Monday, April 28, 2008
I have a question. I have left clay on my desk for a couples of days. What is your advice on doing such a thing. The clay is expose to air for a lenght of time and I have went back to working with it. From a professional what advice can you give. I have only started working with polymer just recently.
Thank you in advance.Mary Lou
Hello Mary Lou,
Thank you for your question. Generally clay is not harmed by leaving it exposed to air. What does harm clay and make it unfit to work with is leaving it near a heat source, such as near a heating element (radiator or heat duct or in a hot car on a summer day) or exposed to direct sunlight. It is heat that begins the curing process and if exposed to heat to long, it does dry out the clay, makes it brittle and ruins it. If you want to leave it on your work surface, I would simply wrap my clay in some plastic wrap or place it inside a zip-lock bag to protect it from dust particles and other things that are attracted to the clay.
Also, please be aware that clay can damage a worksurface such as wood. As a gentle word of caution, and yes I do speak from experience, do not let raw clay be exposed to wood, styrofoam or certain plastics as they will corrode them.
Again, thanks to Mary for asking the questions! I hope it's useful information to everyone. I think the next blog, I'll talk about worksurfaces. What do you use?
Feel free to send me your questions or comments to post.
Also....if you are planning to enter April's Spring Challenge, get your entries to me - there is still time!
Friday, April 25, 2008
So here's the plan.......After some much much needed yardwork to do today (before it storms) Im jumping back into polymer clay. First I want to cane some projects featuring inspiration from Moorcroft pottery....did you have a look? Then next, Im designing projects for the POM club, which I'll be re-intoducing. Im considering making the POM club a monthly video to download so that it will be much more like a class....but honestly...first things first.
If you are new to polymer clay.....or if you've been an addict for quite sometime, you may just wonder how I store my clay...so Im sharing a tip that I've found helpful over the years.
One of the most frequently asked questions I get is - What's the best way to store polymer clay?
I guess that depends on how much clay you have. You can store individual colors in zip lock baggies tucked away in a shoe box in a dark closet away from the heat duct.
Baggies are a great way to store many colors of clay. I knew of a lady that used a shoe caddy that was hung over the door to tuck her clay away by color rows - one row for greens, another for yellows and so on.
I prefer to have an organizer box filled with colors that I've opened and those that I use quite frequently. This generally stays on my work table - or just behind it. I also store large quantities of clay in glad disposable storage containers, stacked according to color and put away in a cabinet. This works well for me because I mix alot of "faux stone" colors at once and then have it available when I need to make a quick project or I just feel like making beads..... (the organizer box is a great way to store pieces of canes that you frequently use also)
When looking for containers to store clay, look underneath at the recycle triangle. If the number "5" is in the center of the triangle you can be confident that this type of plastic is compatible with clay. (Thank you Nuchi for this tip!)
Do not store your clay in hard plastic containers - these are generally clear, or in styrofoam cups or containers. Your clay will eat right thru and create a big ole mess - trust me on this one! Learn from my experience. Also make sure your clay is stores in a cool dry place. Heat will affect your clay - generally age won't.
I hope this little tidbit helps. If you have a tid bit to share, click on the comment link or email me.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
The theme is Spring and it must in some way, some how have polymer clay on it.
The winner receives a free copy of POLYPENS!
So what are you waiting for??????
Monday, April 21, 2008
Below is a home situated on the picturesque river Dee...
And here's the neighbors house, quite "lovely" don't you agree??? I could definately live here...
Here is the view out your windows overlooking the river Dee.... (notice the white foot bridge you'll see that a little later...)
As with anywhere in England...bring money....lots and lots of money especially if you are American and when the dollar is week....
This is a snapshot of the menu from the Cafe we ate at. The food was divine ( I had butternut squash and goat cheese lasagne...mouthwatering) But just check out the price of a burger will ya??? That's 9 and a half pounds which translates into $19.00 for an 8oz burger folks......yikesey pikesey! But I can at least put this on my list of fancy restaurants I've gotten to eat at.
This is the clock in the center of the city. When you see the Eiffel tower, you obviously think of France or when you see Big Bend you think of London...wellll....same thing here...if you see this clock (built in 1897) you think of Chester...okay maybe you didn't before this picture, but now you will..
Oh yes, and we mussnt forget dressing up for afternoon tea, with our afternoon tea hats....
And here is afternoon tea at the Blue Moon Cafe. By now, after being in the UK for over a week, the "hot" tea is starting to grow on me...but the "cold" milk...sorry Gill, just can' t do it.
In case you are a creative person needing a job in a bead shop....there's one for you. The only thing disappointing about this bead shop is that they need much more live samples for inspiration. Other than that, it's quite lovely.
Because these buildings are so old, many of them contain stained glass or architecture of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton YHWH which many know now as the Divine Name 'Jehovah'. I am quite interested in biblical archaeology and Gill and I decided to go inside to see if the church had any reminiscence of the divine name which has been taken out of modern day languages and Bibles.
After you enter the door a gentleman directs you down a long hall way and interestingly the first thing that you come to at the end of it is what resembles a "box office" situated inside the gift shop and the cafe. Admission to the church for viewing was $10 US. Seeing this, I felt as Jesus did at John 2:16. This is the situation where Jesus was near Jerusalem around the time of the passover. When he went to the temple he found those selling sheep, cattle and other items of merchandise. This outraged Jesus and he shouted "stop making the house of my Father a house of merchandise". Seeing this with my own eyes, made that verse come to life and I could only imagine the indignation that he must have felt.
And with that thought, we did not view the church, instead we left, but unlike Jesus, we did not turn over any tables...
Tonight, it's dinner at the "chip shop", known for it's fantastic Fish and Chips. I've gotten quite a tour and quite a language lesson too as so many of the british english words have different meanings.
Tomorrow its back on the train for my journey home. It's been a fantastic time with Gill and her husband John! Loved every minute of it, but now I am ready to go home.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Driving around Stoke-on-Trent and Handley you notice the bottle kilns pipes; remains from a City that was the mecca of the pottery industry. (see the picture below) Until I visited I never really thought much about English pottery. I have collected several pieces of it, but didn’t really realize the amount of workmanship involved or how it affected the livelihoods of the families who relied on this industry to make a living. I can only say that I have a new sense of appreciation of this art and the families whose lives it touched.
These pipes are now historically protected and can not be removed. At one time hundreds of bottle kilns could be seen over the countryside, now only a handfull remain.
Inside an old bottle kiln
Many of the factories are no longer in production, in fact just a handful remain. One of the most renown pottery factories is located in Handley, known as Moorcroft pottery. It is some of the most exquisite and expensive pottery that I have ever had the pleasure of feasting my eyes upon. You must visit this factory if you ever get to Stoke. You will be treated to EyeCandy Heaven.
Originally the pottery was hand thrown on a wheel, but because of it’s popularity, it is now slip cast.
Moorcroft employs three designers which are responsible for the design not only of the pottery itself but for the decoration. Each design is carefully laid out to fit the piece which it will decorate perfectly. A water color painting is also made of the design for reference to the painters.
If a designer has a new idea for a piece, a sketch of the design is drawn and given to the mold maker. The mold maker will then make a profile of the design and cast it into a hard plaster type material. Eventually thru 6 different processes a mold is made. From that original mold, the casting mold is made which will make up to 30 pieces.
Next he mold is given to the “turner”. The Turner pours the slip into the mold, where the slip begins to dry from the outside in. When the desired thickness has been obtained, the extra slip is poured out, the pottery is removed from the mold and allowed to dry further. Then it is put on a lathe and the fine detailed shape of the pot is turned out using very simple metal tools, made by the turner himself. This process was fascinating to me – he made it look so easy! Obviously it is quite a skill because it requires a 7 year apprentice to work in this area.
When the piece has been refined, it is then sponged down to remove any marks left in turning. This person is also responsible for the stamping of the piece with the Stoke –On-Trent stamp as well as the year of production. The piece is then allowed to dry and then given to the “slip liners”.
As you examine each piece of Moorcroft pottery, it appears to be enameled with raised designs. This raised design is created in the slip lining process.
A design is traced onto a piece of plastic sheeting with old time ink and pen. Markings are put onto the design to ensure proper placement. Once the design has been traced onto the plastic, it is then aligned on the pottery and rubbed on, similar to what you would do when using a scrapbooking rub on. It is very important that the artists who are working with the pottery at this stage are very careful since they are still working on raw clay that has not been fired to bisque. The intricate designs in this pottery will literally make your eyes cross!
Using a small bag with a very fine point tip, the slip liners draw the design. It can take as little as a few hours or several days to complete one piece! Each designer signs his/her work. It takes around 18 months to learn this job.
After this process, it is handed over to the painters who use metallic based paints to paint the colors into the design. They mix the paint with a lot of water and as you can imagine, they drop the water inside the raised designs. Since the pottery is very porous, it soaks up the water quite quickly. As many as ten layers of color may be applied to any design. This process is also quite tedious. When finished the painters also paint their mark on the bottom. An 18 month apprentice is required here as well.
It is now ready to be fired, which is done overnight in electric kilns. After the piece has been cooled, it is then dipped into the glaze, allowed to dry and then is checked for any pinholes which are filled before the final firing. This is the firing that applies the enamel like glass finish.
When you see just how labor intensive each piece is, how many artisans have worked long hours to bring just one piece to life, you realize why this pottery is so incredibly expensive. It’s also quite a big deal to own a piece of this artwork. (I do not – yet) A small vase (that’s…vaaaaahz) around 2” tall – very ornately decorated will cost around 180 pounds – which translates to around $360 dollars. I saw lamps and other vases that were over 6,000 pounds (double that for dollars)
Next on the tour, a day in the City of Chester. Don't miss this, there's some beautiful scenery!
Monday, April 14, 2008
The arches above contained paintings such as this....
This is a view of the ceiling from the closet that is located just off the bed chamber. Closets were different back then. In this case they were quiet places where the Lady of this house would write her poetry.
Looking outside the castle to the kingdom
Sunday, April 13, 2008
So here's the inside of London Euston Station. Notice all the boards with all the locations of each train.
The 8:10 to Manchester is what I was taking...... You have to listen carefully because they call out a track and you better be ready to board because the train will leave without you......So no showing up 7 minutes late or you'll be left standing on the dock!
This was the train opposite mine, but looks the same. I was on Virgin Trains, quite nice and very quiet, well except for the group of college guys at the back of the train.
Two and a half hours later and you are in Stoke On Trent. Stoke is very famous for it's pottery making. If you own any Johnson Brothers stoneware, it's most likely come from Stoke and Gills Mum has most likely been the one who checked it for quality. She worked at the factory for years. The country side here is far different from London. Very beautiful rolling hills and picturesque. It's quite lovely really.
Gill and John (her husband) were there waiting for me just as I got off the train. Then Gill wisked me away to take me to breakfast. So here we have driven up to a window to buy some Oat cakes for breakfast. It literally is a hole in the wall with the people selling oatcakes out their window. They say that the recipe is a very guarded secret recipe that has been handed down for generation......
I do recommend you visit the website and order. They do sell internationally. I dont know just how to describe the oat cakes except that they are like a pan cake but made from different types of oats. Mine had bacon and cheese inside and it was quite delicious.
A dozen oat cakes will set you back around 1.50 pounds. So around $3 from the states plus shipping. People come here and buy them by the dozens. I doubt that many of them make it home since they are so tasty you tend to eat them in the car.
Since leaving London, I have not seen a cab - just so you know.
We then went back to Gills house to set my things down.
About thirty miles away in a village of Walgherton is a place called Dagfields which is known for its quaint little antique shops full of English china and craft shops. I bought quite a lot of china tea cups.....(ssshhhhh don't tell Dana)
After that it was back home for a party of all of Gill and John's family. It was a very nice time and it's always great to meet new people. Tomorrow it's a tour of a Castle in Bolsover.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Marie decided to join in the fun.....she wanted to make a tiara of berries and be the berry princess for our wrap up after work party....
Carmel has just joined Cico about 2 month ago. She's so sweet and I think she's going to be a great asset to the Cico bunch. This is the second time Marie (on the right) and I have worked closely together on a book. She's a fantastic editor and a wonderful tour guide. It's really been a pleasure getting to know her.
In the morning I hop the train North to Stoke-On-Trent to visit Gill for a few days. I just have to say THANKS to everyone on the team. Again, it was such a memorable and pleasant experience. Thanks for all your friendship and professional talent and all the laughs! You're the best!!!!!!
Thursday, April 10, 2008
This is "the first place to look" for a taxi..............
If you are needing up to the minute stock quotes while you are here, this is a taxi especially for "investors who know the score".......
Be good BE GOOD....or "Super Nanny" will come after ya....
If you are a bit indecisive and just don't know where you want to go.....
Here's one for all you polymer clay artists.....the skinner blend taxi.....
Here's one that got away.....
And last.....but not least..... need I say more?
Believe it or not, there's still few more that I wasn't able to catch while I was on my Taxi hunting expedition at lunch....hopefully I'll get those tomorrow and add to the directory.....
I've got everyone in the studio looking out for unusual taxi's and helping me snap photo's of them....how hysterical. It's typical though, when you live in amongst these things you don't really take note. Sad really...that we dont just sit back and look at the "funny side of life" for a while.