Tag Archives: Islesford

What draws you back to blogging…

…after almost 9 months away? For me it was reading that Genevieve Williamson, whose blog I follow regularly, was going to spend some time in Maine. “Where?” I asked, in her comment section, hoping that a trip to my little island might be in the cards. I have admired Genevieve’s polymer clay work for years, starting with finding her Etsy site, Jibby and Juna, and then finding and reading her blog.

I started working with polymer clay over 20 years ago, learning a lot about making my own canes and beads from a book called “The New Clay” by Nan Roche. Once I got my hands on metal clay, I left most of my polymer work behind, but I never stopped looking at it.  The polymer clay world has progressed and expanded in amazing ways. Check out some of Genevieve’s work from her Etsy shop:



I love her colors, her carvings, her design….her whole approach to the medium.

When Genevieve responded to my query, it turned out they were planning to stay in Friendship, about a 2 1/2 hour drive away. Her family has a history of visiting Maine islands and they thought it would be a manageable day trip to spend a day on Little Cranberry. Yippee!       For so many reasons.

The first being that I finally cleaned up my studio. I’m always curious about another artist’s studio space, and I wanted to be able to show Genevieve my tiny studio without all of the clutter. (When my creative energy was renewed from her visit, I benefitted myself with an organized spot to get back to work.)  The second reason the visit was a plus is that I got to see my island through new eyes. I live in one of the most beautiful spots in the world, but it is still the place where I do my laundry, pay bills, plan meals, and work. It’s easy to lose sight of so many wonders, until I have a chance to start showing it off to someone who is appreciating it all for the first time.

We fit a lot into a short number of hours. Starting with a prearranged visit to Ashley Bryan to see his studio, his dahlia paintings, and hear how he makes his stained glass window panels from sea glass and paper mache.


Ashley spoke of starting his dahlia paintings last October.) He showed his stained glass windows in progress:IMGP2621

And talked about making his puppets.IMGP0322 IMGP0323

(I can’t believe this is the only picture I have of you guys! None of Genevieve, but here is her husband Kyle, and sons Ben and Samuel, before we headed back to the dock for some lunch.)


The very best reason to have Genevieve come to Islesford for a visit, is that we opened the door on a new friendship. It felt like I had known her before, and I know we will keep in touch. As I introduced her to friends at the restaurant or people we met on our walks, they asked, “How did you meet?” We laughed and responded, “We met on the internet!” Thank you for your visit and for inspiring me to get back to blogging. You are welcome to come back any time. I hope we meet up again before too long.



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Summer season at Winters Work






New year, new necklaces, old friends. Come to the Islesford Dock and check out Sue’s shop; Winters Work.


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First day of school on Islesford

IMGP5373  The quiet school yard soon starts to fill with friends from the community, arriving teachers and students.

IMGP5377 IMGP5380 IMGP5376Ashley Bryan calls it the “That’s ME!” school.

IMGP5378  Teachers Audrey Noether and Lauren Simmons welcome everyone and ask for hopes and good wishes from the group.

IMGP5386 This year’s art teacher, Mary Lyman, is totally overwhelmed by all of the things Ashley has just asked her to memorize. (….just kidding M and A…)



Here’s to a great year for all of the new and returning students and their new teachers!

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The Ashley Bryan School will have 12 (13?) students this year in grades K through 8. My husband and all of his siblings attended this school, their father attended this school, and both of our sons attended this school. A great island tradition.


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Holly visits Maine and we extrude some polymer



Holly Kellogg and I met on the airport shuttle that carried us to the 2006 PMC  Conference at Purdue University. Over the years we have become good friends who like to learn new creative techniques together. Sometimes we attend workshops, and other times we just try to figure out what we want to try next when we visit each other’s studio. Hmm…what would it be this year when she had 5 days to come to the island with her son Evan and daughter Maia?

When in doubt, we get out the polymer clay. I planned ahead for her visit because I was fascinated with the idea of using an extruder to make thin canes of varying color that I think are called rainbow canes. (I’m confused about the terms “pixilated cane” and “retro cane.” I think they apply to larger canes of polymer clay made from combining these small thin extrusions.) All I know was that we wanted to extrude clay using the technique described by Cynthia Tinnapple in her Polymer Clay Daily blog. We wanted to see for ourselves how the stacks of color keep pushing through each other and changing as they are extruded through a smaller opening, but we didn’t want to wear out our wrists cranking the tiny handle of an extruder. I ordered the stainless steel extruder, adapter, and vise suggested by Cynthia, before Holly arrived.

It helps to read the directions when you’re doing something you’ve never done before.



We conditioned lots of polymer clay by running it through our pasta machines, then cut out circles of color the size of the extruder barrel and stacked them up. We thought we needed a different size hole for the end of the extruder,  so I quickly made a copper version using my disc cutter.

IMGP5260  Holly extruded the fist cane….




It works! (Though the cane in the photo below is actually one from our second day of experiments.)



We experimented with waxed linen between slices of polymer clay to see how it would handle curing. That way our test slices might be able to be used as jewelry components if they worked out.

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My cane slices could be made to slide quite easily on the waxed linen. Not what I had hoped would happen. Holly’s pieces did not slide quite as easily. She had used liquid polymer between her slices to see if it made a difference in holding the waxed linen.

On day two I used all translucent Pardo clay, tinted with alcohol ink, with silver leaf between each disc. I extruded through a small square shape.

IMGP5272 IMGP5275  A cured test slice of one cane I had wrapped with more of the blue translucent Pardo:

IMGP5285   Holly tinted Premo translucent clay with alcohol ink and alternated her translucent slices with light and dark solids. She used gold leaf between her slices.

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I love how the gold leaf seems to glow through the peach translucent clay in the upper left teardrop.

The time went all too quickly. Two morning sessions were just enough to whet our appetite for more polymer clay exploration. We were having too much fun to stop and take photos of it all. Here are two more test pieces, with beads added to the waxed linen before squeezing the two sides of polymer together. In my mind they would be earring components.

IMGP5288  The translucent segments show up a little bit in the finished earrings. What looks like a black stripe in the second segment from the top is actually the linen thread showing through the translucent part of the cane.

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45 minutes of a foggy morning…

…Islesford to Great Cranberry to Sutton Island to Northeast Harbor. It was hard to carry on a conversation with all of the foggy sky changes. Those of us who are compelled to take pictures kept interrupting to turn around for another photo op…. I’m sorry, what did you say?

IMGP5083 IMGP5085 IMGP5086 IMGP5087 IMGP5088 - Version 2 IMGP5090 IMGP5091 IMGP5095 IMGP5098  IMGP5101 IMGP5103 IMGP5106(These photos are in sequence. The weather continued to change around like this for the rest of the day, whether you were on the island or the mainland.)


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A couple of drop offs

Today was one of those days where I couldn’t seem to get out of my own way. All I noticed was what I didn’t get done rather than what I managed to do. Pricing and dropping off (mailing) work to two galleries is not nothing, but I thought I would be putting more time in at my bench this week.  I have to spend both Wednesday and Thursday off the island so that means no solid working time until Friday. Well, no need to call in the waa waambulance. I’ll just post some photos of what I managed to finish and get myself off to bed early. Tomorrow is a new day and we can only live them one at a time, right?

The necklaces below (along with 9 pairs of earrings I did not take time to photograph) went in the mail today to Red Dot Gallery in Deer Isle, Maine. I almost forgot to photograph them, so the photos are rushed and the price tags are already attached. D’oh.

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The second “drop off” was to Winter’s Work, right here on Little Cranberry Island.  Again I rushed through the photos, and I did not take time to photograph the earrings I priced.  Summer is just crazy busy.

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Off to bed for me!


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Happy Birthday Ashley Bryan!


It’s hard to believe that this energetic man turned 90 years old yesterday. He could run circles around most of us who are 30 years younger! Ashley did not want a huge party in the Town Field with lots of friends from off island. He already did that at 80. He said, “All I want from anyone is a poem.” Well, he got many many poems from his island family and friends from off the island at a  pot luck supper and poetry slam tonight at the Neighborhood House. What a fun event, with several people reading original poems or favorite poems of others. Donna Isaacs, who organized the whole evening, also purchased two really nice books where the poems will be mounted and available for Ashley to read and reread to his heart’s content.


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The readings began with Ashley leading everyone in the poem, “My People” by Langston Hughs. Soos Valdina accompanied him with a translation in American Sign Language.



20 people read poetry to Ashley. I did not photograph them all. But among them were the evening’s organizer, Donna Isaacs:IMGP4766


Our postmaster Joy Sprague reciting Edna St. Vincent Millay (from memory)



Rhode Island poet laureate Rick Benjamin:



Louise, Susannah, and Whitaker Chaplin with original poems:

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And Dr. Shawsie Wawsie (aka Sam Shaw) giving an incredibly dramatic and energetic rendition of “The Cremation of Sam McGee.”



All in all it was one fabulous night. Why yes, I read an original poem too. Didn’t bother to take a “selfie” while I was reading, so here’s a photo of the poem I wrote and presented for Ashley’s birthday book.

Ashley b-day poem


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Happy Valentine’s Day

Islesford streetlight. Slow exposure "drawing," red photo shop color.

I love to love Valentine’s Day.  I am so extremely fortunate to be happily married* to the love of my life.   One of the most fun and simple things we’ve done for each other is to leave notes around, throughout the year, especially when our busy schedules keep us from seeing each other much. When I have deadlines, I tend to go back to work after dinner, leaving traces of my work and tools around until I pick them up in the morning. Sometimes those traces evoke notes from Bruce like this:



or this:



My all time favorite note and Valentine is from 21 years ago. Bruce woke me up and told me to look out the window in 5 minutes:



Best. Valentine. Ever. Though, he came up with a pretty close second this morning. I walked out of our room to see his iPad propped against the stair railing with Dean Martin singing, “That’s Amore!”  It’s like I have my own private “Valentine Bandit.”  Somewhere we still have one of the bandit’s fliers from 1978 that proclaims: “It’s not only ONE day!”

Hearts are everywhere in nature, reminding us to open up our own heart and spread some love. Little gifts from the universe. Keep an eye out! Just yesterday as I was driving away from my mother’s assisted living facility,  this white snow heart in the middle of a gravel pit called out to be noticed. Such a simple thing, but it made my day.


Sidewalk snow in Portsmouth, N.H.








*happily married is not perfectly married. Thank god there is no such thing. Just so you don’t think we’re so full of schmaltz and sticky sweetness that you would gag if you ever met us, here’s a little piece of reality from my most recent Cranberry Report in the “Working Waterfront.”


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The delayed post: In which Flat Stella visits Bruce in his workshop


My husband Bruce is a lobster fisherman. In the winter, he takes all 800 of his traps and buoys out of the water to repair and repaint. He also builds new traps to replace some that are too old and bedraggled to repair. When this work is done, he will attend a few conferences in March, do some work on his boat (which is also hauled out for the winter) and then start all over again for the new season.

I was hoping to get a shot of Flat Stella with a lobster, but the season for my easy access to these crustaceans falls between the end of March and the beginning of December. A visit to the shop was the next best thing.


Stella is helping Bruce with the “fid;” a tool that helps him splice the ends of rope. In this case he is attaching “bridles” to the end of the lobster trap. Before the traps are set, Bruce will attach the buoy line to the bridle.


Stella checks out a pile of traps with bridles attached. Bruce’s next step will be to install the interior  pieces of the trap known as heads, where the lobsters crawl in and can’t get out.


“So this is where the lobster goes in!”



“Can you find me?” Stella enjoyed a game of hide and seek. (You might have to click to enlarge!)


Too late to help with painting the buoys, but these are nice and shiny.


And that’s it for Stella’s visit to the shop and to Islesford. Right now she’s enjoying some time in Oregon.


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Holiday review in a flash of photos

Leaving the island on  the 6:30 a.m. boat, the day before the solstice:


Stephanie arrives home from work, 2 minutes after our arrival in Baltimore, so she could  be there for our first view of the new house:


Their living room with a Christmas tree in the sun room:


Christmas Eve day. Bruce did laundry and managed to put my camera through the washing machine. (I had left it in my pocket, and Bruce gets huge credit and appreciation for doing laundry that was necessary since I had come down with a stomach bug.That’s all I’m saying about that.) The camera fell out as he was about to put the clothes in the dryer and he was so dismayed until I saw him and said, “Is that all? The camera is waterproof! I’m sure it’s fine.” And it was. See the relief on his face as I took a picture with my fresh clean camera? (That’s my focus issue, not the camera’s.)


Robin and Stephanie making lobster raviolis for Christmas Eve dinner in their tiny tiny kitchen. It’s really the only challenging, ready-to-be-improved part of their whole house:


Fritz and Robin work on the sauce for the raviolis:


The trip home involved giving Fritz a ride to Portland, along with his brother’s old dining room table. We literally took cookies out of a large tupperware container and left it behind because there wasn’t a pinch of extra room!!


Bad weather was predicted, but we didn’t hit snow until we crossed the Maine border. 1 foot of snow greeted us in Portland. The lights on the trees in Longfellow Square still looked pretty. Portland has lights like this, all over the city, that stay lit during the long winter nights.


These lights are just across from the restaurant Petite Jacqueline, where we met with Bruce’s sister Kelly and her partner Al, and his mom (aka my favorite mother-in-law).


It felt SO good to get home on the 28th. I never take for granted how lucky I am to have such a wonderful place to come home to. Approaching Little Cranberry Island from the “Double B” is a welcome sight.


One night after our return, we were treated to our own little snow storm. 17″ fell overnight!


Bruce and I are snuggled in for a quiet New Year’s Eve. Possibly going to bed before midnight. We’re both fighting a wicked nasty cold which changed our plans to have friends over for dinner tonight. No worries. We’ll soon be on to better and brighter things in the new  year.

Wishing all of our friends and family a happy start to a new year full of health, prosperity and peace.


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