And I tried to make some pendants. I did a couple of florals I didn't take snaps of, and this strange little thing. I think they are all destined to be decorative badge holders rather than necklaces to appeal to folk at the business office craft fair in May.
And now to start work on what I have in mind for this weekend!
I struggle with creativity and 'making' as most artists do from time to time. With me, I am more often struggling than creating; this has been the case ever since I can remember. Usually, I have to have external motivation to get going - an occasion to give a gift, running the craft fair and feeling like I also should have a table, or a custom order coming through my Etsy shop. It makes me sad that I am not naturally motivated and prolific, but that is just who I am and maybe one day I will square with that.
Last month, I was clicking about on YouTube and a suggested video came up. It was one of the hardest things I have ever watched, but I made myself do so because it is important to be informed about what really goes on in the world. The video, a BuzzFeed mini-documentary, highlights the work of Marc Ching, founder of the Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation. The documentary shows how Marc and his foundation are working to save dogs that are caught in the brutal Asian dog meat trade. If you don't know the realities of the torture and butchery that goes on on a daily basis, then you too should make yourself watch the video, here. Be advised it is heart-wrenching.
I have never been one to champion causes or go out of my way to be preachy about something. But, this has hit me harder than anything has before. I am not a wealthy person. I don't have a lot of free time, and I don't live near the AHWF headquarters to do anything hands-on with them. And I sure as hell don't have the stomach or mental fortitude to go into Asia and do something on the ground.
But what I can do is dedicate my creativity to this cause.
I have, therefore, pledged the net profits of Brandee Blank Art to AHWF starting this year and have their blessing to use their name and logo on my websites and during craft fairs. I feel really good about this decision. I feel like my art has meaning now. I have been inspired to actually clean up my disaster of a craft room. I have a notebook filled with ideas and experiments - it is the first time I have even cracked open my notebook in months. I even finished a couple of "no rush" back-burner custom pieces that I really didn't want to deal with.
All in all, I feel like this is one of the best decisions I have made. It is helping to soothe my broken soul by giving me a way to help the Foundation and at the same time lending me inspiration where perhaps I wouldn't have had it otherwise.
The kitchen still isn't done, but it is close enough now that we got a lot of our living space back, and with the space came the room (and mental energy) to actually make stuff! YAY just in time for the Holiday Craft Fair I put on every year at my office.
This group of work came about because I wanted to make my co-worker and good friend something special for her birthday and I knew how much she loved my succulents. I have a house full of them, and three years ago for the Spring craft fair I brought in a bunch of cute terrariums with air plants, succulents, and the like. They were a hit and since then folk keep asking me if I am going to do it again.
Well, no, on account of half the people killed their plants within a month (how in the world do you kill a succulent??) and also it was hard for me to let go of plants that I had been nurturing for 6+ months to get them ready for the sale. But then it dawned on me that I could just make faux succulents; sort of how Athena made the mechanical owl for Perseus in Clash of the Titans ('Not my beloved Bubo!').
So I made a few desk top terrariums (the air plants are real):
And a few adorable mini- terrariums. The base is about the size of a quarter:
This is my favorite! And the one I am keeping.
And, Christmas ornaments in two sizes! But really, I think you could hang these in a window all year long:
In a strange twist of coincidence, the day I started on these, I saw that the new PolymerCafe magazine came out with the cover being succulents. So weird! I ordered it but it hasn't come in yet. They probably have a much better technique for making these than I managed - but we shall see!
I've been living in a construction zone. SINCE FREAKING MAY. My kitchen remodel was supposed to be an 8-week job and has turned into this never ending nightmare that has left me without a kitchen, without most of the garage (the kitchen stuff is in there, and it is serving as the dog's living room while the house is being worked on) no dining room and half a living room since the kitchen cabinets have to be stored in the house (did I mention the garage was full) which means all my stuff from these rooms have been shoved into my craft room and it has been unusable for over four months now. The stress alone has made me feel not very creative, but having no space to work has completely cut me off from claying at all.
The only time and space I have to do anything creative is while I am at work, so I have taken up embroidery. It's clean, compact, and mobile. Plus, you can pick it up and put it down at will. Hence, this chicken:
It shall remain in this hoop and adorn the walls of the dining room. If construction ever ends. Le sigh.
I got a few neat things done for the holidays, but not much else happening in the ol' creativity department.
A few journals:
and a special order jar to look like the recipients pup:
and I also managed to make myself a pretty cool necklace to match a party dress:
Other that, not much fun stuff is managing to come out of me. I am in a slump at my day job, and I have convinced myself that the sadness there is bleeding over into my (lack of) creative self too.
I am taking some steps to try to fix that though! I am part of the 2016 Polymer Clay Adventure. There are a few projects there that I am super pumped about (and a few I really want nothing to do with but I am going to try to force myself to do them anyway. Who knows, maybe something neat will come of it).
I am going to try to participate in the monthly challenges for the polymer guild I belong to, too. I am coming up dry so far though, even though the next theme is right up my alley. I also have my eye out for some kind of bead soup challenge type thing, but with polymer pieces.
Tried something new! I have an obsession with old-timey cabinets of curiosity, and even though I don't actually have one, I have enough stuff on my "shelf o' cool" that I should probably invest in one already...
In any case, I picked up loads of these little bottles last month, and decided to make something that I would like to see in a cabinet. Behold!
I had a LOT of fun coming up with the "description" for these for Etsy too. I knew I wanted something that was a Victorian sounding story, but ended up writing a letter:
My dearest friend: I write to you today with the most interesting of propositions. The famous Professors Chester O. Kensington and Sir Thaddeus R. Vandeviere have found, in one of their many daring journeys into the unknown countryside far to the west, the most peculiar of botanical specimens. I am sure that you are already familiar with their triumphs and wonders in the worlds of cryptobiology and botany. And yet, as with all serious forms of inquiry, even the most studied intellectuals must turn to their peers in the hopes of broadening their compendium of knowledge. And this, my dearest, is where you come in. I have in my possession several such mysterious exhibits, and the express permissions of sirs K. and V. to send them to those intelligentsia who may be able to shed light on their morphology. It is most curious that we have been given the privilege to peek into their secret investigations, and indeed, they have all but admitted defeat in the cataloging of these ‘odd pods’ as they ever so diplomatically refer to them. I implore you to look upon these specimens and deliver your thoughts directly to K. and V. as I have instructed them to expect your post. Yours always sincerely, B.B.
I am really loving my jars! Every one I make I feel like I am on the verge of keeping. I am trying to branch out from the octopus design while avoiding doing dragons. I know dragons are all the rage, but I learned how to do these eyes from a tutorial on "dragon eyes" and I don't want to impinge on the tutorial artist's territory. The weirdest (and disappointing) thing is that she started doing dragon eye jars literally days before I posted my first one unbeknownst to me. Imagine my chagrin when I proudly thought I had a totally original idea and I see that I was "beat". She is a lovely artist and has talents that I am terribly jealous of. The least I can do is defer to her in this and not sell dragon eyes!
So now I am working on other creatures. I have a crow version which I am not happy enough with to post pictures. But I am quite happy with this Nautilus!:
There will be more to come with these guys. I am excited to see where the design ends up from this one, which is my first attempt.
I did actually make a dragon version which went to family member:
And a sea dragon version that went to another family member:
I do have two ready-made jars already up on my etsy site, too!:
I love that I get to play around with different techniques and ideas on the body of the jars. I really never had room to do that when making jewelry, mostly because I don't like the way polymer jewelry that is just a cabochon look, so I just never really bothered to branch out.