Friday, May 8, 2015

Make Your Own Wire Hook and Eye Clasp, Tutorial Part 2, The Eye

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Now we make the second piece, the Eye, which is actually two eyes, one eye to attach to your necklace, and one to be grasped by your hook.
Since the beginning is exactly like the first step on making the hook end of the clasp, no need to repeat those instructions. The only change is the length of wire. For the Eye piece, cut only 13 cm of wire, and make your bend at 5 cm. This time, the bend should be about 45 degrees so that you can start the second eye, leaving a little bare wire to wrap on the shaft.
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As before, you can use the wide end of the round-nose pliers as a guide for the eye (wrap around the shaft)
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I learned the hard, so will say, it’s important that if your first eye is wrapped with the end of the wire lying across the eye, the second eye needs to be same or the ends will be impossible to line up nicely. Wrap your extra wire around the shaft just as before, clip off the extra length, and use the flat nose pliers to tidy things up (pinch coils together, pinch in the snipped ends).
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Tada, finished, handmade by me (or you) matching hook and eye clasp ready to attach to just about anything made of 100percent pure copper. I love copper.

Blog hi-jack over. Sorry, no art or musings today. While making these doesn't take too long, learning how to, and documenting the process, well, that was a chore, but hopefully saves much time in the long run.

Make Your Own Wire Hook and Eye Clasp, Tutorial, The Hook, Part 1

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So I’m hi-jacking my blog for a moment, so that I can document my process for future reference, my own. (and possibly yours).  I’ve finally mastered (more or less) making my own hook and eye clasp with copper wire.  I’ve been trying this on and off for a while, and every time I get back to it it is like re-inventing the wheel.
Enough of that, this time I took pictures, and measurements. Before I forget, here’s the process for all the world to see, and for me to remember.
Start with a length of wire (20 gage copper wire) and cut to 17 cm. Bend 4 cm in a tight fold (this will be the hook).
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Wrap the wire around the large part of jewellery pliers (shown).
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Grasp the resulting ‘eye’ with your flat pliers.
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And wrap around the shaft of the hook.  If the short end of the wire is too long (overlaps the eye, trim it now, as you can’t do that after wrapping. It should be hidden within the wrap)
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Wrap with your hand, the long untrimmed end will help, you need that extra length. You can tidy up a loose coil with your flat plier as you go along.
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Then snip off the extra, and push the end down with the flat plier. Now you have an eye to attach to your chain and a double thick shaft to turn into a hook.
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Using your jewellery pliers (the round nosed ones), put in a nice tight curl at the end.
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Use your round-nosed pliers to pinch the curled end and bend down towards the eye into a hook.
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And finish shaping it with a little bend at the bottom. Now you have a lovely little handmade by you (or in this case by me) hook.
A functional clasp needs two parts. A hook and eye. We just made a hook (with an eye). The eye is actually two eyes end to end, one that gets hooked, and one that gets attached to a chain or cord.
Next up, you need to make the second part. The eye of the clasp.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Apollo’s Solar Flare—Oil Pastel

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9x12inch oil pastel with coloured pencil and ink
I’ve been many oil pastels of late. Not all come out to see the light of day.  Since the medium is a bit of a departure for me (although not too much since I’m still using coloured pencil) I’ve been holding off. I have shifted my style as I have been joyfully exposed to so much great art on Etsy. It has pushed me to try new things, loosen up, get rough even. This one is probably one of the least rough, actually, but representative of how I’m using the oil pastels. 
What I do is lay on the pastels in thick layers, then scrape off with an art knife, repeat as much as required or until I make mud and trash it. Why is mud so easy to make? Argh. So it is an intuitive learning process, there are no nuts and bolts step by step instructions.  I just go for it and see what happens. For this one, I started with a sepia ink sketch, deeply inscribed so that the pastels would skip across the top.  I love science, and astronomy but have no formal knowledge but it’s fun to see the influence crop up in my art.
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More delicious close-ups on etsy, Apollo’s Solar Flare

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Batman and Simba, an update, for catlovers only

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Yep, I still have cats on the mind. These were going to be throwaway bookmarks, but now I’m trying to figure out how to compose them into one, or several linocuts.
I was asked for an update on Batman and Simba (their previous owners do care about their welfare) and I enthusiastically obliged. Why waste words on one person? So I’m sharing the update below.
To Batman and Simba’s previous owners:
Batman is coming around. He
and Simba sleep together all day on the top bunk bed (unfortunately,
too dark for pics) but it is lovely to see they are cuddle buddies,
and knowing that Batman has somebody to get him through the
transition.  I'm pretty sure they've been having a great time without
us overnights, as there is much rearrangement of soft furniture.
Somebody (Simba?) likes to drag blankets and pillows great distances.
On Friday, Batman played with Simba while we watched tv, with our dog
in the room. Dynamo, the dog, is being very good.  On Saturday, I had
both Simba and Batman chasing my Super Toy (a stick, a string, with
cardboard tied to the end; makes me think of all the money I ever
wasted on purchasing cat toys). Simba is NUTS about this, and I guess
Batman couldn't resist forever.  Last night, Randy and I played Cat
Fishing. We each had a super toy, and so had Batman & Simba going
after one, and Riker, our old cat going after the other. That's
progress from all three.  Oh, and Dynamo is in the room the whole
time, and Batman also took the opportunity to check out Dynamo from
behind.
All this takes place in the basement where we eat dinners and watch tv
so no pictures (we don't have great lighting).
This morning, I decided to give Simba some one on one time (no Dynamo
or Riker), and he was very enthusiastic in his affections. Batman
watched out in the open, circled me around, checked out my slippers,
checked out my hand, took lots of good long stares and walked about
doing normal cat things. So I think he's doing great, everyday getting
braver. He is such a gorgeous exotic looking cat.  I am very glad you
re-homed them together.
I think everything is progressing well. Introducing cats to multi-pet
households always takes longer. So many new things to negotiate.  New
environment, new people, big dog, big cat.  Taking it slowly is well
worth the wait.

Friday, April 17, 2015

I Have Basement Cats

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9x12 inch Pastel/Coloured Pencil: Basement Window
Obviously, I have cats on the mind.
Simba has made great progress. He is friendly, he loves to play, both with absconded furry and large dog toys, and chasing madly after a toilet tissue roll I tied to a string (he loves that one).  He has explored his space in the presence of our dog, and even played about in front of her and not freaked out when she follows him around. I don’t see any issues there.
Unfortunately, our resident old-timer, Riker (cat) is Not Pleased, Seriously Not Pleased, and so has decided that the solution is to maintain his lordship over the upper story of our home, and ceded the basement to the newbies. So that's why I currently have Basement Cats, hopefully not a permanent situation. I’ll be bringing out the big guns to fix this—TUNA.  Will try some mutual treating sessions to build some positive associations up.
So still no good photo’s of the newbies. Oh yes, Batman is still in the batcave. He’s still hiding, but not so much, and I caught him watching Simba play. So that’s progress. Now I just need to worry about Riker. 
Nothing is ever simple.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Two Invisible Diva's, or, Three Cats I have once again



Once upon a time, I had three cats.  Time passed, and I lost one, and then another, until only Riker was left. I thought I would be happy with that, the old-timer is looking good, and all I need in catness, right?  He's friendly, cuddly, fluffy, and cute, and he LOVES the dog. I do mean LOVES, or, well, he uses the dog. Is that the same thing?  When I say loves, and or uses, I mean that he walks up to her, bumps her muzzle to solicit a spa session. He won't quit until until the dog complies with an ear wash, lick lick lick. One ear, his head, and then the other. So that's Riker.
But I and husband both felt there was room in our little house for more cats, and we wanted more cats, and why shouldn't we have more cats, so in January, we started checking the listings, and on Tuesday, the we brought home two gorgeous cats, and I do mean gorgeous. I would love to show you photo's, but they won't let me. Batman (yes, they came with names), has wedged his body behind the fridge. I thought he was stuck, but my husband has seen him, in brief flashes, in other places, so he's okay.  Simba is hiding under the couch. So I'm typing this in their invisible presence hoping they will make an appearance any time soon. Please.
I have tuna!
Actually, the tuna has been somewhat effective, so I've managed to see Simba today. Simba is a Lynx point colorpoint shorthair, but most of us would call him a tabby siamese.  So he's slinky, silvery and has wide blue eyes.
Batman is black.  He's shaped exactly the same, because he is an oriental shorthair, which looks just like a siamese of another colour. Simba is 8 months old, and Batman is just over a year. Until tuesday, they lived with an elderly couple and a bothersome dog. Well, that's as much story as I got.  So maybe they are used to hiding, and they don't yet know that our dog is old and gentle.
Ooooh! Simba just popped up. Wow! I can't wait to share pictures. Not today, but someday. For today, art will have to do. I started this on a day I was anticipating taking these cats home. This is where I start my pastels, with ochre pencils, followed by layers of yellow.  It's as close as you'll get to seeing my invisible cats, for now.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Question of Identity


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Self-Portrait: Full of Lies, 8x10inch oil pastel, pen, coloured pencil
It occurs to me that artists do self-portraits. It’s just a thing that artists do, probably when they can’t come up with a more compelling subject matter, or is that what still life bowls of fruit are for?  Digressing. I have not done many, and not for years (self-portraits, I mean, although, I don’t do much bowls of fruit art either).  This, however, is Not a Self Portrait.  It is full of lies. It doesn’t look at all like me, and it doesn’t even look the way I think I look, but oddly enough, it is what landed on the page while I was thinking of doing a self-portrait.
Cats on the other hand, have no problems at all with identity. A cat always knows exactly what he or she is. A cat is a cat, and if a cat where to consider it’s own identity. I am absolutely sure the cat would be thinking “I am cat” and be both accurate and done with the matter.
I envy cats.
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People, on the other hand, struggle with identity. I always felt pretty sure of myself, with absolute certainty, I considered myself uniquely me. As if that was something solid and real and immutable. But it’s not.  We change, moment by moment, day to day, and only our internal narratives keep us feeling that we remain the same; break the narrative, and it all breaks down. So many things can break that narrative, stress, pressure, illness, brain damage, experience. Sometimes we change for the better, learning, growing and moving on. Sometimes for the worse, in denial of reality, all sorts of weird things happen. Obviously, there is not much that can be done about the physical assaults to the mind, but I do feel that in facing fears and unwelcome realities head on, we become better people, more capable, more compassionate, more open to new experiences.
I suppose, until now, I’ve been speaking in code. Here’s the big unpleasant reality that completely turned my psychic worldview upside down.  It is dementia, specifically, watching my mother in law change from a real person, to a shell of one long before death took her. I won’t sugar coat that.  Not all dementia patients loose themselves so completely, but the mere fact that it can happen shook me to the core. Prior to that, I thought we had some sciencey version of soul.  Now I know, without a shadow of a doubt that our identities are the result of a functioning organ we call a brain that relies heavily on a community of other functioning organs, a community of living cells we call the body. 
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The joy of it is, once I got my head wrapped around that fact of life, I can not only take it, but revel in it, that we are who we are, and sing and think and paint and draw, love and hate, go running down the street, or lie dreaming in our beds and are just filled with so much, a series of moments in time, moments in thought, that becomes the narrative of our souls, fragile as it all might be.
Note on the art: it’s oil pastel, pen ink and coloured pencil. Lately I’ve been cruising Etsy and admiring other artists.  Most of the art that I love is semi-abstract, expressionistic and rough edged, often tagged naive art, raw art, art brut, primitive art.  Looking at my own art, especially that which I post on Etsy, I wonder if I am holding back, being too tight, too careful, too busy proving that ‘yes, I can draw'' vs being expressive. Those of you who follow on instagram may have already noticed.  This is turning into another blogpost, so I’ll leave it at ‘more later….’

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