Sunday, December 30, 2012

Back to work!

Between vacation and Christmas I've found a lot of excuses to goof off.  Back to work!  Time to make some glass--as you can see, I'm not yet committing to jewelry but, that's probably where this is going! soon as I said that I started thinking...maybe a mosaic.  Made of Aboriginal designs in glass.  I like it!  One thing nice about it--it can be as large, or as small as I like!  As they will be made on mandrels--I can take them off of the display (frame?) one at a time, or in groups, and string them into groups to wear.  What an idea!

This could keep me busy for months.

A bit of background: Traditionally, Aboriginal artists used ochre, a crumbly hard rock that is colored by iron oxide.  It comes in colors from yellows to dark reddish browns.  Many Aboriginal artworks are found on rock overhangs and caves. We visited Emily Gap, where we learned the story of the Three Caterpillars:

Today there arre many forms aboriginal art, some made of the traditional orchres but many today are available in acrylic paints and gouache as well.  Rock painting, bark painting and canvas paintings are all popular today.  Traditionally, Aborigines produced a type of aerial landscape, meant to tell a traditional "Dreaming" story.  Although the same symbols appear in many paintings, the Aboriginal people have kept their their meanings secret.

Thank you to:



Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dining Like an Australian

My last post was actually our second day in Australia. 

First day in Melbourne.  Tired, but we spent a lovely afternoon enjoying Melbourne, walking, visiting galleries and museums.  Had a light lunch ast a sidewalk cafe and watched the world go by.

That evening we met up with our group for a welcome dinner.  I dined on kangaroo.  It was yummy! 

Had we gone to the animal park first, I probably wouldn't have tasted it.  It's kind of, like when I was a kid, the thought of eating Bambi (and guinea pigs in Peru!)  I also tried dromedary sausage--not so good.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Why I love Australia!

First off:  I don't want to offend anybody but, in many of the countries that we've visited it seems like all they build are churches.  I've seen  some magnificent ones, interiors and exteriors that are breathtaking, truly awe-inspiring.  As many as two or three a day on some trips, which was why, on day one of our trip to Australia, I was delighted to visit "The Old
Melbourne Gaol" (prison!).

It has housed some of Australia's most notorious criminals, such as Ned Kelly, played by Mick Jagger in the movie--bet you didn't know that!

It also displays death masks of all the prisoners who were executed there.  they were executed by hanging, then beheaded for study of the skull.  It was believed, at that time, that you could "read" heads, by feeling for dents and protrusions in the skull.  These variations in skull shape could predict personality types, including criminal behaviour.
The museum also prominently displays death masks of its executed prisoners.



Along with the discovery of  gold in 1851 came an influx of population and, with it an increase in crime.  It also housed up to twenty children at a time.  Infants and small children were allowed to stay with an incarcerated parent.  Some were imprisoned for their own protection.          

For more information--and better photos--please visit:
You can also rent it out for parties:
After this...we went to church:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Another Bird in the Bush...

After a third firing of my white bronze bird, I've given up on it and have reformed it in Metal Adventures Bronze metal clay.  It's drying to be put into the kiln.  I've made a new perch and branch for it--this time in copper I hope, from scraps that I recycled.  Having been previously recycled, I'm hoping that they come out.  If not, my birdie will not have a perch!  Pictures coming in a day or two.

And, on that note I am returning to France and our last day's visit to the Louvre. During the first week that we spent in France we ended up in front of the Louvre on a Tuesday when the museum is not open.  I remember asking myself then, why anybody would put a large glass pyramid in front of the Louvre.  It seemed so out of place to me.  After visiting it from the inside, though, I've changed my mind.  The view from there out is quite interesting.

My apologies to IM Pei.
We went to the Louvre on our own, because our tour group was visiting the Louvre in the afternoon and we wanted to spend more of the day there, as we had already seen a great deal of Paris.  We got there early and beat the crowds.  Walked in the front door and  had no lines.  We even got to see the Mona Lisa and many of the Louvre's other highlights without any difficulty.

We covered a lot of ground, but by no means all.  We couldn't even find the Oriental collection and ended our visit in the Egyptian section.  My first thought on that was, "I've been to Egypt--what can they possibly have that I haven't yet seen?"  Once I'd got there, though, I felt at home.  If I could be in love with any country or culture, that is it.  I hope that I get the chance to visit again, and that all that I have loved about the country and culture survives.

I've warned you that I'm open to visiting (in my blog) again--and again!


Sunday, August 19, 2012

It's "Sayonara" to White Bronze Clay for Me!

As many of you know, I've spent countless hours...and money on a certain brand of metal clays. I love the ideas of working in steel and white bronze clays.

Yesterday, when firing some Metal Adventures bronze clay--I'd thought it was copper, it was so dark in color, but I was wrong--it was bronze--I threw in a piece of mixed metal clays (of the other brand--copper and bronze--and fired it with Judi Weers schedule.  It fired beautifully.  Thank you, again, Judi for all of your help.

So...I'm thinking, maybe fire in a metal container, covered and see how it goes.  Fired twice (with one prefire) and the first time out of the second firing I got, again, potato chips (break like unfired clay!)  So, I upped the temperature in my kiln and  waited another two hours.  Just took the first piece out and it looked scintered, so broke it in half with my fingers--just like a burned potato chip!

I've spent a LOT of time on my birdie and my cala lily, so, I am going to try ONE MORE TIME.  Following the suggested schedule for the white bronze clay--using the manufacturer's suggested fiber firing container (the one that goes through carbon like crazy!!!!)...before I throw these pieces, and this brand of clay out--for good!  Pray for me!


Monday, August 13, 2012 know that things don't always go smoothly for me...

I'm working on my metal clay pieces from my gravestone rubbings.  They'll both be made of a combination of copper and white bronze clay.  As copper fires at a higher temperature than white bronze, I fired the copper pieces first and will then attach them to the white bronze pieces and fire again.  Of course I'm having kiln problems, so I don't know when that will be!

My copper pieces I had in the kiln at 7 AM for their second phase of firing.  First firing was yesterday.  I figured it (2nd phase) should've taken about six hours or so.  About 1 o'clock my kiln was somewhere around 1600 degrees--firing temp for copper clay, but I got an error message.  I kept it going for awhile longer then decided to use a firing schedule for mixed metal clays, which is at a lower temperature.  I turned the kiln off at about 3:00 and decided that the copper would be at least mostly scintered and that I could attach it to the white bronze and refire at the lower temperature.

The twigs and leaves of copper seem to be scintered, but appear to be more bronze than copper.  Why?  I HAVE NO IDEA!!!!!  All's well, though, as the color can be corrected with enamels or prismacolors.  I've had issues with white bronze clay in the past, too, but that's another story.

Anyway...this is what I have so far.  The copper portions are fired but not polished and the white bronze is not yet fired:


The bird I'm seeing as a pendant and the cala lily as a pin.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Monet and Van Gogh

I probably shouldn't link these two together, as their lives were so completely different, but I will.  Monet was not only an artist, but a highly successful one, and a businessman, as evidenced by his beautiful home and magnificent gardens.  Van Gogh, by contrast, failed at everything during his life, although his goal was not to sell paintings; he painted for his own pleasure.  He sold only one painting during his lifetime, and he scolded his brother, Theo, for selling it for too much money.  (This from our guide at Auvers-sur-Oise, although I've seen nothing in what I've read about Van Gogh to substantiate this.)  We were also told that, after Vincent's death, Theo gave a few of his paintings to friends who weren't thrilled to receive them.

Yes, I am finally thinking about actually making something.  Some of you may know that I carry two part modelling ompound with me on trips.  I made some molds from gravestones, one at the cemetery where Monet is buried and one where Van Gogh rests.  So far, this is the only artistic inspiration that I've had from this trip!  Below is a photo of the  inscription and bird from one of the gravestones.  It appeared to me that the grave housed the bodies of a father and four or five of his children.  Each had a very small marker, maybe 4 x 6 inches.
 I guess I didn't take a picture of the second one, in the cemetery where
Van Gogh is buried, but it has the image of a cala lily on it.

I believe that the inscription on the stone reads "time passes and memories stay".

Thursday, July 19, 2012


We're moving!  We've been docked for three days and are finally on the move.  It is 7 AM.  I was up at 5:30 with tummy problems.  Too much rich food for dinner last night, or too much wine?

On our other trips with Grand Circle, we got, I believe, one glass of wine with dinner.  On this trip, they keep our wine glasses full.  Vive La France!

We just set sail and am waiting for some more magnificent scenery to photograph.

I think I'll skip breakfast today!

Au Revoir!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Honfleur & Normandy

Did I tell you this already?  We got on our ship on Wednesday.  Yay!  No packing/unpacking until we get home now!  Honfleur is a charming little town on the Seine, across from Le Havre.  We spent the first evening and first full day just exploring.  Yesterday we spent an emotional day and evening exploring the battle grounds of D-day, Omaha Beach and the American war vererans' cemetery.  It rests, finally, after having been once moved on a beautiful stretch of land overlooking the "French" Channel. Its site is US soil--given to us by or purchased from? the French--(I really don't know for sure).  It's employees--French citizens-- are paid in U.S. dollars. 


On that note--do the French really hate the Americans?  According to our guides, absolutely not!  They love and are very grateful to the American people for coming to their aid during this time.  They adored General Eisenhower.  They hated Bush.  They like Obama.  They like to be greeted with a Bonjour and left with a Bon Soir--obligatory in France for all--but, afterwards they will gladly converse in English.  It is considered very rude to walk into a shop without a bonjour--even if you don't see anybody!  Don't even talk about our American table manners!