Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lilian Nichols, Polymer Clay Artist...Mokume Gane Techniques

There are four pendants in this photo showing what can be done with Mokume Gane techniques in polymer clay. Makume Gane techniques involve thin layers of clay that are manipulated in some way, then shaved off to reveal the pattern. These are the thin sheets of clay that Mary Ann started with. After she had her thinly rolled sheets, she sprinkled some with glitter and added gold leaf foil to others.
Lilian demonstrates how to add a gold leaf foil layer after which she added more layers of polymer clay.
After layering many thin sheets we embossed them using blunt tools which would not cut the clay. Karen is using a hair pick.
Here is Barbara's stack after she has finished embossing it.
Next, Lilian showed us how to cut the thin layers using a tissue blade.
Here are the very thin slices.
She layered some on a white clay background...
and others on a teal background.
Here is Sally's thin stack after she has begun slicing off tissue-thin layers...
and here are the layers she sliced off.
And here are my thin layers on a green-blue background.
We will use our new sheets to create finished projects. If we are ambitious, we will have them finished by our next monthly meeting. If not, we will work on them at the next meeting. Next month I expect this blog to be a display of our finished projects.

UPDATE... At our September class, Mary Ann brought in her finished Mokume Gane project, a metal box, its lid covered using her Makume Gane.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

My First Completed Polymer Clay Necklace

I did it. I finally spent the time required to put together my first polymer clay necklace. As is usually the case with me, it took much more time than I had anticipated and I ran into problems.

Lilian showed us how to make the leaf-like objects in October. If they are stretched and adjusted  they can look more like "real" leaves than mine do.  I think of mine as being the result of "artistic license".  I also made some small round beads, some using the stacked cane I used for making the leaves and some using a rusty brown mixture of several colors.

I didn't know anything about stringing the beads or what to use.  I could see that I hadn't made enough small beads so I bought a box of glass beads of mixed shapes and colors.

I chose a few glass beads and threaded them intermittentaly with the polymer beads on jute cord from my craft box.  I posted this necklace in October.


It wasn't long enough for the necklace I was visualizing.   I needed more beads and I wasn't pleased with the burnt sienna beads.

The next time I experimented with polymer clay I made more beads using the remaining stack of colored layers  from which I had made the leaves.

I was still mulling around possibilities until a few days ago. By then Lilian had given us a demonstration of how she attached a clasp to tigertail, a special wire that she likes to use for stringing  necklaces.

I had also bought this book on beading basics. It contains a step-by-step explanation attaching a clasp using a technique close to what Lilian had shown us.  


I restrung the necklace adding more polymer beads and more glass beads.  I strung them on beading wire this time.

Attaching the crimp bead and the clasp took the most time. That was partly because doing something like this for the first time always is time consuming for me but being me, I also put some of the blame on my old eyes. They just don't see as well as they did ten years ago.

 But I can still SEE. Three cheers for my eyes!

Here is the finished necklace.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Children's Musical Theater, July 2012...Annie

On Tuesday morning, I attended the third and last children's theater production of the summer at the Troy Civic Theatre. Tuesday's play was much more informal than the major productions some summer children's theater groups offer. It was also much less expensive and took only a few weeks of summer vacation.

The students learn basics of acting and dancing and singing and have an opportunity to perform before an audience. They and their parents are responsible for finding their costumes. The actresses and actors change the sets as well as do the acting.

The Troy Recreation Department sponsors the activity. The Troy Civic Theatre group donates their theater and sometimes their costumes and props.

Since the total time involved is less than thirty hours, longer parts are divided among two or three students so none of them will have an excessive number of lines to memorize in a short time span. The story line is abridged which further cuts the number of lines.  If a student is cast in a small part, he or she is cast in one or two other parts, so there is plenty of opportunity to act on stage.

Here is a selection of photos from "Annie".
Annie No. 1 and the other orphans discuss their fate.
Miss Hannigan No.1 berates Annie for her behavior. The hamper beside them is Annie's eventually escape vehicle.
Out on the street after escaping, Annie meets the apple seller and the dog catcher who has captured Courtney, the corgi.
Annie No. 2 finds Sandy played by Presto, a 4-H trained dog, and is questioned by a policeman.
The homeless, jobless people of Hooverville give Annie food.
Miss Hannigan, No. 2, wants to know where Annie has gone. Later a policeman brings her back.
Miss Hannigan is angry that Grace, No.1, who is Daddy Warbucks' secretary, decides to have Annie spend the holidays at the mansion.
Daddy Warbucks, No. 1, and one of his servants, meet Annie.
Annie meets the other servants and enjoys her new coat.
Rooster, Miss Hannigan's ex-con relative, and his girl friend discuss how they would like to live on Easy Street and live in a mansion.
Lily, the girl friend, files her nails while Miss Hannigan and Rooster continue their discussion.
Daddy Warbucks, No.2 and Annie, No. 3 talk.
The servants are pleased that Annie will spend the holidays at the mansion.
Daddy Warbucks arranges to make a radio announcement hoping to find Annie's parents. In the foreground is the Sound Effects Man.
The radio personality, accompanied by his back up chorus and dancers, sings "Never Dressed Without a Smile".
The orphans hear the announcement about the search for Annie's parents and sing the smile song to entertain themselves.
Rooster hears the announcement also and comes up with a scheme to get the money being offered to Annie's parents.
Annie No.2 cheers up President Roosevelt's Cabinet by reminding them that tomorrow is only a day away.
Roosevelt, in center of the photo, has some ideas for the cabinet to consider.
Back at the mansion, Daddy Warbucks and Annie  No.3 dance.
The schemers pretend they are Annie's parents.
When the schemers and Miss Hannigan return the next day to pick up the check and Annie No. 1, they discover that Daddy Warbucks' agents have learned who they really are. Miss Hannigan insists she didn't know that Rooster and Lily were not Annie's parents.
Daddy Warbuck, No. 3 doesn't believe her. Grace No. 2 is beside him, ready to help him in any way she can.
Daddy Warbucks grabs Miss Hannigan and calls for the police to take her away.
The celebration begins.
The guests talk between dances.
The grand finale. Everyone except the schemers are happy.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Thirty-three Years Old...Too Old, Too Old, Too Old

Our generator is a small one but large enough to power the pump that brings up our water, the refrigerator and our freezer, a few lights, and one element on the range. On the evening of July 2, our generator sputtered to a stop. 

We had been without electricity for nearly twenty-six hours. There were estimates of several days more before we would have it back. Tom and I were both tired and hot. Eric had just brought over frozen food from my daughter's  house since their freezer was losing its ability to hold anything cold. Their electricity had gone off a couple hours before ours had.

The situation was grim...for fifteen minutes.

Then our lights flickered, then came on and stayed on. Bless those out-of-state workers who worked long hours in close to one hundred degree temperatures to help out us Ohioans.

We didn't look forward to replacing the generator.  They are not cheap.  But the one that sputtered to a stop was thirty-three years old.

Tom hates to dump anything that might possibly  have useful life left in it. He got out the generator manual. Can you believe we still had it?

Half way down the third page, was the note..."Worn brushes should be replaced after one hundred hours of use. They should not be less than 1/4 inch thick."  

We wondered how many hours past one hundred this generator had been used.

Tom had never  looked at  the brushes.

Tom called a local motor repair shop.  He had three questions.  "Can you repair a 33 year old generator?" "Do you have replacement parts available?"  "Can you use the part number and order the part?"

The young woman on the other end of the phone line had the same two word answer for all three questions.  "Too old."  "Too old."  "Too old".

But Tom is not one to give up easily.

When Eric came over, he gave him directions on how to find and check the brushes.  Tom intended to buy some similar brushes.  That would be cheaper than buying a generator.

But low and behold! The brushes were just fine, not worn down to 1/4 inch.  In fact, they  were still about 1/2 inch thick. Eric drained the oil and gasoline reservoirs and refilled them with new oil and gasoline. He replaced all the parts and when Tom started the generator... the generator ran just fine.

"Well," said Eric, "you're set for another 33years."

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tom's Prairie Bed

On July 2, the day after our second power outage and before our power was restored, I took this photo of Tom's flowerbed. The Prairie plants were unfazed by the wind and rain.

Below is the same bed. I took this photo taken a few minutes ago. The plants are still looking decent although the outer edges of the purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)  are drying and turning brown. That is probably as much due to the dryness as to the aging of the blooms.   But they have weathered the dryness as well as the windy storms. 

Beyond the Black-eyed Susans (Rubeckia) the grass in the yard is brown. It doesn't have the deep roots the prairie plants have.

Even the Blazing Star (Liatris) that I transplanted to the bed this spring are looking good. They are the only prairie plants that I transplanted this spring that are blooming. I am sure that the buckets of water that Tom has been pouring on them on alternate days have made the difference.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Children's Theater...The Pirates of Penzance, June 26

The Pirates of Penzance was the second presentation of the Troy Recreation Department's children's summer theater program. The Troy Civic Theatre provides the venue and also allowed the group access to their costume collection. However, many of the players with the help of their parents and others found their own costumes. The actors and actresses were fifth through ninth graders. Two older students, Austin and Robert, participated  as  policemen  and  members of the chorus.  Sonja Hyer, Rebecca O'Brien, and Katie Swank directed.
Sonja reminds the audience to turn off cell phones and gives other announcements such as when the players can pick up their shirts like the one she is wearing. All the players' names are listed on the back.
As the pirates listen, the pirate king sings of the joys of being a pirate.
Ruth, Fredric's old nurse, thinks she sees a ship the pirates can capture and the pirates complain that the sailors will probably all be orphans so they won't get any booty anyway. They never take booty from orphans.
The Major General's daughters sing "O'er Rocky Mountain".
After the daughters take pity on Fredric, he asks Mabel to marry him. The daughters consider the question.
The Major General sings, "I am a major general."
The Major General talks with his daughters.
The Pirate King and the Major General confront one another. The Major General tells the pirate he is an orphan.
The daughters console the Major General in the graveyard.
The policemen march in and their police sergeant gives them their orders.
They are not happy with their policemen's lot which is not a happy one.
The difficulty between the pirates and the Major General is resolved and everyone is happy.
The cast takes their final bows.
Eric was in charge of the lights and the music, seeing that both were provided on cue. After the play, he, Austin, and Robert talked. Eric, obligingly looked up and grinned.
Later, Robert told me he understood the play much better this time. The last time he was in it, he was the smallest of the policemen. That was a few years ago.