Wednesday, April 02, 2014

In defense of PC artists

An artist friend recently told me about a thread she read online which, in a nutshell, said that unlike other crafters, polymer clay artists are madamot  in sharing their techniques. There were some good points raised on that thread and I wish I was a member of that group so I could have participated in the discussion, but since I'm not I'm having my say here. Share your thoughts in the comments below.. i don't bite :)
People who know me know that when I began working with polymer clay it was at a time when the Internet was still a magical place few men have gone. We had a computer but what it really was was an electronic typewriter (remember DOS?). Craft books, tools and supplies were hard to come by unless you had generous and thoughtful relatives abroad. Forget about e-books. What I had was a bag of clay samples, a little slip of paper with baking instructions, my hands, my imagination and my eagerness to learn. This makes me sound so old, but I did start roughly 20 years ago.

I began making gifts for my friends and my family. Selling my work was far from my mind. The happiness I found in making things with my hands and giving them away was good enough for me. As you get older, however, you begin to entertain the romantic ideology of selling your art and living off the profits and becoming a full-fledged artist like the painters and sculptors of yore. And so you gather your courage and jump into the entrepreneurial pool. When you do, you realize that, Hey, it's not so bad! And there's a market for it, too. So you start to create your brand, your image, and you slowly, slowly discover and develop your own definitive style. Eventually people start to take notice and after a few scary months you realize you're actually making a profit and not just breaking even. Huh. Who knew, right?

Now, after all that, imagine a friend telling you she just saw your work being copied by another crafter, marketing it as their own. How does that make you feel, honestly?

I don't think it's about the unwillingness to share but rather a desire to protect what you've worked hard to create. I gladly share tips with beginners and enthusiasts, but ask me how I make my pc flowers and you'll probably just get a sheepish grin from me. I hear complaints about clayists being madamot, you should hear me rant about unethical crafters. What you're asking from them, from US, is not just a simple technique, it's months or even years of experimentation and brainstorming. That's why there are trade secrets. If everyone just gave away free information we'd all be too lazy to think for ourselves and everything we make will end up looking like mass produced horrors. I happen to like looking at other artists works and wonder how they thought of making that particular piece, and that thought, that little spark of inspiration inevitably spurs me to try to better my own work and maybe in the process I might end up making something mind-blowing. I don't think ingenuity ever came out of just copying someone else's work. That's mimicry, not artistry. I understand if people try to copy someone else's work, after all isn't that the highest form of flattery? I did it before and I still do it now to get a feel for the technique, to free my mind and to see if I can incorporate it into my own style. However, selling it and passing it off as my own is a definite no-no.

I understand how overwhelming it is for beginners to be faced with deciding which tools to buy, what clay to use, or what books to read. That's where workshops come in. Workshops are not money-making ploys, especially if you take them under reputable clayists who've been around for a long time. Here's a tip: If you want to attend a good workshop where you'll go home with your head swimming with ideas, don't expect pay cheap --unless you're friends with the artist, then she might be nice enough to give you a discount :) If you're interested in learning about polymer clay but are unsure if it's the right fit for you, get lost on the Internet. There's a ton of free information and tutorials there for anyone willing to learn.  

There's also something to be said about the kind of people you share your secrets to. There are people who appreciate and respect the hard work behind each piece, and then there are the unscrupulous few who don't. Respect is a factor of course. The lack of which only opens the door to intrigue and discord. I've shared quite a few of my secrets but only with people I know and trust will take care of that bit of knowledge and use it well. I've made the mistake of being too open-handed with what I know so now I know better. Maybe that's it. It's choosing who you share your little tricks of the trade with. It may sound elitist, but the illusion that we are not so generous with what we know stems from a certain sense of self-preservation. We only share with the few people we know are, first and foremost, artists. I can tell you right now, in our group you can ask anything and you'll get tons of tips you wouldn't even know where to start. If you think the PC world is an immature bunch, I'd say you probably don't know us. Yes we may sound like a cartload of chimpanzees when we have events because of the boisterous laughter (maybe that's what makes us seem immature or perhaps intimidating?) but the heart of each and everyone is exactly where it should be.                      

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Mom's Day Sale this week!

Just a short post today since I should really be finishing everything for the sale tonight. Here are a few of the things that will be included, a link to a quaint little playlist of songs used in a cooking show I just recently discovered ( I love it so so much!) and an interesting article on the seriously labor-intensive process that the Japanese grow -and sometimes brand- their apples! Amazing!

See at the Sale! :)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Foodie magnets

Hi! How long has it been since my last post? I know, I promised to be a good girl and update my blog more often, but it's really been scorching here. During the day I can't make myself sit in front of the computer and type. Come to think of it, I find it hard to even think. And at night it feels so sticky and stuffy that I want to shower, and after I shower I get this uncontrollable urge to lie down and sleep, lol

Anyway, I made 3 more magnets end of last month, and i threw in some new yummy letters to the mix.

The "i" I made to look like our native tsokolate. They look a lot like hockey pucks, really, and the way you use it is you put it in really hot water or milk and stir until melts and then you drink it. It has a sandy, gritty texture which is characteristic of this drink, and it goes really really really great with  ensaymada, a local bread (with a spanish influence maybe?) with butter and cheese on top. Churros would probably be good too.

I also added a tart in place of the "l", watermelons and ice buko which is basically a popsicle, but coconut and milk based. The ones I had growing up had strips of fresh coconut meat and red mongo beans on top.

For this magnet I used leche (milk)flan for the "f", and kwek-kwek (hard boiled eggs dipped in an orange colored batter then deep fried; usually served with vinegar or a sweet sauce). For the "i", I made lumpiang sariwa. Lumpia is liketo a burrito, I guess, I'm using "like" loosely here because but the wrapper isn't actually a tortilla since it's more like a crepe than it is a bread. Okay scratch, a lumpia is similar to a crepe, and this Filipino crepe has fresh (sasriwa) vegetables inside like carrots and lettuce garlic, peanuts AND bamboo shoots all uniformly and thinly sliced. It's usually served with a sweet sauce and sprinkled with chopped peanuts. The "ube halaya for the second "i" is a pasty concoction made from purple yams mixed with coconut milk, butter/margarine and condensed milk, cooked until it gets smooth and thick. Some people (ie me) eat it as is, but is is also a key ingredient in halo-halo, another sweet Pinoy heat-buster.

For the "p" I made Pastillas--a sweet treat made with milk and rolled in sugar. The ensaymada, that goes well with the tsokolate steps in for the  third "i" and an iced gem in place of the "o". All this time I thought Iced gems were a Filipino innovation, but a search through Google told me it's actually known all over the world. I think it's cool. 

I thoroughly enjoyed making these magnets even if they were painstakingly detailed. I frequently changed the letters, mixed them up and made new ones just because I didn't like the way they looked together. I had a lot of misses to with some of the foods i wanted to include, like kiping and sampaloc, but overall I love how the textures turned out.

That made me hungry :) What foods from your childhood do you love best?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Food! What else is there?

It's been a veeery slow couple of weeks for me. The hours seemed to crawl at a glacial pace, and yet in the blink of an eye another week has come and gone and I was still nurturing the couch potato that is me.

Thing is, I've made a few shop announcements that I was back and ready to go to work in my studio table, and yet I find myself constantly drawn from it. The mojo is not there. I've made so little and the little I've made were a tad below my personal standards. I'm feeling sheepish, and kinda iffy about risking another shout out to advertise another false start, then I  say myself I have to start somewhere. Maybe this time I'll just slide into things and see how things go from there. Right now I'm feeling pretty okay. Just the other day I walked my 2 dogs, and the day after that I walked with my sister--no, she wasn't on a leash. she's a pretty good girl! And today when I made my doggies' food, I decided to shake things up and make meatballs instead of the usual stew.

This endeavor sucked my morning completely and part of lunch because silly old me bought thigh and breast fillets instead of getting ground chicken. I had to peel, slice, chop and mince my way through the greenery AND about 2 and a half puonds of  the pretty pink chicken muscle. (my sister might agree with you if you're thinking I have a gross/morbid way of describing animal-sourced food)

Anyway, next time I should hold off on some of the vegetables, I got too carried away sneaking in the veggies, it ended up smelling like a veggie burger. That said, my dogs loved it :) I loosely formed them into clumps of pingpong ball size and shoved them in the oven for 15-20 mins at 350.

When they were done, I let them cool completely then packed them in little baggies. I made about 75-80 pieces. I can't be sure, I gave a few away when I first tried frying them and then more when I fished them from the oven. The baggies of 6 though I counted 12.. (or 13?) which should last us a little over a week, yippee-ki-yey!

In the clay realm, I managed to make these magnets, which I think spurred a little creative fire. I feel a bit of the old inspiration creeping back into my hands and brain. Let's see what surprises this week holds.

Of the five, these 2 are my favorites.

This one features fish balls and isaw, 2 of the best known street foods in the Philippines and kalamansi, the local counterpart of lime. I really love using Premo's granite as a background for my work but it's h*ll to condition, I must say. Do any of you have the same problem or is it just me and the climate here?

This one's a bit of a challenge for some to read especially if they don't know what they're looking at. The foods I used actually spell out "Pilipinas" or what would be Philippines to non-Filipinos. To break it down, the P is made to look like bamboo, while the rest of the letters are fashioned after popular Pinoy delicacies. 

The I is puto bumbong, which is a dessert or snack made with sticky rice flour that's tinted with a nice deep purple, steamed in a segment of bamboo and then wrapped and served on a fresh banana leaf with sprinkled generously with shredded coconut, sugar and butter. YUM! You see this usually around Christmas. 

The L is a local sweet bread called pilipit. 

The next I is suman- sticky rice wrapped in a blade of coconut leaf then steamed. It goes great with the Philippine mango or simply dipped in a little sugar. 

The P, like the L is a common type of bread. You'll see it in practically all panaderias in the country, and it's called pan de red-- well, at least in polite society. wink :D

The third I is the famous mangga't bagoong or green mango and shrimp paste. What makes it soooo good? Because it's sour, sweet, salty and sometimes spicy, that's why!

The N is pichy-pichy. This particular kakanin has a number of accepted spellings: peachy-peachy, pitsi-pitsi.. but one thing's for sure, it's yummy! The pichi-pichi is made with shredded cassava, mixed with milk, sugar, then it is steamed like most kakanins. When it's ready, it is served with either fresh shredded coconut or cheese (i personally prefer coconut)

Next is the A. Kind of self explanatory after all the others seeing as it's an upside down ice cream cone, but what makes it Pinoy is because it's called "dirty ice cream" here. The usual flavors you will see are cheese, ube(purple yam) and the universal favorite-- chocolate. You'll see carts of these being rolled around parks or schools. Really charming and definitely Filipino.

And lastly, the S. Fashioned from a strip of the kakanin made famous by Dolor's, the sapin-sapin. Its 3 multi-colored layers of steamed sticky rice flour, coconut milk and sugar. A lot of people serve it with latik or what is essentially left in the pan when one cooks down coconut milk to get the oil. It's those small brown nuggets of yumminess!

Wow, that really made me hungry. I hope you enjoyed our little gastronomic tour of the Philippines. Maybe if you find yourself here you'll try a few of the ones I've mentioned.

Until next time!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Cooking for loved ones

Happy post, post Valentine's, everyone! It's a weekend and I'm hoping to get a lot done. 

A lot of sleeping, that is. I've been feeling a bit melancholy these past few days, and I kept thinking about Hobbes. I miss him. Ten days from now it will be 2 months since he passed and I still miss him. I've known him for so long sometimes I catch myself wondering how is it that he's really gone, but he is. 

About 3 years ago one of our dogs, George, got sick and died. During his treatment, we went to several doctors, went through bags of medications and struggled to feed him. Eventually, his kidneys failed and we had to let him go to end his suffering. I read a lot and learned a lot from articles during this time, about how to treat dogs with compromised kidneys, or other organs for that matter. I also stopped going to a particular overcharging vet. Since then, I've been careful about what I feed my dogs. Back then, we would've just bought regular old dog food at the grocery. The really generic brand of unknown origins. We didn't know better. But we got wiser and went on to more popular brands that assured us of quality through better ingredients and formulation-- until we read an article about those same brands being pulled because they were contaminated.

So now I try to make their food from meat and vegetables from the grocery. It's labor intensive sometimes, but I would like to think it's worth it. I have to admit though, we still give them a little kibble, which I think of as junk food.. so we "indulge" a bit, but their main meals are all healthy. Eventually, I hope we can make a complete shift because the benefits of a natural diet are great. Why? Because when I see a problem, I can do something about it. Like if they have a fungal infection, i know that rosemary and bayabas leaves help. If they have bad breath, parsley and mint are good additions to their diet. It makes me feel good to know i can monitor their diet and adjust it to their needs. All with supervision from our vet of course.

And there's no greater reward than to see their bowls licked clean after every meal!

How about you, do you have special recipes you like to make for your beloved pooch?

Friday, February 01, 2013

Exciting NEWS!

iam having a cane sale! mosey on down to my facebook page. there are still quite a few available.

And i'm also having a tie up with Purplenook. it's a special 2-Saturday worksop. 
Send an email if you're interested.

look back, move forward.

Well, hello there! It's been more that four months since my last post-- i'm the one in charge of the blog so i shouldn't be surprised, BUT I AM! 

A LOT has happened since then-- new projects, heartbreak, travels and new hopes. Ah, the new year.. I wonder what it holds. This post will have lots of pictures to compensate for all the words i hope not to type hehe I am back and I will try to write more often since I really missed this and i missed you guys.. 

Let's get started.

Here are some of the things I've made the past year

 It was a big year for my headbands.
my petal canes got a lot of mileage.

matching knife and cake servers for a baby shower

a "baby's firsts" box-- usually to keep a tooth or a lock of hair

 another pair of servers

this ones my favorite :)

Had some fun with a bezel i wasnt sure how to use--

 tried a different way to color my seahorse and
i also incorporated a cane slice into his fin.

this was up for sale but eventually i decided to keep him for myself
just because i loved how the colors turned out :)

These little piggies are collectible thimbles, but i really see them as finger puppets and they've been running around in my head for some time now, along with goldilocks, cinderella and snow white. a dream project i hope to complete this year :)

these are up on my etsy store, by the way, in case any of you are wondering.

2012 was the year i got a new stamp on my brand spankin' new passport. i've done some travelling before but not lately so i was really excited for this trip. i was going with my friends to visit a friend so it was over the top memorable!

more pictures and maybe a few anecdotes to go with them soon.

 can you guess where we went?

also this year, i lost my dog. my first and seniorest dog, my best friend, to cancer. we were having treatments and we were already on his 5th chemo cycle, but on the day i was supposed to bring him home, he passed away in my arms. I still miss him, but I know he will always be with me in my heart.

I took a lot of pictures of him when i stayed with him at the vet for his post treatment stays and i would like to share with you a few of my favorites

that mushroom grew on an old piece of wood he regularly peed on.. hehe it's like a part of him and i wanted to have a memory of everything hobbes :) and i just think it's cute

love love love this one

here he is, wearing the bandana given to him by our friend, PJ  :)

here he is with his super vet during his morning walk,
taken on the morning of his last day

1 of my 2 ultimate favorite photos
really gonna miss you.

here are a few drawings a made last week of my dogs.
and im working on another hobbes-inspired thing :)

this was an old doggy brush i bought a year ago. it was originally 2 sided, one had a rubber padding and plastic tipped metal bristles? and one side had synthetic boars hairs. soon the metal teeth started falling out so i decided to rip that side out, then my dog had a little fun with it so it looked old and worn out,
 but with a little paint and varnish, it looks new again.

I want to write an entry just for hobbes.. maybe soon when i've decided how to begin. i want to do it so i will never forget and always have a way of looking back on everything that happened. and who knows, it might help someone going through the same thing.

My apologies if my post takes long to load because of all the photos, but i think they show the past year better then a page full of words. I hope the start of the new year has been good to you. Hello 2013, please be kind :)

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