Thursday, 27 August 2015

Peony Prototype

I have been meaning to make a peony shaped votive candle holder for over a year now.  The prototype came out of the kiln last night, and I'm thrilled with the result.

I've been intrigued by the Victorian's "language of flowers" for years, and found out that the peony is for "happiness in marriage".  I'm thinking it might make a great wedding gift.

This one was the prototype but there will definitely be more (mostly because I really really want to see a whole row of them lit along the center of my dining table).

 This is the side view. 

And the "work in progress" picture.

Being the prototype, this particular one won't be up in my etsy shopbut these hosta leaf ones were listed today.  Incidentally, hostas mean "devotion" in the language of flowers.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Building an earth oven

The background:  Some of you may know that we have a second piece of property.  It's where we plan to eventually retire, but right now it's very "roughin' it".  We cook over an open fire (or a camp stove if it's pouring rain).  There is no running water (unless the waterfall is flowing), no clean water at all actually, no hydro, and a very minimal sleep cabin with four bunks.  What it does have is peace, quiet, birds and wildlife, and potential.  I decided an earth oven may give us a few more cooking options, and over our visits there this summer, I set about building one.

This book has great step by step instructions on building your own, and I used it thoroughly.

Here's my adventure:

First you build a foundation of rocks so the moisture can't get up into your oven (see picture above).  I chose not to use mortar as this is the trial oven, and I was intending to build it with just what was available.  The space in between the rocks is filled with ash from the fire pit.  In hindsight, this may not have been the best idea.  The book says to use rubble, but the ash MAY let moisture in.  We'll know next year.

Collect your materials.  I built mine over a period of about 2 months, so it wasn't that exhausting.  Still very hard work if you are out in the wilderness and have to bring everything in uphill.

Next, you make a dome of sand - this will be the size of the interior of the oven - so mine will be big enough for one small loaf or a personal size pizza, or something of that size.  Cover it with wet paper to act as a barrier, and then add a 3" layer of "building mud".  Those beer bottles are part of the insulation layer.  There is also a layer under the dome, but I forgot to take that picture.

All of those pails are my building materials.  You'll need clay, sand, water, and a clay-based mud.

That big blue bag was my mixing bag at first, as I was only able to handle small batches at a time.  You can also use a tarp, and mix with your feet, but I was getting filthy enough as it was.

Keep adding your "building mud" until you have a nice thick layer over your whole dome.

Once it's dry on the outside, you take all the sand back out of the interior.  I lit a fire to dry out the inside so I could add the next layer right away.

Then comes the insulation layer - sawdust mixed with clay slip - good thing I know a potter :).  This is half of mine.  I did it in two parts as we ran out of sawdust on that trip and I had to wait for the next batch of dead trees to be chainsawed.

Next trip: I added the rest of the insulation layer, and the final coat.
My finish coat was clay slip mixed with sand, and of all things...cattail fluff.  It was the best fibrous material I could think of that could be had in abundance where we were.

It still needs a door, so that I can bake in it.
Now the test is...will it still be in one piece when we get to back up to try it out?

Linking up today with my friends at:
Keep Calm Craft On over at Frontier Dreams - though I'm not 100% sure this qualifies as a "craft".
Wildcrafting Wednesday

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Work in progress...

I've been working away at some products that will be available in September.

Cookie stamps, buttons, magnets, beads, and some surprises,

I've got loads and loads of things drying/dried on trays, and then I realized I better make some bigger things to fill the kiln.  Maybe I need to actually get a smaller kiln?

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Mushrooms and toadstools.

A few weeks ago, I was playing around with some leftover clay and made this little collection of mushrooms.
None of them modeled after anything in particular, except the morel in the middle.

 And then when we went camping, I came across these interesting specimens...
...and these bright red ones!
And these wavy ones.

So back home again, I made a couple more...

 And kept discovering them.
 All over the place.
 This one was huge.

I would love to learn more about them and find out which ones we can eat.
And of course, now I want to make some fairly realistic copies in clay.  
I'm just trying to figure out how the stem can support the heavy top.  
Stay tuned.

Linking up with:

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

A knitting post...finally.

So I started a pair of socks way back in February that were supposed to be a pair of birthday socks for my son who ONLY wears ankle socks any more. I gave up on the idea of surprise socks because I just couldn't "sneak" the size of his foot.  So here is the first pair.  They fit.  He says they are comfortable (that says a lot coming from the pickiest person I know, clothes wise).
 I really wish I could share the pattern with you, but I printed it off in February and there is no title anywhere, and it's not saved to my Pinterest board, or my Ravelry favourites.  Go figure.  I know I first came across the idea for them here on the purl bee.

 Started on my first day of holidays, and finished two days after we got new cowl.  In "not-grey"!
It's just a super simple garter stitch.  I think 30 stitches. Every sixth row is a pattern row, with Yarn ver, K2tog, knit 2 stitches, repeat.  I spaced them out so they alternate, but it looks equally pretty when they line up perfectly.  I used exactly one ball of yarn, and may end up ripping out the seam to add a couple extra inches if I can get another ball of the same colour.  It's a wee bit snug for my taste.

And what's a knitting post without a yarn bowl?  The mate to this one has already been delivered.  They were a prototype, and I love them, and I will be making many many more.  And that's my sock yarn in "acceptable boy colours" waiting to be turned in to more ankle socks.

Reading:  Edible Wild Plants, Build your Own Earth Oven, and going to the library tonight for some fiction.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

When you just can't find what you are looking for.

One of my favourite things about what I do is helping someone get EXACTLY what they are looking for, especially when there is no way they would be able to find it anywhere else.  

 Seriously, other than a custom order, where does one find something as specific as dog bone shaped beads with a martini glass carved into them (the martini glass is my customer's logo) and coloured in blue?

 And orange?

 A close up.

For scale.

 Mass quantities...

 Packaged up.

And ready to ship.

I kept telling myself I would take "in progress" pictures with the next batch I worked on, so I would have a nice set of "how to" pictures, but I always worked on these in the evening when the lighting was too poor.

Basically the process was:  roll some coils, cut them to size, sculpt the bone shape, put in the hole with pin tool, expand the hole with a drill bit, carve the martini glass, bisque fire, paint on the underglaze, wash off extra underglaze, wax the holes, glaze, and fire again.  Followed by quality control check in bright sunlight.  Phee-ouf.

I loved it!

If you are looking for something VERY particular...I just might be able to help you too.  
A cookie stamp, buttons or gift tags with your own logo, a set of beads custom made for you, an image carved into some dishes.  The sky is the limit.

Linking up with my friends at:
Keep Calm Craft On over at Frontier Dreams

Monday, 22 June 2015


For as long as I can remember, my aunt has had a rather large patch of feverfew in her front yard flower bed.  Years ago, she let me take home a seed head, and I have had it growing in my yard ever since.
 It is one of my all time favourite early summer flowers.
 I decided to capture their essence in clay so that I can enjoy them year round. 
 At some point, I discovered a "double" feverfew flower in my yard, and both kinds have now been growing in harmony ever since...although they migrate all around the yard and I never really know where they will turn up.

 I've got a few extras listed over here in my etsy shop if you want to have a closer peek.

What garden flowers are you ejoying this year?

Linking up with:
Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm Craft On

Monday, 15 June 2015


When I was a child, I would collect leaves from spring to fall, iron them between sheets of wax paper and collect them in scrapbooks.  Buttercups and other small flowers were included in there too.
I'm starting to think that many of my latest projects are in fact just a throwback to my childhood.
 I'm still preserving leaves, trying to capture a moment in time.  The only difference is the medium.
  My children collected rocks (they still do), and nice leaves in the fall, but they never preserved them.
I remember having a flower press too.
I have to wonder if kids still do this, or if it's a thing of the past.

I'd love to hear from you if you remember doing it, or if your children/grandchildren did.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Mason Jar Frogs

It's summer time.  
Time to gather a few flowers from your garden and bring them indoors to brighten things up.  
Time for displaying the wildflowers your children bring in from their walk. 
And time to share your bounty with family and friends.
 I love putting flowers in my many (MANY) mason jars, but I always found that I needed so so many to make a nice arrangement that didn't flop all over the place.
 So I made myself some frogs that fit over any standard mason jar...and then I made a whole bunch more!  See how well they hold up just a few little stems?
They fit all of the sizes, so I can cut violets in the early spring and put them in the teeny ones, lily of the valley in the pint jars a few weeks ago, and I'm looking to putting such a variety of wildflowers in the quart jars all summer long.
If you want to play along, I have them listed in 6-packs in my etsy shop under the "vases" section.

They can also be custom ordered for wedding centerpieces and bouquets for a DIY wedding.

Linking up with:
Keep Calm Craft on over at Frontier Dreams - cuz making your own bouquets is crafty, right?

Monday, 25 May 2015

Wedding Bouquet Charms

It's getting to be that time of year again.  The time of year filled with weddings, wedding showers, and special events.  
If you are getting married this summer...if you are doing your own bouquet with flowers you pick from your garden or a nearby field...if you want to add a little something extra to a bouquet to make it really your own...I have about a dozen of these hand stamped heart shaped pottery charms to add just that something extra. 
 They are glazed on both sides so they are nice and smooth.

If your wedding is still a while away, you can even custom order them to match your colour scheme.

They're over on my etsy shop if you want to have a peek.

Linking up with: