Saturday, January 24, 2009

In which I am a girl, only not really

Just looked out the front window to see snowflakes falling, given how very dark it is already, I wonder if we will get some of that snow that I've been hearing about. I've been out running errands, and stocked up on more food for the pantry and freezer. New Seasons had oxtails, so I'm thinking about a nice rich wintertime soup.
~ :: ~
I love my friends. Yesterday, when I came home from work I found that sweet Elfreda had stopped by and dropped off the #11 circular needle, it was wrapped around my doorknob where I would be sure to see it. I promptly dug out the yarn cones and cast on for the mini-poncho, so as to have a "while-riding-the-bus" project. I do a lot of riding the bus...
~ :: ~
Yet more proof that I am not really a girl*... I was downtown at REI to see if I could pick up some socks, and to see if they had any Keens that fit my peculiar feet. (I have two pairs of dearly beloved old Keen maryjanes, the only shoes that I have ever found that are not only pain-free but actually fit the shape of my foot.) They are a discontinued style, and in the intervening time, Keens has reconfigured the last that they use for their women's shoes, probably to be more congruent with the feet of women in the USA. My shoes must be from when they first started making them, and they are anomalously wide. Like the size of wide men's shoes. (I call them my Minnie Mouse shoes) The sweet young shoe clerk hesitantly suggested that I might try the men's selection, albeit in an unusually small size (for a man). I'm going to look around and see if I can find some shop that carries Keen men's clogs, and give it a try. I'm not gender-biased about my feet.
* long ago I asked Mr Dawson why men don't see me as a woman, he replied that I do not come across as a girl, but rather more like a guy. At the time I found this both baffling and disturbing. I think what he was getting at has more to do with interpersonal flirty games (which I am hopelessly cluelessly oblivious to) than how I dress. Now I really don't care. I am a woman, whatever they think... most women seem to recognise me as a fellow female (though a stewardess once did not and said "excuse me sir, would you like a drink")...My friend Aelflaed once described me as "alarmingly competent" which is not usually seen as a particularly feminine trait in our culture.
~ :: ~
Tomorrow I hope to try out the new serger, which is currently ensconced in my kitchen. Must make room in the back bedroom for the future sewing table, and figure out the best way to attach it to the wall. I used my Fred Meyers gift card to buy a stud finder. I can't get the dang thing to work properly. It says that the entire wall is a stud, and so are the hollow core bedroom doors! My preference is to attach whatever supports I use to the wall studs, as sewing machines create quite a bit of vibration. I had a Bad Experience with the bracket I used for my flex-shaft. The wall anchors pulled right out of the wall; I've never had that happen before. I may just set the hollowcore door atop some suitable things to use as a sewing spot for temporary, since It would be better to not have to do a work-around when the new flooring goes in.
~ :: ~
Yesterday I rode my bike to the grocery store, the afternoon was cold, but clear and dry. I have a new accessory, courtesy of Aelflaed. She, remembering my plaint of a very cold head, and finding that a knitted hat she'd made came out quite excessively large, offered it to me as a bike helmet cozy. I will report that it worked splendidly. With a thin scarf over my hair, and the knit hat over my bike helmet, I pedaled off the New Seasons without freezing my noggin. Looks a bit odd, but that never stopped me yet; as the hat is deep red, I'm thinking that a few decoratively placed white dots and I can look just as spiffy as the Playmobil mushroom man. tee hee hee
~ :: ~
And here is an odd media bit I found. I remember my Nana reading me this poem, it was in the big red and blue book of children's poetry, and I loved it as a child for its oddness. (apparently it is by Dylan Thomas, from Under Milkwood)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

midweek musings

I didn't get to watch the inauguration, but I did catch the highlights on YouTube. We have a new president who can speak clearly, cogently, and inculsively. He can write his own speech that while enumerating the challenges ahead, also inspires hopeful forward momentum. I did get quite tearful while watching Air and Simple Gifts, somehow a symbol that our differences come together as art impossible with any of us alone.
~ :: ~
The Portland classical Chinese garden will be having all kinds of activities for the Year of the Ox; on February 8th there will be free admission from 5 to 7 PM for Lantern Viewing
Wander the Garden with free admission from 5:00-7:00 p.m. on February 8 and see the Garden lit at night with Chinese lanterns. End the evening with a display of floating lanterns set adrift on the pond. A traditional climax to Chinese New Year is a lantern festival celebration to usher in light and warmth after a cold and dark winter.
I'm hoping to find some friends to go see this with, it sounds like a lovely spectacle
~ :: ~
There was a really big box on my doorstep today. My new serger arrived. I had no idea that It was such a large machine, it is almost as big as my ordinary sewing machine. It looks comprehensible, and comes with two instructional DVDs as well as paper hardcopy manuals. I look forward to figuring it out, once I've finished up the extant medallion projects. Speaking of which, I did manage to repair "Mr Hot" (the big kiln, the one with the chrome flames). It was a bitch and a half to cut and bend the spring end to the correct size, and reattach the new door spring, but 'tis done, and back in place in the enameling corner. I've a spare spring as well, just in case.
~ :: ~

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Updated grouchiness:

It took me several hours of futzing about to get the old broken spring removed from the big kiln. I ended up needing to move the kiln over to my big workbench, once it had cooled enough that I could grab it in a "bear hug" and move it, then spent hours attempting to loosen the hardware that anchored the spring to the brackets. Tried to turn hex nuts, whole assembly moved without loosening, applied oil, waited, carefully wedged screwdriver so as to not impale hand while twisting the other end of the assembly...repeat ad nauseum until it eventually moves. Bah! I'm wondering if It would be possible to put weights on the back of the U-bracket instead of having springs? Although, this is only the second time one of the springs has broken in all the years I've had the kiln. Hmmm, needs cogitating about...

note: the whole difficulty might have been a little less with two properly sized tiny open end wrenches, must see about getting the appropriate tools whilst picking up a replacement spring tomorrow, er later today, I just looked at the clock and need to turn this machine off and go to bed!

Monday, January 19, 2009

everything put together sooner or later falls apart

I was not in the workroom. I heard a strange noise, but given the wind, figured it was outside. I was waiting for the kiln to heat up. I did all the prep work for the enameling final steps. I went to open the kiln, and the kiln door did not want to open. The strange noise had been the sound of one of the two kiln door springs breaking off. Damn!

Not a long term problem, just not fixable on MLK Day. I need to remove the broken spring and go to a real hardware store(tm), probably Winks, to get a replacement. Tomorrow.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

in which cakelets are baked

It was great to see my friends here this afternoon, and Smokey got to visit with some new people as well. Just as folks were leaving, my friends Ian and Karen showed up, so the afternoon visiting was extended for another several hours of chatting and tea. I tried converting the popular online "oreo truffles" to mint JoJo truffles. The extremely minty truffles were quite popular, even though I was unable to get the white chocolate to melt properly to coat them...I also worked out an alteration in the twelve22 cakespell to make lemon poppyseed acorn cakelets, which also pretty much disappeared.
~ :: ~
Here is my modified recipe, which fills one baking of the cakelet pan, or a 6" round cake pan:
4T butter
5T sugar
1 egg
2T lemon juice
1/2 c flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2t lemon extract
2T poppy seeds
zest of 1 lemon
Mix as for any cake, ie cream butter, mix in sugar, mix in egg, then add flour/baking powder and liquid alternately, mix in extract, poppyseeds and lemon zest. put batter into a greased and floured pan and bake till done, when a toothpick comes out clean.
bake @350F for 20 minutes (or more, depending on your oven)
I like to put a glaze over the cake, mixing and heating about a quarter cup of suitable liquid with some sugar, then brushing it over the still warm cake or cakelets. In this case I added some sugar to the lemon juice that I squeezed from the lemon (that I removed the zest from earlier)

You can make this a mocha cake by using coffee instead of lemon juice, vanilla instead of lemon extract, and cocoa instead of poppyseeds. Or any other variation is possible on this general plan. I have a good recipe for a 4 egg pound cake too, but sometimes all you want is a small cake, not cake for multitudes, and this one is really good for that. It makes a good plain cake as well, with milk for a liquid (and no cocoa or lemon zest or poppyseeds)
~ :: ~
Tomorrow is all about studio work, I've got some settings to make for enamels finished before 12th Night
~ :: ~

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Craft-tea-party update + odd video

Tomorrow is the January Teaparty of Crafty Goodness, open visiting time at Acorn Cottage from noon to 5. I'll have tea, and snacks both savory and sweet, and the fixings for hot cider if tomorrow is as cold as today. Potluck snackage is always welcomed as well.

I'll also have some supplies for freezer paper stenciling available. Basically, you cut out a design from freezer paper, iron it onto fabric, then apply fabric paint. If you want to try this, bring your ideas, some fabric or clothing, and an exacto knife if you have one. The process works best on smooth fabric (think cotton T shirt, or pillowcase type fabric)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Craft-tea-party + new classes

C'mon over to Acorn Cottage on Sunday for the first Craft-Tea Party of 2009... noon to five PM... visiting, with or without projects will be the order of the afternoon. I'll have some supplies for freezer paper stencils, if anyone wants to try out the technique. It is fun, fast and easy, a way to make one of a kind designs on fabric. (works great for decorative pennants, T-shirts and smaller patches, best on smoother fabric) Tasty snacks and Smokey snuggles will be provided.
~ :: ~
Today I rambled over to Gossamer on W Burnside, and treated myself to a new needlefelting tool, the Clover Pen tool which I've been enamored of ever since I tried the one that Aelgyfu has. I'd been in that shop around Halloween, as they sell all different colors of wool roving, and felt, as well as my favorite Brown Sheep yarns. This time there were also amazingly beautiful, large felted wall "paintings" of Japanese imagery. I wish I'd brought my camera
~ :: ~
I'm a bit excited, my holiday/birthday gift from my Mom and Dad is going to be a serger. I've been wanting one for ages, and this will surely be a wonderful addition to my sewing room. It should arrive next week; I hope to clear out space in the back room and have a permanent sewing table set-up along one wall. with the fabric storage shelves above. There might be room at one end to have a small light box set up as well, for taking pictures to document my artwork. At least that is the current plan.
~ :: ~
Yesterday was an interesting day for several reasons:

1. My dear friend Rois came over with her sons, and brought me this wintertime cottage paper sculpture, it is just the right size to fit on my front windowsill.

2. After I baked up a batch of chocolate acorn cakelets, I headed out to go to Tuesday Family Potluck. Unfortunately my blue line Max train arrived in the transit center too late for the last bus up into the hills. Rather than turn around and go home, or call for a ride, I decided to walk there. Without a map, at night (but with streetlights). It was a bit like an old computer game, the being in a maze of identical streets with identical townhouses, and going up and down hills. I figured that if I got terribly lost I could always call someone, and I had a water bottle and a basket of little cakes... It took me about a half hour, (and I think it was somewhere between a mile and a mile and a half, as best I can figure out from my map at home) when I found my way past the land of identical townhouses, to the hilly suburban neighborhood where my friends live. All day today I've been feeling a bit pleased with myself, that was a bit more beyond my comfort zone in several ways, and I did it happily...
~ :: ~
New classes offered for the first quarter of the year :

Cloisonné Enameling -

Learn the entire process of creating cloisonné, with delicate lines of precious metal delineating patterns and images. Create a suitable design, bend and apply the cloisonné wires, apply multiple layers of enamel and fuse them in the kiln, and grind and flash-fire the finished enamel. You will be provided with materials, and complete at least one piece that can be worn as a pendant.

January 23rd - 25th or March 20th - 22nd ~ $175
Fold Forming for Jewelry -

Fold forming is an exciting technique wherein sheet metal is folded and hammered to create textured, 3-dimensional, organic forms. This is a relatively quick process, so students will have the opportunity to create a variety of basic forms as well as explore some forms in more depth. Because we will be scaling these forms down to sizes useful for jewelry, the work will not require a great deal of heavy hammering. This workshop is appropriate for beginners, however experienced jewelry artists will find it very exciting as well.

February 20th - 22nd ~ $195
Painted Enameling

Learn a straightforward way to add fine details to your enamels. The use of painting enamels began in medieval France, and is appropriate for contemporary and traditional designs. Painting enamels are mixed with lavender oil and applied to a previously enameled surface. You will be provided with two silver blanks, and you will complete at least one small piece that can be worn as a pendant. I will also have available heart shaped blanks, should you want to make a special Valentines day gift…

(Note: you must not be allergic to lavender)

February 6th - 8th ~ $175
Stamped Champlevé -

Champlevé usually involves elaborate preparation to create a design to enamel. We will learn a simple and fun technique using stamps and punches to create designs in the metal that can be filled with enamel to create a multicolored surface with a unique and contemporary look. You will complete at least one piece that can be worn as a pendant. Materials included.

March 6th - 8th ~ $175
Fun Without Flame :
Decorative Stamping and Cold Connections

Learn a variety of techniques for joining parts securely, without the use of heat or solder, and explore the use of various kinds of stamps to decorate and texture metal. This workshop will cover a wide range of mechanical joints that can be achieved with simple tools. We will be working with simple headed rivets, roves, tube rivets, mini screws, and much more. We will work with brass and copper, (silver available at an additional cost), learning how to determine the appropriate sort of cold joint for the materials at hand. There will be practice samples, as well as the option for a finished piece of jewelry to take home.

April 3rd - 5th ~ $195

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

bits of news, mostly good

I didn't get sick at 12th Night. This is a first, every other Hotel 12th Night I've gone to I have ended up ill with respiratory crap. Bringing the Brita filter meant that I had plenty of water to drink that tasted okay. Bringing the wee crockpot meant that I had a hot supper. (I used some of the boil-in-bag Indian food, and pre-cooked rice-in-bag from the emergency food shelf, and just hotted them up in the almost boiling water, it worked great. The other thing that worked well was the small chalkboard for the merchant table, I'll definitely add this to my event list, as a great way to leave useful messages: ie "Art Show in Room 146 tonight" or "shop closed for Laurel Meeting, re-open at 11AM"
~ :: ~
There is definitely something here at Acorn Cottage that I am allergic to. Bedtime is the start of massive sneezing and congestion. Not restful. I'm guessing that it is in the carpet, and hoping that it is not my featherbed, feather pillows, and down puff. Sometime this spring, with help, the bedroom carpet will go away.
~ :: ~
The good people at Friends of Trees called me again this week, the last week to order trees. I'd given up on the idea, since there just was not enough money in the piggy bank right now... My neighborhood coordinator, when I told her that, said that there was a bit of subsidy funding, if I could pay a portion of the cost. Whoo hoo. I will be getting a semi-dwarf Bartlett pear (as a yard tree). I'm thinking to put it in the backyard, near the apple tree babies. I'll want to get another variety of pear, or maybe learn to graft, pears do better with more than one kind of pollen.
~ :: ~
And, for your amusement, I present yet another picture of Smokey the Compact Akita in her role as the Bolster of furry softness...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I'm down, I'm grounded safe and sound

That two hour drive from there to here has never seemed so alarmingly long. Remind me not to do that again on five hours of sleep...

The event went very smoothly, thoughtful gifts were exchanged, and seeing my many friends was the best part. The "Art Show" in the hotel room Saturday night turned into my favorite kind of party, not all drunken and raucous, but plenty of good storytelling. It was fun to disguise all the standard hotel things into a gallery-space. I was particularly pleased with turning the TV cabinet into an illuminated cabinet of coppery sculptural goodness, though sadly I forgot to take a picture, being already very tired at that point. Also, turning the ironing board into a console table to display my jewelry and trinkets and Rafney's needlefeltings worked quite well.

Many thanks to Elfreda for minding the merchant space while I went to the Laurel's meeting Saturday morning, One of the hardest things about events is being "trapped" in the marketplace, while important or interesting things are happening everywhere else, there were many folks I'd have liked to connect with that I never saw, they were busy with meetings, not shoppings. Smokey did her bit as an Akita ambassador both on Saturday night at the Art Show, and during the two hours between hotel checkout and merchant teardown (when she got to come and hang out in the marketplace) Also a special thank-you to the various musicians who came and played in the marketplace, it added a pleasant ambiance to the half empty room

I can't stop yawning, I'm going to bed now, the rest of the unpacking and laundry can wait till tomorrow...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

...if the crick don't rise

A short break from my 12th Night prep to check the condition of the I-5 corridor, currently shut down for twenty miles between Olympia and Portland...things look rather damp north of here...
Amtrak service between Portland and Seattle is shut down as well...
These pictures originally uploaded by
Washington State Dept of Transportation

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

too tired to be trusted with fire

Before 12th Night, I have more drawing to do, and need to figure out what to bring with in the way of foodstuffs. New idea: I'm thinking of bringing my little crockpot, and some soup-in-a-box, so as to have warm supper each night. (Breakfast and lunch are easy, my regular tourney food will work just fine) Veggies are the only difficulty...Hmmm, maybe some salad type stuff?
~ :: ~
The other hopeful bit is that the current weather forecast for the coming weekend is not snowy. I really do not want to drive a rental car in the snow
~ :: ~
Walked the dog in a much larger loop than usual, to see if the closest gas station has propane. No such luck. Ginormous car vaccuums, and a carwash and a snack bar, but not propane. I was hoping, it would sure be convenient...
~ :: ~
Clouds fast forward across the sky as I lean into the wind to get home. I've already walked the dog and shut the hens in for the night, and since I stayed up till 4AM enameling, then walked two miles to re-fill my propane tank, then went to work... I'm going to bed early tonight, lest I get even further out of whack with the typical world. I am in no condition to solder, or draw, or use any kind of sharp objects. Just fluff the featherbed and fall into it... Yup, sounds good

Monday, January 5, 2009

nibbled to death by mice, or why procrastination is bad

Of all the irritating and inconvenient times for my propane tank to run out. Tomorrow will be less useful than I'd hoped, since I will need to deal with it. No propane = no soldering. I do not think that they will let me carry a propane tank, even my bitsy two-pounder, on the bus.
~ :: ~
Today, what I'd thought would be a simple run to the copy store to print out new business cards from my new improved master, (which I cleverly saved to disc in four different formats so as to be sure to have the right one) and to mail off the rush shipment Pelican to Minnesota. The price for shipping was more than what I had quoted my customer, the copy store computer wasn't talking to the printers, so I had to get back on the bus and go to a different place to get the information transferred from CD to paper, and when I was cutting up the the business cards I found that the second shop had "adjusted" my original to a just slightly smaller size, thereby rendering all my careful layout useless. If I had more hair, I'd be pulling it out.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

two good things

This morning, on the way to the bus, I stopped in at the Lombard Goodwill, as I often do. To my delight, there in the woefully small furniture section, was an armless office chair, with a five-wheel base and working hydraulic height adjustment. I've been hoping to find several more of this style of chair, as they are ideal for my students. Even better, the price was right, and it was not raining or snowing, so down the middle of my street I wheeled the chair back home to Acorn Cottage before continuing on my morning errands. I only need to find one or two more of this style chair, and I can check that line off my ginormous to-do/to-find list.
~ :: ~
One of the things I wanted to do was to go to the Main Library, to catch the Gems of the Private Press Movement: Kelmscott, Ashendene, Doves, Golden Cockerel exhibit, since tomorrow will be the last day. It was exciting to see the actual artifacts, wonderful books from William Morris and all the rest. I think I may have found a quote to use as a motto for Acorn Cottage...
~ :: ~

A true source of human happiness
lies in taking a genuine interest
in all the details of daily life
and elevating them by art

- William Morris

~ :: ~
well, back to the workroom...

Friday, January 2, 2009

random snippets

Way back in early November, I was wondering if there was any (better) way to store my hats. While wandering through Fred Meyers I saw that the Christmas items were 75% off; amongst the plasticrap there were a pile of black steel door wreath hangers. Bingo! Two of those, on the front door, in reverse orientation (ie facing the interior), and I've got a home for my hats, and a place to hang my winter scarves. Looks a bit odd, but why should the door be treated like a precious object and not do its fair share for storage?
There was just enough snow last night to make getting around today a slushy slippy mess. After three days, my guests are on their way home; it was great to have the company, but I'm always more inclined to visit and less inclined to work, 'specially when the agenda is "lets make sushi rolls at home" which turns my kitchen into a bit of a madhouse. It was mindbending to see young Ceilidh. It seems like just yesterday I was one of the group of women walking round and round the block with her mum, in an attempt to get labor moving, and now there is a lovely young woman, taller than I, where just not quite yesterday was the cry of a newborn. The wheel turns faster and faster...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

fifty-four things

Last year I posted my aspirations for 2008...
aspirations for the year to come...
I'd like to teach workshops here in Portland
I'd like to get my workroom functional (repaired and put together )
I'd like to take some time each month for fun
I'd like to take better care of the body I live in
I'd like to continue being bravely social
I'd say that I was, overall, moderately successful. The workshops are happening, and I really enjoy teaching. The workroom is more functional, and I've been more social than in many years past. I did many fun things, and have been more physically active due to Nimblefoot (my dear little station wagon) sitting in the driveway for almost all the year.
Accomplishments did happen in the last year, mostly improving Acorn Cottage: a sturdy temporary bathroom sink plumbed in, storage shelves in the small bedroom, a storage wall of shelving in the workroom, rearranged the living room for much improved functionality, a new in-kitchen worm habitat, and my much desired chalkboard wall. Some artsy projects: I made my second coronet, sewed and stenciled a lovely set of Arts and Crafts inspired window treatments, did a six hour demo at Art In The Pearl, became a bit more proficient with Photoshop and created a whole new set of illustrations for the Alphasketch calendar. I opened an Etsy store, got to know my neighbors a bit better, and had a lot of practice for the post-petroleum lifestyle, walking, bussing, and riding my bike for local errands.
So in no particular order at all, here are fifty-four aspirations for 2009. Last year I had five very large concepts that I wanted to move forward. This year I'm thinking about teensy little progresses, just a lot more of them...
  1. sew the living room curtains
  2. replace the carpet in the bedrooms with the Tundra flooring
  3. put together a "book of 2008", with text and pictures (if this goes well I'd like to do this every year)
  4. paint the living room walls grey-blue
  5. sort out the SCA closet
  6. hook up the printer
  7. get the bathroom fan electric sorted out
  8. fix the screwy hinges on the linen cupboard
  9. go to the beach
  10. paint the kitchen walls stone color
  11. add front and back wood to the pantry shelves
  12. repair missing sheetrock in the laundry area
  13. insulate and cover holes in ceiling
  14. small wall shelf below spices for kitchen constant staples
  15. learn to use tripod for photos
  16. set up a small dedicated photo space
  17. build a light box
  18. shoplight for the workroom
  19. stump/stakehorse for workroom
  20. sewing table setup in small bedroom
  21. paint my bedroom grey
  22. finish blue quilt top
  23. knit the mini poncho
  24. drink more water
  25. paint shower-edge trim and install
  26. do my taxes before April, (like in February)
  27. set up better/easier tracking system for commissions
  28. move chooks to south side of backyard
  29. plant asparagus
  30. re-do raised beds
  31. get wood chips for pathways
  32. make myself some new clothes
  33. keep a food diary
  34. paint bathroom walls lavender
  35. go dancing
  36. have a tea party every month
  37. build an outdoor cooking spot
  38. visit the Art Museum
  39. see about teaching a community education class
  40. sew a new worm bag
  41. buy and plant another fruit tree
  42. develop an edible landscape design plan
  43. make progress on the water storage system
  44. paint doorknocker antique black
  45. build a salad table
  46. grow a winter greens garden
  47. porch roof for shade and enclosure
  48. sew a raincoat
  49. spend a day poking around in the antique stores in Sellwood
  50. frame the Fillmore West poster
  51. set up a vent fan for soldering
  52. start a garden record book
  53. look into building a modern "hay box"
  54. experiment with printmaking