Friday Feathers: Adorafluffballs

First of all, a happy first of May. We may not be out there protesting, but it’s even more important than ever to defend the rights of working people and the working class, as they’re currently, quite literally, sacrificed of the altar of profit.

Having said that, here’s some cute.

The Nile geese had chicks, or whatever you crazy Anglophones call them.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Corona Crisis Crafting X: Masks

I don’t know how many masks I made by now. It’s a three digit number for sure and we’re making them for all our students. Oh, we did get free masks from the government: 5 of those flimsy single use surgical masks per person…

Better than nothing, I guess.

But I needed to have a little fun as well:

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My interfacing is a bit flimsy, so if I make another one I’ll need to change that. Otherwise I think I can fit some snacks into the nozzle.

Wednesday Wings: a Eurasian Blackcap, or how Sexism is Just Plain Stupid

Because obviously half the bird population does not halve a black cap, just like most blackbirds are brown indeed.

But it’s a cute LBB (Little Brown Bird) and I was happy to take her picture.

©Giliell, all rights reserved Always get that first shot, because you never know if you will have time to adjust the camera

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Tummy Thursday: Zucchini Cake

When we went to the wholesale supermarket I bought a whole crate of zucchini, which means we’ve been using them in a whole lot of dishes, and since they are true neutral, I also decided to make zucchini cake. It turned out really, really nice and it would be a shame not to share.

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Uhm, yeah. our easter brunch…

For the cake you need:

  • 500g zucchini
  • 250 ml oil. I used butter, though, because I only have olive oil at home
  • 5 eggs
  • 350g flour
  • 1 packet of baking powder
  • 250g sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 200g grounded hazelnuts (I used almonds)
  • spices (I used a bit of cinnamon and allspice and vanilla extract)

Grate the zucchini, mix wet ingredients (including the zucchini), mix dry ingredients, combine, bake a 160° with ventilation.

One thing that made me wonder about the recipe was that they told you to bake it in a 26cm (10″) round tin. Every experienced baker can see from the amount of ingredients that this is way too much and I’m sorry for the inexperienced bakers who flooded their ovens with cake batter. I baked it in a tray for about 30 minutes.

Another thing is that there’s really little sugar in the recipe. This means that it’s perfect for a sweet topping. The original recipe had a chocolate ganache, but I went for lime and cream cheese with fresh strawberries on top and it was just perfect. If you don’t want to add a topping I’d recommend adding something like another 100g of brown sugar for extra flavour and sweetness. Or you leave out the sugar completely, add more salt and grated parmesan, which should work as well.

Corona Crisis Crafting IX: Restoring my Earrings

Apparently some people take off their earrings before taking a shower or going to bed. I’m not one of them (unless they have some parts that must not get wet or are huge ones for special occasions), so I tend to periodically ruin my cheaper earrings. The pair I was currently wearing is a cute fox where the stopper is actually the body of the fox so you have the whole animal dangling from your ears. Since I can’t go out and get new ones and also have some time I decided to restore them using UV resin.

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Here you see the sad remains after about three months of constant wearing. From behind it looked like the red was some kind of shrink wrap with little adhesion to the metal. First I cleaned off the remaining paint. The paint around the eyes looks like it’s proper enamel, so I left it at that.

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Next I coated the parts in several layers. One difficulty is the attachments of the tail, since resin would glue it to the body permanently. I worked carefully there with moderate success. Another thing is that resin leaves a lot of volume. The previous “shrink wrap” paint showed off the contours you can see above, but in the restored version they are gone. Foxy probably got a thicker winter coat. Also the colour is more brownish.

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Here’s the finished version. I quite like how they turned out. Kestrel would probably laugh at my clumsy painting skills, but I can live with that.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

 

And here’s some bonus Pikachus. Because why not have a flock of them?

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Tummy Thursday: Go Frothy and Multiply

Yes, I know, but what are days of the week anyway…

One of the things people have been hoarding/panic buying is yeast. I speculate that lots of it is rotting in fridges, since bakeries and supermarkets are indeed still open, though others will use the time for baking, as does yours truly. Part of it stems from my inability to plan for bread. Usually we eat pretty little bread so i buy like a pound of bread that lasts for the week. Now we need bread every single day, so different forms of frybread have been our new best friend. And who doesn’t love fresh frybread? Some days I use baking powder, but i also like yeast bread, and I was running low on yeast.

 

Thankfully, as long as you have some yeast and a freezer, you can be helped. Simply mix your fresh yeast, lukewarm water, a tablespoon of sugar and a cup of flour and let it rest for 15 minutes. Fill into ice cube trays (or mini muffin trays or whatever, I used my French canéles silicone tray) and quickly freeze. Put something frozen on top and don’t overfill the tray.

Freeze solid and ta-daa: lots of readily frozen yeast.

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Working with this yeast means means you need more time, but that makes a yeast dough all the better anyway.

And to prove the concept that “you can multiply yeast indefinitely”, I washed down the sides of the mixing bowl and started a sweet yeast dough. I let it rest in the cool hall over night and let it catch up speed again this morning.

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He is risen.

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Nobody in my family ever said no to cinnamon rolls.

And did I mention that I’m bad with “how  much bread do we need” and the days of the week? Well, I’d forgotten that today is a holiday and no bakery van will come, so I took some of my frozen yeast and made naan. You could cook it in a hot pan, but I prefer the pizza stone in the oven. I also need to increase the amount we pay for electricity or there will be lots of crying come January (we pay an estimated amount for water and electricity each months and then get the detailed bill in January. Usually it’s “we ow you 20 bucks / you owe us 20 bucks, but we’re home a lot more, won’t go on holiday and keep baking)

Look at this:

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That’s what the kids left us. Because fresh naan, who doesn’t like it? BTW, if you ever try to make frybread, regardless of what your raising agent, put away that rolling pin. Just gently stretch it over your hands or you’ll press out all that nice air your raising agent worked so hard to put into your dough.

Corona Crisis Crafting VIII: The Dragon Egg

After lots of sanding and polishing and some more sanding and polishing and then dropping it on the concrete because it’s so smooth and getting a dent in it which I won’t sand out again, the dragon egg is done.

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What you can see in this picture is that I didn’t get it completely round. For one thing, I don’t have a lathe on which I could actually turn it. The other one is that I wasn’t willing to remove so much material. The piece of burl that I used was a triangle and if I’d gone for a really round design, I would have lost about an estimated 30% in size. Also I don’t think that most people will notice anyway.

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There’s that damn scratch on top. Clearly not my favourite side. One thing about the resin I’m currently using is that it allows for rather thick pours without many bubbles. Usually the maximum in fast curing resins is 1cm (though it depends a lot on how you’re mould is. The other eggs I posted a while ago have more than 1cm in any direction, but they also have a large surface that allows for cooling). This block had a lot more than that in any dimension and actually I’d speculated on getting bubbles, which I thought would look cool. But as you see, nothing happened. Sure, it got warm and cured super fast, which allowed some of the gold leaf to stay afloat, but no bubbles. Definitely a good resin for dragon eggs.

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OK, I got one bubble, probably from when I stirred the darker blue resin that you can see in this shot in. The burl got a bees wax coating to make it shine.

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Here you can see the odd shape of the burl. The remaining bottom is clear resin. While the biggest part was poured in one go, I actually did three castings: the first one to create a solid bottom, gluing the burl into the mould. BTW, I used an old milk carton for that. The second casting added one thin layer to the burl:

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Fluorescent pigment, here under UV light. In normal daylight this is just blue as you can see in the pic above. It glows white under UV light and then…

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…it glows green in the dark.

I think I’ve proved to my own satisfaction that you can make dragon eggs without a ladle and it#s definitely something I want to repeat, probably with a somewhat larger piece, though I already dread the sanding…

 

 

 

Corona Crisis Crafting VII: Finally Finishing a UFO

In crafting circles, a UFO is an Un Finished Object and they tend to be common. You may remember that some time back voyager sent me a giftbox that contained lots of pressed leaves and I wanted to do something special with them. I had bought a set of small couch tables from IKEA and wanted to turn the larger one into a resin covered table. If you look at the pictures from Ikea, you can see that they’ve got a rim around them and I didn’t want to fill that with resin during the first casings, so I carefully taped around the rim using gaffer tape.

Well, let met put it like this: there’s still resin on my kitchen floor. Also some of the leaves very stubbornly refused to take on any resin. And removing the now resin glued gaffer tape took off parts of the white coating.

Now of course I needed something else to construct a barrier around the table and I decided that I could hotglue some firm plastic round it. Once it was finished I would heat the glue with a hairdryer and remove everything. This created a resin proof barrier. To hide all the horrible things that happened to the tablerim I poured some orange there. and tried to persuade the damn leaves to please let themselves be coated. In the end, the hot glue removal involved sharp knives and took off a lot more paint and I think you can see why I lost a bit of enthusiasm. Because I don’t have a router I needed to carefully round the new sharp rim by hand. Also the orange hadn’t managed to hide the damage completely, so I decided to leave it matte, which actually does look quite nice. At this point i was so fed up that the table went into the Lego room unfinished until I took it out again this week.

I painted the sides again where the colour had parted with the wood, and looking at it in the sunlight I noticed that my top was anything but nice. now I probably only have myself to blame. When mixing resin you have to make sure it’s well mixed. There are certain amounts that mix well in a 0,2l cup. Too little and you stir in too much air. Too much and you can’t mix thoroughly anymore. If you want to do it right you mix, pour it into a different container and mix again. Usually I am too lazy for that and when working with small amounts of coloured resin it doesn’t matter, because you mix it again when you add the ink and then you see perfectly well if you need to keep mixing. This time, not so much. I tried polishing it out with chrome polish, but that didn’t work. I tried 2000 grit paper to no avail and then decided to go back to 800 grit and you know how much that hurts. I got most of the “stains” removed and it does look ok when not seen in direct sunlight. Thank goodness the window in the Lego room is quite small…

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©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved You can see the spots here where no resin ever stuck.

I do have ideas fro the second table in that set, now with a lot of knowledge about “how not to do it”. When I do that one I’ll probably give this one a well mixed top coat, but until then I#ll call it finished. Of course I#m less than totally happy with the result, but it’s still a pretty and unique piece of furniture.

 

Corona Crisis Crafting: Smoll Things

There are some larger projects still in progress, like the dragon egg, but in between there was time for some smaller things, especially some that could be done with the kids.

#1 A birthday gift

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At school we have the tradition of “Geburtstagswichteln”. Now, Wichteln is what you’d call “secret Santa” at Christmas, but since the German word comes from “Wichtel”, a gnome, you can use it all year around. Tomorrow is the birthday of my recipient and since I cannot hug her or give her a present I sent her gift by mail. A necklace in the “smoke in resin” style, Lindt chocolates and nasturtium seeds for flowers.

#2 Shakers

You will remember my shaker disasters. After the second try I simply gave up and ordered some moulds.

They come in two varieties. Number one: open

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To finish them you need overhead transparency film and UV resin. You cut a piece of transparency to fit over the opening. Then you fill in your glitter and glue the transparency to the mould using UV resin. Then you fill the shaker with baby oil through the tiny opening you can see at the basis of the TV set and close that opening with UV resin. Finally you put a coat of resin on top.

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The other version comes with two moulds, one for the shaker, the other one for the top

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The idea is the same, just without the transparency. There’s also a little piece to close the opening, but it’s not in the picture. I sent the first set of those to my friend so she can craft them with her kiddo as well. I know she’s got UV nail polish so she won’t need to go shopping for UV resin. I also noticed that while I know exactly where cutlery and plates are in their kitchen, I had no idea what number their house is…

#3: And, you already spotted them: Pikachus!

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These moulds are a set of four. I first cast them in normal resin and then added the details with UV resin. The local Pokémon expert informed me that the eyes were all wrong above so I had to do them again. Working with black and white UV resin is tricky because, duh, they’re opaque and need a lot of UV light and time for curing. So if you spot a madwoman with sunglasses in her kitchen, don’t worry, she’s a madwoman wearing proper eye protection.

#4 Landscapes

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I saw these moulds on Youtube and I was really fascinated by them. You cast the pieces in two steps: First you do the landmasses as you can see in brown here, then you put those into the other moulds and pour the sea. They are really pretty (the image doesn’t do the finished brown pieces justice), but they’re also a bit on the small side, as you can see in the Euro coin next to them (for ‘Muricans, a little less than an inch). I think they would work best in a necklace putting several of them next to each other, but for that I’ll have to cast them in the same colours.

Well, that’s it for today. See you next when it’s time for “thank goodness my hands are keeping my mind busy”.

Monday Mercurial: Kitty Kitty

This is our neighbour’s cat. She was never on the bright side of things, and she also used to be a very panicky animal. When we first moved in the cat would not notice our presence, walk up close to us, see us, and freak out completely. It was the easiest sneaking up on a cat ever, because you only had to exist.

By now she got used to us, and our neighbour says that apparently with old age she’s forgotten to be afraid of her own shadow, so I could sneak a few pics.

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©Giliell, all rights reserved