I entered My Old Man at the Evergreen Fair (Monroe, WA) competitions under Sculptures, Fine Arts section and today, I found out that he got two ribbons: "First Place" and "Special Award!" Pretty cool!Seems like everybody won awards but it is still super cool that he has a nice big ribbon to affirm his awesomeness. My Old Man was created last year during the Wendy and Toby Froud workshop in Portland, during a very difficult time in my life. He is very special to me. So I am very happy and proud that others can see how special he is.

If you want to see him, he is still on display at the Evergreen Fair, Building 500 till September 5, 2016. He is in a glass case in the middle of the middle room.

If you want to read My Old Man's story, please click here.

Hi there! I want you all to meet Erbie, my new gardener - he loves plants, eats petals and just generally enjoys hanging around the shrubs everyday. He has those big flat fingers that helps him grab on to branches easily, big feet and toes for hanging on too, and he also has gliders to help him get from one tree to another.

Erbie is usually in a happy mood, unless Frost comes in and freezes the plants or some inconsiderate fellow stomps on his garden home. But other than that, he's as jolly as Santa's elves.

I started Erbie before the holiday but was not able to finish it just till this weekend. He was inspired from a painting I made a few years ago, a simple black and white line drawing of a sprite flying without wings around a water deity. But as I worked on him on clay, more things came out like he developed a protruding nose, awesome hair and Tarsier like fingers for grabbing branches.
Moonies or not, my Filipino Santa is done. I like his face enough not to just put this in the unfinished projects box even though he has those annoying moonies.Here he is, all painted and dressed. He is how I think a Filipino Santa will look wearing a traditional formal dress shirt called the barong (or the closest I can make to a barong), over a canvas undershirt (not really your typical tropical undershirt material but it was what I had on hand) paired with a red, velvety, very much Santa-like pants. I remember when we had to perform traditional Southern Tagalog dances in school, the male costume is a usually a white shirt and a pair of red pants, so I thought the barong with the red pants would look good on him. The velvety part is a nod to the season.

Collar needs to be adjusted.
Bayong is a bit small for all his toy goodies!
Of course Santa needs a bag with goodies, so I gave him a bayong. Bayongs are bags made with woven palm leaves. Nowadays, there are a lot of fashionable bags and handbags made with the same or similar materials in an updated style. 
Filipino toys

His goodies are also traditional Philippine toys. First we have taka (paper mache) horse. These are usually colored bright red with black hair and colorful line drawings. It was quite a sight to see those during Christmas or town festivals -- tons of red horses all lined up!

Next we have the slingshot or in Filipino, tirador, the top or turumpo, toy guitar or gitara, clay pots or palayok and the sungka. The clay pot is also colored red with white designs on it like the taka horse. This is also typical of toy clay pots sold during Christmas and town festivals. You can buy them as miniatures and boy, were those fun! The pot is sitting on another clay creation, which acts as the stove. You put the coal directly under the pot.

I don't know the English translation for sungka, but it is played by two players. The bigger grooves at the end of the board is assigned to a player and it acts as their "home base". They collect their "subi" here, subi is the shell each player collects when they pass their home base. Each groove, minus the home bases, has six shells or pebbles in it. Both players start playing at the same time by choosing one groove from their side of the board, putting all the shells in it in their hand and then dropping one shell or pebble in the consecutive grooves after. They will also drop one pebble in their home base but of course, skipping the competition's. When you get to the last shell in your hand, you pick up all the shells or pebbles in the groove where you were supposed to drop it. The player who drops a shell in an empty hole loses his turn. He or she can only continue to play when the other player loses his or her turn in the same way. The player with the most pebbles in his or her home base wins. Ooh, I hope that description is accurate! It's been ages since I last played the game. I do wish to have another sungka, but I want the more intricate carved ones with feet stands.

Wow, all these brought back very fond memories of childhood. I wish I could go back soon to celebrate a town fiesta or Christmas in the Philippines.

Just for fun, I also gave Pinoy Santa a fake beard with elastic band.
More than three years ago, while still based in Dubai, I ordered Cernit, Living Doll, Super Sculpey and Paper Clay online. A lot of those made it back to the USA when I moved here. I have not had the chance to really use them till now so it's catching up time. But that also goes to say that a lot of my polymer clay have been in stock for years! They're still good as far as I can tell and those that became a little hard is fine with a dab or two of clay conditioner.

So now that I have tried most of them, I'm still not decided on which I really like to use. I love the white Cernit for miniatures, like my mini dogs. They have a very ceramic like finish which I love. For simpler works, like my creepylicious bottles and Halloween eyes -- which by the way are also available in Spooked in Seattle Gift Shop -- I love Original Sculpey White because it's soft and easy to work with.

But for dolls, I'm not decided on which is the best. I've gone through my Living Doll and most light colored Cernit without problems. Now, I'm going through Super Sculpey beige and having a tough time. I've made two dolls with it and both came out with the dreaded whitish, half circles just beneath the surface.

At first I thought it was the tape covering my armature showing through because the first doll was an experiment in size so I did not want to use too much clay on it. However, the second doll, which is going to be Santa, had more than enough clay coverage so I am definite it was not the armature showing through. Turns out, those whitish half circles which peppered both dolls are plaques or moonies (more on plaquing or mooning here).

Ugh those new moons

Quite appropriately named come to think of it, they do look like a plethora of new moons! They are ugly, and because I'm not planning on painting over my Santa, they are super annoying!

One solution to prevent this, I read on GlassAttic.com is to add a little Premo when you condition the Super Sculpey. Another is to avoid drastic changes in temperatures. I still have to try these two solutions to know if they will work for me. For now, I'm putting Santa aside because getting the moonies was simply frustrating.

To take my mind off this unexpected block, I took a break from polymer clay and made a rag doll over the weekend. This going to be a Christmas gift for my niece. Shhh... don't tell her. 😉

Back in February, I saw an FB post that Wendy and Toby Froud will be holding a faerie character workshop in Portland. Portland! That's only a three-hour drive from here so you can just imagine my excitement.

Wendy is the woman behind Yoda. Yoda responsible for, she is. Wendy is the fabricator, having sculpted the great Jedi Master. She also worked with Jim Henson (creator of The Muppets) in "The Labyrinth" and "Dark Crystal". Both oh so lovely films!

Toby is her son and he also played the cute baby offered to the goblins by sister Sarah in "The Labyrinth".  Toby embraces this colorful history with Stripey Pajama Productions where he works with Heather Henson, daughter of Jim Henson, to produce the wonderful imageries of "Lessons Learned".

The workshop was for April, my birthday weekend, plus hubby and I are fans of "Portlandia" and we've been talking about going down there -- everything just clicked. So of course I signed up and just managed to get my name on the list.

But shortly after, that was all but forgotten. We got the news that my Dad had cancer. I couldn't leave his side. He was in and out of the hospital so much that it was just impossible. I would have cancelled but friends insisted I needed a break and that they'd be there for him. By some luck, schedules worked out and for three rainy days, hubby enjoyed the peace and quiet of a B&B to relax and read while I was immersed in the fantastical world of the Frouds.

Wendy & Toby Froud

Wendy took us through a journey of imagination where we met curious characters that served as our guides to this magical world, a world where each workshop participant met the character that we respectively recreated in polymer clay.

My Dad never left my thoughts and that was probably the reason why I met a very tall, skinny, bald guy wearing a loincloth who sat on his hunches in my vision quest. Reading this back to myself, I am reminded of Gollum but no, my guy is far from Gollum. I was reminded of a very tall but skinny Kapre (a Filipino folklore character who is always described as a gigantic, hairy guy who lives in big, old trees, smoking cigars) and he had the most serene expression I've seen in a long time. He handed me a miniature house which fit in the palm of his hand.

I nicknamed him My Old Man and he was definitely bald. At that time, the radiation treatments had caused my Dad's hair to fall off and he decided to have it shaved. He was self conscious about it at first, but like the cowboy that he is, he soon got used to it. One day we were driving home on our way back from the hospital and he suddenly blurted out for me to slow down. Surprised I asked, "Why? What's wrong? I'm driving the speed limit." And without batting an eyelid, he responded, "The wind is messing up my hair!"

Another version of that is when I helped him put a shirt on. He snapped at me to be careful and I was so worried I hurt him, he quickly followed it with, "You're messing up my hair!" And then he laughed in that silly laugh of his that says he got you. I miss my Dad. It's going to be his sixth month this November. So this post is really for him. My Old Man is a tribute, I realized later, to him. Same way I realized while writing this blog, that this post is about my experience at the workshop as it is about him.

My Dad never really explored his artistic side professionally but it was always showing up. He built a boat out of popsicle sticks just for fun. He'd show us how to draw naughty drawings that would end up in a cute dog. He helped me work on my projects. He always had a book or art material for me to try out. Even when he was sick, he showed me how to cut an eggplant so it's even and decorative at the same time.

But back to the workshop, after meditation, we beat foil to form and kneaded clay and got the best advice on sculpting ever! Those three days were too short. There was so much to learn. I still can't get over the fact that even though they showed us how to do it and even though both Wendy and Toby started with the same materials we did, their works were simply brilliant! It's like they went from crunching foil into a ball and in the next second it transformed into this wonderful doll so full of life, dressed in such whimsical clothes. It's really magic. And as this art goes, it's better to show them in pictures.

Wendy showing us how to work on the face. Her doll became this lovely creature on the right.
It's magic I tell you! It's magic!
Following suit and building up My Old Man's face

Toby showing us the tricks of costuming.

The workshop area was in the basement of the Fernie Brae Gallery in Portland

When I saw the pile of materials for us to play with – and it was a huge, 
wonderfully diverse pile – I couldn't resist trying on different possibilities and 
eventually decided to give My Old Man a monkish hairdo. 
Wendy's Faerie & Toby's Creature
With Toby Froud and his creature. Toby decided to create a creature to show us
how to sculpt them in comparison to a regular humanoid face.

With Wendy Froud
All our creations pose for a group photo

And finally, this is My Old Man. My Dad got to meet him a few days before he left us. He even named him. But for the life of me, I couldn't remember the name he said.

I decided against my vision of a character in a loin cloth. We created posable dolls with soft bodies, so it really would not have worked. Also, there was so much materials available it was so much fun to try clothes on!

We also learned about the Froud Swirl - I hope I remember the term correctly. It's a muddy concoction of paint that you use to dirty up and create authenticity with your doll's clothes. Toby advised us not to be afraid to get in there and paint it on their costumes. But man, that was one of the most terrifying things to do during the workshop! It's like you're trying to destroy your own work after carefully building it up. But it's a key trick. So splash on I did. My tentative strokes did get a few splatters in there.

Got some clothes upgrade. Imagined him as the pauper king.
This last picture is by pure coincidence. Having finished My Old Man back in April and going straight back to my Dad's side after the workshop, I never really got a chance to take proper pictures. So I went out in the middle of writing this blog to take photos. After I downloaded them, I noticed this photo I took of my Dad and me in my downloads folder and their poses were so similar I had to include it here. 
My Dad would have been 67 on November 12. My Old Man keeps him company now. 

In related posts, it took time before I was able to take up clay again but if you want to check out what I worked on after the workshop, click below:
The Twins Part I
The Twins Part II
The Twins Part III
Beautiful day. The sun was out when I got up, letting me see the clear blue sky for a change. With buttered homemade blueberry muffin, brewed coffee and Hoggle waiting on my work table, I'm set for the day.

Hoggle is one of my new works for my Etsy shop. I'll be creating more before I upload them. So gotta keep busy, busy.

My friend Malen bought this purple and gold heart pendant during the last ARTE Souq. Not being a jewellery maker, I made it as simple as I can so it's meant to be tied at the back when worn. 
However, the material of the necklace itself is plastic so it easily can slip off - which it did! Luckily, she noticed and did not lose the whole thing. So I took it back and added those thingamagigs, they are like wire coils that you put at the end of accessories. I put two, and run both ends inside each one so that she can just pull each them to the sides and adjust the length. Then I made a knot at the end of each and slightly burnt it to prevent them from slipping through. She's seen the photo and loves it! That's always good news :). So I have to do something similar to the others I've already made.

On another topic... I've had a stash of clay (Super Sculpey, Cernit and La Doll) hidden in my drawers for months now. Some of them are from the USA, I asked hubby to bring them back for me and the others were bought from the Philippines, when I went last November. I've been putting off using them because they are more expensive, and not available here. But the reason I got into clay making is because I fell in love with art dolls! And so far, I've only made one.

This is made from Sculpey Original, the same materials I've been using for all my clay works. The pumpkin head though is made from Super Sculpey - he was my first test for that clay, which I think I made before November last year (that's why it's a pumpkin). I just wanted to see how I can work with it, both sculpting and painting it.

So last night, while watching The Beastmaster, I sculpted a face. The eyeballs are pre-baked balls made with a combination of SuperSculpey and white Cernit. Underneath this face is a baked skull (with the eyeballs already embedded), a technique, I learned from the Madsculptor.

I've tried making faces before with just a ball for an armature (some with no armature at all) but they would sometimes look skewed. With the skull armature, I was able to even it out easier. This is far from what I would want it to be but I am quite happy with it.

I do need more practice (look at that uneven nose!), and most specially in keeping my workspace and hands clean! This head has tons of flecks and lints on it. But I am quite excited, I love how this clay is firm enough to work with, how the indents I make stays and that it is flesh colored so there's really no need to paint it, like what I've been doing with all my cutie clay work stuff. Now, I have to find a good wire to use for the body - all the wires I've been able to get are quite soft.

If you want links to tutorials, here's one by Nadiia Evans that I really enjoyed watching over and over again.  

And a great tip from Twinessence is to use reference photos even if you're just working on a face, and do not need to look like anybody, but it helps get details and a more realistic look (this is a three-part video so just follow the links to part 2 and 3). Didn't do that with my first trial face but I will in my next one. 

Hopefully, my next face would look much better! 

Different creatures have caught my attention this week. It all started with a cute little monster I saw on Pinterest. It simply sparked my imagination and I went off to craft adorable creatures and cute little monsters of my own.

It's but natural I guess, I loved the Alien movies. I loved Predator too. Don't ask me details about the story but when I saw those flicks, I was fascinated with how those creatures looked, how they moved and how they acted. They were absolutely, morbidly fascinating.

I specially love recreations of them. In souvenir shops in Karama Souq, and Mall of the Emirates, I saw metal artworks of both the Predator and Alien. These artworks were made of tubes, bolts and nuts and were simply amazing! And they were available in both life and table top sizes. (Note to self: gotta buy one of each).

Are you familiar with the movie She Creature? Yes, loved that mermaid lore too - quite fascinating the way the writers went back to the original mermaid/siren mythology that these sea creatures are harbingers of doom.

So today, I was filling my quota of how tos on sculpting and I found myself watching one of Stan Winston's School's Youtube videos. It was about the creation of another monster creature - Pumpkinhead. It's a 1988 horror film about a father who would do anything to avenge his wronged son - thus releasing Pumpkinhead into the world. 
One of the guys in the FX team also worked on Predator. This video documents how they went about creating the monster, highlighted the important characters they needed and most importantly, documented all the fun they had in the process.

I want to learn all these things! It's officially on my wish list. But for now, I'm satisfied with the videos. Tomorrow, I'll probably be just trolling their Youtube vids to watch more.  

So, here's my video find of the day, I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I did! 

It was a Darth Vader day. My day opened with the sale of cutie pie Darth Vader (about 1.5" tall) and ended with the bigger Darth (about 4" tall) being broken.A group of teens passed by and saw the Star Wars inspired items and immediately bought lil Darth. Yey! First sale of the day.

Unfortunately, towards the end of the evening, not much people were passing through so I started reading my book. A lot of kids from all ages have grabbed the clay collectibles, particularly the one in the red shayla and Darth Vader, so I don't mind kids holding them. They are sturdy and will not break easy.

So there I was reading, when I heard a couple of kids gab excitedly about Darth Vader (he is such an attention getter!). As I looked up, I saw one of the boy's hand grab Darth Vader and use his other hand to bend the light saber the other way. He quickly put it back, still talking to what I assume what his sister, and walked to the other side of the table. I took Darth V and sure enough, the light saber was broken, I looked at the kid and all I can stammer was "You broke it". Kid promptly turned around and disappeared in the crowd that suddenly formed going out to the parking. There goes 4-5 hours of work in a blink. I can repair it but I don't feel comfortable selling items that have been repaired.

Sigh. Guess I have to be more vigilant about warning kids to be careful.

That said, I got a good sale from my Gingerbread and Camel Christmas tree decor, so yey again! Lots of people found the Shrek Gingerbread man during torture and after torture adorable and bought them as sets.

By the way, thanks to Rohini of Ragmatazz for including my little mummy in the ARTE Halloween blog entry. Little Mummy also found a new home yesterday, as an adorable little boy promised his dad that he will keep him beside his bed and not be scared. Awww.

Big shoutout to all my friends who dropped by to give their support (and much-needed bathroom breaks!).

Here are some images from my table yesterday.

In the morning after set-up
Near closing time
Gingerbread and Camel Christmas tree decor. I also have "Shrek" Gingerbread Man during and after the torture versions.
I was also super duper lucky with my highschool friend Dea coming over to say hello before going off to sniff out great jewelry finds at ARTE. Her hubby, Chef Andrew made sushi and I got two full boxes! It was yum, I gobbled up the first box for my sit in dinner, since the souq yesterday was until 9pm.

Anyways, one more week till the next ARTE Souq - gotta get busy again creating more Christmas Tree decorations. Hope to see you at ARTE Souq Timesquare on November 9!

Happy Halloween!

The rest of the world is still celebrating Halloween but for us it was last night. And instead of scaring ourselves, hubby and I decided to laugh the night away at the premiere of Here Comes The Boom. Quite a funny and uplifting movie, thoroughly enjoyed it.

That was our treat to ourselves, the major break in our last two days' mad rush to finish work.   I've been creating new items for tomorrow's ARTE Souq Ikea. Been working mostly on some Christmas tree decorations - I have some pretty cute Christmas camels that will be charming your socks off.

Here's a preview of the Gingerbread men. Bet you would recognize this fellow here. Each piece will come with a red silk ribbon to make your Christmas tree more merry.

Hope to see you tomorrow at ARTE Souq Ikea!

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