Monthly Archives: December 2009

Artful resolutions

New Year’s Eve is one of my favorite days of the year. I transfer important dates from my old calendar to my new one, giving me a mini review of all the dinners, appointments, visitors, workshops, and other activities from last year. I can remember why it was so hard to breathe in July and August when there were so many things to do and people to see that there was no room to add more more without covering up the day’s tide chart. I look back at the good times and the bad. I take some time to remember the people who are no longer with us and think of something about them that makes me smile. I love seeing the news programs with their flashbacks. Like looking at last year’s calendar, the images compressed into 3 minutes of air time, is a memory vitamin.

On New Year’s Eve  I look forward to all of the things I hope to do in the next year. My resolutions this year are all art-related, exciting.  They do not feel like a weight to shed in the next few months, but a path to take with my eyes wide open. (Though I do plan to lose the holiday pounds that I so enjoyed putting on.)

1. I will make many, many of my own clasps for necklaces and bracelets, so I can abandon my habit of using commercial clasps on pieces that are otherwise all my own design.

I have been reading these books a lot in the last few days. So inspiring. Especially the Kate McKinnon book which has changed the way I look at working with metal clay. When I clean my studio this weekend for a fresh 2010 start, I will make my metal clay area so much cleaner than it has been in the past, stop relying quite so much on sanding before firing,  and I’ll wear a mask when I fire something with a torch. Now that I’ve learned to wait for results, from the longer firing times for bronze and copper clay, I’ll have no trouble waiting while firing my silver clay for 2 hours at 1650º, going for maximum density and strength. And, I’ll be fusing those fine silver jumprings.

2. Speaking of bronze and copper clay, I have so much more to try and to learn. I will be guided by the excellent books and generous blogs of Hadar Jacobson. (And by everyone else who so readily shares their metal clay experiences.) Hadar’s newest book is amazing.

3. I will take the time to photograph and write descriptions of my work so that I finally have my Etsy shop up and running. This is my only resolution with a deadline: A shopping link from this Website/blog by the end of January. Definitely. No excuses.

4. More writing. Maybe something on a daily basis so that it’s not so hard to come up with a column every month for the Working Waterfront. And more poetry. Just for the fun of it.

5. Follow up on the oil painting workshop I took from Henry Isaacs and Ashley Bryan in September. Color is calling to me via painting and polymer clay. On a whim, I ordered this book by  Linda Huanani and Maggie Maggio to inspire me to get back to some polymer clay ideas. Holy cow! I did not know how much I did not know about  understanding the three properties of color: hue, value, and saturation. This book is filled with exercises in blending colors of polymer clay. I stayed up very late last night looking through it for the first time. If I started at the beginning and worked my way through all the exercises in the book, I would have a wonderful source of color information that would apply to both polymer clay and oil painting.

Just the “pivot tile” exercise alone would teach me a lot about color. By taking one color of  polymer clay from the package, then mixing it with a warmer color and a cooler color to get hue variations; then taking those three hue variations and tinting them each with white and black to get value variations; and then muting each of the three hue variations with gray to get saturation variations, you make a pivot tile. The ratios are all described in detail in the book. I can try a similar exercise with oil paint.

Mixing color scales to have a sample of color flow is another enticing exercise.

From start to finish, my course in color could take a long time, but what a resource to have! There is definitely no deadline to this New Year’s resolution.


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A frosty start to a day off-island

9 a.m. Northeast Harbor. This is what I saw on the rear window of my car, and on those parked next to mine. As my fellow islanders scraped their car windows in preparation for a day of errands off-island, I grabbed my camera and opted for a later start. By 9:20 the rime had melted.

At the day’s end, a boat ride home with a striking sky.

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Post-Christmas report on pre-Christmas activities

Kaitlyn Duggan, an Islesford potter,  hosted a combined open house and ornament-making party on Dec. 20th. She invited me to participate with my jewelry and we each had some last-minute shoppers.  In the midst of a snowstorm, many of our friends came to Kaitlyn’s winter studio (a.k.a. the summer studio of sculptor Philip Grausman) to eat some goodies and make ornaments out of old Christmas cards. It was a pretty swell time, and a break from rushing around to get other things done before the rest of the holiday.

(oops! This is what happens if you try dragging a photo from someone’s Facebook page!)

Ashley was especially excited with his result, but I’m not sure what Kaitlyn is holding!

More happy results and a secret….

Second from the left is Stephanie Austin, the girlfriend of my son Robin Fernald who is third from left. The secret is that in this picture, Stephanie is actually Robin’s fiancee. He had asked her to marry him earlier in the day, on the beach during the snowstorm, and they announced it to us later that night at dinner. We are delighted that she said “yes.”


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Its that time of year…

…when my studio turns into a closet. Argh! I had it so clean and tidy today after finishing up my last Christmas order. I was all ready to get to work on my Christmas presents for my sons’ girlfriends. But then there were the sons’ bedrooms to straighten up, the gift wrapping stuff to move from the dining room table, and the linen closet to organize so there would be room for all of the extra jewelry stuff like gift boxes, bags, tissue paper, and random photography props and lights… that I had been storing in the unused bedrooms of those two wonderful boy/men.  With all bedrooms being used, and space at a premium in our modestly sized house, the serene open spaces of my newly cleaned studio  beckon us to hide everything in that room and close the door. Bye bye clean studio! Needless to say, I will  not be taking a photo  of my workspace in its Holiday closet phase.


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What’s cookin’?

Here is a good reason to be away from home and out of the studio for a few days. A trip to Boston with Bruce to attend our son’s graduation! Excellent food at this event. We hope Fritz finds a job soon. (But maybe but not before he comes home to show off his skills during Christmas.) Mixed hopes and dreams. We are proud parents.

Cameron Fritz with one of his instructors, Jean-Jacques Paimblanc.

And with his proud mom and dad!


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Three nights away

I had a fun time at the Island Arts Association Holiday Fair. Fewer people came through on Friday, but it picked up a lot on  Saturday. I was fortunate to have had some good sales and, as always, to have seen so many good friends before the holidays. The boat schedule from Islesford did not enable me to go back home, so I spent the nights off island at the home of my friends Harriet and Jim in Somesville. We had some good laughs as we usually do. Especially about this wacky penguin advent calendar.

On the night I arrived, I thought Jim and Harriet had forgotten to put away their Halloween decorations! It turns out that the calendar was printed in Malaysia, where maybe our word for “red”  is their word for “orange.” And maybe green means blue. On second glance, what’s not to like about  penguins chowing down on fish bones in a garbage can. Now that is some serious holiday fun!

On night #2, after a long day of work for all of us, we found we still had some energy to go back into Bar Harbor for the Midnight Madness sale. We found some good deals while supporting local businesses. On night #3, I was finished with the fair, my car was packed up and I was looking forward to a quiet night. Jim and Harriet had a dinner invitation, so I hung out with their dogs Bailor and Tucker, and their parrot Sam. Sam doesn’t talk, but he sure can imitate sounds. When I put something in the microwave, his beeps matched exactly the beeps of the buttons I pushed. As I unzipped my cash bag to organize my checks,  I kept hearing the sound of a zipper from across the room.

I opened Sam’s cage, as he likes to sit on the door at night, where he throws food down to Bailor.

I tried to teach the bird to make the sound of a dripping faucet…I’ll be waiting to hear from my hosts if I was successful.

On Sunday morning, we awoke to the first snowfall of the season.

By February I’m pretty tired of the stuff, but the first snowfall is a treat.

If by any chance, the woman who really really wanted my needle felted snowman is reading this blog entry, I really really did give it to my hosts as a thank you gift for letting me stay. But if you absolutely have to have one, I could manage to make another one. What I should have told you, but was too distracted to remember at the time, was that there are some really great needle felted snowmen on Etsy. Just got to  and type in needle felted snowmen in the search area. Or copy and paste this address in your browser. I think you will like it.


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Leaves of bronze clay

All over the island there are bunchberry plants growing along the roadside . The veins on the back of the leaf make a nice pattern for earrings made of metal clay. I’ve made them with silver and bronze clay before, but this was the first time I attached bronze wire to the “leaf” before firing.

Bronze and copper clay leaves earrings after firing. The green patina on the bronze leaves was a happy accident.

Finished earrings, with patina and burnished vein lines. The bronze wire, fired in  place turned a copper color.

The next batch of bronze leaves. Trying to turn a happy accident into a planned result:



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