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Monday, November 21, 2011

Felted Soap!



Wash cloth and soap all in one!  Great for exfoliating.  And just generally fun!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tomten!



Are the Tomten coming to your house soon?!?  They are to ours!

These were made with Sculpey, a little paint, pinecones, wool roving, and wool felt.  Tee hee!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Jolly Miller and other Nursery Rhymes



Charlie and I have been reading nursery rhymes.  He loves the Richard Scarry book best.  But today he wanted to know that "that" was!  And he pointed to the windmill.  I explained it the best I could.  "A building where the wind blows and turns the windmill which turns gears....which turn stones...and they can take wheat...that's a seed that grows on a stalk, kind of like grass....and then they grind the wheat seed and it becomes flour....that we use to make bread.....blah blah blah"...over his head.  Move on La La.




Then we came to ANOTHER rhyme with a windmill!  And he wanted me to explain it again.  So I did the best I could.

But I thought to myself, "Too bad we don't live in Northern Virginia and I could take him on a field trip to the real restored and functioning Colvin Run Mill."  I can still remember as a child, watching the large stones turning as the intricate system of gears worked soley off of water power.  I remember seeing the bits of corn being ground up into meal between the enormous stones.

Or maybe we could have gone on a field trip to the real Dutch windmills!  And seen how the wind blows and turns the gears of a mill.  As a teenager, I visited the Netherlands and saw these huge majestic buildings rising up out of the horizon.  They were amazing!




Instead, we went on a field trip to LaLa's kitchen and found out how her mill worked.  We touched and played with the wheatberries and held our ears while the mill ground the wheat into flour. (It sounds like an airplane taking off.)





Then we stirred up our flour with yeast and salt and sugar and warm water.  Let it rise once and pinched it into 3 balls.




It was fun playing with the dough.  Almost as fun as "playdough!"




Dough in the pans.....now we have to wait for it to grow!




Wait and wait and wait and wait.  Luckily, Charlie could make some drum music while we waited.





Hurray!  It's ready!  We put the pans in the oven and went off to read yet another story I know about wheat and mills and flour and bread!






"The Little Red Hen!"  A great story about bread and where it comes from!  (And also why having a work ethic and helping out might be a good thing!)





FINALLY, the bread was done!




We took the golden loaves from the oven and buttered their tops.




Then with a basket of apples....




And a basket of hot bread....

...we set off like "Little Red Riding Hood" to visit great-grandma...."who lives down the lane."


Yep!  We've got the nursery rhymes down pat!



Monday, November 14, 2011

Candles for Candles





Yesterday, I decided to make candles.  The old fashioned way.   I needed a certain size candle that is no longer readily available.  I wanted the natural shape of hand-dipped tapers.  I wanted red.




I find the cost of paraffin to be ridiculous at the craft stores.  And since I prefer beeswax (which is even more expensive,) I was very happy when I found a HUGE beeswax candle at the thrift store for $1.  It had some odd bits of dried fruit and lemon grass in it, but I knew I could strain those out after I melted it.  I began by using a chisel and a hammer to break the candle into small enough pieces to put in my melting can.





Wax should never be heated directly on the stove.  It should always be in a water bath.  And even then, a shallow steamer tray of some sort will give extra safety against the wax getting too hot on the bottom.   Wax that gets too hot can not only catch fire, it can explode.  I kept a fire extinguisher nearby.  Baking soda is also useful on a wax fire, but water is useless.




I knew I would need some sort of rack to hang the candles on.  I found an old wall CD rack and took a sledge hammer to break out the middle rungs.  This made a perfect cooling rack!




After my recycled wax was melted and strained of the bits and pieces, it was time to add color.




I bought a wax dye at the craft store that I melted into the melting pot.




I also bought a roll of wicking.




I cut pieces twice as long + 6 inches of the size candles I wanted to make.  A few dips in the wax and I was on my way.  Each string will become two candles.




Dip after dip after dip.  The first ones cool by the time I get to the last ones.  The rack held them separated just like I hoped.




Patience is required!  It is also important for your wax pot to cool down.  If it is too hot, you melt off as much wax as you put on with each dipping.




They are getting fatter!




Because the wax drips off the bottom, it is necessary to cut off the extra after a while.




Finally they are done!  Just the right diameter.  Just the right color.  Just the right handmade look!  I can't wait to use them for Christmas!


Teak Addiction



I have an addiction to teak!  I LOVE it!  I love the color.  I love the texture.  I love the grain.  I love that so many beautiful things were made out of it during the Danish mid-century era.  I love that I have found most of mine at thrift stores.  And I can't WAIT to use it at Thanksgiving when we will be seating and feeding 25 people.




I got out all my "woodware" (some isn't teak) this weekend and started oiling it up in preparation for using it next week.  Mineral oil works great.  But I also found a lovely beeswax/oil mixture:





"Bee Keeper's Gold" from Williams Sonoma.  It is the perfect combination of wax and oil and gives the wood a beautiful patina!

I wish I could have remembered to take some "before pictures!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Waldorf Window Stars!

So, I've been really interested in Waldorf schools lately.  I found out about them through looking up felting blogs.  And I really like what they have to offer.  Too bad my own children didn't get to go to one.  Maybe Charlie will.  In the meantime, I'm enjoying the arts and crafts, thought patterns, and blogs associated with them!




Yesterday, I decided to brighten our windows with some Waldorf Window Stars.  The cold and dark winter has really set in here in Utah and these stars really do make things brighter and happier!




I started out with some tissue paper.  (Because I couldn't find "kite paper" at any local craft stores.  Kite paper would be better as it is more sturdy, but still translucent.)  I cut the sheets into perfect squares, then divided them again into 4 squares and then those squares into rectangles.  8 rectangles in all.  Then fold them in half and then one end like a paper airplane and the other end not so far.  Glue the tips together overlapping each on by half.  And voila!




 (There is a very good tutorial here.  And I really love this lady's whole blog!)




They really brighten up my work space!





I just love how they filter the light!




I made one for my teenage daughter.  I told her it was a "happy" star that would brighten her life through the winter.  When it wouldn't stick to her window, we put it on her paper lamp.  




It makes ME smile every time I see it!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I'm Going Batty!

My wool batting has arrived!  I am so VERY excited about it!





2 POUNDS of lovely fluffy goodness!




All wrapped up so snuggly and warm in it's special paper.




It came clear from Pennsylvania!  West Earl Woolen Mills.  They don't even have a website.  You have to order over the phone.  But they are VERY polite, very capable, and very quick about getting it mailed out to you!  It is also the cheapest place I found.  ; )

Hurray for wool!  I can't wait to get started on some new needle felting and wet felting projects.  And notice how there is a lack of color?  I can't wait to get started DYEING!