DIY Mother’s Day Gifts

It is pouring rain and I’m on Pinterest.  A friend and I have been brainstorming about unique handmade Mother’s Day Gifts for our grandchildren’s mothers.  Both of us are looking into a textile gift of some sort.

In my search for  DIY Mother’s Day gifts, I thought of something that might be special and fun.  Long ago, my mother-in-law made bean bags from pieces of scrap material from clothing she made the kids when they were little.  Not only did our children play with these handmade bean bags,  our grandson and I now play with these very bean bags!  So,  if you have fabric/old children’s clothing,  make some bean bags for the kids/grand-kids. Tossing a bean bag is great fun and it helps with eye hand coordination.

What child doesn’t like to pound with a hammer?  This is an awesome idea via Pinterest: Pounded Flower Tote  where your you make flower prints on fabric with flowers and a hammer!  We did something similar last summer but we made flower prints on paper rather than on fabric ~ flower prints on fabric is a possibility this year!

Children.  Paint. Feet.  Yes, there is a craft for that!  Check out “6 Mother’s Day Gift Ideas for Kids to Make“. My favorite craft listed is the “Walk All Over Me” t-shirt!  Our grandson has had practice with paint on his feet but on pieces of 12 x 12 white scrap book pages to use in a scrap book:

Back to Pinerest because it is STILL raining.

 

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New Ideas New Possibilities

Over the winter, my thoughts turn to solving pottery problems, learning about new ideas and techniques.  One reoccurring problem I have had was making large pet dishes (8 inches or larger in diameter).  In almost every single instance, I would ruin the pet dish when taking it off the bat.

I hate it when the wire tool comes up through the bottom of the dish.  Very frustrating!

It wasn’t until I had some extra time over the winter to research alternative ways of taking large pots and dishes off of the bat when I came across a discussion thread on potters.org: “How to get it off the bat?” . In short, the brilliant solution was to use a piece of canvas or heavy denim on the bat.  Throw the pot on top of the canvas then simply use the wire tool to cut under the canvas thus preventing the wire cutting through the bottom of the pot.

I used my wooden bat as a template to cut out several heavy canvas mats to place on top of the bats.

I’m looking forward to trying this so I can make larger pet dishes with success such as the one pictured above!

Last winter, I took a stab at making a mold from plaster to produce unique organic shaped bowls.  These became one of my favorites to make when the weather on the back porch kept me inside.

 I can roll out a slab of clay, slump it over a plaster mold, walk away to do something else! Within 20 to 30 minutes, the clay has dried out just enough to take off the plaster mold and make another. These bowls have many uses.    One has become my “go-to” bowl in the kitchen. I’ve used it for almost every meal: breakfast omelet, quick small salad for lunch, serve up sliced tomatoes and onions for burgers.  Through the day, lemon and lime slices for my water are kept handy in my organic bowl.  I sell these small bowls in sets of two in my shop on Etsy: Back Porch Studio

Making the small plaster  mold, led me to think about making larger molds! So, in my quest of how to make larger slab molds, I came across this You Tube video:  Ceramic Arts Daily: 3 Smart and Simple Bisque Clay Hump Mold Techniques by Kari Radasch.

I was so thrilled to learn that I could use CLAY rather plaster because I certainly have a lot of clay handy!  And so, my newest creation this winter is making bisque clay hump molds of various sizes!

I used a set of metal mixing bowls to create a set of bisque clay hump molds.

With spring only nine days way, I’m looking forward to playing in the mud with these new ideas and techniques I learned over the winter!

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Signs of Spring 2017

We have had a terrible cold and flu season.  So much coughing and so much mucus (TMI, I know but still . . . so much!).  This past week has been fairly mild so we went on a walk to look for signs of spring.

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Picture taken by our grandson while on a walk around the yard looking for signs of spring. (A little blurry but still so cute. Our grandson got his feet too!) The yellow flowers are called Winter Aconites. These are always the first to bloom and such cheery sight to see on cold gray February days.

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Dino toddler broke out his garden tools this week and headed to the garden.  He dug and sifted through the rich garden soil.  (Look how green the grass is already. We will be mowing by Saint Patrick’s Day!)

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Soon, it will be time to plant peas.

Looking forward to planting our peas around Saint Patrick’s Day and planning our vegetable garden.  This year we will need to move and consolidate some raised beds due to some white pines that are encroaching into our sunny  garden spot which is okay because that means less is more.

I want to use the space more efficiently.  Instead of planting two, three or four of each kind of vegetable, simply plant one of each such as one cherry tomato, one regular size tomato (haven’t decided which kind yet), one squash, one zucchini and cucumber.  Every year I plant WAY more than we can handle and by July we are overwhelmed!  That is my  gardening plan and I’m sticking to it!

As for pottery, I have plans!  I am eager to try some new ideas I read about this year.

If this mild weather continues and colds and flu stay at bay, I will have my hands in mud one way or another!  Yeah, spring!

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Capturing Details with my 50mm

I’ve been looking for a new lens for quite some time but the price of many where just more than I wanted to spend especially since I was not sure what kind of photos I wanted to take.  As time went on, I continued to shoot with my kit lenses both of which I am very happy with.  The only frustration I had was shooting in low light conditions.  Either my photos were too dark or the auto flash would wash out everyone not to mention burn everyone’s retinas!  Oh I tried all the tips and tricks to try to control the flash but still had no good results.

It wasn’t until my daughter pointed out the “no flash” function on my camera that I started shooting in low light situations with more success and saving retinas. (How I missed that function, I’ll never know! LOL) Still not happy with my low light pictures, I started looking into lenses and came across this website that convinced me to take the plunge.

When we first put that 50mm on our cameras our eyes nearly fell out of our heads, because wowza, we didn’t know our cameras could take such great photos, right?

It’s true, the 50mm is a favorite among most. It’s probably my favorite, with a close running with the 35mm. And it’s a favorite for good reason. One can get a lot of miles out of the 50mm, because it’s crazy versatile.

I shopped around online and learned the 50mm was not completely out of my price range. Prices ranged anywhere from $150 down to $80.  Good thing Christmas was coming up because I wrote 50mm lens right smack at the top of my Christmas list! Thanks to our kids (grown adults now but I still call them kids), I now have a 50mm! Thank You!  Thank You! Thank You! XOXO

This was the very first picture I took with my 50mm.  I love how the lens captured the natural light from the window in a low light room.

This was the very first picture I took with my 50mm. I love how the lens captured the natural light from the window in a low light room. No flash.  No post photo editing.  Wow!

Another low light situation: our grandson playing with Play-Doh inside.  I love the sharpness and clarity of the center of the picture while the edges are softly out of focus.

Another low light situation: our grandson playing with Play-Doh inside. I love the sharpness and clarity at the center of the picture while the edges are softly out of focus.

A low light situation but outside.  No flash.  Retinas intact. No photo editing.  :)

A low light situation but outside. No flash. Retinas intact. No photo editing. 🙂 I love how the background is blurred showcasing my favorite subject.

This picture is exactly what I saw through the viewfinder.  No cropping!

This picture is exactly what I saw through the viewfinder: snowfall and all. No cropping!

Needless to say I am very happy with my 50mm lens! To read more about this lens, check out The 50mm/f1.8 – Small Wonder at Digital Photography School.

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‘Tis The Season!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

I love that some of  my pottery pieces are going to new homes!

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Pottery orders ready to go!

Also on Etsy. . .

I can vouch for each shop.  I have shopped at each one.

Wonderful products!

Wonderful people!

https://www.etsy.com/listing/184239363/kids-cashmere-slippers-children-soft?ref=shop_home_active_8

Woolby:  I bought these handmade felted wool slippers for our grandson two years in a row. Each pair is made from recycled wool sweaters, cashmere and leather.  I’m hoping to have a little Christmas money left over so I can buy me a pair of these but in adult size!

https://www.etsy.com/listing/248835917/new-camera-bag-inserts-purse-handbag?ref=shop_home_active_1

I found THE PERFECT camera bag at PorteenGear.  It is portable and can go into any bag or sit on the counter keeping my camera and accessories handy for a quick snap!

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Children and sticks go together. What better way to encourage writing or drawing with stick pencils! These make great gifts and stocking stuffers. I bought a set from Light of Day Creations to go with some handmade notebooks we made this year. Unfortunately, Basil and Daisy do not have any twig/stick pencils available and don’t anticipate making more, BUT do check out there shop for all natural crafting supplies and Waldorf inspired toys.  To find twig pencils else where on Etsy, do a simple search for “twig pencils” or “stick pencils” to find a great selection of fun handmade pencils.

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