Chunky Knit Planters

Chunky Knit Planters

New Home for Fresh Basil

I found this Chunky Knit Planters tutorial a few years ago and stewed on the idea until now. There are a few items you will need to produce this project. Polymer clay is the star of the show. For the sample you see above, Sculpey is the medium of success. Tin cans or oven-safe vessels are the base of this project. If you do not have Sculpey in your toolbox, follow this simple recipe to make a Natural Polymer Clay Substitute. Making this recipe was the first step in my journey to creating this tutorial.

Mix Ingredients into a Pot and Mix

Using 2 cups each of baking soda and cornstarch and adding 1.25 cups of cold water to a saucepan over low to medium heat, depending upon your stove, mix the ingredients until they combine. The numbered photos give you a visual of the changes in consistency.

Add Oil and Food Coloring

Once the homemade ingredients were cool enough to handle, I mixed in 1-2 tablespoons of oil. To keep this project an easy kitchen sourced creation, I used canola oil, but you can use vegetable glycerine to make this smooth. If you wish to make a colored clay, form a pancake with the clay, poke holes in sections and drop food color into the holes. Knead the clay until the color mixes to a solid shade. Less kneading reveals a tie-dye effect.

Lavender Blob

The process to make this chunky knit look is to make coils with the clay, then twist those coils and align them alongside each other on the outside surface of your vessel, attaching the clay at the top and bottom and pressing to adhere all elements together. A faux knitted stitch is revealed by laying each twisted coil side by side, giving your vessel a little blanket hug.

Make the Coils, Twist the Coils, Cover the Can

Take a peak at my video tutorial of this project over on the Southeast Steuben County Library YouTube channel. You will see the full process of each clay I used and the results. This project can take a full day if you let it, so be prepared to have fun. Save the clean up for another time!

Preview of the Samples

I loved working with both of these clays for several different reasons. Making my own clay from natural ingredients was rewarding and very inexpensive. The batch of dough made twice the amount of planters than did the polymer clay. The polymer clay was easier and quicker to work with and made the most durable final product. Sadly, the homemade version saw some sad ending.

Not All Endings are Happy

For some reason, or several, the natural polymer clay substitute did not hold up well after baking. The surface of the colored version was uneven, dried out in spots, but was still very soft after an extra 15 minutes of cooking time. Perhaps the coils were too thick for the cooking suggestion of a 250-degree oven for 15-20 minutes. This was my glass test vessel you will see in the video. The hope was to have the glass vessel pop out and leave only a clay planter in which to put fairy lights or a candle. Sadly, my experiment failed and the whole thing fell apart. The lip on the white version broke off in transport to my studio. I believe I could have scored both the base and coil to make a better seal, but I would have to do another test to know for sure.

Try it Out!

Perhaps this tutorial recap and complimenting video provide you some inspiration. Don’t be shy! If you make this project, share your examples in the comments. Now is the time to refresh your houseplants and give your decor a little sprucing. Be well and Keep Crafting. ❤

Earth Day 2020

be kind

In a world where you can be anything, be kind. That is the prevailing message that resides with me during this healing time for Earth’s homo sapiens. I admit I miss my regular pizza haunt for my daily slice. I love seeing the speed of service, the art of the sale. As I took a stroll down Market Street to check on the art mural at Volo, the creative message above struck me as golden.

Refreshed Mural

The progress of this community art mural is impressive. It was refreshed on Sunday, April 19. Scroll through the images here to see artists in process. Notice the N-95 mask on our central hero. See Covid-19 get Blown Away in the Glory Hole (ironically the name of the last establishment at this address). Can you spy Little Joe? Credit goes out to the artists who started this mural in motion- @kevinarts, @krazinski_b_art, and my friend @aswannamedemily. If you get the itch, go down to fill in the spaces! Gratitude to the Dude behind the idea–and to the Gaffer District for letting him do this for our community.

Mask Maker

Since the CDC recommended wearing face masks in public, and New York State’s face covering mandate, my studio is a Mask Making Factory. I make batches as time allows, but more creative endeavors and outdoor adventures have been calling. Thank goodness we got a reprieve from snow!

Celebrating Planet eARTh

With the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day this week, my family took advantage of warm and dry weather to get lost in the woods of the Finger Lakes Forest. We celebrated Mother Earth with a geocaching adventure and found some negative ions along the way. The loot we found in the treasure box was quite an appropriate reminder of how extra important our medical services are at this moment in history.

Get Lost and Geocache

A walk in the woods was the right medicine to refresh my spirit to learn a new skill. I decided take the virtual-library-program-video challenge. Some of our programmers are offering ways to entertain us online with story times and science experiments, but I admit the camera gives me the jitters! Cheers to all the divas and dudes rocking our video instruction and entertainment worlds right now. The challenge is REAL. Facing a still camera, while pretending to speak to a room full of patrons has been a beast I’ve delayed slaying…until NOW.

Earth Day Seed Bombs Premiere on YouTube

Join me on Earth Day, April 22 at 4pm EST on our YouTube channel to learn how to make Seed Bombs and Infused Paper. If you have never made or received seed infused paper, this is a fun tutorial. Most of us have the supplies at home and there is little to no cost to participate. I recycled shredded junk mail and some tissue paper to create lovely paper and handmade gifts. I’m getting excited by the possibilities of these videos. Check in again on Monday, April 27 at 4pm for my Chunky Knit Planter tutorial. If you have any requests, place your video suggestions in the comments for future installments.

Seed Bombs and Infused Paper Samples

While the world is recognizing the requirement to Shelter in Place, all live art events and music festivals are cancelled. Still, artists are finding ways to express themselves on internet platforms. Earth Day Art Model is a telematic art festival where art and technology meet online. This project will begin at 8pm on April 21 (TONIGHT) and run for 24 hours. I am certainly intrigued!

Homemade Suet Bird Feeder

Whether you celebrate Earth Day 2020 by planting trees and seeds or even by feeding seeds to the birds, honor the moment on the only home planet we know. I think this world is quite beautiful. I find it more so when my feathered neighbors flock the feeders to nibble on my homemade suet blocks, filling the yard with color and excitement. Tell me how you choose to cultivate your Mother Earth. Be well, my friends, and Be Kind. ❤

World Art Day

Mindy the Mask Maker ” design by Toby Maurer, https://thebrandinghouse.com/

I’m back from the Face-Mask-Sewing Trenches (needed to give my back a break)! Are you as grateful for the FREE YOGA SESSIONS each Friday morning at 10am with Elizabeth Moses as I am? To seamsters around the world pressing pedals to the floor to protect their community members, we are ever-grateful for your spirit. My studio hummed all week with over 50 masks made by this Factory-of-One in the style of Tangled Hangers.

While we are all busy figuring out time in this parallel universe, ART still surges! In 2020, April 15 is no longer Tax Day. According to UNESCO, April 15 is WORLD ART DAY. World Art Day, a celebration to promote the development, diffusion and enjoyment of art, was proclaimed at the 40th session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 2019. Considering this revelation, now is a great time to share this amazing contest to all the mask makers out there.

Contest details at https://woobox.com/ink6fa

Deadline to enter your submission is April 26. Please let me know if you enter. (May the Force Be With You!) < > All my upcycled and wearable art friends out there will appreciate this offering from Nancy Judd at Recycle Runway. Click that link to find interactive art classes from the artist directly. These classes are perfect for any parents who are now learning to homeschool. They are also fantastic for any adult who needs a little guidance to find their own creative wave.

Watch the tutorial with Filomena Jack Studio!

In case you haven’t checked the Southeast Steuben County Library calendar of events, my bunny painting is a sample of what you can make from a Virtual Bunny Painting class with Filomena Jack. Click that link so you can follow along with the video and make your own art for World Art Day- or any day!

Crafting with Kimberly: Bunny Gnomes

Kimberly Canale helped us get festive for Easter with a Bunny Gnome tutorial. If you love crafting, but have few store-bought elements, Fear NOT! Kimberly shows you how to upcycle ordinary household items into unique creations. Follow her video for full instruction on making the gnome seen above.

PPE Volunteers at CCLD

Our library friends at CCLD Makerspace are busy making PPE for hostpital staff in the Southern Tier. I always say they have the coolest tools! This pandemic is proving the power of compassion and community dedication behind the tools. If you have time to get involved, please fill out their volunteer application.

Celbrate 50 Years of eARTh Day on April 22!

Next week is the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. There are so many ways to honor the only home we know. Find ways to Take Action on the Earth Day website. Upcycling is my favorite means of creating and a great way to take action to save our planet. Watch my tutorial on making Seed Bombs and Seed infused paper from junk mail on eARTh day, April 22 at 4pm. Subscribe to the Southeast Steuben County Library YouTube channel. Find the link to my Earth Day Seed Bombs video premiere (link available on April 20) so we can have a Watch Party!

or take a walk down Market Street

I understand all this isolation has us itching to get out and enjoy the fresh air. That’s the wonder of this internet thing and video channels. They have your back when you’ve nothing better to do. When the weather is on your side, I prescribe a Tech Vacay and stroll down Market Street. Enjoy this expanding mural outside of Volo. Find other #art out there. Share with me later–post with #CreationStation to spread the L.O.V.E. Get outside, Keep creating, Stay Golden. ❤

Face Masks Forward

It’s SeWednesday–or is it?! *** Covid-19 is taking over our lives, but I thought another kind of takeover would be more fun. I invited Tangled Hangers Designs to takeover our blog for the day. She’s been busy in her studio sewing face masks for our community, but made time to offer a Face Mask Tutorial. She included a little video and provided the pattern. Her design includes five size options, as well as a pocket to insert a filtration fabric. Reports change daily on the value of a face mask, but a unified stance has risen in the maker community. Supplies will be provided to the front line if they must be stitched in every home in the United States. We are all in this together. Without further ado, let’s get by with a little help from our #FLX friends.

Ha! It’s not Wednesday (or maybe it is??), but watch for more #SeWednesday installments for sewing instruction and exploration. Tell us if you are making face masks or helping #ProtectTheFrontline in other ways. Show us your results if you sew-along with this tutorial. Tune in today at 4pm for a Watch Party on the Southeast Steuben County Library YouTube channel to see the creator at work. The video will be available for future reference. ❤ Read Creation Stationary, but don’t be a stationary creator. Get making!

Fascinating Fermentation

Way back on March 18…

It’s funny to think how far in the past just two weeks feels since self-isolating started in New York to #flattenthecurve. The homestead projects I had started out of curiosity now seem to be a lifeline to normalcy. As we each proverbially sit and stew in our collective homes, I have the need to ferment. Behold the magic of sourdough.

Starter, Seed Culture, Barm- the magic begins

Ironically, I had this need to work with fermentation as a 2020 New Year’s resolution. I sourced a starter from a friend and fed the batch with little progress toward baking. I was learning the process and ingesting lots of hours of YouTube tutorials, but never finding the time to make progress. Then I stumbled into this warped reality we all have found, where Covid-19 has us all hunkered down at home. The time I want to experiment with myriad techniques in the kitchen and art studio is now. I find we are all embracing the primal need to make food. This is the time to befriend The Bread Bakers Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. Enjoy a little culinary literacy.

Flour + Water + Time = Natural Yeast Magic

The starter or mother culture passed on to me was fed with equal parts of flour and water to double the original quantity. That fermented for four hours and doubled in size as you see in ball jars above. The next step to begin a Basic Sourdough Bread is to build a Firm Starter. Mixing roughly 1 cup of the starter, otherwise known as barm, one cup of flour, and enough water to form the dough into a ball. Lightly oil a bowl and the ball of dough, cover and allow to ferment at room temperature for 4 hours. Since time has no meaning for me now, I’m game, but recognize that over 8 hours have been spent coddling this culture. Several makers name their starter to give it more character- just like a pet. By this point, we agree that this barm is Sweet Melissa and she will lead us through this epidemic.

Build the Final Dough

After the four-hour ferment is complete, cut the dough into ten segments, place on a lightly greased pan and allow to rest for 1 hour. Time to shine the light on my Unicorn, the Kitchen Aid mixer workhorse extraordinaire. I am lazy when it comes to mixing dough, so my Unicorn takes all of the hard chores off my list. I measured 20 ounces of flour into the bowl, added 2 teaspoons of salt and started to mix each segment of the firm starter into the bowl to achieve a the final dough mixture. This run on a low setting with a dough hook for 4 minutes.

Final Dough, ’bout to be be bread in my belly.

The Final Dough is finally achieved. It has the appearance of a French Bread Dough, smooth, yet sticky surface and an internal temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly coat a bowl and the dough with oil, cover and let this ferment for an additional 4 hours. That’s right, it’s a good thing I’m not leaving my house. Sweet Melissa needs me–or I knead her!

The Final Ferment Countdown

Once the final dough has fermented an additional 4 hours, it is time to split the dough in half and form into the final shape that will result in the baked loaf. For a beginner, Chef Reinhart advises to gently shape the dough into boules. This basically means, form them into two balls and, guess what. Let those babies proof for 3 more hours! Since I was so invested in this project, baking bread after midnight was simply part of the game.

Score!

The fun part of baking bread is scoring the dough before it hits the heat of the oven. These score marks allow gases to expand and stretch the dough versus bubble and deform the shape. I prepared the oven with a baking stone on a low rack and an iron skillet on the upper rack. These items were heated up to 550 degrees. I heated a cup of water to boiling, then placed the pan of bread directly on the baking stone. The cup of water was poured into the iron skillet to help produce a steam bath for the development of crust in the oven. After 30 seconds, I sprayed the oven walls with a water bottle. I repeated this process twice in the hopes of finding a crust similar to that of my favorite bakery breads.

Behold the Beauty

Although the entire process takes an entire day of care, the results are amazing! After just 15 minutes of baking in the oven, all of that flour, water and time produced two fabulous loaves of bread, truly made with LOVE.

Have a Slice

Once the baking time was complete, I allowed the bread to rest on a rack for 45 minutes. A few slices were gobbled in moments once they were cooled. So much for a labor of love. Let the late night smorgas-bread commence! If you find this helpful, let me know your experience. We are all in this together. Get creative and cook happy ❤

Covid-19 Craftivism

This week in Covid-19 Craftivism, we focus on ventilators, face shields, and protective masks. Homemade manufacturing is on the rise. I’ve curated samples of how the stewards of art studios and craft rooms are stepping up to help the front line.

Joshua McMenamin makes ventilator splitters.

Ventilators are the breathing aides that are in critical demand. These machines provide the mechanization of breathing air into the lungs of a patient. Glassblowers, like Josh McMenamin of Orbital Glass in Colorado, are offering their skills to the medical field by creating glass ventilator splitters. These devices can split the air delivery of a single machine to provide ventilation for up to four patients. While providing one ventilator for each patient is ideal to offer adequate oxygen intake per individual, having alternatives to support life is of utmost value in this crisis. This technique of splitting air supply has not been tested on humans, but offers an option to sustain more lives. This fourteen year old study provides more information on this option. If one machine can help up to four patients, this can aide in the most dire situations.

Zaragoza Maker Space Face Shield

Friends from around the world connect with me daily to share the newest maker information. We find 3-D printing communities participating in medical supply aid for Covid-19. Zaragoza Maker Space in Zaragoza, Spain has provided printing files to produce protective visors with 3-D printers. Bot Camp has another version of a healthcare face shield. Using 3-ring binder plastic sheets, a barrier of protection is made available to emergency and medical professionals. Makers who are preparing these items are urged to share their progress on social media with the hashtag #coronavirusmakers.

Face Mask Perspective from New York Times

If you followed any social media over the past few days, face mask shortage is the constant conversation. Last night, Arnot Health put out a call to local news outlets asking for makers to sew protective face masks. Sewists everywhere are revving up their sewing machines with another facet of making for the medical field in our country. Solidarity to protect our medical and emergency personnel has risen the frenzy to make face masks regardless of the implications that they offer no value of protection. After countless communications with friends and family in the emergency medical fields, the idea that our country has been depleted of a simple personal protective elements is absurd. Making these items out of fabric seems even more ridiculous, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Jennifer Maker offers Cricut Face Mask Tutorials.

If you own a Cricut precision die cut machine, or have the inclination to make these masks with a paper pattern, Jennifer Maker provides a perfect tutorial. This variation includes a pocket to insert a HEPA filtration fabric, which is the only way to protect from vapor inhalation. These masks are not medically approved, but offer a stop-gap at the very minimum. They also provide peace-of-mind, but that is a false sense of peace. This is what local manufacturing looks like and may continue to grow. As mass production has been sent overseas in cost-saving efforts, capitalism is proving to be a failing financial model for sustainability. Art and making continue to prove valuable to every community.

Bed-In for Peace

All of this stewardship is impressive, but I have this need for peace. I find a need for more personal time and am taking life at a slower pace. My favorite radio station, WFMU reminded me of a seemingly simpler time with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. I would love to have a moment of peace from all the fear. Let’s trust in abundance and focus that everything is going to be alright. Let’s put fears aside and see how a simple Bed-In can help us all to Keep Calm. It’s always hopeful to think we can Give Peace a Chance.