Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Evie Blog Entry

Beth and I were busy little bees yesterday and today. Saturday we spent 7 hours and Sunday 5 hours working with copper in the VPA building. While the kilns were heating, both of us were sawing, filing, sanding, and hammering getting pieces ready to be enameled. When the kilns were hot, Beth started enameling while I continued with the other tasks. We have a lot of things in various stages of completion; but we did complete three bowls and two leaf pendants. We both get excited about the finished product. It is a lot of hard work, but it is a great stress reliever and brings pleasure to both of us. Biggest problem for me is the pain from the bone spurs in my neck. I slather on the BioFreeze, but there comes a point when I just have to give up. We would have had another bowl finished, but I was trying a new design and didn’t drill the holes big enough at the end of the petals. Beth already had one coat of enamel on one side, so we drilled the holes larger using a flex shaft with a diamond bit. Because of the heat generated, we must hold the part to be drilled in water while using the diamond bit. I won’t make that mistake again. I HATE drilling through enamel. Beth is a good teacher and a great partner in crime. Come on lottery. I would love to do this full time.

Many people have asked Beth and I how we can spend so much time together without killing each other. Mothers and daughters are not always as fortunate as we have been in our relationship. It’s not all a bed of roses. We each have quirks that bug the other. I think we choose not to make those an issue, and we don’t dwell on them because there is a bigger issue at stake. I believe we choose to make it work and are sensitive to each other’s feelings. We share the load when one of us is down. We say we are sorry when we take the other for granted or inadvertently hurt the others feelings. The positive characteristics of my daughter far outweigh her shortcomings. I hope she feels the same about me. I know I can be a real challenge to her patience.

Friends have asked us to tell them about the things that bug us about each other or show that the relationship isn’t always as great as it might seem. I’m not sure that is wise. Of course, writing about it will reinforce how silly little things can upset the old apple cart and put a kink in relationships. In all fairness, we should also do a section on our positive attributes. I know, not as good reading material.


· At work she is very organized, detail oriented, etc. In her home, she doesn’t put things where they belong, making it difficult to locate items (for example, the catch-all back bedroom).

· She doesn’t like yard work but wants a nice looking yard. Some how I always get caught up in her grand landscaping schemes, which involve an awful lot of digging.

· I converted half of my garage into our workshop. When she is finished making glass beads, she doesn’t put her glass rods, reference books or tools away.

· She has great design concept but sometimes forgets to measure. Not everyone has a Barbie’s or Twiggy’s neck. Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

· If she waits long enough, she knows I will dip the mandrels in “mud” for beadmaking.

· If she waits long enough, she knows I will clean the bead holes with the Dremel.

· She has been on the Dean’s list forever, which is admirable. However, she gets herself so tied up in knots about tests, papers, and projects, she can drive me absolutely crazy.

· Her class projects are never simple. She comes up with elaborate, very detailed projects. For class projects she needs to simplify, simplify…

· If Beth had her way, all our beads would be dumped all together in one container, and she would sift through them to find enough of what she is looking for. I like beads separated by color for easy identification and selection. Which is worse?

· She has painted her accent wall in the living room and the guest bathroom months ago, but hasn’t put the switch plates back up.

· She doesn’t like reading instructions; she would rather just “fiddle” with it until she gets it to work.

· In some things, excellence is not good enough. She strives for perfection. I don’t want her to miss the journey, when her destination is so narrow in scope.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

VPA on Sunday - 1/18/09

Mom and I hadn’t planned on going to the VPA on Sunday. Mom had planned to clean her house, and I had planned on cleaning the junk room. None of that got done. I called mom around 11:00 asking her what she was doing and she said nothing, so I asked if she wanted to go to the VPA. This time we only stayed at the VPA for about five hours.

I worked on sawing, filing and sanding another two leaf pendants. Once the kilns were heated up, I enameled two Ginkgo leaf earrings for mom. I used two transparent blues that turn out great on the earrings.

When the big kiln heated up, I enameled mom’s flower bowl with various pinks, purples and a blue on the inside of the bowl. I am really happy how the colors turned out. The one bad thing was that some of the holes filled up with enamel. What you have to do is take a diamond drill bit to cut out the holes with the enamel in them. Since drilling the holes made the holes bigger we had to drill out all the holes so that they were the same size. I worked on that for awhile and then mom took over. I don’t think she was too happy with me because it takes awhile to drill out the holes. While mom worked on that I finished enameling my leaf pendants and I started working on a Celtic knot.

By five o’clock both of us were pretty worn out from working on Saturday and Sunday. We only got the two leaf pendants done and mom’s Gingko leaf earrings done. Like I said it is a time consuming, but fun process. I am really looking forward to next weekend. On Saturday we are going to be at Inspired Fire and on Sunday at the VPA.

VPA on Saturday - 1/17/09

Mom and I worked at the VPA for over seven hours on Saturday. I think this is the best weekend I have had in a long time. The time just seemed to fly by as I sawed, filed and enameled. Mom worked on cutting out and filing pieces so that I could enamel them. I cut out and filed two leaf pendants and than enameled them. Mom and I also filed down two leaf bowls. Mom pounded the bowls into shape, and I enameled them. I also enameled a bowl that we have had cut, filed, and pounded into shape months ago.

Both mom and I love not making regular bowls. We like to make organic shapes or bowls that resemble a common item and give it a bit of a twist. I think with the red leaf bowl mom is going to wrap sterling silver wire on the twig, and I will make a glass bead to add to the wire. On the red leaf bowl, I used five different colors to give the bowl more depth. I used orient red, sunset orange, marigold yellow, and two different transparent browns.

On the brown leaf bowl I used four different browns and two transparent yellows. I am very happy with how the inside of the bowl came out. On the full leaf pendant I used the same colors as I did for the bowl. On the cut out leaf pendant, I used various shades of purple and pink enamels.

The organic shaped small bowl (ThumBOWLina) I just used clear coats of enamel. It is fun to use just the clear enamel because you never know what color the object will turn out due to the shading of the copper or the heat of the kiln melting the clear enamel. While I waited for the pieces to cool down between coats of enamel I worked on sawing out other pieces.

Mom worked on cutting out another bowl in the shape of a flower. She pounded the bowl into shape. She drilled holes into the ends of the petals and in the middle of the bowl. She will incorporate Pyrex drop pendants in the shape of raindrops to hang from the holes in the bowl. In the base, she will use sterling silver head pins in different lengths to stick in the holes. I am really looking forward to find out what colors she wants me to use to enamel this bowl.

Mom and I are going to try to go to the VPA every Saturday and work on bowls and pendants. Hopefully we can get quite a few things made up for the 2009 Fall craft fairs. As you see in the seven hours at the VPA, mom and I only got three bowls done and two pendants. It doesn’t seem like it, but every piece is very time consuming. Depending on the piece, there could only be a few piercings or a lot of detailed piercing to saw out. Then you have to file and sand down the piece until it is smooth and burr free. You have to decide what colors you want to use to enamel the piece. Sometimes there are only two layers of enamel on the piece, but sometimes there can be up to four layers on the piece. And don’t forget, you have to do both sides. You have to let the piece cool down after taking it out of the kiln before you can add another enamel layer. This is why it takes so long to complete a piece is waiting for it to cool down. You definitely have to be patient. Which is why I think mom likes me to do the enameling most of the time.

Creating my Cylinder in the Ceramics Studio

I am leaving work at 3:30 on Fridays to work at the ceramics studio on my ceramic projects. The studio is not open on the weekends. The first Friday I worked at the studio, mom came over with me, and it was great because we were the only ones there.

Mom took pictures of me as I was making my cylinder. I think this time making the cylinder went much better than the day we started making them. I had a lot of fun. I just hope I have this much fun as the rest of the semester goes along.

Image of the cylinder I did in class on Wednesday
Image of the final cylinder I did on Friday - it is upside down to dry

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Evie's Inspiration or Lack Thereof

How do I come up with ideas? Good question that probably doesn’t have a definitive answer. When I see something interesting in my yard or a magazine photo or someone’s doodling or something on TV or frost on a window, etc., I catch myself thinking what I could do to make it more appealing to me and incorporate it into our hobbies. Can I turn it into something else with a line here, a fold here, and a different color palette? Can it be accomplished with glass or is it more suited to copper. I rarely look at anything that does not stimulate my mind to say what if… Sometimes I will dream about an idea. If I’m lucky, I remember it as soon as I wake up and race for paper and pencil. Sometimes I lay awake at night and my mind is racing. An idea will pop into my head and there is no sleeping until I drag myself out of bed and sketch it or write the idea down. I think it is also very beneficial when Beth and I brainstorm the same idea. We sort of feed off one another, and an idea from one of us stimulates a response from the other. Beth and I both keep sketchbooks of ideas, comments about processes, or “how to” instructions as we come up with something new.

Often I sort of fly by the seat of my pants. My original idea will mutate as I encounter an unexpected challenge in the process or I think of a better way to approach the project. Beth gets very frustrated with me because sometimes I neglect to record how I did something. She will ask what colors I used to enamel something or how I macraméd a certain pattern, and I give her a blank look. Like I said before, I usually improvise. I’ll try to do better Beth!

We also receive a lot of input from customers and fellow craftsmen/artisans. This last year we have had numerous ideas for projects and suggestion regarding improving a process involved in either the copper or the glass. We have had requests for game pieces, anything about dinosaurs, growling panthers and wolves, and one gentleman suggested using linseed oil on the copper instead of enamel. We record everyone’s ideas, and hopefully will one day get to them all.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ceramics Second Day of Class

The second day of class we had three more people show up. Siggy went over the first section of the book and then collected money for the Indiana Clay.

Siggy did a demo today. We are learning how to throw a slab so that we can make a cylinder out of it. Siggy makes it look so easy. The one thing I am worried about is my wrists giving out, here comes tons of Advil to save the dayJ

After Siggy showed us the demo she sent us off to try to do it on our own. Siggy commented that now is the time that the swearing will commence. It actually was not that bad and it is a great way to relieve your stress if you are having a bad day. Get a clump of clay and bound the sucker to death.

Siggy was not kidding that it would be hard. I think it took me four times throwing the slab before I got a decent thickness to the clay to use to make my cylinder. I did get the body of the cylinder and the bottom done. I ran out of time to make the handle. I did find out that I need to use a smaller ball of clay to work with. I think the big ball of clay I was working with was to much.

I am going to have to go and work in the studio on Friday. I am looking forward to it, which surprised me.

I am going to try and take photographs on Friday of my half finished cylinder and I hope I can get one made up on Friday.

So far it seems like the Ceramics class is going fine. I just hope the rest of the semester goes as well.

Ceramics First Day of Class - Spring Semester 2009

Well, another semester of school is here and I am taking Ceramics 242 this semester. I have Siggy again for an instructor and she is a blast. She is a six foot tall, English person, who says what she thinks. She is a very hard task master and won’t take shit from anyone, but she pushes you into creative thinking for your project. This will be a tough but interesting semester.

In today’s class all Siggy had us do was introduce ourselves to the class, go over the syllabus, did a tour of the studio and had us make a stamp. This stamp will be used as our signature for our pieces. It was kind of fun to make the stamp. I created two different stamps; the first one has my first name in Japanese and the second stamp has my sergeant rank. Now if all the projects were going to be that easy.

We also found out what other materials we need to buy and bring to class and we found out that we have to bring an additional $30 to pay for clay. I just found out that the $100 we pay in studio fees, the majority of that goes to upkeep of computers. Hello, there are no computers in the ceramics studios. I want my money back!

Our homework assignment was to bring in the materials we need for Wednesday, buy the book at Boiler Copier and read the first section and bring in the money for the clay.

I have already read the first chapter and I am already thinking of my final project. I found out what our final project options are:

  1. The first choice is to do some research on historical objects and do an abstraction of one of the pieces we did research on
  2. The second choice is to take a song, poem, or story we like and draw a picture of what we think that prose is about and than create and abstraction of that drawing to create our ceramics piece

Both options sound like fun, don’t they. Now isn’t that sarcasm?

I am thinking of doing something with option number two. I have already thought of several ideas: one is from the rock band Nickleback with their new song “Gotta Be Somebody”. When I here their song, I visualize two people trying to each out to each other. I think I can draw a picture of that and than make the image into an abstract concept. (You realize I said I think I can right!); the second thing I was thinking of was Walt Whitman’s poem “Calvary Crossing the Ford”, when I read that poem I could hear the metal clank, feet stamping, could see the guidon’s flowing in the wind, and soldier’s sitting on their horses. This is the first poem that I actually could visually see what was going on. I don’t know if it was because I was in the Army or what, but I was so proud of myself. What I am thinking of doing for my idea is a soldier slouched on a horse. I can actually visualize the piece. I am going to have to wait and see what Siggy says, but I can’t believe I actually have two different ideas, SWEET!!

Right now I am not panicking because the first day was so easy. Siggy said that this class will kick your butt. She also says that the class is not an easy class and that we all had to keep that in mind, especially when it came time to learn how to throw.

One bad thing about the class is that the classroom will be closed during the weekends, so I am going to have to stay after work and work in the studio for a few hours. That is really not something I am looking forward to doing. I have been on campus since 6:00am and I don’t want to stay longer, but I am just going to have to suck it up and move on. UGH!

Fall Semester 2009 - Photography Class

I have a new interest in taking photographs. I want to learn more in depth ways of how to take better pictures with my digital camera. I thought I would do this by taking a photography class at Purdue.

Well, that is not going to happen now.

While in my Ceramics 242 class today, I found out that the $100 studio fee students have to pay for a semester only about a third of that money actually goes to the study. The rest of the $100 goes to computer upkeep. That money better darn well go towards the computers that are actually located in the PAO building, because there sure as heck aren’t any computers in the Metals studio, Ceramics studio, or the drawing studios.

I was also listening to one of the students talking to Siggy about the Photography class and that they had to pay an additional $300 or more in supplies for the class.

Uhm…I don’t think so. Rats!

I guess I am going to have to read the ancient photography book mom gave me; even though it looks like it is older than I am, but I am sure still has some great ideas. Maybe do some research on the internet and see if there is anything on digital photography. Sure beats paying my fees for the class, $100 studio fee, and an extra $300-$400.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Inspired Fire on Friday and Saturday - 1/2 and 1/3/09

Mom asked me to go to Inspired Fire with her on Friday. To be honest I did not really want to go. When we got to Inspired Fire Sophia, Gabby’s daughter was awake. So, I had to hold Sophia until I couldn’t get her to stop crying and then I went to Gabby for help.

I decided to make up black and gold feathered beads. Julie Hendon wanted some black and gold feathered beads for earrings. I have not had a chance to make up any beads before the end of the semester, so this was a perfect time to make up some beads.

Julie had mentioned that she wanted beads less than 1 inch long, so I made up several barrel beads and round beads. You can tell I don’t make up barrel beads that often because I am not happy with how they look. Of course because I don’t like the beads doesn’t mean that Julie won’t like them.

On Saturday mom wanted me to show her how to make a Pyrex pendant. I first told her I had to make a practice pendant since I had not made a pendant since coming back from Penland. I forgot how time intensive it was to make up the pendants.

I know I frustrated mom a few times on telling her that she was not making the pendant hot enough to stick the glass inside of it to make designs. If looks could kill J But mom loves me, so I am still alive today, yippee!

While mom was making Pyrex pendants I decided to experiment with copper foil that mom bought awhile go. It is interesting to see what the copper does on white beads. I made two beads with the copper foil and transparent red dots. I also decided to make a ring with a white base and the copper foil on top with two flowers as accent.

I also made two beads that were small fishscale beads. I love how they turned out. I used black glass as a base color with light green and transparent green for the dots.

I made up two jelly fish beads and a jelly fish ring, and I made four other miscellaneous rings.

I am thinking of making up more of the green fishscale beads to make a necklace or bracelet with the sterling silver cats I casted a few years ago that I have tried to decide what to do with. I just need to weigh the silver and find out how much an ounce is going for so I can price the piece once I get it made up.

After mom and I left Inspired Fire I realized how much I did miss making beads. I think I get burned out from school and I don’t want to do or make anything related to art work. Once I started making beads or enamel copper I realize how much I miss making things. I so cannot wait until my GI Bill money runs out and I am through with school. Though I may just take a year off from school and then just take one class a semester.

My Christmas Gift 2008

During one of our craft shows we had a woman ask us if we made rosaries with our beads or metal. We told her no, but that was a great idea to try.

For Christmas we trade names with our family members. We make up a list of things we would like and one of the Christmas gifts I asked for was a cross mold so I could create glass cross pendants to go with a rosary. To be honest I didn’t think I would receive the mold for a Christmas gift. But I was surprised that was one of my presents, so I am really looking forward to start practicing making crosses.

Both mom and I have started doing research on rosaries. I have found out that there are actually several different types of rosaries and that each one of the rosaries have different meanings.

I now need to find out if there are significant colors that go with the rosaries. I do have some ideas but I want to make sure I don’t offend anyone.

On January 9th I created my first cross with the new mold. For my first cross I think it turned out alright. I used a transparent blue which I want to dip in acid wash and see what it looks like. If I like how it turns out I will make a whole rosary with the transparent blue and then acid wash the beads.

Sharon and Gabby Christmas Gifts 2008

Mom and I made Christmas gifts for Sharon and Gabby and of course we waited until the last minute to make something for a gift. Mom and I decided to make copper/enameled leaf pendants for each of them. Mom came up with a great idea; we would cut out two pendants, the top pendant would be the outline of the leaf pendant and the bottom pendant would be the whole leaf. So both Gabby and Sharon could get multiple uses out of the pendants. For Sharon’s pendant mom and I decided to use red/orange enamel colors. I ended up using five different colors. The main colors we used were red and orange with accent colors of yellow and two different browns. For Gabby’s pendant mom and I decided to use green enamel colors. I ended up using five different greens and two different brown accent colors. Overall I am really happy with how the pendants came out. I wish I had taken pictures of them before we gave them as gifts. Oh, well.

New Camera December 2008

I have been having issues with the camera we have been using to take pictures of the jewelry. Overall I really love the camera, but I have not been happy with how the jewelry pictures have been turning out.

I actually did some research before going to buy a new camera. I knew I wanted stabilization, good macro, face recognition, and several other options.

During Christmas at my aunt’s house I was talking to Bob, my cousin’s husband, and he was telling me that everyone in their family had a Canon and they all loved the camera.

So, the day after Christmas mom and I went to Best Buy. A sales associate came over to help me, I told her all the things I was looking for and she pointed me to the Cannon I bought.

There is a cool feature, that I can’t wait to try, where you can take a picture of the jewelry and the jewelry stays in color, but the things around the jewelry will be in black and white.

I am seriously thinking of taking new pictures of all the inventory again. It will be a pain in the rear, but if I can get better photos of the pieces I think I would be really very happy. (yes we all know how much a perfectionist I can be, but what can I say)

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