Maker Mondays and More

Maker Mondays is our monthly arts and craft program, which is often lead by a teaching artist from our region of the Finger Lakes (FLX). On April 26, Wynn Yarrow will lead the next Maker Mondays with Papier Mache the Quick and Easy Way. Hit that hyperlink if you want to join the Zoom Room with us. Our gratitude for the grants programs in our region helping to make this program possible. This activity is made possible in part by the QuickARTS grant program administered by The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes and funded by the Community Foundation of Elmira-Corning and the Finger Lakes, Inc.

If you register for the class, a free materials kit will be provided for you to pick up at the Southeast Steuben County Library. We offer curbside delivery for those patrons who prefer the service. You can schedule a curbside delivery of a program materials kit or any material the library offers. Check out the online catalog and type “kit” into the search query to find crafting and maker kits that you can borrow to explore a new hobby. For those who cannot attend our classes, check out this link for paper mache instructions from The Spruce Crafts.

Sew Wednesdays is another monthly offering from the library makerspace, Creation Station. Offered on the Second Wednesday of the Month (S.W.O.M.), I compile a video tutorial and upload it to our YouTube channel for Public Preview at 7pm. This week, we will learn how to make a Bunny Lunch Bag.

Set an Alarm for April 14 at 7pm

As we approach Earth Day and consider ways to eliminate waste or simply reduce and reuse our packaging, this sewing tutorial will show you how to create a cute and functional lunch bag for you midday fuel. There’s even enough room to add a paperback beside your sandwich and salad.

We are super stoked to have a second helping of Sew Wednesdays this month thanks to our friend and ethical apparel designer, Jesse Junko Bearsdslee of Themis and Thread.

Fashion Revolution Week is April 19-25, 2021. It is a great time to learn who made your clothes and even take a test run at making your own. With skills and style like Jesse, you don’t want to miss this personal invitation to join the revolution! Sign up today to for a spot in this Live and Virtual Apron Sew-Along class on Wednesday, April 21 at 8pm. Sew an Apron just like the image above. There are 3 fabric options chosen for the kits. Your registration includes a Grab and Sew Kit specifically crafted for you by Jesse Junko Bearsdlee. If you have no interest in sewing, but want to support artisans like Jesse, visit her store Hector Handmade online or visit it on Seneca Lake.

Dreamcatchers and LIVE MUSIC

For the final Kitsch & Kvetch class, we met in-person at the Fountain in Riverfront Centennial Park. To our surprise, we found a full celebration with kilts and bagpipers and LIVE MUSIC for Tartan Day, which is April 6, “the date on which the Declaration of Arbroath was signed in 1320.” The Scottish American Society of the Southern Tier hosted this event, which was a delight to many passersby on an evening with such pleasant weather. This moment felt like the true turning of the tide for Covid-19 and the Quarantine Lock-down. Warm weather and birdsong often gives me that kind of hope, but LIVE MUSIC made the hope feel ever-more-real. We have lots of supplies leftover from class. Dreamcatcher Kits with instructions are coming to our Take and Make table in a couple of weeks. Think May Day, Roger.

Crafting with Kimberly will replace Kitsch & Kvetch, which actually replaced Crafting with Kimberly during quarantine…

We are very excited to welcome back our Crafty Gal, Kimberly Canale with another popular gnome option. This time it’s Nature Gnomes! Register for your spot in this class, which will be on Star Wars Day, May 4. May the Fourth Be With You and us as we plan to meet in person at the Civic Center Courtyard behind the library, but we will also provide a Zoom Room for those who prefer a virtual option. Kimberly returns with another kitschy-cute Gnome for you to craft on your own. Glue guns and sticks have all the control in this process so grab a finger saver now.

Finally, we get another chance to ground our minds and move our bodies to the gentle guidance of Elizabeth Moses of Crystal Heart Yoga. Her direction through the postures of yoga will invigorate your spirit and awaken your will for a wonderful weekend. Be sure to set aside this moment of self-care for yourself on the mat. We take Mindfulness seriously, providing this moment as a gentle gesture to take care. Just a sip will make a world of difference. This class will be offered on Facebook Live from the Southeast Steuben County Library page. Login, Like Us, and set notifications for when we go live. We offer much more than what this blog records!

That’s a wrap for this stationary moment. I’ll check you on the flip side!

Technical Difficulty

Glitches!

Technical difficulties are glitches we experience and eventually fix. Whether digital, electrical, or even even in the body/ mind/ spirit capacity- things can go awry anytime. Within just 26 days of entry into 2021 the Nation’s Capitol was attacked, our library website crashed, Covid-19 reached our staff and closed the library, and my hand decided to stop working for what we’ll call a Hot Minute (comparable to my anticipated lifespan). Yet, the the earth continued to rotate in the vast expanse of our galaxy. The natural rhythm of life inevitably returns to a pace we can tolerate with less anxiety, but perhaps more awareness and courage.

While most of our minds are still reeling from that Doomsday of January 6, we can also appreciate the effect of law and order to withhold the election results and provide a new administration to help steer this country into a positive realm. The challenge is grand, but each of us holds a duty to put our hands to use to build the peaceful society that each of us deserves. I am looking to the newly elected officials as the Makers of America and checking how I can fit in as a new color to this rainbow of hope.

Click Here to Register

The website difficulty that reared its ugly head last week became part of a multi-fold situation where all program registration forms were not available on the webpages, then Covid-19 hit our staff and the library closed for the week, so classes needed to be postponed. While our staff numbers return to a required quantity to provide the stellar services we offer, the library is closed, but Curbside pick up is still an option. With every technical difficulty discovered, there is a key to resolving the problem. Luckily we have a graphic guru who fixed our website and now registration for programs can continue with ease. Maker Mondays is rescheduled for February 1. Register today to make a spectacular swivel card with Wynn Yarrow on Zoom.

Kvetching over Cancellations

My wrapped hand (seen above) is part of a tendon problem that many Makers and typists experience. With the proper care, rest, and rehabilitation, I should be able to stitch, cut, sew, and create to my heart’s content in a few more weeks. Until then, the new craft club, Kitsch and Kvetch is canceled in February. We would have learned how to crochet granny squares together, but that plan is on the back burner until March. In place of the canceled class, stay tuned to the Southeast Steuben County Library’s YouTube channel where the latest Cricut tutorial will drop on February 2. If you missed the first Kitsch and Kvetch, this video will be a rerun to catch up on what you missed! We meet again on March 2 to create Photo Coasters using ceramic tiles, printed photographs, and lots of glue.

Repair that Technical Difficulty

My first Sew Wednesday was a personal lesson in patience and acceptance. I actually began this blog post the night of January 13, while waiting for large files to upload, download, and do-si-do. This age of online experience is a constant learning curve, but a valuable challenge. While I juggled recording devices, focusing on close-up footage, editing the video, and relying on country WiFi to work like broadband, time ticked away. This little ditty finally published late in the evening, but the final product also needed to be adjusted. Luckily, the lessons of patience and acceptance rose to the occasion. A few snips and new stitches of thread resolved my quandary of poor execution. The Travel Pincushion tutorial is a great project for beginner and advanced sewists alike. Holler atcha girl if you give it a whirl.

Pizza from the Valley

January is National Hobby Month! For those intent in adding a new hobby to their year,  the options are limitless. If you like cooking, our old Urban Corning friend, Myles Lasco lives on the west coast, but longs for the flavors of the Twin Tiers. Follow along with Myles as he interprets his own copy cat recipes of some regional favorites. If you’ve ever tasted a Mangialardo’s Pizza and had a craving to mimic it at home, follow this tutorial for an entertaining approach to this famous pie. You can even use the dough to make some hoagie rolls.

Perhaps glass blowing is your aspiration; Corning is the Crystal City after all. If you are a Netflix subscriber, watch and cheer on local female glassblower, Cat Burns. She proves her skills on screen and will teach you the same. Sign up as a student for her classes at The Corning Museum of Glass. 

Viewing Art Exhibitions

If viewing more art exhibitions is on your hobby list, take a down Market Street from the library to the galleries. Our community partners, The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes have work on exhibit by local freelance artist, Julie Waltz-Stalker. If your location limits you from strolling the streets of Corning, visit this virtual gallery. Photo credit: Chris Walters Photography.

V O L U N T E E R !

A hobby like volunteering can be cherished in your community. I want to send a big SHOUT OUT to our long-time volunteer extraordinaire, Mary Ann Thomas ! ❤ Personal service and dedication like hers is admirable and infectious. Read more about this big check she shared with our library in the FHFCU Blog. It looks like our new neighbors and friends are helping make positive change happen in our small community. Much gratitude, Mary Ann and First Heritage!

Bernie’s Mittens!

As the passing of time proves, there is a moment for everything. I truly appreciated this weekend’s lighthearted moment of Bernie’s Mittens Memes. After so many glitches this month, it was a joy to find this Easter Egg in the archives of ReCouture, a fashion show to benefit The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes. Upcylcled trash is transformed into wearable art on the runway, but Bernie’s upcycled mittens have Stolen the Show.

That’s a wrap for this stationary moment. I’ll check you on the flip side!

12 Days of Giving Crafts

Christmas Bells

We started the Twelve Days of Giving Crafts on 12/12 to boost the holiday spirit. I have been collecting leftover class materials from the year and packaging them as Take and Make project kits for patrons to share or enjoy at home. The Christmas Bells rang in this idea and became a popular feature at our welcome station in the Southeast Steuben County Library. Keep your eyes peeled for this special treat basket on your next visit inside the building. Take one kit to use or pass it along as a gift. Be sure to tag us @ssclibrary on social media and mention #CreationStation ❤

None of Your Beeswax

Beeswax Fabric Wraps have become very popular way to swap out plastic wrap and stay environmentally conscious. This was an in-demand class before the pandemic hit, and one of our last in-person classes hosted inside the building. The surplus of supplies are now packaged sweetly for your enjoyment. There are tons of lovely tutorials to follow. My favorite is from Crafty Patti and I based all of the instructions and ratios using this tutorial. The wraps you create are reusable for many months, and can be refreshed with more beeswax, pine resin, and jojoba oil when necessary.

Take and Make one today!

Another package of Take and Make kits I just released are Air-Dry Clay Star sets. I 3D printed star cookie cutters, rolled out the clay to a thin layer, cut out the stars in various sizes, then poked a hole in a point of each star so it can be hung. After allowing the clay to get leathery, I pressed lace onto the surface for a patterned texture.

Stars and Lace

After allowing these stars to dry completely on a flat surface for several days, they can be painted or sealed. I recommend acrylic paint with very little water. Perhaps my clay was not dry enough, but in experimenting with surface patterning, the clay started to mix with the pigment. I decided that abquick application of paint with low water content and minimal touching of the surface gives best results. If the weather were warmer, I would have taken a quick cover approach with spray paint.

Surface and Texture

I’ll work with these stars for awhile longer until I reach a finish that suits my style. I am aiming for a shiny, yet antiqued appearance. These stars will be strung and hung on a sturdy branch as rustic decor. I was inspired by this cute craft from Think Make Share, but wanted to experiment with a medium other than paper. The results will be revealed next week.

New Progamming

First Tuesdays from 6:30-8pm will be your new favorite time in the new year. Join our modern take on a crafting club where we create the latest trend and learn to make all the things. Snacks to nosh and adult bevies are optional! Sling your hot glue guns and wield your crochet hooks, it’s going to be a fun venture. Supply suggestions will be provided. Participants will collect materials at the library.

by the Chimney with Care

The stockings are hung by our chimney with care. If you want to make a stocking like the ones above, follow this link for a detailed tutorial. For our friends interested in sewing, I have a new addition coming to the 2021 library’s activities calendar. Sew Wednesdays will be every SWOM (Second Wednesday of the Month). These sewing tutorials will premiere on the library YouTube channel at 7pm. Grab your notebooks and a bowl of popcorn as we walk you through the process. Stitch up a sweet project each month following along with a tutorial from the Creation Station. Remember, the library has sewing machines you can borrow to use at home! Mark your calendars for January 13 where we will make Travel Pincushions.

More new programs will be popping up soon, but don’t be shy! If you have a suggestion for a class or request a specific Take and Make, drop a comment or email. We look forward to hearing from our followers.

That’s a wrap for this stationary moment. I’ll check you on the flip side!

Saving the Season

We are facing the last vestiges of summer, which makes most gardeners busy saving the season by preserving their bountiful harvests. I know many of our community members already store their foods in jars using a hot bath method, but there are many ways to preserve food. Considering the national shortage on Ball Jars and all food preservation goods, the more ways we learn to preserve our food, the better. As I searched the internet to hopefully source a secret jar-hoarding-vendor, repetitions in history seem to pop up. This scarcity of mason jars last occurred in 1975. See any similarity with mason jars to the lack of TP in 2020 to the last great toilet paper scare of 1973?

Sterilizing Jars for Preserving Blueberry Jam

IF you are fortunate to have stock of some canning jars, but need a little pep talk through the process, here goes! Get yourself a large pot. There are specialized canning pots with racks to hold each jar in position during the sealing process, but any pot large enough hold your jars and cover them with at least an inch of water will suffice to create a successful hot water bath. Place enough clean jars and 2 -part lids to hold the quantity of food you are storing into the pot, fill it with enough water to cover the jars, then heat the pot up to a simmer. Allow the jars and lid to sanitize in this simmering bath for at least 10 minutes as you prepare your batch of food.

Jarred and Ready to Seal

Have no FOMO if you lack the jars or fresh fruit at this moment. I happened to have too many berries stored in my freezer, so fresh or frozen is optional. Therefore, when we hopefully see jars in stock again in December, you can still can for the holidays. 🙂 You may need to wait that long to find Sure-Jell pectin, too! I stocked up on pectin in the good-old days of 2019. Handy-dandy canning instructions reside inside each box. Follow this website for inspiration and recipes to exclude sugar. The boxed instructions call for equal amounts of berries to sugar and one packet of pectin. Once the food was prepared according to those instructions, the jars were removed from the hot bath to get filled. Wipe down the rim of each jar to remove any debris between the glass and the sealing compound of the lid. Cover and screw on the second part of the lid, then place jar back into the simmering pot of water. Fill all the jars and repeat until the batch is depleted. Process the jars at a rapid boil for 10 minutes, then allow to cool overnight. You will hear popping sounds– the delightful music of a successful canning bath. By the next day, each lid should be sealed down with no movement. Easy-Peasy. Just get to the dishes right away before the food remnants stick to the pot!

Pectin’s Purpose

Pectin’s purpose is to create a thicker substance, so the jar can be overturned and the contents mostly stay in place. I have never used pectin before this year, but my family thinks there is something wrong with that viscous type of preserve I usually make, so pectin fit the needs this year.

Freezing, if you have the space, is a very quick and simple preservation method. Too much of most anything can be stored in the freezer for later usage. Properly removing air from the container is most important to reduce freezer burn. I lack the space, so freezing foods is not an option.

Dehydrating is Delicious!

Dehydrating food is an optimal way to secure your food supply, while saving space and resources. Properly dehydrated foods can store for many months and weigh much less than their original form, since all the water is removed. Dehydrated foods require no jars or electric to keep on a shelf. No specialized equipment is really required to dehydrate food, although a quality food dehydrator can save a lot of time. Since I love to collect kitchen gadgets, I have a large dehydrator that transformed over 10 pounds of fresh zucchini into 4 ounces of dried food. I used a mandolin to slice the zucchini into thin rounds, and refused to use oil. I wanted a natural flavor with no seasoning and fat to add calories. The mistake was my lesson to share with you. Lightly oil your pan or dehydrator tray to avoid sticking food. I will store this bag of chips in my pantry to use as I wish. The food will reconstitute in stir-fries or soups. These chips are even delicious right from the bag. Your pup might even like them better than a store-bought treat!

Save the Seeds

If preserving food is not in your cards this season, you can secure some future food for next year by saving seeds. These seeds are from an uber-tiny cantaloupe I harvested from my garden. Seeds need to be dried and protected from pests. I spread them onto a towel and set them on my working dehydrator to dry, covered by a screen. I leave the goo on the seeds and have never had an issue with this process. Some seed savers swear that the seed needs to be washed, then dried. You choose your avenue to this venture. Either way is truly rewarding when you have control over the cycle of a seed’s life.

Seeds from Lemon Balm

Seeds come from all plants. If vegetables are not your game, flowers might be your ticket. I enjoy saving herbs for tea. Lemon balm is the bomb in my opinion. I made sure to let the plant shoot out flowers, then dry on the plant before I harvested the leaves. As I crushed the leaves and dried flowers, the precious seeds fell into the towel. These seeds will get planted in that Sacred Herb Spiral we made this year. The excess seeds will be entered into the Southeast Steuben County Library‘s Seed Library for your enjoyment.

If you enjoyed this post, but crave further knowledge, put knowledge to work with Cornell Cooperative Extension. I encourage you to engage with this our your local cooperative extension to understand myriad ways to appreciate nature’s abundance. Nature is the best Maker, after all.

Celosia and Cockscomb

I’ll close this post with an image of my most prized flowers from the season. Their unique construction is intoxicating to view. When there was a frost last week, I rescued these flowers for one final bouquet. A friend told me they can be dried for the winter to provide pops of color to cheer up any room. Wow, another way to save the season! To my surprise, I thought those black specks were bugs emerging from the drying plant, but they are SEEDS! You can count on me to share these babies in the seed library, too.

That’s a wrap for this stationary moment. I’ll check you on the flip side!

Farm-tastic!

A few weeks ago, I took a Field Trip to Nooshe Joon Micro Farm in Elmira, New York to see how a micro farm is made. Their unique name and visually delicious social media photos appealed to my curiosity. This female owned and operated tiny farm is in the center of a suburban neighborhood, yet produces organic food for local restaurants. How does one effectively farm microgreens in the suburbs of a city?

Indoor Farming

Indoor Farming is the ticket to making a successful microgreens business. I have stumbled upon videos to introduce me to this farming method, but had never encountered an operation in person until visiting this farm. Some folks might hesitate to say a property in the center of a developed neighborhood is a farm, but an entire yard that is totally tilled with veggies, moves a smidgen past the definition of garden.

The results of such an undertaking is quite magical to experience. If you are curious about transforming your own lawn into an edible masterpiece, take a look at this progress video to be inspired. Shabnam Allwood (Farmer Shab) is the beauty and power behind this design. You can find her veggies at Chamberlain Acres Farmers Market on most Sundays. Be sure to stock up on her colorful tomatoes and scrumptious microgreens. MAY YOUR SOUL BE NOURISHED ❤

Bespoke Apothecary

If you watched that video- note frame 2:51. Farmer Shab is sporting bottles of Switchel and Fire Cider made locally by the dynamic duo of Bespoke Apothecary. I had the delight of dishing up food for their annual open house recently and had a blast learning more about their organic farm, beekeeping, and medicinal line of health and beauty products. While I was in the kitchen, photographer Joshua Tokar documented the event.

April and Bill, brains and brawn behind Bespoke Apothecary

Meeting April Hart and Bill Krovetcz at Chamberlain Acres several years ago became a turning point in my focus of food security and personal health. Their careers took a turn for the better when a life-threatening disease forced them to take their own course of medical action. Some say when life give you lemons, you make lemonade. I say these two make Fire Cider!

Birds-Eye View of the Farm

This birds-eye view of the farm reveals another private residence turned organically nourished homestead. What once was manicured lawn is now chicken poop and hay with fenced in veggie patches covering the property. During the open house, visitors could take a farm tour to learn about each of the hundreds of crops that go into each of their products.

Face & Body Care, Hair & Tooth Care,
Various Teas, Tonics, Tinctures, & Herbal Beverages, too.

To say Bespoke Apothecary knows how to Make is an understatement. The couple has made their dreams into reality and have a following of dedicated customers/ students who return frequently because they see the difference in the quality of care and love to learn about what they are putting on or in their bodies. When love and dedication are the sweat equity of a business, there is success abound.

Dead Dog Farm

As with most beloved farm properties, there is a name to the land. Dead Dog Farm is the location of Bespoke Apothecary. Fandom lore states Dead Dog Farm derives its name from an old saying, which states that a dead dog attracts the attention of both the worst and the best types of people. For any other Twin Peaks Geeks out there, you may surely add Bespoke Apothecary at Dead Dog Farm to your bucket list of travel itinerary when in Elmira, New York. While it may not be the Red Room, this little farm is on a whole other matrix. Be sure to tell them the Log Lady sent you.

Let the Games Begin

As promised, the geocaching search will begin on September 15. A clue will be given to the possible location(s). Stay tuned for further details and ways to win sweet treats. Head to Geocaching.com to get involved in the community and in-the-know. You can download the app on your mobile device, but note that the website offers more information without the fees.

That’s a wrap for this stationary moment. I’ll check you on the flip side!

Work with Whatcha Got!

Working with What I Have

As a special #SeWednesday treat, we’ve been working with Jesse Beardslee, owner of Themis and Thread . Jesse’s sewing expertise has been guiding our audience on how to Work with Whatcha Got on the Southeast Steuben County Library YouTube channel. I decided to take some of the lessons and put them to use by working with what I have in my home.

Work with Whatcha Got- Upcycled Skirt

Using my creative license, I roughly followed the tutorials. The outfit I assembled needed more alterations to even fit or wear correctly. I worked in reverse order of these tutorials. First, I began with the skirt of my outfit. The skirt is actually the last of our #SeWednesday tutorial series. I invite you to the Premiere of Work with Whatcha Got- Upcycled Skirt on Wednesday, July 30 at 6pm.

Skirt Alteration

The purple skirt I chose from my pile of items to be mended needed nine inches of fabric removed and a hem to make it more comfortable. I am short and long skirts make me feel shorter. In order to wear this skirt with confidence, I put it on and placed a pin at the length I preferred. To give a visual idea of the full length of the skirt, I let my trusty assistant (dress form), “Laverne” try it on. Once I cut off the excess fabric, I also cut the lining and prepared it for a hem. The lining was hemmed 2 inches shorter than the outer fabric, to avoid seeing it. My trusty machine, ‘Nina offered a decorative hem stitch to the outer fabric. The skirt now falls just below my knees and feels much more my style!

Stitched Tank

A tank top I purchased last summer was torn after I washed it! I was inclined to return it to the store, but the time and cost to do so never calculated correctly in my mind. I am frugal. I knew that my time combined with the fossil fuels I would burn to drive 30 minutes in 2 directions cost much more than the value of this shirt. I also knew that my sewing skills could handle this problem lickety-split! I did not know how nervous I was to sew knit fabrics. As Jesse coaches us in the Work with Whatcha Got series, don’t fret knits! Just use a zigzag setting on your sewing machine on a long stitch and go slow. This stitch fix can also be done by hand sewing, but I like to make machines do the hard work. —-Nina is fine with that 🙂

Accessorize

Accessories are key to any outfit. Last week’s #SeWednesday tutorials guided you how to create an Upcycled Belt . I saved the excess skirt fabric to do just that, but also had enough to make a headband, belt, and this newly required, yet fabulous accessory we never anticipated to be required in our lives! Can you guess what I’m making to finish off my style? That’s right, it’s a face mask. We must accept these fashion features in our lives for an uncertain amount of time. Just like scarves, earrings, and hats, face masks are part of our ensembles. Why not have them coordinate? I only used the outer skirt fabric, because it is cotton. We only want to use natural fabrics to breathe through. The polyester lining will be used in the future to make a handbag or cosmetic pouch.

Upcycled Flower Pin

In the last tutorial of the Work with Whatcha Got series, we also learn how to make a fabric flower. Taking the extra skirt fabric and sewing notions, I whipped up an accessory to my outfit. I decided to finish the back with a pin and reinforced backing fabric. Now, I can wear the pin whenever I choose.

Hair Flowers

I had “sew” much fun making that flower, that I found another alternative. By adding a bit of bias tape sewn as a loop, then stitched to the backing fabric, I created a hair accessory. Bobby pins or barrettes will fit in the looped bias tape, holding the fabric flower to your hair style. Check back next week when I reveal my entire ensemble.

Yoga in the Parks

If you missed the news, we have a LIVE AND IN PERSON Yoga in the Parks series this summer. Join Elizabeth Moses of Crystal Heart Yoga every Saturday at 9am for a fresh start to your weekend! The schedule is as follows:

August 1
Caton Park, 1180 Riff Rd, Corning, NY 14830

August 15 and August 22
Hornby Park, Kerrick Hollow Road, Corning, NY 14830

August 29 and September 5
Lindley Little League Ballfield, 9136 Presho School Rd, Painted Post, NY 14870

Top Secret!

As we aim to stay active and creative, I’ve been exploring our region. Treasure awaits you! There is a secret I am developing. This might be a clue. I dare you to guess. You might want to register in the game now, before it’s released at the end of August…

That’s a wrap for this stationary moment. I’ll check you on the flip side!

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. ❤

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.