Sunday, October 5, 2014

B's first peg person.

I got out of the shower today and B came to show me what he had been working on. He had made "a sun hat with a plume". I helped him find a peg person and tie the hat on, but I am so pleased he came up with the idea on his own!

Saturday, September 27, 2014


I spent the entire summer making bee skeps. One might think from that that I had made many of them, but really I just took it very slowly. I think I pushed myself really hard this past spring and I just needed a project with no deadline. Although bees are associated with the feast of St. John on June 24th, I missed that "deadline" by a mile and decided not to rush.

Bee Careful! There are bees in that skep!

So, they showed up in our Michaelmas scene instead.

Our red cross knight makes his way through the village to check out the dragon.

St. Michael(s) and St. George watch over the dining room.

The battle is underway!

And our iron dyed banners show that St. Michael is the victor. Although our attempts at a simplified batik didn't work I was pleased and amazed at how they turned out. We will have an opportunity to continue the iron dyeing research with friends during our Michaelmas festival in the next few days.

Happy Feast Day!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Fashion Chemistry

I have recently undertaken to revamp my entire wardrobe from scratch. As part of my process I have been playing around with dyes. I started with a box of Rit dye left over from a previous project, but in general I like to use more natural products when possible. While I have done quite a bit of plant dyeing with silks and wool, I know that dyeing cotton is a more complex process (plant fiber vs. protein/animal fiber) with more steps to make it colorfast. However, I decided to dive right in and experiment.

I experimented on some cotton t-shirts. I used turmeric because I wanted a deep golden color, it was easily accessible, and I was under the impression it didn't need any mordents or fixers.

I was pretty happy with the results. I liked the buttery yellow, but I wish it had stayed as saturated after one wash as it was immediately after dyeing.

Then I decided to take it for a test run and just wear it one day. I am so glad I did! It happened to be a hot, humid day, and we went on a nice long walk. About half way through our walk I noticed that I had BRIGHT PINK pit stains! I could only laugh. At first I thought the turmeric had interacted with sweat, but then it dawned on me that it was more probable that it was the baking soda I use as deoderant.

While I will probably not be wearing that perticular shirt as is again, I am looking forward to more fashion experiments!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

White Sunday

Whitsun Day.
The birthday of the Christian Church.

I had never really celebrated Whitsun before, so way back in April I signed up to participate in a festival swap. There were 20 of us involved, from all around the country, and we each made a few Whitsun themed decorative items. The themes were mostly fire (reminiscent of the tongues of flame which came to rest upon the apostles heads in Acts 2:3), and doves (reminiscent of the descent of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:4). The items then went to the "hostess'" house where they were sorted. Then we each eagerly awaited a package of surprise items for our own Whitsun celebration. Totally fun!

I decided to make a wall hanging depicting the tongues of flame.

I tried many versions in many mediums before I settled on colored pencils and a mono-chromatic scheme.

The final version:

Our package was almost entirely fire themed as well. Here are our beautiful gifts on the seasonal table!

Happy Feast of Pentecost!

Friday, May 30, 2014

It is the Month of May! (Barely!)

"It is the month of May, Oh, it is the month of May!
Remember Lords and Ladies, it is the month of May!"
                                                                                             -- Bedfordshire May Song -- Traditional

The month of May has been full to the brim! We have been trying to spend some of every day out doors. That was my compromise for not taking my little ones out in the snow very much. I kept thinking, "we will go out side every day when it is beautiful out, and we don't have to deal with so many layers". So, now the beautiful weather is upon us, and I am dutifully, and even joyfully, taking my little ones outside!

I had a bunch of ideas and crafts planned for May Day, none of which actually got done. May Day surprised us for some reason. Luckily, I was already going out to do some errands, so I picked up two huge bunches of flowers and a Miraculous Mother candle to grace out table. In the Catholic liturgical year the month of May is dedicated to St. Mary, Mother of God. All of our little St. Marys are gathered on the seasonal table.

B's Seasonal Table. Yes, those are googly eyes on his Waldorf Seasonal table.
(That is the recently canonized Saint Pope John Paul The Second on the holy card. B seems to be developing an affinity for him.)

Although I like our little peg saints a lot, I have always admired more traditional Marian figures as well. Some of them are quite expensive, however. Since I was already curious about this clay recipe, I decided to try and sculpt a statue myself. The recipe warns that larger items might crack when drying, but the clay looked beautifully smooth, and perfectly white, and somehow perfectly Marian, so I decided to give it a try.

It was really nice to work with. I would say the consistency was closer to play dough than clay, but it was so smooth and easy to sculpt. I had a hard time believing that it would dry sturdy and hard, but sure enough it does! Unfortunately, it did crack as it dried. : (  So, perhaps next time we will try for smaller figures.

Speaking of small figures, our Fiddle Fern Baby and Garlic Baby grew up to be nice sturdy boys! B was especially excited to see that the Garlic Boy was wearing overalls. (Engineer overalls are B's self imposed, mandatory uniform these days.)

At the beginning of May I did make it to the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival. I had been wanting to go for several years to pick up some specific items. This year I had the treat of not only going, but going by myself! It was wonderful! A few little folks came home with me. The fellow is a little felt man from Kyrgyzstan, and the two alpacas are from Peru. (The two googly eyed llamas above also hitched a ride from the festival.)

Any time that has not been spent outside has been spent on several larger projects (one of which had a real deadline! I felt so professional for once!) which I hope to share soon! : )

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Easter Season!

I am so happy with how these butterflies turned out! They are so light, and glowing, and ethereal! I used a completely different technique from last time. It made me nervous because I wasn't sure it was going to work, and I was working under a deadline! But I feel that although the first batch is more technically correct in their colors or designs, this batch is more true to the airy nature of the butterfly. And, therefore, more representative of Christ's risen body. I left the empty cocoons hanging as a symbol of Christ's empty tomb.

A comment from B made me realize that although we had a tree full of butterflies we shouldn't leave out our daily butterflies, so they all came to flutter around our wreath. And below our butterfly tree there is an abundance of bunnies, birds, root babies and a lamb. And of course the Blessed Sacrament (holy card); the star of the whole season!

He is risen! Happy Easter Season! Alleluia!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

On Good Friday, when I am not cooking food . . .

. . . what better way to use the stove than to dye things!

I had beets (upper right, with a wool egg), red cabbage (upper left, with wool eggs and silk yardage), and yellow onion skins (lower left, with wool eggs and silk yardage). After the fibers had been dyed I added vinegar and dyed real eggs.

I also wanted to try the flower resist method. I used regular old grocery store dyes.

The bundles themselves were so pretty!

I left the flowers on a few for this picture because I thought that was pretty too! It makes my heart sing when every step of a project is beautiful!

The flower resist worked way better than I thought it would. And I got some neat tie dye effects where I tied the panty hose.

These are the veggie dyed eggs. From left to right; beet juice for an hour or so, beet juice over night, yellow onion skins for several hours, yellow onion skins over night, red cabbage for several hours, same.

The wool eggs from left to right; beet juice, yellow onion skins, yellow onion skins for longer, red cabbage (for some reason the camera enhanced what is really a very faint blue), red cabbage for longer. I didn't notice until I took this picture that they actually make a pretty good rainbow!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Maundy Thursday

As of last night I did not have any formed plans for marking Maundy Thursday. I had invited some friends over to make unleavened bread, but that was it. As it turned out we had a wonderful time throwing together a shared meal with unleavened bread, hard boiled eggs and charoset. I made up a Seder plate just so we could see the beauty of the display. I don't have a shank bone on hand, and I decided not to put out any horseradish because none of us were going to eat it. Since we were only imaginatively participating in a Passover meal, I thought imaginative shank bones and imaginative bitter herbs would do. It is really lovely when happenings emerge organically. That is definitely something this type A personality needs to learn to trust more often! Perhaps, to further deepen the physical participation in the traditions of the season, me and my little ones will have a foot washing party later on. : )