Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sisters at the Beach

I remember my Mama saying, "The older you get the faster the times goes!"  And like with most other things, Mama was right.  How can it possibly be time for the annual 'Sisters at the Beach' vacation?

Since none of you, my dear readers, know me personally, let me tell you what I'm talking about.  You see, I have three sisters and we are all best friends.  My oldest sister came up with the idea that every summer the four of us should go on a mini vacation together.  Leave the husbands and the pets and the children at home and just enjoy some girl time.  So here it is, the fourth year. Time to get excited, pack up the beach chairs and sun screen and head for the beach!  We have 4 nights and 3 days full of sun, laughter and lots of adult beverages!  We act like a bunch of teenagers.  You would never guess that adding up all of our ages we are 209! Yikes that's a big number!

But anyway, we reminisce about childhood days, we laugh until we cry, we sing, we play crazy games, take lots of pictures and video and like Mama said, time goes by fast! Before you know it our time is up and we head back to our daily lives and jobs and responsibilities.   But we take with us lots of new memories
This is the 4 of us last July.

So here's to great sisters, great memories and much anticipation for this years fun to begin!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

peacocks, polymer and a trip to the past

Has it really been over 2 weeks since my last post?  Wow, where does the time go?   And speaking of time, today I thought I would go back in time.  You see, I made a set of beads which reminds me of peacocks.  I am loving the colors; a blend of wasabi green, cyan, a beautiful purple and lapis blue.  Well, all this thought of peacocks took my mind back to some childhood memories. Or maybe it was those subconscious memories that sparked the beads. Hmmmm.... anyways here is a small look back.

When I was a little girl, we lived next to an old southern plantation called Dixie Plantation.  My grandfather, who took the job as caretaker of the plantation,  moved his family there in the 1940's and lived there until his retirement.  The gentleman who owned Dixie was named John Henry Dick.  He was an extraordinary artist who loved nature, especially birds.  If fact he had some exotic birds living on the plantation, including peacocks.  I was very young, but I remember walking down the dirt road behind my house with my Grandmother, and other family members to see these beautiful birds.  Being a child, I didn't realize how lucky I was to have the privilege of being in the company of such an extraordinary, well respected man.  We could walk and explore the grounds any time; the old salve cabins and cemetery, or climb the majestic centuries old oaks, whose limbs swept the ground. What a beautiful place it was!

My Mom stills lives next to the plantation, but we don't have the privilege of going over any more.  In fact, the wooded forests and swamp lands look nothing like I remember. The land has been cleared and the old home where my father once lived has been torn down. I feel fortunate to have memories of this place that was once so grand and beautiful. If you are interested in reading more about John Henry Dick a small write up on him is here:  http://spinner.cofc.edu/~speccoll/jhdpage.html?referrer=webcluster&  He really was a fascinating man, published author, artist and world traveler. I feel honored to say that he was a part of my families life.  In fact, had my grandfather not gotten the job and moved his family there, my Dad would have never met my Mom!

Now back to my beads.  Here they are.  The beads I made that started this trip down memory lane.  I really like them. A lot!  Don't the colors remind you of peacocks too?  I'll be listing them for sale soon, so if you can envision something made with them come by and visit my shop.  I'm always open!

Friday, May 4, 2012

The making of buttons

Today I thought I would share with you how I go about making my polymer clay buttons.  It's really not hard.  Anyone could do it.  I think the hardest part is deciding what colors to use.  So many possibilities!  Well let's get started!

I decided to use pink, black, white and gray today.  I already have my pink and gray mixed and ready to use.  The black and the white still need to be conditioned to soften it and get all of the particles in the clay evenly distributed.  These buttons are going to be striped so I have to use my clay gun.

Each color is pushed through the clay gun to form even sized strands.  I use my caulk gun to help with this.  It's pretty hard on my fingers trying to push the stiff clay through those tiny holes.  Doing it this way I have my strands within seconds! Now I'm ready to start laying them out onto a thin sheet of black clay!

I make sure to get them as straight as possible and then I run this whole sheet through my pasta machine.  This makes a nice flat, even sheet. I make it pretty thin, so I take yet another sheet of black clay, about 1 - 2 mm thick and lay the striped sheet on top of it. 



both sheets are adhered to each other, I lay it on a ceramic tile and cut out the buttons using a round circle cutter.  Using the tile means I don't have to move the buttons and risk making them misshapen.  I put holes in the buttons with a needle and put it all in the oven.  

I still have some of the striped sheet to use later.  Maybe I'll make some striped beads later.  And that scrap pile will become the centers of those beads.  Nothing will go to waste! Well, after the buttons have baked for about 30 minutes, they are ready to be wet sanded.  I like to take this extra step because it makes them feel so smooth.  Then I will drill the holes a little bigger.  Oh yeah, I still have to polish them too.  I do this with a soft piece of denim.  It gives them a nice satin shine.  And there you have it!  The buttons are now ready to use! Now I think I'll go list these in my Etsy shop.  Have a great weekend everyone!