Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lilian Nichols...Bodacious Beads and Buttons

This is the photo of the Bodacious Beads and Buttons that Lilian sent in her email announcing the latest class she was offering in polymer clay techniques.

We learned to make all those she pictured...and more.

Perhaps the most unusual shape were the Bodacious Beads.  They are shaped like an American football.

Here is the improvised tool she uses for making them.  The tool was designed by a retired scientist.  It is made from PCV pipe.

Another interesting shape was the bicone.  It is pointed on either end and looks like two cones attached at their widest part.  I pushed the two upper ones into a bit of soft polymer clay so you can see both points.

These flattened bicones were turned into buttons for an ordinary-looking black jacket which turned the jacket into  an  attention-getter.

Lilian reviewed Natasha Bead techniques and we had lots of fun experimenting with them.  Here is a set of earrings.

Another bead making tool that Lilian demonstrated for us was the Extruder. Here she is showing another handy invention to make extruding easier for a polymer clay artist who is working alone. The extruded clay cane exits horizontally so it doesn't become misshapened and can be any length.

Here is a patch work square she made by cutting off sections of the cane that she extruded.  It was fascinating to see the different squares made each time she cut off a section.  All the small squares are from the same cane.  She squeezed them together and stretched the resulting larger square.

There were five of us in the class.  We all had fun experimenting with the techniques and various color combinations.

All of the beads, except the extruded one, started with polymer clay conditioned with a pasta maker and then twisted into a cane like the one at the bottom of the page.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day, 2011

                     Autumn Graze by Marsha Elliott

Best wishes for a a beautiful day.  I hope you have many blessings in your life and that you remember them today.

                100% Wool, Hung Out to Dry  by Marsha Elliott

I hope  you laugh with family and friends.

And I hope that the evening brings you the kind of peace that Jane Kenyon writes about in the poem below.


Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn.  Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass.  Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down.  Let the shed
go black inside.  Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don't
be afraid.  God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

                                         Follow Me by Marsha Elliott

See more paintings by Marsha Elliott at these sites.





Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fifty Years

This is a 3 inch by 3 inch photo my brother took after our wedding. We have a formal portrait taken a week later but it has faded a bit. Getting to the church in Toledo after teaching all day in a suburb of Cleveland was an adventure. There was sleet the entire trip. Tom's best man and his wife caravaned with us. Both couples had old cars. But we made it.

My sister, Nellie, took care of most of the arrangements in Toledo for which I have always been thankful. Afterward, those who witnessed the ceremony shared a meal with us at a local restaurant. Tom and I had received our degrees in teaching that summer,  We didn't have much money but we had enough.

By 1972, we had begun traveling with the children. Usually we camped since that was cheaper than renting motels. More adventures. In the background is the Washington Monument.

This portrait is dated 1983. Our oldest was in college and I suddenly realized that we had no formal photo of the five of us. The boys are wearing cut-off jeans. I was lucky to get them into suit coats.

We had a formal portrait taken for our thirtieth anniversary. Our anniversary trip was to the west. We explored  the California coast. Tom remembers that I saw the Black Oystercatcher (It's a bird.) while he was in the Portipotty. We have never seen another one.

We had a family and friends party for our fortieth anniversary. I'm glad we did. This is the only photo we have of all the grandchildren together. The grandchildren are beginning to scatter across the country.

Neither of us thought about the possibility of celebrating fifty years together when we married. We were thinking of tomorrow, of next year.

Looking back, fifty years feels like a short time.

My advice...just keep breathing. Laughing helps.

Friday, November 18, 2011

One Last Blow From Hurricane Ike

When I read about the damage being inflicted on the Northeast by Hurricane Irene this September, I was reminded of Hurricane Ike which brought Category 1 hurricane winds to Ohio in September of 2008.  A few weeks ago, I remembered Hurricane Ike again.  I was mowing our lawn and noticed, as I drove by our cherry tree, that it was split at the upper "Y" branching.. 

The cherry tree has not been strong and healthy since it lost a major limb when Ike blew through.  The limb split off and tore down the trunk almost to its base.  Tom talked to his nursery friend who suggested plastering the trunk  with concrete so water couldn't get down into the base and rot it away.  You can see that patch at the base of the tree.

The next spring, Tom planted another cherry tree, just in case our big one died.  It is the little tree in the foreground with the white wrapping around the base.  The old tree is to the left.

With the new split we gave up.  Hurricane Ike has won.  We had the tree cut down. 

And now a few logs from the tree are seasoning beside our fire pit.  We'll raise a toast to it next year when we have a hot dog and marshmellow roast.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Portrait and Figure Studio, November 10

Our model said her ancestry included Cherokee and Blackfoot native American tribes.

I was having one of those run here, run there days.  The stress and lack of concentration showed in the sketch I brought home that day.  Yesterday, I considered skipping an art blog this week, but then in the afternoon, still stressed and thinking about other things, I played around with a sketch, working from the photo I took.  I dumped it.  I did decide that I was trying to make her look down and up in the same pose.  That just doesn't work.
Below are two examples, using eggs that show how differently the features line up depending on whether the model is looking up or down.  They are photos from Jan Kunz 's book, Painting Watercolor Portraits That Glow.  This book is an excellent resource for anyone interested in portrait painting.  These photos are only a tiny part of all the information she gives portrait artists.

I also looked through Drawing the Human Head by Burne Hogarth and found this helpful diagram.

Using this information, I painted the following 7X10 inch value study using burnt sienna.  I still was not happy with some of the proportions but it was better.

This morning I looked at my original sketch again and then spent an hour playing around with it.  This time I was able to concentrate.

Here is the final result.  I still am not pleased with it but I have figured out a few things.  I think that on Friday when I paint with Marsha and Donna, I will have a pencil sketch ready and will try another painting.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Happy Birthday, Ted

You always keep your eyes open.  You did even when you were three months old.

I wonder which nursery rhyme was holding your attention.

I never had to dust under beds when you were young.  As long as I bought an occasional octopus and open-mouthed alligators for you to play with you kept my floor dusted.

You even talked Samantha into helping me when you two decided to become roaring lions for the day.

I am not sure you remember this hike at Clifton Gorge.  You were a tough hiker but you were tired by the time we arrived at the top of the gorge.  I remember that.  I carried you piggy-back to the car. 

That's you in the yellow shirt and purple pants showing me the dam and lodge that your group built at Beaver Camp. You had such a good time that I took James, Robert, and Eric when they were between first and second grades. There is something special about playing in a creek in summertime.

If you click on this photo, it will enlarge enough to see your name on the left and James's name on the right.  It was one of those years you both celebrated your birthday at our house at the same time even though James's birthday is a day earlier than yours.  And contrary  to what you always say, you did have a birthday party on your birthday the year James was born. It was at our  house.  In fact , you had TWO birthday parties that year because your parents had one at their house a few days after your official birthday.

This was the year you graduated to "real baseball."  I think there were even pitchers your age instead of adult pitchers.

And now you have graduated to cars though this one is long gone.  You have had several since then.  Long may classic cars survive.

I hope you had something to smile about today.  Grandpa and I will see you soon.

Love, from Grandma

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Happy Birthday, James

Here are you and your dad in 1992.
And here you are with your dad in 2011.

And here are a few pictures from the years between.

This is you looking for eggs at the church Easter egg hunt.

You played T-ball when you were six. You knew exactly how to slide into first base.

The summer between your first and second year of school you went to Beaver Camp. You are the boy in the striped shirt with your back to the camera  adding a log to the beaver lodge.

You, your camp teacher, and another camper are looking at something. You didn't find a real beaver.

You found this frog.

Remember being one of the group of middle school students working on the Eco-Garden in the school courtyard?

I hope your birthday is a good one. I love you.