Thursday, February 25, 2016

Make Stamps

Playing! Experimenting. Messing up. Trying again. Learning...

I am collecting supplies for stamp making, and print making. It can be as simple as having a sheet of rubber, carving tools, and an ink pad. This time, to make the pig, I traced a sticker of a pig, drawing with a pencil. Then I used my Speedball cutting tool (sold for linoleum carving) and slowly, peeled away the outline of the pig and details. The tool is too big for the tiny piece and details I want to carve, so the effect is what I like to call "rustic." Let's be clear: I am not ready to post tutorials, but I am excited to share the beginning of my journey.

The other thing I tried is making a bigger image to print from the lid of a Styrofoam food container. Humbling! I learned this method when I was an art volunteer in Maria's fifth grade class; the students made and printed portraits of themselves. Now that I've tried carving Styrofoam, (pressing firmly into the soft foam with a pencil, or blunt tool) I can see it's not as easy as it looks. It definitely seems to be something that will work better with large images, and few details. Also, I didn't roll ink on my stamp with a brayer, but just dragged it across the surface of the stamp pad. Anyway, I love the children's art, find it very inspiring, and now that I've tried it for myself I am ten times more impressed with what they made! I may be asking them for tips.

Maria and her classmates are really sweet, fun to work with. And they enjoyed this project so much, it seemed to me it could be a fun activity to bring to Maker Faire. Maybe with smaller stamps? I'm still figuring it out, playing. It's fun. Messy, too. If not Bay Area, then something for one of our mini events, here at the Bird House. There are great ideas and suggestions to be found at Pinterest. I searched "scratch foam printing" and found plenty to get things going!

**Important Update**
So, it turns out food container lids are not the same as the crafting foam the students used when they made their portraits. Happily, the stuff I ordered from Blick will be easier to use, so I am very excited to be getting the good stuff. I had my suspicions, because the styrofoam I used to make the bird was behaving very poorly... no smooth lines, only deep and crumbly, jagged cuts. But thanks to Vicki at Art With Kids, I have been reassured that Scratch-Foam printing boards will be much easier to work with.

If we do share this activity in a Maker event, it's essential to have the right tools, and nice quality materials, because when learning how to make things, it's such a bonus for things to go well. Very often in arts and crafts, especially with children, the cheapest supplies come out... of course this cannot always be helped, but whenever possible I think it's important to use the best available supplies, for greater success, and nicer finished products.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Make Carrot Cake

Make this carrot cake! Why? Because it's delicious, and also... it's National Carrot Cake Day. {As though we need another excuse!}

Lemon thyme and geranium blossoms on our carrot cake.

This cake fulfills one of my resolutions for the new year: Bake a pretty cake. In recent years I've lost my cake decorating mojo, and I've documented many of the occasions when a cake has been remarkably ugly, yet delicious. Ugly Delicious is the name of my imaginary bakery, by the way. I owe my success to a new aesthetic, a bohemian nod, a minimalist's touch. My recipe was enough for three small rounds, but I knew better than to risk a towering cake catastrophe! Henceforth, I will turn to my garden for the pretty touches, and otherwise keep it simple.

{My other New Year resolution: Make a rice pudding that I deem my favorite rice pudding. Yes, it's true, I have really challenged myself to some grueling, life-altering resolutions. I am sure I will be a better person for it.}

ChickenBlogger Carrot Cake

3 1/2 cups grated carrots... we love the colorful ones... purple, yellow, orange!
2 cups sugar
1.25 cups of oil
4 eggs

Stir these ingredients together.

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup of pecans
1 cup of oatmeal (I like the old fashioned kind)

Sift the dry ingredients together and then mix in the nuts, and oatmeal. I love oatmeal. Start adding the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir 'em up. I did this by hand, since I did not want to over-mix the batter.

Choose a favorite cake pan, and I lightly oiled mine, and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. A cook time would be helpful, I know, but I don't have one. Expect it to take more than half an hour... it will smell good and an inserted knife will come out clean... you'll know when it's done.

I am not capable of following directions... I just made it up.

8 oz of cream cheese + a healthy scoop of some leftover whipped cream cheese we had leftover from breakfast.
A largish, perhaps 2, teaspoons of vanilla.
Powdered sugar... more than you want to admit, less than a box... I did not make it very sweet.
Whip it. Whip it good.