I mentioned my introduction to diz earlier. They’re one of the most freeing pieces that I make because they have only a two requirements: smooooooth must have at least one hole I use diz to create tiny collages of stamps and textures that have found their way to my bench. They don’t require much for fancy equipment in their creation, unlike my wheel thrown pieces. They don’t have to match any others, unlike my buttons sets. They don’t have to be a certain size, a certain convex/concave setting, or even any specific number of holes. They are the item that allows for the largest expression of creativity in a small package. Although they aren’t demanding in equipment or design, they do make up for that by requiring several stages of smoothing and sanding to ensure that no bit of fibre will ever be caught on a rough edge. So we have an agreement: I make them look like whatever moves me today, and they just want to be smooth. I’ve tried to make them alike, I really have. One of my goals for 2014 was to create a concise product line for 50% of my items, leaving 50% for seasonal sets, creative ideas, custom orders, other types of items. In the photo to the left, you can see in the top right that I tried to use the same tulip stamp and then owls but… that was boring fast so the other end of each is completely different. Really, why buy handmade if it’s all going to look exactly the same?!? My new goal for product lines has become less exact. I now aim to carry “rectangular diz” and that should make everyone happy. Each one will be different to keep me joyous while creating, and diz-lovers can know that there will be rectangular dizzes in the shop for those that prefer that soft curve to the round convex or concave. For those of you, like myself at one time, that have no idea what the heck a diz is or why you’d ever want one, I have found a video! This video by WoolWench shows a diz being used with a hackle to blend colours to spin into yarn. The diz is used at the 1:36 mark. For people that haven’t even seen how yarn is made, this shows some great details in a quickie 3 min video. Making your own roving with a hackle and diz, by WoolWench I hope you enjoyed the video. If you’re interested in more details about diz, drop me a line. If you’re interested in more details about using a diz to prep roving, or questions about spinning, Ravelry.com has a wonderful community of fibre artists that are far more educated on the subject than I am.
I’m lucky to receive custom requests rather regularly. It’s a creative kick for me to read the request and think “CAN I? Do I WANT to?”. Some I can’t because of equipment limitations, time limitations, glaze limitations however others are straight up fun challenges. “Do you make 1:4 scale dishes for miniatures?” Don’t I wish I had that skill! This is now on my To-Learn list however, I couldn’t satisfy the request. The smaller, or larger, that a ceramic item is, the higher the skill required to create it on a pottery wheel. I can throw the heck out of mugs, cereal bowls, even a salad bowl, but an inch tall mug? Wow. THAT’S a skill that I don’t yet have. “Can you make 25 of these $3 buttons and I’ll pay you $25?” My materials and labour costs are the same whether you ask for 10 or 25. The continued conversation on this request was pretty insulting and I ended the convo by suggesting that they may be more interested in purchasing from someone else. Like, Walmart. “Can you make mugs with a horse theme”. Yes, yes, yes! “Can you make tiny 10mm buttons that look like pebbles?” I answered honestly with “I don’t know, but I’ll try”. And I did try. I used all the types of clay I had, mixed them up or used them pure, some I added stain to, and then I used a variety of glazes. The results were incredible, and part of the reason I’m so addicted to working in clay and ceramics. Chemistry + Magic + Art. This request to make pebbles led to these being added to my regular product line, and have been my top sold button since I figured out the alchemy to create them. They’re adorable, fun to make, and the process is magic: they start out BROWN. Brown. It’s the happiest experimental button accident that I’ve ever been part of. “Can you make a diz?” My first response was “what the heck is a diz?!?”, so I responded with that, almost word for word. (hey, if you’re going to ask me about my diz, I’m going to ask for details) She was wonderfully patient and described that it was a tool used to prepare roving. Roving is used in spinning, which creates yarn. This wonderful woman had been using one of my buttons as her diz, and was kind enough to get my imagination going. I’m a knitter and crocheter, and so many of the people in my knitting/crochet group also spin using wheels and/or spindles. I googled and found out that most diz that are on the market are sturdy, useful, attractive, however not many of them brought the word “beautiful” to mind. I’m a strong believer that if you’re going to do something, be it drink tea or spin yarn or do up the buttons on your child’s sweater, it should be beautiful. I interrogated a local spinner, read through spinner forums, and finally figured that I could make several types of ergonomic diz that would be smooth, feel good in the hand, and above all, be beautiful. These are new to the studio as of summer 2013, and continue to be one of my favourite items to make, and it all started with a single request. I still open request messages with excitement and a bit of fear: Will this be a tiring request to “make it exactly like X. But different.” Will it be a request that opens my mind to “What If? Why Not?” round of creative thinking? I’ll keep hoping for the second type of request. I can’t wait to see what future requests hold.