Outdoor Cooking

I’ve been cooking lately. Nothing in the kitchen, much to my love’s chagrin, but on the driveway. One hot plate, a big, black enamel pot and tons of empty plastic jugs and bottles have been my equipment.

First I stuffed the pot with bamboo leaves and snippets. I had harvested some bamboo from a weaving friend who has a very healthy stand growing in her side yard in town. At least it was in her side yard as of a couple days ago – not sure where it might have traveled by now! A lovely yellow tint to the bark – obviously a yellow bamboo? – with 16-18 foot heights – that I wanted to try to work into an orb for the exhibit at IAC in August.

Round and bamboo do not go together.  Yes, I know there are ways to make bamboo very wonderful to use; I was interested in using it whole. It crinks and cracks so very willingly when you bend it. I did manage to get about 6-5 pieces in some semblance of roundness, tied together with pink rug yarn/string. I will most likely take the thing apart in a couple days and throw it away after salvaging some of the slender bits.

I had picked some smaller bamboo, too, mostly to help clean her flower bed a bit but also with the thought of making paper pulp.  Wound up putting some stalk bits into the pot which I have since regretted and have been painstakingly removing. They cooked up well, or as well as I can tell, and have been drained, rinsed well and are in the process of being sorted (to pull out the heavier bits). I did try blending some for pulp – the wonderful long fibers seem to clump together a lot and are heavy, sinking to the bottom of the vat quickly. A small dose of cotton linters in the vat helped a lot! By and large, the resulting sheets of paper are pretty good. Now to finish the picking-through-the-leaves and get the bag of good parts into the freezer for another day.

The remaining juice was too tempting – a lovely yellowish green. So, some cotton/linen scraps I had went into baggies, fully wetted with the bamboo juice. We’ll see what two weeks in the juice will do.

The other cooking project was just as tasty – oak bark from a downed tree at a friend’s home. There is a lot of red in the dry bark, so the assumption was the tannin extracted would also be reddish. And I’ve heard that oak galls are loaded with tannin, soooooo…..

It certainly does produce a deep reddish juice and also seems to react more strongly  with alum. I pulled out some of my mordanted cloths (alum and tannin) that I have ready and waiting for mud dyeing and dipped some just once, some two times and the remaining ones three times. Barbara from the Mali trip tried some the other day and when she put her mud on – zappo, there was the color!  I’m eager to achieve the same results and then to modify the process to keep it from bleeding out past where the mud sits.

The liquid results of my labors are sitting in previously used and washed orange juice and water bottles. Sort of pretty all lined up with the sun shining through them…

Books and Bugs

Thought I’d share some of the results of my bookbinding work the other day. The cover stock is a pile of cardboard from cereal boxes – two pieces glued together works pretty well. Now on to making up kits for an upcoming workshop.

The large grapevine pieces I did last November have been sitting on the deck since their birth. Lately they’ve been moved around a bit to accommodate deck activities – mainly re-staining. Just this morning I moved the big one again and, to my dismay, found very fresh signs of powder post beetle activity.


The piece is waaay too big to try to get rid of the beetles, so it has now become an outdoor sculpture on the edge of the woods in the back yard. Maybe it will get moved to a more visible spot … or… my love has been talking about making a trail through our woods – it might become a thing of interest on the trail. It will likely last at least a year or two since the vines are so thick, but it definitely won’t be going to Indianapolis later this summer.

Random Sights

Lots has happened since I last posted. I’ve been in and out of town and in again.

Some memorable sights (and sounds) that crossed my field of vision during this time (sorry no pics to go with the words):

– Twin boys in bright yellow shirts, probably age 3-4, walking side by side under individual golf umbrellas in the rain.

–  Breathtaking, exciting, awesome, fun fiber work of all description exhibited in conjunction with the Surface Design Association’s biennial conference.

– A sea of runners and walkers of all shapes and sizes and abilities pouring through KC streets on behalf of brain injury research. Other than the cheering spectators, it was quite quiet.
–  Little star shaped cakes celebrating years of service.

–  Excitement and interest in the faces of two older twin boys (11) as they discovered some of the secrets of basketry.

– Photographs from Mali taken by village teenagers showing the important things in their lives. (Took me right back to the Mali I had experienced in January!)

– A choral reading/performance by two high school freshmen (girl and boy) who had collaborated on their reactions to the Mali photos – absolutely stupendous!

– The drone of pipes, thump of drums and whirling dance of fiddle notes accompanying flying feet as successive groups entertained a die-hard crowd of Celtic fans.

– A huge full moon hovering over Kansas City, bathing the city in moonglow before the storms gave it a real washing. (Almost howled at the moon – but that’s another story.)

Lots of time spent hugging friends, marveling over color/technique/shape, eating chocolate, sweating, feeling fibers, moving furniture, sharing delicious foods and drinks, eating more chocolate, …. Back to normal life this week. I think.

Studio and Sunshine

 I can give my teaching and traveling shoes a breather till the end of the month.

Taught a local mudcloth class today during which some very nice work was accomplished. My next assignment will be gut for the local basket guild, then some mudcloth in Michigan, basketry in Indiana, installation work also in IN, ….

What I need to focus on now is doing some artwork!  Mudcloth keeps calling to me as I want to try some different approaches since the trip to Mali. I also need some basketry developed not only for the installation work, but also for a companion exhibit. And some work for an invitational at Mobilia Gallery in MA this fall. And a possible installation piece inside our local library.

Certainly enough to keep me busy and off the streets. And in my studio. Which is downstairs in the basement without a window. And the weather is extremely gorgeous right now and predicted to remain so for the week.

Sigh. It just isn’t fair.

I may have to claim the deck as studio space this week.

Gotta get my vitamin D, doncha know, from all that promised sunshine!

On the road again

I’ll be back on the road – or rather, up in the air – again this week for some teaching in Florida for FTWG. Right now my bags are mostly packed. I needed to see if I could get all the supplies for the two classes (mudcloth and seagrass soft sculpture) into my luggage or whether I would have to ship things. Fortunately, it fits! I don’t have much room for many clothes so I will be a bit fashion-challenged this trip, but it sure beats the extra postage. Good thing I won’t be needing thick, heavy clothing. The best part is that my bags will be almost empty when I come home.

Oh, and the hot tub preparations are under way! My love dug four very nice and neat and deep holes yesterday. Through the mostly thawed-out ground. Through the solid clay that is our back yard. Today those holes have concrete setting up in the bottom of them. Next weekend the posts will be ‘planted’ in the holes and the platform for the tub will be constructed. The rest of the decking will wait for the tub to be in place first. My big, thirsty towel is ready.