Friday, October 19, 2012

Inspirations -- part 1

I was asked where I get my inspiration, and these days, much of it comes from looking at Pinterest.  If you haven’t checked it out, take a look at my various boards:  

Clouds, Lake Superior by Lawren Harris
I also thought more about my long-standing inspirations.  I grew up in an artist’s household (my mom) and remember as a child leafing through huge art history books.  From an early age, I began to love the impressionists, especially Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, and Cassatt.  As an adult I came to know the Canadian impressionists known as the Group of Seven including Emily Carr, Arthur Lismer and Lawren Harris.  While the European impressionists inspire through their color and form, the Canadian impressions show North America, and the kind of landscape I know and love.  There is a muted quality to the colors they use which I see in my own work.

Metchosin by Emily Carr
Kitwancool by Emily Carr

Sheeps Nose by Arthur Lismer

In my next post, I’ll discuss more influences including Art Nouveau, and the Arts and Crafts movement.

Friday, March 16, 2012

New Harbor Freight to check out

There's a new Harbor Freight in Seattle. It's in the industrial area south of downtown. The sun is out, I've got a list of errands, and HF is on the list. Hoo boy! More notes later after I've checked it out. I know that I at least will go home with a selection pack of their wet-dry sandpaper. (Gee now, don't I live an exciting life?)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Polymer craft supplies

As I'm pinching every penny, I've had my eyes peeled (ouch!) for low-cost supplies for making polymer creations. I've had some recent successes. Target has a house brand of stick pens (20 for 99 cents). I tried them out, and they do work to cover with polymer. BUT, you MUST be careful with the temperature. My oven has a hot spot, which caused one of the pens to burn a very little, with the tube shape getting a little wonky. Not so bad it wouldn't take the nib, but I've changed how I bake so the temperature will be more steady. As Meredith Arnold suggests, I bake "low and slow" at 250 degrees for 45-60 minutes.

The second find was at the Dollar Tree Store. They currently have wooden craft boxes for a buck a piece. The ones I got were 3 1/4 x 3 1/4 x 2. The hinging is sometimes a bit off, but they have the clever magnet close. They'll require some sanding and other finishing techniques, but I think they will be very worth-while.

I'll let you know if I find other deals!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kirsten Leigh Perrine

My niece passed away a few days ago. She was 12 years old. Having been diagnosed with neuroblastoma at age 21 months, she lived much of her life going in and out of the hospital. In fact, since I live in Seattle, the first time I was really around her was when she was in Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia for the first time. I sat with her while she watched endless cycles of Toy Story and Toy Story 2. Her parents, William (my brother) and Kim had so much on their plate. Throughout Kir’s illness, I’ve always been so impressed with the strength they have both brought to parenting her and her siblings Jake and Delanie.

Over the years, we spent some time together when I was able to make it home for holidays. I’ll always remember our Thanksgiving celebration in my Dad’s last year. Grandpa Don and Aunt Patricia and Kirsten were down on the floor playing “Whack – a - mole.” Kirsten had to teach Don how to play the game – happily correcting his mistakes.

One Christmas, we were at cousin Bruce and Nora’s home, and between their 2 boys Ethan and Spencer, and Kirsten, Jake and Delanie, there was quite a bit of hubbub. To try to calm things down, Will started reading a story. By the time he was a page into it, he had kids on his lap, his shoulders, and hanging over the arm of the chair. He was covered in kids. Our longtime family friend Auntie Ev was there. In her early nineties at this point, she was still sharp, although she confessed that it was harder for her to have the energy to enjoy being around the commotion as much as she would have liked. Will had been very close to her and Uncle Jay when he was a boy, so I was glad he was able to show off his kids to her.

It was hard to miss so much of the kids’ daily life being so far away. After Dad died, Will and I were in more frequent communication. It was great to hear about the soccer and other games, Kir’s outings for dinner with dad, ice skating and the various birthday events. Kim kept me updated with annual pictures of the crew, sometimes in calendar format, once in a beautiful coffee table book.

Kir became my “gift advisor.” We’d talk on the phone, and she would tell be about what she and her siblings liked to do. She would always have great ideas about what I should get for the other kids for birthdays and Christmas. And of course, we’d talk about cooking. She was passionate about cooking. Cooking shows, cook books, and making dinners and desserts. I can tell by what others have written about her that she was not shy about sharing the treats she made.

Perhaps the memory that is dearest to my heart is of sitting in the living room watching television with Will. The kids were all in their beds. Suddenly, Kir came running out of her room, and bee-lined into my lap. I covered her with a blanket, and there we stayed, my hand gently rubbing her back. I gave her my heart that evening and she has it still. She was an extraordinary person. In her brief time with us, she touched so very many, reminding us of the lessons of her beloved turtles – go slow and steady, enjoy every moment you can, and when things are scary or bad, remember you have a tough shell to protect yourself.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Linky Love

NWPCG Member Blogs

Cathy Gilbert

Helen Hughes

JuLee Wolfe

Meredith Arnold

Nan Robkin

Patricia Perrine

Daily & periodic inspiration

Daily Art Muse

Polymer Art Archive

Polymer Clay Daily

Exploring the Art of Polymer Clay

International Polymer Blogs

Iris Mishly, Israel


Bettina Welker, Germany


Garie Sims, Singapore

Int’l Polymer Clay Guild

Polymer encyclopedias

Glass Attic

Polymer Clay Central

Polymer artist supplies

Polymer Clay Express

Boston Craftworks

Polymer Clay Superstore

Shades of Clay, Canada

Professional jewelers supplies


Rio Grande

Thunderbird Supply

Professional and hobbyist supply sites

Fusion Beads (Wallingford)

Rings and Things (Spokane)

Fire Mountain Gems

Whole Lotta Whimsy

Cool Tools

General art supplies

Artist and Craftsman (U district)

Dick Blick (Capitol Hill)

Munro Crafts

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Coming up with a polymer curriculum

Members of the NW Polymer Clay Guild ask me: How do I know if I'm ready to take Jill or Jane or John's polymer workshop? The problem is that there are no clear definitions of what constitutes a beginner, or intermediate or advanced clayer.

So I started to de-construct the problem. What are the skills I use to make my polymer creations? Well, the brooch shown here required rolling a ball for the gold center of the flower, a skinner blend for the flower petals, using a pasta machine to make the leaf cane and borders, and several other skills. Humm, probably not something a newby novice could do in an afternoon.

I'm gonna work at putting my educational background to work in coming up with a curriculum for working with polymer clay. Over the next while, check out this space to see what I come up with. I'll work on a vocabulary of learning first.

We will have three basic levels: apprentices, journeyers, and masters. This terminology comes from the ancient guild system. Each of those three levels will consist of sub-levels. So for example, you may be a beginning, intermediate or advanced apprentice. Check back with me soon to read the definitions of each of these sub-levels. For now, it's back to my research into resources to share with you.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Jana Roberts Benzon master workshop

Onion Dome Arabesque Cane & Collage Pendant Master Workshop with Jana Roberts Benzon

  • November 13 & 14, 2010
  • 10 am to 7 pm (includes a meal break)
  • $200.00 for NWPCG members,
  • $250 for non-members
  • Checks must be postmarked by November 5, 2010.
  • Sandee’s Place, 8803 192nd St SE, Snohomish, WA 93296
  • LIMITED ENROLLMENT: 18 - (sign up early to save a spot!)
  • Email for information or to register.

The Northwest Polymer Clay Guild is delighted to host Jana Roberts Benzon in this 2 day master workshop that teaches Jana’s beautiful Arabesque cane with her special “onion dome” motif. This intricate cane is used as the basis to create lovely collage pendants.

This workshop begins with the construction of a beautiful Onion Dome cane. Participants will come prepared with several already created skinner blend canes and slabs of conditioned clay. After reducing the cane, you’ll use some of it as a ‘starting point’ in assembling and building the Arabesque cane. You’ll learn many new, exciting and innovative caning skills along the way, including lots of “worth the price of admission” moments. After assembling the cane, you’ll learn Jana’s effective method for preparing it for resting and reduction (a step that helps lead to a superior finished product). After the cane rests you’ll learn the magical and inventive reduction technique in which you see how to use energy, and not force, to reduce your cane. This results in minimal distortion and waste. Beware that some students are brought to tears after reducing their canes, making their “reveal” slice, and seeing the beauty they’ve created.

On Sunday, we’ll have a fun time putting together the components to create the Arabesque Collage Pendant. These Collage pendants are mesmerizing with a beautiful, almost ethnic quality. You will learn invaluable tips for thin, even slicing of the canes and for achieving a smooth, flawless matte finish without the need for sanding - in addition to so much more! You’ll love immersing yourself in patterns and arrangements, and sinking into that ‘moment out of time’ while you relax and create.

As with all of Jana's workshops, you will learn through her undivided attention and focus, extensive visual aids, photographs, models, and thorough handouts. The skills you'll come away with will not only be useful in any type of caning, but also to your polymer practices in general. Your polymer base of knowledge and artistic horizons will be broadened and enhanced, sparking excitement and inspiration for future creations.

While Jana's workshops are "intermediate" to "advanced" she will accept beginners who have strong basic skills and possess a desire to learn!