Friday, August 31, 2012

Tomato Harvest

The following description is taken from Wikipedia,  which refers to this somewhat round, gloriously red, and very tasty edible food as a tomato.

"The word 'tomato' may refer to the plant (Solanum lycopersicum) or the edible, typically red, fruit that it bears. Originating in South America, the tomato was spread around the world following the Spanish colonization of the Americas, and its many varieties are now widely grown, often in greenhouses in cooler climates. The tomato fruit is consumed in diverse ways, including raw, as an ingredient in many dishes and sauces, and in drinks. While it is botanically a fruit, it is considered a vegetable for culinary purposes (as well as by the United States Supreme Court), which has caused some confusion."


When I agreed to grow a garden this Summer season at my Grandmother's homestead, I knew what she had in mind. Tomatoes tomatoes tomatoes. My Grandfather, Lucky, founder of the Grass Valley Growers Market, grew nearly a hundred of these plants in their suburban backyard every year. He was a dust bowl survivor, traveling from farm to farm from Kansas to California picking strawberries and whatever other work there was for him and four other children from the backseat of their station-wagon. As a high school shop teacher, my Grandfather supplemented the crazy NID (Nevada Irrigation District)  water bills by selling tomatoes door to door throughout the Union Hill neighborhood and setting up a table on Saturday mornings at the local fairgrounds.

While at one time there had been three boys and a vegetable stand, the house had sat empty for over a year. So, when my partner and I began restoration of the garden with rich loamy soil created from years of home composting, the entire neighborhood was at the front hedge cheering us on.

My Grandfather liked to grow many things. There are flowers surrounding the entire property which pop up and begin blooming as soon as the previous variety begin to wilt. He also grew squash and mint and beans. But most of all, everyone remembers him for his tomatoes. Why tomatoes???  Because they were Grandma's favorite!


So, now that we have planted a garden full of tomatoes, what will we do with them all?  



We stuff them!

We dry them!

We infuse them with basil and oil!

And always, We Eat them!!!!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How I make Fiber Earrings

Perhaps you have read my Etsy 'About' page. This page was something I lost sleep over. I wasn't sure how to promote my shop with samples of my studio. I don't have a studio. I have a growing collection of trunks, hat boxes, jewelry boxes, cigar cases, and other romantically alluring vessels in which I tote my projects from homestead to driveway to forest to beach to the stars and beyond.

As romantically breathtaking a dream of life on the road can be, you might sense a hint of sarcasm in this writing. Well, I suppose anything gets old if you've done it long enough. I'm just the kind of person who grows bored with anything I've perfected. So all in all, I'm ready for the next step. This is why I am extending so much energy to the promotion of my online Etsy shop. I'd love nothing more than to generate an income doing what I love from a space I call home.
This morning I would like to demonstrate some of the outdoor crafting skills I have developed and then apply to the Ragdoll Earware Earring line. It all begins with string.

 This sequence of photos shows me using a drop spindle to unite loose European (The Californian variety are often bred for other purposes and produce a much tougher fiber) hemp fibers. After winding the loose fibers into yarn, I color them using an ancient, natural technique with Indigo (Indigofera tinctoria) dye.  You can purchase a finished set of Indigo dyed Goddess earrings here.

While this process is extremely enjoyable, it is also extremely time consuming, so I make the majority of my Ragdoll Earware Earrings from unwinding ready-made hemp, bamboo cotton blend and agave fibers.

As well as imitation sinew, which I am guessing is a waxed rafia thread. This material is really handy for creating dream catchers and beading with small stone beads.

 Once I have selected the various types of string, yarn, fibers and ribbon I arrange them on my lap (though a work table I imagine will be easier on my back).

 Then I use some handy homemade tools to loop the fibers through a jump ring. 

In the beginning, I made all my own finding of special order sterling silver 22 gauge wire. Since the demand for my earrings seems to be in a lower price bracket, I've begun substituting my techniques for ready-made silver findings. You can still get a pair of the original hand molded Ragdolls Earwares in my shop, or contact me to special order a pair of your own.

Then I cut my copper material and carefully wrap the fibers securely into place.

Sometimes I add various stone or glass seed beads to enhance certain pairs. Either way the result is a comfortable, lightweight, stylish and divinely unique embellishment to your earring collection.

 Voila!!! After years of contemplation, a journey of feathers and stones, then a sacred meeting with the ancestors, the vision is complete. These earrings are sustainably crafted with love, patience and heartfelt inspiration. May the wearer be blessed!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Rags to Riches

From Rags to Riches can be more than a fairy tale, it becomes reality when you live the life of a creative person. Since I spend most my time making things to promote financial flow, I also spend time (for lack of money) creating stuff which makes me superiorly trendy, ultra savvy and often times, ahead of the fashion train. 

In fact, I learned to sew at the awkward age when all my pants were too short and the hips too loose. My Mother showed me the basics on her Jurassic Sears machine, which I continued to use to modify clothing and other projects for the following 17 years. This post is about something I took the time to create for myself, on my brand spanking new Janome Magnolia (I call her Tabitha). This dress is for just me. And nobody else. Ah, that feels gooooood!

To acquire supreme trendsetter status, it has been my experience that one must either have lots of spending money to support artisans such as myself, or lots of creative potential to dream up the latest and greatest fad. Now that I have a savvy sewing machine to enhance my ideas, there is no stopping the flow! 


 Making a pattern is simple. Just sketch and cut. For this project I used a dress I have often copied which was made by a dear friend and fellow artisan Trinity Cross of Field Day Wearables based in Oakland, CA.

Pinning the pattern in place to the fabric usually results in a better cut. Trust me, I tend to 'cut' corners when I make things for myself, so I often have do-overs if I leave these little helpful steps out!

Also pinning the cut fabric before stitching will help insure a more consistent stich. Less pins is better than more, because you'll have to be able to sew around them or take them out as you stitch so you don't break a needle.
Since I buy natural fabrics like silk and cotton I use natural cotton thread to sew it all together. 

For this dress I am using a cotton blend sweatshirt fabric I found down the street from my home at a yard sale last week. Due to budgeting concerns I usually don't get to choose the color and pattern my fabrics come in, but I do get to walk the neighborhood, with my dog, in search of yard sales, chat with people and investigate discarded fabrics, sheets, clothing and drapes for up-cycling into something inspirational.

 A little addition to this project is something I have been tinkering with for years: I call it 'Kitten Tangles.' It reminds me of scribbling, with sewing thread and ribbon.

As I write this blog, my toes are a little cold as the End Of Summer chill sets in. But I am oh, so cozy! in my new dress. Now I just have to figure out how to make some matching slippers....teehee!