Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sterling skull necklace

I adore all things Halloween. So when school starts and the weather starts to cool off I start to think about what I can make in the workshop to fit the season.  I always do a couple of batches of my lampwork Halloween beads (check them out here and here) but I wanted to try something a little less...cute.

I started by sketching a simple skull outline about a million times.  I don't usually sketch my designs but I wanted something I could cut around so I just did it over and over again until I got one the general shape and scale I wanted to use.

They all started to look like space invaders after a while.

I attached the sketch to a piece of silver with rubber cement to cut out with my saw.

I rounded the edges of the jawline and slightly pulled them to the side.  I sanded the edges down but didn't want them to be too clean - this is supposed to be a little creepy!

I added the chain and showed it to Ben.  He thought I was making a ghast from Minecraft (this was a several minute conversation with me repeatedly saying "ghost?" and him getting very frustrated.  He finally had to show me what he was talking about).

I'm happy with how it turned out - I even got to finally use my hallmark stamp to add to a tag on the chain.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Cartoon farm animals. In chocolate.

Last weekend I made some cupcakes and cookies for a baby shower with a farm animal theme.  Since fondant is generally pretty but not so tasty we decided to use chocolate decorations on the cupcakes to match the theme.

I usually find a few images online to print out and use as a guide underneath my chocolate piping, but those weren't helpful for this project.  After trying that a little bit I decided to just freehand the little guys and then things started to go much better.  These are really pretty easy to make; just keep trying over and over until you get the shape you like and make triple what you think you will use so you can pick the best of the group.  (This post has the information about how I make chocolate images.)

The cow took me a while - I had to do that outline like 30 times before I was happy with it.  The nice thing is that I can throw the rejects into a pile and reheat them to use again.  And the process is fun for can take a while but I like doing it.

Once the chocolate had set, I made little 3D embellishments and added googly eyes.  I was really happy with the way they turned out:

How could you not love this face?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Side trip: Monarch Watch open house

Every year Ben and I go to the Monarch Watch open house - we both really love it.  They do an open house twice a year and have educational games and exhibits and a beautiful butterfly garden to walk through.

This is a swallowtail butterfly we saw in the garden - wow. 

This year Ben tagged a monarch (I thought it was going to be some grand surgical type of thing but it's really just a sticker) and got a little slip of information with that number on it to track his monarch migration to Mexico.

He also got to bring home a chrysalis to nurture.  In past years, the monarch has appeared within 12 hours of bringing it home.  It's been a couple of days and the chrysalis is still a green color so I know we have a little bit more will get almost black and sort of transparent right before the monarch emerges.  So for now we are just watching it.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Another mason jar project.

About a month ago I got a juicer.  Since the day it arrived, we've been juicing fruits and vegetables just about every day and I'm so glad we got it! The kids have easily tripled their daily servings of fruits and vegetables. 

Most evenings we juice with dinner and then I make more juice for my lunch the next day.  Everything I've read about storing juice basically says you have to drink it within 24 hours of making it and you must use glass containers filled to the very top to keep the air out.  (This could all be propaganda but I'm trying to ditch plastic whenever possible and I love mason jars, so I decided to believe it.) So I've been using mason jars to store my juices for lunch and have even seemed to figure out how much I need to make to get the jar pretty full.

This all works great if I go home over lunch and can hang out there while I drink the juice; I pour it into a glass and have a little break.  But if I need to stop at the store or empty the dishwasher or...whatever else I seem to find to do over my lunch break, that's not feasible.  I can take it back to the office to drink but there is something about drinking directly out of the mason jar that doesn't work well...I always end up with a mess. So I started looking online at what other people do with their juices and found an option to make a lid I can use with a straw.

It took a little while to get all of the components together because I wanted food grade grommets for the lids (I saw a lot of DIY stuff about getting them in the plumbing section of the hardware store - GROSS.  Maybe they are technically ok, but there's something just so wrong about having plumbing materials touching a drink) and stainless steel straws.  But the end result is worth it - now I can use the regular lid to transport my juice and swap it out for one to use with a straw. 

We've added the lid and straw set to the Jars shop on Etsy - go take a look!

Friday, September 6, 2013

A hallmark stamp

I love tattoos.  I think they can be such a cool expression of individuality.  But as fascinated as I am with them, I don't have any and probably will never get one.  When I've thought about it I can't seem to let go of what happens if I get a tattoo and then in a few years wish I hadn't picked that particular image.  I haven't been able come up with anything that I absolutely know I would want inked on my skin for the rest of my life (aside from the really cliche display of my kids' names somehow...and can't I just wear a necklace with that information?).  Also, I worked in nursing homes for years taking care of men who had tattoos and I can't help but flash forward 40 years and wonder how the ink will look then.

So it hasn't been a surprise to me that when I've looked into getting a hallmark stamp for my work I've tripped over the design every time. I wanted something discreet but that could still be identified as mine. I finally decided it was time to just do it already and the best way to go was to use my initials.

I ordered it online from Infinity stamps.  The process was surprisingly simple and it took a couple of weeks to arrive - it's just what I thought it would be.

Here's the first sample on a piece of scrap copper.  It still needs some clean up to get the buffing compound out and make the lines more crisp, but I think I like it.  I'm excited to start using it!