Thursday, February 18, 2010

Polished Treasures

A friend of mine, who is an avid fisherman and rockhound, polishes stones he picks up. All winter polishers run in his house, which would probably drive me crazy, but the results are wonderful. He gave me a bag full of polished stones. Pretty neat, huh? They were all picked up in this county, so it is amazing to see what lies beneath a stone's surface, and the small treasures just lying at our feet.  I keep them in a candy dish where I can enjoy them -- pick them up and feel the smooth surfaces and admire nature's amazing colors and designs. My cats also enjoy them. They are forever taking one out to bat and chase around the wood floor like hockey pucks.

I particularly like the black stone with a heart shape of harder mineral polished to a higher luster on its surface that is located in the bottom right-hand corner. How cool is that? And what about those red and white speckles and swirls decorating some? The purple one looks like amethyst, while the green stones near the middle look like jadeite of some type. There are many that would make great jewelry if I had the drill and saw necessary, but right now, I've enough projects on my table to complete without adding more. One of those projects is putting electric out in the garage. Then I can purchase my own rock polisher.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Keeping Face

Years ago for something to entertain kids, I wrapped the faces of my family in plaster bandaging and made masks. (Once started all the adults wanted to participate, too.) It was a fun project. Everyone slathered their face with Vaseline, put on a shower cap and slowly had their face cast. It took about ten minutes and the roughcast bore a somewhat blunted but fairly accurate replica of each face. I painted many to look like masks.

It was a great project for kids because while your face was covered so completely--except for nostrils, which obviously had to remain uncovered--it was a bit scary. I did this project with three sixth grade classes in Colorado Springs the one year we lived there, and the students seemed to love it. They worked in teams of three, one subject, one wrapper, and one support person who talked and held the hand of the subject.

Eventually, over the years the bandaging disintegrated. I had experimented with casting one, but whatever I did failed and I lost that mask. I had three left, and they were crumbling, so I threw them out. They landed back on my desk after someone saved them from the trash.

Since they wouldn't go away, I decided I'd better do something with them. First I painted the interior of each one with Elmer's glue, hoping that would stop the crumbling. It did. So I slathered the inside of each mask with Vaseline and filled each one with a wood patch, which is basically plaster of Paris, but it was what I had on hand. The faces easily popped out of the molds. After some sanding, I decided they had to be painted. The question was, realistically or not? Just a coat of any color of paint wasn't very interesting, so I painted each to look like rock with a slight metallic sheen.
Holes drilled in the back allow them to be hung on the wall, but I might put them on dowels so they stand up. Perhaps I'll have a whole row of them across the fireplace mantle. They look a little bizarre because the subject's eyes were closed when the bandaging was applied, so everyone looks like they are sleeping... Hopefully, no one will think they are death masks, but even if they do, I find them interesting. The two lower-profile faces are my children at ages eleven and eight. I'm really pleased to have these keepsakes. There are better methods of casting faces using latex molding material and casting the mold in resin, but the plaster bandaging is much cheaper and much less labor-intensive.

I will be going to Kansas on a family visit in early summer, and it has already been suggested that we make masks of the new generation. Won't that be fun? If your family is suffering from cabin fever or winter blues, this might be a project that will take their mind off the weather. All you need is Vaseline, cheap, throw-away shower caps and plaster bandaging that most medical supply stores stock if none is available in your area, do an online search. There are many sources. Each face should cost about $7 to $12, maybe less, depending on sources and on whether you recast the masks for sculptures.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Linda Rettstatt's And the Truth Will Set You Free

I should have done this review three years ago, but life, as happens in this story, took a dive and I didn't get it done. I found the book in my file of digital editions and decided it was time to complete this obligation. I'm sure glad I did as it is a well worth reading.

And The Truth Will Set You Free 
by Linda Rettstatt
General Women's Fiction

Budget cuts eliminate Kate Reynolds’ job with the state. At fifty-two her world falls apart until her friend Terri impresses on her that her problems might present an opportunity. Terri reminds Kate that years ago she had plans to become a writer. Now might be the perfect time to try something new and daring -- in that New England village that impressed her a few years ago. Kate makes a decision to try. She moves to East Holbridge, Connecticut. While she makes new friends in her new home and makes great progress in her new career choice, she feels unfulfilled and uncomfortable, torn between her old life and her new one.

And The Truth Will Set You Free explores Kate’s journey through the pitfalls of life, the challenges of inevitable change, decisions to be made, and the courage necessary to survive those choices. Kate learns that even when starting new, she carries her past with her, and those memories will pull her back toward what is known and safe. The beginning of this story establishes Kate’s old and new lives in rich detail and imagery, and many realistic characters are introduced. Leaving her tried-and-true friends is wrenching, but she finds discovering new friends has its own charm. Everything is moving along almost serendipitously for Kate until self-doubt and a friend’s crisis make her question her choices. Has she made the right choices, not only now, but ever? Once these questions and problems have been established, Kate’s journey moves in poignant and complex paths with a bit of romance thrown in. And The Truth Will Set You Free is an extraordinary tale with issues that will grip the reader’s interest and emotions.