I’m Off On An Adventure!

As Bilbo Baggins ran through the shire, shouting, at the beginning of the Hobbit movie (okay, I am a nerd)!!

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But I really am off on an adventure. I mentioned earlier in the year all the planning, research and general anticipation that has occurred regarding our trip to Southeast Asia. Well, it is finally here! My friends are groaning and mumbling ‘go already’, haha. I just get so excited about it all.

I have to say the comments from everyone have generally been split down the middle. Either they are interested and dreamy-eyed about a someday trip (or have been there already) – OR – they wonder why in the world I would choose to go there.

I am a retired consulting geologist and have even written a book about the characterization of karst. “Karst conditions are formed due to a natural process of dissolution of soluble rock” (Benson and Yuhr, 2016). Think of sinkholes and caves for starters and this type of geology is found over about 25% of the world.

Southeast Asia, and particularly Vietnam, is known for their spectacular karst in the form of tower karst in Ha Long Bay or the massive cave systems such as Hang Son Doong in Central Vietnam. I love the complexities of mother nature (I told you I was a nerd!).

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Then there is the rich religious and cultural history of the Southeast Asia area dating back thousands of years. The highlight will be a trip to the Angkor Wat temple complex in Siem Reap, Cambodia. So very, very different from our own little piece of the world.

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I am a firm believer in recognizing all the differences in our world. And whether you can embrace the differences or not, you should acknowledge these differences and try to respect them. But in the end, it is the similarities we share that bind us all together.

Our world is both so big and so small at the same time. If you have a chance . . . . explore it a little . . . . and go on an adventure.

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Paying Attention!!

Okay, yesterday was a fantastic day!  With everyone’s positive feedback, I was floating on air!! In fact, I woke up and was organized for the day ahead, ready to tackle my To-Do list. And I did. Samples were made and left to bake as I ran out the door for a few hours of errands. But as I was multitasking, thinking I was so ‘together’, I received a call from my husband. He asked if I left something baking. It was a rhetorical question. And a sinking feeling hit me.

He arrived at the house and opened the garage door as gray smoke and an awful smell hit him! What was left in the oven, located in the garage, was now something resembling charcoal. Things were not exactly burning, there were no flames. Smoldering might be a better word.

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Last weekend was the annual retreat for the South Florida Jewelry Arts Guild. I taught a little polymer clay class and brought all my supplies, including my oven. In the move back to the garage, I never checked the settings. WHAT?!?!?! I know better than this. The knobs can easily be moved.

The feeling of ‘walking on sunshine’ was gone. Reality whacked me in the head. Distracted, yes, feeling more than a little ashamed that I didn’t catch those details, absolutely.

The polymer clay appears to have become molten and bubbled up. I am guessing the temperatures got to about 400 degrees F. I am glad no one was there to breathe the fumes. The bases were wooden components and I was actually able to salvage a couple after digging out the clay and sanding a bit!

 

Mistakes made, lessons learned. I hope someone else can learn from my mistakes. The first one is not to get such a big head . . . . . . the second is always, ALWAYS check your oven settings. Be safe out there my polymer clay friends!!

 

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Gobsmacked

I just received the email from Bead and Button regarding class submittals. Out of nine classes submitted, they choose five!! I am surprised, thrilled, scared, shocked . . . . you get the idea. I can’t lie, I did do a little dance around the house and my head has inflated a bit (okay, a lot!).

These are the ones they selected!

They have scheduled me early in the week, June 3rd, 4th and 5th. Five classes in three days means there will be some long hours to put in. I am honored that they have confidence in me to pull this off. I have taught many classes, just never taught for them.  My letter of recommendation must have been really good, haha. I never saw it, it was sent directly to them. Thank you Braider Bob (aka Bob Galivan), a dear colleague and friend!!

This is yet another example of putting yourself out there. You just never know what will happen!

 

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Teaching and Sharing

After my collaboration efforts last spring with Banyan Bay Studios, I decided that I should take things a little bit further. So I designed a few workshops based upon a variety of the samples I developed with them. Why not, I had taken it this far, lets see if it could go further.

I came up with nine (9) different classes that I then submitted to Bead and Button. They are the premiere bead show held annually in Milwaukee, Wisconson. I have been attending since 2004, so I am a big fan! I won’t hear from them for another couple of months. But it was another one of those ‘say yes and see what happens’ experiments!

Some of these classes highlight the different components available from Banyan Bay Studio. Other classes use the same components with different techniques. You never know what is going to catch someone’s eye. If you have been following my blog for any time you might have seen these photos or a version of them earlier. Here, I have tried to spruce them up and give a pitch as to the unique aspects of each class.

Channeling Mondrian – A wooden pendant component is used as a canvas for developing simple and colorful polymer clay canes. The effect of scale on design is illustrated as we develop larger graphic canes and reduce them to fit within the confines of the pendant.

Yuhr-Mondrian Pendant

Lacewing Amphoras – Wooden beads turned on a lathe in an elegant amphora shape are used as a base for a delicate polymer clay cane. The blending of polymer clay colors is the key to the lace-like pattern and the way it captures light.

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Kandinsky Bracelet – Playful mark making and surface coloration are used to let your inner child fly free! Polymer clay discs with embedded findings are combined with a customizable toggle to create a fun and cheerful bracelet.

Yuhr-Kandinsky Bracelet

Taking Flight – Lacewing Bracelet – here the customizable toggle is the focus of the bracelet with the delicate lace-like pattern of the cane. This cane is then used to make various bead components to complete the bracelet.

Yuhr-Lacewing Bracelet

Three of the classes use the wooden tube beads to create a necklace. Each of the classes shows a different way to use this beads ranging from a single strand necklace (Dots and Dashes), to a triple strand necklace (Triple Threat) and even a graduated necklace (Midnight Fiesta). In addition, forging of a few chain components complete the piece.

Three in Three – This is an earring class that shows different ways to use the tube beads to make earrings. So in addition to combining a unique color-way of polymer clay and wood beads, students will learn to make three different earring wires for three different looks!

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Whimsical Succulents – this class will allow your imagination to go wild creating succulent-like, plants that have a whimsical side. This class is filled with techniques that include building on an armature, attaching to a raw edge piece of wood and creating a spring and catch pinback.

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Until then, I am submitting these classes to other venues, guilds, etc. If you are interested let me know!!

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Follow Through

Upon my return from the recent Synergy 4 conference I had lists of goals, pages of ideas to try, and potential opportunities to follow-up on. I was totally jazzed!! But you get home and well life takes over and you fall back into routines. What happened to all those plans and goals!!

I am realizing that all those plans, goals and to-do lists need to be made a priority. How high up on the priority list they get depends. But, they at least need to be as high as getting groceries and doing laundry. They deserve to be put in the rotation and become a part of ‘life’ and given attention. How else are they going to get done, right???

So I started by going through my journal for the conference. Reviewing my notes, remembering what piqued my interests. Here are a few pages from my journal. It was primarily note taking from workshops and lectures. A few little sketches.   Documenting special moments. This is totally done for me. I don’t expect anyone to read this and make any sense out of it. So I was initially reluctant to share, but what the heck!

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Okay the conference was one component. But I took three, yes THREE, workshops!!! They were fantastic workshops with superb instructors that could not be more different from one another in every way, except their generosity! Each one was so jammed packed, that we didn’t spend a lot of time creating. So I need to spend the time to explore each one in depth. Absorb the techniques and process. And see what clicks with my aesthetic and artistic voice.

Melanie West taught a class called A Unique Way of Organic Caning – Full of Depth and Color that explored the used of translucent clay. To be honest, I really don’t like translucent clay or working with it! But I have admired her work for years and was just thrilled to be in the same room to absorb anything she was willing to share! Okay, I will now eat my words . . . . wow, translucent clay is so cool, I love it! I have starting making samples and can’t stop!! Don’t know where I am going, but I am having fun wondering around.

Christine Dumont taught a class called Transforming Clay using decollage techniques she has developed. I had taken an on-line design class with Christine and was hooked on her style of teaching. Her approach to working with polymer clay is very painterly and just draws you in. I have only completed a few samples that are clearly not finished. Lots and lots of work needed here, but so exciting!

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Jana Roberts Benzon taught a class called Nature Walk – Toadstools, Twigs and Boughs. Jana uses polymer clay to recreate some of her favorite things she has found during her walks in the woods. The realism is amazing and her energy is palpable. I find her work to be the furthest from mine. And I have only begun executing her projects. Yet every time I take a class from her I pick up various techniques for working with polymer clay that I can directly adapt to my work!

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I hope that I have encouraged you to follow through after a conference or workshop. Embrace it. Make the most of your investment. Take fun notes . . . practice what you have learned and . . . . enjoy your own creative journey! I know that I am!!

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Proximity

When last I blogged I was catching my breath and enjoying my beautiful surroundings. Well with hurricane Irma in close proximity to South Florida we are in preparation mode.

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All those hanging plants need to be taken down, the yard needs to be cleared, supplies purchased, plans made. You get the idea.

My husband and I are a good team . . . . a great team actually! We are logical, methodical and tackle any issue, problem or crisis well . . . . . together!!

But as I travel through the stores, I can feel the panic and fear around me . . . . . it is contagious . . . . the proximity to the negative feelings envelopes you.

Proximity to such strong, negative feelings has a huge effect, whether we are talking about something serious such as storms and politics or something less serious like your creativity. So lets all be aware of our proximity to the negative.

Now I am not talking about hiding my head in the sand . . . . it is about making the decision to be positive . . . . . taking care of yourself, . . . . . covering your own behind and behaving like a functioning, empathetic adult. But luckily being positive is also contagious. So take care of family and neighbors, lend a helping hand where you can.

Be safe out there and remember, as long as everyone is safe, the rest is just stuff that can be replaced. Life is brief, and there are no guarantees of an easy ride. So hang on for the journey!!

 

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Time to Breathe

While my head is spinning with things to do, try, plan . . . that is my normal mode of operation. I recognize that this drives people around me crazy . . . . but what’s a squirrel going to do??

I did take a moment the other day to catch my breath and appreciate my surroundings. My hubby loves his yard. He calls his plants, his green children. He has always loved orchids and has quite a collection. He gives them a good home and then lets them do what they do naturally . . . . . no special food, no special care . . .  just a good appreciation of what might come. This is what was blooming the other day . . . and that was just the front driveway!

 

And after our trip last year to the South Pacific and Hawaii, he is currently into plumeria. He found out they can be easily grafted to combine colors and make your own new combination. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with. Until then, here is some more eye-candy for you!

 

Whether it has made you smile, lowered your blood pressure a bit or provided some inspiration . . . my work is done! Enjoy your day!!

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