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!

MyNameTag.
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.

bracelet

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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12 Chairs and 2 Actors = 1 Enjoyable Play

 

I saw a play last weekend that I’d like to recommend.  It’s called 12 Chairs (not to be confused with the Russian story with a similar name), and it’s playing at Buttonwood Studios  in the Callowhill or Loft District just north of Chinatown.

12 Chairs, a one-act play written by John O’Hara, tells the story of  daughter Louise and her mother Ann from the time Louise is seven years old until Ann dies in a nursing home years later.  While there is nothing extraordinary about these women’s lives, the play manages to be compelling, heartrending and humorous.  The script is tightly written, the direction is expertly paced and the acting is a real treat.

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The two actors who make up the cast, Marcia Ferguson and Amanda Schoonover take on an additional ten roles between them (besides the mother and daughter).  Using a minimum of costumes and props, they bring the additional characters to life with their acting skill.  And they are very skilled.

The set consists of 12 folding chairs on a low proscenium a few feet in front of the audience, and nothing more.  The actors make the story come to life.

You still have time to see this production of 12 Chairs which has three performances left.  You can buy tickets HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

Opera on the Mall and Bok Party

Lots going on in Philadelphia arts-wise last weekend.  First up was Opera on the Mall a broadcast of La bohème in front of Independence Hall  Opera Philadelphia.  The event  kicked off to their Festival 019.

Two Screens
Plenty of room to stretch out, two screens and great sound.

CheckInWasEasy
Check in ran smoothly
TheCrowd
Some people brought their dogs.  I am sure there are Canine opera lovers.

 

FoodTrucks
Lots of food trucks

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And activities for non-opera lovers

 

OpeningScene
Act I begins.

 

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Bug repelling ankle bracelets just in case.

 

The next day was the family day block party at the Bok Building.

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Glass blowing on South 9th Street

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Pottery
Pottery for the kids who could have their finished product fired and mailed to them.

 

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InsideBokDrawings

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No block party is complete without a bouncy house!

 

 

Fleisher 121st Annual Faculty Exhibition

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I’ve started a new semester at the Fleisher Art Memorial but can’t do much in the pottery studio because of my hand (surgery next month).  But I went there today anyway  to check out the 121st (yes, you read that right) Annual Faculty Exhibition which is in full swing  and will be open for another week.  Here are some highlights from the show.

Bermudez
Henry Bermudez The Girl
TheGirlDetail
Detail

 

Budayev
Aleksandr Budayev Two Figure Drawing
Stirton-Broad
Carol Stirton-Broad  Dashes and Dots
Woods
Joni Woods Shuttle
Brett Lukens
Emily Brett Lukens Near or Far

 

There are many other fine works in the show which closes on September 21, 2019.    Don’t miss it if you are in South Philadelphia.

Cheap and Easy Photography Studio

And I really mean cheap and easy.  OK, not free.   I did have to buy some plastic place mats on Amazon. But I got 12 for $18.00 which leaves plenty left over to use as place mats and as traveling work surfaces for polymer.  That, packing tape and white card  stock which I had (you could use printer paper too) and I was all set.

1PlasticPlacemats

I have one of those cloth photo tents like this one  and they are great for taking pictures of vases and bigger items.    But it’s big and unwieldy in my studio and I actually had to watch a video on how to fold it and get it back into its storage bag.    I wanted a smaller photo cube for jewelry and similarly sized items.   I could have bought something, but could not find the size I wanted.  It seems like these things come in two sizes:  tiny and enormous.

That meant making one.  I didn’t want to have to buy special paper.  I didn’t want to have to find the right size box and saw the sides out of it.  When I was finished taking pictures,  I wanted to stow the box in a drawer or on a bookshelf.  So here’s what I came up with:

2Placemat photo setupHere’s the photo setup.  I cut the place mats to size with scissors and used packing tape to make this triptych-like screen.  4open

Here’s the set up with white paper behind the triptych under it.  You can use paper and the other mats to make any kind of configuration you like.  Just tape them together.  You can put the lights anywhere to get the effect you want.  The light I am using here is nothing fancy.  It’s an LED desk lamp I bought at Five Below and it uses three AA batteries which means you can move it anywhere and not be fighting with wires.  You can get something similar on Amazon here.  Don’t pay more than $5.00 per lamp.  They’re great for traveling to which is why I originally bought them.   And don’t think you need to buy  lights if you already have something you can use.

 

So, how do the pictures look?  Let’s see.

Shooting Earrings

Here’s a setup to shoot a pair of bronze clay earrings suspended on a piece of floral wire.

The image on the left is unlit.  I used the lamp on the image on the right.  I didn’t use any photo editing software.

Here are the same images Gimped.  Click on the images a couple of times to view them full size.  Gimp is a free open-source image editor that I have used for years.  It can do anything you want.  Did I mention that it’s free?

3Folded up

This is the photo studio folded up and ready to be put away.  It hardly takes up any room at all.  If you need something bigger,  just tape on another mat or two.  If you want something smaller, cut one down.

Here’s another idea.  The plastic drawers in this storage unit are also made of translucent plastic.  Before I started using the place mats,  I got some pretty good shots using empty drawers. Plastic drawers

1Tassel on box

Here’s a tassel I laid on one of the empty drawers.  You don’t have use a place mat on the drawer like I did; simply turn it over if the underside is free from markings.  You can try putting your small, battery-operated lamps inside or outside the drawer.  Experiment.

 

2Tassel on Box closeup

Here’s a shot of the tassel with some light from the battery-operated lamp.  Not too bad.  One of the great things about these photo setups is that they are small and cheap enough to take outside into the natural light where you should be able to get some pretty good results.  Experiment!  And don’t forget to have fun.

 

 

 

Home Organizing Tips and My Old Camera

I spent today cleaning out old paperwork and files that were taking up precious space in my small home.   I work fast.  I am not one to get sentimental about old tax returns or even the copy of my marriage license that I found buried in a file.  And I didn’t find any pictures to take me back to my (not so) wild youth.  No cat pictures either (except a blurry Polaroid of my Bridge Kitty Pooky sitting by our old rowing machine.  I don’t know why I kept it.)

I have learned some things about home organization in the past few weeks.  Tools, boxes and bags that are supposed to help you stay organized are no good if they have nooks and crannies where things can hide.  That’s why I spent three years wondering where my miter  vise and  the wedge to my ring clamp were hiding.   They were under my nose the whole time, secreted in one of these.  And some things are so big (I tossed this behemoth after I had emptied it) that it’s easer to store  the things they contain in a drawer and have done with it.  Enough of that.

My cleaning out trip down memory lane didn’t stall due to sentimentality  until I stumbled on my first digital camera hidden on a shelf behind some books.  (Fortunately  for me, I was almost finished purging, so the discovery didn’t derail  my good intentions.)

My first digital camera  was a  Fuji Fine Pix 2800   It only had 2 megapixels but it also had 6X optical zoom which was unheard of for a budget camera in those days (2002). And it took beautiful pictures although the files were small and not really suitable for print media.

Here are some of the pictures I found on the huge  Smart Media  cards used with the camera:

 

AfrBeads1

GlassBeads

 

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ClaspMakingBeadSwapBarcelona Cat

I took some new pictures of a project I am working out to see if  the camera still functioned:

ClothBangle1

I would keep the camera for web-based photography, but I  like the flexibility that larger files give.  So, I will erase all the media cards, find a spare card reader (the big media cards won’t fit into a standard computer slot) and donate the camera to a thrift shop.

 

Bye old friend!

What I learned from Susan Lenart Kazmer at Beadfest

Some Yoga breathing and stretching before you start the class sets a good tone for the rest of the day. I love Yoga but it can be tedious torture in the wrong hands.  Susan’s warm-up exercises lasted just long enough, and were very effective.  The soldering gods were with me the entire day.

AAclassroom
Our Classroom

I have never before taken a class at Beadfest.   I made an exception this year because the prices were attractive, ($165.00 for an all-day  metal class with a great teacher like Susan Lenart Kazmer is  a bargain) and because I needed to pull myself out of a slump.  I knew the class would be great because I took a wonderful class with her a few <ahem> years ago.

AAAmyworkstationandtools
My jumble of tools

There were only 8 people in the class (most people took classes earlier in the week) which meant it was easier to get help if you needed it.  But Susan’s demos and explanations were so good that I didn’t need much assistance.

Susanatthetorch
Susan Demonstrating

The class was on box making.  Only the boxes didn’t open.  Instead, you could write on the boxes or leave a hole to slip a message inside the box and only the maker and wearer would know what it was. A kind of talisman or prayer box.  I liked that idea.

Oneof Susan's box pendants
Here’s a side view of one of Susan’s boxes.

Here are some process pictures of my box as I assembled it.  We could elect to make earrings or a pendant and I went with the pendant although I started on a pair of earrings that I didn’t finish.

mybox
Here’s my finished pendant

I tried hanging the pendant from a silver chain.  That didn’t seem right.  The pendant demanded something a bit more substantial.  It is, after all, a box.  Then I remembered the fabric necklaces I have been making. Check my Instagram feed for some pictures.

 

BlueNecklace

I pulled out three fabric ropes I’d made from silk, fabric I’d screen printed, and  part of an old curtain.  I think I’ll use the box pendant with these.  I am in the process of deciding whether I want to make sterling end caps or fiber end caps.  But I think I already have the perfect clasp.

I learned many more things in the class but I don’t want to post them on-line out of respect for the teacher’s work product.  But there is something I will share and believe me, if I had learned nothing else from the class, it would have been worth it to learn an incredible bezel-cutting tool.   I am not ready to throw out my miter jig, but I will never again use it to cut bezels.

The Whaley Precision 90 Degree Bezel Cutting Shears have a guide attached to one of the blades that insures  you cut a straight edge every time.  Eurotool makes this incredible tool, and you can buy them here.   For a video of the shears in action, press here.

MiracleBezelCutters.jpg
Miracle Bezel Cutters!!!

 

Thank you Susan Lenart Kazmer and Beadfest!!!

Sights of Summer 2019

DWe’re getting to the end of the Summer.  In the olden days (before I got married)  I would camp with friends at the Philadelphia Folk Festival  I usually volunteered so I could get in for free and always ended up on a work detail that involved patrolling the campgrounds all night.

Beadfest Philadelphia  is a good way to mark the end of Summer these days.  I have never taken a class there, but this year I am taking one with Susan Lenart Kazmer.  I took a class with her some time ago and  it was a wonderful experience.    It will be interesting to see what I can do given that I have been having major hand problems and am scheduled for surgery.  But I didn’t want to cancel the class.  Worse come to worse, I’ll watch.

Here are some late late summer pictures from my recent wanderings in  Seaview at the Jersey Shore.

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Boardwalk food is about all that’s bad for you.  That’s what makes it so good.
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No shore amusement park is complete without a Ferris Wheel

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View from the cable car

 

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Sunset

 

 

And last but not least a great polymer video from Fiona Abel-Smith that not only covers construction of kaleidoscope canes, but does it using six different clays.  Check it out.