Handmade for the Holidays

This is where I’ll be selling my wares this weekend along with the other potters who share studio space at Fleisher Art Memorial.
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I’ll have more than pottery.  I will also be selling jewelry made from recycled materials and ceramics, bronze, and fused glass.

See you there!

Cats and Cookery Happy Thanksgiving

Who knew cats could cook?  Not that Boris cooks.  He expects to be waited on and is the type of cat who would have all the best take out places on speed dial if we let him have a phone.  Which we don’t for obvious reasons.

But our bridge kitty Plumpton was quite a cook .  In fact, one of this recipes was published.Feline-Lcookbookcover

Here is the recipe

Plumpton'ssalad

I have never tried it and never made it for Boris.  Even though I have an adventurous palate, I find some of the ingredients, well, a little off-putting.

We will not be making a turkey tomorrow because we will be delivering a cookbook to Boris’s penpals with whom we will be spending the day.   Here he is posing with the cookbook.

On this Thanksgiving, Boris is thankful for friends, (especially his young penpals),  for a safe and cozy home, and people who love him (even if we don’t feed him as often as he would like).   What are you thankful for?

 

Boris Dream of Drumsticks

Boris (dreaming of drumsticks) wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving,

My Studio Then and Now

Libby Mills ran a series on her blog a few years ago called Studio Snapshot and she was kind enough to feature my workspace in one of her posts.  I thought it would be fun to do a then and now post of my space.

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Then
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Now

A little neater. now, don’t you think?  I have to confess that one of the reasons it’s so orderly is because I am not in the middle of any projects now, because I am recovering from hand surgery and because I have been cleaning.   Our boiler and water heater entered into a mutual suicide pact last week which necessitated replacing them both with this new gizmo.  Which necessitated drilling through the foundation.  Which created lots of dust.

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The New Gizmo

New Gizmo does not need to use the chimney as it is vented out the side of the house, and the workshop is so clean is because I have been steam cleaning the fine layer of dust off of everything.

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Chimney opening

This means I can move my kiln and my polymer oven to the back basement, install a ventilation system  like this one that will blow out the chimney, and gain some space in the front basement.    I do not plan to add anything else to the front basement because I like the idea of having more room to stretch,  something I did not always have. But I will have to have some electrical work done in the back so I can run my kiln, oven, and ventilation system there.  I haven’t done any lamp working for a few years but I have worked with bronze metal clay, porcelain clay, and have done some glass fusing.

 

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Pretty Cluttered

I have donated all but my very favorite beads ( which leaves quite a lot of them) and have installed new lighting in the work space.  And I have gotten rid of a TON of supples, paints, fabric, glues, found objects, old tools, metal and more to good homes.

I replaced all my old furniture with Ikea Helmer cabinets and Linmon table tops  When I like about this is when you want to move supplies, you can simply switch drawers. Everything fits! And everything’s on wheels which makes it doubly convenient.  You can move things around without a lot of fuss.

 

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I still have my old watchmaking bench but I use it for display and to hold supplies

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When your space is as small as mine, something has to go every time you bring something new in.  I snagged this cabinet for $5.00 at a house sale.  I am still deciding what to toss.

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I don’t think I will ever have enough hammers though.

 

Beginning Flat Peyote Stitch

I mostly love the how-to videos available on YouTube.   I mean they have everything!  I learned how to make striped lamp worked beads,   how to replace the gasket on my refrigerator door, how to remove an appendix (only kidding there.)

There wasn’t any YouTube when I first started seed beading.  My friends Sara Caldwell, who later started Blue Santa Beads and Carole Haines showed me a basic peyote stitch which enabled me to make my first lumpy amulet bag.  I bought books and taught myself the basic stitches.   My friend Gladys Glass, who owns the Woodstock Trading Company,  taught me how to crochet with beads. Since then, I have taught basic bead stitches and bead crochet to friends, mostly for fun.  And Beading Yoda has taught me innumerable tricks and tips.

When my friend Cynthia told me she was interested in learning off loom bead weaving, I went to YouTube in  search of beginner’s videos to recommend and I was somewhat taken aback.  The first one I saw described starting the first rows of flat peyote stitch as a “nightmare.”   I don’t think you help newbies by telling them that what you are trying to teach them is difficult (unless it really truly is.  But we are not training Navy Seals here.  This is beginning beadwork).  People learn in different ways and an effective teacher facilitates learning.

In other videos, the teachers talk for several minutes before getting into the beading.  Unless this digression covers a well-edited review of tools and materials, or something equally interesting, like in Leslie Rogalski’s video (below) I don’t see why all that chatter is necessary.  I get impatient.  And bored.  But Leslie’s video is concise, concrete and informative.

 

And sometimes, you don’t need  words at all, like in this great animated video from VP Biser.   You can turn off the music if it gets to be too much.

 

 

When you’re ready to graduate to more complex beading and projects, I recommend the videos of Heather Collin, Jill Wiseman, Beading for Perfectionists.  

It’s best to use larger beads (like Perler beads) when you a beginning beader, at least to learn the basic stitches.  Now, Cynthia thinks this does not apply to her because her first knitting project was argyle baby booties. And the project was successful.    And while I haven’t seen the booties, I believe her.

Delica Beads are a good choice for beginner’s projects because they are uniform in size, a fact you especially appreciate when you start beading.    (One reason my  first amulet bag was lumpy was that I used cheap  beads.)  Yes, they are more expensive, but they are easier to use.  And you can always rip out your work and start over if you don’t like what you’ve made.

Blue Santa has a great selection of Delica beads, plus all kinds of needles, threads and a great staff to answer all your questions. Beading Yoda swears by Discount Delicas who has a big selection. I like Farmer Jerry on Ebay .  They don’t have every color, but they have great prices and  offer free shipping on orders of $20.00 or more.

Happy beading.

Street Art in Lisbon

Last week’s post on the Philadelphia Fashion District referenced the Streetsdept.com blog which chronicles street art in Philadelphia.  I love street art because it’s free for the viewing,  usually relevant to current events, or a chronicle of  past events that need to be memorialized.  People have been drawing and writing on public walls since ancient times.  Street art can be viewed as a crime or high art.   I prefer to think of it as  public art.

Lisbon in Portugal has a lively and vibrant street art scene as I discovered on a  trip there earlier this year.  Here are some highlights:TheFoxLisbon89

The Fox covers the side of a building and is made up of junk and recycled materials.

Read more about the artist, Attero Bordalo II, here.

 

The Alfama District is home to some great street art including a mural dedicated to Fado singer Maria Severa Onofriana.

LisbonWalkingTourAlfama13Respect Stpry of Old Women Graffifi Artists

Here’s one of my favorite Lisbon murals.  It’s called “Respect” and is also in the Alfama District.  Apparently there is a whole cadre of senior street and graffiti artists in Lisbon.  We were told that this mural depicts one of them reacting when a younger colleague does not show her the respect to which she is entitled.  Read more about the older artists here.  Read the real story behind the Respect mural here.

Some more  Lisbon street art picturesLisbonWalkingTourAlfama76 2LisbonWalkingTourAlfama10IMG_7923IMG_6967IMG_6949IMG_6872IMG_6862IMG_6860

If you want to learn more about Lisbon street art, the Camels and Chocolate  blog is a good place to start.  Better yet, go to Lisbon and walk the streets.

 

 

Philadelphia Fashions a District

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I had some time after a visit to the hand doctor today, so I decided to check out the Philadelphia Fashion District.

 

The Gallery Shopping Mall in downtown Philadelphia has been completely renovated and reopened to the public in September as  Philadelphia Fashion District.  No one shops at malls anymore, so the developers couldn’t just follow the old model of retailing in a renovated space.  So in addition to the standard  mall retail therapy establishments, the Fashion District is offering some intriguing opportunities for artists, makers, and entrepreneurs.

The Fashion District has invested one million dollars for art installations geared to “making museum-caliber art more accessible to the city, while also elevating the beauty of The District.”  The Bridgette Mayer Gallery has a display there with art for sale.

Conrad Benner, whose blog StreetsDept.com, chronicles street art in Philadelphia,  has been charged with curating an exhibit of the work of Philadelphia street artists. These works are currently on display on the lower (concourse) level of the Fashion District through the end of this year.

The Fashion District has provided space for RecPhilly, an organization who provides co-working space, recording studios, visual labs & conference rooms for creatives.  RecPhilly membership is financially accessible and has proven to so popular that there is now a waitlist.  But new memberships are sure to open up in the future.  Read more about RecPhilly on their website here.

The Fashion District is sponsoring more art-related events than I’ve written about here as well as planning to open up movie theaters, restaurants and performance spaces.  They are trying to do a lot and we’ll see how it goes.  Here are some pictures.

 

Polymer POST

I have published several posts about one of my favorite local art programs, the Philadelphia Open Studio Tours (POST).  But this year is the first time I have ever encountered polymer artists on the tour.   My friends Patty Pickup and Terri Powell (ArtSci designs) joined together in West Philadelphia to showcase their work for this years’ Open Studio Tour West.   They were the only polymer artists on the tour this year, but I am hoping this will change as more people start to recognize polymer as a serious art medium. 

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Patty’s Spruce Hill home was a great place for the display

Patty has an incredible, huge studio on the third floor of her home.  To see pictures of Terri’s studio, press here.

Patty’s latest work.  Her color washed-pendants are very popular.

ArtSci designs yummy carved and backfilled bracelets look good enough to eat.  I own a set of these and love wearing them.  If you are interested in purchasing any of Terri’s work, you can contact her through her web site here.    Patty does not have a web site yet, but I’m sure that’s only temporary.

 

 

 

 

Retreat to Pittsburgh

Patty’s car died so we decided to take the bus from Philly to Pittsburgh rather than rent a car, or go by train or plane.  It was pretty easy for me since the bus station is a few blocks from my house and my husband dragged my suitcase for me which was filled mostly with a pillow, some clothes and some beading implements.

OurBusIt’s a free for all when people disembark from a bus.  People don’t wait for the seats in front of them to empty before entering the aisles like they do on planes.   It’s like everyone on the bus forgets his manners or else they think someone on the sidewalk is giving out twenties and you won’t get one unless you trample the person in front of you.  But I found out that if I waved my arm cast around, people would stop in their tracks.  I had already decided that the cast looked like part of a super hero costume and I was right!  I wave it around and people fall aside like dominos. TAKE THAT!

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I dressed my cast with this lovely name tag when I got to the Retreat.

WorkroomWe had a large and lovely work space although it soon became clear to me that I could not do much beadwork.  I can bead left handed but supporting the work with my right hand was not comfortable.  So I put the beadwork away and schmoozed.

KoiPondSpiratancenterI also got the changc to wander the grounds of the Spiritan Center where the retreat was held.  They  have lovely grounds and an incredible Koi pond.

Typing is still a bit uncomfortable for me.   So here are some pictures from the retreat for you to enjoy.  There was a lot of talent there!

Going to Pittsburgh

They are busy awarding Nobel Prizes this week.  And I know I will never get one.  Why?  Because, as my doctor informed me today, the hand surgery  I had  a week ago was major hand surgery.  And yet tomorrow I leave for the Pittsburgh Polymer Clay Guild’s retreat.

I will not be bringing any clay.  I will be bringing a bottle of Jim Beam because I have stopped taking my prescription pain killers and I need some other way to console myself.  I will also be taking my Delicas and working on my geometric beadwork.

I was born left handed and still do many things left handed.  I am not ambidextrous.  I am merely mixed up.  I can bead left handed and I started doing it when the whole flare up that led to the surgery started.  I recently learned that while I can’t saw a straight line in metal with my right hand, I can do it with my left.  Go figure.

Boris inspects my sling

This is Boris rooting around in my arm sling for a treat I threw in there.  I had a notion that I was going to make him a Cat Taco costume for Halloween.  He told me to get that thought right out of my mind and to bring more treats.

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They took out my stitches today (ouch!) and made me a thumb splint.  I told them I was leaving for Pittsburgh tomorrow.  “What for?” they asked.  “A thumb wrestling conference,” I replied.  ONLY KIDDING!  I like the way the cuff bracelet dresses up the splint.  But I had to take it off and replace it with the third padded strap that goes with the splint. ginkgo

I am not going to Pittsburgh empty handed.  This is a bronze clay ginkgo leaf pendant for the Pittsburgh Guild’s auction.

LPCNo poker chips for Left Right Center.  But I have some glass cabs and ceramic components I made awhile ago.  I think these will work.

What a Lot of Crafting Can Do

40 years of pot throwing, metal forging, sewing, beading, knitting, cat chasing, knee slapping, and assorted nonsense means basal thumb joint reconstruction surgery, DeQuervain’s Tendon Release, a shot of cortisone for possible Carpal Tunnel, and a bed of frozen peas for the swelling. It hurts less today than it did yesterday. I will go to Pittsburgh to hang out at the retreat next week, but no claying, or much of anything else, for now.

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