Sunday, September 30, 2007

Permission to demo

That's demolition, not demonstration. This is a house post, not a clay one.
Friday we bought a demolition permit for our house. Just don't tell the kids, they've been itching to test their strength out on our the walls & we still need the house standing for a couple more months. We heard that the city has new requirements in the works for demolition permits, which will likely translate into higher costs, so we got our permit before we actually need it.
The way it's deteriorating though, the house may fall down on it's own. There were a few spongy spots on our back deck that we haven't bothered fixing and I think someone's foot went through one. I've been putting a bucket under the drip in one corner of the laundry room when it rains but with last night's (and today's) downpour one bucket wasn't enough.
I'll be wearing boots to do the laundry now.

Friday, September 28, 2007


While I usually stick to very simple canes, occasionally I'll get the urge to make something insanely intricate, with details so small they can't be seen with the naked eye once the cane's reduced.
The snowflake shown here isn't as intricate as that, but was the start of the craziness a number of years ago, my first complex cane.
I became fascinated with some micro-photographs of snowcrystals and that was the reference for this cane.
We think of snowflakes as being perfectly symmetrical but when you study photos of real ones you notice a lot of variation. All snow crystals have six sides, but not all six sides are exactly the same. Often there will be three of one design & three of another, alternating. I guess all the distortion in my cane just makes them more authentic - a little wonky, the way nature makes them too.
Being such a cane-building novice it took me a couple of weeks to build all the components and put them together. Then another week or two before I got up the nerve to start reducing it. It was about 6" in diameter and about 2" high and produced a snowstorm, which then covered everything I could get my hands on: from ornaments to barrettes; serving spoons to eggs. The only things I have left from that flurry are a few pins like those shown, cane slices on a pinback. (I wasn't making beads back then, aside from a few small ones to dangle from the ornaments.) My plan was to make a different snowcrystal cane each year but that only lasted 3 years.
This year I rediscovered my trio of snowcrystals and have been reducing and using (reduce, reuse, recycle) the last remaining chunks of snowcanes #2 & #3 to make beads for the upcoming bead show. This bright blue one is "snowcrystal cane #3". You can see how my cane-building skills had improved between #1 & #3 but this one has always struck me as almost too pretty, almost cold. I think I prefer the looser, more organic feel of the navy one.
#2 has a complete set of problems (including being very difficult to photograph) and I've always referred to it as navy one's evil snowflake twin. as soon as I locate my camera I'll show some of my new snowcrystal beads.

By the way, one of those navy pins spent about 2 years pinned to my son's jacket and went through the washer & dryer once a week. If it wasn't for wear on the metal pin itself, I wouldn't be able to tell which one. If anyone asks....YUP, polymer's washable.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

House update

We've taken another step towards building our new house. A big one this time: Sales Contract is signed & delivered.
This means we have just sold 1/2 the land that our house is sitting on. It's not as precarious a situation as it sounds - the closing date isn't until the new year so technically it's still all ours. We're not homeless quite yet. I'm not mentioning any dates because every time I do something happens to delay things yet again.
This has been such a long process so far, with so many hoops to jump through. Our poor old house is looking ready to be 'put down.' We now have duct tape bandaids all over the place, covering spots where the environmental tester cut away sample bits to make sure we're not letting loose anything toxic when we start knocking down the walls. Little biopsies.
Kim's been looking into demolition costs but with 2 teenage boys with lots of friends I think we may be able to take care of a lot of the interior smashing-up-type stuff ourselves.

Poached or patina-ed

After reading Lindly's blog post about finishes and how uncoated polymer jewelry develops a patina over time from contact with skin's sweat & oils I realized that maybe it wasn't the hot-tub that gave my leaf bracelet that slightly deeper, richer finish. Although in my case I'd have to add hand lotion to the list of culprits. ... and maybe perfume.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

What's a blog without pictures....

Or lousy scans?
Proof that I've found the time to do something. These are some almost-finished bracelets I put together last night from last fall's left-over beads. I'm going to put lobster clasps on them because I don't really trust the little hooks I've been making for my necklaces to be safe enough for a bracelet.
One of the bracelets I wear almost constantly is very similar to the top one so I copied it and made one to sell. The one I've been wearing is very slightly discoloured, I think from spending too much time in a hot-tub. Product testing, that's what I was doing at Whistler. Now I can warn my customers: light colours may darken slightly in extremely hot and chlorinated conditions. It is barely noticeable - wouldn't have known if I didn't have some "unpampered" beads to compare it to, and I do like the discoloured ones better.

This newest scanner is terrible, they just keep getting worse. First one we had, I could scan a covered egg & it would be in focus right to the furthest edge. Second one lost focus about 1/4" away from the glass. I found out there were 2 different types of lenses so the last time we needed a new 3-in-one we made a point of finding one that had the right lens, or so we thought. Shouldn't have trusted the salesman because this one is the worst yet. How can something be out of focus when it's lying right on the glass? Can't use a white background or everything is completely washed out. I usually use scans just to document my work, not to show anyone but still...
I am going to have to get a proper set-up for taking decent photos. I've started - bought a very cute table-top tripod a few weeks ago so I can stop using my flash. Will have to locate it, last time I saw it the boys had it. I just hope it's still in one piece - I better not recognize any of the parts on their latest potato cannon. I know they wouldn't do that but I also know they were thinking how much more useful it would be dismantled and parted out.

Friday, September 14, 2007

This would be the introduction

I finally decided that if I wait until I know what I'm doing, & get my profile written, & get this set up the way I want, & take some decent pictures to post, then I'll never have any entries on this blog. So I'm just going to start.

I'm Jem.
Yes, my real name. No, it isn't short for anything. And yes, there was a time when I knew all the words to the theme song for that cartoon, not because I'd ever seen it, but from all the times people sang it to me. If you're in your 20's or have daughters or granddaughters that age you know what I'm talking about. The rest of you, you really don't want to know, trust me.

I am an artist, bead-maker and a mother of three young teen boys (oops, make that two, that third one hasn't been a teen for many years, just acts like one sometimes. My husband would be the one racing the shopping cart down the aisle, which our sons now find more embarrassing than amusing - may be why they don't want to go shopping with us anymore.)
I work full-time and am involved in our local polymer clay artist guild, moderating our online group and organizing (or delegating- thanks guys!) our meetings.
We're also in the design/red-tape stage of building a new house so I'm also looking for a place for us to live while it's being built.

If anyone asks me how I find the time to make art, I just tell them the truth: I don't clean my house. Everyone laughs but it really isn't a joke, not a very funny one anyway. You certainly wouldn't laugh if you saw the state of my house. At least now I have an excuse - what's the point of cleaning it when we're going to tear it down soon.

One thing I do keep on top of is laundry. We always have clean clothes. It's sheer coincidence that the laundry room is just off my studio (it will be in the new house too - why change what works?) On weekends I sort the mountain into 6 or 7 hills and head downstairs. I tell everyone I have LOTS of laundry to do, don't expect to see me all day, maybe not until Monday. Have to stay within earshot of that washer & dryer of course, never know what terrible things would happen to the family's clothes if I left the studio, I mean laundry room, to go dust or something. (that's an inside joke- I don't dust if I can help it - so almost never. The kids & I used to make handmade paper out of dryer lint, surely giant dust bunnies can be made into something equally useful. )

I'd like this blog to have a number of functions: a way to keep friends & family up-to-date on the progress of our house project; show off some of my polymer beads, jewellery and ornaments, maybe some of my older ceramic work & furniture too; share some of the things I've learned and figured out about working with polymer clay (Barb, those tumbler tips are coming, promise); and share some of the joys of living with two teenage boys and a very demanding, very talkative cat (aka "the rug").

And, now that I've taken my first blog babystep, my next will be to decide if I'm going to tell anyone about it or not.