Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tracy Bell and a Surprise

I don't know whether you follow Tracy's blog but it's a great one and I've added it to the column on the right under "Blogs of Note".  Tracey is inventive and original.  I got to meet her once through a mutual friend (Chris Fisher) at Bead and Button while we were waiting for the teacher's night to open.  I'm sure she doesn't remember me but I remember her.  She has a brash yet refined way or working with wire and mixing in surprising things.  Check it out - Copper, Glass, and Recycled Trash

This past week I was lurking around on Tracy's blog and hopped over to her Etsy to see what was new and saw this great tutorial on a bracelet she made with the "Now That's a Jig".  I lust after one of these but it will be a awhile before one can magically appear under my Christmas tree.  I thought it was fascinating and could see many variations on that theme so I purchased the tutorial.  It's a great tutorial.  Unfortunately with all of this packing and Daisy training going on I'm not going to be able to get to trying for it quite a while. 

But boy did I have a surprise.  When I purchased the tut I got an immediate email from Tracy saying I was her thousandth customer and she had a surprise for me.  Whoa whoa - do I ever love a surprise.  I wrote her and told her how much I love her blog and how much I liked what she was doing and especially the new foray into what we mostly call "fordite".  It's the common name of paint slag that taken off the spray booth's at the paint plant for the cars.  This stuff is fun - looks like layers of stone or polymer when it's cut and polished up.  Isn't it great?



Well, Tracy must have skipped her scheduled item to ship and she send me some of the fordite.  Oh my oh my oh my.  It's incredible and I love it.  I haven't told her yet as I wanted to get this post done and get some pictures.  She must think I'm a slub for not saying thank you yet....I just wanted to make sure she gets the proper thank you and notice for her royally impressive deed of kindness.

This is what she sent - and I'm beyond doing happy feet.  I drew out some possibilities and I'm packing the stones with the drawings so when I get my bench set up in the new to us house it will be first up on my list.  With the colors that are in it I can visualize everything from a grayish sky blue pop of color to a red brilliant cut gem (which I think is going to be one of the stones I add to it in a tube setting.  Although I have to admit maybe taking the back off of stone skull that's black might be my choice for the second stone.  Wouldn't it be wild - all gray, black and red but in a classy silver setting.  So many ideas.



Thank You Tracy.  May the force be with you talented lady!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Grand Haven Adventure

Well you know some of my friends and I took the Gerry Lewy class at Julie Sanford's Studio in Grand Haven.  Julie is a gem of person and a talented artist.  Her studio is a gallery, a store, and a working studio with classes.  It was the first time I had been to her studio and hopefully it won't be the last.  

Rather than talk about the class - I'll add more information about that tomorrow - let me tell you about Grand Haven and tomorrow I want to show you why you'd enjoy a class at JSD Studio. 

Grand Haven is one of those sleepy towns in the winter.  Everything calms down after Labor Day - the tourists go home, kids start school, and everything winds down.  It's called home to the US Coast Guard.  You should see these guys train out there some times.  I've been on vacation and seen training sessions on Lake Michigan - fascinating stuff how they handle the surf out there. 

This is a brief glimpse of town.  Typical small town but very active - several galleries and tons of great places to eat.

http://morningstarcafe.org/home.html
I loved the décor of Morning Star Café.  It's only open for breakfast and lunch.  The place is packed and the food would a foodie proud.

Don't you love the bench outside of the café?

This is what Grand Haven is famous for - it's great lighthouse and pier.  You can walk out there and the sunsets are incredible.
Sandy beaches and the dunes aren't far away. 


 
Since we were there for four days we visited town regularly.   The Maruska (Michigan Rag Company) store was wonderful - ah the T-shirts.  All hand designed and silk-screened.  The Morning Star Café could stand up to the pickiest of foodies - the food was wonderful and fresh and I didn't see a plate go by that wasn't great.  We ate at JW's which was on the corner just past the studio and never had a bad meal there either.  So many nice places to go.  And Fortino's Gourmet Market - wow - it's a good thing we ate before we went in there.
 
Grand Haven is worth the trip - add the class with Gerry Lewy and Sanford Studios and it's a heck of a treat.  One of those destination trips.



Friday, October 24, 2014

Great Time In Grand Haven

What a fun city.  I am here with friends at JSD Studio's taking a class with Gerry Lewy.  He's a master gem setter from Toronto Canada.  Here are a couple of pictures.

Julie Sanford's Studio

Look at all of the great benches in the studio area.  Everyone has their own place to work.

These are some of the settings we are working on.  Great castings, nice and thick.

Gerry Lewy with my friend Wendy and Myra from Indianapolis, Indiana

We are having a great time and learning so much.  Two more days to go!  I will write more soon.


 


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Home Sweet Home - And More News

Since we're talking about Home Sweet Home's and how I will always be a Detroit girl let's spill the beans on some of the news. It looks like it is now written in stone and we will soon be ready to begin a new adventure.

One set of our children lives in North Carolina. You know that because you just got to see the "Driving Miss Daisy" post. While we were down there we did out second house hunting expedition. My preference was for a place either in Asheville, Arden, or Black Mountain. Dream on....we looked at 20 houses. The only one we saw that would work for us and more importantly was in our price range was under contract. It was also built in the '50's. That part didn't bother me but it had a steep drop off in the back - I really liked it and the dogs would have been happy campers. My son suggested we stop looking in that area and consider living closer to them. We'd get more for our money then. It's not as if we haven't lived close to one another before. He lived in the town close by - a mere 15 minute drive so this is old hat to us. I will hate, just hate - leaving two sets of kids here in Michigan but it's time for Mom and Dad to grow up and move onward.

Asheville will be a quick 30 minute drive from the house. Hallelujah, I can get to a mall and major shopping in less than an hour and a half. And art - whoot whoot - there's a museum - there are galleries - there's a college - and lots and lots of things to do. And, the climate is warmer. DH has needed to be warmer for a long time and Michigan winters up north are just a killer. Unless you can ski, ride a 4-wheeler, a snow mobile, and so on it can be a real drag. He can't do those particular things anymore. So now we will find new things.

It won't be a quick move. It will probably take most of the winter. And then we have to get this house in Michigan back in shape to get it on the market. Looks like this will a process rather than an event. And so it begins, the packing. The purging and trips to Goodwill. Right now I'm in two classes - My favorites - silver fabricating and casting. I'll get some pictures this week to show you what we're working on. Making art hasn't stopped with this new wrinkle. Frankly, it's probably what will keep me sane through all of it. I even have a very special class coming up. Studio JSD in Grand Haven has Gerry Lewy (the cyber-setter) coming in for a workshop. I've signed up with three friends for that class. I'm a barely passable gem setter. A royal rookie and I'll still be a rookie after this class but I might have more of an idea of what I'm doing. I'd like to include a few into some of the designs I working on but I can't do that if I don't know how to set the buggers. There's a line out the studio door for this one, ten in the class and a long waiting list.

This is one of Gerry's lessons on U-Tube.  He has quite a few.




Anyone have any moving tips for me?  Advice is most welcome here.  Have a wonderful Fall Day......

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Denise Walker Billups

This is my friend Denise.  She's the current President of the Southeastern Michigan Beadmakers Guild - SMBG - or better known around the beading world as Glass Act.   She's an exceptional artist and person.  I've listed her blog on my blog list to the right but incase you'd like a direct link it's Fire Dance Lampwork Beads and Jewelry.

Look at that great sculpture she did at the front of her booth - The fish.  It's incredible, right?  Extremely original - I've never seen anyone do a large fish before.  She's taken a technique and has just run with it. 


Denise Walker Billups



Let me tell you about my bud - and her buds, and maybe the entire membership.  I could but it would take a long long time.  First off, if you know me well - REALLY well - you'd know that two of my favorite T-shirts read, "Born in Detroit" and "I've Got a Friend in Detroit".  I'm the child of (and I say this in the most lovingly of ways) a factory rat.  A big factory rat since he was the afternoon shift plant manager at Budd Wheel (long absorbed by another company).  He came up through the ranks, including the union, and too many broken noses to count.  So I am a died in the wool, born in the womb (and the city) girl of Detroit. 

You're going to ask me what the &0%4&2!!! that has to do with my friend Denise.  Well, it's actually got a lot to do with all of those members of the SMBG.  About 30+ years ago my life took me from the Detroit area to "Up North".  It's a great place to raise kids but gheeze louise...it's not exactly a haven for someone who would prefer to investigate an abandoned building or an alley than bushwhack a path through the woods.   I got "cabin fever" a lot (a whole lot) - LOL.  That is a mild label for wanting to pull your hair out by the roots because all the things that normally keep you sane besides your husband and family are all 3.5 hard expressway hours away.  I took that cabin fever hard.  I started traveling back and forth to the Detroit area whenever I could - to see my Mom and take in as much creativity as I could on each trip. 

I'd immerse myself in that city inspiration while I was there.  I really missed the culture of Detroit.  Yes, there IS culture in Detroit.  Tons of it.   I'd take weekend classes down there whenever I could.   I wish I could remember the first time my glass work took me into the view of those wonderful people at Glass Act.  I simply don't know.  What I can say is that Denise, Joy Cichewicz, and Kathleen Robinson Young took me under their protective wings and welcomed me as if I still lived close by.  They introduced to so many people - Candy, Karen, Anita, Cindi, Whitney, Sylvis, Susan, and a list of names that borders on remarkable.  They were ALL nice, all friendly, tight knit but not so tight as to be a clique or as to exclude anyone.  Us "anyone's" were welcome and quickly knitted right into the group.   No matter how little or how much I get to see my friends from SMBG they are steadfast, kind, welcoming, and talented as hell - just the way they were when I saw them last.  It's like a day past is the same as a month, or six months.  We pick up where we left off.    Now personally I've belonged to several and still belong to several artististic groups.  If they could only bottle what this group has there would be successful organizations everywhere.....if only.

I wanted to let you known how I had the pleasure of getting to know one of my favorite lampworkers and friends.

Denise and several of our peers have also formed a group called the Fire Foxes.  They had the booth behind Susan Lambert and I at the Great Lakes Bead Show.  What a great time.  Susan Meyer Hatch stopped by, Anita Pepper, Karen Richards, Annie and her mother - fabulous bead makers one and all.  You can catch the Fire Foxes at some of the Beadfests too. 

Thanks Denise - for helping this "fish outta city water" always feel like she's home again....





Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tumbled and not Ironed

Yesterday I mentioned the technique that Susan had talked to me about.  I don't have a lot a cute frit around here.  Nothing really light, happy, and airy.  But I did have some interesting frit from Glass Generations and Val Cox Frits and so I charged ahead.  This is the result of my experiment.  I do think I could take some nice "shorts" (leftover tiny pieces of lampworking glass) and make some nice mixes for myself.

Eh, nothing to write home about.  They're okay.  They're nice sized but not remarkable.  I tumbled these in 800 grit in a very large tumbler for about six hours.  Uh, I expected more frost and didn't get it.  Tomorrow I might toss them into the chemical etch.  I do think a quick buff on a polish charged jewelry wheel will improve the look of that silver trailing too.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Artistic License

 
Well here we go - it's that time of the year when we haven't even gotten to winter and we are already talking about the Spring 2015 colors.  The link above will take you to an interesting Pinterest board.  Plenty of color Inspiration on there for sure.
 
Then there was this interesting tidbit I from JCK Magazine - it was posted on October 6, 2014.  I just skipped to number ten because it's one of those things that just needles the crap out of me.  Remember my favorite book, "Steal Like an Artist."  I just love that thing.  And here is an real live example of it:
 
Fashion Trend Report: 10 Spring 2015 Clothing Trends Jewelers Must Know and Why
"10. Artistic Inspirations

The phrase artistic license was well used during the spring shows. Isabel Marant was inspired by the graphic works of painters Joan Miró and Antoni Tàpies to make tribal prints, Andrew Gn dreamed of Monet in painted water lilies that were digitally modified, and Derek Lam 10 Crosby found enlightenment in collage artists Fred Free and Sigrid Sandström in bonded crepe jackets “evoking Free’s and Sandström’s use of masking tape or gesso,” according to Style.com. Go-to jewelry should feature playful color combinations—think of rainbow-in-a-blender-like outfits from Chanel—metal-intense looks for balance or  pieces with pops of color taken from prints. "

Yup, you don't have to tell me.   We all get our inspiration from somewhere, albeit from masters, friends, instructors, color charts.   Makes me just chuckle to no end.  Can you imagine Manet or Renoir in a snit with Monet because they were doing similar things?  How about all those cubists?  Are you rolling your eyes yet?  Eventually everyone ends up adding their own twist on it - although some things are just universal and that is simply the way it is.  But it never fails to amaze me how much people can get their knickers in a twist over something "familiar" in someone else's work.  That's why number ten on the JCK list was so fascinating. 

I made some glass beads today.  My friend Susan Lambert taught me the style.  Will they look similar? - you betcha....and probably like about a dozen other people including the Chinese knock off kind too.  Susan wants me to show her what I come up with using this technique...no problem.  I'll take a photo tomorrow to show her so we can talk about it.  Wouldn't it be nice if everyone could play so well? 

Wow, that is so not going to happen.
 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Polymer Fun

For all of you who love polymer clay and are looking for some new techniques - Check this out: 
 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Driving with Miss Daisy - An Update

Lots of people have been waiting for a Daisy Mae update.  We recently took a trip to North Carolina to visit family, and do a few other things I either can't or am waiting to talk about.  Don't you love intrigue?  Since Daisy's issues might be a little much for a kennel to appreciate - and that is IF there actually were a kennel available here we decided to take "the girls" with us.  Uh, Trudy and Daisy.  Trudy loves the car - she's an experienced traveler.  She loves, loves, loves her super huge padded bed and we throw it in the back of the SUV and she sleeps.  Daisy, oh crap, that's a dog of a different flavor. 
Trudy and Daisy behind my makeshift barrier in the car.  Ready for the trip!
 
We prepared well for this trip.  Since we were staying with the kids on the farm we went to the vet - we got super dooper tic and flea stuff (NC has more tics than Michigan) and in Daisy's case because she is still in "puppy mode" we decided that she was going to need more, just plain more.  Remember when I cancelled dog obedience when she splayed her legs and we found out about the major hip dysplasia?  Well, we still haven't had that course and she is a spaz when she's out of the yard.  I thought we'd be fine the other day and I let her out of the yard - yup, you guessed it - me, hubby, and several neighbors were out coaxing her back down the block and home again.  Thank goodness for a rural area and no traffic.  That was the incident that tilted me in the direction of an implanted electronic identity marker.  What if she got away and I couldn't catch her?

So, I bought a new harness - she had outgrown her other one and we're off to the vet for the super tic stuff, nails clipped, electronic identification, and to talk about our hip progress.   And, LOL, I had taken a video of her in the car.  Don't get me wrong - she loves the car.....but...  There is Trudy all curled up and happy and then there is Daisy trying to get into the front seat - jumping on Trudy, licking windows, nibbling my husbands ear (and getting air swatted - "Get back there &*%5#!!!.").  I video taped it for the vet.   At  the vets we get out of the car.  Trudy jumps down after she gets her leash on - and out flies the adorable spaz - I thought I had a grip on her - oh hell no - she had chewed through her harness and was FREE.  Out run the vet techs, we're hysterically calling her, and she is oblivious to the traffic (we are now on busy road and not in our neighborhood).  Trudy sensing the panic sits dutifully while we wrangle Daisy.  I am forever thankful that our Daisy is sublimely happy, good natured, and can seem to sense when I'm about to have a heartastroke and gives in to whatever it is that I need from her.  Into the vets we go and the techs give us a room immediately.  No waiting room for who they lovingly call "Crazy Daisy".  She well known there and well loved.

Trudy goes in the back for her spa treatment - cookies and nails.  And then they take Daisy - who strains at her leash - we also had on a collar besides the harness...she's excited to go with her friends while Mom and Dad talk to the vet.  In a few quick moments the vet is called to the back - I sense Ms. Daisy is being a slight handful and they'd like some "guy" arms to assist.  Ah, sweet youth.  Back comes our wonderful vet with our baby girl - who is pulling him all the way and we are cleared to go to NC.  He laughs at the video and decides that Daisy needs the equivalent of Xanax or Valium for her ride. Nothing that will knock her out.  She will be able to get out and pee and drink and so on but she will be sleepy and we are so down with it.  If we found someone to take care of her while we were gone they might not understand how bad that leg actually is (her current musculature hides it pretty darn well) and they might think encouraging her to chase the ball is a good idea (NOT!) - so it's this or stay home.   Staying home was not an option - we've put this trip off for a year to get to this point.  Drugs it is - but we decide not to give her the recommended dosage.  We know we can handle some of Daisy's enthusiasm for being in the car.  We just can't do two seven hour days of it.

Despite the drugs she decided she had to be touching her humans.  Okay, I removed the barrier and she went to sleep.
Off we go to NC on Daisy and Trudy's excellent adventure.  And boy was it.  The kids have three horses, seven cats, and a dog.  They also have 23 blissful acres so we decided we'd try and teach Daisy to come.  Uh, we've improved - but we are definitely not there yet. 



The horses and "the girls" - introductions and carrots all the way around.

 
The fur babies had thee best time.  Daisy thinks cats are a great invention.  She became part of the clowder (a term I just learned from my friend Mallory) and carefully chased after a laser light with them every evening.  She took her turn and no cats were damaged in the games of laser tag.  I've never seen a dog that will chase a laser light - have you?  Daisy and seven cats cheerfully scooting across the front room trying to trap that light.
 
The horses were great fun - Daisy pounced at them until they'd get too close and she's duck back under the fence.  Trudy, well she took up grass chewing along side the oldest of the horses - Sienna (my DIL's therapy horse).  There is even a beautiful creek running through the property and in the heat Daisy decided that trotting up and down the stream and picking up rocks off the bottom was just divine.  She was soaked from stem to stern.  Trudy, she likes water but doesn't really appreciate a good soak without bubbles.  She waded in and found the only hole in the creek...she spent a few quick seconds in a dog paddle and then the "stink eye" commenced, as if we'd pushed her into the hole. 
 
And tug-o-war was a favorite pass time for the three dogs - as they'd trade identical toys they'd just de-stuffed.



Kianja playing tug with Trudy and Daisy

It was a great time for all concerned. 
 
As to the vets impression of her hip.  No, there has been no miracle but there has been incredible improvement.  She is not toe-stepping and she gives the leg and foot full unadulterated normal pressure.  We only have been using her scrips on an "as needed" basis and not frequently.  Since she had the exuberant outburst at the vets and pulled him no matter where she went with him he had a cautionary tale to tell us.  Our plan, take her into Michigan State University and have the hip replaced this fall.  His plan - "not so soon".  I was floored - completed taken off guard.  Jean Wells helped me think this through because my  head was truly wrapped around finishing this quest to make sure Daisy had her hip in place by this winter.  After all she's full size and wasn't that what we were waiting for?  Apparently not all of it.  I guess I should have known this - after having my own knees replaced.  It's not all that easy and requires down time.  In Daisy's case it is going to take 6 weeks on a leash - even with a backyard that is fenced.  Out on the leash even for bathroom duty.  She can not stress the limb in any way, shape, or form while the muscles are adapting to the new instrumentation.  Okay, or so we thought.  NO, says the vet.  Oh shoot me please runs through my head, as we have this bank account with her money in it from all of these generous people who want to help this puppy become and stay "normal".   I relay this to the vet - uh, we've saved and many many people have given of their hard earned money to make this a reality.  He rolls his eyes and says, and I can't quote it exactly because my ears were ringing from a sudden rise in my blood pressure and a panic attack at having my well laid plan disintegrate before my eyes, "She's not ready", he says. 
 
What?
 
And here comes his reasoning.  My reasoning being, "Why not, she's full grown now.  Isn't that what you told me?" "Yes, it is - but, look at her," he says. Uh, duh, what?  And here we go - - - "You can take her to MSU and ask the surgeon if she's now ready for surgery and he is going to say - absolutely - We've got a bad hip here - let's do it."  "Sharon, It's their job to 'cut and cure'.  It's what they do.  It's what all surgeons, human and animal do - but it's not the whole picture."  "Okay," say I, "then what is the whole picture to you - because this dog needs a hip or she's going to grind those bones to dust and get arthritis and be crippled and you said so."  See, I'm livid, panicked, and so many things are running amuck in my brain I'm pretty sure he senses I'm about to melt down...on him.  "That hasn't changed - but you've done what we asked - you carefully worked those back leg muscles into great shape.  She's off her meds, she's not in any chronic pain, she's not toe-stepping, limping or favoring that leg what-so-ever."  I'm like red in the face.  "Thanks, but, what does that have to do with the fact she's GOT to have this hip replaced."  "Well, she's not ready - I just took her in the back and we wrangled her for the implant and walked her and watched her."  "OK, so?..."  "She's a baby, and a spazzy baby - she pulls at a leash like a sled dog or a tractor in a tractor pull."  "OK, yeah?"  "Well, she can't do that - not in a harness or a collar - she's got to be emotionally old enough to just walk on leash because if she doesn't she will pull the hip right out of the joint on the first tug - and she can really tug....she LIKES to tug."  I'm like, really?  Come on now, really?
 
Oh excuse me but all I can think is WTF.  I'm telling you my head was wrapped around a plan - Take the trip to North Carolina - come back to an appointment at MSU and a surgery date.  My apple cart tipped over, they're rolling everywhere and I can't gather the buggers up fast enough to prevent them from being squished by the horses. 
 
So there we are.  Daisy's jumping around the room.  Trudy is calmly sitting between Brian's legs.  And I am struck dumb.  We get in the car and I keep mumbling, "Well, now what?"  Jean and I were in contact and she really helped to talk me through it a bit.  My apples were being squished at an alarming rate but Jean gave it some perspective for me.  Thank goodness.  The money is in the account - the hip will get done - maybe not until spring - maybe not in Michigan (probably, but maybe not).  It's like the army or state civil service - hurry up and wait. 
 
And how is Daisy?  Well, you just heard about her excellent trip.  Did she tug and pull at her leash at every single stop on the way to NC and back.  YUP!  We've got a lot of work to do.
 



Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Fun Game for the Colorist in every Artist


 
Welcome to Blendoku

It's an application for your Android or Apple where you have to line up the color squares in a puzzle like pattern. 

This is more fun than I've had in a while with an App.  I got it for my Kindle - it was free.  I had color theory with David Barr in college and I thought the man was going to kill me.   He was working on a series of sculptures that had subtle coloring on them.  His thought process seemed to carry into the class and I have to say - I certainly learned how to mix color and how to tell subtle differences between shades of the same color.  This is one of his sculptures.  It's painted steel and approximately 15' X 15'.  The colors seem to change depending on the sun's direction, time of year, and so on - yet they are painted with some very subtle differences.  I guess the lessons stuck because I'm having a great time playing the app when I should be working on other things.

David Barr's Sunset Cube

Let me know what you think of the App