Tuesday, October 11, 2011

!Brrring me a Pump Kin!

I MISS having gigantic pumpkins to carve. And little ones too.  
S i g h ....even a big gourd would be good.

Monday, June 6, 2011

101 BRILLIANT things to do with coffee filters

I promise not to do this often, really I promise to post some more fun stuff soon but meanwhile check it out -  bet there are some ideas you'll use too! (and watch for the next 101: WD40. <3)
    *Note- don't try to use the same filter for all these things. Especially not #6 & #13, or # 16 & #17.
Not that you would, I'm just saying...*
1. Cover bowls or dishes when cooking in the microwave. Coffee filters make great spatter-catchers.
2. Clean windows, mirrors, and chrome... Coffee filters are lint-free so they'll leave windows sparkling.
3. Protect China by separating your good dishes with a coffee filter between each dish.
4. Filter broken cork from wine. If you break the cork when opening a wine bottle, filter the wine through a coffee filter.

5. Protect a cast-iron skillet. Place a coffee filter in the skillet to absorb moisture and prevent rust.
6. Apply shoe polish. Ball up a lint-free coffee filter.
7. Recycle frying oil. After frying, strain oil through a sieve lined with a coffee filter.
8. Weigh chopped foods. Place chopped ingredients in a coffee filter on a kitchen scale.
9. Hold tacos. Coffee filters make convenient wrappers for messy foods.   !?
10. Stop the soil from leaking out of a plant pot. Line a plant pot with a coffee filter to prevent the soil from going through the drainage holes.

11. Prevent a Popsicle from dripping. Poke one or two holes as needed in a coffee filter.

12. Do you think we used expensive strips to wax eyebrows? Use strips of coffee filters.
13. Put a few in a plate and put your fried bacon, French fries, chicken fingers, etc on them. It soaks out all the grease.
14. Keep in the bathroom. They make great "razor nick fixers."

15. As a sewing backing. Use a filter as an easy-to-tear backing for embroidering or appliqueing soft fabrics.

16. Put baking soda into a coffee filter and insert into shoes or a closet to absorb or prevent odors.
17. Use them to strain soup stock and to tie fresh herbs in to put in soups and stews.

18. Use a coffee filter to prevent spilling when you add fluids to your car.
19. Use them as a spoon rest while cooking and clean up small counter spills.

20. Can use to hold dry ingredients when baking or when cutting a piece of fruit or veggies.
21. Use them to wrap Christmas ornaments for storage.

22. Use them to remove fingernail polish when out of cotton balls.

23. Use them to sprout seeds. Simply dampen the coffee filter, place seeds inside, fold it and place it into a plastic baggie until they sprout.

24. Use coffee filters as blotting paper for pressed flowers. Place the flowers between two coffee filters and put the coffee filters in phone book..

25. Use as a disposable "snack bowl" for popcorn, chips, etc.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

!Instant Happy Notes! Plantable seed cards

Easy and quick to make
Delightful to give or recieve
all kinds of Instant Happy!
Dancing Butterflies

Create unique cards or gift tags for any occasion. 

I used up the backs of random cards in my paper-stash. It's a great way to cull your stash to good purpose! Shown are about 3" x 3".

We used  seed-embedded butterflies, dragonflies or hearts because they all fold neatly along a center line and pop off the page. And? Because we love the idea of gifting a garden!
Alternatively, outline and cut simple shapes from glossy magazines. They won't be plantable but they will be bright and delightful. The glossy contrasting texture really POPs...and your image choice may, also.

*CARDSTOCK.  great with construction paper. or cull your paperfiles. Size may vary, depending on what you are starting with. Use up scrap papers from other projects!We recycled the blank back page of not-so-wonderful experimental cards, or those that were torn up for other collage pieces or had their fronts-only used for postcards.

*GLUE  Use any fabric or paper glue. We love white glue and don't mind that it doesn't set instantly.

*PEN   Recommend felt tip or sharpy (Strong and colorful, dot's why.)   Draw the antennae and the wandering flight path

*BIFOLD PAPERCUT - (No, not that kind of paper cut,ew.)We used the seed-embedded die cuts .
They come with little planting labels to put inside your card or attach to the back face. Non-seed paper works too; the plantable part is just a fun bonus.
If you are making your own flying pop-offs, DO create a more eye-catching design by working with a strong contrast of COLOR and  TEXTURE between the card stock and the embellishment. Er, embellishments. See "Warning" below.

1. Cut your cardstock to size.   If you don't have die-cuts, now is the time to cut some.

2.   Score a center fold line on your cardstock, using a ruler and bone folder for precision.
     If you want to make gift tags instead of folding cards, simply cut instead of score so you end up with 2 flat cards. Use a hole punch in one corner for attaching a ribbon later.  In either case,  once this step is done, set the complete pile to one side of your work area in easy reach.

3. Use the ruler and bone folder to score TWO fold lines, 1/8" apart, down the center of each pop-off, and fold the wingtips up towards each other along the fold lines. Set this stack to the other side of your work area.

           Keep the glue, the pen, and the bone folder handy.  OK to lose the ruler now ;)

4. Take one folder, one pen, one pop-off.
  Position the popoff  where you like it on the card, then pen the antennae and flight path in line with it. 
  Flip the pop-off over and on the underside, draw a bead of glue down the center. Set it back in position on your card, lined up.
   Press firmly/gently down this line with the bone folder to ensure good contact, then set aside to dry.

5. Repeat Step 4 until you run out of materials, space and/or time. 
 <VOICE of MOM  "Make at least ten, since you've gone to all the trouble of setting things up!"
 You can continue to embellish these in any way you like. Add decorative collage elements to use up your tiny scraps - fabric, paper, beads, ribbon
...a word of WARNING here. AHEM...
I have a couple of transparent egg cartons full of these kindza small decorative bits, making it way too handy. Too handy because once you get into decorating each card, you start having way too much fun for this to qualify as Instant anymore. You can too easily lose a whole afternoon, to the amusement (or annoyance) of your near and dear.          Just saying.

The Post Office will be closing soon, and I also want to get more painting time on the folding screen. (Next post...)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pysanky for Eoster

Prepared jars of egg dye, sitting on the familiar metal tray known to the industry as a "Cookie Sheet".
It doesn't really look much like a cookie, does it, nor a sheet... Oh well,there it is. We highly recommend keeping several of these multi-purpose trays available at all times.

We haven't played with egg dyes for ages, so decided to keep it simple. Following one of the simpler patterns, we chose four basic colors:
Yellow, Green,Orange, and Deep Red.
Pour 1.25 cups of boiling water over the dye powder, then add a Tablespoon of white vinegar. Exception that proves the rule ~ ORANGE.  And that strangeness with orange continued...
Good idea to do this right over the tray, since the dye (did we mention yet) is vibrant and rather insistently persistent. Wash splashes promptly.

We recommend that you use a short candle, set close to the wax and the working egg. This minimizes reaching. Which minimizes the chances of catching your beaded sleeves on fire...&/or getting more wax on the work surface than on y'egg...also makes it easier to keep the KITSKY hot and the wax nice and liquid-y.
Those kitskies, oh my! Like tiny batik tools - !eee, doll-ized tjap or tjanting! and they come in different spout sizes marked by different colors marking the handles.

 There are patterns in books and online for the million and one traditional motifs. Many come with the dye sequence, too. Keep a page near for reference while you work.

Grateful for Rubber bands ~  L'attitude. & L'ongitude.
For nice clean lines that meet on the other side of the globe, use a rubber band and trace the line lightly with a pencil. Light lines basically disappear by the end of the process.  Use them as pattern lines or reference, as you develop the design.
Take your time heating the tool in the column of hot air just above the flame. Then touch the lip of the little kitsky cup to the edge of the wax block. If the metal tool is hot, the wax will immediately liquify and run clear as water to fill the cup. Write On!  It's amazing how much coverage one tiny cup of liquid was gives.
Common Problems /Solutions 
If your wax line starts to skip:
1. You needs a wax refill.  **!LEAST LIKELY!**
2. You need to reheat the tool so the wax will flow better.   **PROBABLE**
3. If  #2 doesn't work and the cup is full of wax, you may need to take a hot needle and run it through the tiny spout several times. The spout clogs up over time with the tiny soot particles - the black wax marks on your beeswax, blotting paper, and sadly, on your egg if you are over-heating the kitsky. **Most Probable, esp. w/ older tools or novice users**

If you are getting blobs instead of lines, it's also probably from overheating. When the tool is very hot and you bump it against the wax to fill the cup, wax likes to form on the outside of the cup too. And on the spout, and on the handle. And then it starts to melt. It will flow down following the line of least resistance gaily leaping off  the tip of the kitsky spout and landing in a blob in some particularly delicate spot on your design. ALAS, poor you, there is no way to easily remove this blot on your record! Consider it another opportunity to get creative. Make another flower...think how gay a PolkaDot egg will look...

 OK! Enough fooling around. Put the tool down. White is not really the most fun. Put it into the dyebath! It's really quite quick. We found 45 to 120 seconds gives a rich bright color.
We also found that this rich bright color is difficult to remove from skin and cuticles. We advise at least one latex-protected hand because no matter how many spoons and egg lifters you have handy, you're going to end up Using Your Doigts.  (If you're me. Maybe if you're you, also. We are curious about this whole hands on thing. Would like a grant, please, to do the full study.)

Remove egg from dye bath and let it air dry while you work on the next one. You can also pat it dry gently with tissue. Or be doubly creative and use a square of previously batiked silk. Did we mention, the colors are gem-like? So, add the next layer of wax design. Then pop it into the green dye bath.  The whole thing will now appear to be green with wax-colored lines, which are often quite black.
We assumed Orange would come after yellow, and that if we put it in Green first and then Orange, the mix would give a russet or even browner tint. Kel Shock, mes amis; the Orange Dye, that wierd non-vinegar mix, seemed to eat the green off the shell - except of course, where it was protected by the overwax.  See in Sharon's, below, where the little leaves are green? At one point, the whole egg was green. Swear!
Anyhow, repeat as needed, wax dye dry wax dye dry
and the finale? Holding your egg near the candle (remember the little heat chimney above the flame), gently tissue off the melting wax as it warms and liquiefies.
This is the moment of magic for me. AHHHHHHHHHHHHH~ those transformative moments...
From lumpy little buddy into glowing colors. Don't take my word for it; try this at home!

Correct sequence of colors

A cautionary tale ~
Sharon lived in the Ukraine for a couple of years and brought back - among many other fabulous treasures - some beautiful kitskies, which lay unused in the cupboard for more than a decade. She finally tried em out last week. Thoughtfully took home some dyes. Has not stopped since.  Fortunately for her, she has chickens to provide her with plentyeggs.  Unfortunately for the rest of her family, she has chickens to provide plentyeggs...
:~) Above, her first egg

 We will try to carve time for more notes and pix on this really fun project. We are DEFINITELY doing them for the next winter holidays...already have the little gold hangy things.  Plus more notes to share, like on what to do with the ones that crack midstream.  Which creams remove the stains.

OH before we go, here's just One More Thing.

Me & Miss S. wanted to see if the color would be deeper if we left it in overnight. 
The good news? Yes! Emerald Green is deeper. 
The perhaps not-so-good news? Weird Orange did not eat it as cleanly, and we have now an unusual vintage toned egg. We're giving it a 24 hour waiting period, to decide if we meant to do this.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

New Garden Stone, Spring 2011

Gator! and Dragonfly

Discharge Printing with DeColorant

REVERSE PRINTING! An easy way to get a light print on a dark ground.  We tested on a black cotton tee with excellent results. We also did some on a dark orange heavy stock paper, loved it!
  • Dark ground non-synthetic fabric (100% cotton works well. Check the tag on your tee).
  • Discharge ink, Soft-Scrub with Bleach, or DeColorant

First insert a protective sheet inside the tee shirt, so the color remover won't bleed through to the back. You can use cardboard or plastic. DO NOT use corrugated cardboard because the texture will interfere with the print,
Here's the tee stretched nice and flat on the ironing board with the insert in place.
Apply self adhesive stencils. Feel free to play with the background/ negative areas as well as the peeled-out positive shapes, (shown here with a masking tape border  to protect the surround material).
Spread the decolorant discharge paste on the open areas. Like buttering toast; thicker paste gives you a higher discharge value...and faster too!

...Let it dry, then use a hot iron to set it off and cure it.
Be sure to cover the design area with a press cloth for heat setting to protect the iron from the paste, and vice versa. We used a muslin strip, but newsprint works.
...mmm...one potato, two potato, three potato...
Peel off the stencil paper...

et Voila! DISCHARGED! Wait a day or two after heat setting to wash, for optimal results.