Archive for October, 2011

While I had decided to only convert one pumpkin to a lantern,

owl design on pumpkin

I did want to do some decorative carving on a second. I loved the shape of this one, even if it was a little small. It was also more-than-a-little under-ripe so still had a deep green colour to the skin. Considering the amount of control, using the lino cutters gives me for details, I chose to go for an owl design. I think that opting to go for drawing free-hand might have been a mistake since there are no take-backs when you’re cutting off squash rind! The finished piece is cute, but I’m not thrilled with the look of the beak. I’ll probably try and work out a template in advance next year. At least they make a decent looking pair.

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While we had several pumpkins to chose from, it wasn’t all that hard to pick

carved pumpkin face, 2011

which ones to carve. Most were too small to carve easily. (at least harder to empty out and convert into lanterns) Not knowing if they were “pure” pumpkins meant that I wasn’t sure what I’d find once I started cutting but it turns out that (at least the ones I’ve worked with so far) they are pretty much a standard pumpkin that was possibly a little under-ripe. For the bigger one, I decided to go with doing a 3D, apple-face style carving. The rind was removed, except for the irises of the eyes. I thought it would make an even more dramatic contrast, when lit, to the cut-through eye centres. (sadly, taking off the skin also meant I took off almost all the actually orange areas…) I wasn’t able to carve quite as deeply as I had hoped, since it was only about 2” to 3” thick, but it only really made much of a difference on the nose. The only full cut-throughs are the eyes and mouth, but I’ve found the deeper carving tends to still give a good glow when lit.

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This was the first year, since we moved in, that we were able to use a bit of our own

assorted squash, 2011

compost on the garden. The ground here has such a high clay content that we were thrilled to have some homemade organic matter to add in. (and I feel so much better about composting rather than sending those materials to landfill. It’s a win-win all around) The problem with using compost is that there is greater chance of volunteers popping up. While we work at keeping the weeds down, I have a really hard time pulling up a food production plant. What this actually means is that most years we get to play “guess the mystery squash!” with the volunteers that come up since their seeds survive very well. (I think we should start a betting pool with extra points for the earlier you get it right) Sometimes they get left where they sprout but I’ll usually try to move them to a better spot. We had a few good sized unknown plants this year but now we know what they are, sort of. A few looked like they would be spaghetti squash, no surprise since we had several last year but it looks like those are actually crosses with pumpkins. We have yet to finds out what they taste like. I’d had hopes for a while, that at least a couple of the pumpkins would be watermelon since they set little green spheres, but once they started to show lobes like pumpkins I knew we’d have to settle for homegrown Jack o’ Lanterns rather than sweet and juicy melons. Now I just have to pick which ones I’m going to use and get carving!

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I’ve mentioned how I’ve been taking part in the charity shop for Regresty.

iron angel ornament

I’ve also found the forums to be fun and a great place to talk to other crafters/artists. Sometimes the site will run contests or challenges and I rarely participate since I’m just not that good at crafting funny. A couple of months ago there was one I could take part in. It was to create something that would perfectly fit the etsy style but be a spoof of the types of things they often feature. What I ended up doing was taking one of the antique nails that keep turning up when we dig anywhere on the grounds and using it as a starting point. I then took a pair of goose feathers from the stash and trimmed them. (They’ve never made it on the the masks since they came from a friends free-range flock and are a bit rough for most of the feathered masks) Some small vintage seed beads were strung on salvaged wire to make a halo. The feathers and halo were all attached together with more of the fine copper wire to make what I called an “Iron Angel”. I then took, what I do think is a rather pretty picture, and listed it with a serious-sounding write-up. It got a great start through some promotions from the team but has consistently been getting views, hearts and appearing in treasuries. Yesterday it appeared on the front page of Etsy, around 5pm. Then, a couple of hours later it was “outed” on Regresty, (NSFW warning about the link! I think it’s funny, but there is harsh language) and I’m glad to say it’s already found a home with someone who gets the joke. Now I just have to decide if I want to actually make a tree-top sized one from the stove leg we pulled out this spring.

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The weather has finally turned cold and we figured it was time to switch to winter hours. We’ll be open Tuesdays to Sundays 11-5, from now until the spring. Of course, we are always willing to make appointments for people who are coming by at other times, just drop us an email or call!

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I’m working on getting back into mask making. There are a few styles that I’ve run out of,

wolf masquerade mask with real fur *SOLD*

(as well as some new possibilities) that I wanted to make versions of. One of them was my wolves. In the last group I did, I finally figured out a solution to the ears that I was really happy with. But I still found that combining two different types of fur, once I had used the shortest furred sections of my salvaged scraps, was making the transition a bit too strong, for my taste. The obvious next thing to do was to simply use the same fur on the whole mask. I liked the idea since almost all wild canines have short fur on their faces. This one was done using mink from one of my bigger scrap pieces. (a single piece was the only way to be sure that the whole face would be the exact same colour) The finished effect is still more cute than scary, but at least is pretty realistic. (and I guess it was more generally appealing since it’s already found a home)

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Last on the vine

The weather the past week has just been amazing. It’s so warm and sunny

beefsteak tomatoes, October 2011

that it is hard to believe we’re in the second week of October! One of the benefits of it being so great is that it’s pleasant to be out and working on getting the garden prepped for the winter. While it sad to have to clean up the plants that have died back, it’s great to be able to work out in all this warm sunshine. One of the jobs this past week was to get going on cleaning out the remains of the tomato patch. While Dad and I took down the plants that have died, (and I gave the remaining fruit a light bleach wash in the hopes they well eventually ripen) there were a few that are still going. The trio of heritage beefsteaks still have some life left in them and, considering that the heat and sun should still last a few more days, we chose to leave them for now, so the fruit can get a bit closer to ripe. Considering how late the summer was to start, we’re loving having the good weather stretch this long.

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