Friday, May 8, 2015

Craftcast here I go...

A quick note to all - I am doing a webinar on tomorrow at Noon, EDT.  It's been an interesting  journey and we'll see the results and listen to me talk over my videos, while I nervously clutch my cup of coffee.  Good thing you won't be able to see that part.  (Note to self, place cup of coffee where it can't accidently be spilled by hands that are shaking.....)

The  project is called 'Elusory Leaves', a necklace that began innocently enough, but could become an obsession as I can see many ways to continue to explore this idea.  I think the look of the first piece grew out of my longing to express in polymer the kinds of forms I was beginning to work with in glass, glowing and translucent, inspired by the many strange forms found in nature: the kinds of forms and decoration in this world that just make you catch your breath and  really know that truth is stranger than fiction!

I'm very happy that Alison Lee has given me this opportunity to delve a little deeper into an idea that I've had on the back burner for at least a couple of years.  The act of making videos to explain the way you work has a way of making you focus, and simultaneously wish that you had the time to explore the many riffs that occur to you while you make the piece.  ALL you can do is write them down and wait....

Just a couple of details here, I'll be explaining tomorrow.

If you think you'd be interested, join us at and learn how I made it, see where I might be going with this! You can find the link to the class here.  If you can't make it tomorrow, you can buy it and view it later, when you have the time.

Huge thanks to Cynthia Tinapple for featuring me on her blog today.  It was lovely to wake up can see it here over the weekend!

Wish me luck!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Inspiring students..

Back view of Galerie Friesleben - the house is huge - photos are deceiving!

Traveling abroad to teach is a wake-up call in the very best way:  to really find out that one's basement cave studio is not the whole world.  To enjoy the experience of meeting other wonderful artist students and see what they get from what you show.  To watch in awe as someone catches hold of something you taught and runs with it - and then influences the whole class - amazing!

View from my balcony

To make friends and watch other friendships blossom, and to find that a group who have been in touch only virtually are now meeting for the first time time in the flesh - in your class - all incredible! And all in such a gorgeous natural setting.

my first view of the Alps from the Autobahn

The clouds are always changing and dramatic around the mountains

Storm over the lake while ferrying to see King Ludwig's reproduction of Versailles on the island!

Two workshops and 36 students later....teaching at Galerie Friesleben was such a big experience for me that it's taken me this long (5 weeks) to process it and write about it - and of course, school started (enough said..).  The workshop space is fantastic and the the gallery has to be seen to be truly appreciated, and it is wonderful to be living and teaching in the same building! My apartment was wonderful - thanks Ariane and Reinhart!

I had decided when I started teaching to just pass on technique and not to concentrate on making particular finished objects.  I feel strongly that this open ended approach better encourages people to integrate what they are learning in class with their own skills, and decide what part(s) of the information are useful to them.  This worked well, I think.  I would look over in amazement at the ideas and objects sprouting up all over the class.  And this is of course why I titled this post 'Inspiring students' - they gave me great inspiration ( and joy) and I hope I was able to do the same for them.

before the first workshop - can you see - the tables are tidy!

The first day of each workshop was more technical - just mastering the idea of hollow forms.  We worked through problems and then to make it more interesting we moved on to adding colour in the afternoon.

love this photo - what is Monica looking at on Evelyn's desk?

lots of ways to add colour!  Oh, the supplies people brought!

Some interesting hollow work started to emerge...people just needed to practice and then had the next day to investigate other surfaces and more color on new beads/forms.  And to make friends, of course...

a wee bottle...

hollow box beads

Oh, we had fun...

Breakfast in the cafe (see the gallery behind), site of the fabulous cappuccino machine! I confess, I am a coffee addict....

All too soon, it was over...the end of the second workshop coincided with the arrival of thousands of young people to the town of Uebersee for a music festival.  A muddy business, as it rained on and off for most of's the programme!

I also want to thank the most generous suppliers who made my workshop a delight - Huge thanks to Polyform and Iris Weiss, who sent the clay I ordered to Germany and heroically managed to get a special order of their new clay Souffle sent out later as well!  The Souffle is a delight for hollow work ( and other things) and you can read my review of it here.

Also, great thanks to Viva Decor for supplying surface colorants for the workshop, and also to FimoStaedtler for supplying samples of their new professional series clay for goody bags.  All these donations were greatly appreciated by the class.

And finally, a huge thank you to Bernadette Ward and the PanPastel folks!  The pastels you sent were a big hit in Europe in the polymer community!  It was amazing to see how far your colours go - still plenty more for my next workshop, where I will continue to spread the word.  Now with new your Pearlescent line, as well....more to come on that!

some pods in progress...

demo hollows from my class

Actually, the final phrase is 'Thank you, Ariane!'  Because she contacted me out of the blue and made all this happen.  It felt like a huge ripe peach that just fell in my lap and I was so excited to do it and meet all these wonderful people ( you really can stay in your basement studio too long, you know...) and pass on some things I've learned.  I hope to go back sometime...

At least to eat another peach.....strangest shaped peaches I've ever seen!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

My Birks lead me on....

I've been in Germany since last Monday sleep on the plane - much too excited!  As you can see, I bought a new pair of Birkenstocks in honour of going to Germany, and they are leading me home.

Apparently, I had nothing better to do than to take pictures of my feet at the airport:  Perhaps one way to calm the pre-flight nerves, which were made instantly worse when the Air Canada staff told me to step aside from the boarding line-up...what now?

They tell me I can't get on the plane because my passport expires in three months and that the Canadian government requires that your passport expiry date be be 3 months beyond your return date.  I return August 16 - my passport expires Nov. 14!   Caution, all you would-be travellers....

I say that I have to be there, that people are expecting me.  I say that I have a return flight booked with their airline and I won't be staying in Germany.  Tense minutes pass while the supervisor calls some unspecified superior to try to get permission for me to board - they call last boarding call for my flight, and my heart is sinking....

Finally the supervisor gets the go-ahead and tells me to run for the flight and waggles a cautionary finger at me to renew my passport the moment I get home.  Fancy that, my international teaching career almost ended before it even started!

Of course, I made it - and here we rounded a corner and I got my first view of the Alps in 35 years!  Ubersee is about 130 kms from Munich.  And you take the AutoBahn to Salzburg...

....and get off at Ubersee, which borders a very large lake called Chiemsee - or sometimes the Bavarian Sea.

And it is all so lovely, and different to my usual view, of course...and I have been made to feel so welcome!  Galerie Friesleben and its inhabitants are wonderful - many meals, and glasses of wine and capuccinos have been consumed while getting the gallery ready for its first workshops and official opening.  

On Tuesday, I went sightseeing on the islands in the lake with a lovely woman who lives in the village and knows tons about the area.  I fell in love with a tiny cemetery outside a very old church beside the monastery on the island - much history here, and the graves so beautifully tended and so individually marked!

closeups of the stone pattern

an architect's grave, apparently...

It rained hard coming back from the islands, but some of the mountains remained in the sun.

And back to Ubersee and Galerie Friesleben utterly exhausted to my wonderful little apartment (supplied with lovely food, thanks Ariane!) and this view,  where the clouds around the mountains seem to change hourly!

My first workshop starts tomorrow at 9 am and I had a chance to have dinner with the 18 participants tonight.  I sat with the Russian group of 6 tonight, but I am certain that tomorrow by noon, I will know all of the group much better - another  group form the Netherlands, some from  Germany!

Can't wait!  

Hard not to sound like a travel brochure - but it really is spectacular here!  It was fun to go to the supermarket too (yesterday) and spend minutes puzzling out the ingredients with my high school German!