As the title reflects, I feel I have been Chasing Rainbows to no avail. I needed someplace or thing to make me feel more grounded and accountable. Somewhere I can record my plans and efforts as I work towards meeting goals of increasing my Polymer Clay knowledge, skills, and abilities while working towards a healthier me, in mind, body, and soul. A place that reminds me that everything has the possibility to improve with effort (I might even catch part of one of those Rainbows, someday).

Out of order, fun filled June.


Posted by Sue C | Posted on Monday, August 09, 2010 | Posted in

Hi, again, I just realized I never told about my wonderful trip to the Smoky Mountains in June.  I don't like to announce trips ahead of time or during, too much, as it just announces that "we're not at home", LOL, which in this day and age is not a good thing to do.

Anyway, for the past year we have been planning a special trip for this summer.  You see, we have a dilemma.  My folks and sister live about a half hour from us, but Mr. C's Dad and Step-Mom live in New Mexico, and our kids are both military families.  Right now, one of them lives in South Carolina and the other lives in Virginia.  Both are roughly 12 hours away.    Mr. C still has to work, we aren't retired yet, so vacation time is limited (although generous, as he's been with his company a long time).  Although we love our Big Sky Fifth Wheel, we made the decision to not make any trips West in it as  that is too time intensive, drive time wise.  Especially after Mr. C's Mom dying so unexpectedly brought home to us just how short time can be and how suddenly there is no "tomorrow" we try very hard to be sure to see his Dad and Step-Mom at least once a year.   So, here's the dilemma, we want to see Dad and Janet, and we want to see B, our daughter and the grandkids and N, our son, and the grandkids, but they are opposite directions and all fairly far away.  Usually we drive ourselves ragged trying to get in as much time as possible with them and find ourselves exhausted and not really enjoying any of it because we're so worn out.  I have to be honest, here, too. . . we've been empty nesters for about 10 years "off and on" now and are used to peace and quiet and our own schedule.  So, how do we meet all those needs/wants???

After trying to do separate trips the past couple years and having lots of drive time we decided we would double up a little.  So, we met Dad and "Mom" in Laughlin and spent a couple extra days in Las Vegas for our "self time" (saw Terry Fator) and I already blogged about that trip.  Then we planned a special trip for the kids time.

We told them a year in advance, worked around Mr. C's schedule and the grandkids school schedules and planned to meet in the Smoky Mountains.  So, we took our "Condo on Wheels" (roughing it has never felt so good, LOLOL) and rented cabins at the same campground for the kids, one for N's family,

one for B's family.

 A couple months before we went it turned out it would be possible for my Mom and sister to go along for most of the time.  So, we drove out with G and Mom following us and rented a cabin for them, also.

We all met there, there were 12 of us from 81 years of age down to 4 years of age, quite a span to keep all happy.  The only ones who were not able to join us were my Dad (he helped financially, but wasn't able physically to make the trip) and M (N's wife as she couldn't get leave).    Dad, my sister and myself, celebrating Father's Day early, since that is the weekend we were in the Smokies.

We had a wonderful week.  We spent time at Dollywood:

We went mining at Sheffield Mine and really hauled home the loot, LMAO:  but we had fun, LOL

We stopped at Clingman's Dome (highest spot driving through the Smoky Mountains.  We had a funny story there and I'm so glad they used their little noggins.  One set of our grandkids are very very tall, (so is their Daddy) but the other set is equally tiny (so is their Mama).  When we got to Clingman's Dome the 2 little girls E and L had to go potty.  So did Papa, so he took them to the potties and sent them into the girls while he went next door to the boys.  These are cinder block house style potties and I don't know why it never dawned on any of us that they wouldn't be regular potties.  But the girls came back out immediately and stood there patiently waiting for Papa (they were within all of our sight at all times, they weren't waiting there alone). So I went to see why they were done so quickly.  I got there and their eyes were as big as saucers and they said, "Nana, we can't go in there."  I asked, "Why not?"  They replied, "We were scared, it's too far down."  Puzzled, I took them back into the restroom and immediately realized, these were huge latrines on the top of a mountain, they really truly were too far down (the images that conjures just horrify me, try to imagine a rescue attempt, if you will!!!).  The seats weren't horribly big, just regular size, but that's pretty big when you have a tiny little behind, and unfortunately, girls HAVE to sit, LOL.  So I helped them and we took care of business, but it was so cute.

It was a lovely day and a very nice couple took a group picture of us:  So, here we are in all our glory, all 4 generations:

Just to let you know, the tallest male is M, our son-in-law, married to B, our daughter in the hat (due to her epilepsy she has to wear hats and dark glasses as Sun and flashing lights are triggers for her).  My Mom is in the center with N, our son, between Me and Mom (Mr. C and I are on the left) and my Sister is in blue on the right.  The kids are A and K (tallest boy--9 and girl--7).  The little guy in the orange shirt is J, he's just 4.

The two in purple are E in the center in front of Mom--almost 7, only two months difference between E in the center and K in the red and white stripes, LOL, and little L, who was 4 in this picture, but has had a birthday since and is now 5.  

We went to the Dixie Stampede and were royally dined and entertained.  Another not so funny story, about Dixie Stampede is that since I didn't know how to describe it to the kids I just told them we were going to a special show and they would love it.  A (as only 9 year old boys and teen age girls can do) decided he wasn't going to like it and didn't want to go and made sure we all knew it and were just as miserable as he was (I was ready to smack him!!!!  but I didn't!!!!, LOL).  Here is the group picture they took at Dixie Stampede:
Of course he ended up having a wonderful time and was laughing and excited and got to do a special thing as part of the show.  Yes, we talked about it afterwards and he says he understands, but????  He's a 9 year old boy, what can I say?

We drove through Cades Cove hoping to see some Bears.  No such luck, although we did see some wild turkeys, deer, and 2 red wolves.  

Our campground had a nice pool and a small pool and advertised that new for this year they had a lazy river, LOL.  We had to try it out of course:  It was about the size of a regular pool with an island in the middle so there was a ring of water about wide enough for one inner tube at a time, LOL, but it was still fun and silly:
We only had a campfire one night, it was so horribly hot:  
Our resident fire bugs and boy scouts couldn't get or keep our fire going, LOLOL.  

Since the kids birthdays are June 15, 17, 26, July 19, and August 22 we chose to celebrate ALL their birthdays while we were out there.  Since we don't get to do many birthday's or shopping with them, we chose to give them money and gift certificates and took them shopping so they could pick out their own gifts.  That was lots of fun.  But we still had a party of sorts and it included glow in the dark sticks you could make into jewelry:
Then, unfortunately, it was time for Mom, Sister, N and the girls to leave, although B and her family had an extra two days with us.  We went to a go cart place with a kiddie amusement park.  No, I did NOT ride the go-carts, LOL.  J and I watched the big kids (including Mr. C) ride the go carts 
and then we went to the kiddie rides for J.  
Finally we went back to the Cades Cove area where there was an area people could play in the river.  Those rivers out there are trout rivers and are COLD, COLD, COLD, but it was still fun and a beautiful day.  Some kind (or bored) soul had made river rock dams so there were little shallow "wading" pool areas for J and I to play in but the big kids went out in the COLD water, LOL.  I remember when I was young, it felt great, but now I don't like the water unless it's at least 84*, LOL.  

The simplest thing and the least expensive was probably the most fun in the kids opinions, LOL.

So, we had a wonderful week together in the Smokies and now maybe I can stand not seeing my grandbabies (who are growing up all too quickly) for another year.  I'm so glad my Sister and Mom were able to join us, as they haven't seen them since L was about 18 months and who knows when or if they'll see them again.  

So that is the saga of our busy, exhausting, expensive week in the Smoky Mountains with our family.  Would we do it again?  Sure, if we win the lottery, sure can't afford to do it every year, LOL.  I'll leave you with the birthday (July 4) and thank you gift we got for my Dad who is a history buff:

Meeting my Challenge.


Posted by Sue C | Posted on Monday, August 09, 2010 | Posted in

Hi, yes, I know, it's been awhile since I've been on here.  I told you in the beginning that I never was able to keep a diary going, either, but here I am again.  Without going into any details this past year has been a hard one for me (mentally, physically, and emotionally) and I often cope with stress by withdrawing from everything and everybody (kind of go into hibernation mode).  I thought I had finally gotten past it in January with my blogging and clay etc. but apparently not, as I'm still struggling.  However, enough of that and on to my challenge.

Mr. C had a long weekend this past weekend and we decided to take another short camping trip.  We ended up at Whittington Woods Campground in the Rend Lake area in Southern IL.  It's beautiful here, although very hot.  The campground is nice, although I'd like a bigger "yard" for the picnic table etc.

The particular site we're at also doesn't have a fire ring, but it's really too hot for a fire anyway, we'll save that for our trip in September.  We've seen deer, wild turkeys, a small snapping turtle (right at our trailer) and of all things, there are poultry here, and we've been visited by turkeys and chickens, LOL.

                                                                Here's Mr. C checking out the poultry, LOL.

The pool is lovely, very nice and clean and just the right temperature.  It's an interesting pool, as it has steps in and is 2-3 ft all the way to the rope, then about a foot past the rope there is a steep slope to the rest of the pool which is 5 ft.  It turns out to be the perfect depth for me to exercise my legs, hips and knees without it hurting too badly (but that's one of those stories I'm not dwelling on, remember???).

Little Snuffles has gotten a bit bigger than I had hoped and isn't nearly as "cute" as she once was, but she's still the love of my life and such an intelligent, spoiled rotten pup you've never seen.  She still can't bear to be left out of anything:  Here she is swimming in our pool at home:    Yes, she has a life jacket, the pool's 4 ft deep and she's only about a foot tall, LOL.

She obviously likes riding on the float better than actually working at the swimming part!!!  

Snuffy enjoys watching the world go by out our "living room" windows when we're camping.
So, as we were packing up, getting ready to go, I was choosing what clay to take (other than brand new packs, which I have built in).  Remember, I have a mini polymer clay studio in my fifth wheel trailer.  Did I show you the pictures of the new clay shelves Mr. C built in for me?  Just in case I didn't, here is a picture of them.  There was this little area right between the cabinet and wall that was wasted space, so he built me these little shelves and we found baskets that fit just perfectly and I can keep an inventory of clay in them for use during our campting trips.  What fun, clay at my fingertips.
Anyway, back to my challenge.  It was just a personal challenge.  As any clay workers know, we have lots of "scrap" clay to deal with.  I'm such an anal person, I can't bear to throw clay out or just have ugly mud, so all my "scrap" clay is turned into new colors and is considered remnants, not scrap.  I have about 100 lbs of remants, but they are hard to use, as I don't "see them" and there are too many small amounts of slightly different colors.  So I decided I needed to consolidate them to make larger amounts of fewer colors.  While deciding how to go about that though, I also found several containers of partial canes or parts of canes I started once upon a time and didn't finish.  So, I decided to bring them all (the odds and ends, not the 100 plus lbs) with me on this short trip and use as many as I possibly could.  I'm not done yet, but decided to take a break to write this.

So, this weekend, I have made the following canes from mostly clay remants.  I would guess each one uses roughly 75% remnant clay with the other 25% being new (to brighten a color or make different shading or the transluscent, obviously has to be fresh clay, LOL).

This first one, I actually made at home, didn't like it as it didn't reduce well, so scrapped it into 4 lbs of green remnants, LOL and so, I re did it.

 I wanted a painted lady butterfly on a fern and the second one is just perfect.  It was huge though and I thought I'd never get it reduced.

It reduced beautifully and will have double uses, as it is just a cane and will also be part of my poker chip for the Clay Carnival in Las Vegas in November.  I can't wait, Clay Carnival is soooo much fun, if you possibly can, come join us.

Then I made a couple of flowers, one I made up and the others are the standard roses I learned when I first started doing Polymer Clay Canes.  The roses with leaves also have extra leaf canes to match them. 

While I'm making all these beautiful canes, Mr. C is busily updating my eBay store with all the canes I've made recently.  Here he hard at work, be sure to check out the store to see how well he's done.  
 If I have enough extra time today, I'll be making some "remnant kaleidoscope" canes just to use up some smaller odds and ends.  I have such fun with these remnant canes, as I never know what I'll have until it's completed.  

So, I'll close for now so I can get busy on those remnant canes.  I want to go swimming today, but it's pretty overcast, so don't know if we'll go or not.  See you later, hope you're all having a wonderful summer.  

Back into clay.


Posted by Sue C | Posted on Wednesday, May 05, 2010 | Posted in

Starting over, again.

As many of you know, I had major surgery a year ago and have had trouble getting going again.  I have had pretty bad depression (perhaps hormonal, perhaps not???) and just no real interest in anything.  It's also been a very bad winter for someone with Fibromyalgia and I've been in a lot of pain from both the surgery and the Fibro).  I've tried several times to get things going, but it's always been an effort.  Suddenly a couple days ago, my muse popped its little head back up and said, "Let's go play clay, you know "we" wanted to do this and that and try this and that, the clay table is waiting, let's get busy".  Of course, the muse, as usual, has lousy timing, now it's spring/summer and yard work and traveling await, but all the same, I welcome that creative muse back into my life.  Fortunately, on most of my travels, the muse can go with me, as I have a portable studio in our Fifth Wheel, which I showed a couple blog posts ago.

One of the things I plan to do is write a couple of tutorials.  That's time consuming, I  have found out, LOL.  I guess I usually jump in with both feet in a huge way, as I make canes to sell and I wanted to write my tutorial for the average person wanting to actually USE their cane creation.  So I had to scale myself way back.  I've also noticed with doing tutorials with my Play Clay Day group, many people want exact amounts to work with the first time they try a new tutorial and few tutorials give the exact amounts or measurements.  As the 3-4 of us work together to follow a tutorial, we come up with all kinds of different interpretations of the instructions.  We've even found that many books, although they may tell you the ratios to use, don't actually tell you how much you need to complete the instructions as written.  It can be very frustrating, even for an experienced clayer, so how much more frustrating this must be for a beginner.  So, that is what I am going to try to address in my tutorials.  So, I need to finish this up so I can get back to my clay desk.

Perhaps this has been discussed, elsewhere, but I have been out of the loop for awhile.  A couple of days ago while browsing in Michael's I saw that they have changed their clay tools drastically, in addition to carrying Lisa Pavelka stuff now, they also have newly packaged Sculpey tools (exactly like the "Studio" tools)--(I also noticed Hobby Lobby is selling out on all the "Studio" clay).  But there was also a new Extruder set (as well as a cutter set) made by Walnut Hollow.  This extruder appears to have the exact same die set as the Makins.  The main difference is that it has a HANDLE that actually cranks, rather than the bar you have to hand twist.  Of course I went home and got my 40% off coupon and purchased one.  It was about $25.00 before the coupon.

My review is mixed.  The barrel is a little shorter and thinner than the Makins.  The crank handle is great, except it is held on with a screw on thing and the nut doesn't stay on and the top is a weird rounded tip allen wrench (guessing metric, as my allen wrench doesn't fit it well).

The O ring gasket doesn't fit nearly as snugly as in the Makins so clay stays in the barrel and actually squeezes past the pusher and gums up where the threaded part is and gets stuck between the top and the pusher thing.  The dies are identical right down to the exact same shapes in the kit as in the Makins kit.  So, in closing, the only thing this extruder has in its favor is the crank type handle =(  Overall, not happy with it and will stick with my Makins for now.  Was originally planning to buy 2 (one for home and one for the 5th wheel studio), but won't bother now.

I just can't resist leaving you with a cute story and picture of my favorite pooch.  We have a garden window in the back of our "den/computer room/craft room/clay room".  It sticks out from the back of the house about 21 1/2 " and is lovely, except, the person who put it in didn't bother to tell me it gets too hot to grow many plants in it and not knowing this, I went ahead and had it put in.  To add insult to injury, it is also on the South side of the house, so it gets way too much sun and heat to grow much of anything in it.

Our puppy, Snuffles, is almost 8 months old now and is an acrobat extraordinare, LOLOL.  She is also a bit of an escape artist and very creative in her efforts to be with us.  So, back to the garden window.  I had taken to just kind of using it as a "holding place" for stuff.  There were still dead or dying plants in it and it was pretty full.  One morning, Mr. C got up to go to work and let Snuffles out of her crate (although the gate was still up half way across the room--she is doing so well on her potty training that she had graduated to having half the room to play in, and that half didn't include the clay area or the garden window--I needed to get a new cabinet and get some craft/clay stuff put up before we let her have the run of the room).  I came in about an hour later and couldn't find her anywhere.  I called and rushed around and started to call Mr.C to see if he hadn't told me something, when I heard a little whimper, so I knew she was there somewhere.  I started searching again and then saw something move in the mess I had in that window.  Plants had been knocked over, dirt etc. was everywhere, LOL, but there was my puppy, she had gotten herself up there (probably to try to get to Mr. C as he goes out that way to go to his car).  So, I got her down and put away again and tried to figure out how she had gotten out.

Next day we went and got another cabinet so I could put up the clay/craft stuff so she would be safe out, loose in the room during the day (she still gets crated at night).  I also cleaned off the bottom of the Garden Window to make it accessible for Snuffles and Coco the cat.  Cat can get up there easily, Snuffles can't.  To get into the window she had to climb onto the chair, up onto the back of the rocking recliner, and then leap onto the window (which is why she couldn't get herself back down that first time).  So, I says to Mr. C:  "We need to make some kind of a ramp for her so she can walk up there".  Mr. C., being my HERO, rolls his eyes and shakes his head, as he says, "OK, we probably have some scrap wood we can make a little ramp for her".  So, we went out to the garage/barn (have you noticed a trend here?  Nothing at our home is just one thing or has just one purpose, LOLOL  we're not only multi-taskers, we're multi-users, LOL).  We found a 6" board (which is really only 5 1/2" if you know anything about wood).  It was about the right length and looked like it would work fine.  Then I said, she needs little steps so she doesn't slide off, so poor Mr. C cuts a bunch of 1 X 2 pieces to attach and make little steps and some of that stuff that goes around the wall to hide the edge of your carpet or tile, can't think of what it is called right this minute, to make a little edge so she won't fall off.  We have to make a special trip to the hardware (fortunately, in our little town, so only a 10 minute drive rather than clear to the big towns a half hour away) to get some L brackets to attach it to the wall.  So Mr. C makes this perfect little ramp and I start training Snuffles to use her little ramp so she can get in the window.  I sigh and Mr. C. patiently asks, "What's wrong?'  I say, "It won't work, it's too steep and too slick, she can't do it and I'm afraid she'll just launch herself off the window and hurt herself.  Could we re do it and make it a little higher on the bottom end so it's not as steep.  She can jump up onto it at about 12".  What can we do to make it not slippery?"  Mr. C. (see, he's truly my Hero) takes it down, goes back to the barn/garage and finds some astroturf we have leftover from another project, staples the astroturf to the ramp and reinstalls it about a foot higher on the lower end.  I start retraining her, and it WORKS!!!  Hooray, now puppy is happy, she can get up in the window and watch us coming and going when she can't go with us.  So, all the craft stuff is put away, Snuffles has the run of the den, and even can go with me into other rooms of the house and she's in puppy heaven, LOL.  One other quick story, she wants to be with us, no matter what we do or where we go.  She doesn't particularly like baths in the kitchen sink, but we let her go into the bathroom with us when we took a shower and she jumped right in with us.  Now she gets a shower every day, anywhere I go, there goes she, it's hilarious.  We happen to have a pool, so we even decided she had better have a puppy life jacket as I suspect she'll try to come swimming with us too.  Silly puppy.  Anyway, here's a picture of Snuffles in her window.  Hope you enjoy.

So, I'm done and ready to get back to the clay table and my first tutorial, see you later.  S

Clay Play Days, March 13 & April 11


Posted by Sue C | Posted on Sunday, April 25, 2010 | Posted in

We had a lot of fun at our last three Polymer Clay Play Day.  Sheesh, it seems weird to be writing about something that happened March 13 and April 11, when we just had ANOTHER Clay Play Day yesterday, April 24, but I'll do it anyway, LOL  I may be a ditz, but I'm a thorough ditz, LOLOL

All three PC Play Days, it was just me, my sister, our friend, and Mom.

March 13 we were exploring faux stones.  We tried just "river rocks", as well as faux amethyst, faux rose quartz, and faux marble in differing colors.  Some we liked, some we didn't, some needed sanding, which none of us like to do, LOL.

We had a wonderful messy time but our hands looked worse than a little kid's hands while coloring Easter eggs.

Since Gail and Reni both work in health care fields, these beautifully stained hands wouldn't have gone over too well at work. . . but we had a wonderful rescue remedy available to us.

I don't know if I have ever mentioned it, but my daughter Becky happens to be a Soap Artisan and has her own business Moon Silver Soapworks.  At my request she has developed a special recipe for a VERY special soap.  She calls it Scrubby Soap and it is fantastic at getting almost anything off your hands.  Originally she designed it to take the Polymer Clay residue off my hands since anything else that worked also dried my hands out horribly.  Becky's Scrubby Hands soap is fantastic at not only removing Polymer Clay residue, but it also leaves my hands feeling soft, moisturized and clean.  We also know it works great for grease and garden stains, but didn't have a clue if it would help with these alcohol dyes and paint or not.  We tried it and WOW, it worked, and here's the proof (photo above of clean hands).   Becky also has other wonderful soaps and candles with lovely colors and scents or unscented, if you happen to be sensitive to scents.  Go visit Moon Silver Soapworks for further information.

We also made some of our river rocks into Christi Friesen style rock gardens and rock garden pendants.

Don't you just love Reni's take on the "Pet Rocks" from the '70s?

Mom doesn't clay with us, she just comes to keep us company and chat with us.  Here she is holding our efforts for the day.

Mom also comes to cuddle with Snuffles:

April 11, we had a specific project we needed to complete.  Mom has a special group of Lady Friends she meets with on a regular basis for friendship, support, encouragement, and personal/spiritual growth.  Mom will be giving a presentation in May and for her presentation she has chosen to use the topic of Positive Thinking and Attitude is her by-word.  So, we decided to make some of my Secret Stones (based on something I got out of the Book and Video  "The Secret", which, by the way, I thoroughly enjoyed).  The idea is a small reminder of a word that has special meaning to you.  I started out with just the word gratitude, but so many people saw them and wanted other words that I decided to make others and called them Secret Stones:    I wanted them fairly small so people could carry them in their pocket or put them on or in their desk or any special place where they would see them or feel them and be able to remind themselves of the special thought or word they chose.

So, Mom was telling us about her presentation and wanted some small token to give her friends to go with her presentation and we thought of the Secret Stones with the word Attitude on them.  So, we spent the Clay Play Day making  Attitude stones for Mom and other "Secret Stones" for ourselves and friends.

While the "Secret Stones" were curing, we also made some Faux Malachite.  It was an interesting experience.  We had several tutorials for making faux malachite which were all quite different.  Reni followed one, but tweaked the colors, I followed another but didn't like the colors, so changed them up a bit, and Gail followed one made with the extruder and the colors listed in the same Tutorial Reni used.

All in all, a very successful Polymer Clay Play Day.

Yesterday, April 24 we had another Polymer Clay Play Day.  We tried a new tutorial for a flower cane:  Flowers with Curling Petals by Zuleykah.  Zuleykah is a very generous Polymer Clay Artist who does beautiful cane work as well as miniatures that look good enough to eat and other dimensional jewelry.  Zuleykah has a great blog and freely shares many how too posts on there as well.  This was a fun tutorial, although it was a little difficult as we didn't know how much clay to start with or to use for the different parts.  We managed it though and came up with the following canes:

We find it amazing that 3 people working alongside one another and following the exact same instructions can come up with 3 totally different looking canes.  As a group we decided we had used too much white and the purple one has too "high" a curled petal to look like it's curing over.  This is a cute flower even without the curling petals though, as shown on the second blue one.  Thanks Zuleykah for a fun tutorial.  While researching the website for this tutorial, I found a new one I had asked Zuleykah to make a couple of months ago for a sunflower cane and it's in her store right now.  Thanks Zuleykah.

We finished out our Clay Play Day, yesterday with attempting some bargello canes.  I just love the look of Bargello, most especially the way Kim Cavendar does it (link is to a long past workshop, but shows what I'm talking about).  Unfortunately, our attempts came nowhere even close to Kim's and weren't even worth taking pictures of.  We still had fun and got some new ideas to try and techniques to practice.

So, now I'm all caught up on my blog, if everybody hasn't already given up on me and nobody's reading it anymore, LOL.  Otherwise, all is okay in my world.  Sun is shining today, temps are in the 60's, and now I'm back to my clay table for another attempt at bargello a different way, LOL.  Hope you are all having a wonderful 2010, so far.  Smiles