Monday, March 31, 2008

New Art: Cardinal & Tiger

Fresh from the studio - two more mini works of art (Aceos)!

The cardinal looks quite striking against his green background. And the tiger...well I just adore these big cats and the intense look of their eyes.

Both of these are up on Ebay

Next I'm working on a couple of domestic cats. For some reason, I find domestic cats challenging to paint...I don't know why, but I do. So I'm going to try two and see how they come out.


Update #3 on poisoning

Well here it is a new day, and I feel completely normal again. On Wed., I plan on returning my unopened packs of polymer clay to Hobby Lobby, where I purchased them.

I have been hearing from some other people who have had reactions to the clay. Also, read Amber Dawn's public comment in my previous post about this.

Some good suggestions I've had are to wear gloves, and move the oven outside. Which I might be able to do in the future - right now I believe I need a break from the clay altogether.

In researching more about phthalates, I also learned it is a chemical that is in a lot of our health and beauty products. Which explains why on days I wear makeup, or on the rare occasion I might wear hairspray or perfume, I don't feel as well and I get that metallic taste in my mouth. I've been looking for the answer to that one for several years now, and I had simply attributed it to fragrance sensitivity. I didn't realize it wasn't the actual fragrance, but the chemical that's IN the fragrance.

I discovered some interesting and informative websites about all of this. Here's a link list:

Also, I discovered this article, and the paragraph I quote right after the link is in the article and is concerning:
"It is also possible that materials now thought to be safe for children will later be found hazardous. Rossol warns in particular of popular low-temperature modeling clays. Manufacturers of these brilliantly colored polymer clays have substituted as a plasticizer untested complex glycol ethers for the primary phthalate ethers (diethylhexyl phthalate or DEHP), which are now known to be animal carcinogens. The ethers are absorbed through the skin and, to a lesser extent, can be inhaled when the clay is fired. Such clays may also pose a problem, says McCann, because they may be used at home and fired in a family's oven that is also used for cooking. "If I could draw you the two sets of molecules, the DEHP and the ones they replaced them with, you would see how closely similar they are," Rossol says. "And yet since they have never been actually tested for long-term hazards, they can continue to label the product nontoxic."

So yes the companies ARE reformulating the polymer, but this person says what they are reformulating with is closely similar in chemical makeup to the original.

I visited Donna Kato's website this morning as well. Kato clay is NOT a brand I used...the brand I have been using is Sculpey III, and just recently I tried a little Fimo and Premo. I spotted this on Donna's site: "
Kato Polyclay has gone green! Tony reformulated our clay and removed the phthalates."

I have just written Donna to ask her about the safety of her clay and how the new chemical makeup compares to the old version, and to the other clay brands. It is possible I might be able to try her brand (with more precautions than I've used in the past, obviously). So I will wait to hear back from her about her product.

I really think these companies need to place appropriate warnings on the packages. I know when I first purchased polymer clay to try it, I thought it was totally safe, and especially since it was labeled "non toxic" and it appeared to be marketed to a children's audience. After my bout with E6000 years ago, I would have definitely heeded warnings/instructions about safety had they been on the package and I would have been working with it differently, which could have helped me avoid the issues I have been having recently and a high medical bill which I have no way to pay.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Update on poisoning....

In case you didn't see my original post, click here to read it.

I had originally thought my issues were probably mostly coming from the fumes of baking the polymer clay. However, I now think skin contact may be as equally important.

Last week, I didn't touch any clay, nor bake any. Last week, I finally felt better, and the weird feelings in my head (woozy/dizzy/etc) went away completely. By yesterday I felt completely normal for the first time in a month.

Then I decided to clean my studio and put all of my polymer clay away - giving me more workspace for my art supplies. I had several sheets and blocks of raw clay sitting on the work table, and I handled them briefly to put them away. I used diaper wipes to clean my hands immediately, scrubbed the entire work table with diaper wipes, and then washed my hands thoroughly. We are maybe talking 20 minutes of time to do all of this and I wasn't handling the clay except for only a few minutes to put it in the drawer.

I am sick again today....the woozy feeling is back and I actually felt it come on a little bit last night before I went to bed. It's still here and it's been over 24 hours since I handled the clay. I also have a metallic taste in my mouth (best way to describe it) which I have frequently when I am exposed to a chemical I'm sensitive to. I forgot to mention that as one of my symptoms in the post I made yesterday.

I had thought most of my issues were probably from fumes. Apparently it's not just the fumes. I looked back on the report I linked to yesterday and found this text in the report, which I think is important:

"Exposure Analysis
VPIRG commissioned the Environmental Quality Institute (EQI) at the University of North Carolina-Asheville to assess human exposure to phthalates when polymer clays are used according to packaging directions. Researchers at the lab, specializing in real-world environmental exposure assessment prepared and baked clay samples following the manufacturers’ directions, and measured releases of phthalates in the air and residues of phthalates on users’ hands.

The EQI lab found that, when prepared as directed, polymer clays could expose children and adults to significant concentrations of phthalates, including BBP, DnOP, and DnHP, from both handling the clays and breathing in air contaminated with phthalates during the baking process."

So apparently there are enough of the chemicals in the clay to cause problems from handling it as well. And I am experiencing effects from that today. :(


New Art: Hamster & Black Rooster

Here's two more ACEO's I finished yesterday.

Both of these are up for auction on Ebay this week only. I had hoped to get more done to take advantage of Ebay's listing sale, but this is all I got completed.

You can click here to bid on them or my other ACEO's I have listed.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

What does it feel like to be poisoned?

When I got sick this month, I very slightly questioned toxic poisoning. Why? Because it felt the same way it did many years ago, when I was poisoned by E6000 glue I was using for my jewelry creations. It felt *exactly* the same. I even told my husband that.

So why didn't it dawn on me BEFORE I went to the hospital 2 weeks ago? Probably because when you're poisoned by something so subtle, your can't think straight. Dizziness, nausea, passing out, numbness, tingling, all effects any aspect of clear thinking. And of course when you do go the hospital or doctor because you're freaking out thinking you're having a stroke or a heart attack (which is mainly caused from PANIC from not knowing what the hell is going on with you), you just don't think too clearly.

And when you're only using products which are labeled "Non Toxic", you think you're safe. Years ago when the E6000 poisoned me, I knew it was toxic. And my work space wasn't ventilated properly. A round of tests and several hundred dollars later, and the doctors couldn't find anything. Why? Because that kind of poisoning is so subtle, they can't see it on normal tests. I'm not really sure if they can see it on ANY tests.

It was thanks to the internet, some discussion with my jewelry supplier (Brenda Sue...B'Sue Boutiques...many of you know her) and her sharing her own experiences with me that let me know what had happened to me. I had been affected by poisoning from the glue, and I immediately had to stop using it. After about a year, I could use it again, but I had to be very careful.

So my original jewelry career was over, because it depended on the use of that glue (or other equally toxic ones) to make the things I was making. I had to switch gears and learn all new techniques and I had to be very careful to ensure I wouldn't end up exposed to other toxins. Since then, I've also became sensitive to things such as hair spray, glass cleaners, and perfumes.

A short time after that incident, I discovered polymer clay. The first thing I did was make sure it was non toxic. It was labeled as such. It didn't even have much of an odor, and didn't make fumes when baking in my convection oven (separate from my home oven and in a separate workspace in the basement). YES! I'd found a new - a SAFE - outlet for my creativity!

So when I got sick this past month, it didn't even dawn on me I'd been poisoned. As I said, I slightly entertained the thought, because it felt the way it did before. But everything I was using was labeled non-toxic and I didn't smell any fumes when baking the clay, so it couldn't be that. Think forward to last Saturday.

Last Saturday was the last time I have made anything using polymer clay. At that time, I was still suffering with the weird feeling in my head, some nausea, and some dizziness, but it had diminished considerably. Well I guess so, considering I'd been so sick and ended up at the hospital...I really didn't feel much like working on anything, so I was away from the clay. As soon as I felt a little better, I started working with the clay again...but the symptoms kept coming back.

So last Saturday, I finished up one piece of jewelry, and then I chose to do a color pencil painting. Actually, the original plan was to make some more jewelry, but this idea came into my mind to do this pinup style angel painting. I kept trying to avoid the idea, and even had gone into the studio and started working with the clay, but I kept mind kept returning to the angel idea. Finally I said OKAY, and I started the angel portrait, which I finished up on Sunday (see it here).

Sunday morning in church I had another incident with some dizziness...not as bad as the last time, but still not pleasant. I came home from church and finished my painting...and then went on to work on some small ACEO paintings the rest of this week.

Monday I was feeling better - I had no dizziness, but still had the weird feeling in my head. From Tuesday on, I have felt better, and the weird feeling, tingling in my legs, and numbness had all disappeared by Wednesday. Today, as I write this, I feel completely normal for the first time in a month.

Now there have been several suggestion as to what could have caused this...from menopause to a drop in blood sugar, to my vision issues (which are now corrected with glasses), to having too much caffeine, to this and to that. Even the doctor suggested it might be stress and psychological issues. Um yeah, I am under stress. Normally I can handle stress fine (although I do have the occasional panic attack). I have been taking serious measures to reduce the stress in my life, and it's very difficult, but I seriously doubted stress had caused all of this, especially since the feelings were still there when I was completely calm after days of feeling no stress.

So last night, it dawned on me...I haven't worked with polymer clay in a whole week. And I *NOW* feel completely normal. Hmmm. But it's non-toxic, I told myself. Or is it? Here's a link I found this morning with some important information, and it reaffirms my original thoughts about poisoning exactly:

Be sure to go down the the paragraph titled: The Poisoning of an Alaskan teacher

There is a link on that site to "view the full report. That PDF link didn't work for me, but the view HTML link does -- click here to see that.

I am aware the polymer clay companies have been reformulating their products (they have until 2009 to do this)...I learned of this a couple months ago and wondered why, as I had never had any problem with the clay. Well, I think I know the answer now.

In my bloodwork, it shows my neutrophils where high. I looked this up on the internet - notice what I have highlighted: Causes of neutrophilia: acute bacterial infection, inflammation, metabolic or chemical poisoning, acute hemorrhage, acute hemolysis, myeloproliferative diseases, tissue necrosis, early stages of some viral diseases.

Also, I'd like to note I have no other symptoms, do not have the flu, a cold, or any other visible illness. All the other tests at the hospital (EKG, CT Scan, doctor exam) came out normal and the doctor was not concerned at all, even with the nuetrophils being higher than they should on my bloodwork.

So in case you're wondering why I have returned to my color pencil art (I think that's pretty safe!), and why I plan on working in that field for a while, that is why. I am currently ceasing making any new jewelry. Like the e6000, I will probably have to stay away from the product for a while until I get less sensitive.

I'm almost positive it is the fumes (though I smell NONE) and it makes sense it would be the fumes, because recently when we had some nicer days, I opened the door in the studio to allow fresh air flow when I was working (which included during baking time). Since I've been keeping up with my health symptoms in case I had to return to a doctor, I noted on those 2 days I had the door open, I didn't feel strange. I can probably do that again, but I know from past experience, I need a TOTAL break to "clean out" my system, just like I had to do with the E6000.

Also, it could be contact with the skin...the product could be absorbed just enough by the skin when working with it to cause a problem. But I really feel it is most likely some fumes I am inhaling unknowingly (since I can't smell any fumes when baking). Especially since I wash my hands frequently while handling the clay. It was the same thing with was the fumes that caused my issues.

So since I don't want to feel sick, and since I don't relish the thought of passing out no matter where I'm at (the thought of it happening while driving scared me to death!), I think I'll stay away from the product for a while, and when I do use it again, I'll have to do something about ventilation.

Most "normal" people don't have a problem working with this product. I'm sure I am more sensitive due to the breakdown in my system from the E6000 incident. But just in case any of you have anything weird going's a list of what happened to me "symptom" wise and all of these things happened before when I was poisoned:

Nausea, dizziness, passing out, numbness in legs, weak/wobbly legs, feeling of being "off balance", tingling all over, tightness in head & cheeks, and chest pains (those last two could have been from panic...but I had them so I'm listing them). I also experienced extremely blurry vision - but I have been to the eye doctor since and gotten glasses. However, my prescription is very low, and I hardly doubt the need for these glasses would have cause the extreme blurry vision I had. Some - maybe yes. But to the extent it happened so strongly, I don't think so.

I'm glad to have narrowed down what was happening to me. Poisoning is such a sneaky thing! You never see it coming, and it's always something small and obvious --> but who's looking? We're having fun creating neat things from these products and we think because it says "non toxic", we're okay. I'm here to tell you --> even if it says non-toxic, even if you smell no fumes, don't get too comfortable with that, and still take appropriate precautions. Because I don't wish how I felt this past month on ANYONE.

Thanks to all of you who have been keeping in touch with me and checking on me during my period of illness. I appreciate each and every one of you! I think now I'll go pick up my color pencils and create something pretty. :)


P.S. Something pushed me STRONGLY last Saturday to put down the clay and do the angel painting...perhaps it was my own angel, looking after me? :)

P.S.S. My hospital bill for this is $1,073. That is *after* writing off $1610. There's no way I can pay that and I have no insurance. I'm going to contact them to see if they have assistance or a payment plan. All because something I thought was non-toxic was least not for me.

Friday, March 28, 2008

New Miniature Paintings: Golden Hamster & Lovebird

Here's two new mini paintings...a cute Golden Hamster and a gorgeous Lovebird. I think I'll call it a day now! PHEW!

Both of these are on Ebay for 5 days only....check them out:

Hamster & Lovebird

InJoy, Jai

New ACEO's: Cockatiel and Owl

Fresh from the studio! Two new original miniature art trading cards - a Cockatiel Portrait and an Owl. Both are on Ebay here.

Next up I'm working on a hamster portrait and a lovebird.

Hope you like them....:)


New ACEO art cards: Birds (Macaw, Sun Conure)....Eyes

This week I've been working on my art...I've completed 3 new ACEO art trading cards and I've put them on Ebay as they were having a listing sale. (99 cents, no reserve...check them out here!)

I had this "craving", I guess you might say, to do a piece of art where the subject was busting out of paper. So I did the Blue and Gold Macaw first.

And then to celebrate my new glasses and the fact I can see things a little better without so much strain, I did this second art card titled "Eye See You", with the same concept of busting out of the paper.

And thirdly, I completed a Sun Conure portrait. These will all be in my cafepress shop ( on products soon as well. But you can get the originals on auction this week only.

Hope you like them!

InJoy, Jai

Monday, March 24, 2008

EMERALD ANGEL Original CP Painting Pinup Style

Okay, I take back what I said last week about how I could paint tiny pictures on jewelry forever...I can't. Since I'm using color pencils on the jewelry, and I love doing color pencil paintings...I can't stick to just jewelry. This weekend proved that. The idea for this painting came to mind and I couldn't work on a piece of jewelry at all...I had to get my paper out for this one.
You're looking at a 9"x12" painting completed with Prismacolors on paper, titled "Emerald Angel". And yes, once again, my plan is to complete an angel for each of the birth months and create a calendar. It's been a dream of mine to do for many years, and I've started many themes/series, but just couldn't seem to stick with it. I guess because I didn't have the right idea.
Angels are perfect for me to do, because of my love of doing portrait work, as well as my love of creating bird art...I seem to have some talent for painting feathers. :)
The original painting, plus Emerald Angel products, are available for sale. I have put the original painting on Ebay for one week only - you can take your chances and bid on it here. If it doesn't sell this week on Ebay, it will only be available in my shop in the future.
InJoy, Jai

Friday, March 21, 2008

From birds to Frogs, Cats & Flowers!

I've decided something...I love painting little pictures on pendants. After I get my glasses, I'll be able to do sooooo many more of these! :)

I switched gears from birds and completed a tree frog (titled Climbing to the Top), a pair of plumeria flowers (titled Best Friends), and a Ragdoll Cat portrait pendant.

Considering I used the wrong kind of base clay and these were too smooth, and took FOREVER to complete, I think they turned out pretty good. My next round of pendants, however, will be created using the correct base clay (with more tooth for the Prismacolor pencils).

As I was doing these, I was thinking, I could literally stay in my studio the rest of my life making these little art gems, and I'd be extremely happy.

So what's next on the agenda...hmmm...I have no clue right now. My eyes are too tired to start anything new today - but tomorrow I should be raring to go. If you have suggestions on what subject you'd like to see on one of these pendants, leave me a comment and I'll see if I can do it.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Birds birds birds...I love 'em!

Here's some more pendants for the bird lovers! First up is a Blue and Gold Macaw portrait, and the second one is a Hyacinth Macaw.

I also have a tree frog on the workbench that is almost complete.

Hope you enjoy these.

InJoy, Jai

Scarlet Macaw Pendant

This little fella turned out SWEET! I love his rainbow colors. I also like the triangle pendant shape. The brass tube bail is adhered to the back and will hold most jewelry chains, wire, cord, etc. These pendants I'm working on now can also be hung by a ribbon or wire on the wall as miniature art for the home or office.

Today I'm working on a couple more birds...a Hyacinth Macaw and a Blue and Gold Macaw. I'm also working on a Ragdoll cat and a pair of Frangipani (Plumeria) flowers. I think they are so pretty!

Hopefully I'll have a couple more pendants finished by the end of the day. It depends on how my eyes hold out.

I went yesterday and ordered my glasses. I probably won't be able to get them until next Friday though.

InJoy, Jai

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Being dizzy won't get me's 2 new pendants!

I can honestly say it's been a helluva week...or almost two...actually. I've been having some health issues...specifically with dizziness and almost passing out. And just a general WEIRD feeling. I ended up in the ER on Saturday...they checked me out from top to bottom, including a CT scan, and everything was "normal". I left there with a recommendation to see an eye doctor and to get some help with getting my stress level down.

So yesterday I had my first ever eye doctor appointment. To say I was nervous was an understatement. I mean, I knew I'd have to go sooner or later...I've needed glasses for a year or so now and I was just putting it off. But the dizziness got me to go.

So I went, had my eyes dialated and all day yesterday I couldn't see worth a darn. And yes, I need glasses. The doc said he didn't think it was my eyes that was causing the constant, daily dizziness I've been having for almost 2 weeks though...he did say my eyes were extremely dry, which can cause me to be more sensitive to light...which can cause me to feel overstimulated, and THAT could cause the dizziness. He, also, suggested I get some "help" with my stress.

Well, I'm not a prescription med kind of person. Not that I wouldn't use it - but only if totally necessary. I have no insurance and no funds for expensive doctors and pills. So tonight I have a bottle of Kava Kava arriving...which is a wonderful herb to help with anxiety and stress. I used it during two other periods of stress in my life and it worked well...I hope it will this time too.

As for the eyes...I go tomorrow to pick out some frames. I had to borrow the money to pay the first half of the bill...and I'll have to come up with the other half by next week in order to actually get my glasses.

Surprisingly, I didn't get dizzy at the eye doctors and I've been feeling better since. He gave me drops for the dry eye, and this red eye I've had for a week and a half appears to be going away now.
I felt better today...actually I'm somewhat relieved there's no really serious condition. Not to say stress isn't serious, because it can kill you. But my heart is fine, my bloodwork is all good, and I have no odd things showing up in my head (well, I know some of you think that's debateable...:) ).
Since I felt better today, I decided to do some work. I made these two pendants. Both are Prismacolor color pencil on polymer clay. Considering what I've been going through, I'm surprised they turned out so well!

Well it's time to rest my eyes...just thought you all might enjoy seeing some new creations, since it's been a while.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Two more Jewels in PINK PURPLE & GREEN Polymer Clay

Using the INSPIRED pattern I created yesterday to match the inspiration photo of the purple flowers on the green background, I also produced this large oval hand woven pendant in brass. Despite the larger size, this piece is still very lightweight and easy to wear.

After completing the oval pendant, I got a wild hair with black clay, added some of the same coloring from the INSPIRED pattern of color...and ended up with this COOL abstract design I've titled "Pelican Dance"...very loose, freeform and it makes a powerful impact with the pop of color in the center of the black. After adding the largehand woven brass bail, it transformed the design into one with class and elegance.
Read more about these two designs on my website.
InJoy, Jai

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Today's jewelry project...COMPLETE

Today's project was to create a pendant with the colors in the inspiration photo - do you think I did? The pendant, titled Inspired, is shown on the photo to the left. Additional photos are shown below.

Materials used are Polymer Clay, Genuine Gold Leaf, and woven silver wire

Read more details about this pendant on my website.


Today's jewelry project...purple and green in silver

I managed to complete a setting in silver wire yesterday...and I was debating on what colors to set in the wire of this pendant. I saw this pretty photo of purple flowers against a green background, so I'm going to make a complimentary pendant with the same colors as this inspiration photo. Stay tuned! I'll post the piece later today after it's complete. :)

Monday, March 10, 2008

2 Much Sugar + Powerful Worship + Warm Day + Turtleneck Sweater =

= almost passed out.

Yep, that's what happened to me yesterday morning. I ate a cinnamon swirl with that really SWEET white icing before church...thought it was colder out than it was, so I wore a into the church and it was warm in the auditorium...and about 3 songs into the service, the room started swimming and I broke out in a cold sweat.

I knew I'd better exit fast and get outside, before I landed on the floor in front of an entire room full of people. (how EMBARRASSED I would have been!) One of the ladies out front came to check on me and she brought me some ice and water. It took about 15 minutes before I could go back in and I was still shaky. I'm still a little shaky today...must have been something powerful they put in that icing on those swirls!

So, I'm taking it easy, keeping ice water handy, staying AWAY from sugar and reading a book today. Hopefully I'll feel well enough tomorrow to get back in the studio.

In the meantime, I've put 3 of my new designs from my Elegance Collection up on here to see them.


P.S. All our snow I posted photos of the other day is GONE. :(

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Beautiful snow here in Jackson, TN and Max loves it!

The morning began at 5 am. Of course it was dark then, but Max wanted to go out anyway. I waited to take these photos later. As you can see, I made a note on the truck that we were out there at 5am.

After daylight, we went out again...Max is checking out his surroundings.

And now we go out front. Max really stands out in the white stuff! This is all new to him. He's 14 months old and never seen a "big" snow until now.

Ooohhh, the ice and snow has weighted down the bushes at the back of the driveway.

Max finally gets loose....this stuff is FUN!

And it tastes good too!

What was that? I know something moved under there!

Aha! I found a's a stick!

Ice Ice baby!

Anyone up for basketball?

And here comes the sun.

Beautiful...beautiful, quiet morning. Just the way I like it!

InJoy, Jai