Friday, October 22, 2010

Web Presence

Please join me over on my new blog:!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

How to Make Egyptian Paste

Perhaps I should have called this post something else, like My Egyptian Paste Results, My Egyptain Paste Experiment, because this is me trying out Mitsy's tutorial from back in April, entitled How to Make Egyptian Paste? By the way, Mitsy, of ArtMind, posts a wealth of tutorials and how to's on her blog. I imagine her workspace divided into two sections: her studio on one side and a laboratory for experimentation, its documentation and its diffusion to everyone who wants to try new processes and media on the other!

I love ceramics and all things Egyptian, especially the lovely turquoise objects made from a self-glazing low-fire clay body. You know, the beads, small dishes and shabti dolls you see in museums. So here's how it went for me:

I prepared some dishes I had made by putting a coat of bat wash on the inside bottom so that my objects wouldn't stick.

I then prepared my first recipe: It's Sylvia Hyman's recipe, and it's the first one Mitsy tries in her tutorial too. She has listed all the ingredients and amounts in her post. I was able to get everything from my ceramic supplier. The copper Carbonate was very expensive and only sold in large quantities, and Mitsy was nice enough to send me a small amount in the mail. Don't forget to wear a mask, goggles and gloves since breathing in these ingredients is TOXIC.

I mixed my ingredients in a plastic bag, and then added water.

The resulting clay was a little too wet (too much water) but I let it set a bit on my work table and then worked it around in my hands to get it dry enough to shape but not so dry it would crack.

I made lots of beads and lined them up on a bat washed tray.

Some of the clay I rolled out into discs and printed with lace to get an interesting texture.

I cut a few crescent moons from the textured discs.

I loaded a second dish with beads and the moons and put a few beads on a wire from ceramic stilts.

The next day, I tried a second recipe. This one is not in Mitsy's tutorial, so I'll give it here:
36 gm feldspar
35 gm quarts
12 gm kaolin (China Clay)
2 gm bentonite
6 gm Natriumcarbonate
6 gm Natriumbicarbonate
2-3 gm copper carbonate

This second recipe was easier to work with, kept its shape better but dried out faster, so I had to work faster.

Using a tiny cookie cutter, I cut out fish shapes and loaded them on to the two other dishes.

I fired to 980°C.

This is what I found this morning. Look at the blue, lovely and shiny.

However, the bat wash stuck where the bead was in contact with it.

The beads on the wire were completely stuck to the metal. I can't get them off. But I do love the color and the way the glaze pooled at the bottom.

On the other hand, the flat objects, moons and fish did not stick to the bat washed dishes. When I took them from the kiln, they seemed to be stuck, but as they cooled, they came right off.

All of the objects made with the first recipe turned out the same blue.

However, for the fish, the colors go from dark turquoise to a much lighter one. Perhaps I didn't mix my dry ingredients thoroughly.

The second recipe (the fish) is slightly darker than the first (the moon). I added one extra gram (4 grams total) of copper carbonate to the mix, so I guess that made the difference.

I really enjoyed working with Egyptain paste from start to finish, and when I make more I think I'll go with the second recipe, and stick to 3 gm copper carbonate. If I want to make beads, I'll have to get the stilts with metal points for firing. The beads would have been pretty enough to use in a necklace!

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Winner!

And we have a winner for the giveaway! Congrats to Rachel Crisman from Mississippi, USA!
To relax, she drinks tea, listens to the Beatles or takes long walk in the evenings. I've never been there, but I bet the evenings are lovely in Mississippi. She'll be receiving her moth on a lovely cord to hang in her home.
A big Thank You to everyone who participated!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer Giveaway

I'm back from a holiday in Spain, feeling rejuvenated, energetic and motivated...but also determined to take regular breaks to disconnect and relax and in the long run be more productive, I hope!
Now's the perfect time for summer giveaway!
Here's your chance to win a white linen moth, brooch or ornament, you choose. This is one moth, with either a metallic brooch clasp on the back, OR with a pretty white cord attached so that you can hang it in your home.
• To enter, just leave a comment and tell me what you do to relax, I'd love to hear. Don't forget to leave an e-mail address where I can contact you should you win, and your preference for brooch or ornament!
• Or, you can become a fan and leave a message on facebook:
• The winner will be selected in a random drawing on Friday, August 6.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rhubarb Pie

This has got to be the most refreshing summertime pie! 1 kg of fresh rhubarb with 150 gm of sugar, made into a compote (about 25-30 min.) I made a double pie crust because I love the lattice work on the top. Bake for about 30 min in a 375°F oven and enjoy.
I'd love to hear about your favorite summer pie!

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Honey Bee in the Ancient World

I am delighted to be participating in the blog it forward Bee series along with fellow members of the Artisans Gallery Team. Check out yesterday's post by Sharon of Knot Original on the team blog. And my post today will be followed by one from Kathi of Kathi Roussel, on her blog.

With much respect and admiration for ancient art, I present a post on bees in the ancient world, their importance to the ancients in so many aspects.

Beekeeping was widely practiced in the ancient world. Bees and beekeeping are often depicted in ancient artwork. But let's begin with the discovery in 2007 of remnants of ancient honey combs, beeswax and intact hives, attesting to a 3,000 year old beekeeping industry in Northern Israel. The Bible refers to Israel as a "land of milk and honey" but no mention of honey bee cultivation. These findings show that there was a highly developed beekeeping industry in the Holy Land.

The ancient Egyptians are considered the first beekeepers in history. The bee and its products had an importance that was not only agricultural, but also nutritional, medicinal and ritualistic. Honey was more than just food, it was applied to wounds for its antiseptic properties and was believed to prevent miscarriages. Beeswax was used in mummification and in candle making. There was also a large demand for honey to be used as offerings to the gods. Ramses III made an offering of 21,000 jars of honey to Hapi, the Nile god. And when Re wept, his tears turned into a bee which "busied himself with the flowers of every plant, and so wax was made and also honey."

The honey bee was the official symbol of Lower Egypt.

The bee and the sedge plant together represent the "Ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt", the traditional epithet of Egyptian Kings used from 3100 BC onwards.

The primary religious figure for the Minoans of Crete was the Mother Goddess. She had numerous manifestations, one of which was a bee. The Queen Bee was especially important, for she was the leader and the ruler of the hive, adored by Bee priestesses.

Some exquisite gold jewelry survives from Knossos (Middle Minoan period, 1700-1550 BC) such as this pendant (above) depicting two bees on either side of a honeycomb.
Also, a sketch of an onyx gem (also above) depicting the goddess as a woman with the head and eyes of an insect.

Like the Minoans, the Greeks held the Bee sacred and featured it in their mythology.

Gold Plaque from Rhodes

Omphalos Stone at Delphi

There are too many examples of Bees in Greek mythology to go into here, but these are my favorites:
Apollo gave the gift of bees to Hermes, including three female Bee maidens, the three Fates. The Omphalos stone at Delphi, site of the most important oracle in the ancient world, resembles a beehive with crisscrossing rows of bee symbols.

Honey was the food of the gods. Infant Zeus was fed honey by his nurse Melissa (Greek for honey bee), a nymph who discovered and taught the use of honey.

Honey was regarded as an elixir, ensuring a long and healthy life and preserving the remains of the dead. The Greek mathematician, Pythagoras, who lived to nearly 100, said his long life was due to a steady diet of honey. The Greek sea god, Glaucus, was supposedly restored to life when buried in a jar of honey.

For the Romans, Bacchus, god of wine, discovered honey and taught beekeeping to humans. Virgil wrote a practical beekeeping thesis, describing the working of the beehive in great detail. Pliny the elder called honey the "sweat of the heavens" and the "saliva of the stars." For the ancients, then, the bee was a link between humans and the divine.

"Some say that unto bees a share is given of the Divine Intelligence."

My homage to the bee and to the ancient Egyptians is this bee hieroglyph brooch.

The bee was venerated for so long, but we have lost contact with the sacred qualities in nature, animals and each other, seeing everything as replaceable, in a throw-away society.

Become a defender of the honey bee!
• read and share our team's posts
• become a beekeeper
• buy honey from your local cooperative
• wear a bee-inspired piece of jewelry
• spread the word, help save the bees!

Further reading:

A Short History of the Honey Bee by E. Readicker-Henderson

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How to Make a Tote Bag

We all have lots of supplies, and it's not always easy to organize them, even with shelves, boxes, or whatever storage method you use. I have piles of fabric falling out of my closets, so I thought I'd make a few storage bags from fabric remnants. They are flexible and easy to fit into small spaces, or you can hang them in the closet or on hooks.

I used a vintage pattern and I explain my entire process complete with photos over at the Artisans Gallery Team blog.
Take a look and browse our team blog while you are there!