Christmas in St. Louis is always intense. The fun part is overindulging with my sibs and cousins. The hard part is watching my mother age and her memory fade. Then there is the 800-mile drive home, over two days. Jim is 86 and I decided it was time to retire him from his role of relief driver, which made him feel decrepit and guilty.
Arriving back home to our hermitage on Lake Ontario came with a rush of pleasure -- and snow. Temperatures dropped toward zero. Obligations fell away. Nothing to do but spread craft supplies on every available surface and go all in on mastering polymer clay. A new medium, with lots of tools, has a side benefit: "presents" from Amazon Prime arriving every day on my doorstep.
I was also interested in getting my bead collection displayed. Maybe polymer clay skills would open up new avenues of interesting armatures for displaying them that didn't make our space look like a retail shop. But the collection was just too vast. Jim and I wound up installing ledges across a ground floor wall. I experimented with QR codes as labels, but... many steps without much of a payoff. I lost interest.
My history with clay is a story of frustration. So, I decided to rewind to the beginning and take lessons (in addition to the multitude of YouTube video tutorials I had already watched). The Kindle book How To Create Clay Critters & Characters In Polymer Clay by Jack Siegfried got me going, but the illustrations were small and in black and white. I quickly deviated, but was inspired to make a bear and a woman (on the armature of a mini vodka bottle, using an old purchased polymer clay earring as her bodice). The modeling part turned out ok, but my colors were muddy -- add that to my list of challenges.
I quickly moved to making millefiore canes, inspired both by my bead collection (glass millefiore perfected in Murano, Venice) and clay artists. I started working through The Art of Polymer Clay Millefiori Techniques: Projects and Inspiration for Creative Canework by Donna Kato and Vernon Ezell. This resulted in two dolls -- Zuzu and Zim, engineered with a wire armature and clad in clay mosaic (actually not finished till the 1st week of Feb.). I loved how they turned out but the process was full of agony. Fabricating a physical thing takes so much focus and dexterity. There aren't any shortcuts to mastery.
Amid all the clay problem-solving, I listened to King Arthur: History and Legend , a Great Courses audio with Dorsey Armstrong. It quieted the brain chatter that wanted to persuade me that my polymer clay ambitions were stupid and pointless. Intrigued by the powerful symbol of the Grail, Merlin, the Fisher King, and other legends, I went on to listen to The Crystal Cave: The Arthurian Saga, Book 1 by Mary Stewart, then started Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon, which is told from the perspective of the women who populate the legends.
Family history. Always in the background is my quest to expand and deepen our family history. I was excited to discover that my dad's Uncle Mike Martin had living descendants in Texas and in the Cape Girardeau area of Missouri. That door was opened through the magic of DNA analysis. My dad would have been tickled to know these new connections were made.
(Written Sept 30,2018)
HEADLONG: Over the Edge in Pakistan and China (2018) Traveler's tale of a 1992 adventure. A poorly planned roadtrip takes long-time lovers Susan and Jim to forbidden places and lost times. Kindle only.
THE SUDDEN SILENCE: A Tale of Suspense and Found Treasure (2015) Thailand: lovers of ancient treasure tangle with international black markets. Delia Rivera pulls Martin Moon back into the game and their quest turns deadly. In paperback and Kindle editions.
TRIBE OF THE BREAKAWAY BEADS: Book of Exits and Fresh Starts (2011) Time after time, Mary asks herself: Do I go or do I stay? She finds her power in her ancestors: Smart women turn discontent into action. An illustrated memoir in paperback and Kindle editions.
PASSION AND PERIL ON THE SILK ROAD: A Thriller in Pakistan and China (2008) The twin forces of revenge and redemption drive Nellie MacKenzie and Taylor Jackson on a crazed adventure into the heart of Central Asia. They grapple with issues of ethics, trust, rage, and bitter heartbreak -- as well as the intrigue of the international antiquities trade. In paperback and Kindle editions.
All pages in this website by Susan Barrett Price are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. [The snowstorm image at the top of this page came from Wikipedia, under a Creative Commons license.]