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

FamiliesEncouraged
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.

 

OutsideBok

InsideBokDrawings

No block party iscompletewithoutone
No block party is complete without a bouncy house!

 

 

Fleisher 121st Annual Faculty Exhibition

exhibit

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.

Earrings from the Seashore

When I was a kid, we would challenge one another with tongue twisters.  One I remember is “she sells sea shells by the seashore.”  I often wondered how anyone could make money selling seashells near a beach.  That was then and this is now.  Shells are harder to come by on the beach nowadays.  Still, a friend did manage to find some seashells which she asked me to make into earrings for her.

The shells looked like small mussels to me and were pretty delicate so I decided to give them a reinforcing coat of epoxy resin after I drilled tiny holes for jump rings.  2DrilledCoatedShells

My new dehydrator came in handy for drying the shells after I coated them because the weather is humid around here.  By the way, this dehydrator was $24.99 when I bought it on Amazon a couple of months ago to use with metal clay.  Now it’s selling for three times as much and  I have no idea why.  But there are plenty of dehydrators to be had for under $40.00 if you shop around.

6 Dehyrator

I like to weigh my resin on a gram scale.  I put a silicone egg cup on the scale, calibrate  to zero, and pour in equal parts resin and hardener.  When I am done,  I let the remaining resin resin cure in the cup, pop it out and throw it away.  Voila!  The silicone cup is clean for the next resin project.

 

I used real 24 K gold leaf for one pair of shells and fine silver foil for the inside of the second pair.  I attached the leaf with sizing and coated the shells with Pebeo varnish. I laid the shells on an old silicone pot holder to dry and sanded off any blobs before I applied the leaf.

 

 

 

And here are the finished earrings: gold filled wire for one pair and sterling wires for the pair with the silver leaf undersides.    The earrings are extremely light and a lot more durable because of the resin coating.

Earrings

 

 

A Favorite Book and a New(ish) Video

Years of metalsmithing, pot throwing, beading, fabric cutting and general crafting mayhem have have taken their toll on my hand and wrist. I am having surgery in a few weeks. No hitch hiking for me until the bandages are off and the therapy is over. I would like it if Boris could act as my studio assistant, but I am afraid he sleeps too much.

I have been working with fabric lately and have revisited one of the classics of fabric surface design,  Complex Cloth by Jane Dunnewold.  Complex Cloth covers  dyeing, stamping,  stenciling, screen printing, and almost any other fabric surface alteration technique you want to know.   There are newer books out there covering more techniques, but if you are just getting started and need an intro to the basics, grab a used copy of Complex Cloth and get started.  You can get it here.

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Polymer Artist Ana Belchí’s videos never cease to amaze me.  This one is not exactly new-it’s seven months old-but her demonstration of six variations on the lentil swirl bead is fascinating and makes me wonder what other polymer techniques I could try, change one small thing, and get a completely surprising result.    But that’s what it’s all about isn’t it?  The “What If?”

Flower Challenge

I am delighted to be taking part in the Art Elements Blog Hop for July.  The theme is one of my favorites: flowers.  I’ve written about flowers on my blog many times.   But  I usually photograph flowers instead of trying to make them (unless you count my felt flowers).

I took the opportunity of the July Flowers theme to complete a project I’d left unfinished for some time.   I had fired a batch of bronze clay and had been making rings and embellishments from 10 gauge bronze wire I was annealing and shaping in my rolling mill.   I had some bronze clay flowers I made in molds that I wanted to attach to milled rings.  I have been a bit challenged in the hand department lately because of some kind of tendonitis or impaction and can’t do much with my right hand.  But I was able to finish some gentle shaping of the wire that I had previously hammered into shape and to solder it on to the flower.    Here is a brief explanation of the process:

The bronze wire is  stiff and hard when it’s 10 gauge thick but I love the look of thick wire and the versatility a thick gauge gives me.  You have to anneal it often as you pass it through the rolling mill.  I changed it to a square shape.raw materials Bronze Clay

The bronze clay behaves very much like ceramic clay in its unfired state, so I was able to push a bit of it into a silicone mold to make the flower. I had to let the flower dry and refine any cracks and sharp edges before firing it in activated carbon.  The firing was successful and I got metal which I then soldered to the bronze wire ring I had previously made.Flower

 

ring2

The ring is fun to wear.  Not too flashy and it looks at home next to the stack of bronze and silver rings I wear every day.

 

terra cotta flower magnets

 

And here are some fun flower magnets that I made from Terra Cotta clay and a press mold.  I painted them with underglazes and finished with a glossy clear glaze.

If you are interested here is some of my flower  photography from past travels.  Mendocino, and Singapore,

Please visit all the artists participating in the Art Elements Blog Hop for July:

Visiting Artists:
Alysen
Cat
Divya
Evie and Beth
Jill
Kathy
Linda
Martha
Melissa
Michelle
Rozantia
Sarah
Sarajo
Tammy
Alysen
Cat
Divya
Evie and Beth
Jill
Kathy
Linda
Martha
Melissa
Michelle
Rozantia
Sarah
Sarajo
Tammy

and the Art Elements Blog contributors:
Caroline
Cathy
Claire
Jenny
Laney
Lesley
Marsha
Susan