Thursday, March 19, 2009

What a great two weeks~

Joe and I are headed back to Oklahoma from St. Augustine where the Orlando Polymer Clay Guild held their fourth annual "Orlando Clay Fandango Retreat". Don't you just love the title??? It's fun just to say it out loud. ""Fan-DANG-go""!!!!!! (A little snap of the fingers and a sexy tossing of the head here!!)

Last year17 artists submitted a syllabus of a class that they would like to teach at the Fandango. My submission for an inro class, a wearable vessel, was selected. After weeks of preparation and a five day drive, four days driving with one day in the middle to relax, I found myself at the front of the class, introducing both myself and the inro to a fabulous group of students. The retreat was a delightful success and the campground Bryn Mawr, located on the ocean, was wonderfully relaxing.

The drive down included two days driving through Texas and into Louisiana, for a quick, overnight visit with Joe's sister Judy, then camping for two nights in Magic River Mississippi. During the day there I made this oak leaf inro. I think it might be my favorite so far.

Everyone needed to have a name tag and many would be making their own, decorative, beach theme tag. There was not enough time to make a beach themed tag so I chose to use the project pin that went with the Dollie Dangles Sweetbrier Studio mold and add a banner with my name on it. However as it was laying on the table in the rig, Joe looked at it and suggested 'word balloons', like in a cartoon. He has lots of great ideas so I used his idea and added the 'introductory' balloons. Sure enough, the little balloons were clear, easy to read and were cuter 'n all git out! (That's Okie for "very cute and clever!".)

Since I was an inro teacher, it seemed as though my perky name tag gal should have one too. Finding a 16 penny bent nail in the parking lot, I washed it, wrapped it in paper and made an inro over it. The outer, decorative layer is made of a slice from a micro millefiori patterned loaf that was created back in '85 using original Fimo. I cut a thin slice and gently squeezed it to restore the flexibility and softness of it. Note that the flowers and leaves are still crisp and highly visible. It opens like all inro and has a 'gold' liner.

Next I needed a tiny cord from which to hang the inro. In the rig was a sewing kit with a number of colored threads. Hooray, raw material for a tiny cord. Choosing two threads of white, one of pink and one of red, cutting them to the same lengths, twice as long as I wanted the finished cord to be I tied one end of the four threads to the latch in my art table, and began twisting the threads until they were tight enough to form a rope. Grabbing the twisted cord in the center, and pulling up, while still holding the twisted end, I moved the it near to the tied end. The twist in the threads caused the two halves of the cord to wrap around themselves, making a tiny rope. I used this rope to string the inro then tied it around the neck of the name tag.

We stayed at Bryn Mayr, a campground on the beach in St. Augustine, about two miles south of the hotel where the retreat was held. Two other retreat goers, Nita and Sandy, along with their husbands, were also camping there. Both had signed up to take my class and I 'met' Nita via the web a few weeks before the retreat.

The event, which started on Thursday and went through Sunday, was a great four days, Three of the days I taught the inro class from 9 to 6. Happily, nearly everyone went back to their rooms with a finished inro hanging around their necks. There lots of thank you's and very generous praise from many of the students. I met so many, many wonderful people who love polymer clay as much as I do. It was an invigorating three days.

To top it all off there was a shuttle launch at 7:47 PM from Cape Canaveral on Sunday, the last day of the retreat. I taught at the hotel until 6 but Joe drove to the cape earlier in the afternoon to watch the launch up close. Just after 7:30 the students and I went out to the beach, along with a score or so of other people, right behind the hotel, and watched the shuttle launch The launch sight is 94 miles south of St. Augustine, but you can watch the flames and smoky trail of take off as it rises slowly and then shoots across the sky. It was so thrilling that I was ankle deep in ocean water before I noticed that my feet were cold and wet! My heart was soaring with that heaven bound rocket that started out as a thick smoky plume, then slimmed down to a contrail and lastly became a bright star rising ever higher. When the two booster rockets were jettisoned, there were, for a brief moment, three stars. One continuing to rise and two falling.

Nita and husband Ken drove me home from the hotel after the launch. Joe rolled in just after midnight, still excited and filled with the wonder and awe of the event. What a fabulous week.

We spent Monday at Bryn Mayr doing laundry and a bit of R&R. We are in the rig now and are headed home.

There is a house that we have been remodeling ready and waiting for our return to be finished. Joe is very eager to get the job finished as we plan to move into it as soon as possible.

Life goes on and we have a couple more days of travel and relaxing, then home again.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Rig is in the Driveway

The RV is in the driveway. It's always exciting to bring it home to pack as it means that adventure is just around the corner, but first, it will need to be prepared and provisioned.

Tomorrow morning we will start the job of loading it for a three to four week trip. The rig has been winterized for the last four months and has to have all the winterizing fluids drained and replaced with fresh water, and other such necessary jobs.

There is so much we take for granted in our homes. When I want to wash a load of clothes, it's down the hall to the laundry room, sort the clothes and load the washer. When traveling I have to remember to bring laundry soap, enough for at least 6 loads of clothes, plan where and when to wash, and pack enough clothes to get us through till laundry day.

There will be a number of things to load tomorrow and, from the looks of my studio, most of my tools, clay, etc will be tucked in anywhere there is space in the rig.

Next will be food, drink and a bottle of wine. Can't wait to get started.

I have finished the last inro before leaving. This one looks like flame stitched fabric, sort of. It turned out much better than I thought it might while designing it. I hope that I have prepared enough different styles for my students to see the versatility of polymer clay.