Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Where has LeAnn been?

I've been wondering where the last couple of days went. And then I got one of these. Photos of viruses are incredibly beautiful I think. But the thought of those little guys swimming around my lungs, wreaking all sorts of havoc is not so nice. So good daughter Sarah, the ICU nurse who's been treating H1N1 cases for the last week, finally scared the bejesus out of me. Told me that I fit her typical patient profile, 'older' ( I am not), asthmatic (not my fault), prior pneumonia (true), waits too long to get treatment (I don't like all the germs in clinics). It wasn't all of the scary disease complications so much as the reminder of what a horrible patient I would be. And that nurses do not like horrible patients. I don't want to be a bad patient and have nurses hate me. Quick trip to the doc, all is well. I have an ordinary cold and a vaciantion, a vacination that I was scheduled to get 3 weeks ago. And a doctor's blessing to sleep in and nap. I like naps. I don't really have time right now for naps but I will do as told and be a good patient. Really truly, I will try to get over the instinct to challange authority.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

BOC Blogger Open Studio – From our family to yours

I don’t know about you, but when I think autumn and cooler weather, cold mornings, leaves turning, I think of comfort food. You know the sort. Hot chocolate, stew, and oatmeal for breakfast.

For many years our family lived in Australia. So we’ve a bit of a blended tradition of holidays and customs. One of my favourite Australian classics is the ANZAC biscuit. Now biscuit probably isn’t what you are thinking. Biscuit is a cookie here in the United States. And ANZAC biscuits are a type of oatmeal cookie. ANZAC is an acronym for Australia New Zealand Army Corps and one of the commonly held notions is that ANZAC biscuits originated as a recipe for cookies that could be sent over seas, without spoiling, to loved ones serving in WWI. Whatever the origin of this biscuit, they are without equal in my humble opinion. Crispy on the outside, chewy in the middle, sinfully rich in butter and super simple to make. And that’s about the extent of what I know how to do with the oven. We seriously have no idea if these spoil. They never last very long.
ANZAC Biscuits

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, chopped
3/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
8 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon golden syrup
3 tablespoons boiling water
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

In a bowl, mix the flour, oats, sugar, and coconut.

Combine the baking soda and boiling water in a small bowl to dissolve, and set aside. In a small pan, melt the butter and stir in the golden syrup. Once the syrup is mixed into the butter, stir in the baking soda and water mixture. Remove from heat and pour into the mixing bowl containing the dry ingredients.

Stir until the dough forms. It should be moist and able to hold its shape. If too dry, add a few drops water. If too moist, add a sprinkle of flour.

Place rounded teaspoon of mixture on greased baking sheet generously spaced apart.

Place baking sheet into a preheated 300F degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until the biscuits are a deep golden brown on top. They will puff up during baking and once cooled will be quite thin. Makes about 2-3 dozen biscuits, depending on how big you make them and how much dough you eat before baking.

Now I know golden syrup is not familiar to most of us in the United States. But I substitute dark corn syrup with pretty good results. Not exactly the same, but passable. And if you are in Europe you can substitute treacle.

Falling leaves, Lorelei Eurto

Remember, there’s a 20% discount on everything in my Etsy shop from now until midnight. All you need to do is load up your cart, proceed all the way through checkout without paying at PayPal. I’ll email you a revised invoice through PayPal with your discount.

Be sure to check the tours and specials of the other Beads of Clay artists. Just click the photo in the top right and it will lead you to the links.

Thanks so much for coming by! I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour. I’ve certainly enjoyed myself.

And a really big thank you to Mary and Marsha for organizing this wonderful event!

Beads of Clay Open Studio - And the Winner Is!

Comentor number 8. That would be Summer. Summer would you please email me with your address?

I'll be back in a few minutes to share some family secrets! So please, stop back.

BOC Open Studio – Second Give Away!

An eclectic collection of porcelain beads with one of my newest glaze combinations, just right for autumn with all of that chocolate brown goodness up there.

To enter, leave a comment on this post. The winner will be randomly chosen and announced at 3:20 pm EST. A few extra minutes, here, as I know this is a hectic pace we’re setting here!

Remember there are 18 of us simultaneously giving away little bits of beady art. So click on that photo up there on the right and check out what the other goodies are.

BOC Open Studio – Come on in to my Studio

See those pinkish doors up there? That's my studio. Well if that looks a little like we put doors into the side of a 1920’s garage, you’d be right. It’s just across a small deck from my dining room. BTW, that rams head is range found. You don’t get magnificent horns like that unless you’ve lived to a ripe old age. And, no, I don’t normally collect skeletal remains. I just happen to really like the horns on this guy.

Come on in and let’s have a look around. But I’m warning you, it is a huge mess in here. I’m getting ready for a few shows over the next 2 weeks and cleaning wasn’t high on my list of priorities. OK, truth is cleaning is never on my list of priorities, but it is more chaotic than usual in here.
This is my main wet clay work area. It’s an inexpensive 6 foot folding table from the office supply store, covered with canvas wrapped particle board work surfaces. I make a lot of molds and texture plates for my work and these get stored in set of cheapo plastic drawers. Theoretically, every thing here has a home. But often things are not at home. The wine bottle I’ve just noticed on the right gets used as a mold, just in case you are wondering. This is where all of my beads, pendants, and components are made by own two little hands.

This is my glaze table, at the moment filled with things that need to get glazed and into the kiln straight away. This is where I glaze all of my pendants, beads, and sometimes pots. It’s also where I make glazes and plaster molds for some of my work. This is actually pretty darned tidy right now. Notice those arrows?

Exhibit A: Juice pitcher, last seen July 2009 in the refrigerator, Lubbock, TX
Exhibit B: Small sieve, last seen February 2004 in the kitchen utensil drawer, Kansas City, KS
Exhibit C: Butter knife, last seen May 1999 in the cutlery drawer, Melbourne, AU

I have no idea how these things end up out here. But there is a saying in my house that if you can’t find it, look in the studio.

These are my kilns. There are 4 and each has its own purpose and have been acquired over time. The big one in the back came with me from Australia. I use it only 2-3 times a year now to fire larger non-beady work. The medium sized one on the left is where my beads and buttons get fired. The blue one on the cart is my new metal clay kiln. I also use it occasionally for a bisque firing of beads. The tiny kiln on the top is for slumping glass. I hardly ever do that anymore, but once I’ve got a kiln I just can not part with it. By far and away the most expensive part of setting up a ceramic studio is the kilns. Not just the kilns, but there is all the kiln furniture (shelves, posts, bead racks, mandrels) and the wiring.

So that’s where all the dirty clay work gets done. But come inside with me. There is a whole other aspect to studio work. Much cleaner, much tidier.

This is the business end of Summers Studio. It is also where metal clay and wire work get done. The rolling plastic bins are used to store shipping and packaging materials. It’s on wheels so that it can be moved into the dining room when the table is too messy to use. In fact this table to is too messy to use right now. This is an old photo. It may never look like this again.

This is the most important part of my studio space and where I am right now. This is my thinking corner. This is where I sketch out ideas, write blog posts, and sometimes nap. It is almost as tidy as this right now.
Next up----2nd give away at 3pm!

BOC Open Studio – First Give Away Winner

And the winner is comment number 7 of 15 on the 2 posts. That would be Erin of Every Heart. Erin, email me please with your address so I can send your pendant.

Be sure to come back. Next up, the studio!

BOC Open Studio – First Give Away!

Brand new work! A pendant that combines a porcelain bead and my new found love of wire working. The brass work is hand forged, given a patina, and tumbled to harden. The bead combines my all time favourite deep chocolate glaze with a deep teal glaze.

To enter, leave a comment on this post. Any old comment will do. I'll be counting comments on the previous post as well, except mine of course. The winner will be randomly chosen and announced at 2 pm EST.

Be sure to check out the other BOC blogger give-aways! 18 artists, simultaneously, how great is that? Just click the photo in the top right corner to get to the links.

Welcome to the Beads of Clay Bloggers First Ever Open Studio!

Hi there. I’m LeAnn. I’m so happy you’ve stopped by for the first ever Beads of Clay Bloggers Open Studio. We’re about as live as you can get here in blog land. So feel free to ask questions or make comments. I’m going to be here till 4pm EST and I’d love to chat.

Welcome to my studio. But shhhhhh! There’s a really big mess in there. Yep, that’s me, covered in clay. Is my hair really that gray? But first up, meet my crew.

This is Alice (aka Ms Wiggle Bottom). She’s my main studio assistant. Can’t you just see how much help she is? And that big brown boy is Bob, our security here at Summers Studio. He would like you to know that he is not napping. He is working undercover fooling those squirrels out there. One day he will catch one. It’s good to have aspirations, no?

And this is Peter. Much of what happens here at Summers Studio would not be possible without him. He schleps my clay, sets up my market table, charms my customers, rubs my shoulders after a long day, and best of all, patiently listens to me blather on about the exciting stuff happening in the studio. Truly a great guy!

So just what do I do?

I started out as a potter and still make pots as well as metal clay jewelry components. But mostly I make porcelain pendants, beads, and buttons. Somewhere along the line I became enamored of small tiny pieces of art and there you have it…. beads! I love texture and most of my designs have some textural element to them. I think most of that has to do with how much I love seeing glazes pool and puddle in the low spots and break across the ridges. Making glaze appeals to the mad scientist in me.

Here’s a few photos of some of my recent work

One of my greatest joys as a bead maker is seeing how people use my work in their own designs. So many wonderful people have shared photos with me of their beautiful designs it is hard to choose work to show you. In the end I settled on just a few pieces that use some of my favourite components.

These pieces, “treasures from the sea” cuff and pendant, are by Bev at No Easy Beads. She used my “sea things” as cabachons in these amazing beaded pieces. When I was looking at them earlier, I thought to myself that these are just perfect autumn colours. And quite honestly, I am in awe of her work and all of that painstaking, tiny detail, and stunning design. By the way she’s teaching the pendant design on this year’s Bead Cruise

I’m always fascinated how two people can take similar things and make completely different pieces. This necklace, “mermaid’s tears,” is by Rosanne at 2nd Hand Rose. I am completely smitten with those matt beads and how they echo the colours in the pendant.

I have this Victorian lock from the home where I lived in Melbourne. For a while now I’ve been working with the pattern on it to create pendants, charms, and connectors. “Loyalty” and “tranquility” were made by Sharon at Live Wire using some of those components. The necklace shouts autumn, I think, and the earrings are so classic any season.

“Coy” by Lorelei incorporates one of my barnacle buttons with silk ribbon and organic wooden beads. And to think that I’ve only ever thought of buttons as just buttons. Lorelei always surprises me with her creative and clever use of buttons in her designs.

I nearly forgot! There’s a 20% discount on everything in my Etsy shop from now until midnight EST. And I loaded up the shop with heaps of new things yesterday. Whoo Hoo!!!!

Just make your purchases as usual, proceed all the way through checkout, but don’t complete your PayPal payment. I’ll email you a revised invoice with your discount.

It’s coming up time for the first give-away! It’ll be posted at 1:45 and the winner will be announced at 2pm. How’s that for instant gratification! All you need to do is comment during that time. I’ve got on speed dial.

Be sure to check out the 17 other Beads of Clay artists participating in this open studio event. We’re all doing give-aways. Just click that photo up there in the top right and it’ll take you to the BOC blog and links to the other artistis. But do come back!

Friday, October 23, 2009

BOC open studio tour!!!!

Just a little sampler of the things that came out of my kiln this morning. I'm busy getting ready for our Beads of Clay Open Studio. In fact I'm getting pretty darned excited about this event. So just in case you haven't marked your calendar, Sunday 1-4 EST right here on my blog and the blogs of a lot of talented Beads of Clay members. Just click that image up on the right and see who's going to be here. Give-aways, discounts, hooray! Hope to see you!!!!
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Burning the midnight oil

Things are churning along here at Summers Studio. I've loaded all the lentils into the small kiln, plus some new things, on their way to the glazing. Frankly, I am just a wee bit bleary eyed right now. I'm finishing up a few more things that are going to get piled in there and tomorrow will be a marathon glaze day. Oh and remember that summer weather we had yesterday? Well today we have autumn. It's 20 degrees cooler. Firing that little kiln tonight will be the thing that makes it a little more bearable climate wise in my studio tomorrow morning.

But most importantly, I have to say thanks so much for all of the comments on the Christmas ornament prototype. I must say that I am a little overwhelmed. I had no idea that such a simple idea might be so well received. This sort of support really is what keeps me grounded and going it what I do. Many thanks to all of you!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Holiday Sneak Peak

It's hot here today, 85 F and windy. It's kind of hard for me to get into the spirit of the winter holidays when it feels like summer. But now's the time to get that winter spirit out and get my holiday act organized. Particularly given I've got 10 day till the first of the 'holiday' shows. A while back I snagged these vintage chandelier crystals from an estate sale, a set of 10 each. While I wasn't immediately overwhelmed with love, I had a vague idea that they might be transformed into something with some holiday spirit.
I spent part of today creating these large porcelain 'lentil' beads, 18 in all. Completed, these will be about 2" in diameter. Yep, those are styrofoam balls up there, split in half, being used as drape molds. I haven't touched a piece of styrofoam in many years but it is truly amazing what the craft store will yeild up in terms pottery tools.

And voila! This is what those beads will become (hopefully). This is the prototype ornament. I think of it as a little jewelry for your tree. I disassembled those chandelier crystals and brass wire wrapped them back together in a combination of clear and red. Frankly, those chandelier connections are just about as ugly as they come. This was clearly an exercise in honing my rosary bead, briolette wire wrapping skills. I've got 18 sets done, and even though my hands ached, it really made me want to work more with wire. It really is addictive. Maybe there is a jewelry maker buried deep inside me? And for those of you who were counting, there is no number 20 set. One of the crystals was chipped so that left me with 18. Just as well. I haven't the time right now to do 2 more.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Happy Weekend!

Guess what I'll be doing. This is actually happy work. In the midst of this getting ready for shows, I've decided I simply must make beads. You know, you head where the inspiration takes you sometimes. And it beats the heck outa cleaning the house. Oh, wait, dinner guests on Saturday. Guess there will be some of that too.
Anyhoooo, have a lovely weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dirty Little Secret, Shhhhh

All potters have a foot fetish. It’s true. Some may not admit it. But this is a universal truth. Just go to any event with pottery and play spot the potter. The potter will be the one who looks furtively from side to side and just when she thinks no one is looking, she’ll lift that pot ever so slightly and have a look at the bottom. Oh, and just do not get me started on bottoms…..

So at this point you might well ask “what exactly does this have to do with the price of tea in China?” Well, over the past couple of days I have been consumed with making pots. And those feet have been an ever present concern of mine. See those pots up there in the top left? Just not quite right. There is no lift to them. They end abruptly. The list of deficiencies goes on and on.

So finally I have come up with a solution to this dilemma. (The life of a potter is a never ending search for the perfect foot.) I cut out little squares of clay with holes in the center. I cut them apart bevel the edges and glue them on with my super glue toilet paper clay paste. And that could be enough but I really wanted the feeling that these feet grew out of the body of the pot. So I added moist clay sculpted those feet into the bottom of the pot. After 16 of them I’ve gotten quite good at this exercise.

Much better don’t you think? You see the foot of the pot is like putting on the finishing touch for an evening out. After all you wouldn’t go to dinner in your very finest but in your bedroom slippers, would you? Maybe the grocery store, but certainly not to dinner. Not even I would do that. I have actually accidentally gone to the grocerey store in my slippers. It's OK. They know me at the local and no longer roll their eyes.

So what about that flat bottom pot I lured you into this blog post with? Well she’s gone off to the corner for unloved pots until I decide what to do with her. It’s a kind of purgatory for pots and she has a lot of company.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mark your calender!

Come one, come all! Join us for the first ever Beads of Clay Bloggers Open Studio. This is a fantastic event with give-aways, insights into our creative processes, our studios. Get to know us and what we do.

I'll be giving you a little tour of my studio. And I'm pretty darned sure you'll get the unvarneshed truth of the chaos I create in. With 3 shows coming up in 3 weeks, I'm absolutely positive you will not get a pretty version. You'll get the down and dirty, the muddy reality of my creative process, totally uncensored, warts and all. Isn't that tempting?

If that's not enough I'll be doing some give aways and have in mind some things that you've never seen in the Etsy shop. Still not enough? Well last count I made, there are a whopping 16 artists participating in this blogtastic event, all with their own give-aways and exciting insights into the life of a ceramic bead maker. That's a whole lot a bead giving going on.

Curious who's going to be here? Just click that photo up there and head on over to the BOC blog and find out. While you are there just go ahead and click that follow button so you can get regular updates to what we're up to.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Playing with glaze

Autumn is defintely in the air here. Last week I played around with a few glaze combinations and this is what came out. I really like the rust undertones in these pieces with one of my favourtite blue green glazes. These feel very autumn, even winter to me.
But this is my favourite of all. I've used this pattern as a button time and again. I've never used it as a pendant. Who knows why? But I love the brown in this one. It reminds me of certain seed pods that go very deep brown in autumn. I have no idea if this one can be done in a similar way again. But I'm pretty sure I'll try.
I'm on a very tight schedule here. Three events in one week with only about 3 weeks to get ready for the first. So I'm a little tired tonight but I do see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Simple Table Top Display

Remember that table top display I was making? Well this is it. It’s made of a ceiling tile from Home Depot. It worked pretty well this weekend at market and for its very simple construction it was quite sturdy. I’m sure this is not a novel idea. In fact my friend Benna uses panels like this hung from a free standing wire frame work to pin up her glass pendants. That’s where I got the idea to make this into a table top display.The ceiling tile I used was a little over 23 inches square. I used a utility knife and a straight edge to cut a 12 inch wide panel. The remaining piece forms the second half of the display. I spray painted each panel front, back and sides. Then used upholstery tacks to finish the side and top edges with ribbon. I lined up the panels and applied Velcro strips to the back side of the panels. The Velcro mate is used to hinge the panels together when I stand them up with the narrower panel butted up against the 12 inch section. To keep the pieces from sliding outwards, I used a piece of ribbon stretched across the front bottom of the panels and tacked to the back side. It lies flush with the table and works like the chain that keeps a box lid from flipping open too far. And that’s it. The whole lot packs up flat and is super light weight. Both bonuses for portablility. Easy peasy, took about a half an hour, and cost less than $15 to assemble.

I’m sure there are more bells and whistles that could be added to this. I’ve got a few in mind. For example, you could apply fabric to the panels for a little dressier version. I’ve thought about making a Velcro attached hook system. I’d love to hear your ideas!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

More spirals

Tiny little break here. I've been getting a kiln ready and fired today and making and carding things for the art market on Saturday. Things are not really spinning out of control but spiraling seems to be my current obssesion. I made these four pendants with porcelain beads from my seemingly never ending stash of beads that I make but forget. These came about because I was looking at the spiral connectors that were abandoned in the bracelet making. You know, it helps to have a chaotic workspace once in a while. These beads were lying there and so were the connectors, the light went on and voila, pendant hangers for a group of unrelated beads. Serendipity. I love serendipity. And I think I love spirals even more.
Ok, then, work never ends during a market week. So I am off to put more things together. This month I will be completely organized......dreams, we all need to have dreams and aspiration.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Still Here

Many thanks to all of you who have so thoughtfully asked after me. It really means a lot to me. So, yep, I'm still here. Life rudely interupted my routine last week when I found out that I was showing at a gallery opening on Friday night. That was at 1 pm in the afternoon with set up at 4pm and opening at 5pm. What was needed was what I usually stock for monthly market. Problem was I didn't actually know what I had. I am not Ms Spontaneous and like to plan, arrange, think things through.

Well I did not cry but I did walk in circles for an hour. It was a matter of missed communication and it all turned out OK, better than OK, even. In fact, after a glass of wine (or two) it was quite fun. And best of all, the gallery opening was quite successful.

It did put me in a bit of a spot for the market Saturday. So head down, tail up I have been in the studio night and day. Almost caught up.

Sunday, when I should have been in the studio replenishing my supply of little trays, I made bracelets. After all the beads were sitting there in a little pile after my frantic search for things for the gallery. A little while ago, Cindy at Sweet Bead posted a photo of bracelet she made using spiral links. I loved those links and they just stayed there in my mind for days, fermenting into an idea. And this is what came out. Those green beads are from Sue at SueBeads and are wonderful little etched glass disks that slide and spin on the links. I love those beads and they seem to go well with my favourite glaze.

This is the second bracelet I made and these beads have got a glaze combination that I had forgotten about. I quite like this glaze effect.

For this second bracelet, I made a clasp that mirrors the links that are close to the center bead. I wasn't too sure about how well this would hold up. But all of the brass wire pieces have been tumbled after I put patina on them. The tumbling has harded things up nicely. I wore this one to a function on Sunday night and it's very comfortable and the clasp held up just fine.

You know, this wire bending stuff is quite addictive. The pounding part is pretty much a bit of alright, too. In fact I would like to go off and do some more of that right now. But I have a spray paint and ceiling tile project that needs to be finished up. Intrigued? Well if this little bit of garage floor magick works out, I'll get back to with the wonders of using a $2.50 ceiling tile to create a table top display.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October already?

Where did September go? I know I've spent the last couple of days nursing a cold and now seasonal allergies and asthma. But really where did September go? I need it back. I need more time.

I did manage to get a kiln load glazed and fired over the last couple of days. I've been working on getting a couple of favourite designs into porcelain. Among them is this koi pendant. And I must say I am pleased with the results. This one is in a glaze that I've been working on off and on for a while. It's quite a deep teal, one of my favourite colours. Teal is an autumn colour, right?

A few experiments were in there as well. More on that later. Right now I think I need a tea with lemon. Maybe a medicinal toddy is in order?