Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lilian Nichols, Polymer Clay Artist...Natasha-robed figures

Lilan showed us how to make small people using a Natasha bead for the robe. The goal was to make an angel but I didn't put on the wings and halo.

Here are our figures after they were baked long enough to "set" them.  From left to right they are the work of Sally, Marlene, Pauline, Mary Ann, and Lilian. 

After we took them home we finished the baking...275 degrees for forty-five minutes.

To make them, we started with a stack of long rolls.

We mashed them together and then twisted them.

We folded our twisted roll in half and twisted it again. Lilian told us that it was our option as to the number of times we folded and retwisted.

The next step was to cut off a section of the roll, form that section into a rectangular solid and then cut downward through it once front to back and second from side to side.  We then had four equal-sized sections. The sections were then reassembled with the cut edges forming the outward sides.

Here is a photo of  three steps, the rolls before twisting, the twisted roll and the reassembled rectangle.

The most difficult part for me was reassembling the rectangular block after slicing it.  I found these excellent directions yesterday when I typed  "making a natasha bead from polymer clay" into our search engine.

Here is Sally's angel in process. You can see her twisted roll behind the figure.

Here is Mary Ann's angel in process. You can see the end of the stack of rolls she started with. She has attached arms and is deciding on the right size for the head.

The first photo below is Marlene's angel in process. The second photo is her finished angel before the baking to set it so she could take it home for the final baking. We made the hair by using a clay extruder.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Where Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick

Last evening I went to the Booklovers Book Club at the local library. If you like reading about American life in the early twentieth century and like flowers you will like this book. It is an easy to read biographical novel about Hulda Klager, a German housewife with an eighth grade education, who developed 254 new species of lilacs. The novel chronicles the life on farms in the early 1900's, particularly the lives of women. This was a period when women were moving beyond the traditional roles of housewife and mother.

Today, the house and garden where Hulda lived is a National Historical Site in  Woodland, Washington.  The town is near where the Lewis river meets the Columbia River, not far from the Oregon-Washington border and Portland, Oregon.

The Woodland Federated Garden Club was instrumental in saving Hulda's garden and home from being bulldozed.

The Hulda Klager Lilac Society was formed to administer the estate. The society sponsors Lilac Days in mid April through Mother's Day, an annual open house like the one Hulda began when people began to show an interest in her lilacs. There is a lot more information about the gardens at the website...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Frosty Morning, November 17

The sun shone and the world glittered. The grasses on the prairie sparkled.

We  headed for the path around Cedar Pond.

The far side of the pond reflected in the still water.

Along the edge of the pond we saw a light coating of ice.

After we circled the pond we looked again...
                                                           at the grasses...

                                 ... and at the leaves.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Play Day With Clay

Sarah brought clean, empty baby food jars and we covered them with polymer clay. She used the Chrysanthemum cane she made the last time she was here. After baking it, we could see that it has lots of translucent areas so it will make a pretty container for a votive light.

I used the first cane I ever made, a Kaleidoscope cane. There was no translucent clay in it so the result is an opaque miniature vase. It has nice Christmas colors. I also baked an oval from a slice of the same cane which I had put through the pasta maker.

We plan to sand the jars with 400 weight and then 600 weight wet sandpaper. The clay is sanded in water with wet sandpaper because of the toxic dust we make as we sand.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Miami County Education Staff on the Job

October sixth was a beautiful day. After we voted, Tom drove to Charleston Falls.  He said he'd sit in the van and read while I hiked. 

When we arrived, we saw a group in one corner of the parking lot. They were the park education staff reviewing how the day had gone.

I didn't want to interrupt them so I took two quick photos and then started off on my hike down past the falls.

A jumble of erratics, rocks left behind by the glaciers, is not far down the trail. There I came across this heap of teaching materials. I recognized the station because I have videotaped students busy there in the past. There are hammers and goggles in the crate and boards behind it. This is where the students talk about the glaciers and then break open small geodes.

Now I knew the topic for the day, Rocks.

Further along the trail, I saw education staff members picking up the materials from another station.

Before they moved on to continue their pick-up detail, I snapped their picture.

They went on about their business and I continued toward the Thorny Badlands Lookout Tower. On the way, I came across another station waiting for pick up. This is where the students examine closely the composition of soil.

"How lucky these sixth grade students were today," I thought as I walked on. "They were officially "learning" and at the same time outside on a beautiful day, not in a stuffy classroom."

Friday, November 9, 2012

Happy Birthday, Ted

I pulled this photo from one of you and your dad at the wedding. As I was going through our photo collection I found this one. It is appropriate that you are wearing a shirt proclaiming "Navy".

What I remember most about you as a child was your curiosity. I think there was a cicada in the jar.

Given your curiosity about all things it is not surprising that I associate these two books with you. You wanted me to read I Can Count to 100, Can You? by Katherine Howard with pictures by Michael J. Smollin for about a month every time I saw you which was often. You loved to count.

Counting to twenty was easy.

And shortly afterward, you were counting further.

Another book you liked was The Holes in Your Nose by Genichiro Yagvu.

This was one of your favorite pages. Even boogers lined up neatly are dirty.

Whatever you are doing today, I hope you are happy.

Love, Grandma

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Happy Birthday, James

I hope your day is a happy one. The photo is pulled from one of your dad and Gretchen's wedding photos.  I  have a wonderful collection of pictures of you as you grew up. I'm glad you lived near us.

Here you are with a  stuffed monkey that was a gift from Great-Grandma-with-the-dolls. That was the name you knew my mother by since she had an enormous collection of dolls.

Books that I read to you when you were they are.

The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the BIG HUNGRY BEAR by Don and Audrey Wood.

The little mouse really had a hard time protecting that strawberry.

The second book that I remember you liking was Great Day for UP by Dr. Seuss.

These are two of the early pages.

Even after you could easily read the book yourself, it was a book you liked to have me read to you. I think you liked the last page best of all. I'm not going to publish that page. People will have to find out about that last page some other way.

Till I see you again...Happy, happy, happy birthday.

Love, Grandma

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Portrait From A Photo Update

I took the photo above on June 11. Since then, I have worked a bit now and then on the portrait. "Piddling with it" is what I call it. But on Monday, I decided to REALLY work on it. This is the result.

I have been playing around with the eyes for a while. In the photo, there is no information about eye color. One of the problems with photos is that details an artist is interested in are not always shown.

When Camille came to visit, she, her dad, and I talked about the color of her eyes. Camille decided they were "hazel" a mixture of brown, green, and blue, the kind of eyes that vary according to lighting and the clothes she is wearing.

Before I started working on the eyes, I looked through books on painting portraits to pick up any information that these artists had learned. I got useful tips from all of these, Painting Children by Benedict Rubbra, Painting Watercolor Portraits that Glow by Jan Kunz, Portraits from Life in 29 Steps by John Howard Sanden with Elizabeth Sanden and Painting Vibrant Children's Portraits by Roberta Carter Clark.

You will note that there is one more book in the photo, The Artist's Complete Guide to Facial Expression by Gary Faigin. This book has detailed information about drawing every part of the face with hundreds, maybe thousands of different drawings.   The drawings in the blue strip along the book binding are  samples and so are  the women's faces on the cover.

The table of contents... If you click on this photo, you will be able to read the contents.  Clicking on the other photos will enable you to see them in greater detail.  You can see those black blobs of eyes recorded by the camera. 

I plan to make a few more adjustments to the painting.  I haven't added the shadows of her hair on her face which give more shape to it and I have more to do with the hair.  Undoubtedly, I will find more odds and ends as I paint.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Happy Birthday, Barry

I've heard you are enjoying high school. I'm glad.

Here is a photo I took at the county fair. I was taking a picture of Grandpa and Courtney but you are in it, too.

Here you are a little closer.

This year as I write the Happy Birthday Blogs, I am thinking of books I associate with my grandchildren. When I think of you I think of Manga drawing. It is something you are really good at. (You are good at other kinds of drawing, too.) I gave you one of the books in Tadashi Ozawa's series, How to Draw Anime and Game Characters. There are a lot of books in the series.

Every book in the series has useful information for drawing people even for people who are not primarily interested in Manga and Anime.

I hope your day was a good one and that you did something special to celebrate.

Love, Grandma