Monday, May 27, 2013

Ross Update II

Ross is looking pale and not very photogenic this morning, probably because it is Monday...
Detailing is finished and I'm ready to start adding colour.  I also noticed something surprising about Ross this morning, but I will keep that for later...
Today I will continue working on Ross, and take the puppies to the vet for innoculations.  Thankfully Colani is doing well so he will be spared another trip in the car.
Also today, we are starting a two week cycle of workshops in the studio.  Things are heating up, even in the middle of winter!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Ross Update

I can tell from reader statistics that some of you are checking in every few minutes to see what's happening with Ross... here's a quick peek.
The first layer of felt is on!  I am busy adding detail.  I'm taking pictures for the workshop, and writing homework instructions as I go, so progress is a little bit slower on the bear than it could be.  The excercise running between sewing table and my computer must be good for me though.

Friday, May 24, 2013

All's well that ends well

I peeled myself out of bed at the cold and dark hour of 5 am today.  Lots to do.  Bear to needle felt, mohair to dye, cake to bake, patterns to make... The self employed artist's day never lacks variety, only hours to get it all done.  By 10am I was able to tick a few things off the list, congratulating myself for being on schedule for a change.
Then a peculiar movement caught my eye and my heart stopped.  Colani was dragging himself along the studio floor by his front legs.  Every once in a while he would try to get up and fail, giving a weak whimper.  My beautiful 65kg great Dane was paralyzed.  Just a few hours earlier he was romping around on the lawn with all the other dogs.  Ruptured discs in Danes is not uncommon, it's incurable and one of my great fears.
Needless to say, all work stopped and we prepared to rush to the vet.  We had to muzzle Colani to prevent him inadvertently biting one of us when we move him.  Traumatic for me and the dog.  After slipping a rug under him we were able to lift him into the car and a very tense journey followed.  Following careful manipulation of his hind legs, the vet suggested that we lift Colani out of the car and see whether he could stand up.
There a miracle happened.  The dog walked away!  Panic and adrenalin will often make an animal ignore an injury.  In this case though, it means that whatever the problem is, it is not spinal, or he would not have been able to walk.
For the next few days we are going to try homeopathic anti inflamatory tablets and monitor his condition carefully.  The vet feels confident that he will recover.
I'm sure you can imagine my relief.  I feel a bit like someone who dreamt that I was falling off a cliff, just to jerk awake at the last moment. 
Here's Colani sleeping with his head in my lap in the car on the way home.  Both of us exhausted.

I am emotionally drained, and I've decided not to continue working on Ross tonight.  The mood has to be right to do something so creative.  I did make him a set of perky ears today. 

And I dyed the fabric for the first Ross workshop.   Attila and Monet did quality control.
Tomorrow we have a felt play day in the studio and I will be devoting time to some other small projects I have on the go.  Most likely this will help me settle down too, and I will get back to Ross the day after.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Meet Ross

Meet Ross.  Right now this little fellow doesn't look like much, but he's getting more handsome by the hour.

Already he entertains me by striking poses as we work.

Now that I am finished with the basic design, only the fun parts remain - adding character!

I'm looking forward to showing you the finished bear.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Mechanical Mouse Polymer Clay Workhsop at JSME

On Saturday I taught a group of talented miniaturists at JSME (Johannesburg Society of Miniature Enthusiasts) how to make a mechanical mouse from polymer clay.  When you turn the handle on the side of the cheese, the mouse twirls around.
It was a laughing kind of day...

 With intense concentration at times...

When it became too stressful we had to go outside for a cheese break... 

Then it started coming together, and things were great!

I was watching all the time to make sure they do it right.

They tell me it was the first workshop ever where the teacher brought a stove...
Hmmm, we all know miniaturists are a bit strange!

JSME offers workshops on the first and third Saturday of every month at the Roosevelt Park recreation centre in Johannesburg.  They also send out a bimonthly newsletter, and organize the largest miniatures festival in the southern hemisphere.  If you are fascinated by small things, and would like to learn to make items for your own dolls house, head over to their website and join the club!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Checking in

Just quickly.
Here are some workshops and workshop dates for your diary.

Saturday 25 May
Let's Play Felt All Day.  Bring any project that you are working on that is made from felt, or bring your felt scraps and start something new.  I have some small projects that I am working on, and am happy to share ideas with you. 
Do you remember the felt covered tape measure from last year? 

And the bottle cap pin cushions from the year before?
There are so many inexpensive and useful little gifts that one can make with felt.  It's so handy to have a few small hand made items ready-to-give when you need a present in a hurry.
A while ago I made a pin cushion with felt pansies.  I'm revisiting that idea, and experimenting with other flower shapes too.
During the afternoon session I will be demonstrating needle felting, for those who are thinking of attempting the advanced needle felting workshop in June.

Morning session from 9am till 12h30, and afternoon session from 13h30 till 16h30.  R 55 per session.  If you would like to join us, please reserve your spot.

Saturday 1 June and Saturday 6 July
All day bear making workshop.  Previously fully booked, two spaces have just become available for 1 June (update 20/5, fully booked), and 6 July is filling up fast.  This is an ideal workshop day for beginner teddy bear makers.  You will receive a prepared kit, and be able to finish your bear by the end of the day. 
If you are an advanced bear maker, this is a great opportunity to spend a whole day working on your unfinished projects, with me at hand to help when you get stuck.

The puppies are well, and growing fast.  We are slowly unpacking the winter gear, but the really cold weather hasn't struck yet.  Right now I am enjoying sewing in the studio's bay window under a gentle sun and long afternoon walks with all six the dogs. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Meet Bonnie and Clyde

Last year I started feeling that restless mental itch.  My life was boring, and the tide of my creative energy way out over the horizon.  Something had to give.  I wondered whether I needed a career change, to move house, to enrol at university... Rose said, don't be silly, get a puppy.  How right she was!
Since their arrival on the 26th of April, these two have kept me so busy that I haven't even had a chance to tell you about them.
Meet Bonnie and Clyde.
Our two Great Dane bitches are twelve weeks old now.  Bonnie has huge feet and a loving nature.  She is going to be a big sweetie.  Clyde, the harlequin, is very vocal and very active, she is the leader whenever there is mischief afoot.
These two don't come with speed control.  They are either
or OFF
Our other dogs took to the puppies straight away and we are enjoying walks in the veld with all six of them. 
And as soon as I get into the studio and try to work, there are visitors at the gate...

They can only be let in for a guided tour.  Right now they are still chewing everything within reach.
So, if I don't get to the phone in time, forget an appointment, turn up covered in dust and grass, I've been playing with the puppies.  When you get invited to share a puppy's joy for life, everything else must wait! 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Miniature Mechanical Mouse

After a few false starts with the mechanical mouse project last week, I did manage to make a working sample.  I immediately realized that a picture would never do the little mouse justice, I needed a video to show you how it works.

My small success with the mouse mechanism pointed to a huge gap in my skills base.  I knew virtually nothing about video, and the thought of making my own YouTube video had never crossed my mind.  Thank heavens for Google and Nikon online help.  After some research I knew that I could film 30minutes of video with my digital camera, and that I could edit and smarten it up with the same software that Steven Spielberg uses for his movies.  In order to free up my hands , I unearthed the tripod that I bought a few years ago and have never used. 
Filming the dancing mouse was easy.  Editing the video was not.  After fourteen hours of studying the software and pressing the wrong buttons, I had forty seconds of workable material.  I am not considering a career in the film industry.
So here it is for you to enjoy.  I will be teaching a mechanical mouse workshop at Johannesburg Society of Miniatures on 18th May.  You do not need to be a member of the society to join in a workshop.
Later, when I have time, I will also publish the workshop as a PDF tutorial.
But right now, there are some other wonderful little distractions calling to me.  I will write about them in my next post.