February 29, 2008

3 Hours Later

I stepped out today for three hours and this is what happened while I was gone. You beauty! I assume this butterfly will stay like this until its wings have dried out (there was an amazing amount of biological material on the counter below the butterfly -- kind of like amniotic fluid inside the cocoon). Then I will work on getting introducing it to its new world. I am glad to give it safe haven during this vulnerable time.

Butterfly Alert!

This morning there is an obvious change in the Monarch chrysalis! It has gone from a pale, undefined solid green, to a darker shade of Monarch wing. You can clearly see the pattern through the outside of the cocoon. I am so thrilled! I guess this means I need to watch carefully so I can catch him or her emerging.

February 27, 2008

Scrapbooking: not for the faint of heart

Now I know why people get addicted to Scrapbooking. This array of color and pattern is just about to send me over the edge into sheer creative ecstasy.

Scrapbooking is a challenge. First, there is choosing the paper and colors. Aye-yi-yi, the possibilities! This rack is only one of many in the shop and they all look this 'kid in a candy shop' good. I can't possibly absorb it all, but I desperately want to. Maybe I should wallpaper a room in my house with all the different sheets? Antz, what do you think?

Second is the page layout. The teacher is quick to show us many amazing layouts done by past students and themselves. How do they do it? But when it comes to making my own amazing layout, it can be frustrating. I struggled with mine last night, but finally came up with something I thought to be relatively pleasing.

It *is* really neat seeing my wedding photos come to life in a colorful, tidy layout. When it is done, it will be something fun to look through (hopefully for anyone, not just us). Our wedding really was special and it deserves to be preserved this way and shared!

This wedding quilt page is not done yet, but shows the results of my layout efforts last night. It needs text and embellishments. A short text description will be written on the red square; in Scrapbooking this is called "journaling."

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by my own creative thoughts. So many ideas come hurtling at me, I can't possibly do them all. I am grateful though. What if I were bored? At least I am not that. My biggest mission is to sift through all the ideas on focus on just a few. That is really my biggest challenge.

Take a look at the very, very bottom of the web page. You'll notice a box there from Blogarithm. If you want to be notified by email every time I update this blog, just enter your email address in there. You may have to sign up, but it is free. You can use Blogarithm to notify you of updates to other blogs you may like as well. It's a pretty cool little program.

February 25, 2008

Not condusive

I am coming to terms with the fact that I need a dedicated workspace. The only place in our house I can really do this is in the garage. This is currently what "my space" in the garage looks like. This is NOT CONDUSIVE to creativity much less getting anything done. In the coming days I will be working to remedy this.

I found the praying mantis this morning on the window in the living room. I opened the window for him to make an easy escape to freedom, but he didn't seem to understand. Fly, little dude, fly away! Be free!

So I gave him a little nudge with a newspaper.

I had my silver smithing class tonight. I am currently working on a two-layer ring in silver. Here I am sawing out my design in the studio at the Art Centre.

I used the rubber hammer and the ring mandrel to shape the ring, then I soldered the edges together, then more shaping until it was perfectly round. This is how far I got tonight. It still has a bunch of sanding, filing, shaping and polishing to be done, but it fits my pinkie finger perfectly!

It's a bit hard to see the detail in this photo, but I really like it! I'll post another photo next week when it's done.

I found a cocoon for a Monarch butterfly on the ground in my garden. I imagine it got knocked loose in one of our big winds lately. So I picked it up and taped it to a long twig and now it is in the house. I am hoping it will develop properly and hatch so I've been whispering words of encouragement to the butterfly within.

Today, McMurdo Station, down in Antarctica and where Antz is, closed for the winter (well with the exception of that one April flight). Have a great winter you guys!

February 24, 2008

Starting blogs are always the hardest part. What to say at the beginning? Well, for one, I am NOT in Antarctica this winter, which is a big change. My husband Anthony IS down there on the ice at McMurdo Station, leaving me to my own devises for 6 WHOLE MONTHS.

I have decided to dedicate myself to creative pursuits for the aforementioned period of time. I am going to let myself take all those classes I've been wanting to take for a while now and just have a great time exploring the creative world. I have no idea where this will lead, but I can guarantee it will be fun.

I have already started my mission by signing up for a silversmithing course in Christchurch that my friend Harry Fishel told me about. It's a 10 week course in basic skills. I also signed up for a 6 week scrapbooking class and have picked our 2003 Antarctic wedding as the subject of my scrapbook. Next month I have a lampworking weekend in Auckland. For those who don't know what lampworking is, it is making beads from glass using a torch flame...basically melting glass in a bead form. In addition, I have just completed 2 separate courses in PMC this weekend.

PMC or "Precious Metal Clay" is an amazing art. Somehow Mitsubishi found a way to suspend tiny particles of pure silver into a natural binder, creating a clay-like substance. This clay can be molded and shaped into items of jewelery and when it gets fired in a kiln, the binder substance burns away and bonds the particles of silver together. The whole thing shrinks about 10% and what you are left with is a peice of fine silver jewelery. It is EXACTLY like using regular pottery clay...all the same rules apply for forming, joining, sanding, carving, etc but all in miniature. It's pretty trippy.

So, I had one class on Saturday and another today, on Sunday. Two separate classes with two different teachers. Both classes were excellent.

I had to leave several of the pieces I made with the teachers so they could kiln-fire them, but this tiny piece I brought home today because I fired it with a butane torch (and thus didn't have to wait for the kiln).

I'll post more photos when I get the pieces back.

Just to get you up-to-date. I knitted this baby hat and gloves for our friend's new baby due in July.

It is hard to refrain from squealing "ain't they CUUUUTE!" The mittens do not have thumbs, because I guess babies don't need them -- for a while at least. To put the size in perspective, each mitten fits nicely over one of my fingers.

I got the pattern from a great little baby knitting book I bought. Stitch n' Bitchers on the Ice: let me know if you need a pattern for anything baby-ish.

There is a praying mantis in the house tonight. I spotted it earlier, but it has crawled (or flown) off somewhere. I left a window open after sunset and now there are moths all over the ceiling...and one praying mantis. Is that good luck?

OH, and one last thing. I need help naming my blog. I have tried and tried to come up with something clever, but nothing has stuck. I could really use your help. Email your ideas to cgdownunder@hotmail.com or comment to the blog.