Polymer this, Polymer that…Covering things with polymer clay.

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     I had planned to put away the polymer clay after my last post, but it turns out I really enjoyed playing with it and instead I went to buy some more…I took advantage of a  sale at my nearest crafts store, and bought some clay in black, brown, gold, bronze and copper tones. (Premo Sculpey Accents) I also bought a couple packets of small square and round mirrors ( they were less than three dollars for a pack of like 4, so cute!)  I had been thinking about mirrors for a while, and wanted to see if I could make some for my mom’s collection or to give as gifts.

     I also wanted to try and see what I could “cover” a few things with polymer clay. I found some old tins that needed a makeover and a couple of other surfaces that I wanted to experiment with (.97 cent wooden frame from Walmart) and decided to start testing my patience and my skills.  I have to say      I’m quite happy with how things worked out. There’s still room for improvement, but at least I now know how to start and what to do.

     To cover the tins, I tried what’s called MOKUME GANE. If you google it, you will find lots of tutorials on how to do it  using different materials, like gold  leaf, paint, etc. I did a very basic one with two variations of color. I then cut thin slices and put them on another sheet of clay, I ran that through the pasta machine to even it out and then used that to cover the tins. With one  of the lids I had lots of fun just piling up slices of clay, just to get an uneven surface…But after I baked it and glazed it with the Future polish, my dear husband pointed put he could see my fingerprints…So I guess it’s better to either work with latex gloves, or to try to flatten and even out the surfaces as much as possible. Or, to not listen to what your husband has to say…hehe

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CAM00210 This is the first one, I know you can’t see my fingerprints on the top of the tin, I thought It looked cool, but my husband didn’t. ;/ So I tried again:

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This worked out really well. 🙂

     After that, I wanted to try making a cane, but I wanted one where I could see the pattern, not like my previous very “abstract” designs. I was looking around, and found this easy tutorial to make a leaf cane: http://www.beadyeyedbrat.com/sandieleaf2.html And I made my own. I Really liked it, and as you will see, I used it A LOT.

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     Now, about the mirrors: I knew I wanted small mirrors, so what I did first was use all the leftover clay I had and built frames for them. I then added the mirror. I think they stick pretty well to the clay, but I guess they can be glued with liquid polymer clay or other type of glue. Once I had the frame and the mirror I covered it in different ways and added my beautiful leaves and other accents, like embossing powder and stamps for texture. Finally, I made a loop with  jewelry wire and stuck it to the back to be able to hang t hem.  After I baked them, I used some fine sand paper to even out any imperfections or to get rid of any extra embossing powder. Since some of the clay has a metallic effect, some of the mirrors look good with a matte effect, so I didn’t have to use any gloss, varnish or floor polish.

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     I also had a wooden frame that I wanted to turn into a mirror. After doing some reading I found out that non-porous surfaces are better to use when working with clay, and that some people had trouble when working with wood because the wood expands and the clay can crack or not stick very well. One of the recommendations if one’s trying to cover wood was to either use liquid clay as glue, or to cover the surface  with a coat of white glue or acrylic paint or varnish.  I diluted some white glue, and with this I covered my frame. I think next time I’m not going to even dilute the glue, because a thicker coat works better and with the diluted glue I had to do several coats and let them dry…

    Covering the frame was a bit tricky, and I thought It was not going to work  at all. I had to make sure I had enough clay to wrap the whole thing and kinda reinforce the corners, be very careful and work slowly, because It really look like the layer of clay was going to come off and I was gonna get a lot of air bubbles. Still, I kept working on it and after baking it it seems like the clay “shrunk” and adhered well to the surface.  I cant see any air bubbles, and It looks really cool. 🙂 I’m glad I did the research before, or I would have been really frustrated. Here’s the final result:

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      And here are some other pics of the finished work. This kept me busy for a long time and I’m happy with the results.  Hope you like them, and enjoy the coming weekend!CAM00250 CAM00240

Proof that you can paint polymer clay that’s already been cured.

 

While I was making my famous buttons, I realized I had a lot of scraps and didn’t know what to do with them. After combining them all, I had a big ball of purplish clay, and I decided to play a little with it. I wanted to make small figures of my darling dogs, Alice and Dexter. But I didn’t want them to be purple, so this was the perfect occasion to finally figure out If I could use my acrylic craft paints on clay that had already been baked (cured).

This is what they looked like after baking:

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To paint them, I used regular acrylic Craft Smart paints that I bought at Michaels. I did two coats of white first to “prime” them, and then I just went crazy. 🙂 Since I wasn’t sure if the paint was going to come off after it dried, I also used a coat of  DuraClear polyurethane Gloss VArnish from Americana. This is what they look like after letting them dry for a couple of hours:

CAM00197 CAM00199 CAM00200 I think I really like them. I know my nephews got some polymer clay a few months ago and they loved it, so this could be a good kids craft for rainy or snowy days, (for bigger kids). If the Varnish is a concern, it can be skipped. Now i’M DYING to go visit them, and bring some clay with me to see what kind of monsters or dinosaurs we can come up with. 🙂 🙂

Note: Since Alice is much bigger than Dexter and I the clay wasn’t strong enough to hold her legs straight, I inserted a long head pin of the ones I use for beading in each leg. I’m sure a toothpick would have worked too. No problem with the baking, because of  the low temperature. It  doesn’t look like the paint will peel, but since this is my first experiment I can’t tell how long it may last for.

Here’s one of my Great Grandpa’s stories, In English.

This is my translation of one of my Great Grandfather stories. He was a lawyer, a Judge, a poet and a writer. It is just a small example of the idiosyncrasies of my people in the ’50’s. Life was simpler and more beautiful. We still visit the mountains and the house where he wrote some of his stories. Hope you like it!

The Music of Bells

            “C’mon old man!” I said to my dog, Jim. He was waiting for me in the front yard of my country house, wagging his tail impatiently, and eager to start our upcoming morning walk.  And so, we both set off with no destination in mind: up the hill, jumping over stone fences, wading across brooks, and walking through the big squared plots of bright green pasture lands, so typical of the countryside.

I looked at a distance and my eyes suddenly stumbled upon the house of don Chico Guadamuz, standing at the flattened top of a hill. A patriarch of the surroundings, he was a wealthy man, very powerful and prestigious. His neighbors held him in high esteem as he was known to be an old fashioned Christian and a man of good judgment. I wished to say hello to the venerable old man, so I headed that way.

The climb uphill left us both panting. At that altitude the view was so great, that before entering my friend’s dwelling, I decided to take a moment to enjoy the landscape. Jim sat by my side with his pink tongue out, huffing and puffing like a bellow, so tired he was.

How long did I stand there, frozen: filling my lungs with the fragrant mountain breeze; ecstatic at the sight of a pristine and bright-blue Sunday sky? I do not know.  It seemed as if the wind’s invisible hands had just polished it, just so I could see its splendorous shine…  Time goes by unnoticed when the joyful spirit is drunk with the marvels of Nature.

Suddenly, I had the sensation a strange music sprouted from everywhere: it came down the sky, rose from earth, vibrated in the nearby hills… It sounded like the pealing of hundreds of silver bells breaking through the clarity of morning.

My dog, startled, jumped up and put his front paws on my chest. I could tell he was puzzled by look in his eyes. “Can you hear that too, Jim? What could it be?”

“It’s the bells of the hermitage, don Víctor Manuel!”

For a second I shuddered with terror, fearing I may be going mad. Was Jim talking to me? But I quickly calmed down when I saw don Chico’s kind face smiling at me from the corridor of his house. The venerable old man was there, dressed up in his best holydays attire. He wore a white shirt with a starched, button-down collar. In his head a wide-brimmed sombrero de pita fiber.  A hand towel was wrapped around his neck, forming something like a ruffled collar upon which his tanned features rested, creased with wrinkles. His grey moustache added nobility to his face.

“Yes, don Víctor Manuel, it’s the bells of the distant hermitage. On the rare occasions when the wind blows in this direction, a strange acoustic effect is produced, and it sounds as if the pealing of the bells sprouted out of these mountains… If you’re not in a hurry please come in, and I will tell you a story while we both enjoy a cup of coffee.”

Within a few minutes, I was sitting down at my friend’s table.  I noticed it was dressed with the tablecloth used only for when there were guests coming to visit. Placed upon it, were two fragrant cups of steaming-hot cafe con leche, as well as delicious pieces of pan casero that tempted my gluttony.  So I sat there, in front of my friend, all ears and ready to listen to his words.

“I hope you enjoyed the pealing of those bells.  To me, they have the charm of the pleasant memories of my youth… Those memories are so wonderful to taste when they brush our soul during our old age. Whenever I hear them, I go out to the corridor to listen to them, and I can’t help the tears coming to my eyes…

Alright, I’m going to tell you a little about my life. This is a story that will seem to you as an episode taken out of one of those novels you city folks like to read so much…

Most of these lands that belong to me now were once owned by don Manuel Pantoja, who was lord and master of all these sown fields. Don Manuel was a campesino the likes of which you can’t find nowadays: strong-willed, of reckless courage, amazingly strong, and with an untamable energy.

Sometimes he used to say: ‘Only God is capable of not letting me get what I want.’ That was his favorite phrase. Of course the things he wanted, such as increasing the size of his property through hard work or doing some construction work to help the neighborhood, never got in the way of his good old Christian morals. He was always a man of indisputable honesty.

He came into these mountains when they were nothing but gloomy lands, but he set out to become rich. With no other assets than the strength of his own arms he chopped down forests and cleaned the fields. After ten years he had built an enormous finca with pasture lands filled with cattle, beautiful sugar cane fields and rich coffee plantations.

I was a peón of don Manuel since I was fifteen. One day my mother, distressed by poverty, took me by the hand to his place: ‘Don Manuel, I bring you my son so you can make a man out of him. Anything you pay him will be very useful to us.’

The following morning at three a.m., don Manuel and I were already  out on our way to the mountain to cut some wood.  It was so cold I thought my bones were going to break. While standing in front of a thick and ancient oak tree, he put an axe in my hand and grabbed one for himself: ‘This giant must be on the floor before the sun comes out. Come on!’ And so, we started chopping.

Don Manuel believed all men ought to have the same energy God had given him, and he wasn’t touched at all by my childish weakness.  ‘Your mother told me to make a man out of you, and I intend to do so, even if you die of exhaustion.’

Of course he kept his promise, because by the age of eighteen, I had the reputation of being the best peón of his fincas. The hard labor had turned me into a young man and given strength to my muscles. My spirit, however, hadn’t developed along with my body and on the inside I was still a child: timid, innocent and naive. I couldn’t bear to look at someone straight in the eye, and if a woman stared at me I turned as red as the flowers of a banana tree. It’s not like I was a coward; my patrón couldn’t have cowards working with him.  Maybe all the misery and struggle my mother and I had endured when I was a child, was what made me feel less of a person and wouldn’t let me stand up straight and lift my head up. To me that was the greatest tragedy! A tragedy that was even greater due to the fact that to my disgrace, I had fallen in love with —guess who I had fallen for, don Víctor Manuel?—  I had fallen for  my patrón’s only daughter!

As naive as I was, I was still aware of the absurdity of that love. Rosalía

—that was the name of the woman I loved— was a rich young lady, and I was a poor peón with nothing else but the strength if his arms to help earn his daily bread. There was also the issue of our education.  She’d finished primary school and had spent a few years going to a Catholic high school in the capital city. I barely knew how to read and write. I was only a humble, rustic and plain man of the area. To me, courting Rosalía was like wishing for a star to pin on my chest.

My suffering was only made worse by the indifference she had for me. She treated me just as she treated any other peón of the finca, or at least I hadn’t noticed any privilege or preference towards me. The truth is, whenever she looked at me, I lowered my head, almost instinctively, and stared at the floor until I felt my blood was about to gush out of my face, so chillado I was.  Of course, when she wasn’t looking at me, I devoured her with my eyes.

Rumor spread that the son of a wealthy finquero of the vicinities had started visiting don Manuel’s home, and that he apparently wanted to court Rosalía. Jealousy started ripping up my heart and I felt sick with sadness.  My mother, who didn’t know what was happening to me, asked me one day with great concern: ‘What’s wrong with you, Chico? You’ve been acting weird for a few days now. Why do you look so sad? Did something happen at the farm?’

‘No mama, don’t be scared; I’m an honest man, I must just be nervous…’

‘Thank God, son. You have lifted a weight off my shoulders.  ‘I’d rather see you in a coffin, amidst four candles, than see you dishonored. Nervousness is a bad thing, but it can be cured.  On Sunday you must go to the village, to don Manuel Flores’ pharmacy and you must get some medicine, they will tell you there which one works best for your ailment…’

I smiled because I knew what my ailment was; I knew it was one of those which, as people say, ‘can only be cured by a priest and a wedding.’

It turns out that my mother’s advice awakened an idea that had been dormant in my mind for a very long time; so long, I had almost forgotten about it.  I had to get me some magic powders to help me win Rosalía’s love.

The person responsible for putting such ideas in my mind was the infamous Isaías Bermudez. He was a liar and dirty and boastful old man, who still saw himself as was a don Juan.  During one of the usual afternoon chats at the town’s pulpería, I heard him say he had some secret magic powders, and that if you sprinkled the woman you loved with them, it would make her love you back. I was so naïve I believed such a thing could be possible, and my extreme shyness was the only reason why I didn’t go to Isaías and asked him about his secret.

But when my mother mentioned don Manuel Flores’ pharmacy, it occurred to me I could maybe find those powders there. Why not –I thought- if they sold all kinds of medicinal powders there?

*   *   *

            On Sunday I went to the village and headed straight to the pharmacy. I stood by the door for a long time, because I thought if I asked for the magic powders I was going to reveal my secret. Oh well!, I said to myself, if I came all the way down here, I better deal with this at once! So I approached a young shop clerck and asked him: ‘Excuse me, do you have powders to make women fall in love?’

The salesperson’s name was Luis Saenz and with time he came to be a good friend of mine. But at that moment he looked at me with bewildered eyes: ‘Did you say powders to make women fall in love?’

‘Yes sir.’ I said firmly.

He went to the back where they filled prescriptions, and I heard muffled laughter and comments. Then he came back looking very serious: ‘Yes, we have the powders you need, but they’re very expensive.’

‘How much are they?’

‘Two hundred colones!’

I was stunned. That amount was more than my entire savings… Of course, it was impossible for me to get them. ‘If they’re that expensive I can’t buy them.’

The assistant, who was having a hard time trying not to laugh, told me: ‘Don’t worry about that, my friend. We won’t charge you anything unless the powders work. Besides, we can give you all the time you need to pay for them.’

‘If that’s the case, please give me an ounce.’

He took some white powder out of a jar, packed it and gave it to me. ‘Do you know how to use them? Look, what you have to do is you go to church and stand by the door, and when the woman you love is coming in, whoosh! You sprinkle her with them.

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            Next Sunday I had gone to church and was standing by the door waiting for the right moment to use my lucky charm. Suddenly I saw Rosalía coming with one of her girlfriends. My whole body shuddered with anxiety, one more minute of hesitation and I’d have fled, but it was too late now. Rosalía was walking by me and as soon as I had her back to my front, I sprinkled her with the powders. Her colorful shawl had now turned white. She stopped and gave me a deadly look, I never knew if it was from anger or amazement.  Feeling like a criminal, all I could do was and leave in a hurry, feeling very ashamed.

I don’t remember much of the climb up the mountains from the downtown city of Heredia, for in my mind a whirlwind of feelings was churning. Rosalía was going to tell her father and he was going to fire me, I knew that for sure. I wasn’t so distressed about leaving don Manuel’s lands, even though I loved them as if they were mine. I had worked them and watered them with the sweat from my brow. I could earn a living anywhere else. But not seeing Rosalía ever again? That was devastating! I was so overcome with my affliction that I stopped at a side of the road, stumbled upon a tree, and cried like a baby under its shadow. ‘What a fool! How stupid I’ve been!’ I said as I punched my body in punishment.

I was so convinced don Manuel was at least going to give me an earful, that I pretended to be sick, hid myself at home, and didn’t go back to the finca for a couple days.

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            One morning, when I least expected it, someone called at the door. I heard the calling: upe! and next thing I see is Rosalía coming into the living room. I had all the intention of running away, but the surprise left me paralyzed. My mother wasn’t home because she’d gone to the river to wash clothes.

Y diay Chico!  Aren’t you supposed to be in bed with a fever? My tata sends me to ask for your health…’

Without even daring to look at her, I answered: ‘Well…I’m feeling better now… I’m almost cured.’

‘We haven’t seen you by our place since Sunday, when you played that joke on me. Why did you decide to throw starch at me if you’ve always been so respectful?’

I was so ashamed I thought the house was going to fall down on me. Feeling like a man recently convicted of a crime, I stared at the floor and didn’t say a word.

‘For God’s sake Chico! Say something! Nobody is going to scold you!’

I looked up, and saw her looking so pretty… She wore her black hair in two braids, which enhanced her rosy features. Her big black eyes shined as if they were two suns. In her lips, her eternal kind smile was drawn. For an instant I dared to look directly at her face.

‘But what’s wrong with you Chico, have you lost your words?’

‘The thing is I’m not going back to the finca. I’m going to go work building the railway tracks, even if I catch a lot of bad fevers.’

‘But that’s nonsense. If my tata finds out, he’s going to get mad. Don’t be so ungrateful. He might have a bad temper, but he has only good things to say about you and he loves you like a son. Is it because somebody treated you with disdain back at home?’

I don’t know how I dared to blurt out the secret I’d been keeping for so long: ‘Rosalía, I suffer the misfortune of loving you and I know that is an insolence of mine. You’re the patrón’s daughter and I’m nothing but a poor peón without merits, unworthy of aiming so high. That’s why I did the silly thing with the starch. Rosalía, forgive me!’

Now it was she who lost her words for a few seconds that seemed like centuries to me. Her cheeks blushed. ‘If you’d told me Chico, you wouldn’t have had to act like a little kid at church. You are worthy of any woman’s love… even of mine. Many times I’ve thought that if were to marry I’d want to marry an honest and hardworking man, just like you.’ Having said that, she turned around and walked away.

I felt like the happiest man on earth! I followed her with my eyes until I could see her no more. At that very moment, I heard the music of bells that waved through the mountains. I’d never heard anything like it before. I went back inside, I was scared. Was I delirious? Was that a figment of my feverish mind?

My mother had an image of Christ our Lord, and I knelt down in front of it, with tears running down my eyes. I prayed: ‘Lord, please Lord, let all this be true! Let it not be a dream!’

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            And so the rich daughter of my patrón and the poor rustic man I was, ended up dating, and decided to get married. But the difficulties weren’t over for me, because to conquer happiness I still had one last battle to win, and it was one with my father in law.  My father in law was a strong willed and grumpy man, and I had to go and ask him for his daughter’s hand in marriage. I think any man who’s ever had a task like mine would understand what I mean. But now that I knew my beautiful Rosalía loved me, I felt like I was even capable of talking to the devil in person.

One day, I went to don Manuel and told him. ‘Patrón, I’m here to confess something to you: I’m in love with your daughter and she’s in love with me. We want to get married if you give us your permission.’

Don Manuel was so surprised he didn’t have time to get angry. He looked at me from top to bottom, with a mocking smile on his lips. ‘Well, well well… So you’re trying to steal my daughter from me? Right! Aren’t my pesos what you’re really in love with?’

That harsh frankness of my father in law felt like a whiplash on my dignity. I don’t know where I got the courage to answer him: ‘Look don Manuel, I’ll respect your will if you don’t like me as a son in law, perhaps because I’m poor. I will leave these mountains and go to a place where I’d never see your daughter again. But understand that I don’t need your pesos now to make Rosalía happy, and I won’t need them later.  You can be sure that if I marry her now, I will never ask any favors from you. You know I’m a hardworking man, and I can make your daughter very happy, even if we have to live in poverty.

I could tell my father in law liked my answer by the look on his face. ‘Well, Chico, thank goodness, because you know I loathe men who courtship girls only because they’re wealthy. You can get married, but do it as soon as possible, for I don’t have the time or patience to keep an eye on boyfriends. I will give you a little something to help you out so you can start your life together.’

Don Manuel —I told him once again— The only thing I want from you is permission to marry your daughter. I’ve saved a little to get married.’

‘It is my decision.’ The old man answered. ‘When you’re Rosalía’s husband you will be the man in charge, but in the mean time, I am the one to do so. I will go to the village tomorrow to transfer for her the small finca at the hill. You know the one I’m talking about, it’s not a big thing, but it will sure serve to prove a man worthy. Other than that small piece of land, I will give you nothing else, for I want to see if you’re capable of keeping your promises.’

*   *   *

            Fifteen days later I married my patrón’s daughter without any fuss. Don Manuel wasn’t fond of big parties and I didn’t want to cause him any further expenses. The only celebration we had for my wedding was a delicious lunch my family served. In the afternoon, arm in arm with my wife and happier than a king, we moved to the small finca at the hill, the present of my wife’s father, where we had built a small house.

It was a magnificent February afternoon. At the distance the sun was setting and the ocean could be seen.  The sky looked alight as if it was on fire. As we stood there on that hill to watch the sunset an oath sprouted from my heart: ‘Rosaila, as God is my witness, I will love you forever and I will do my best effort to make you happy,’ and for the first time, I dared to kiss her on her forehead.

That day the music of bells was also heard sprouting from the mountains.

*   *   *

            The first two years of our marriage were very hard for both of us. I worked restlessly because I was adamant to not ask anything from my father in law. By three in the morning, regardless of the cold or rain, I was up in the mountain cutting wood for the saw mill. If I came home early, I went to till the land or sow my small plots until dusk. My wife also helped by raising chickens, fattening up pigs, and milking the few cows we had been able to purchase. Every week we did our math and saved our profit in a money box. I had only one debt to still worry about: the one with don Manuel Flores’ pharmacy for the magic powders.

Of course I no longer was the young man who once believed Isaías Bermudez’ lies. I will always be grateful with my wife for the fact she taught me and educated me, showing me everything she had learned through her years of schooling. She was my one great teacher: she made a real man out of the rustic boy I was. Maybe I wasn’t the smartest of all, but I was capable of interacting with educated people without talking a lot of nonsense.

Of course I was aware that the pharmacy clerks had pulled my leg, but since their joke brought me the wanted benefit, I still thought I was in debt with them.

One day I told Rosalía: ‘Let’s go down to the village so I can get rid of that debt.’

We arrived at the pharmacy and the very Luis Saenz came to help me. I said: ‘Do you remember me young lad?’

Don Luis stared at me. ‘Honestly, I have no idea who you are.’

How was he to remember me! Two years had gone by and the barefooted, shirtless campesino he saw once now appeared in front of him looking very elegant with his shoes, his cashmere jacket with corduroy lapels, a fine sombrero de pita fiber, a silk sash around his waist and an adorable woman in his arm.

‘Take a good look at me. I’m the campesino who once came here asking for some magic powders to help him win a woman’s love.’

I’ve never seen a look of amazement such as the one I saw that day in don Luis’ face. With eyes wide open he exclaimed: ‘They worked!’

‘Yes, sir, and here’s the living proof.’ I said, pointing to my wife.

‘I’m so sorry sir.  It was a joke; the powders were nothing but starch.’

‘I know that now, but they were miraculous. They gave me the courage to achieve the impossible. I have a debt of honor with you, and I came here to cancel it today: here’s your money.’

‘I can’t take that money, sir. You don’t owe a thing to me or to the pharmacy.’

‘Well, in that case let’s say there’s no debt, but there is a lot of gratitude. Keep that money and go have a few beers.’

*   *   *

            Time went by. Ten years later and with the help of God I was a wealthy man who had almost as much money as my father in law. I went through a few rough times though; I was once at the verge of losing everything. Bad people got my father in law involved in the purchase of a finca around the Guápiles region at that time when the building of the railway tracks was nothing but a cauldron boiling with disease. The fraud was so big that when my father in law realized what was going on, he was just about to go bankrupt. I went to see him and told him: ‘I owe you what I am today, for you taught me how to work. You now have my money available to help you get out of your hardships.’

The old man hugged me and cried. I was able to help him and he was able to recover, but I saved myself from bankruptcy by the skin of my teeth. But, I bet you’re getting tired of my long story… I just get so happy when I remember the years gone by… Forgive me if I’ve abused your patience.

“Go ahead, don Chico. I would gladly spend all day here listening to your stories.”

Alright, I’m just about to finish. I was married to my good Rosalía for fifty years. She gave me her youth, she gave me my sons, and she was the joy of my life.

On a morning like this one, I saw the life of my beloved come to an end, like the flame of a candle about to go out. After eight days watching over her by her bedside I finally closed her eyes…

I didn’t want to upset the boys with my tears, so I came outside to the corridor, and what a coincidence! Just like the day I got married, the day my wife entered this house, I heard how the fields vibrated with the music of bells. I felt comforted. My old lady had gone into heaven and God was giving me the good news!”

Don Chico remained silent for a few minutes, his eyes staring at a picture of doña Rosalía that hanged from a wall in the living room.

He looked back at me as he used one end of the towel around his neck to wipe away a tear that fell down his wrinkled cheek.

“Do you see now, don Víctor Manuel, why I come out to the corridor whenever I hear the bells peal?”

Villa Margarita, Los Angeles,

January 20th, 1952

My mom quilted this for me. <3 <3 <3

I wish I knew how to quilt. Honestly, I still think its too intimidating. BUt I LOVE quilts. Their weight, the patterns, the colors, the beautiful fabrics…When I go to the fabric store, I can spend entire afternoons walking around and looking at all the beautiful colors and patterns of the cottons. I also love the fat squares, and wish I was more skilled at sewing, so I can buy tons of beautiful fabrics and do stuff with them. I have a sewing machine, but I’m still having trouble with my straight lines and stitches, so I guess I’ll leave the quilting to the experienced for now.

My mom started sewing when I was a kid, so quilting came easier to her. She says she’s still learning, but I think she’s pretty good at it. Last time she came to visit, she brought me this beauty she made for me. She knows I love and collect owls so she incorporated owls to the design. Also it has my initials.

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She told me this was super easy to make. (But It has a lot of straight lines!) She knows I LOVE AUTUMN, so it’s made using autumn colors. The fringe is super funny and it has a lot of detail. The most important thing: It has a zipper! A zipper to keep things secure inside.

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I think something like this makes a great present, especially for those who can appreciate the love that goes into making it, and all the little details. Also,

MY MOM’S THE BEST AND I LOVE HER SO MUCH! muah!

12 Mom, brother and me 🙂

Polymer clay buttons 2. (Update)

So, I got all excited and have been making buttons for two days now. I have used almost all my old canes and scraps, so I guess this is also a good way of using your clay leftovers. These are some of the new ones, they are already cured and only need to be coated with the floor polish. Also, I made some with stamps and some acrylic paint I had. It looks cool, I think.

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I know my pictures aren’t the best, mostly because I’ve been using my phone because they’re easier to upload…Promise I will try to get better, at pictures and at having enough patience to find my cameras and using them. 🙂

Have a happy weekend!

Here’s the last batch:

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Polymer Clay buttons.(And feel free to tell me what to do next)

I’ve finished the latest crochet project and for a few days now have been trying to decide what I want to do next. I started a new blanket, but I decided that’s gonna be my project to do in the couch while watching TV at night and now I’m really bored and can’t decide if I want to paint, draw, sew, bead or what else to do.

A while ago I discovered polymer clay and went crazy with it. I bought a lot of supplies, read books, watched videos, learned how to make canes,beads and a lot of things. Unfortunately, I did not feel I could master the craft, so I decided to move on the next thing…I still felt it was a fun thing to do, so I didn’t get rid of anything hoping one day i could come up with more ideas to work with using the clay.

Boredom reminded me the other day about how much I like buttons and how expensive they can get, so I decided to take everything out of the closet and make my own polymer clay buttons for a while. I figured later on, they will give me more excuses to buy yarn and crochet things and use them as decoration. 🙂 I also thought sharing this could be fun, so here I go:

Materials:

  • Polymer clay (pasta machine to condition the clay, may not be needed)  rolling pin (mine is a fondant roller, works perfectly fine and is half the price)
  • X-acto knife, cutters, polymer clay slicer blades. Cookie cutters or fondant cutters or anything to cut shapes.
  • Rubber stamps, clear stamps, anything that can create texture.
  • Perfect pearls, embossing powder, acrylic paint, craft paints, (not necessary but nice to add extra color). Glitter works too.
  • Yarn needle, small crochet hook or whatever to make holes.
  • Buttons to use as mold and to figure out where to put holes.
  • Pledge tile and vinyl floor cleaner (FUTURE POLISH) for extra shine. YES! this is what works best for me. One container goes a loooong way.

So, to start you have to condition your clay. This can be done by hand or using the  machine.  Having the little “pasta machine” is nice because that way you have to spend less time working the clay with your hands and you can mix colors and get an even thickness, as well as create nice color combinations and work with the slices of the canes to have an even result. I bought mine at Michaels and used a coupon, so I got it for a decent price. I think some of them are around 25 dollars or less. From what I read, some of them tend to be better than others, but for a beginner, mine works fine.CAM00142

So basically, I flattened the clay and cut out the basic shape or shapes I wanted. Now comes the fun part. For the first example you can use rubber stamps to stamp the clay and then cut the shapes and make the holes. I had A LOT of fun stamping thick sheets of clay and then applying some Perfect Pearls powder. This gives the buttons AMAZING shine and color. CAM00137CAM00136  CAM00134CAM00135CAM00140CAM00138CAM00132

I Love love love the  black clay and bronze powder combination:CAM00151CAM00148

You can also use paint or just use the stamps. I love going to the crafts store when the stamps are on sale, that way I can get a few instead of just one. If there are no stamps available, anything that you can press onto the clay to give texture works.

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Another fun way to decorate them is using cane work. I was never able to get those perfect flowers and shapes that other people get, but I had a few leftover psychedelic canes that I tried to slice evenly. I then layered them on a thinner layer of clay.  If you have a pasta machine you can run the sheet a few times to make it more even, and then use that sheet to cover your shape.

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If you don’t have a pasta machine, just try to cut the slices to the same thickness and then work them into your basic shape. Then try to even it out a little and voila! I did this by hand, and looks pretty neat. 🙂

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I was having too much fun with this, so since I had black and white clay available, I decided to make a couple GUNTER penguins from Adventure Time…and use them as earrings! 🙂 Cool, huh?

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I finally baked everything that was ready, according to the instructions on the package.  The buttons are pretty much ready now.  You can sand any imperfections with a fine grit sandpaper or fix the holes with the Xacto knife.  I have tried several glazes before for extra shine and as a protective coat, and after reading a lot and by my own experience this is what works best:

CAM00161 I couldn’t believe it at first, but it’s great! What I do is I put a little bit in a container and dump my buttons and beads and whatever I have in it, let it get an even coat of the liquid and take them out and let them dry. If you hang them out to dry it’s even better. You can repeat this step a couple times for added shine. You can also apply the liquid with a brush, but I don’t have patience for that. If there’s any liquid left, just cover it, or otherwise it will start solidifying.

So, I hope this could serve as inspiration or help…I can answer any questions, to the best of my knowledge.  I speak Spanish too. 😉 I’m also open to suggestions, as I get bored easily and would love to try new crafts and things to do. THANX!!

My first bag…and a few random thoughts.

When I started this blog, I wanted it to be some sort of a cathartic experience. I figured here I could maybe deal with some of my issues by writing them and who knows?, maybe by putting my thoughts on paper I could also  help somebody…

Turns out I didn’t know how difficult it was gonna be for me to try to share a personal experience…My dashboard is full of posts that I ‘ve started and somehow can’t seem to finish. So, while I have this internal debate, I figured I at least can share with the world my latest OCD, and try to crochet a bag.

When it comes to bags and purses, I’m very traditional and usually stick to the leather purses that you can have and use forever. They need to be big enough to fit all the mostly useless stuff I have to carry with me.  (Seriously, I once was wondering why my bag was heavier than usual, and when I opened it, I realized I was still carrying the river rocks I had picked to paint a couple weeks before!) So, I can have a million of bags in all sizes and colors, and I will always end up using my two favorite bags, a black one and and a brown one. Now that I think about it, that’s pretty unoriginal  if you’re considered to be a creative person. ;/

But, going back to the original subject, A few days ago, while I was wandering around JOANN arts and crafts trying to figure out what to do, I came across this very cute wooden handles:

http://www.joann.com/bag-works-purse-tote-handle-light-brown-round/zprd_01554047a/

I don’t understand how a person can like buttons, but it turns out I LOVE BUTTONS! I want to have them all..Yeah I feel weird..Anyway, I also found this LOVELY, LOVELY wooden button. I can’t find the link on Joann’s webpage and I threw out the package, but I got it there too and It wasn’t that expensive:

Of course, I bought the handles and the button, not knowing what I was gonna do with them. Then, I started looking for patterns.  After a few days looking and searching, I found this really cute pattern for free on Ravelry.com.  I decided this was the ONLY ONE I liked and at least had to try making:

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-swag-bag

I used a 5.00mm/H crochet hook, and two strands together of a very nice ombre yarn I had in my stash. Thank God for yarn-hoarding!. The Yarn is Loops and Threads Impeccable Big in Earth Ombre.

To use two strands together, you have to divide this big skein in two. This is a very good thing to do to keep your hands busy while you’re working on the phone or watching TV. I decided to use the two strands together because I wanted a “thicker” weave, and because I was worried about my sewing skills for the lining of the bag.  I thought it wouldn’t need a lining if the weave was “tight” enough. It worked out really well, so now I know I can do this bag with or without the lining. I will talk about the lining later, as I feel it requires a separate paragraph. I also used a yarn needle and a big sew-on snap.  I think a magnetic snap would have been a better choice, but I didn’t have one, so whatever.

The first part of the pattern was really easy to make. Half double crochets all the way. Once the body of the bag was made was when I had a little trouble. I don’t know if it was me or if the pattern wasn’t clear enough.  I’m more of a visual person, and from reading the pattern I really wasn’t sure of what the next step was, and also wasn’t sure about what to do with the lining. So I was sitting there, feeling slightly defeated, wondering if this was going to turn into one of those projects that was going to have to be banished to the bottom of my sewing trunk, when all of a sudden I thought, YOUTUBE! and Guess what? There was a video for the very same bag!! This lady designer is pretty cool. I think she has her own page with tons of tutorials. So thank you Marcelle’s creative crochet!

That’s the link for the video. Once I saw it, I understood what I had to do. I wish I could do better with my pictures and my links, but I’m new to this so I apologize.

Now, about the lining: I had a very nice shiny fabric In a very nice brown color that I decided to use as lining. Since I didn’t understand the written instructions, already had an almost finished bag and had to figure out a way to     cut the fabric and make a lining that would fit. ;/ I’m a beginner with sewing machines, but I managed to work something out. Practice makes perfect!! I first attached it to the bag by hand using yellow thread (so I could see it better). Once I was satisfied with the finished product, I used the sewing machine and a lot of patience to attach it to the purse:CAM00096 (1)CAM00097CAM00095

 

Since I didn’t have a magnetic closure but I had the very nice wooden button, I decided to come up with a different way of closing the bag.  Before sewing the handles I made a small flap using half double crochet. I sew the flap to the front of one of the sides of the bag, before sewing the handles. To the front I sew the big button and on the back the big snap-on.  This will go over the handles, once I attach them, and make a more secure closure. (At least that’s what I think.) I hope the pictures are a better explanation than my attempts to verbalize what I did.CAM00108 CAM00109

 

The last thing to do is to fold the flaps over the wooden handles and sew them to the bag with the yarn needle (refer to the pattern to understand what I’m saying, heh). I think the final result looks pretty nice, you be the judge:CAM00098 CAM00102 CAM00100

 

The last few weeks have been difficult for me, I’ve been really emotional, and have been missing my family and my country a lot. When going through rough times, sometimes we (I) tend to forget that we still have a lot to be grateful for. Today I am thankful for my health, and for having these two hands I can use to make all this nice and fun things that keep me distracted and help me keep my spirits up. 🙂

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