Wednesday, July 15, 2009

After the great escape...

After our outdoor adventure I came home to find about 20 cucumbers ready to be used. I ate two while I was watering then showed my husband the rest.

He decided that we should make a crock of pickles, so we are giving it a go. It smells like pickles... I put my finger in and tasted it.. tastes like a pickle brine.

It has to ferment now for 3 weeks, then to the jars.

The garden was prolific in the three days we were gone, I made a Mexican dinner with the Passilla peppers, squash blossoms and cilantro.
I broil the peppers to remove the skins, place a small bit of colby jack inside, place in an oiled pan. Place the squash flowers on top, salt and pepper. Add a mixture of two eggs and a bit of sour cream that has been whipped up, pour over the top and bake until it is puffy and golden, 20 minuets or so.
We love it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

We Escaped!

We escaped our pampered city life and found our way to the Sierra Nevada National Forest. Lucky us, we found a perfect spot right by a stream and set up our pop-up.

We so needed this, we used to go camping every weekend of the summer, we just don't have time to camp like that anymore. It is so refreshing to just enjoy the fresh air, get up when its cold and damp, make coffee outside, you understand.

We took the our daughter, kayaks, the dog, a map and some crafts.. No, I can't leave home without them.

We drove all around the area, and found this old cabin. This is near Loney Meadow, where a family has had cattle grazing since the 1860's. The meadow was named for a family named Loney, so I'm guessing this may have been theirs.
wild speculation really.

The plant life was
amazing, many wonderful flowers. The one on the left here was 4-5 feet tall and everywhere in the swampy meadow. I believe it is called Miniature Gila lily
Lexi took the kayak across Lindsey Lake, shot the lake photo as she climbed up the hill to a waterfall.

We where walking the pathway at the far end, getting our dog Titan worn out so we could also take the Kayaks out.
He is a very large dog, but we wish he could ride in the tiny cargo area in the rear of the kayak... we tried to get him to ride there. He looked hilarious sitting there, and he was good for a little while. A very little while, about 2 minuets, but about 20 feet from shore he freaked out and jumped out.
So then we decided to walk him.

I'm so glad we bought these kayak's , they are so much fun and you can just zip across a lake to some secluded place. And claim it for your own for a while.
I can't wait to go back.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Bird Tutorial, Part 3

This is part 3 of a three part tutorial, chick here for part 1 , or here for part 2.

So your bird is now dry and ready to be brought to life. You need to fill him. Use fiberfill, wool, cotton or whatever you have around that will do the job. When I put stuffing into small areas such as a beak or in a head I use a wooden pencil with an eraser, the pointy end is useful for getting small fluffs of stuffing into tight areas. The eraser end has a bit of grip and is also good for getting the stuffing to move where you want it.

When stuffing the beak, use small amounts at first so you don't create a lump.

Fill the body and leave the hole at the bottom open. This is a good time to add a heart to the inside or anything else you may want in there.. lavender petals.. whatever.

Making the wings, go through your fibers and pick an assortment of yarns, fabric scraps etc that match your bird. Or if the tail on your bird needs trimming use the trimmed off bits to create wings.

I cut little bits of colored yarns and scraps making two piles, one for each wing. I then sew them on.

If the wing is not pleasing for me to look at
I add embroidery or in the case of this green bird I added matching green wool and needle felted it along the top edge of the wing.

Now we will form the wire feet. pick a wire that is about 24g or somewhat sturdy, cut off a piece at least 36 inches long.

Fold it in half, and then hold it up against the bird breast area, make a bend about a thumb length or the length of the breast, down.

This will be the part that is inserted into the bird to add stability, so don't be stingy with the length of the interior wire. It should reach well into the bird.

When creating the feet I find it best to fold both sides of the wire at the same time so the feet are the same size.

From your first bend travel down the wire and place a bend where you think your birds ankle would be. Then out to the middle toe, on my birds this is also the longest toe.

Bend the wire back to the rear claw, then out to a second toe.

Leave the excess wire hanging for now and twist the first two toes and rear claw. If all looks good create the last toe and wrap the remaining wire around and back up the leg to add strength.

Insert your new wire legs into the bird body, if for some reason the hole where you stuffed you bird is not in the correct place for the legs cut a slit about an inch long where you want your legs to stick out from and insert them in at that spot. I push the wire up inside right along the chest area, you can feel it from the outside. Use your thumb to make room in there if you need to. Add stuffing to fill in hollows.
To close the holes I use the same color wool I used on the belly in Part one when I was wet felting. So use a matching wool and needle felt the holes shut. Needle up and around the leg wire that is inside the chest as well, this helps hold it in place. You can and should do this from the outside, careful not to stab the wire or you will end up with a broken needle in your bird.
This ends our tutorial, it up to your imagination to enhance the bird from here.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wet felting a Bird with a Resist Part 2

Hello, If you landed on this page and have not completed the first tutorial please click here...

After your initial felting with the sander or by rubbing with bubble wrap. Pinch the fiber and pull up, if it is all sticking together and starting to felt you can remove the resist. If not rub and felt some more.
Remove your resist, I do it from the bottom of the belly, later I can use this opening to house the leg wires.
Pull the resist out of your bird. Now put your hand or fingers into the bird and work the belly and the back, the parts that were the edge of the resist.
Also poke your finger all the way to the beak and work that. I will also roll the beak like I am making a clay rope, this helps toughen it and makes it pointy.
Be certain to pull open the inside of your bird especially the head, so it does not felt flat. Check and recheck the head, it can really shrink up if your not careful. I tend to work the body more than the tail, the body needs to be stiffer. The tail looks nice when it is still a bit soft.
I roll the bird in my hands,to help the felting process. I do this for a few minuets, stopping to open it up, rubbing or rolling just parts I want to shrink such as the neck or beak. If the beak is to long or unshapely, just trim and roll in your palms to heal the cut.
Now it is time to go to the sink or water source. I alternate between hot and cold water roll and massage while removing the soap.
Open it up and pull it into it's 3-d shape, concentrate on the shaping. If something is to big use a washboard ( or something with ridges)to rub the spot. That will shrink it fast. After all the soap is removed and you have checked its form, Roll it in a dry towel and squeeze out the remaining water.
I then lay my felt in the sun to dry, or if it is winter I put it in the oven for a while. I do not have tons of patience when I'm crafting, I want to work until my project is done. Waiting for wool to dry is boring.
Here ends part 2.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Making a Bird Using a Resist.

This project assumes you have some experience in wet felting as well as perfunctory knowledge in using a resist.

The first thing is to design your resist. I draw what I imagine my 2-D design to look like, then I add 25% . After that I add another 15-20% to the parts I would like to be fat after the felting is done and my creation is stuffed. So on the picture to the left I added to the belly the back and around the head and beak. The reason in the whole thing will be shrinking and we don't want our creation to look gaunt or skinny.

I then cut it from paper and use a plastic bag such as a grocery sack or Saranwrap to wrap it thoroughly. I run it through the sewing machine to tack down the edges.

This method the resist is not waterproof, but it works for me. Please note my resist is missing a tail area, I will later make up for this blunder with a triangle section of bubble wrap.

Choose your colors, silks, and fibers you wish to embellish with. I used silk scraps and yarns which I will be cutting into long thin "feathers". I also have picked a variety of wool roving's.

Place your resist under the bubble wrap or plastic sheet so you can see it.

Begin to pull small wispy amounts of roving and color your bird. I like to layer colors in cascading colors so you can really see a fade of color from the belly to the back.

As you lay the body color be certain to make a number of layers and fill in any thin spots. The beak is easiest if you pull small wispy bits and place them vertical to the tip then add a thicker bit horizontal . This will wrap better in a later step.

Another thing you will want to note is that on this side you are laying colors in the reverse order you will be laying them when we cover the resist and create the other side of the bird. The first layer of this side is the outside layer of your finished bird. I keep notes if my layout becomes elaborate.

To do the tail, I fist lay down a bit of colored roving, I leave many gaps so the fibers and silk can really mesh and nuno through here. After I lay the wool I lay the silks, yarns and fibers, then another layer of wool bits just as you see in the photo. Tufts here and there overlapping thinly. Basically just enough to catch the silk.
Now when you are ready to call this side finished gently spray your wool layout with soapy water. I don't bother with hot water, mine is room temp and it is just 1/2 tsp ivory liquid soap and water.
Spraying will make it easier to wrap it over the resist.

Gently pull your resist out from under the plastic and place it on top of your arranged out wool.

Mist the bare resist as well as the surrounding wool. Gently pull the wool over the resist, add a triangular piece of plastic to the tail area to keep the sides from felting together. (or you could have designed your resist so this was not a problem, I did not. )

Now in reversing order layer the colors so your bird is the same color on either side. On this side the first colors you lay are the last colors from the other side, the colors from the inside of the bird.

When your resist is covered and you are ready to felt mist your project.

I used bubble wrap over the top to jiggle it gently just to set the water and the wool so I can flip it.

Flip it over and wrap the wool that is hanging over the edges onto the other side. Check for thin spots, fill them in if you need to.

Now spray your project until is is good and wet.

You can proceed to felting using either bubble wrap and screen , rubbing gently at first then felting and forming.

Or you can use a sander. I have a little Black and Decker with a Velcro bottom cover with a bit of vinyl so it does not snag. I set that on first the beak area, then move it down the body. I leave in motion on each section about 15 -20 seconds.

Flip the bird and repeat from beak to tail.

To continue the tutorial ... Part two

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Growing Agriculture In Your LIttle Space on Earth.

First off I"m not one to spout moral authority, but some things I am passionate about enough to tell the masses ( or the 12 people who might read my blog).

It is my factual opinion, ( George Carlin would have loved that) that everyone should attempt to grow some of what they eat. If every neighborhood was lined with nut trees, fruit trees, the knolls growing squash, nasturtiums, onions... so on and so on, Our communities would become closer. We would know our neighbors better, hunger could be eliminated or substantially reduced. After all a couple zucchini plants can supply a whole cul-de-sac at its peak.
By growing and sharing you become more harmonious, there is great satisfaction in looking around your garden and seeing strawberries that will be in your Margarita later, or tomato's and cucumbers for the salad you are going to have at dinner.

By growing and filling your space you will invite in wildlife, providing local birds with food from insects or seeds. Plants clean the air, they can be lovely to look at. Here where I live they help keep the yard cooler.

You do not need to be confined to a garden plot to grow food. Garden vegetable plants can be very lovely. An Artichoke has a wonderful silver foliage. They do best in mild temperatures but my brother's family grew them in Livingston Montana in one season, from seeds no less and had a decent crop. You can grow lettuce, in between violets, onions and nasturtiums. All of which are wonderful to look at as well as yummy to eat.

Another awesome thing about growing is you can just plant that gruesome sweet potato from the pantry when it begins to spout leaves... and 3 months later your crop will come in.
Another added benefit to growing and intermingling your plants is that in nature plants are intermingled. By mimicking natural planting, you will deter a horde of plant eating bugs, or plant disease. They may eat one or two here and there, but by not providing a whole crop in one place the bugs or disease will not spread to all the local plants.

Friday, July 3, 2009

My how time flies in the warm summer months.

Hello to all my friends out there, I miss being able to sit down at my PC and peruse all the art and blogs as I did in the spring and winter months.

My job is booming, I bet I could just work 24/7 if I did not put my foot down.

My daughter is on the Gator's swim team, and doing well! We have a swim meet every weekend on Saturday. We have to be there ready to swim by 7AM... arggg I want to sleep in till at least 7am. Alas t'is not gunna happen :)

We bought ourselves a couple of Kayaks.. wowza they are SO much fun. So we have been carving out a few hours a day about 3 times a week to run down to Lake Natomas and kayak about.

Now you might be seeing why I have no time to dilly dally.. I'm a busy momma.

In June my husband and I went to the Dominican Republic for about a week. It was gorgeous and wonderful. Blue oceans, tropical breezes and thunderstorms. Banana flowers, parrots, white sand.... ahhh what a wonderful time we had.

Don't think my poor child was at home being watched over and wishing she were there.. She was on her 8Th grade trip to Washington DC. They literally toured all the sites non-stop for 6 days. She slept for 16 hours when she got home.

While I have not been doing much art, I have been gathering inspirations all over the world. I am particular to birds and have 3 in the works. I am excited to share them with you. Hopefully next week I will have time.
Also while in the DR I found they have a mineral found only there in a 1 km area, called Larimar. I bought a fair amount to make into some jewelry.. it is a very pretty stone. It is a very light turquoise, like the Caribbean ocean.
Also Happy July 4th!! We are off to the bay area, for parting with family, and blasting off fireworks! ( we are just watching someone else blast them off )