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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Done Reading? IC 35: Book Finial

The challenge for this week on Iron Craft was to make something out of a book. I chose to make an ornament that aside from ripping off the covers left the book still legible (for a determined reader). I present the book finial.

I am confident you don't need a tutorial to make this project, but the camera was there so I took some shots and decided to write it up.

This is a very simple project. After you remove the front cover, each page in the book is folded in the same way.

Step 1. Fold the top right corner of the page into the binding of the book, making a right triangle.

It is just one big dog ear!

Step 2. Fold the folded edge of the triangle into the binding of the book. The bottom corner will hang below the bottom of the book.

Step 3. The the bottom edge of the folded page and bring it into the binding so that it lines up squarely with the center of the book.

Make a sharp crease for every fold and then move on to the next page.

You can see from this photo that as you get closer to the end of the book it gets a bit trickier to get the top folds tucked into the binding. It is possible to make it neat and pretty with a little patience. But in most cases it won't really affect the overall look of the finished finial.

These can be hung by threading rope through the spine and tying a knot to secure it below the book. They also look pretty cool used as fake finials on the mantel or in pots to look like topiaries. This one will likely find its way into my Halloween decorations.

No content of any book was harmed in the making of this craft. Should you choose to paint yours or use glue you will be on your own in any subsequent interactions with librarians.

Update: I always forget to add the link.... I'll do better in the future. You should go check out what the other Iron Crafters have produced in response to this week's challenge.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Niwot Ridge II

Hummingbirds dart around my head.

I told them I am not a flower,

But they insist on buzzing by

To see if my sweatshirt tastes like nectar

Niwot Ridge I

Early in the morning, I pick marsh marigolds in the wet meadow.

I find them between the streams that run through the grass.

A mule deer hides her nose close to the ground.

I wonder if she is looking for shooting stars

That fell here the night before.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Festival Day

Tired, sunburned and pretty darn happy. Here you can a little bit of the pirate encampment, including the CANON! In the background is the river back at flood stage. We had to cancel the paddle events but the festival and bike ride went on as scheduled.

I am always so busy on festival day that I usually don't even remember my camera. This time, I managed to take a few shots. Far too few to document the day.

Now I can get back to sewing and cooking.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

My Big Summer Project

Well, actually it is a project I work on all year, but it is complete in the summer. It is occupying all my time at the moment.

My ultimate summer craft involves a lot of people. There is music, food, beer, hands-on activities and much more.

Summer project central is being staffed here by my team and a few of the fantastic ladies who made the Sunlight Project Quilt you can see hanging near the back of the tent.

Here some of our young volunteers are getting a lesson on water quality testing. These fantastic kids are recruited through scout troops and the local schools. They spend the morning hefting and toting and putting up tents. Some of our fantastic stream monitoring volunteers then do a mini-workshop for the kids. It gives us real data on the state of the river and it helps many of the kids work toward merit badges.
And this is what it is all about. Lots of people paddling for clean water! The Race for the Rivers is at its heart a series of pledge-based canoe and kayak races to raise funds to support clean water education, restoration, research and recreation all year long. This year we are adding a couple bike rides to go along with the paddle events. Given the flooded state of the river, that is probably a good thing. We are still hopeful that we will be able to paddle but we've still got a lot of water to go before we are in the clear. **

** I started writing this a while ago and then got distracted. In the interim, we've had heavy rain up river causing more flooding. The paddle events have to be canceled, but the bike rides and festival will go on.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Voyageur Class

Voyageur Colter's Run

Designed by: Joseph Ringling
Built by: Joseph Ringling, Larry Hassel, Rami Ringling, Ian Miller, Theresa Miller, Sylvia Keller
Completed on July 4th, 2011

This is a handmade canoe built by a world record holding team. I haven't seen it in person yet, but from what I understand, this picture had to be taken of the front third of the boat. Fully loaded it has 14 people on board! It is 31 feet long and was named after John Colter, a member of the Lewis and Clark crew.

It will be competing in the Race for the Rivers next Saturday.

What an amazing DIY project.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Strange Winter

 Hello to visitors from Hand Made Parade.   I'm linking to this since it is one of my favorites and I don't have anything new to share with you this week.

Early in the summer I was asked to participate in a local group effort to make quilts for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative. These ladies have been making quilts to donate for this project and many others over the past few years. I was very excited that to have them include me.

It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to make for my little quilt. I looked at pages of past quilt donations and current quilts for sale, trying to get a sense for the project. The diversity is incredible. There is no standard Alzheimer's Art Quilt. They are simple, complex, traditional, modern, art, disease related, seasonal, you name it.

I've read a lot about the disease and have peripheral knowledge of folks affected by it. I haven't had to confront it in a personal manner. In thinking about it and how it seems to affect people I kept coming back to two ideas. It mostly affects people who are in what is sometimes referred to as the winter season of their lives. The disease seems to wipe away the form and structure of their lives. I kept picturing a strange winter where the beautiful patterns of life drift off into formless static. That is what I tried to represent with my little quilt.

I have been working on it off and on all summer. The deadline was the fourth Monday of July. It turns out that a few others were not quite ready then either. So I still have a chance. It still needs to be washed and dried. I am waiting to hear if I am to put a label on the back and what it should say. And then there is the form to fill out to go with the submission. But I can get that done now. The hard part was getting it finished.

It languished away in my portable projects bag waiting for me to finish the binding. I started with a solid blue, but the fabric wouldn't cooperate and the quilt didn't like it so I kept putting it off. Thanks to a little incentive from this week's Iron Craft Challenge, Finish a UFO, I went to my stash and found a nicer fabric. From there it was a simple matter to finish up.

The details. The quilt measures 10 x 7.5 inches. It is made of muslin and quilter's cotton. The piece is hand embroidered and hand quilted with an assortment of quilting threads and pearl cotton.

Update: Tossing this one in at the end. The colors are all wackadoodle because I was trying to get a decent picture of mostly white quilt. I'm putting it here because is shows the stitching and illustrations some of the transition between the swirls and the static.

A Summer Visitor

The Mr was out snapping pictures of our little summer visitors. I'll just 'borrow' one to share with you today.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Make It Up to Use It Up: Tilapia and Squash

We are on a budget here. I need to find ways to make dinner interesting while using the things that we have available. I've run out of a lot of our usual funky staples so I am reaching further back into the spice cabinet. Today I turned up a bottle of Penzys Trinidad-Style Lemon-Garlic Marinade. I got a bargain price on tilapia filets and had a funky heirloom squash that I had been given by a gardener friend. It seemed I had the beginnings of a dinner.

So.... I started a pot of rice.... 2 cups of water, a bit of chicken soup base, some Penzys lemon peel and a bunch of the Trinidad seasoning. Bring to a boil. Add 1 cup of rice. Turn down to almost off and let sit until dinner is ready.

One garden fresh tomato chopped small.
1/2 medium yellow onion chopped small
Small handful of shredded carrots
About 2 cups of funky heirloom squash peeled, chopped and steamed for two minutes in the microwave.
1/2 small green pepper chopped small.
1 ear cooked sweet corn cut from the cob

Melt one Tbsp butter and pour into baking dish. Add about 1 Tbsp olive oil. Stir in at least 1 tsp of Trinidad Seasoning and 3 - 4 cloves crushed garlic. Toss the vegetables in the sauce.

It was at about this point that one of the spuds came wondering through and asked what was for dinner. I said I wasn't really sure. He then asked what I was cooking. I said tilapia and rice. He took one look at the squash, he sighed and politely wondered off. It was clear he had very low expectations for dinner this evening.

Put the fish on top. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle with a bit more of the spice mix. (Next time, I would dip the fish in the oil/butter mix before I added the vegetables.)

Bake at 375 degrees fahrenheit for 20 - 30 minutes until the fish is opaque and flaky. Serve over rice.

The less than enthusiastic spud was half-way through his plate when he popped up with "this is the best squash I've ever had". They emptied the dish in short order and it really was quite tasty.

The other comments, it is a bit dry to put over rice. It needs more sauce. I'm not sure how to get more sauce out of it, but I will think about it and let you know if I come up with something. In the meantime I have the rest of the funky heirloom squash to peel, chop, blanch and freeze so we can try this again. I am pretty confident it is going to be difficult to get my hands on that again.

*As a disclaimer, I have no connection to Penzys although from the looks of my spice cupboard it seems clear I've done my best to buy the boss man a new Mercedes.

Spicey Mussels

Re-posted here as part of my ongoing efforts to collect my recipes from over the river and through the internets into one place.

Every now and then I want something tasty, spicy, seafoody and EASY. This cooking guide (I’ve given up on the term recipe for the moment) meets all of those requirements.

In a covered skillet saute garlic (as many cloves as you can stand although I usually use two) and onion (diced very fine only if you want) in a small amount of olive oil or butter.

Once the garlic is soft but not brown add very dry sherry (or whatever white wine you cook with) to deglaze the pan. (I probably add about a quarter to a half cup)

Add one small can of tomato sauce. (The best tasting brand you can afford.)
Add a dash (or two or three) of red pepper flakes. (Make is as spicy as you want. Use whatever heat source you want. I prefer the red pepper flakes from a local Italian grocery because I like to pretend that this is an Italian dish.)

If you are a make-ahead kind of person you can stop here. Let it simmer on the stove or cool and store it.

Just before you are ready to serve heat the sauce in the skillet (which has a lid). Add the mussels. (J use frozen mussels because I don’t like having to debeard them. Tragic, I know, but then I live far far away from any coast. Fresh seafood is a joke this far inland. Using the frozen version allows me to pretend that I am having a treat.)

Cover and simmer for six to ten minutes. (Talk to your fish monger, or go read all about preparing seafood on an extension service website. Make sure that you follow safe handling practices and don’t just rely on some goofball on the web to insure your good health!) You can add other seafood if you like but pay attention to proper cooking times for whatever you add.

Throw away any mussels that do not open.

Throw away any mussels that do not open. Did I Say that already? It is important.

These can be served as is with a great crusty bread to soak up the cooking liquid. Or it can be served over pasta.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Working on Something Special

Posting is going to be light(er) over the next few days. I am working on a project that I hope you will like. Here is a hint...
If you stalk me on craftster or flickr you have already seen this project in its completed and gifted form.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011

College Prep

Getting Boy Blacksmith ready for college... it is amazing how many details must be considered... and considered... and considered.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sunpainting: Mulberry Shirt

Earlier today I was experimenting with a new sunpaint design using mulberry leaves.

I posted this picture earlier. It is a close up of one of the leaves on the shirt. The glass beads are just there to help hold the leaf in place.

Here is a picture of the same section of the shirt after everything has dried. You can see that the paint has moved around and that there is a light impression of the leaf left behind.

Here is another leaf sitting next to where it was positioned. You can clearly see this leaf has left a much better impression than the one above. It is all part of the random nature of sunpainting.

I'm repeating this picture so you can see how the paint moves. It has already started in the lower part of the picture.

Here is a picture of the shirt once everything has dried and the leaves have been taken off. I did not put any leaves over the berries on purpose. Once the fabric was dry, I over-painted the 'mulberries' with a dry brush. I really wanted them to look more like berries than they did. That is why the purple spots have more structure than the green. I have been doing this a bit more lately as I have been trying to understand how to control the process and how to back fill when it doesn't come out exactly the way I like.

I was trying to get a few last pictures in in the poor light this evening. This one doesn't show the colors very well but it gives you an idea of what the back of the shirt looks like. I let the backs get through painted as part of the process. It is easier than trying to keep it unpainted and people seem to prefer them this way. It is a softer impression of the imagery on the front. Sometimes the impressions will transfer all the way through. They didn't on this particular shirt.

I am going to try this again. The next time, I am not going to do an allover pattern. I am going to try and 'drape' the paint over the shoulder so it looks more like a branch loaded with mulberries. I'll let you know how that works.

IC32 Summer Contest: SUNPAINT

Sunpainting has to be one of the few crafts that is mostly limited to summer. At least around here. We have a sunpainting season that begins in May and is mostly over by the end of August. It is too cool and there aren't enough leaves before May and the leaves are mostly old and too brittle after the dry weather hits in August. So we paint while the sun shines.

The picture above is a close up of a new design I am trying. If it works, it will be called mulberry. Mulberry, because the leaves I am using are from the Mulberry tree. The glass beads are just there to hold the leaf tight against the fabric. Mulberry leaves are particularly nice to work with because they wilt into the fabric and form a tight bond that leaves a clear impression. The picture above is the whole shirt laid out drying. I said this would be a new design if it works because you really can never tell what is going to happen when you sun paint. I think I will try to paint more leaf-ish shapes with the green rather than go with the splatter paint I used this time. I like how the mulberries look before the paint moves. Since it is drying as I type, I will have to post an update to show you what it looks like in the end.

To be perfectly obvious, we have developed a number of techniques that allow us to sunpaint all year round. The biggest improvement is hand cutting stencils out of thin plastic. The orange and yellow shirts are an attempt to up-size a design that works well on onsie's. Big people all say they want to have one in their size. I don't think I quite have it figured out yet, but I've got a few more ideas before I give up on it.

Kokopelli and the petroglyphs is design I make quite often. You can see the whole shirt below. I use salt and some fine lines to try and make the shirt look like a canyon wall. These are fun to do.

This little scottie dog is another favorite on kids shirts. I used him here as a back detail on the shirt below. The scottie dogs on the front are much larger than this

This is the front of the Scottie dog shirt. I painted the plaid on in mostly straight lines. The paint moves however it wants to. In this case it flowed around the stencils. I also didn't go back and 'straighten' the lines. I may dry paint over it a bit before I finish it.

This is a detail of another one of my winter designs. You can see the whole shirt below. It is laying on the stack of shirts I have made over the past couple days.

Submitted as my entry for the Iron Craft 32 Summer Contest

All of the shirts are upcycled either collected at thrift stores or donated by friends and family. These particular shirts still have to be heat set, washed and ironed.

I've added some more pictures of the mulberry shirt here.

Kitchen Tip: Going from TOO Spicy to Edible

Re-posted here in an effort to gather my recipes from the far reaches of the intertubes and to save the stew for human consumption!

The company had arrived. I’d spent too much on the seafood. The first taste of the broth was about to occur. Mr-why-are-you-bothering-me-I-don’t-know-how-to-cook did the honors. Have you ever seen that twisted up Calvin face on an adult? Mr-I-love-it-spicy-ignore-the-face-sweats ran for the vodka. At least that was what he grabbed. I’m not sure he could see straight enough to know which bottle was in his hand. If you wanted to say that the broth was too hot you would be close to correct.

What to do? What to do?

Better living through chemistry. Capsaicin is a molecule that is fat and alcohol soluble. I could add more wine or the rest of that bottle of vodka, but it would not be able to separate the alcohol and the capsaicin.

So… I started with the bottle of olive oil. I added about half a cup of it to the soup and stirred it through. I let it simmer for a bit and stirred some more. Once it settled out, the olive oil floated to the top and was easily skimmed off.

I was now left with two dishes. A small amount of fiery red oil and a big pot of broth. Now capsaicin is colorless, odorless, and flavorless. So the red in the oil came from some pigments in the peppers or tomatoes. A tiny taste of the oil revealed that it was about as fiery hot as the color advertised it to be. Even in the oil, it hit the back of the throat and burned.

The soup was a different story. It still retained some heat but it was compatible with the seafood added at the last minute. A couple of the spice-heads at the table added ancho powder, but the main pot was salvaged from certain disaster.

Much as I hate to say it what I learned in chemistry does apply to real life. Thanks Dr. B wherever you are.

Want to know more? Learn about the scovill test. A beautiful picture guide to peppers. How it affects nerve cells. (Student work so read skeptically.) What you need to know about topical application of capsaicin. Get the T-shirt.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Watching Paint Dry.

I am working as fast as I can to make some additional stock for an upcoming festival.

Fast isn't very fast when the bulk of your work time is watching paint dry. No really. When you sunpaint, you paint fast, add your stencils faster and then watch the paint dry. You never know what you are going to end up with until it is completely dry. Even if you pick everything up while it is still damp, you don't know what you have because the paint will continue to move and change until it is dry. But this is an aside to what I really want to talk about.

My market research specialist, boy blacksmith who complains that our upcycle process never has the right things in the right sizes, keeps telling me I need to make the onesie designs in big people sizes. But the tiny stencils won't make an impression on the big shirts.

I really don't feel like re-drawing everything and re-cutting it all. So I figured I could scan it in, blow it up, trace it out and cut. Of course using the scanner requires other people to find the critical connecting piece parts. That could take longer than waiting for the paint to dry.

So, I grabbed the digital camera. I've managed to master taking adequate pictures, cropping, resizing, cutting, pasting and printing all on my own. I snagged a couple shots of the most popular kid stencils, blew them up, traced them and cut them out. Now I have some, hopefully good, big people shirts with little people stencils drying and plenty of time to make some big stencils.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


I am going to have to try some of the popsicle recipes collected by Beth Sweet over at Lark Crafts. I am still working on what do do for my ultimate summer craft project. Wish I had planted sweet corn and tomatoes earlier in the year. That would make for a great summer project.

Variations on a Theme: Pine Branch

I used to have a great photo editing program that let me do all sorts of crazy things to pictures. I understood it. It understood me. I didn't upgrade. It isn't supported. I'm sad. Here is one set of altered images based on a poor, blurry picture of pines. I played with the tools getting more and more abstract as I went along. It was fun.