Wednesday, 23 December 2015

gingerbread houses!

    i made gingerbread houses today with my nieces!  well, mine was made with little graham cracker cookies, but anyway..  it was pretty fun, if not at times disastrous..  poor little scarlett's house fell completely apart at one point, but the little girl is determined.  & mine was a bit of a mess.    i have no idea what my mom made the icing out of.. she did some sort of eggless thing cause scarlett is not supposed to eat eggs, but it was pretty icky in consistency and not a very good house glue.  ..but then we added more icing and things worked a bit better. 
    this is the one that gwen & my mom worked on... but gwen was really far more interested in playing than making little houses..

    & then scarlett's .. she made this SUPER AMAZING house!  with lots and lots of candy! 

    check out even the cute little details inside..

     & then my little bitty house in a puddle of soupy icing..

     i stole scarlett's idea for little lights around the house.. but i like my little trees.  no way i am gonna eat this icky thing though.  uck.  but it was fun enough!~

Saturday, 12 December 2015

pottery class - winter 2015

     so!  i went to go pick up my pottery stuff today.. from my last pottery class.. most of it turned out pretty decent.. except for this one leaf plate, it was a plate i had made last year but hadn't had a chance to glaze, so i did it this time.. but ugh.  it turned out so so ugly.. i dont know why?  ...cause i had made another one last year that turned out so pretty!  and then i made one this year that also turned out pretty.. it's made with a holly hock leaf.. anyway..
    i only took pictures of a couple of things though..  ..every class i take i make myself a little little cup thingy.. i have a collection of them on my shelf cause i have taken, oh.. i dont know?  5? classes?  ..but this time i painted my cup with coloured slips and then finished it with black slip and then carved fireworks into it!~ ...however, i carved too deep, and all you can see is the white clay underneith.. oh well.

     i tried to think of different types of fireworks designs to carve.. eh.. i dont know?

    i made another little one, shorter, that i carved a little grass into.. you can sorta see the blue sometimes on this one..

     & then here is a leaf plate i made that turned out pretty good! is made using a leaf from my russian comfrey plant..

    & then this.. oh this.. this was the most frustrating thing in the world.. ugh.  it actually turned out a lot better than i expected, so that's good.. but ugh.'s a plate, i dont know what it is really?  but i made it with silver maple leaves.. and it took me so much time.. cause first it cracked or something & i was trying to fix it.. and then the tip of a leaf or two fell of.. so i was trying to patch that.. and then.. then.. ugh.  then after i had worked on it for all that time.. the whole damn thing brok in half!!!!  ..i was not going to give up though.. i patched it up and wrapped it up and waited for the next class.. in the end it looked kinda crappy but i though, i am gonna try and have this thing fired and see what happens, i was not really expecting it to work.. but it kinda did.  .. still.. but i thought, i will glaze it and see how it turns out.. and here it is:

    if it had not been so horrible to me i would have been able to do a bit more with it.. try and bring out some of the detail of the of the leaves like the other leaf plate above.. but as it was a lot of the top center was just mush.. so i just dipped it and let it be.  .. but if you look closely you can still see the details in some of the leaves a bit..

    i also made a nifty baking dish (roughly 8x8") and a mug for my sister that turned out not half bad.. i am not so fantastic at mugs.. i always end up making them super tiny for some reason?  ..and handles are hard ya know.  ..but i didnt take pictures of them..  
    so yeah.. those are some of my pottery things from this last class.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

ArtWalk YEG - Chez Pierre (#9)

     Ok.. forgive me, this photo is really dark, cause, well, it was dark out.  I was not really expecting to be doing this, but i was walking past here & remembered this was on here, so i though.. mine as well take this now!!!  Chez Pierre.. oh Chez Pierre.. ugh. 

    i say ugh.. because this painting kinda gives me the creeps... (this by the way, is #9 on ArtWalk YEG ) according to the site, this is a painting of "Pierre Cochard operated Edmonton's first nude dancing club for more than 40 years" ..still..creeeeepy... i much preferred the old painting.. but apparently my memory serves me incorrectly.  what i remember is a sort of ..line drawing type painting of a nude lady... not necessarily very.. oh.. family friendly per say, but not so pervy.. as mr.pierre here.  BUT! according the artwalk site and anything i have read on my quick but unfruitful search to find a photo of the old painting online says is that it was a painting of 2 nude girls... i only remember 1????  oh well.  my memory sucks anyway, so i am not gonna be too concerned about the matter.  (the painting is by Ian Mulder by the way, if i am reading the artwalk site properly... i dont imagine anyone could have painted this and i not found it kinda creepy)
     but much more lovely.. the neon signage at the front... (& i know, the photo is blurry.. but oh well)

     & here is a slightly better one of the dancing lady...

     & from the other side!


     ...i do like my neon signs.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

ArtWalk YEG - Neon Sign Museum (#20)

 So!  the other day i finally got a chance to pick up a copy of ArtWalk YEG .. a map of various public artwork that you can see downtown!~  lot of the things on there i have seen and noticed before, but several of them i have not and look forward to checking out on various little artwalk adventures this..winter.  ..hey, gives me a good reason to get out walking this winter eh?
    i was on my way to a dr. appointment when i picked it up and while waiting to go in i had a quick little look and decided that i should probably make it into a little photo project and document them all because hey! that might be a bit fun?  ...and then after the appointment i did some stuff.. and then i was walking along 104th ave.. and its getting to be winter time, so of course it gets dark i was walking to 109th street to walk back down to jasper to catch the LRT & thought.... the Neon Sign Museum is just a couple blocks further.. its dark already.. lights are on.. i should go check that out right now!  so, yeah.. i did!
   the Neon Sign Museum is super cool!~  ..well maybe i am a bit biased because i kinda love lights, but still.. its pretty neat.  its a collection of old neon signs that are all put together on the side of a single building.  super!, this is the first time i ever looked at that page about it & apparantly the city has collected 12 and 8 have been restored and put up, i hope the other 4 get put up shortly!

     that site also says that this is part of the city's effort to revitalize 104th street.. well, as far as lights go.. 104th street is pretty spiffy.  if you head down the block they have their trees done right up!

      it is super!  so.. check on the neon sign museum.
oh yeah, and in case you have your 3D specs handy...  here it is in all it's 3d anaglyph glory.. cause i am spiffy like that.

happy day!~

Friday, 30 October 2015

postcard & things.

    so, today i worked on making mushroom patches for the people who sent me more than one entry for my mushroom mailart call.  as well as more ecodyes, i cleaned up all the old leaves i had been storing in my fridge (some were really old and starting to mold already), i made some more postcard ones!  but the fabric i used for them i am fairly sure is a cotton/poly blend (according to a burn test) & then while those were steaming i worked on a mailart postcard out of scraps for someone?

change of times.

     so, i have decided to change the way i use this blog.  i have decided to use it for ..well.. i am not 100% certain what i am going to use it for, but i have decided that i want to have it available for a more open format.  i still want to have something to be able to document things that i have done, art projects, recipes, etc.. that i can go back to and look at, so i have created a new blog and will be using that for that sort of stuff from now on.  so, for continuation of what this blog was, i will go to here: dead things in jars.
     & from now on this blog will be used for ..something more stream of thought i suppose.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

plum jam (no pectin) - yum!

     plums!  so, last year my first attempt at jam, nectarine jam, was a huge success!  it was so yummy!  so, i am definitely going to be making more of that, but i had also wanted to try making plum jam, however by the time i had got around to it plums were out of season, so, no luck.  this year however i managed to do things in time!  yay!  since the nectarine jam worked so well and i had done all the foot work making my own recipe for that, i decided to use the same info for the plum, with one small adjustment... plums are a bit sweeter (though sometimes their skins can be quite sour!), so i thought i would cut the sugar down a little bit.
     my jam recipe is a ratio, for the nectarines i had it at 0.8c of sugar and for the plums i cut it down to 0.75c, so here it is:

1lb (454g) fruit : 0.75c sugar : 18mL lime juice

     now, i dont really remember where i got the 18mL from, it seems like an odd number, but whatever, just use it for the calculation and then round to the nearest 5mL.  To use the recipe, cut up the amount of fruit you have and weigh it out and then multiply it by the amounts of sugar and lime juice.  (i like using lime, just because.. lemon is just as good)

     i used black plums, i thought i bought red plums, but, nope, 14 of them which ended up being 3.5lbs.  so, to figure out the rest, here is the math [ 3.5 x 0.75 =  2.625c of sugar, 3.5 x 18 = 63mL of lime juice ]  2.625c sugar = 2 1/2 cups + 1/8 cup and 60mL is 1/4c lime juice . (this is a really helpful site:

     1.5 limes ended up being enough for the juice (+ a little extra)  be sure to save the peels!  they help with pectin content!  after cutting up all your fruit you put it in a bowl and pour on the sugar and the lime juice and stir it a bit, no need to mix it too much, it is maceration time!  time to let all the natural sugars come out and sweeten your jam and make things juicy!  & stick in those lime peels to help impart some extra pectin while you're at it.  cover the whole mess with a layer of wax paper (or plastic) and leave it in the fridge overnight.

     the next day (or few if you are busy) it should be nice and juicy and ready for jam!

    next you need to drain out the liquid.  (i got about 3 1/3 cups), put it in a pot & place it on the heat.

     you are going to need to bring it to a boil and cook the stuff until it gels.  i tested this batch a whole bunch of times, putting a little bit on a cold spoon or plate in the freezer to cool and seeing if it gels, but i realized after when i made a batch of different jam, that when the stuff starts to foam a bit is a pretty good indication that it is ready!  so, keep that in mind!
     after your liquid has gelled, and it doesnt have to be SUPER gelled, just kinda thick, and the liquid in the pot won't be really thick either, only if you do the gel test.  if you want an indication in the pot then it might be when you run your spoon along the bottom, it will start to leave a trace mark.  i tried to get a picture of this but it was hard.  i realized after that i had a feature on my camera that would have made it easier, but i was not thinking, ugh.  this is the best i could do.

    ANYWAY!  now it is time to add your fruit!

     YUM!~  you now need to bring it up to a boil again.  and cook it a bit longer.

   looks super delicious eh?  but i can't really put this on toast.

     time to start mashing!  you can mash it as much or as little as you want.  i like it chunky so i just mashed it till most of it was mashed but some of the pieces were still intact.  i felt it was pretty thick at this point, so time to jar it & boil this stuff up! 

     boiling times depend on altitude, here it is 10min for 250mL jars i guess, so that is what i did.  this amount of fruit made 5x 250mL jars, one was a little low though, but oh well!  i suppose the amount made might might be a bit different depending on how long you cook it (if you cook longer more liquid will evaporate) and how much you mash it (if you mash it more it will be more condensed and so you will have less). 
     the little bits i tasted while cleaning up were SUPER tasty!  so yummy!  & it is really pretty too!

    the ratio again is:
1lb (454g) fruit : 0.75c sugar : 18mL lime juice

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

natural dye - costmary

     costmary - (Tanacetum balsamita) is a giant plant growing at the side of my house!  it smells like mint, so that's nice, but apparently it doesnt taste like it.  i have never tried, but my aunt has, she said it makes nasty tea.  it has formerly been a pretty much useless and large perennial just growing there.

    i have however been doing a bit of looking up on some of the plants in my area and noticed something... the costmary has little yellow button flowers, which are kinda pretty, but kinda reminded me of a certain common dye plant.. tansy!  and the latin name for tansy is  Tanacetum vulgare!  this just screamed that this plant had tonnes of potential as a dye plant!

     and it does!  it makes a lovely yellow dye.  i think it actually is brighter than this picture shows it to be!  (from left to right - soaking in hot tap water overnight, steeping in hot water, and then in simmered dye)

     the plant also has lots of potential for ecodyes!  i have always had success making prints with the leaves.  usually bright yellow leaf prints.  the leaves can be rather large but the ones higher up towards the flowers can be more tiny.

     costmary success!

Monday, 14 September 2015

the fun with turmeric continues - dyeing & SCIENCE!???!

     i had posted that i had inadvertently discovered that turmeric mixed with washing soda turns a bright red colour!  i had done a little experiment to figure it out by rubbing a piece of wet cloth with turmeric and then sprinkling it with washing soda on the left, baking soda in the middle and alum on the right.  (i did this because i had originally discovered this when i sprinkled it on some cloth that i had previously sprinkled all 3 and didnt know which one had caused the colour change)

     the washing soda turned bright red instantly!  the baking soda had a slight colour change after a few min, and the alum did nothing.
     well, i left the house and when i came back i was surprised to find that where the baking soda had been was now also very red!  i didnt have my camera with me at that time so i was not able to get a picture until the next day when the fabric had fully dried and the colours had faded a bit at that time.

   interesting!  but that's not all!  i was doing another spice dye experiment and in this one i also was sprinkling spices and i used the washing soda and baking soda and the turmeric, i also used some salt and some rusted metal and decided to try spraying some diluted apple cider vinegar mix on the whole thing at the end.  WELL!  look here:

     where the apple cider vinegar hit the turmeric it turned BRIGHT yellow!  obviously turmeric is highly colour sensitive to pH!  so interesting! 
     i wonder why i have not heard about this more????  if anything it's a fun experiment!

Sunday, 13 September 2015

spice dyes & fun with turmeric!!!

     i discovered something by accident!  i have been doing some experimenting lately in the dyeing area that has led to some interesting results, one of them involving spices!  i decided to try dying some fabric with spices by just sprinkling them all over it and then wrapping the whole thing up, tying it and then boiling it for awhile.  it's not something i had read about anywhere, but it sounded like a good idea to me.  i had some unmordanted fabric and i thought, hmm.. why not sprinkle some other stuff on this thing as well, so i also sprinkled some alum and washing soda on it, and some baking soda too for good measure.  the spices i had were turmeric (which is the only one i had tried using for dyeing before), ground sumac powder, paprika and cinnamon.  so, here is the mess it looked like when i was done:

     fun!  i had only sprinkled on half, so i folded the other half over, then folded it up a bunch and tied it into a bundle.  i then boiled it for an hour or so and let it cool in the water, then took it out and let it sit on the shelf for a day or so before opening it up and rinsing and rinsing and rinsing and rinsing and rinsing and finally washing it.

     it turned out pretty interesting!  lots of yellow, which is too be expected, i used a lot of turmeric, but it was also blotchy and fun.

     so what's the fun with turmeric part?  well!  you see the bright red parts in the package there?

     originally i had thought they were from the ground sumac, after all i had never worked with it before so i didnt really know what colour to expect from it.  well!  tonight i was doing a second spice dye experiment!  this time i was going to try and do enough fabric to make a shopping bag and i want to use less spices so that it wouldnt be covered but have bits of white showing through (i also was going to try steaming it).  i started pretty much in the same way though, i sprinkled the wet fabric with alum and then some baking soda and some washing soda and then i sprinkled it with turmeric and ....

     !!!!!  in spots the turmeric was turning bright red!  well.. a bright burgundy red!  it was the turmeric all along!  so...  the turmeric is reacting to something?  either the alum, the washing soda or the baking soda!  i had to finish up with my dye experiment and do a more controlled test to find out which!  so i did!
    i got myself a small piece of cloth and wet it and rubbed turmeric into it and then sprinkled it with the powders ...

     from left to right you have washing soda (sodium carbonate), baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and alum (ammonium aluminum sulfate).  the w.soda changed the colour instantly!  it was quite impressive!  the b.soda altered the colour slightly after a min. or 2, and the alum did nothing to the colour.
     interestingly, cloth that i have dyed in turmeric (by boiling it in the turmeric) that has been premordanted it alum and washing soda is still yellow...

     i do not know why this picture is loading vertical?  it is not a vertical picture and i do not have the energy to go and try and edit it right now.  anyway, you can see, yellow.
     perhaps the heat damages whatever it is that causes the ~red~ reaction?  you can see that the final cloth is not too red.  also, it seemed that steaming took out a lot of the colour as well, though i have not unwrapped that package yet.  i wonder if just rolling it up and letting it sit for awhile would let the colours seep into the cloth enough to dye the fabric or if they would just wash out super quick? 
     anyway, the really really fast yellow to bright red reaction was a really neat surprise!