Sunday, June 28, 2009

What a week...

Until I started downloading my pictures from the past week, I didn't realize just how much we managed to pack into it.

I'll start on Saturday, the 20th. We were to be speakers at a family reunion in Shippensburg. The theme was colonial times, when the family had settled in the area and we were to tell them about the way the mother of the house would use herbs in her daily life.

If the weather had been more pleasant, it would have been a nice ride and a quick little gig. Unfortunately, it was raining and so, not very nice. It gave us some insight into how it must have felt to have been a pioneer woman out in the godforsaken wilderness. We entertained ourselves taking pathetic self-portraits!

The rest of the weeks seemed to be a celebration of lavender! We spent a few quiet evenings in the beginning of the week on Tina's deck making lavender wands.

On Wednesday evening, we headed down to Pottstown to visit with Sue Hess at Farm at Coventry, where we did a lavender distillation and made some lavender wands - also called lavender bottles and lavender baskets.

Sue's place is lovely and I took many pictures of the farm, from the welcoming vignette on the front porch (shown here) to the cats, the chickens and the gardens.

I can't post them all, but wanted to show the lavender treats we enjoyed on her always-beautiful table as a snack.

My son and I decided we needed to get moving and started walking each morning at our nearby community park. We discovered that the edges of the new park have been planted in wildflower seeds and I took a picture of the drift of wildflowers along the side of the trail.And one particular hill covered in many colors of yarrow with the large golden variety at the very top, reaching for the sun!The vistas are just beautiful!

We wound it up on Saturday at market with yet another lavender event. We had attempted to coordinate a mini lavender festival for market mid week, but had apparently waited too long!

But, on our own, we set up a lavender distillation (how essential oils and hydrosols are made) which seemed to fascinate patrons and other vendors alike. Here's Tina explaining the process to our market neighbor, Mary Prescott of Prescott's Patch (organic vegetables).

Tina had also baked some gluten-free lavender shortbread for everyone to try and we had piles of lavender so anyone who wanted to make one could try their hand at a lavender wand.
Somewhere along the line, I also managed to get orders out and make some flag beads so I will have earrings and necklaces for the 4th next week at market!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

And more goddesses (goddessi)?

I was anxious to get the photos of these latest goddesses. I'm not even sure if I like them as much as the first ones, although I guess they just aren't as "new", so not as exciting to me. I still like them a lot:
Topaz Goddess

Star Goddess

Mermaid Goddess
Cocoa Goddess

Mossy Goddess
And this is when I ran out of propane. I was almost finished with the goddess on this vessel and realized the flame was getting smaller and smaller, so I worked feverishly to get her head on! No lip to the vessel, but I think I'll finish this up somehow by electroforming a strap around the whole thing. It could turnout to be a serendipitous catastrophy!

Friday, June 12, 2009

New Goddess Beads

My goddess beads in the past have been quite anatomically correct and actually, some folks have been upset with me for showing them (the children, you know - who will probably not be allowed to visit an art museum until after marriage!)

Although I can't claim what follows as an original idea, I have to say that I saw some similar beads online and sort of took it to another place. The original idea was posted on Lampwork, etc. by LouiseI. Her Etsy name is Fireseed.

This is my first try at this particular goddess bead. She's very similar to the first one I saw. So, she's okay, but not something I can really claim as my own. She does look very fertile though (as they all do!)

My second try was the one to the right, an attempt at some color. This was more original and I like it pretty much. She's a little fire goddess.

I should probably keep her as my own since I am a fire child.

As I started my third attempt, I thought of Tina and her affinity for green - leaves in particular.

This gal could be surrounded by jade and would blend in beautifully. I kinda like her as the star of the show though.

Finally, I got really brave and started playing with enamels in a bigger way. This is what resulted:

I really like the way she turned out and will be doing more like her - in new and exciting colors!

I suspect these will be for sale soon at Radiance in Lancaster.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Adventures in Soap Making

Yesterday was a soap day... We were going along smoothly in our usual soaping groove. Our latest batch had been finished and tucked in for the night. I went into the house for a few moments and when I came back out, Tina said, "what is that?"

I became aware of a hissing sound and then we both noticed that the lid of that most recent batch of soap was hovering about 2 inches above the soap.

I removed the lid and this is what we saw (Notice the normal, well-behaved soap next to it.) : Just under the little oval shaped "bloop" in the front, steam was escaping, causing the hissing noise.

We've (just recently) had soap over heat before, but that time there was no sinister spitting and hissing noise.

I stabbed it a few times to try to release any more steam, but by that time, the damage was done. Unlike the goats milk soap we dealt with before, this one never collapsed into itself. It was set up and solid in no time at all.

We somehow hoisted the steaming hot mold and soap onto a cart and wheeled it out into the garage bay next to the studio so it could cool down a bit before we even tried to deal with it.

After we were finished with the rest of the uneventful batches of the day, we brought it back in and took it out of its mold:If you notice, the freezer paper we use as a release became brittle from the heat and also stuck very solidly to the soap so it is now "part" of the soap! This shows the "cavern" on the side - one of many as it turns out. And in case you're wondering what it looks like close up, here's the "gaping maw":Scarey, huh? There seem to be crystals inside. I haven't tasted them, but I'm pretty sure they aren't lye!

And when we set it up on it's side and cut, we saw there was no salvaging this one:We aren't sure what caused this. The only thing we can figure is that it was a new bottle of fragrance oil and the formulation had been changed somehow. It doesn't smell at all like it should, I'll say that!

One other possibility is that the water we use as a carrier for the marbling colorant wasn't mixed in thoroughly(and I mixed it and know it actually wasn't), became trapped in the soap and as the soap heated up, it turned to steam...

I'm hoping it's the latter because this is a popular variety and I'd hate to have to stop making it because of the oil change.

Just goes to show you, no matter how long you have been making soap (we've been making it since the early 90's) there's always something new that can surprise you!