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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Hooked on Bottles of Hope

Le Chat Noir by Sandra Mitchell  

Guardian of the Sea by Sandra Mitchell


The Pink Slippers by Vickie Turner

That's it! I'm hooked! These teeny tiny bottles are decorated by polymer clay artists and donated to hospitals to distribute to cancer patients, small messages of encouragement and support tucked inside. They are evidence of compassion and empathy in a world where people are more disconnected and isolated than ever by the techno-crap that clutters their lives - concrete evidence that someone who doesn't even know who the patient is cares enough about what they are going through to spend time, thought and creative energy to show their support and encouragement. So you feel really good making them and giving them, knowing (from reports received back from clinics and hospitals) that these miniature works of art are appreciated and cherished. You start making one, then the muse takes over and you find yourself irresistably pulled to the next little bottle.....then an idea springs up as you are finishing that one and you move to the next .........and onward. They really are addictive to make, wonderful to hold and absorb you as you study their details. What will you do next? A miniature fairy tale scene? Evoke an era rich with visual imagery? Make a statement? Create a creature that protects its holder? So many directions it can take - wait! Maybe clowns! Maybe the circus! Maybe a renaissance jester.......or a knight........or a mermaid...........or........

Monday, February 14, 2011

Down the Rabbit Hole

Have you ever felt that you've lost yourself? Who you've become is not the person you picture in your mind? It's as if you fell down the proverbial rabbit hole and can't figure out how you got there, and worse, how to get back out! I was listening to some great music (well, great to me), the soundtrack from Peter Gunn (ok, so now I'm really dating myself) and the image I had of myself decades ago appeared so clearly and in such detail that I startled myself. I studied her carefully, taking in all the subtle nuances in addition to the obvious details, and then looked at the reality of who I had become - not even close! Do I have to stay trapped in this altered universe? How do I get back to who I really am?

Since "perception is 9/10ths of reality", I have decided to accept my perception of reality as real - I mean really REAL. If I'm colour blind, what do I care if the grass is really green? My reality would say that it's red. Living my life denying my own perception of reality because someone else's perception is more "real" doesn't change the fact that my grass is red, and that red grass is going to show up in anything that I do that is genuine, that is truly who I am. So, what is my reality?
  • No, I'm not 18 any more, but I have the mind of an 18-year-old. 
  • I've lived long enough for life to beat cynicism into me, but in my heart I'm naive and positive. 
  • Time has shown me that people can let me down, but in my mind people live up to what you expect of them, and will respond to kindness with kindness, love with love, patience with patience and honour with honour. 
  • Events have revealed the ineffectiveness and futility of my meager efforts to improve the world, but my perceived reality is that the world should be a better place because a man/woman has lived. 
I've come to envelope myself with mature clothes and embrace black, but that's not me. I see myself wearing high heels, tight pants, leopard print shirt, red and black and arty jewelry. The reality is that I don't feel comfortable in the rabbit hole - it's not a pleasant place for me. I'm depressed here and anxious and see no hope, just further decline and deterioration. I don't want to live there any more. It's time to see the real me again. All right, maybe I won't go buy a pair of 5" stilletto's, but I'm going to keep playing the music that reminds me that I am who I perceive myself to be, and that my perception is vital to recreating my reality.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Essence of the Creative Soul

Some artists have a way of expressing themselves visually that reaches, unnoticed, into your core and entwines itself gently with your very being. Meet Sandra Mitchell, a woman who's many creative facets always make you look, not once, not twice, but again and again. You sense a connection with her work deep down inside. It doesn't shout, just sings in your very being.

Her latest work, Batgirl, is just such a piece - earthy, evocative, resonant, appealing, yet calling up memories from long ago and places from the long distant past. I just love her. I want her. She is vulnerable, beckoning to be held and cherished like the street urchins from Dickens' day, calling out to be part of your life, moving through your day's activities like a waif hanging close to your heart and enfolded in the warmth of your body. Sighhhhhh.

You can see more of Sandra's work on her Etsy site:
Do yourself a favour and read her write-ups of her items for sale - they are wonderful.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Claymagination 2011


Claymagination 2011
The first, annual mid-island polymer clay retreat.
Five full days of exploration into the potential of polymer clay as an art medium, including sculpting, surface techniques, mixed media, resin, the new Burlesque Blend and jewelry design and assembly.

The Polymer Claymates Guild is proud to host this event and are pleased to extend an invitation to anyone who would like to attend this art retreat. We have invited three accomplished instructors to teach 5 different classes.

Dates: Tuesday, April 12th, to Saturday, April 16th, 2011

Time: 9am to 5pm daily except Thursday, which will go from 9am to 9pm

Location: Nanoose Bay, precise location to be finalized

Cost: $375 (this fee includes all five days of instruction, all materials needed to complete the specific class projects (tools excepted), a Thursday evening for completing projects, asking additional questions and getting specific help from instructors if necessary, and buffet dinner Saturday night to socialize, celebrate our accomplishments and to give out prizes)


Day 1 and 2: Surface Effects – Instructor: Lisa Pakosh

You will be working with a new line of pigment, metal leaf, silkscreening, inserting the clay into premade bezels and learning to work with resin. All clay and materials required for the surface techniques will be provided, as will a bezel blank, bails, necklace chain, headpins, earwires and other incidental finishing materials. Additional bezel blanks (pendants, bracelets, earring and ring) will be available to purchase at cost for those of you who are ambitious and wish to finish more pieces. You will finish at least three pieces.

Day 3: Inside the Box – Instructor: Sandra Mitchell

You will make a themed box with a lid and sitting on legs, if you so choose. This box will be embellished with sculpted elements from a theme that you would select with the instructor’s help. This will include extensive teaching of colour mixing, using a unique technique for developing a coherent colour palette for a particular piece. Also, various inclusions will be introduced for adding texture and interest. Using armature as sculpting foundations will also be taught. Sandra’s goal is to help you to create your own unique characters, whether imaginative or realistic.

Day 4: Burlesque Blends                           Day 5: Urban Grunge meets
                                                                                 Jules Verne
    Instructor: Vickie Turner

Day 4: Burlesque Blends:

This is a new, unique technique that will be taught for the first time in this class. You will also be introduced to working with glitter in conjunction with this technique and designing your piece accordingly. This day will include more work on colour, helping you to choose colour harmonies that yield beautiful results when working with metal clays.

Day 5: Urban Grunge meets Jules Verne:

This class is a combination of industrial chic and steampunk, using the unique “mimic” properties of polymer clay to imitate metal, paper, wood, leather, glass, enamel, rocks and various semi-precious gemstones. We will make several pieces of "found" objects and then use various mixed media to complete a necklace similar to the one pictured above. You will learn some wonderful wire working techniques for attachments and clasps as well. This will be a blast!

Day 5 will end with a buffet dinner and prizes and time to spend admiring everyone’s accomplishments.

Beginner’s/Refresher Polymer Clay Class:

If you are new to polymer clay, or just rusty, don’t fret. A Beginner’s/Refresher class is scheduled for the Friday before the retreat, Friday, April 8th from 10am to 4pm. This class will cover all the basics of working with the clay, handling the tools safely, curing and finishing. The class will be $55, including all the material for the project (tools excepted). However, if you would like to attend the retreat, the cost of this class will come down to $15, to cover just the cost of the material.

We will make a “faux” jade bracelet similar to that pictured above.

Payment can be made via Paypal. $100 non-refundable deposit is required at sign-up with the remainder due by March 10. You can contact me at

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Flirting with the Middle

To go from having a gigantic void at mid-point to putting the focal point almost smack dab in the middle - something's going on! I'd love to have quick and easy insight into and translation for right-brain visual-speak, but that's a hard-won battle fought over time.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Breathing In and Out

Sometimes I don't even pay attention to the breath in my body. Slow, rhythmic, life-sustaining, you just do it - you breathe. So it is with art. I wasn't aware, initially, that I was holding my creative breath, and slowly withering because of it. That first conscious in-take of creative breath was a heady experience. I still fall into the old habit of holding my breath and I need to stop that. Life intervenes. "Important" things invade my space, mental and physical. Who deemed them "important"? I need to go practice breathing, the studio beckons. The dust bunnies can wait.