Monday, December 22, 2008

making ornaments

Scissor ornament

Last year I first tried my hand at making some d├ęcoupage ornaments.

This is a fancy French way of saying that I glued some stuff on glass balls from the store. No, the balls weren't hand-felted from locally-raised sheeps' fleece or anything, they were just on sale after Christmas. They also turn up in the thrift stores right after Christmas, which is a good way to both be more green, and to stock up if you're one to plan holiday projects 11 months in advance.

Anyhow, last year I really had a great time with it, and decided to do it again this year. This is a fun project for one evening at home with some hot chocolate and a new album of holiday songs. It's a very kid-friendly project, as well.

Last year I made a set of Darth Vader ornaments for a friend, made with dark purple glass balls, and Vader pictures from a comic book. This year I decided to use drawings I'd done myself of little crafty scenes, and a couple of boxes of silver balls, to make ornaments as little gifts for my friends.

Here's everything you need for this project:

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1. A box of ornaments; 2. A set of small drawings (small enough to fit on your ornaments, which is pretty small); 3. Mod Podge glue and a paintbrush for applying it; 4. Colored pencils or crayons; 5. Scissors; 6. Glitter (optional, but why would anyone skip the glitter??).

Just color the little pictures and cut them out carefully. Don't use markers to color them - the glue could make the colors run. Crayons or colored pencils work best. When trimming the pictures, I like to cut away as much white space as I can - this eliminates paper wrinkles when you glue them onto the ornaments.

Little drawings, colored

Paint the back of a picture with Mod Podge, and then carefully place it on the ornament. Don't worry if it doesn't lie flat at first. Paint over the top of the picture, smoothing it down as you go. There will probably be some minor wrinkles - just try to keep them in the blank spaces rather than in the drawing itself. Flatten them down with the handle of your paintbrush, and make sure that everything is lightly and smoothly painted over with glue.

Sprinkle lightly with glitter. Really, a light touch is plenty here. The ones I did when I was generous with the glitter don't look half as good.

That's it! You can do a whole box of ornaments on one mug of hot chocolate if you're quick.

Crafty ornaments

Saturday, December 20, 2008

seeds

I know I'm supposed to be working on Christmas presents, but yesterday the Seed Savers' Exchange catalog came in the mail.

sprouts!
little sprouts getting started in the greenhouse last February

It made me really miss working in the garden, and it made me start fantasizing about getting the garden ready for spring, and what varieties I want to try to grow this year. Listen to some of these:

Charantais melon
"Considered by many to be the most divine and flavorful melon in the world. Smooth round melons mature to a creamy grayish-yellow with green stripes. Sweet, juicy, salmon-colored flesh... Ripe melons have a heavenly fragrance."

Federle tomato
"Beautiful, blemish-free 6-7"-long paste tomato, rich full flavor unlike most other banana pepper-shaped tomatoes. Productive plants. Very few seeds, excellent for processing, especially good for salsa."

I will definitely be ordering both of those. And the names of these varieties! There are tomatoes with names like Hillbilly Potato Leaf, Hungarian Heart, Red Fig, Nebraska Wedding, Blondkopfchen, and Wapsinicon Peach; corn varieties called Bloody Butcher, Strawberry Popcorn and Blue Jade; and beans called Dragon's Tongue, Charlevoix and Tiger's Eye.

Who can think about wrapping Christmas presents when there are garden plans to be drawn?

Come to think of it, seed packets would make some pretty great stocking stuffers... I wonder how long these take to deliver. Who wouldn't like to find a Rat-Tailed Radish in their Christmas stocking?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

absence

Sorry for all the nothing emanating from here lately.

This has been my busiest December ever! It's mainly my job keeping me hopping, but some other things, too. We've hosted a bunch of stuff at our house -- Thanksgiving for 14, a going-away party and a few houseguests here and there... but there has been a little fun-time mixed in.

Last weekend I took a lovely trip down to Seagrove, North Carolina's pottery capital, to see what some of our favorite potters were up to.

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Ben Owen was bringing scads of Chinese Red pieces into the shop in preparation for a kiln opening this weekend.

We stopped at another kiln opening for David Stuempfele, whose work I had never seen before. I loved it! His pieces are huge, unglazed, wood-fired, organic and so inviting.

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I wish I had a giant house in an open field in the middle of a forest, which would be very spare and have his beautiful pieces placed here and there, ever so perfectly, all around the space, indoors and out. If you're in North Carolina, David is having another kiln sale this weekend - it's worth the trip. [more photos from his kiln]

On a sad note, we went by Chris Luther's - one of our favorite potters - and learned that his studio had burned down in a fire during the Celebration of Seagrove Potters a few weeks ago. He still had a few pieces for sale in the shop (and we bought all we could!). Chris and his wife told us about how the community has pulled together to help them out. Ben Owen is letting Chris use his kiln to complete a commission he was working on during the fire. We were really inspired to hear about how all the potters in the neighborhood were pitching in to make sure that Chris and his family are able to rebuild soon. I am looking forward to going back in the spring to see what has risen from the ashes.