Thursday, March 31, 2011

Drawing Lab Art Show Blog Hop

As some of you may know, 2011 is my year to "Enhance".
One thing I am doing, is taking an online drawing class called
And this post is dedicated to the first quarter of assignments we have had and to pick our favorites…
Drawing with Geometric Shapes. My favorite so far!
This old player piano belonged to my Grandma Neal. I used to play like this on it too!
A play on Zentangle and my name...
First Assignment - one drawing from a page full of cats...
Drawing with your non-dominant hand. Still makes me giggle at it...
Drawing Negative space. I really like this exercise!
Drawing shadows...
From my night stand table (the night before it was due of course!)
I have not been able to keep up with every weekly assignment, but I don't let it get me down.
I am taking every day as I can and pulling the most from these that time allows me.
I believe you can sign up too if you want to give drawing a go…

Want to check out some other blogs that are class participants?
Click on over to Jeanine's blog HERE.
Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

YAY! Jewelry Time Coming Up...

I am working on getting some new photos of jewelry uploaded to the Marsha Neal Studio Etsy Shop in the next couple of days including this new listing for these

These Porcelain Shards will be going up soon too.
You can pick any of these type of shard sets in my shop and I can make them into earrings for you...

This picture below I've got to work on a bit…
These are going to be my entry into Vintaj's Woodland Blush contest.
More on that later...

I had a much better day today with photography (although Chloe is home sick with a fever and went with me to my MG training this morning - Ibuprofen does wonders - she's a champ!). I think I will be re-photographing most of my pieces in my shop. I can't stand how dark and somewhat blurry they are...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Some Of My Recent Favorites On Etsy

I love the somewhat new Etsy circles.
They make me want to create Treasuries often, but time does not allow…

Here is a Treasury I just created that I titled

I am so in love with all these things.
I just wish I had the monies to be able to afford to buy everything I fall in love with on Etsy…

On a quick side note. I think I may be keeping my garden blog as my garden blog and not getting rid of it as I had thought I might with integrating all of my blogs into one. I will cross post - or direct this main blog over there as there are related things or inspirations… There is just SO much in my head right now and I have not had a moment to sit and write it out yet.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Chocolate Clay Toggles and Multi Hole Pieces

Here is a quick post to let you all know that I have listed a few new items into my Etsy Shop under the Shards section.
Chocolate Clay Toggle "set". If they make it out of the kiln similar enough, they are listed as a set.
Sets are harder to "make on purpose". And I rather enjoy making them where maybe they will come out...
I like the way that some listings on Etsy show up close detail of the piece to draw the viewer in.
Makes you think - what the heck is that?
Porcelain Clay Shards in Green Sea Glass glaze.
Ohhhh… I love the color & texture…
Then you can decide if you need to have it immediately even though you are not sure what to do with it (I have a lot of items like this just because I loved the surface color & texture) or maybe just favorite it until later.
Three Hole Chocolate Clay Shard.
Although, I do have to say - I am really getting to the point of moving away from production clay and doing what I want in it.
So you might want to get it while you can… 
Changes on the horizon for this clay gal!

Oh, and check out this Etsy Mud Team treasury from JD Wolfe Pottery 
"The Break Up" which features my Chocolate Clay Shard Toggles:
So very cool…
I love these textures and patina colors…
What do you think about these pieces in my shop?
Wouldn't they look awesome used in pieces for the Vintaj Woodland Blush DesignChallenge?
Here is another Vintaj blog link to a post with some inspiring pieces for the Woodland Blush Design Challenge.
I'm seriously considering making at least one item to submit.
Maybe I'll go right now and work on it…
Submissions are due by noon on April 8th (CST).

Would love to see someone submit some designs using my shard pieces with the Vintaj pieces, maybe some of Shannon's (MissFickleMedia) pieces too…
Guess we'll see...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Zentangle Challenge #13 - Non Dominant

This week's challenge over at Laura Harms Blog is to Tangle with your non dominant hand
For me, that's my left hand - and I went with some normal tangles that my right hand is comfortable with drawing:
I like the wonky wiggly lines that drawing with your non dominant hand allows. 
The filling in the black spaces, not so much…

I am trying to wrap my brain around what this week is going to spring upon me. 
Tues - Thurs I am going to be full to the brim with Master Gardener Stuff. 
I have to post about Cone 6 glazes by Thurs night on the Beads of Clay Blog… 
So that means for the rest of today, I have to get my brain around glazing.

I sure hope everyone stays well this week - other than the regular allergy/sinus infection that seems to linger with all of us. 
And my darn right ankle. 
I had my chiropractor adjust it and the tendons are really messed up (injury from earlier in life - field hockey? softball? who knows…) 
I have been having to keep a heating pad on it at night - but it seems to be almost back to normal.

Well, off to get lunch then into the studio. 
I can't wait to get to test glazing again…
The hardest part is limiting myself and finding a starting place.
Very exciting stuff coming up with new ways to finish beads!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Zentangle Challenge: Something Blue

Here is my entry for Laura Harms "I Am The Diva CZT" Blog Challenges for 
So I have not been drawing much recently.
A lot of the things that I had time to do in Jan & Feb have gone by the wayside now that March has arrived…
I knew it was coming if I got accepted into the Master Gardener program (which I did).
Classes are so great.
And I'm not saying that to be a kiss up. I really mean it…
I was a bit worried that it would be super intense and study, study, study (it may still come - I'm just waiting for it). But really, I think that because I am at such a different place in my life and very into observing how insects and plants and nature all rely on each other - that I am starting to actually understand what I learned so many years ago in college and things are coming naturally.

And there is so much more that I am learning about for a "behind the scenes" look at this MG program - it is just awesome! The people are so laid back and have a lot of the same interests. We love our plants and digging in the dirt! It's interactive education about something I adore.

And dang - my soil is SO neglected here in my garden.
I am going to start composting ASAP and we thankfully learn about soils this week, so I can consider getting mine into shape.

Well, I'm exhausted, but wanted to post...
Can you tell by my picture that we studied plant cells and how they form tissues and provide various functions for the overall plants survival?
And if this were some sort of plant leaf - I would be seeing more green than blue.
But blue works…
Thanks Laura for this challenge! Make sure to swing by her blog to check the other entries.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Overwhelmed And I Like It...

Have you ever been here?
Just brimming with new ideas, remembered themes, overwhelmed, wondering just what to pick up and run with? 
And if you had 8 arms - they would be overflowing as well with things you are trying to do?

So you will have to bear (grumble) with me a bit as I get through this without over-boring you…
I invite you to pick up some of this energy and see if it inspires your work as well…

First - I took this image a couple weeks ago...
I love catching birds in flight - their wings are magnificent!!!
I have a file here on my computer with photos specifically of birds in flight - they are awesome!
Northern Mocking Bird
Now that I have started Master Gardener Training - two classes on basics in Botany - I am starting to see things in plant terms. 
I was SO excited for this for you don't even know how long!!!
Spiderwort - Monocot
We learned about cells through basic stem and leaf growth and functions. Monocots and Dicots were touched on today. This spiderwort is a Monocot. It is no longer just a plant above the ground which I adore - it is a plant that has it's venation running parallel to the plant growth. It is important to remember too - the SOIL it grows in, is it's foundation - take care of the soil, which helps your plants thrive. Something I admit really not paying too much attention to. 

Grasses were an example given of a monocot. And I am familiar with it because I love to sit in the grass and pull it apart - well - peel it apart rather. Know what I mean - pick a piece with layers, then pull each layer back? Think monocot when you do this and you'll see where I'm at. I ran across the photo above that I took the other day of growth in my garden, and see it totally differently now. Ahhh…

We also got a bit more insight into what Master Gardeners are.
Volunteer educators for short.
And where we fit.
Think backwards or from the bottom - up:
 Community outreach volunteer based educators for "agriculture" and gardening.
Through Cooperative Extension of New Castle County, DE.
Which falls under the University of DE and DE State Univ. - which are land grant universities.
Which are funded through the County, State - I believe - then the Federal Government.

Then into the clay studio:

I took a couple of quick moments yesterday to play with clay in the studio. 
Focusing on tiny beads (thanks Kelley for the inspiration & addiction) that I'll probably keep to use for jewelry projects for myself. 
I made some teeny tiny shards too - these have a more subtle texture to them and they just reminded me of pupa. 
Reminded me of a pupa I came across 2 summers ago in the garden. I believe some sort of Hymenoptera (bee or wasp). The pupa was dark red and about 1.5" long and 3/4" around - maybe a Cicada Killer?
Not a big fan of those… So I have thoughts on making some pieces that have more wing structure from the stages of the insect while inside a pupa. Bringing the Entomology into the clay.
And this…
I just opened up my kiln after returning home from class and this is what I got. 
The yellow/brown, the green/blue and the blue/purple palette test tiles from Coyote's big sample pack of glazes. 
Talk about being overwhelmed with choices. And you thought it was hard to decide which of my pieces to buy (wink, wink).
I'm the one that has to decide which of these glazes get to go onto a piece - how do you decide that?
Or rather, how do you limit yourself to that. I can't. It's an addiction. I need intervention at times or I'll be making a ton of stock just for my own satisfaction of making stuff…

Overall I am just happy I got to get some tests running.
More details with some of those findings will be posted on my monthly Commercial Glaze Post over on the Beads-of-Clay blog on the Third Friday of the month (3.18.11).
I think these tests may last me a few months of postings once I get all them going.

Also I am throwing the idea around of starting a blog and getting rid of this blogspot blog. 
I have some decisions to make about that - mainly being that I can run the business end better from the blog, but am not sure if I want to make the transition at the moment. 
Considering getting rid of my actual website and putting things up on Etsy. 
Dave and I have had many conversations about this. 

Took an online workshop last night through Blacksuburg Belle's website and have new business ideas brewing too based on blogging. 
After the kids were in bed and I was telling Dave about April's site and what I had learned. 
He asked me why I wasn't doing some online consulting type live sessions? Hmmm… Why haven't I?
100 people max x $35 = $3,500 for an hour of live chat (oh, the work that goes into getting it all pulled together too - but still!). It's not about just the money, it's about a level of understanding and success. Something I haven't quite obtained yet…
What do you think? Maybe I could be a motivational speaker of sorts. Or am I just full of sh.t?

Ok - off for an hour of putting decals on pieces for Emmi Beads Trunk show.
I have a MG meeting tomorrow am too and want that decal firing going by the time I am home.
Crap - glaze firing too…
Oh, to be able to get this timing thing down!

Well - blog post is done. 
Thanks for stopping by!!!
Leave comments if you have a chance - would love to hear the feedback about my blog post spewing...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Winners Are Picked...

It is Monday for sure - a very trying morning with the kids at first, then I discovered something to really set me off. 
I think I am going to go for a walk outside to clear my head.
Maybe yell into the wind a bit - then deal with it, get over it, and get on with my day.
Don't you hate it when crap pops up and just throws off your groove?
Especially when your groove was a bit wobbly to start with.
Sorry for venting. Had to get that out…

Now some better stuff - The three items that are going to get three people (I already know who won, and they are all different people) a $25 gift certificate for my Etsy shop.
From the Belly of the Pink Pig...
Riley decided to pick the first two winners…
And run with them!
I got this shot just as he was reaching for them again.
Boy, he is fast!
Ms. Moody (there were many a melt-down this morning) happily helped me pick out the third number. 
So here we have them - the numbers for the winners for the drawing.
I'm going to go to my sold items from yesterday and count to see who wins. 
The first item sold is #1, the second item sold is #2, and so on up to 15.

Winner #1 - Purchased Item #3 Bought This:
Winner #2 - Purchased Item #7 Bought This:
Winner #3 - Purchased Item #10 Bought This:
I will send you all convos to let you know you can pick out $25 more and I'll ship them all together.
Thanks everyone for participating!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Thank You ~ Shop ~ Come Back Soon...

Thank you for visiting the BOC Bloggers Open Studio Event and for spending some time here with us!
Chloe learning how to take pictures with her  iPhone (Dave's very old phone).
I enjoy visiting & interacting with you all and seeing other artists studios…

We should be doing another one in October 2011 and will hopefully have more artists participating again. And I'll have new pieces like these nests readily available (before then for sure!)
And I have plans for working on felting to combine with shards…

Lots to figure out! Let's not even touch on how bad I want to order MissFickleMedia's patinas and tutorial…

For every item you buy through the Marsha Neal Studio Etsy Shop until Midnight EST tonight, you get a chance at winning up to three $25 Marsha Neal Studio Etsy Shop Gift Certificates. I will email you tomorrow to let you know you've won. Curious to see how good your chances are for winning? Check out the sold items and see how many have sold today… 
Chances will be numbered by the order that they appear in my sold (first sold = #1, second = #2, and so on).

Have fun shopping!

Oh, and follow this blog to get updates regularly or just stop back to see I'm getting into.
Like what my friend Kelly Russell of Beadfuddled and I do with these and more pieces like them…
Pre-firing and Post-Firing Porcelain Paper Clay Pieces.
Thanks for spending your Sunday afternoon with us!
Remember to comment on the BOC main blog post for your chance at winning the big lot of donated beads! And don't forget to see both the live and static blog post links for all the artists participating!

Spring Is Arriving Around Here...

Congrats Rosalynn for winning my Second Giveaway! (email me your shipping address).

I love that we live in Delaware, situated right in the nook and cranny of the Mid-Atlantic region of the Eastern United States. Not thrilled about the air quality and a few other things, but at least we experience fully all four seasons...
My 2011 Winter Garden (above) is no longer covered in white.
Small tips of green and purple are poking through the soil...
Soon my main side-hill garden will look like this (deer included).
The Dark Eyed Juncos that visited with us all winter will head north. 
These decaying seed husks will be cut back and replaced by new growth…
Speaking of new growth - this blog is about to grow some new appendages.
I will be making posts about my garden and helping to educate anyone that wants to learn a bit more about gardening as I am going through my Master Gardeners training from now through summer (one of the major life changing things going on for me).
 I am excited to see if any of the seeds from this spent cone flower will produce any new plants this year.
I added about 6 varieties of cone flowers to my garden last year.
Most scattered in the garden bed along the front walk where that annual brown grass is.
It is going to be fun to see how this photo will change this year.
And to use my images for new work.
Not just pendant related...
This is a photo of the little gray barn that sits vacant now for years here in Hockessin.
I looked into renting it before the economy went into the dump.
$16 a square foot at the time. No thanks. Not going to happen...
And this place - an old farmhouse and garden nursery - vacant for years.
Walking distance from my house.
Itching to become an artists studio - don't you think?
Maybe "captain tight pants" could help out there…
I was so delighted to see this in the Southwest Airlines Flight Magazine last April, I had to get a picture!
Oh, Mal… (Sorry for the detour from clay beads - would love to see Firefly take off again!)
And I think it would be awesome if someone as cool as Nathan could invest in a project like this artists studio. 
Just throwing it out there…

Ok - time to go back to Beads-of-Clay to check out other artists posts.
Stop back here for a closing from me.
And remember my clay pieces are marked down 20% on sale in my etsy shop.
My FB fans have an extra code to use (click like on my page and you are welcome to use it too).
And all items purchased through my Etsy shop through midnight get you entered to win a chance for up to 3 $25 MNS Etsy shop gift certificates!
As of 3pm - only 1 item sold, so it's like easy money if you buy something…
See you soon!

2nd Giveaway

Here is a photo of my Line Curls Textured Large Square Porcelain Pendant in Autumn glaze (photo is slightly darker than piece - at least on my screen). I almost kept this piece for myself, but then realized I had to have something beautiful to give away for this event...
This will be shipped to one lucky commenter on this blog. 
I will announce the winner in the comments at 3:30 EST.
Hopefully I will be able to find your email through your name on the comments so I can email you for your address. Make sure to check back to see if you win...

Welcome to the Artists Studio - BOC Open Studio Event

Congrats Michelle Mach for winning my first giveaway!!(email me your address).

Thanks everyone for stopping back - Welcome into my studio space.

For my clay work, I use a lot of porcelain and handmade texture plates and stamps to get reverse images and raised textures.
I then use readily available cookie cutters (kitchen supply stores, polymer clay suppliers) and a few home made ones to cut out the pieces.
One day soon I hope to have some custom shape cutters made - just have to get them drawn out to scale.
I love the way the glazes interact with the surface of the clay & how translucent glazes show the texture.
All of my porcelain pendants are glazed on all sides.
Sticking to this level of creation and glazing means I have to suspend every piece for the glaze firing and not just lay it on a shelf.
Buttons and cabochons are an exception because they are only glazed on the top. It can take hours to load a kiln like this and if you check out my Etsy shop, you can see that my pricing reflects this.

It is not the material cost (clay is as cheap as - well - dirt - very nice, wet, easy to work with mud/clay/dirt), but the amount of time that goes into working with the clay.
My pieces have over 20 steps from start to finish. Not including the jewelry making part.
Multi function tables in the basement for clay and glaze work.
I work out of my house.
Technically all over the house & sometimes I bring the clay outside into the garden with me depending on the time of the year. For the most part, the "main" clay studio is kept to the basement (except for the pug mill for recycling clay - that is in the garage for ventilation and access to the hose and lots of space to move).
My glazes to be tested are stacked & Chloe's under-glazed beads mid-painting.
Bins with beads sorted by texture.
Reusing trays that I had for bead shows to hold bisque beads that are lesser made.
Kiln room is behind a lockable door and is vented to the exterior of the house.
My sister Teren and Chloe were making signs for Chloe & Riley's bedroom doors the other night. 
I jokingly said that I would like one that says STOP on it for my kiln room door. 
This is what they made...
At least the kids will stop to look or pick at the foam stickers.
Computer desk, packaging area in background - a work in progress.
Temporary Jewelry Making Table - nice to have a place to leave stuff out.
Some recent jewelry making adventures.
I find my inspiration in Nature. 
In Textures. In Colors. In Shapes. In Patterns.
I take lots of pictures with my iPhone…
But then there are moments that require more detail - like from my digital SLR that I am just learning to use:
I am trying to find balance in every day.
And take my time to notice all that is around me…
Right now I am in the middle of some major life changes.
I know when I look back years from now, I will know that this time - right now - as a point when my decisions took me down that different road.
Wonder what my life will look like?
Will I still be working in clay (I sure hope so - but beads only? Probably not).

Hop back over to the Beads-of-Clay Blog to check out the other live posts and I'll see you back here for the 2nd giveaway post in a bit...