My Life On Craft Posts

I joined the Try Something New Every Month challenge in January of this year. This is a fantastic challenge that Stephanie from Swoodson Says and Rebecca from Hugs Are Fun are co-hosting. They have a list of suggested themes & a Facebook group. I’m going to use this post to collect inspiration, ideas & plans for future months.

The suggested themes:

January – Quilting

I tried paper piecing 1/4″ hexies. Blogged here.

Mini hexie piece

February- Tactile Craft; paper mache, clay, soap, candlemaking

I tried sculpting tiny creatures with Creative Paperclay. I’d like to incorporate them into mini dioramas or jewelry or something. Soon…

Mini Paperclay creatures

Tiny creatures

March- Painting

I didn’t stick to the theme on this one (and I painted the tiny creatures last month). Instead, I tried weaving on my mini Jim Hokett loom & tissue paper mache. The tutorial for the tissue paper mache light shade is here.

Weaving on a Jim Hokett loom

Tissue Paper Mache Light Shade

April- Edible Crafts

  • I’m thinking of trying to make natural breath mints and licorice candy.
  • Otherwise, I’m trying new recipes & edible ideas this month. So far, I’ve tried goat milk yogurt & sourdough tortillas.

May – Hand Sewing

June- Heavy Craft; leather, wood burning, glass etching

July- Yarn Craft; knitting, crochet, weaving

  • thread crochet? crochet jewelry?

August- Printmaking; fabric or paper

September – Machine Sewing

  • I’ve pinned a ton of machine projects that I’d like to try on Pinterest. So many to choose from…

October- Needlework; embroidery, cross-stitch, crewel, needlepoint

November- Papercraft; origami, scrapbook, calligraphy

  • paper beads?

December- Choose your own!

Art & Craft Try Something New Every Month Uncategorized

aka my Try Something New Every Month (TSNEM) project for March

Tissue Paper Mache Light Shade
Cuzme & I rent an old-school loft space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It was a manufacturing facility and is not renovated (yet, anyway), which means high ceilings, wonky wiring, exposed electrical conduits and fixed overhead factory lighting. The one pictured above is hanging over our TV/couch area & doesn’t even have a light switch. Ugh. We used a pull cord for years until I recently purchased this brilliant remote control screw-in light socket from Amazon. Which meant that I could now make some sort of light shade for it. I thought about making one of these giant string ball lights but our fixtures aren’t in an entirely open space and man, wrapping all of that string just looks exhausting. I opted for a tissue paper mache shade instead, as I had glue, water, balloons and tissue paper on hand already. Freebie project! Even if you don’t have the materials on hand, they’re all available at most dollar or discount stores and won’t break the bank. This project turned out far better than I ever imagined! It was easy, fun and looks fantastic in place. I made two shades, one for the above the couch and one for our bedroom. I had so much fun that I’ve restocked materials (at our local Dollar Tree) and plan to make slightly different variations for a floor lamp and some battery candles. Here goes my first craft tutorial for those of you that want to try…

Tissue Paper Mache Materials

Materials:

  • white tissue paper ( 35 sheets for $1 at Dollar Tree, enough to make 2 shades)
  • white glue (2 for $1 at Dollar Tree, enough for 1 shade)
  • 1.5″ foam brush (under $1 at hardware store)
  • balloons ($1 for mixed pack at Dollar Tree)
  • petroleum jelly ($1 at Dollar Tree)
  • scrap cardboard and tape (on hand, free)
  • clothespin, string or tape to hang balloon by while drying
  • locking pliers (optional but helpful)
  • Weldbond adhesive or spray or brush-on sealer/finish (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Blow up your balloon. This will determine the size and shape of your finished shade, so inflate accordingly.
  2. Make a cardboard ring out of scrap cardboard and tape, large enough that top of your balloon (which will be the bottom of your shade) will fit into it. The cardboard ring will help stabilize your balloon while you’re applying the tissue paper (see step 2 in the photo below).
  3. Cover your balloon with a thin coat of petroleum jelly and place it in your cardboard ring. I used a locking pair of pliers to hold the balloon down while I worked – this isn’t necessary but does make the process easier (shown in box 2 in the pic below). I also cut a little flap into the side of the cardboard ring to accommodate the handles of the pliers.
  4. Tear or cut your tissue paper into pieces. I tore my pieces, smaller at first but soon moved to larger pieces – much faster and easier to work with. It’s nice to have a variety of shapes so you can kind of fit them together but not necessary. I found that square/rectangle-ish pieces in the 4-5″ range worked well and made covering quick and easy. Turns out that Punjab, our 19 and a half year old male cat, loves piles of tissue paper (box 1 in pic below)
  5. Mix your glue and water. I used around a 1:1 ratio of glue to water. I didn’t measure, just guestimated. I started out using a plastic cup to mix and hold the solution but got hip to using an empty glue bottle in the middle of the project (you could also use a generic squirt bottle). Using an empty glue or squirt bottle makes a huge difference in the ease of this project, trust me. It’s so much less messy and easier overall. Add your glue and water to your bottle, close it and shake until mixed thoroughly.
  6. Now you’re ready for the fun part – applying the tissue paper. Squirt some of the glue-water mixture onto your balloon and spread with foam brush (you’re aiming for enough for 2-3 pieces of your tissue paper). Stick on a tissue paper piece, squirt a little more glue on top and smooth down with foam brush (box 3 in pic below). You’ll develop a rhythm after awhile. I held the glue bottle in my non-dominant left hand and brushed with my right, then traded the glue for the tissue paper, keeping the brush in my right hand at all times. You’re using just enough glue to moisten & cover but not so much that it’s excessively wet or drippy.
  7. After you’ve covered the balloon (box 4 in pic below), clip it somewhere where it can hang without touching anything to dry (box 5 in pic below).
  8. Continue to build up your shade one layer at a time, thoroughly drying in between, until you’ve reached 5 or 6 layers. At this point, I patched the areas where more color shone through, ending with somewhere around 6-8 layers. I think… I lost count towards the end. Also, I ran out of white glue and started using Weldbond, as I had some on hand. This isn’t necessary but it did give the shade a nice sheen and might have made it a bit stronger. You could also brush or spray on a finish if you’d like – matte, satin or gloss would all work.
  9. After the last layer is completely dry, nick the balloon with scissors or a craft knife to deflate. Remove the balloon and decide where you’d like to cut. I used my screw-in remote socket as a template for the top hole, tracing around it with a pencil and cutting with a craft knife. For the bottom, I neatened the edge with scissors until it looked right (box 6 in pic below).
  10. Hang and enjoy!

Tissue paper mache stepsTips:

  • This is a messy project – cover your craft area or do this somewhere where glue trailings don’t matter.
  • Be gentle when smoothing the tissue paper with the glue-water mixture. Wet tissue paper is quite fragile. It’s no big deal if it rips, just try and smooth it over with your brush. You’ll get a feel for how much pressure to use as you go along.
  • It’s pretty easy to lose track of where you’ve added tissue paper after the first layer or so. It didn’t seem to matter, though, so just relax and keep gluing. I worked around and around and up and down – go with whatever works for you.
  • Try to hang your drying balloon in an area free of shmutz and try not to drop it on the floor (especially if you have pets). My balloons picked up some unknown icky bits that I just scraped off before adding the next layer. Cat hair makes things a little more tricky but nobody is going to notice a few hairs here & there, right?
  • Don’t obsess over getting the tissue paper really smooth – wrinkles add interest & texture.

Possible Variations:

  • Colored tissue paper would work really well for this project.
  • Add patterns and shapes by cutting shapes out of colored tissue paper and adding to a layer or two or on top of the finished project. You could probably paint with acrylic paint between layers as well.
  • Edge the bottom with a gold or silver paint pen.
  • Draw on designs with permanent markets in black & white or colors.
  • Use different shapes of balloons for your form. Apparently Dollar Tree has an assorted pack if you can find it.
  • Add glitter or other inclusions or use glitter glue on a layer or two.

This was one satisfying project. I’m so thrilled with how my shades turned out and look forward to continuing my tissue paper mache journey soon. I hope this tutorial is helpful and I’d love any questions, comments or experiences that you have with tissue paper mache. Cheers!

Art & Craft DIY Paper Crafts Paper Mache Try Something New Every Month

Mini hexie piece
hmmm… this close-up makes me realize I need to rinse my marking lines off a bit better.

I’ve really been wanting to bring more crafting back into my life. Crafting in a textile-tactile-cotton-wool-felt-yarn kind of way. I enjoy making all kinds of things but the last couple of years have found me mostly making beer, other alcoholic beverages and fermented foods. Which are all wonderful things to make but my soul misses fiber. I dabbled a bit late last year crocheting my wedding bouquet & knitting a bunch of Xmas tree ornaments (posts coming soon!) but I wanted more. A good challenge was needed. And I found the perfect one on the Swoodson Says blog: Try Something New Every Month 2016. Co-organized by Rebecca from Hugs Are Fun, participants are encouraged to try a new craft every month. Stephanie & Rebecca have suggested monthly themes & a Facebook group. This was exactly what I needed. Quilting is January’s suggested theme. I’ve done some quilting in the past but not for many years (more than 10, I think) so this theme really appealed. And I did want to try some type of quilting that was new to me.

Inspiration:

Materials:

  • fabric that I hand-dyed 15 or so (yikes!) years ago
  • printable pdf of hexagon graph paper (enlarged until it was a size I liked, just over 1/4″ on each side)
Pre-quilted hexies
post-sewn & pre-quilted hexies

Tips & tutorials:

The hexies were a bit fiddly at first but I really enjoyed making them once I got the hang of it. They’re extremely portable and a great project to do while listening to audiobooks or podcasts or (half) watching TV. I kind of like them best pre-quilted but the quilting was a nice challenge and gives the piece more body. I’d like to trim the piece into a circle, add a back & a stiff interior and turn it into a pendant. Soon…

This little project was a lot of fun and a great way to kick-start me back into sewing. I love small portable projects and I can definitely see myself doing more tiny hexie projects in the future. They would be cute to appliqué on larger projects and a hexie wrist cuff would be cool. The portability makes this a great vacation project, too.

The theme for February’s TSNEM is Tactile Craft; paper mache, clay, soap, candlemaking. I’ve chosen clay. Stay tuned for my project!

Back of hexie piece
Back of hexie piece

Art & Craft Quilting Try Something New Every Month

mylifeoncraft collageI’ve waffled with this blog over the years – it began as a craft (as in arts & crafts) blog & has been used as a beer & brewing blog most recently. But… it has seen almost no action over the last couple of years. Hey, I’ve been busy – working my day job, writing a book, hosting a podcast, etc, but that’s not really an excuse. I have a lot of fun doing all kinds of craft, from drinking beer to brewing to knitting to cooking. And I’m going to start sharing it all here. So, if you’re looking for posts in a specific area, I’ve created 3 tabs at the top to help guide you: Fermentation (which includes fermented foods & brewing), Arts & Crafts and Food (which includes fermented food, cooking, etc). If you’re a generalist, scroll on…

Cheers,

Mary

Uncategorized

Heart Skips a Beet Short Mead

The Inspiration:

I’m a latecomer to beets. They were not part of my childhood diet and I really didn’t start eating them until sometime in the last ten years. But now they’re one of my favorite foods – a good beet salad can’t be beat (harhar)! And while I’ve had several beet beers that I enjoyed in the past, I hadn’t yet made a beet beverage myself. So when I volunteered to teach a workshop at the annual Ferment! Ferment! festival this year, I had the perfect excuse. Ferment! Ferment! is a fantastic free fermentation fest that takes place every February here in Brooklyn – there are workshops, live music and the attendees bring all kinds of wonderful fermented foods & beverages to share. It’s pretty amazing. I wanted to pour a couple of short meads made with local, seasonal ingredients during the workshop so I headed to the Stannard Farm stand at the Tompkins Square Greenmarket and picked up honey and beets to make my first fermented beet beverage.

Heart Skips a Beet Short MeadThe Recipe:

-1 gallon batch-

Ingredients:
  • 4.5 oz local beet, diced (about half a beet)
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 1 lb local Stannard Farm honey
  • filtered water
  • Red Star Pasteur Champagne dry yeast (yellow packet)
  • ~1/16 tsp Wyeast beer yeast nutrient
Process:
  • Added diced beet, star anise and nutrient to Pyrex measuring cup, poured off-boil water to cover and steeped for 10 minutes
  • Poured honey into a 1-gallon wide-mouthed glass jar
  • Added a few cups of filtered water to honey in jar and stirred until honey dissolved
  • Removed 1 star anise pod from “tea” and added liquid, beets and remaining star anise to jar
  • Topped off with filtered water and pitched around 1/3 packet of yeast
  • Fermented at around 78º F for four days
  • Cold-crashed and force-carbed 2 liters in a plastic soda bottle with The Carbonater Cap, bottled remainder in a glass flip-top jar

OG: 1.040 (3.10.2015)

FG: 1.004 (3.14.2015)

ABV: Around 4.7% (the beet may have added sugar but I have no way know if it did or guesstimate how much)

Tasting Notes:

I really love this one. The star anise complements the earthiness of the beets perfectly. Highly drinkable.

Thoughts:

This is a terrific late-summer/fall/winter seasonal short mead to make. It’s easy, ridiculously quick and delicious – plus it is such a beautiful color! I have another half-gallon batch going now and will definitely be adding this one to my go-to short mead recipes for events, tastings and the like. It’s an attention-getter that tastes as good as it looks.

 

Fermentations in Progress:
  • sourdough starter
  • Jun & Kombucha
  • more Heart Skips a Beet Short Mead

Happy Fermenting!

Fermentation Recipes Short Mead Speed Brewing

Passion Fruit Mosaic Saison

The Inspiration:

I was invited by Brooklyn Homebrew to brew a beer for a local event: Allagash Brewing Company‘s Saison Day at Three’s Brewing. Allagash debuted their new Century Saison by holding Saison Day events around the country celebrating the style. For the event at Three’s Brewing, eight local homebrewers were invited to brew a saison and pour samples. I recently had a delicious passion fruit sour ale brewed by Oskar Norlander, Erik Norlander and Peter Salmond that inspired me to try passion fruit in one of my beers. Why Mosaic? Well, because I freaking love that hop. And as it turns out, it goes perfectly with passion fruit.

BIAB draining with wide potThe Recipe:

(a 5.5 gallon batch brewed on my stove top using the Brew in a Bag method)

Malt Bill:
  • 8 lbs Belgian Pils Malt (80%)
  • 2 lbs White Wheat Malt (20%)

Mashed in at 154º F for 60 minutes then mashed out at 170º F.  No sparge – drained grain bag in colander over oven rack into my brew pot.

Pre-boil gravity: 1.046

Addition Schedule (60 minute boil):

  • 60 min: 1 oz French Strisselspalt pellet hops (5.6% AA)
  • Flame-out: 1 oz Mosaic pellet hops (11.6% AA)

Approximate IBUs: 21

Pitched 2 packets of Danstar Belle Saison dry yeast (not rehydrated)

Fermentation Schedule: (6-gallon Better Bottle)

  • Days 1-3: 64-65º F
  • Days 4-7: 79-80º F
  • Moved to 33º F fridge on Day 7.
  • Day 9: Split batch into two 3-gallon Better Bottles. Racked under CO2: half onto 14 oz of Mamitas passion fruit pulp (thawed in bag & bag sanitized with StarSan before opening) and half onto 1 oz Mosaic pellet hops. Kept at 33º F. I split the batches as I was considering kegging the two separately but they were so delicious together I ended up blending in the keg.
  • Day 14: Blended, kegged & served (yep, last minute keg shake-a-roo. Not ideal but it works.)

OG: 1.050 (3.7.2015)

FG: 1.001 (3.14.2015)

ABV: 6.5%

Tasting Notes:

Delicious! The Mosaic hops and passion fruit compliment each other beautifully. Both are present but not overwhelming and the passion fruit is not sweet. A non-traditional yet tasty dry saison.

Thoughts:

Holy cow – I’m definitely brewing this one again. Although I did not win the mini-comp as the judges thought it was not traditional enough, it got compliments galore (from the public & brewers) and was very popular. I’d like to brew a more sessionable version, perhaps around 4.5% ABV, and I’ll probably use slightly less passion fruit and hops for that version. I’d also like to try using passion fruit and Mosaic hops in cider and kefir beer (boozy water kefir).

Fermentations in Progress:

  • sourdough starter
  • Greenmarket Beet Short Mead (recipe coming soon!)
  • some very old sour beers
  • Jun & Kombucha

Happy Fermenting!

Allagash Saison Day at Three's Brewing
Allagash Saison Day at Three’s Brewing Top Row: Allagash Owner Rob Tod with comp winners Brett Taylor, Jason Sahler & Zack Kinney. The Crowd. Middle Row: Brooklyn Homebrew owners Danielle Cefaro & Benjamin Stutz. Rob Tod, Allagash rep Kristen Demergian & me. Bottom Row: Homebrewer Jason Sahler, me & Three’s head brewer Greg Doroski. Homebrewer Fritz Fernow. Homebrewer Jeff Lyons.

 

Beer Fermentation Homebrewing Recipes Speed Brewing

Shadow Play Collage

Inspiration

Art & Craft Knitting

Nov 18 inspic
Under the Williamsburg Bridge

Inspiration

My Life on Craft as a beer & food blog is over (for now, anyway). I’m bringing other creative pursuits back into my life and want to use this space for those. I’m continuing to brew and imbibe and that will occasionally show up here, but I’m focusing those energies on Fuhmentaboudit, the weekly show that Chris Cuzme and I co-host on Heritage Radio Network. You can catch us live every Monday from 7 to 7:30 pm here on Heritage Radio Network and the shows are archived on the HRN site as well as iTunes and Stitcher. The show is a ton of fun to host and I’ve learned quite a bit in the year that we’ve been on. If you’re interested in fermentation, I hope you’ll check us out. We also have a companion website here. It’s mostly show pics & links but I’m going to be posting some recipes and other stuff as I have time. I’ve posted some NYC beer event links on the left sidebar and intend to keep those there for the duration. Otherwise, this will be a window into My Life on Craft – textiles, jewelry, dyes, fabric, felt, yarn & more. Stay tuned.

Art & Craft