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Night forest and landscape painting

I have several uncompleted works now. I’ve joined some friends to try to learn oil painting – something I’ve never done before. I’ve hardly handled paints at all. But since the oil painting takes so long to work on and I only try once or twice per week, I’ve been sketching, and now putting some inkscape art together. Here’s what I’ve got.

Night forest – in progress
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Fall pysanky

I tried some very old and very new techniques.

These first two are variants of a ‘berehynia’ – a traditional design representing a protective Slavic deity. The next two are what happened when I tried to free-form a pattern and used alcohol inks to color with instead of the traditional dyes.

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Glass fusing

A friend had an extra ticket to go to a glass workshop to make art out of fused glass. This was really fun! I’ve never done it before but I really like working with glass. I think it’s only a matter of time before I want to go all-in and work with glassblowing. I’ve held back because while I like the idea of WORKING with glass, I don’t really enjoy owning it all that much. But the molten glass itself is fascinating to me. In any case, here’s what we did.

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Houseplant maintenance

I hurt my back this morning, and my knee last week so that took out most physical things I wanted to do today, but the back was feeling well enough that I opted to get some stuff done around the house. I wound up dividing and repotting several plants that had been looking a little sad.

I also repotted my orchid and took a leaf cutting from an African violet. The mama plant is looking sad, but the one I pulled out a month ago looks fantastic.

Update: I felt the need to take a photo of all my variegated plants because I love them and then I also did a little update on ‘what’s outside’. The outside garden had a rough year.

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Soap Test

Just testing a new fragrance for fall – Pumpkin Spice, of course. What I can say so far is that I really want to eat it. I’m never sure if this is a good quality in soap, but it smells great.

I woke up in the morning, cut the soap, and decided it should be named “ATTACK! of the Pumpkin Spice Latte”

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Sunflower

Latest pysanky. This is another duck egg and I had a hard time getting the purple to take evenly over the red. It was coming out very dark in the purple area, but also not really covering the red in big blotches.

I used a paintbrush dipped in water and vinegar to brush off the dye around the wax and when the shell was nearly white, dipped it into the purple for just a few seconds. This was the result!

There are some flaws in my design and in my wax lines, but overall I like how it turned out. I plan to get a cap and hang this one as an ornament.

Flower on purple pysanka
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Eggs

Last month I volunteered to teach a class for a youth creative arts club and we made Ukrainian eggs. I haven’t made these for a while so it was a good excuse to try again.

I need to get a few more practice eggs under my belt, but it was fun. I bought 2 dozen duck eggs locally thinking that they’d be fun to work with. I tried some local chicken eggs – but it turns out everyone raises chickens that lay colored eggs and I wanted nice white shells. But when I did a search to see how to clean the duck eggs all I could find were articles telling me you can only wash them with water and if you wash them with soap or scrub with baking soda, the shells won’t take the dye well and they will wind up pastel.

I scrubbed that duck egg with baking soda, wiped it down with vinegar and then rinsed it. It seems to have taken the dye just fine. There are a few irregularities, but nothing I don’t also see in chicken eggs.

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Blackberries

Blackberries & thorns – ready for a soap label
Blackberry thorns alone
3 Blackberries

I spent a surprisingly long time arranging the berries. I may still go back and add the little hairs to them and possibly a shadow. It may not be noticeable, but each berry is a slightly different color because I wanted to make it clear that they were distinct even when they were on top of each other like this.

The hardest part of the thorns was getting the lighter color to run down the middle. I’m still not 100% happy with it, but after spending hours trying to fiddle with ‘mesh gradient’ until I gave up, I’m going to call this good enough for now.

Edit: here’s my soap label made from the above images.

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Cow Manure Theft

I may have stolen manure today. I was told, several years ago, that I could come get some compost from the bio-digester energy company ‘anytime’.

By ‘several years ago’ I mean 2014. 

I didn’t take them up on it. A PTA member called them last year and had permission for the school to go get some, but then the school said they weren’t allowed to use it because it’s not a proper commercial product. But I thought ‘well they said we can have it – let’s go get some!’

Today we went. I couldn’t find anyone to ask/tell about what we were doing.

I went to the spot where, in 2014, they were dumping the finished compost and took some. But the pile was still heating up, which made me think that maybe this wasn’t the finished compost and was I maybe rooting around in their ‘stuff to go into the digester/sarlacc pit’ pile by mistake?

The ill-gotten compost