
4. bathroom electric wiring fixed,
waiting patiently
5. sheetrock replaced where the ceiling was torn out by Demoliton Boy
I never figured out why this was necessary, but it sure makes it cold inside
6. Brother 1034D serger
to speed up my sewing
7. eight or ten foot stepladder
I'm short, what can I roof gutters are so far away
8. carpal tunnel release surgery for my left wrist, done by an experienced and competent surgeon, and two months time to recover
Well a girl can dream of medical insurance coverage, right...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thursday thoughts

One of these days I'll have to break down and turn the heat on. It is getting downright chilly.

Today I realised that I'd misplaced my rain-hat. Again. For the second time this year. This is not the time of year when no rain hat is a option. So rather than head over to REI to buy yet another Seattle Sombrero, in a fit of peeved frugality I decided that I could dammit make myself a new one. Who knew that in this most outdoor of all towns, the very town that was my go-to town for all things fabric for decades, that it would be so very hard to find a good source for outdoor type fabrics.

Wasted literally hours on the phone this morning calling all my favorite fabric-type places with zip for results, 'till a friendly clerk at the Milwaukee Mill Ends suggested that I try someplace in NW called Rose City Textiles. Took yet a bit more tracking down, but by late lunchtime I'd found my way over into the industrial NW zone, an area I've not really visited at all. (makes me wonder what other wonders lurk there)

Their storefront is chock full of all kinds of technical and fashionable knits, organic, recycled and various sorts, more Malden Mills fleece than I'd seen since I left Massachusetts and a whole room of outdoor-gear fabrics and supplies. I was able to get some lovely gunmetal grey Goretex and all the other supplies that I need to make a new rainhat... Being primarily a wholesaler they sell in increments of whole and half yards. I've not seen such a good selection of lycra jersey and such in any of the other local shops, and while not suitable for historical projects, I foresee another trip there to acquire fabrics for various other projects like t-shirts, leggings and lingerie.
Today didn't see much art happening, despite the best of intentions. I did however finally manage to string the lovely beads I'd traded for (thank you Rafny) into a necklace for my sister-in-law. Better late than never. I had fun playing with the asymmetry of the different shades of blue.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

what I did on my "day off"

Today I went out to Hrafinstaad and spent a good chunk of the day visiting and crafting with my dear friend Rois. She has a great collection of supplies, and I'd brought along a few books of inspiration, as well as some buttons and wire and beads. I finished up some of the button hearts, and will put one or two up in the shop tomorrow. We ended up making some mixed media, kind of vintage, good fairies. With paper and pipe cleaners, and bits of a disintegrating old children's book, and glitter and glue. I forgot how much I like glitter and glue.

button heart ornaments and a glittery goodfairy

Sunday, November 16, 2008

a busy weekend

The second teaching weekend in a row, this one was Introduction to Cloisonne, with three students. Everything went relatively smoothly. My students loved the Friday evening introductory. (Smokey was delighted and sure they had all come to visit her, fortunately they were all dog people) Saturday much work was accomplished...
And by the end of the weekend they each successfully each completed a lovely medallion. I truly enjoy sharing my skills by teaching others, and one of my particular delights is to see the varied imagery that my students devise. These pendants were so different from one another, yet each takes good advantage of the characteristics of this style of enameling.
My camera and skills are not sufficient to my desire, and since the class ended after nightfall, I needed to photograph the pendants with the workroom lights, which isn't ideal.
Haven't done much with the house this week, being focused on teaching. I did manage to do a small rearrangement of the entry-area, adding a key bowl and mail catcher bracket to the top of the cupboard that defines the entry area. The idea is to have an immediate place to deal with the "incoming" stuff, so that it gets dealt with, and doesn't get scattered about the house. This way it does, and the recycling station is just a step away inside the kitchen archway. The small vase of flowers makes me smile whenever I return home, cut flowers always feel so extravagant to me, even just a single stem of alstromeria. The key bowl was a gift from my dear friend Jen.

I am hoping that tomorrow will not be rainy, I have the front yard of shame on my entire block, being so busy with arty-teachery pursuits that my lawn is now entirely covered with fallen leaves. Everyone else was outside this beautiful crispy autumn weekend raking up the bountiful offerings, except me. I was busy. Indoors. Tomorrow between work, I need to get the front yard raked, and need to get one garden bed cleared so I can plant garlics, or next year will be very sad and not at all aromatic!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Found this leaf whilst riding to the grocery shopping this afternoon, something about the glowy edges against the almost black caught my eye, like a synesthesial image of the smell of autumn against the weight of winter to come
Okay, finally finished the class schedule, after spending some time consulting with my Guest Instructor about what he is interested in teaching that can be transported here to Acorn Cottage. I'm trying for a good balance between basic enameling skills and varied special interest classes...

Revised Workshop list for next quarter:
Jan 23-25 ~ Cloisonne Enameling
Feb 06-08 ~ Painted Enameling
Feb 20-22 ~ Fold Forming for Jewelry
Mar 06-08 ~ Stamped Champleve
Mar 20-22 ~ Cloisonne
Apr 03-05 ~ Fun Without Flame:
Decorative Stamping
and Cold Connections

I am particularly excited about the Fold Forming workshop as that is a technique that I am interested in myself, a fascinating way to shape complex 3D forms relatively quickly, using simple tools.

I'm also glad to be offering the Fun Without Flame class. Lots of folks don't have a torch, can't have one in their apartment, or are not yet comfortable using one, and there are many jewelry techniques that can combine to make beautiful and potentually useful objects without ever needing solder...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

housewifely ramblings...

Good dinner tonight, and I used about half the bunch of lacinato kale, steamed along with a sweet potato cut into chunks, which combination I'm inclined to repeat
Everything takes more time than I think it will. I've been working out the class schedule for the first quarter of 2009. Once the word processing is completed I can make copies, which needs to happen before Friday evening. This might be faster if I had a proper desktop publishing program, but then again, it might not, it might just be me...
Cloisonne Enameling
- January 23 - 25, February 20 - 22, March 20 - 22
Painted Enameling
- February 6 - 8 (a fun option for Valentine gifties)
Stamped Champleve
- March 6 - 8
Decorative Stamping and Cold Connections
- April 3 - 5 (taught by Bill as guest instructor)
Smokey seems to be feeling better, yesterdays "wommiting" was a rare aberration, fortunately, and I've added rice to her food today. She thinks that if I only added some raw fish it would make great dog sushi!, I saw her eyeing my little piece of salmon with hungry eyes.
Sometime in the next two weeks I need to get some garden time in to prep a bed and plant garlic, or next year will be very very sad... I've got a lead on a source for rabbit poop mixed with hay bedding, a person who does bunny rescue who is even willing to deliver some at regular intervals, since they don't live very far away. This could be a good thing for the future garden bed refurbishment.
In just a few weeks it will be Acorn Cottage's "housiversary" Hmmm... I'll need to think of what might be an appropriate housey-gift in honor of our third year together.

Monday, November 10, 2008

time for teaching

Well, I'm not being entirely successful yet at doing art every day, but here are some current pictures. This weekend I co-taught a workshop on Engraving for Enameling; I taught the cloisonne portion, Bill came down from Oly to teach the engraving portion... I made a new cloisonne bit as a demo piece during the workshop, which will become part of the stock for 12th Night. A sweet little engraved laurel, two-color leaves on a transparent blue background, about the size of a quarter...

I also ran across some old notional bits and decided to make a pair of earrings to match my button crown

Our student made a lovely pendant as a gift for his wife, featuring her favorite flower. This is a wonderful example of using very simple wire shapes to great effect, and the two color opaque enamel for the flower really works well.

Three more workshops happening in the next month... anyone out there want to make some special gifts or regalia before the holiday season/12th night? If you've any special things you'd like to learn this spring, I'm also in the middle of putting together the workshop schedule for first quarter 2009.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

entryway improvements

I'm really grateful for the various suggestions about the Acorn Cottage entryway and how I might be able to have a place for some of my hats that wasn't a cluttered mess.

This is what the entry area looks like now, if you stand in the hallway looking towards the front door, and the before picture is what it looked like on the day I had the house inspected (prior to the actual purchase).
currently - - - - - - - - - - - - - - and before

The door itself is a painted steel door, so using it for anything other than a magnet board would be fairly difficult. I have done my best to create a transition zone for the "entryway", and it works fairly well.

The Ikea cabinet next to the doorway divides the space gently from the rest of the room, while adding needed closed storage. Eventually I will run some wiring to add lights to the set of three different ricepaper lanterns that are also part of the entryway dividing zone. The key bowl and the mail holder currently live on the cabinet here as well, but that is probably not their eventual home.

To the left of the door, (a space less than 24" wide), are my peg racks for hanging coats, hats, purse, etc... which are attached to the wall as high as I can easily reach. The dog leash and collar hang from a hook attached to the doorframe edge between here and the kitchen; there is no door to the kitchen but only an open doorway, (more clearly visible in the "before" picture). The basket on the floor below the peg rack holds Smokeys collection of stuffed toys, her dog comb, and some random junk. I'm thinking of moving the dog-basket, it is really interesting how a photo will give you new eyes to see your familar landscape.
I picked up several different boxes of nails today at Mr Plywood, so I'm off to attach the remaining edge molding for the chalkboard project. I adore going to Mr Plywood, even if the clerks there are sometimes amused at my requests, they are kind, knowledgable, helpful, (and often handsome).

dusty progress

Among other things today, I've managed to almost complete the chalkboard wall installation. 95% of the work was in brain figuring out how to actually attach the parts to the wall, which takes weeks of thought. Once I can do that, I'm usually so eager to actually make it happen, that I forget to go and find a dust mask before sawing the wood bits. I really should get a small cartridge respirator... So now I'm coughing and hacking, and the installation is looking pretty much just the way I envisioned it.

The narrow shelf unit between the chalkboards is made from a salvaged containerly bit from the ReBuilding Center, and had the sides modified to help hold the pieces of chalkboard in place. So of course I had to take a picture and do a photo montage...

(you can click on the image up to three times,
to enlarge it repeatedly and see much more detail)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

voting day

I've already voted (days ago) but am having a hard time pulling myself away from the computer to do the other things that need done today... My wandering around online will not have any effect on the outcome of this historic election. The ballot drop off station at the end of my street, which has been a pair of arch-topped metal mailboxes bolted to the ground, last week was replaced with what looked like a small shipping container. I think that (hope that) there must be so many more voters than usual that they needed a bigger box!
Went to the free clinic last night to get my flu shot. I'm so grateful that this clinic exists, and that I am fortunate enough to live in their service area. Certainly doesn't cover most of my medical needs, but without any insurance, even a bit helps a lot, and that $35 that I don't need to pay out for a flu shot can go in the piggybank towards heat this winter. Maybe someday the USA will be like most of the other first world countries and all our citizens will have medical coverage for their basic needs (stepping off tiny soapbox now...)
Todays tasks:
Post picture from yesterdays creative project
tidy studio for class this weekend, a bigger project than it sounds like
pay bills
bake for potluck
Ibex sketch
find class handout & xerox

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sunday snippets

Humph! I hates it when I'm carelessly clumsy. While reaching for dishes to wash I dumped the whole tin of sunflower seeds over, most of them ended up on the floor, or amongst the dirty dishes. And why pray tell was the sunnie tin there, because I'd forgotten to put it back in the pantry after breakfast! Ah well, the hens will have a nice morning treat tomorrow. And they could use one, they're moulting Guess who decided that the swept up sunnies made a nice snack while I was typing...


Day #2
A bit of work today on my 2009 calendar images. The theme for the year will be alphabetical: animal and botanical. I'd been wondering about formatting the calendar long vertically, but 'twill be a bit more economical to print as stubby rectangles like I've done before. And I just worked out how to include a digital "watermark" on my images, for when posting them online. And I think it will be a better plan to awaken earlier in the day, and spend early time doing artwork before doing the out-of-home tasks.

I love fractals, especially tasty fractal food. This lovely thing came home with me from the farmers market yesterday, and will be part of dinner tonight. Mmm steamed alien food!
I've still quite a bit to do to get ready for the engraving class this coming weekend, and still need to attach the chalkboards to the wall. Instead of wrestling with that task, I spent the afternoon on the Max out to Ikea and back, where I acquired 4 small worklights for the student workbench. Step by step, I make slow progress.