August 26, 2018

Taking a Blog Break

I need a computer break, so am signing off blogging for a bit. Till next time, be well, all!

August 22, 2018

Mess O’ String Blocks and Counting

Whenever I need to create something and don’t have an ongoing project, I go to my machine and scrap bin to make a couple more string blocks. I enjoy making them on a foundation, and these are what I have so far. But I have no plan for them. I don’t want to make even one more quilt, nor am I up to making anything else large. I thought of placemats and table toppers, but I’ve done many of those and interest wanes. I need someone to think outside the usual box. All other suggestions welcome, please! 

August 21, 2018

Tuesday Eco Prints

This eco dyed batch is the result of a mix of Maple, Sassafrass, and Ornamental Japanese tree leaves, Pine Needles and Onion Skins. I followed the instructions in my tutorial post below. I’m eager to see if Fall leaves give more colorful results. Kathy’s results are lovely with the addition of some Rit dye (see her blog). I haven’t tried that yet. However, there is always a surprise in any result. For instance, my small round reddish browns resulted from waning yellow flowers! I commented on Kathy’s blog that I have a large stack of these papers now, and I don’t know what I’m going to do with so many.  My original plan to make note cards is still good, but another idea I had was to make bookmarks and gift tags. They were blank strips I had cut off my watercolor sheets to get the correct size for my steaming pot, and I laid them into the bundle at the last minute before steaming. 

August 20, 2018

My Delightful View

On pulling into my parking space on our property, this is what I often see, our neighbor’s 2 horses. There’s a wire fence between us hidden by vegetation. 

August 17, 2018

Tutorial for Eco Printing on Paper

There are many Internet sites and videos on how to accomplish eco printing (or eco dyeing). I’m sure they are good, but I always want to keep things as simple as possible. This is the process that works for me.

I plucked this selection of leaves and waning flowers from our yard after some rain.

Pressing them is necessary and can be done any way you like -- under a stack of books, etc. Since my plant materials were wet, I used paper towels between layers in a wooden board press overnight.

The next day I removed the pressed materials and covered them with plain water to soak. Then separately I mixed enough water with a generous sprinkle of Alum (from the grocery store spice section) to cover the 9 watercolor papers I was dyeing. I left both soaks for at least 2 hours. Longer is fine too, even overnight.

I poured the liquid off both soaks and arranged the wet plant materials on my 9 wet watercolor papers. Leaves should be placed backside down to get a good image of a leaf’s veins. Following are a few photos of my 5x7" (a good size for making note cards) papers after arranging plant materials on them.

I sprinkled dried rosemary on the one below.

This one has a sprinkling of chili powder. Experiment with whatever comes to mind!

When all my papers had plant materials, I placed them in a neat stack in the middle of a larger piece of wax paper (also can use parchment paper or similar). Then I put another sheet of wax paper on top of the stack.

Next I put this stack between 2 wooden boards (anything sturdy can be used...2 ceramic tiles, plexiglass, or even cardboard will work). I folded up the wax paper on all sides, and secured the bundle tightly with string, jute, yarn, etc., securing it for steaming.

For this next step, you can use an old double boiler, a vegetable steamer, or whatever you can put together for steaming that will keep the bundle above the steaming water. I used an old small round roasting pan with a rack in the bottom. But the rack wasn’t high enough to keep the bundle above the water line, so I added a flat rock. The bundle went on top of that rock, then another rock went on top of the bundle for weight.

I added water to the pot, brought it to a boil, lowered the heat to simmer, then covered the pot tightly. After simmering for at least 2 hours, I turned the heat off.

Then I allowed the pot to cool (sometimes until the next day) before taking the bundle apart to see the eco printed images on my 9 papers. Such fun, like opening a gift! After opening, I laid them flat to dry naturally. Once dry,  I pressed them in a stack with weight to flatten them even more.

A caution especially when the papers are still wet from steaming: handle with care. They can easily tear and even get surface damage from handling. If some of the plant material is hard to remove, wait until the paper is dry to nudge it off.

Some Internet instructions say not to use an aluminum pot, but others suggest it doesn’t matter. My pot is aluminum, and I’m very happy with the results. Also, once you have used a pot or utensils for any kind of craft, NEVER cook food with them again.

Be sure to let us all know if you decide to try this! ☺️

August 15, 2018

Cotton Plantation Update #3

The seedlings needed more space, and I ran out of pots. I shopped, but none are available now, so empty milk jugs will have to do. I found the roots to be fragile when I transplanted them, so I hope they survive. I don’t know where I’ll put them when they need to come indoors. I have never paid this much attention to growing any plant in my life!!

Next post: promised eco printing tutorial.

August 13, 2018

Eco Printing

In helping a friend who is interested in trying eco printing, I made the prints below this past weekend. I’m working on a step-by-step tutorial with photos, and I’ll post it here soon for anyone else who may be interested. In the meantime here are my 9 prints from plant materials in our yard. I’m happy with them especially because I’m getting more color. This is so much fun!

With these prints, I’m linking to Art Journal Journey. The theme is "Thankfulness" this month, and I love the peaceful wooded area where we live.

August 7, 2018

Getting Back to Drop-Spinning

This is something I used to enjoy doing a lot before my hand issues started, and now I’m finally able to do it again. I’m working at getting the yarn thickness more even. It’s one of those things where practice helps, but pacing myself is important so I don’t overdo it. If I can knit again someday, that will be a good way to use some of the yarn, but in the meantime I’m looking at trying some simple weaving. The brown wool skeins were spun from undyed Romney sheep roving, and the pink in progress is from dyed Merino sheep roving. Merino wool has a good length for drafting to spin, and it’s my favorite to work with!

August 6, 2018

Going Forward...Whatever!

Well folks, I love blogging, but my favorite platform, Blogger, has been betraying me. I can do everything here as always, but sometimes my visitors can’t leave a comment. I’ve tried everything to fix this, but it only works sporadically. I’ll keep posting for now, and please keep trying to comment. If you can’t and really want to be in touch, my email address is on my "View my complete profile" page.

August 5, 2018

Hot Enough For You?

If you can’t comment, I’m sorry. I don’t have a clue why. I have followed all settings advice, but the "no comments gremlins" keep visiting me on and off. I hope they fix it for good soon!

August 1, 2018

Natural Inclusions

It’s been too hot and humid to cook plants for hours while making handmade plant paper. So for now I’ve combined recycled paper-making with some pressed flowers from our yard (red Mandevilla, Black-eyed Susan’s, and wild Violets with some grass cuttings). These new sheets will probably become more note cards.

July 29, 2018

A Wonderful Gift

Our son operates Bright Forest Forge in Wisconsin and made this for my birthday. It’s an 18th century style hand-forged steel 8" apothecary spoon. I didn’t know of such a spoon in common use long ago until googling it, so I’ve learned something. He insists I use it, says it will darken naturally, and it’s just right for the small amount of sugar I like in my coffee. I love it!

July 26, 2018

Cotton Plantation Update #1

I planted more cotton seeds in a pot just yesterday(!), and this morning they are already seedlings. I was kidding about starting a plantation, but now I wonder what I will do with all these cotton plants. So much fun!

ANOTHER UPDATE, only 24 hours later... every seed planted in this pot has sprouted, all 9 of them! The reviews on eBay have not been 100%, but our hot, humid weather must be good for them!

Cotton Plantation Started

Cotton seeds are available online in numerous places. Mine came from this eBay link:

White Cotton Seeds

I propagated 10 seeds between wet paper towels, covered the dish with plastic wrap, poked a few holes, and left it in a sunny window. I checked each day to be sure it didn’t dry out. 

Within 6 days the seeds started to sprout white tap roots.

After poking holes in potting soil deep enough to cover the seeds, I inserted them root first and lightly covered over them with the potting soil. I didn’t over-water them, but made sure the soil was kept moist each day. Plastic wrap can be used here too.

Within about 6 days, seedlings began to poke through the soil, and I removed the plastic wrap.

With good care and a bit of luck, I’ll have healthy cotton plants growing like this one I started last month. If actual cotton is produced, new seeds can be harvested from inside each boll. It’s a fun thing to grow, and they look nice in dried arrangements.