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Life

Life has a way of kicking you in the arse when you least expect it.  This will be my last post here.

On the 26th July 2013 I was diagnosed with ALS or Motor Neuron Disease.  I am no longer able to do even the most basic clay work and miniatures are history. It’s mega frustrating as anyone with a creative bent can understand. Art has been my life for so long and now I need to live without it.  I can no longer teach, do bead work, clay work, paint, knit, crochet or any of the myriad things I did. Even typing has become a challenge.

A wheelchair has become necessary if I need to cover distance tho’ I am still able to move around the house. Hubby is learning to cook rapidly and is doing almost everything in the house now.

So, thank you for following my life of miniatures and shows, my branching out into other areas of clay work.

Never take anything for granted – it can change in a heartbeat.

Love you all

God Bless

 

Hee – as if doing one production isn’t enough, I’ve been asked to help with another one – this time the pantomime version of The Little Mermaid.  The two shows run straight into one another.  I was helping with props, but the set designer pulled out and my friend Darryl went HELP.  Could I say no?  Not in a million years. LOL Glutton for punishment I am.

We moved into the theater on Sunday – opening on the 22nd June so that gives us very little time to get everything done.  I’ve kept the set very simple and very obviously NOT Disney.  We have to avoid all issues with copyright and royalties etc etc.  It’s not going to be the typical set at all – Darryl likes different.  I’ll share pics as soon as it’s painted. :)  No complicated backdrops at all but there will be a lot of flies (things that go up and down into the roof space for those who don’t know theater!) and a few wheel-ons.

Being pantomime one has to bear in mind that you having acting, singing AND dancing – so I need a fairly open stage.  With that comes the logistics of where to position fixed pieces for voice projection and add to that the logistics of lighting……  well….. let’s just say there’s a lot to think of.

I’m in the process of making fake rocks – chicken mesh armature and paper mache – and a gazillion brightly coloured fishies that will hang off the bars at the wings – more paper mache.

The sea weed is done, as is the snarfblatt, dinglehopper, telescope, pen, kelp.  We’re collecting boat and sea type goodies wherever we can and I’m drawing, drawing, drawing! LOL

Along with that I’m still working on Pirates of the Caribbean – many shrunken heads and skulls still to make. :)  More paper mache rocks, a chandelier, treasure etc., so definitely keeping out of mischief.

It really is a case of Watch This Space!!! :)

Show Time Again.

Once again it’s showtime.  This year we’re doing a dance production of Pirates of the Caribbean.  Yes there’s artistic license used – show me a stage production that doesn’t! – but the story is there.  I’ve heard some of the music so far, received the script – which now has to be turned into a working script for distribution to all parties involved.

The logistics are giving me nightmares. I have four scenes with one basic set.  Port, mansion, treasure island and deck.  Just a bit of a challenge. :)  I’ve got the sketches done for the various scenes – now to make it reality.

I’ve started working on the props and the jewelry for the dancers.  How to create jewelry that’s as authentic to the period as possible, yet “dances”.  In other words doesn’t swing around and slap someone in the face, doesn’t catch on costumes or arms, hands, legs and feet (yes, they’re all involved in dancing!), won’t move around during the dance BUT still be visible from the audience.  :D  Then of course there’s the little factor that you need 12 or more IDENTICAL sets of jewelry, sometimes more, depending on the size of the group.

Finding the required number of old mountings – scrap!  Finding the right size mountings – scrap!  So… thank God for whoever invented polymer clay!  This is the first time I’m using polymer in any of my sets.  It’s got it’s own learning curve involved but so far I’m really happy with the results.

The jewelry for the maidens involves a triple strand pearl choker with a large cameo focal.  Try finding the right sized cameos. LOL.  Out came the one and only cameo I had inherited from my gran, add Alleygoop silicone molding compound and the first cast was made.  Take said resulting mold and make ONE cameo.  Haul out the sculpting tools and re-define ALL the details, cut away any surrounding clay, smooth and create just the actual head.  Make second mold. Happy?  Yes! So make another 13 heads – one extra just in case! Brush on paint and antique to try and resemble the pink tones of the original shell carving – yeah okay, I can live with those.  Once those were done, I then had to create a suitable background to mount those on in the form of a cab which would still need a suitable old fashioned mounting.

I wanted a mother of pearl look. Maybe I shouldn’t have read the instructions for faux mother of pearl at nearly midnight right before going to sleep.  I duffed it – used translucent instead of pearl clay as the base. However – having gone that far, I wasn’t going to waste any clay. Out came my pearlex powders and I created something vaguely shell like that worked.  Cut those out in an appropriate size oval – oops! Wait! No oval cutter.  Find suitable chewing gum container, cut away the top and file the edge to a taper. That worked. Ovals cut, heads added and the lot cured. Oval cutters arrived 3 weeks later. Figures!  Ok – so now add a mounting and figure how in the name of all that is holy I’m going to add them to the choker.  There is of course, the possibility that the focal will have to be changed for a different dance item – hmm… a pin? Could work.

The mounting became an exercise in learning.  I found an old earring with a lovely surround, obviously the wrong shape – wouldn’t possibly be simple right? – and made a silicone mold of just the detail of the mounting.  Roll out a nice long snake of polymer and take a few impressions of the detail. Cut strategically and join into a long rope – wind around the cured cab to get the exact shape and tweak the join. Great! Layer that on top of a medium thick sheet of clay and trim the excess away.  Neaten the joins, double check that everything is properly joined, cure.  Prototype of the mounting made.  More Alleygoop, another mold.

The mountings made and “gilded”, cameo’s in place, I derived a “channel” piece on the back that will take the three strands of pearls (the concept of changing the focal has thankfully been scrapped), and now I get to repeat the entire process for the earrings.  Only much, much smaller.  At this stage the mold for the cameos is made, as well as the mold for the mounting. I just have to sit down and make them.

The sample set was made – rather happy with the way it all turned out, as is the dance teacher.

In the meantime the treasure chest yawns wide open, decidedly empty and begging to be filled.  A few strands of pearls finished so far, along with a few other bits and bobs I’ve scrounged. There is a set to build, totem poles to make, paintings to be done, supplies to be bought, a chandelier and a mast to construct and we’ve barely started.

Oh, did I tell you the show is in July?

Changes to my blog

I’m in the process of setting up a formal website for the miniatures and polymer clay work that I do. You’ll notice several changes to the blog – categories disappearing, pages deleted etc etc.

There have been some major changes in my life in the last year and a half. I was diagnosed with a muscle disorder which is both painful and at times disabling. I’m having to let go of many of the things I’ve always done. Ceramics, fabric painting, decoupage, beading and wire work, embroidery, crochet – these are just some of the things I am no longer able to do.

The Xmas Cottage is officially closed – it is the area most affected by the above. I no longer teach workshops on a regular basis. Whether I get back to those eventually we will have to wait and see.

For now, I’ve stopped fighting the changes and accepted that it’s time to move on. I’ve settled on the fact that polymer clay and miniatures will be the focus of my art, though on a much smaller scale than before. I’ll probably wind up doing more tutorials and writing the various articles I’ve been requested to do. I’ll still be taking on commissions, but on a very limited basis. The miniatures will all be done as limited ranges, which may or may not be repeated.

There is still set design to be done, though I’ll probably get other people to do the actual construction work in the future. Working with certain tools and equipment aggravates my hands and arms too much, which leads to forced rest for several weeks which is frankly frustrating and annoying. ROFL I’m NOT good at sitting still doing nothing and I get very irritable when I can’t create!

The new website will be live soon. I’ll post details as soon as we’re ready to launch.

WATCH THIS SPACE!

Dragon Lore

Dragon Queen 2For whatever reason my muse is not yet done with the dragons. The second one – a gold – is in the oven and in process of being made. The base for the third one is complete, waiting for the dragon to be born.

I’m seeing sea dragons – blues, greens, purples and aquas. The wings are much smaller – more fin like – the tail broader and flatter at the end. Still dubious about legs – would they have them? I’ll have to see how they evolve. I’ve been collecting bits of drift wood, huge shells, chunks of coral.

There are blue dragons, green dragons and purple dragons flitting around my100_2665 minds eye. Shimmering, sparkling flickers of colour and sheer strength in their lithe, limber forms.

Why? I truly don’t have a clue. I’ve read so much fantasy fiction and it all seems to be coming to life under my hands. My dragons are not based on any drawings, cover art or other media. This is how I see them, how I imagine they move and live. I somehow sense the skeleton and muscles beneath the skin and can picture so vividly how their limbs would behave in certain positions.

A friend said they’re a little bit scary. My husband did too. I don’t think so, but then I don’t picture dragons as cute, cuddly creatures. They’re raw power and beauty, sheer simplicity in their lines. Their eyes reflect truth and light back at you – which is why I’m using crystals for their eyes. They’re magic and mystery and I wish I understood why they’ve always been a part of our mythology and fantasy. Did these wonderful creatures truly exist and their memory lives on in our minds? I like to think so. Guardians of the past and of the future and all that is humankind.

100_2668Welcome to my world.

Finally!

Dragon!The Dragon – he is done!!!  What an adventure and learning curve!  Head breaking off and having to be re-attached, premature flying lessons, broken base, broken tail, broken neck spikes, broken wings – gads!  Anything and everything that could go wrong went wrong, BUT!  He is finished and I think he is gorgeous.  Just needs a name.

I’ld just finished the second wing and was carefully carrying him to the oven for the final curing, the darn thing slipped on the tile and I could not stop it falling!  Luckily it landed flat on the base.  Unfortunately – the base was glass!  Millions of slivers of glass all over the kitchen floor – I have stone floors! – the rock separated from the base and extreme profanity went flying in every direction. Didn’t know I could speak such fluid “french”.

The tail broke off – naturally! – since it was partially draped across the stone and partially across the base!  Two neck spines broke off, the tongue broke off (again!). I carefully put the dragon – wing miraculously still intact – into the oven and prayed!  While waiting for it to cure I salvaged the clay cover on the base – not without a shard of glass or two in my fingers! Found the bits of tail and other than the piece still attached to the base, gave them up as a lost cause!  Never did find the tongue or the neck spikes.  Grabbing the shark scrap and the pasta machine I quickly managed to fill the clay base and got it cured and painted.

Dragon came out the oven and I discovered that the second wing had cracked after all.  I wound up removing the upper section of the wing and rebuilding it. Re-attached the rock to the now painted base and started the re-construction of the tail.  Isn’t it lucky I had so much of the orange scrap clay?  Redid the neck spines and cured the whole thing.  I still hadn’t noticed the missing tongue at this stage.

One intact dragon later, I set it on the table to seal and do the final curing, which is when I noticed the missing tongue and a missing claw.  With those in place, Dragon got sealed and popped back in the oven. There is a tiny flaw on the back wing which I will attend to in the morning – now I’m simply enjoying looking at him and wondering how on earth I actually made him and shaking my head in amazement that I finished him despite all the mishaps.

If you want a closer look take a dander at my flickr album.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kays_polymer_creations

Hubby is adamant that this fellow will never leave home.  Don’t think  I could bear to part with him anyway.  Aside from that my daughter has laid claim to him – he matches her paprika and denim bedroom!  I’m eyeing my collection of rocks and wondering what colour the next one will be. Someone I know collects purple dragons…..

Dragon HeadSo this little adventure is not without it’s mishaps, sidesteps and curve-balls. During one of the curing sessions, having attached the hind leg and forearm on the one side, the head broke off. I promise you St George was no where near! No swords, no maidens in distress or anything of the kind!

I had a mild panic attack! Okay – so it was a full-blown freak session! However once I’d carefully recovered the head from the bottom of the oven, the body from the shelf it was perched on and got both back to the clay table I realised it might just be the best break dragon and I had. I could work on detail on the head which I wasn’t able to add other wise. That was pretty convincing till the lower jaw broke off. Sigh…… so back to the drawing board.

Set the head aside while I thought it over and continued to add the hind legAAAACK! and forearm to the other side of the dragon. Into the oven. Repaired the lower jaw, added “wattles” and cured. Got that out the oven and the lower jaw decided to part company again! Blow that – so complete reconstruction of the lower jaw and emergency surgery to repair a crack in the neck. Drilled a little hole, added a tiny piece of toothpick as “peg”. Drilled a tiny hole in the body end of the neck. BAD idea. It cracked and two little pieces chipped away.

At this point things are NOT going my way, however! Head is now out the oven and in one piece for the moment. Here’s hoping it stays that way. I’m happy with the shape of the body and the way the limbs are attached. Now to re-attach the head. I’ll wait till the whole thing is completely cool though before trying this.

I’ve still got to come up with a plan for the wings – I’ve mixed the translucent with a teeny tiny blob of orange. That’s been set aside and waiting for me to work with it.

With the addition of pearl-ex powders and gold metallic powder the orange is now glorious! Rich, vibrant and alive. Now to get life breathed into this creature.

Wish me luck!

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