In 2002 we ran away from Illinois where we were born and raised, and started a new life in SW Florida. This blog is about me (an eccentric old artist), ROM (my Real Old Man), Isabella (our neurotic Standard Poodle) and Emmy (our crazy snake killing Jack Russell Terrier). Oh- and the neighborhood old people. Life is good in Florida!


Friday, September 25, 2015

History According ROM And Me (Or shit old people say)-

"Remember when Khrushchev said he was going to dig our graves with his shoe because he couldn't get into Disneyland? No, I think Khrushchev beat Mickey Mouse with his shoe when they wouldn't let him in Disneyland. And he said he was going to bury Minnie's grand kids which led to the Cuban missile crisis". 

This, boys and girls, is the kind of conversation you might hear between ROM and I as we watch Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.  It all started with a question about Shirley Temple, something about sitting in someone's lap. One of the possible answers was Nikita Khrushchev. We both agreed no one would want to sit on Khrushchev's lap... and from there it all went down hill...

Me: Didn't Khrushchev give a ranting speech about burying our grand kids?

ROM: No, he said he'd bury "us", not our grand kids.

Me: Hmmmm... I thought he said our grand kids. But whatever, I wonder what he was so irate about? I can't remember. 

ROM: I think it was because they wouldn't let him into Disneyland. 

Me: (doubled over laughing) OMG! You're freaking crazy! Khrushchev didn't go to Disney World!

ROM: He wanted to but they wouldn't let him in, which is what pissed him off and then he beat on something with his shoe. And it was Disneyland, Disney World didn't even exist then (which he said in a sneering I-know-it-all kinda way).

Me: (in my own sneering know-it-all way) And I suppose beating up Mickey with his shoe and telling Minnie he was going to bury her grand kids led up to the Cuban Missile Crisis? 

ROM: He did not say he was going to bury anyone's grand kids! He said he would bury us. And I don't think he was trying to break into Disneyland during the Cuban Missile Crisis... (again that sneering tone). The Disney event and the Cuban Missile Crisis had nothing to do with each other- that's crazy! 

Me: STFU! I was being sarcastic!  Well, I'm Googling this shit because I think you've gone senile on me! I'm hiding the plungers (a whole 'nother story)

So I Googled all this nonsense and discovered we were both a tad off. I found that there was a man named Nikita Khrushchev. He did not say he would bury our grand children because he couldn't get into Disneyland. While addressing Western ambassadors at a reception at the Polish embassy in Moscow he said "Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will dig you in"- this according to Wikipedia.

Khrushchev didn't beat Mickey with his shoe. According to Wikipedia what happened was "Some sources claim Khrushchev pounded his shoe on his delegate-desk in protest of a speech by Philippine delegate Lorenzo Sumulong. Others argue Khrushchev was responding to the British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan". 

As for Disneyland? According to Snopes, it's true Khrushchev was told he could not go to Disneyland due to security concerns. Oh- and Shirley Temple never sat on his lap. 

I think it's safe to assume that neither ROM or I will ever be appearing on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tutorial Tuesday - Part 3

If you're following this tutorial, I'm sorry I didn't get part three posted last Tuesday. When we ended part two, we were applying the Apoxie Sculpt. After letting it harden over night, it's now time to bulk out the head.

This isn't a full sculpt, so we won't be sculpting arms, a body and legs, which is why this is an easy simple sculpture for a beginner. The only area on this heron that needs bulked up is the head and we will do that with aluminum foil. The reason for this is so we can use less clay and it will dry faster and more thoroughly. 

On this particular sculpt I don't need a lot of bulk for the head, so I used 4" strips of foil, folded the strips in half so that they were 2" wide and wound each strip of foil tightly over the area I wanted bulked up, adding more strips where the head of a heron is the widest. As you add the foil strips, do it tightly and go back over the area with your hands firmly pressing it into the armature. 

Once you're done adding the foil, cover the foil area and neck with one layer of masking tape. Be sure to wrap the tape tightly then go back over it with your fingers while smoothing and pressing the tape firmly to the armature. 

Next week we will apply a layer of plaster wrap. You can get it in the clay section at Michael's and it looks like this-

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Tutorial Tuesday- Part 2

Okay, when we left off last Tuesday, we had completely covered the neck and head wire with masking tape. The reason for the tape is to give the Aves Apoxie Sculpt (which is what we are going to do next) something to grip. It's much easier to apply the Apoxie to the tape covering than to a smooth wire surface. And the purpose for the Apoxie is to give the neck strength to avoid cracks in the clay that we will apply later. 

The two parts of the Apoxie must be mixed together in order for it to harden. You have about 2-3 hours of working time after mixing before it hardens. First make sure your wire is in the exact position you want before applying the the Apoxie because once it hardens you won't be able to re-position it. Once you have it the way you want it, mix your Apoxie. You will need to make equal size balls of both part 1 and part 2. How much to mix depends on the size of the area you need to cover. It's better to mix too little than too much because you can always mix more if needed. 

Mix the two parts by kneading with your hands. It's sticky but if you keep your hands moist it will keep the Apoxie from sticking to your hands. Have a bowl of water near by to dip your fingers in- the Apoxie won't stick to your fingers if your hands are moist. Mix the two parts thoroughly, by kneading the two parts together for several minutes. It must be mixed well! Have a piece of aluminum foil to set the mixed ball on as you work- it won't adhere to the foil. 

Starting at the point where I connected the wire to the obelisk, I applied a very thin layer of the Apoxie all the way up the neck armature to the very end of what will eventually be the heron's beak. I applied it by adding small amounts at a time, firmly pressing it onto the armature and blending into the next small amount, working my way up the neck. Before the Apoxie starts to harden, check your armature and make sure it's in the position you want. With moist fingers go back over the Apoxie, smoothing and making sure the Apoxie is firmly pressed into the armature.  

Now the hard part- waiting for the Apoxie to harden. I hate the waiting part. When I'm on a roll, stopping and waiting is agony. But the wait is necessary before the next step. Give the Apoxie 24 hours to completely cure and harden. 

If you have trouble understanding any of my instructions, feel free to ask questions in the comments. 

And that's it for this week's Tutorial Tuesday... 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

You Want A Birthday Whore, I'll Buy You A Birthday Whore!

ROM's birthday was a few weeks ago so we went out to dinner at a local seafood restaurant. I was on my good behavior that night and didn't tell the waitress it was his b'day, like I have in the past. He hates when I do that and the staff all come to the table singing. Unlike me, he's an introvert and doesn't like attention focused on him. I can only imagine the embarrassment this poor man has suffered being married to me. 

Anyway, we had a nice quiet dinner. Since he had a few drinks, I drove home. As we chatted on the ride home I remarked that I should have gotten him a gift even though he had insisted he didn't want anything. We were sitting at a stop light when I noticed a couple ladies of the night on their evening prowl. And the conversation went like this...

Me- You want a birthday whore? Come on, I'll buy you two birthday whores!

ROM: Nah, that's okay, I'll pass.

Me: Are you sure? You want a whore, by gawd I'll buy you a whore! It's your birthday, the sky is the limit!

ROM: I'm sure, I'll pass on the whores this year.

Me: Think it over- it's early and they look fresh. Might have even showered today. Speak up now because once we get home and I have my jammies on, I'm not going back out to find you a birthday whore if you change your mind.

ROM: Cake will be fine. 

So home we went to have cake with the dogs. Isabella's birthday is also in August so we celebrate them together. Just so Emmy doesn't feel left out, we lie and tell her it's her birthday, too. ROM gets his favorite triple chocolate bundt cake and the dogs get vanilla cupcakes. 

I'm glad we didn't pick up the birthday whores because I had enough trouble getting these three to pose for a picture. Emmy was trying to eat the cupcake with the burning candle still in it while Isabella freaked out and leaped out of the chair a second after this was snapped. No way I would have had the patience and time to get a couple of whores posed in the picture,too.   

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

I Bet You Can Do This- Tutorial Tuesday

You might think you have to have a kiln, an art degree and natural talent to create a sculpture. You don't. Air dry clay and polymer clay that you can cure in your kitchen oven has made it possible for anyone to sculpt. And with the plethora of internet tutorials you can learn to sculpt without ever leaving your house. Natural talent? Let me tell you a little secret- talent is a very small part of sculpting. With the right products, a good eye for seeing details, practice, imagination and good instructions to follow, you would be amazed what you can accomplish. 

Fifteen years ago I would have laughed and said you were out of your mind if you said I could do a sculpture.  I had never taken an art class in my life.  The only clay I had ever used was Play Doh and modeling clay when I was a little kid. But the internet opened up a whole new world for me. I learned to sculpt from websites and art groups that shared tips and information on using air dry and polymer clays. Do a Google search on "sculpting with air dry clay tutorials" or "sculpting with polymer clay tutorials" to find all the info you need online. 

Of course as with anything, it takes practice- the more you sculpt the better you will get. After a lot of practice, a lot of mistakes (which I learned from) and even more practice, within a few years my sculptures were accepted into juried exhibitions and I started selling my work. 

You might not be an obsessive person like I am, or have limited time due to a busy schedule and have no desire to ever sell your work, but you can create something unique just for yourself. It's so much fun to look around your house and imagine the things you can do with every day items with a little clay.  My Old Bathing Beauty started out as an antacid bottle.  I stuck a wire in the middle of the bottle cap for her neck and a wad of aluminum foil for her head. I drilled holes through the upper part of the bottle, then ran a wire through the holes to became her arms. 

But let's start with something simpler for your first sculpt. First thing you need is an armature- the clay has to go on something to give it stability, form and strength. The idea for my current project came to me as I was working in my rock garden. I had an old rusty white wire obelisk trellis that I had always loved.  It suddenly occurred to me that it would make a wonderful Great White Heron - a variation we have here in SW Florida of the Great Blue Herons. And I spotted an old tomato plant support that would make a whimsical Pelican. I have no idea why I can't get tall photos to post upright. You'll have to tilt your head to these -

I decided to do the Great White Heron first. After washing the dirt off the obelisk, I brought it inside to work on. First thing I did was find a photo to use as a model. Working from a model makes sculpting so much easier. Even if you are going to sculpt a whimsical version of something and not going for realism, you still need a model to guide you. For this sculpt, the body of the heron is going to be the bare obelisk and I'm only sculpting the neck, head and wings. 
Supplies needed are:
An armature (my obelisk)
14 gauge wire
Wire cutters, needle nose pliers
Masking tape
Aves Apoxie Sculpt (can be ordered online)
DAS air dry clay (can be purchased at Michael's craft store)

The first thing I had to figure out was how long to make the neck and head to look in proportion to the body (obelisk). Since this not going to be a realistic sculpt but a whimsical heron, I didn't have to worry about being exact, just a general idea. I cut two pieces of wire (if your uncertain how much wire, always cut too much rather than too little. You can always cut some off as you go along). I used 14 gauge galvanized wire from Lowes. 

I twisted the two strands of wire together and wound it around the top of obelisk to attach it. I then shaped the wire into a neck and head. 

Next I wrapped the wire tightly with masking tape. 

After completely wrapping the wire with masking tape, I worked on bending and shaping the neck and head to how I envisioned it would look when finished. I kept changing my mind and changed the curve in the neck and tilt of the head several times. 
Finally I had it the way I wanted it and was ready for the next step, which I will share with you next Tuesday...