Saturday, December 14, 2013

Ecoprints on fabric - Getting Hammered

The posts on ecoprinting with fall leaves continue....
This time I hammered the leaves onto fabric to transfer the images...
This is on pre-mordanted fabric, so I'll see how the colors hold up, and maybe try it with some non-mordanted fabric next fall just to see if there's a difference. 

The colors transfer very nicely! In my experience, natural pigments tend to brown over time, but  I'm fine with the prints being as ephemeral as the leaves themselves.

I made these small prints into a bunting.
Isn't it cute?

Leave me a comment about my prints or link to some of your own....

More nature prints to come.....

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Have a happy day;
 being grateful for friends, loved ones, Nature and the planet, 
and this brief moment we are given called "Life"

I hope I can capture snapshots of the beauty of this world
to reflect back to others, so they remember it too....

I'm thankful for all of you out there in cyberland, some of whom I know
in "real life", lol, and especially my friends and family.

Be full of life and merry!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

9 of Wands

The other day one of my favorite Tarot sites, Angel Paths, posted the 9 of Wands as the card of the day.
I like this site, because it gives quick, concise meanings for cards as well as some positional information, and uses different decks, which is fun....... I get a lot out of the different, creative imagery people use for the cards. Btw, I find tarot cards to be a great resource for self study; to use to ponder things in my daily life. 

I'm not so much of the psychic reading variety........ I like to pull a daily card to think about.....

The cards draw upon common collective unconscious and personal themes.
The 9 of Wands represents an ongoing struggle, in which one has the fortitude to persevere.
I started thinking about how this card might apply in my own life, and suddenly remembered working with some "wands" myself the day before......... bamboo poles....

I went out to my garden and looked..... sure enough, I had 9 pole placements (if you look carefully, there are actually 10 poles, with 2 in one spot at the gate in the middle). 
I love when life is synchronous like that. 

Those bamboo poles indeed represent the culmination of of a struggle.... one to keep a very persistent chicken out........... she can dig a hole 2 feet deep in about 3 minutes flat and was destroying my plantings! 

The suit of wands represents, energy, force and movement. 
See the moving chicken....
I think I've outsmarted her......... for now..........

Magic often happens in the mundane events of daily life......
Can you remember any time when tarot or magic has intersected with your daily life? 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Pretty Bit of the Day

Today, slow down and take notice
of the ordinary beauty,
hiding in plain sight,
for those with eyes to see.

with wonderment,
         say "yes" to Life.........

Friday, November 8, 2013

New Ceramic Pot

a new pot fresh from the kiln......... this one is for orchids

dandelions are my favorite plant, so look for them to be on lots of pieces in the future!

holes for drainage, orchids like to be misty, but not really sitting in water...

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Playing with Natural Dyes - Part 1

The fall colors are winding down....... the colors have been so beautiful, I've been in a state of eyegasm for weeks....ahhhhhhhhhhh!

I wanted to capture some of the beauty, so I've been experimenting with dyeing
fabric and transferring color to fabric directly from the leaves. 

Today, I'm sharing some of the dyeing results with you.

Do you see the Oak leaves? 
I started out with Oak leaves, because I know that acorns have tannin and so I figured that the leaves would have some as well......... they transferred pretty well. 
I like the dark impressions from the outer layer of dye. I wrapped the cloth around sticks with the leaves sandwiched in the middle, and then dunked them into a crock pot that I have specifically for crafts. (Never use your crafts appliances for making foods, some of the chemistry may linger and be unhealthy) I'm going to look for some sticks of larger dimension to get more of the dark impressions throughout the cloth, although that will mean dyeing less fabric at a time. 
I've been letting them steep in the hot liquid for 1-2 days at a time, occasionally topping off the water level.

The fabric picks up somewhat different impressions on one side than the other, depending on the side of the leaf touching the fabric and how it's exposed to the dye solution.
The photo underneath is the reverse side of the photo above.

Here's one done on denim. This was a pre-mordanted fabric and picked up the leaf color well. 
I tried mordanted and non-mordanted pieces, but not of the same fabrics....... so much for the scientific approach! 
I'll have to try that out again with another batch. I'm so impatient to see them, I've been a bit resistant to slowing down and pre-mordanting them. Most of the white fabric is from an old comforter that I'm recycling. I figure it's  a bleached cotton and fairly receptive to coloring, but I should try some mordanted just to see if there's a difference.

Another front and back piece.....

The yellow was where the fabric was closest to the branch, so most likely the coloring is coming  from the branch itself. This is a tree in the back yard I haven't id'd yet. Have to ask the landlord if she knows what it is or id it.

This is a cotton gauze that was mordanted. The color mainly picked up just around the leaves.

A couple more pieces... I experimented with different materials to bind the fabric.... twine.... some old rusty wire. Rust is wonderful for dyeing.

The reverse of the above piece.......

I'm having so much fun with this that I'm trying out other leaves, so more photos in a following post. I've also collected a big bag of leaves, so that I can keep going even after the falling leaves are done. 

The bf is super-excited to have bags of leaves in the garage- hahaha

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Starry Goblet - new ceramic piece

Here's a goblet that I made recently......... 

The stars remind me of the magical feeling of drinking a glass, or two, even, of wine in the evening. Hopefully, with good company.

 Sadly, I spent so much time on this goblet, that I can't sell it; it would be too expensive for anyone to want to buy.
 Happily, I love this goblet and don't want to sell it, lol. 

The bottom of the cup has a surprise in it:

It's been suggested to me that a goblet made of ceramic may be too heavy . 
As someone who has (more than once) knocked a glass over, I like the idea of a cup with a little weight. 

Leave me a comment on your thoughts about the weight of a goblet and whether a lighter or a heavier cup appeals to you and why.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Plant Markers

Planning for next year's garden season? 
I'm always thinking about ways to improve my garden; probably because I start out with good intentions to be organized and end up like a plant fairy scattering seeds randomly wherever there's space and then wondering what the heck is coming up. 

So, once again, I am planning to do better next year, and designed these cute plant markers to try to keep track of my manic planting. If you, also, would like to be more organised, you can get these plant markers in my etsy shop, in pre-made sets with: carrot, pea, lettuce, bean, squash, and radish; or order custom sets of markers with the names of plants that you want.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Where the Light Gets In -New Ceramic Sculpture

So happy to be doing ceramics again after all these years. 
Mixing a bit of the abstract in with the practical.

This new piece is called "Where the Light Gets In". 
It's inspired by a variety of impressions; Leonard Cohen's song "Anthem", the Rumi quote " the wound is where the light enters", and a curiosity about a bird's experience upon making the crack to leave the egg...

The two separate pieces of the sculpture were made with impressions of real crow feathers.

The egg opens at the crack to hold a tiny light that shines from the inside outward.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Dark and Light

What if light and dark don't equal good and bad? 
What if they are in a dance; like music......... 
light equals sound; dark, the silence between the notes...
 and bad is an occasional dissonent note, soon fading away- 
life passes through us like a sound wave, a rythym

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Monday, May 20, 2013

Four Directions Bowl

New work. 
I made this bowl as a test tile because it came out a bit lopsided,but the glazing came out wonderful.
I was so happy when I saw it come back from the kiln.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Dandy Veloute over Polenta

Dandelions; the plant people love to hate. Sadly, I've seen many of my neighbors out spraying Round up on them numerous times. If the overspray could only be contained to their yards...... the city of Seattle frowns on using herbicides, but until they ban them from sale, like they did the plastic bags, people will use it.

But why spray dangerous chemicals on the ground when you have a free source of nutritious food popping up? Dandelions were brought over from Europe for their food and medicinal value. You can eat the whole plant from root to flower. The roots make a tasty coffee substitute and an environmentally friendly one, too, as they are right out in your yard rather than in a far off country. The leaves can be used in salads or as a cooking green. The flowers can be used to make wine or fried as battered fritters or sprinkled in salads. They're often an ingredient in bitters, which I plan to try to make one day.

 A breakdown of the USDA listing of nutrition is here. They are particularly high in vitamin K and have lots of minerals. If you are avoiding iron you may want to limit your intake. The French nickname piss-en-lit  describes its somewhat diuretic effects, however, dandelion also replaces the potassium loss that happens with prescription diuretics. The word "Dandelion" is a variation from the original French name of the plant, Dent de Lion; lion's tooth, because of the serration of the edges of the leaves, although different species have quite a bit of variation.

Dandelions are in the asteraceae family, which is a ginormous family of plants that also includes sunflowers, and Cat's Ears which are fuzzy and also edible; their leaves don't get as bitter as dandelions, but they also have somewhat less nutrition, I've been told.

This recipe is somewhat foodie, but also comfort food. The Dandy Veloute is somewhat bitter, but the perfect complement to the bland polenta and somewhat sweet carrot puree. I used a broth I made from the shells of 1 lb. of shrimp, but you could use any broth. I like to find multiple uses for my foodstuffs and see just how many things I can come up .

                                                  Dandy Veloute
Printable Recipe

Ingredients: Carrot Cloud
                  6 large carrots, chopped into large bits
                  1 large russet potato, chopped into large bits
                  1 tbs. lemon juice
                  5 bay leaves
                  rest of can of coconut milk after dividing, see Dandy Veloute
                 3 tbsp. coconut oil
                 salt to taste


                 shells from 1 lb of shrimp
                1/2 cup white wine
                6-7 cups of water, you want to end up with 6 cups after simmering.
or just use 6 cups of broth of choice

               Dandy Veloute

               5 loosely chopped cups of dandelion leaves
               1/2 onion, chopped
               1/2 cup white wine
               1 cup broth
               1/14 cup coconut milk
               2 tbsp. coconut oil or olive oil


              2 cups dry polenta
              5 cups broth, 1 cup water
              salt and pepper to taste

      for the carrot puree cloud: in steamer pan add water and 5 bay leaves to bottom. Steam carrots and potatoes until tender. Add them and the rest of the cloud ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Put into a holding container, try not to devour it while making the other parts of the recipe.

     for the broth: simmer the shrimp shells white wine and water for about 1/2 hour. Strain out the shells.

      for the Veloute: Heat the oil in a large skillet. Sautee the onions until they soften but do not brown. Add the white wine, then 1 cup of the broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Put them in the blender along with the dandelions and coconut milk. Blend until smooth and creamy. Set aside or in a pot on the stove on low until polenta is ready.

      for the polenta: Put the dry polenta into a large saucepan. Add the broth and water and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer until softened and thick. Stir occassionally to prevent burning on the bottom.

     I sauteed a thinly sliced tomato and about a 1/4 onion in olive oil as a flavorful garnish to put on top. (optional)

     Once all parts of recipe are ready: spoon polenta into a serving bowl; put a tablespoon of butter or butter sub on top. (optional, but yummy) Spoon carrot cloud over polenta. Spoon Dandy Veloute on top. Top with garnish if using.

Let me know if you try this recipe and like it. I see lots of views of my posts, but rarely get comments. I'd love to know how you liked it or what variations you might have come up with.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


My latest sculptural ceramics piece was waiting for me at the ceramics studio today. I'm so happy with how it came out, just like I wanted, which if you've ever glazed ceramics, you know it ain't easy. 

Without further ado, I present "Intuition"

My sculptural artwork has centered around my connection to Spirit and the Earth; and it's timely that I completed this one on the weekend of Earth Day. I'd like to remind people that we are all intimately connected to Life and Nature.

and the obligatory kitteh shot

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Happy /Lucky Water

Inspired by one of my classmates, I made this mini well for Happy/Lucky water. It's mounted by my front door so that I can bless myself as I leave the house and remember to feel lucky and be happy. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Cedar Groves Tour

Last weekend I toured Cedar Groves compost facility in Everett, WA as part of the MCSB (Master Composter/Soil Builder) class I'm taking through Seattle Tilth. It was truly interesting and a beautiful day, to boot. We toured the facility and learned about their process, as well as the triumphs and challenges of composting food and plant waste for a large urban area. The biggest challenge is dealing with all the non-compostables people put in their bins or truck in; things like plastic, broken tools, and items that may have been recyclable or are just garbage. Cedar Grove has come up with all kinds of ingenious ways to try to sift these items out with screening and magnets, etc., but it would be so helpful if people were conscientious about what they contribute; because at the scale of their operation, it's impossible to keep out everything that shouldn't be in there. Cedar Grove provides a very valuable service composting tons of material that can be re-used rather than going into the overloaded landfills. The facility meets very stringent requirements for their output both in their product as well as water runoff and so forth. This is the second largest urban composting project in the US; apparently the largest is in Delaware.

The industrial feel to the facility would have been fun to just run around and photograph, but there's heavy equipment and trucks all over, so I had to keep up with the tour. These are some of my photos from the morning:

There were eagles and hawks flying around attracted to critters that are naturally attracted to compost....

Fellow students on tour.....

Beautiful setting...

Magnets extract metallic objects before the material goes into the piles.

Material goes down conveyor belts that screen out foreign material and then are formed into long piles.

The piles are covered with Goretex covers that breathe and help the huge piles reach temperatures that kill pathogens. The crane moves the covers back and forth over the piles at the beginning and end of the process.

Life finds its way in....

As our tour coordinator said "these piles are done because the weeds are happily growing in this compost"  

Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring Eggs

So, probably this should've been posted a week ago, but this is my attempt at natural egg coloring. This is something I still have to perfect. I tried a few different dye baths using natural materials and these two so far at least gave me some real color, turmeric and elderberry. Yes, I added vinegar to the baths, and simmered them to unleash the color. I tried paprika, but it didn't do a whole lot. I didn't have a rack to dry them on, so I stuck them in an empty egg carton, which gave them this sort of mottled look, which I actually liked.

My local egg lady has eggs again, yay! and these are eggs shells as they naturally occur:

I'm kinda leaning toward the natural look.......

Has anyone else had luck with natural dyes? What did you use?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

Take a moment today to breathe. 
Sit still, and follow your breath ..... into your heart and back out into the air we all breathe in common. 
Feel the beat of the Earth's heart. 
Follow the feeling of breathing in and out as one, you and the Earth.
Feel any sensation of Love you find in your heart as you and the Earth breathe as one. 
Begin to breathe the earth's love into your heart and breathe your love out to the Earth. 
Continue for as long as you can sustain the feeling.... letting it grow and expand . 
Complete with a long deep breath in and a long, slow exhale out. 
Enjoy a blissful moment of union. 

"Before we can generate compassion and love, it is important to have a clear
understanding of what we understand compassion and love to be. In simple terms, compassion and love can be defined as positive thoughts and feelings that give rise to such essential things in life as hope, courage, determination, and inner strength. In the Buddhist tradition, compassion and love are seen as two aspects of the same thing: Compassion is the wish for another being to be free from suffering; love is wanting them to have happiness."
-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from "The Compassionate Life", 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Pretty Bit of the Day 2-2-13

Imbolc-Candlemas-St. Brigid's Day

grey skies  
the promise of buds 
and growth
just below the surface
about to rise 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Strawberries and Cream Tea

Did you know that strawberries are native to North America? I've found them growing wild in Northern California and Washington state. Mostly, I've found them on the seashores. Where have you found them growing?

Wild strawberries are smaller than the big, watery, hybrid berries you'll find at the supermarket, but they make up for it with intense flavor.

Last year, I was lucky in that not many people came out to work in the community garden and we have a ginormous strawberry patch. I wanted to do something with them that didn't involve loads of sugar, so I dehydrated a bunch. They're delicious in trail mix and also in this lovely tea.

 I find that dried fruit teas take more plant matter than herbal teas. I use about 1/4 cup of berries to 1 cup of boiling water. Let the tea steep for a bit. Strain the berries out and use in another recipe, such as adding to a cake or pancakes.

You may want to reheat the tea gently if it has cooled a bit. It's tart but tasty at this point. You can drink it as is or add a bit of sweetener of your choice and cream product. I can't do dairy, so I use a nice thick homemade almond milk.

Mmmm, a cup of summer fairy magic in winter.