The ceramic raku botanical tiles I made over a year ago are finally mounted and hung! (Thanks, Hubby). Some of the flowers are carved and some are appliqued. When I take a raku class again this summer, I may re-do the iris (because the glaze turned out dull) and zinnias (because I don’t like how they’re spaced on the tile).
I still have lamp bases to turn into lamps, globes to finish glazing and hang (in a sort of stationary mobile), and lots of bowls to work on.
And guess what hon? I’ll be selling my ceramics in May at an artisan event. Details to come…
Whenever I start a new knitting project, I head to Wool & Grace to check out their selection of gorgeous wool. I’m like a kid in a candy shop and have to focus! So many colors, so many textures, so many patterns, so many things to create! I wanted to knit this cardigan for a friend and pulled out the pattern, but needed to see if a color felt right for her. The Blue Lagoon Tweed hit the mark. I have 1 1/2 skeins left and may knit a second sweater–this one for me.
I purchased this floral and geometrics needlepoint canvas at Wool & Grace and decided to switch the original colors from pinks and oranges to blues, yellows, green and grey. I finally had it made into a pillow and really like how bright and cheerful it is.
When it comes to Ceramics, it seems I work in sets. Maybe that’s my way of improving upon a technique or maybe it’s because I get into a creative zone and keep going. The past year, I spent a lot of time hand-building different size jewelry/catchall dishes: some made free-form and some using GR Pottery Forms. I re-visited pressing real leaves into clay, but when I used a dark stain called iron oxide to define stems and veins, it bled and smeared. More practice needed.
Carving into clay that’s been brushed with slip is a technique called Sgraffito. Slip is thin colored clay that’s painted on a piece before it’s put into the kiln to be bisque fired. The slip and clay are set aside to dry. “Once the piece is firm enough and the surface is not tacky, a design or pattern can be carved through the slip and into the clay body beneath. Once the design is pulled away by incising, there is a beautiful contrast between the slip and the clay. This contrast is stronger after firing and glazing.” (source: Cindy Couling)
A new semester of Ceramics classes started and I’m trying to get back to the pottery wheel.
Hon, you know what I’m meditating on when I work with my hands?Stories, characters, plots, and words. My mind doesn’t rest!
The Fall semester at the Visual Arts Center of NJ just wrapped up (shout out to Melissa, former co-student and now teacher!), but I’m looking forward to the Winter session when I can continue to play with clay! I love textures and patterns, so I was game to work with lace. I love how these ceramic dishes came out. They can be used for jewelry, soap, candy, catchalls, etc.
In the world of pottery, I also had a good time setting up and selling my ceramics at my synagogue’s Holiday Boutique.
What does it take to create these pretty, lace pieces?
run clay through slab roller to flatten
line up lace and use rolling pin to impress lace into clay
brush black slip over lace, peel lace off carefully, dry wet slip with hair dryer
My apple pies are done and one of them is gluten free, so I’m re-posting the recipe and how-to video.
Unlike regular dough which comes together in a food processor, Michael McCamley’s recipe for gluten free dough in Gluten Free Baking is worked by hand. The dough is sticky and a bit messy, but the end result is delicious. I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour for the pie, and have used rice flour for gluten free cookies and gluten free pancakes.
Guess what I did? I labeled the pie using my ceramics letters. Fun!
Gluten Free Pastry Dough
3 2/3 cups gluten free flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 stick butter (1/2 cup) plus extra for greasing (I used Crisco vegetable shortening.)
1 egg, plus extra for glazing
1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk)
To make pastry dough, combine the flour, xanthan gum, and confectioner’s sugar in a large bowl. Rub in butter (or vegetable shortening) with your fingertips until mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Add the egg and milk (or almond milk) and combine to make dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 20 minutes.
After dough has chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
On a gluten free-floured surface, divide dough in two. Roll each piece out to form a large circle*–one to line pie plate and one to become top of pie.
Line pie plate with one of the pasty circles and spoon in the apple filling. (See Apple Pie filling below.)
Mix together a little milk (or almond milk) and egg and brush rim of pastry with this. Add second pastry circle as a lid and, using a fork, crimp edges of dough all the way around. Pierce pie in the middle a couple of times to let out steam during baking. If you make a basket weave top, no need to pierce dough.
Brush top of the pie with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden.
Apple Pie Filling
6 cups apple slices (I use a combination of Granny Smith and other varieties)
3/4 cup sugar (I cut the sugar to about 1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
approximately 1 Tablespoon gluten free flour
1 egg, beaten (used to brush on top of crust before baking)
Combine apples, sugar, lemon juice, spices and salt. This mixture will give off a lot of liquid so use a slotted spoon when spooning into pie crust, allowing you to spoon the apple mixture without the excess liquid.
*I rolled out the dough by a)pressing dough ball down to flatten it, b)sandwiching dough between two pieces of wax paper, then c)rolling the rolling pin on top of the wax paper. (Demo can be seen in the video.) If the dough sticks to the wax paper, you can spray the wax paper with non-stick spray.
**You can make this pie ahead and freeze it. Let pie cool completely before wrapping in saran wrap and aluminum foil. A couple of days before serving, defrost at room temperature.
Serve warm–after removing from oven, let cool about 20 minutes.
Serve room temperature–cool completely.
Rewarm defrosted pie– warm in a preheated 250- 275 degrees F oven, uncovered, until desired temperature.
Guess what hon? Twinkl, an online educational resource for teachers and individuals, reached out and asked to include one of my DIY Kids Crafts on their site! “This children’s craft idea features in Twinkl’sAbsolutely Amazing Autumn Ideas.”
This Autumn Kids Craft: DIY Fall Wreath is evergreen, so I’m re-posting this kids activity from the time I taught “Creative Minds,” an After School Enrichment class at Wyoming Elementary School in Millburn, NJ. The 3rd to 5th graders wrapped burlap around wreath forms, hot glued ends, chose leaves, berries, and fruit, and secured them with coiled wire. They tied ribbon as flourishes and added twine for hanging. Fun!
Here’s what you need and how to make your own.
DIY Fall WreathSupplies
Wreath Form, whatever size you want
Burlap, amount depends on size of wreath form
Coiled Wire, used to secure floral spray before gluing
Wire Cutters, we used two sizes, one to trim floral sprays and one to trim coiled wire
Hot Glue Gun and extra glue sticks for glue gun
Floral Decorations, such as floral sprays (leaves with berries and fruit), colored beads and leaves
Twine, knotted and looped for hanging
Before cutting burlap from roll, loosely wrap around wreath form to check how much is needed. Allow extra to tuck end under. Cut burlap from roll.
Wrap burlap around wreath form. Tuck end under and hot glue. This will be the back of the wreath.
Decide how to arrange decorations. Some may have bendable stems. If so ,wrap around wreath form.
If floral sprays, berries or other decor have long, unbendable stems, cut off with large wire cutter.
Using coiled wire, secure smaller decor such as leaves and berries to wreath form. Secure to wreath form by criss-crossing wire until decor is secured. Twist wire in back and tuck ends under.
Secure floral spray with wire and hot glue. Hot glue leaves so they cover wire and lay flat.
Hot glue colored beads and individual leaves.
Tie ribbon and glue if needed.
Find top of the wreath. Create a hanging loop with twine.
Summer means Raku workshops! Peter Syak, one of my wonderful Ceramics instructors, teaches Raku out of his carriage house/studio. I always learn a ton, meet new students, and have a meditative time working on new projects. This summer I learned how to make a large coil pot, building it up with flat strips of clay. As soon as its smokey scent abates, I’ll bring my vase inside and add some tall decorative branches.
My mother loved to garden. Her roses were lush, hearty, and fragrant, and their maroon and pink petals were as soft as velvet. Before I walked to elementary school, she’d cut stems, crinkle tin foil around the bottoms, and tell me to give the flowers to my teachers. I’d walk the whole way smelling sweetness.
Irises and strawberries were also abundant in my mother’s garden, while my father cultivated tomatoes and cucumbers. I’d pick wild raspberries and blackberries which grew on the hill behind my childhood home. Needless to say, roses are my favorite flowers.
Though I share my mom’s love of writing, I did not inherit her green thumb. If the garden in front of my house were my mother’s, the roses would bloom large and healthy. My roses are not. I prune them regularly, cutting off spent blossoms at an angle, and though they smell sweet, their petals are thin and their leaves are being eaten by garden pests. What to do?
I came across this organic pesticide in the article Safe Rose Spray Recipe That Really Works by Meghan Shinn in Horticulture.
Hon,do you have any tips for keeping roses healthy?
More than 5,000 rose bushes grow at Hershey Gardens in Hershey, Pa., where the gardening staff works hard to keep them free of pests and diseases. They use a chemical spray in the main garden, but they did not want to use this spray in the dedicated Children’s Garden. Instead, they came up with the following safe rose spray recipe, which they’ve found to be very effective.
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil (or any other cooking oil)
Mix vinegar and water, then add baking soda, dish soap and vegetable oil. Stir mixture into one gallon water. Pour into spray bottle and spray on roses’ foliage. Reapply every seven to ten days or after a rainstorm.
One of my preschool classes made Father’s Day cards with handprints, while the other made Father’s Day cards with footprints. This Easy DIY Kids Craft is a homemade greeting card is so cute for preschoolers and elementary age children.
The footprints were a challenge. When the kids stepped on the paper without assistance, their feet slid. When I held the paper to their feet, the print didn’t get their toes. What worked? Making sure paint was evenly distributed (it tickled!) and guiding each child’s foot to the paper to make a quick print. Whew!
If you have texture mats (as a potter, I have a collection of them) kids can make impressions of bricks or pebbles. If not, they can draw or color a path to be cut out and placed next to the footprint.
Add the message, “Thanks for making a path for me to follow” and “Happy Father’s Day,” sign name and date and the card is ready to go!
construction or cardstock paper in white and another color
paint and paintbrush
magic markers, colored pencil or crayons
glue or double-stick tape
optional: brick or pebbles texture mat
Using paintbrush, paint foot. Make footprint on white paper. Let dry. (Note–it may take several tries to get a full footprint.)
optional: using colored pencil and texture mat, create a brick or pebbles impression. OR, draw or color a path.
Cut a strip out of path. Glue or tape path by footprint.
Write or print out, “Thanks for making a path for me to follow” and “Happy Father’s Day!”
Preschool may have ended, but my students still have a present to give–adorable, easy DIY Father’s Day cards where their handprints transform into leaves on a tree. This idea is fun for preschoolers and elementary age children. I think my students’ dads will like the message, “No matter how tall I grow, I will always look up to you.” Sweet!
construction or cardstock paper in white and another color
green paint and paintbrush
magic markers, brown and other colors
glue or double-stick tape
Using paintbrush, paint child’s palm green. Make two handprints on white paper. (Note-it may take a few tries to get a good print.) Let dry.
With brown marker, draw tree trunk and branches.
Add “No matter how tall I grow, I will always look up to you.” Write child’s name and year.