Have a cow

'Mover and Shaker' Pin, pendant and bag tag
‘Moover and Shaker’ Pin, pendant and bag tag

"You Moove Me" Pin, pendant and bag tag
“You Moove Me” Pin, pendant and bag tag
"A Moodern Heart" pin, pendant and bag tag
“A Moodern Heart” pin, pendant and bag tag

Three of my latest cow pins/pendants/bagtags are available for bids this Saturday at the Salmonberry School Silent Auction and Dinner on Orcas Island – the school’s annual fundraiser. Each pin measures 2.5″ x 2″ and is handstamped and carved from brown clay that is then glazed in iron oxide and satin white. If there’s one you like, contact me at optimismandco@gmail.com with your bid (any amount) BEFORE 3pm Pacific Standard Time, Saturday, May 4th and I’ll put your name on the bid list. I’ll contact you with delivery details if you win!

My 110 year old find – the beauty in age

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IMG_8878I am drawing inspiration from this palm-sized leather-bound book with a gold stenciled cover that reads “Guide To Piety” and is very likely over a 110 years old! A schedule of holy days in the beginning pages starts from 1902 and ends in 1928. I can barely make out the cursive handwriting in faded pencil on the inside cover. Perhaps it was a gift that became a reliable talisman on a bedside table, held so much the leather is worn.

Let me explain. The Orcas Library holds a book sale a few times a year and last Saturday was the Winter Sale. We always make a point to go – one part out of an obligation to support one of our favourite places on Orcas, one part something to do with the kids and one part succumbing to the thrill of the hunt. Books, mostly donated by islanders – from gorgeous coffee table books to Beginning Readers – are priced from 50 cents to $2 for hardcovers. Isn’t it bewildering that the books are cheaper than gift wrap, not to mention premium rolls of toilet paper? And yet, the sale was a quiet affair. If this had been at Walmart and on DVDs…

But I digress, I wanted to show off my score – this little book was too beautifully distressed for me not to pick up. There is something so simple and quiet about its appeal, sitting on that ‘Religious’ sale table amidst newer titles that just seemed to demand your piety, and loudly too – so loud I usually shuffle past. *Laugh* Which has left me wondering, is this some sort of sign? In the middle of Lent, too.

Please Mr. Postman

ReachKeep believing!

It’s a simple gesture but in the late throes of winter, or anytime of year for that matter, a good old-fashioned piece of personally addressed snail mail amidst the droll stack of bills, bank statements and assorted mass mailers would be enough to brighten my day.

Would it do the same for you? Try it. ‘FOLLOW’ me, ‘LIKE’ my blog, and share your thoughts below and I’ll write to you on one of these two cards. Don’t forget to leave your name and snail mail address too. I’m starting with 20 cards to send, anywhere in the world!

XOXO,
Sharon

P.S. OR, leave a comment on my blog and send me your address at optimismandco@gmail.com

I tried Polymer Clay

I made this during the class.  The crystal beads are on brass wire so the legs move. They were attached to the clay and cured together in a toaster oven at 275°F for 20 mins for permanency.  The moveable arms were attached afterwards.
I made this during the class. The crystal beads are on brass wire so the legs move. They were attached to the clay and cured together in a toaster oven at 275°F for 20 mins for permanency. The moveable arms were attached afterwards.

Go ahead, be a stick-in-the-mud potter (pun intended) and cringe, but polymer clay offers incredible elasticity, negligible shrinkage and versatility.  Case in point: Orcas Island artist Maria Papademetriou uses it to create ethereal sinuous ‘veins’ around driftwood branches as part of her assemblages.

I found this out first hand at an Introduction to Polymer Clay workshop by the very gracious Maria herself, whose intriguing artwork reference shrines, amulets and talismans from her Greek Orthodox childhood.  The class was held at Monkey Puzzle Workshop – a cosy, new art-discovery space at Eastsound Square launched by the inimitably bedecked Ms. Sallie Bell, as an extension of her stone bead and metal jewelry shop, Monkey Puzzle, a few doors down.  In fact Sallie joined the class and together with Charlotte Sumrall, a textile artist, we three had a great time watching Maria’s demos, and getting our hands dirty with rolling and cutting the polymer clay (a hand-cranked pasta maker is involved), stamping with ink, and even applying gold leaf.  It is just the most agreeable and approachable medium! To my delight, the material fees included some bead shopping at Sallie’s shop for embellishments to add to our ‘masterpiece’.

Charlotte's Gal
Charlotte’s Gal

Sallie's Belle
Sallie’s Belle

Maria has over 35 years of experience working with ceramics, but she is infectiously enthusiastic about polymer clay as a medium. Her enthusiasm alone made the class really interesting.  She is an engaging speaker and generously opened the window to precious little tips from years of art practice.  Oh, and she also brought a mean plate of homemade chocolate brownies.  It was a Sunday well spent. I am still too much in love with ceramic clay but I AM already thinking of using polymer clay elements to incorporate into my own mixed media work.

There’s another class this Sunday.  Check it out.

Sunday January 27th 10am-12pm 1pm-4pm

Location: Monkey Puzzle Workshop, Eastsound Square, Orcas Island

Fee is $50, plus a $20 materials fee.

PREREGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Please contact 317-5522 or email monkey@rockisland or information/registration.

P.S. Did you know there is a Northwest Polymer Clay Guild?  Check out their site to see the work of artists already using this medium.

Putting it out there

Display box of 5 ceramic pendants, embellished with seashells, found beads, jadeite stones and vintage buttons.  For individual purchase.  Prices from USD68 to USD128.
Five handcarved ceramic pendants, embellished with seashells, found beads, jadeite stones and vintage buttons. Available as a set or individually.

My first showing of work on Orcas Island!  I exhibited two sets of ceramic jewelry in keeping with the show’s theme of Wearable Art.  I was surprised to find myself the only artist to show jewelry (not a bad thing on hindsight), which serendipitously complemented the sumptuously handmade, hand beaded cloaks, costumes, fabric, masks and puppets on display. The costume works of Judy Tepley was astounding in their detail and intricacy, and I felt humbled thinking of the effort I spent in the mere bits of beading and threading I incorporated in my set of ceramic pendants above.

The show opened on Dec 1 with a warm reception that was perfectly family-friendly, with artists on hand to help with mask making and sock puppet creations, not to mention a delightful spread of pre-Christmas bites.  My boys thus occupied, gave me time to chat with other artists and guests I have never met.  It was a nice low-key debut personally.

I love the custom-framed box above and want to give special mention to its designer and maker –  the very creative Andy Troxel – who used seasoned wood reclaimed from the humble pallet, and pulled it all together  at a week’s notice.  Thank you, Andy!

Hung at the entrance foyer of Orcas Center for the Wearable Art Show.
Hung at the entrance foyer of Orcas Center for the Wearable Art Show.
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My second display at the Show – a collection of elegantly simple ceramic pendants in earth colored glazes, inspired by the twigs and the curled shavings of tree bark picked up while beachcombing on Orcas Island.

Crow’s Seasonal Dress

Hand-built ceramic slab with handcarved surface detail.  Commercial glazes on the inside and outside, iron oxide wash, fired to Cone 6.
Hand-built ceramic slab with handcarved surface detail. Commercial glazes on the inside and outside, iron oxide wash, fired to Cone 6.
Handcarved surface detail ensures a firm and comfortable grip for daily use
Handcarved surface detail ensures a firm and comfortable grip for daily use

Sometimes a black dress just won’t do.  A little brown and a little blue and crow’s ready for a ball.  Or a wedding party in Spring, maybe?

Standing at 4.5 inches tall, in food-safe glaze, oven safe and microwave safe, overall, a great (and safe) bird to have at the table.

Duck, Duck, Goose

I agree, the title for this post needs reworking, but it’s the newest game Sammy picked up at preschool and he has been walking around saying “Duck, Duck, Goose”.  In any case, this waterfowl pitcher is a different form I am experimenting with.  It has a more elongated base and a wider mouth.  The effect, to me, is a bird on the water.  The combination of form, texture and glaze recalls the style from a couple of decades earlier.  Don’t you think?

Waterfowl
Hand-built ceramic slab with handcarved surface detail. Commercial glazes of contrasting colors on the inside and outside, iron oxide wash, fired to Cone 6.

 

 

Mr Jay Next Door

The idea for this little guy came from the beautiful midnight blue family of jays that lived in the tree next door all summer long.  I miss them.  The photo does not do enough justice to the actual glaze, which is a deep, dusky charcoal with undercurrents of blue.

Mr. Jay
Hand-built slab with hand carved textured details. Commercial glaze fired to Cone 6.
Mr. Jay (Top)

Red Jacket For Winter

Off to the season’s best parties
Hand-built slab pitcher with carved details. Commercial glaze, iron oxide wash, fired to Cone 6.

Like birdsong in winter, I’ve been too busy sheltering from the cold to throttle about much, but oh, I’ve been busy in the studio making pitchers, and ceramic jewelry (a post on that coming later this week – I have a case made for a Wearble Art show at the Orcas Center, opening this Sat, Dec 1).  My newest bird friends will attest to that.  Enjoy the next couple of posts.  These birds are all very versatile 5-inch tall pitchers that fit snugly in the hand for pouring.  Use for milk, olive and nut oils, dressings on your table, or for bath salts, soap or shampoo holders.  Food safe glazes and textured wings provide a firm grip.

Red Jacket back detail