Monthly Archives: August 2011

Lucky with Irene

We lost power on the island for 36 hours, and had some rain and more wind than we usually get at this time of year, but Irene took a track inland to the west of us and we only had a few small trees and branches come down on the island. Without power, we had no internet, and so I didn’t post anything to let friends know we were all doing fine.

A few people were getting grouchy on day 2, without power, but for the most part we are well served by the Bangor Hydroelectric Company. They have come out to the island, by boat, in some pretty dicey weather in the fall, winter, and spring to make sure the islands did not have to go too long without power. It was probably our turn to stand near the end of the service line as there were so many others in the state with far worse problems than ours.

Anyway, all is well and  Bruce and I are counting down the days to our son’s wedding on September 10th. There is still a lot to do, so I’ll post a few photos of the fog burning off last Friday morning as I took the mailboat off the island to get provisions before the storm. The I’ll get to work on my long list for today.


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It started when Bruce helped me pick these beautiful currents. (On a Sunday before the recent frightful batch of mosquitos struck.)

That night I crushed them, and boiled them, and hung ye olde jelly bag up to let the juice drip out overnight.

It’s a good thing I had room in the refrigerator for all of the currant juice, because it took me until tonight to get around to making jelly. I didn’t have enough currant juice for two batches so I added some raspberry juice and some plum juice from the freezer for batch number two. By this time I had a jam and jelly jones. I was pulling out frozen gooseberries from last year and adding them to frozen raspberries to make a gooseberry/raspberry jam. I haven’t made any jam or jelly for a few years so I think I was making up for lost time tonight.

Boiling water bath to vacuum seal the jars.

I’m all jammed up now!


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Patina procrastination no more!

I put off working with patinas all summer until yesterday. I started out with the cold application of verdigris to get the wonderful greenish turquoise on copper and brass. The I got out my little butane torch and worked with some of the heat actived patinas for the first time. All done with the handy non-toxic water-based patina solutions and excellent instructions from Shannon and Mike at Miss Ficklemedia. I love their work, and have enjoyed purchasing and using patina-ted components from their Etsy shop so much that I wanted to try the patina process myself.

I bought many of the copper and brass elements from The Beadin’ Path, and then altered them by hammering in texture, drilling holes, and filing.


The cold applied patinas are so simple. Just dip and wait for the color to develop.

The pieces on the left are the ones I did at the beginning of the day. On the right, are pieces dipped in verdigris at the end of the day. In a few hours the color developed quite nicely.

It was so different working with the heat applied patinas. I wasn’t sure how I liked it. It seemed that copper was much easier and prettier to work with, at first. The beads below were patinated with a mixture of Persian Indigo and Old Lace White.

One of the reasons I put off working with patinas for so long is that there is no instant gratification in working with them. Does that make sense? What I mean is that these photos represent just the first step. The patinas take about 24 hours to fully develop on the metal. Then I will sand back some of the color, in places, to reveal bits of the underlying copper or brass. After sanding, I will apply 2 coats of lacquer which will then need another 24 hours to cure. The last step is to apply a coat of preservation wax to seal the lacquer. Fussy handwork done piece by piece, rubbing the wax in, letting it set for an hour or two, and then buffing it to a soft shine with cheesecloth. But then, I will have some very unique pieces to combine with bits of silver for earrings and necklace parts.

When I tried the Russet Red patina on these brass leaves, I wasn’t sure I liked the color. So, I only patinated one set in that color. I forgot, the color develops over time on the metal. I am really happy with the results. Just in time for some fall fashion earrings!


These may not look so exciting right now, but after the next two steps, they will have a soft sheen.

With patination in my box of creative tricks, I look forward to combining it with my love of working with metal clay. These funky headpins are made from copper metal clay fired on bronze, then treated with a verdigris patina. I can’t wait to see how they evolve into a pair of earrings.





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So many days have started out looking like this:

Which makes this squeegee a popular item on the mail boat. It’s the answer to a wet wooden bench seat.


On this Thursday boat ride, Cap’t. Rick watched the radar closely as the captain in training made his way through the fog.

Fortunately, many of the foggy days have looked like this by afternoon.

All eyes are on the weekend weather and whether we’ll get rain and wind from Irene.


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Spectacular sunset interrupts diners at Islesford Dock Restaurant


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Bird Show was a success!

It was a rainy Sunday, so it was also a fine day to be indoors looking at the work of several island artists and their various birds.  My friend Jim Bright sold all but one of his bird carvings. I didn’t check with Rick before I left, to see how his paintings were selling. They sure looked beautiful.

Several people would have bought this woodcock carving. Unfortunately NFS






Potential buyers eyeing Rick’s paintings:

Our very own island postmaster, Joy Sprague, had some fabulous photographs, taken right from her window at the P.O.

Karen Smallwood sold almost all of her paintings. Sweet little acrylics, mounted on birchbark and easels. I snagged one right away!

I had a fun time thinking about birds and finding ways to make bird beads. The silver flat beads were a familiar technique for me, though I had not made them in a bird shape before.

It was the decision to make bird beads from bronze and copper clay that stretched my creativity a little more and re-familiarized me with the base metal clays. The bronze birds came out of the kiln in that fun green color.

I polished them to see how they would change, and because I happen to really like their golden bronze color. I like how the green patina stayed inside the eyes, though.

I think I had the most fun putting the little copper birds in a nest made of a domed silver disc and coiled bronze wire with a needle felted inner nest. Perhaps not too practical for earrings, but all of these guys could be taken apart and used differently. As far as what I would wear of these, it would be the simplest pair. The bronze birds without any markings other than the patterns from my fingerprints.



I sold 2 necklaces, saw a whole lot of friends, more than I could get a chance to talk to, and then left early because I had an appointment for a massage. Tra la la!

I almost forgot. What is a bird show without bird cookies as part of the refreshments?

Bruce helped me decorate them.

Post massage, and after dinner, I was once again in the kitchen making bread and muffins to donate to the Islesford Fair tomorrow. So much activity for such a tiny place.


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Making progress on work…

…at the pace of a periwinkle.



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Kiln back in action

At last! It’s not like I’ve been waiting for a repair, or anything like that. Summer is just so full of good things that there is hardly room to work or breath. But, I’ve managed to do both lately.

While firing a batch of silver clay pieces, I got out the bronze and copper clay for the first time since June. With the current high price of silver clay, I felt less constrained with the base metals. My goal this week, with all three kinds of clay, was to come up with some birds for a little show on Sunday at the home of my sister-in-law Karen and her husband Hugh. Birds play a big part in our lives and it’s going to be fun to see what several friends have made for “Island Birds,” at the Smallwood’s house on Sunday, August 8 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome to come and the various birds will be for sale. Jim Bright has bird carvings, Karen and Hugh have paintings, Rick Alley has paintings, Joy Sprague has photographs, Jeri Spurling has bird-inspired floor cloths, and I will have some birdy beads on necklaces and earrings. This could be the year I start my Christmas shopping early!

Silver pieces out of the kiln and headed for the tumbler:

Bronze and copper pieces ready for the kiln. It’s such a different firing process from silver. Everything above went easily into one load. Whereas the pieces below required two loads. My fingers are crossed that the first batch wasn’t too crowded, and will have sintered properly.


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