Not exactly a day of rest

But curiously peaceful nonetheless. Many good intentions fell by the wayside today, and only a few things got accomplished in the cleaning-up sense. But I spent much of the afternoon and evening sketching ideas for jewelry, dolls, and a martini glass for Betty who needs something a bit more sturdy than glass. I got to thinking about Art Clay and the possibility of making a silver glass for her. Might be a fun project.

While I drew I was watching “Craft in America.” I got the DVD via Amazon.com marketplace, and I was really impressed. It dealt with a lot of ideas that have been rattling around inside my head for a while now.

One of the artists profiled on the program is Garry Knox Bennett whose work is wonderful and strange. I particularly like his more functional chairs. This one, entitled “Early Twentieth Century Chair” (above) feels as if it’s already occupied, doesn’t it? It’s a quiet, well-disciplined chair, just waiting for the right user. One would never think of setting a drink down on that seat for fear of offending it. And if I had the money, you can bet I’d buy myself the FDR Chair (left) which I love beyond reason.

I enjoyed listening to Bennett in a way that the other artisans, no matter how interesting or appealing, couldn’t match. His off-the-wall humor and sense of fun covers a great deal of positive energy and a ferocious intellect. Of all the artists profiled, he was the one I’d most love to meet.

Another furniture maker profiled was George Nakashima whose studio continues to produce furniture according to his philosophy, and overseen by his daughter, Mira. For a time, Mira seemed content to reproduce her father’s designs, but now she’s branching out with her own collection. What I found interesting and quite wonderful was Mira’s Concordia Chair (right) which she designed around a very specific request. As I looked at it, I thought “That chair looks like a woman.” And for me it really stood out from her father’s work, not because I felt it was better than his, or not as good as his, but because it was so very female, and in sharp contrast — for me, anyway — to the quite masculine quality of his work. There’s a wide-hipped, goddess-y grace about it, I think, and I really like it. Again, I feel certain it’s something I could never afford, but that doesn’t stop me from dreaming about owning one.

I have to say, the series made me feel strongly about a number of things, one of which was the determination to limit, as far as possible, my purchase of factory-made goods when there are perfectly good craftsman-made ones available. Naturally this is somewhat tempered by my pocketbook, but it’s something to shoot for.

And now I’m going off to watch a movie and do some more sketching.

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Diamond Glaze

I was wondering if it was possible to make cabochons out of Diamond Glaze using a plastic mold, so today I coated a few molds with Badger Balm and started the experiment.

  1. A layer of DG, a layer of tiny watch parts, another layer of DG.
  2. A layer of DG, a handful of teensy semi-precious chips. Fill in with DG.
  3. Possibly the strangest of the lot: Chopped copper powder mixed into the DG. It doesn’t swirl, at least not with the amount of copper I used. It turns a uniform copper color.
  4. Layers of DG and tiny gold stars. I’m hoping they’ll show through in layers.
  5. Very fine glitter swirled into the DG in separate layers.

Time will tell if any of these are going to pan out, or even if the Badger Balm will act as an effective mold release. I’ve heard it well spoken of in that capacity. There were a couple more experiments but I can already see they won’t be successful. Oh well, we learn by doing.

Still haven’t tried out the new Dremel. Frankly I think I bought more Dremel than I needed, but again, time will tell.

And finally, the stained glass workshop near my house has classes starting soon. I may walk on over there on Monday and sign up. At the very least I’ll learn how to cut glass and get a refresher course in soldering.

Kiva

Last night on Countdown, one of Keith’s guests was President Clinton who was there to speak about his Global Initiative. While there he mentioned Kiva.org, an organization which solicits loans for small businesses all over the world. You can loan as much or as little (down to $25 per loan) as you feel comfortable with in aid of things like clinics, retail stores, artisans, farms, etc.

The needs of these people are modest. They don’t ask for $10 million to take over another company. They ask for $1000 to expand their product line, or add facilities to their clinic. And it’s not charity, it’s a loan. They could default; I’m guessing most don’t if they can possibly prevent it.

I’ve long believed that one can’t fight ideas with force. No matter how many people you kill, the idea still lives on. You fight ideas with ideas. How better to do this than to say “I believe in you.”?

Anyway, I think it’s a worthy cause, and I wanted to recommend it to you all.

I just had the best supper

And of course I’m going to share it with you. And it’s simple. You can do this, too. Yes you can.

Get yourself one very large tomato. Make sure it’s still quite firm. I had a bunch of humungous heirloom tomatoes on the counter and I used one of those. Great flavor. Slice it into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices. Put some flour in a container or on a plate, and season it however you want. I used sea salt flavored with herbs de Provence. Dredge the tomato slices in the flour very thoroughly. Make sure both sides are covered. The skins won’t hold any flour so don’t waste your time trying to get it to stick.

Now get yourself a goat cheese log and cut off one slice, about the same thickness, for each tomato slice. Dredge the goat cheese slices in the flour, too. These will take flour all over so be sure to roll them around a bit.

Heat a pan. I use a chicken fryer — I have no idea why I have one since I never fry chicken, but it’s useful for other things. Like this. ANyway, heat it up and pour in a couple of tablespoons of good olive oil. Then fry the tomatos and the cheese until they’re brown on one side. Flip ’em over and fry until the other side is brown.

Serve. Eat. Swoon.

Seriously, this was amazing. I could do it all over again now, but then I wouldn’t have any tomatoes for the weekend.

And while I’m sharing, here’s a quick and dirty recipe for chocolate pumpkin spice cake.

1 box of chocolate cake mix. I prefer Duncan Hines, but you can use anything. Prepare according to directions on the box except for the oil. Do NOT add any oil or butter. Eggs, yes. Water, yes. Oil, no.

To this, add one 15 oz can of pumpkin. Mix well. Then add a liberal amount of your favorite pumpkin pie spices. This is according to taste, IMO, so knock yourself out. I actually used a quatre epices mix from Dean and Delucca, which also has some thyme in it, but regular old pumpkin pie spice would be fine.

Pour into a greased pan or pans and bake according to the directions on the box. I used a bundt pan. The resulting cake is so light you just about have to hold it down, and moist? Three days after I baked it, the last two slices weren’t remotely dried out, even on the cut edges. Next time I make it, I’m going to try sprinkling some cinnamon sugar into the pan after buttering it but before I pour in the batter.

Oh for heaven’s sake…

When I worked at the bead store, I developed my theory of “theme days” or “theme weeks” during which time the vast majority of people who came in looking for something specific were all looking for the same thing. One day it would be findings for beaded watch bands. Then we’d have a whole week during which we didn’t seem to be able to sell anything but pearls.

I’ve begun to realize that life in general has theme periods. At least mine does. And right now I’m spang in the middle of an old-friends-who-have-done-well-in-the-arts theme. It began at the convention when I got the chance to sit down and chat with Jody, who I hadn’t connected with in way too long. It was only when I introduced her to some friends that I remembered that she’s rather well known in the fantasy community as an author of umpty gazillion books, and a sometime collaborator with authors like Anne McCaffrey. Jody = Jody Lynn Nye. Except I never think of her that way because I’ve known her since well before she began her writing career. For me, she’s just Jody, the elfin girl.

And then the other day I was going through my Tivo’d craft shows and discovered that Carol Duvall’s guest that day was Donna Kato, who was my boss at the bead store. I watched Donna discover polymer clay, and master it so quickly that it took my breath away. Now she has her own poly clay company and is the author of a couple of books on polymer clay.

Even odder was the fact that while I was checking those Tivo’d shows, I was leafing through the latest Bead and Button, and discovered that one of the articles was by Melody MacDuffee, who also worked at the bead store when I was there. I loved watching her work on her bead crochet, and promised myself that I’d learn it one day. I did. And I’m pleased to see her making a name for herself in the bead world.

But today was possibly the strangest coincidence of all. I was looking at craft books and saw the name “Jackie Truty.” There was something about it that nagged at me. I knew that name, but couldn’t place it until I put it into context. Jody and I had been going over some old convention photos in hope of identifying most of the people in them. I recalled observing that one of the costumed figures was almost certainly Jackie Paciello, and then it hit me that Jackie’s married name was Truty. A fast google later and I had my confirmation that this was the Jackie I’d known thirty years ago. And now she’s not only an author but an Art Clay Master Instructor!

I suppose I could be all morose about this because it reminds me of how little I’ve done with my life, but honestly I’m not. I am who I am. Maybe one day people will know my name. Maybe not. I’m really just happy for my friends that they’ve done so well. And this month’s theme is one which makes me smile a little because it’s always fun to find out what’s been going on with the folks you’ve lost touch with.

Surprises


I was poking around the ruins of the most recent Ornament magazine, (I tend to tear apart most magazines and keep only the things which pique my interest.) checking out all the websites in the advertising sections, when I ran across a designer I’d never heard of before: Gretchen Schields. I’m not always thrilled with the work featured in magazines like Ornament, but I figure there’s something for everyone there. This one was for me.

Ms Schields is an illustrator turned jewelry designer, and she brings an illustrator’s sensibility to her work with a sure eye for color, pattern and texture. The African-inspired collar to the left is positively painterly and startlingly right in spite of some very unorthodox color choices.

Her Asian-inspired necklace to the right is reminiscent of the cover she created for the book “The Joy Luck Club.” It’s both playful and regal.

I love her work, from the most elegant twists of citrine in this citrine and jade necklace to the simplest earrings in brown-dyed Soo Chow jade, flanked with a classic turquoise/carnelian pairing.

If you love the unique and exotic, you might want to check out Ms. Schields’ work. I don’t think you can go wrong.

Sitting here with tears running down my face

Nothing bad has happened. I finished my Heroes marathon, and the last ep always makes me cry. So does “Company Man” which is, for my money anyway, the best ep of the first season.

I didn’t get much done today, just some sketches and a bit of knitting/crocheting which was more recreation than anything. I got the new Vogue and went through that pretty fast, so I can get rid of it next week. I tear out anything that I find interesting or inspirational and paste it into a notebook. This year I’ve filled something like five notebooks. I need to be less inspired, I think.

I also started reading “Gods Behaving Badly” which I got from the Amazon vine program. Every month there’s a list of stuff you can review before it’s officially released. My first book I’ve never finished so I thought I’d get a start on this one today and do the review in a more timely manner. I shouldn’t have asked for anything last month since I knew I was going to be busy.

Doctor’s appointment tomorrow, and it’s supposed to be almost 90 which is going to make the trek there less than pleasant. However I’m up for it since for the second day in a row I walked for more than twice my usual time of 20 minutes. 47 today, no problem at all. If I’m able to close my eyes and get lost in some train of thought, I barely notice the time passing. In the past that’s been my biggest problem with exercise. I get so bored! Now, not so much. I’m hoping that I can continue to find things to think about so that I can go on getting the exercise I so desperately need.

Next week I need to check on my supplies and stock up on things I’m low on. Then I can get back to work.

My friends and I are getting old

I had the girls over for a Heroes marathon this weekend. On Friday night Karen, Dawn and Taylor rolled on in after work, and we ate roast pork, scalloped apples and a wonderful wild rice, pecan and apricot salad, none of which I actually prepared, thank goodness. I was still recovering from the convention (about which more anon.) By one or so, only Dawn was left and she was sleeping over so it wasn’t quite the victory for stick-to-it-tivness it might seem. I haven’t had a PJ party in a long time. Pity neither of us were up for enjoying it with late night pizza and giggling.

This morning we both stumbled out of bed earlyish, and continued the marathon over a Walker Bros. apple pancake and coffee from Julius Meinl (Yum) Taylor arrived about eleven or so, we watched a couple of eps more and then she took Dawn to the vet to pick up cat food, and they stopped for frappucinos from Starbucks. I took the opportunity to spend 45 minutes on my treadmill, which really is unheard of for me because I get bored so easily. But I found that if I play Abbey Road (my favorite work CD) really loud, shut my eyes and make jewelry in my head, the time just flies. I’m going to try it again tomorrow since I have a doctor’s appointment on Monday and really ate far too much sugar this weekend already with the apple pancake, my chocolate/pumpkin/spice cake on Friday night, and homemade cinnamon rolls tonight. And the frappucinos, of course.

I figured Taylor wasn’t going to come back on Sunday but Dawn decided she wasn’t up for staying over again and frankly I was relieved because I’m still tired from the con. Thank goodness I wasn’t the only one. The dynamo that is Karen seems to be in need of a tune-up. She’s done nothing this week either. At least I got my laundry done.

The con was great, quite apart from the ever-present threat of a huge penalty on unsold room nights. But with the immense generosity of our members, and a little hardball on the part of con com, we squeaked through in good shape with $3200 left to give to charity, to be divided between two local pet shelters and the ACLU.

I did suprisingly well at the con, making close to $800 in about 14 hours at my table. Two of the other dealers came by and told me that if they still had their craft stores they’d be begging me to send my stuff to them, which was pretty gratifying. It was an immense relief, though, to have the whole history of ZebraCon come to an end on Monday since Karen and I are just tired of fighting the general inertia of fandom.

Then I got home to find a note from Developer Guy who is apparently a bit antsy about the deal, which is good. And he apologized if he’d inadvertently misled me about anything but I told him that wasn’t necessary since this is business and negotiation is critical to it. What I wanted to write was “This is business. We’ll negotiate until I get what I want.”

Now if I could just get some momentum going to clean up around here and get back to work. I think I’m going to treat myself to a trip to the magazine store after the doctor’s on Monday, and maybe even walk down to the sewing store to look at the Husqvarna embellishing machines.

Rush, rush, rush

There are only two more days until I have to leave for ZebraCon, and I am SO
not ready for it. Today, instead of finishing up the jewelry as I’d planned I
managed to pull out all my fiber work and go through it to decide what I’d take
and what stays here. And I fell asleep right after lunch, while sitting in my
chair in the den. Honestly, I only put the bracelet down for a minute to rest my
eyes!

I also managed to photograph much of what I’m taking, though I’m not going to
post everything here or even over at Flickr. Just a few highlights:

Knitted wire and bead bracelet


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Some more earrings. Copper mesh, beads, bottlecaps and resin. Stuff!


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Left: Turquoise and amber necklace. I don’t know if I’m going to try to sell
this or not. I’ll probably decide when I get there. Right: Skull necklace made
out of bone and trade beads.


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A few scarves:



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Front and Back:


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Purses:


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And since I don’t think Karen reads this blog, I feel pretty safe posting a
photo of the earrings I made for her for her ZCon gift this year:


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