Friday, October 21, 2011

How to: Make Grape Juice

 Welcome! Today, rather than my bench we shall make grape juice. First, Get yourself some grapes! Okay, more than some. ALOT of in several pounds. Grapes don't give off that much juice, so I would suggest buying from a farmer rather than a grocery store. Don't worry if it has seeds, they arn't a problem for us.

I have some variety of white grape from the farm. My boyfriends dad planted it years ago and this spring the sheep "pruned" it back. Thanks to the pruning the vine grew like crazy and is loaded with fruit.

 Now rinse them and look for spidery/caterpillary stuff and rotting grapes. Get those out of the way
 Run your fingers down the stems and gently pull the grapes off. Don't worry if you squish a few, just try not to get too much stem in the pot. I destemed a couple pounds in a matter of minutes. Once you have your pot full crush your grapes, then you should have room for more in the pot.
 Bring to a boil and them simmer the crushed grapes for 10 minutes, continuing to crush the whole one occasionally. Once you have them crushed and cooked pour a ladle or two into a colander lined with cheese cloth with a bowl underneath the collander to catch the juice.

 Let it drip then once the dripping gets slow take up the corners of the cheese cloth and carefully squeeze. DON"T squeeze the mush out the top of your cheese cloth onto the wall. Not that that ever has happened. To me at least. ....

Anyway, gently squeeze the juice out and once you arn't getting much juice toss that pile of mush into your compost or around your flowers. Its good stuff. I found rinsing the mush off the cheesecloth between each use made it go faster, but that's just me.
Now I understand why people stomp grapes. arrrrrggg!!
 Once you collect your juice pour it into a glass container and put it in the 'fridge for 12 hours to let the sediment settle. Once it settles pour off the juice into a pot, bring it to a boil, add your sugar if you wish and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Byebye Spinning Wheel

 I  just got a message from my friend who I borrowed a spinning wheel from...after a long loan shes ready to try spinning again. Drat! So I gotta do my best to finish my of last night I still had almost 3 oz of fiber to spin. I managed to finish it in a viewing of "Weird Science" and a couple episodes of the daily show. Amazingly my leg didn't fall off. I had to let the fiber sit for a little to get the twist to set so I started plying this morning. Here's the lazy kate (oh kate, you work so hard for me why do they call you lazy?)

 Spinning on the bobbin
 Once I was done I used my table as a niddy-noddy. because im cool like that.
I was hoping for a laceweight, ended up with a sock weight. :( i guess i could have used more twist in the initial yarn? maybe? This is where being self taught makes it a little difficult.

 Two skeins of yarn: a total of abut 435 yards. Pooh, a little less than I wanted, but, hey, its enough to do something with!
Any suggestions of what to knit with merino silk handspun? It would make nice socks, but wouldn't last very long so thats out of the question. maybe another shawl. BTW if you are on ravelry, friend me there so i can see what you do!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fuzzy Feelings

 The rabbit got a bit of carrot today, which she just went nuts for. I have NEVER seen her eat while being held...and here she wad noshing and even holding the carrot. Pretty adorable

Messy eater...

 Aww, what sweetness!
 But not all is well in bunny land....
Come to think of it, I've seen this look before...

Awwwww.....sad puppy. I gave her hugs, but the look was pretty precious.

In the end, all animals were happy and loved. Normally the dog gets along with the rabbit...but like anyone the dog gets jealous if we pay too much attention to the rabbit while the rabbit gets upset if we pay too much attention to the dog. Its not anthropomorphizing, I swear!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How To: Open a Bezel

Has it ever happened to you that a customer wants you to change the stone in a setting, but wants both parts saved? Or maybe while you finish setting your stone you break off part of the piece. Never happens, right? Well, lets say it DOES happen one day. How are you going to get your stone out safely?

Let me show you my little trick. I'm going to take this boring piece and pull it apart.

 The important part is the tool you use. I had modified this screwdriver years ago as a makeshift rivet starter....didn't work so well. But it work GREAT for opening up bezels.

 You see how I sharpened up the tip? One side is pretty flat while the other tapers into that side. The flat side should go next to the stone as you open up the bezel, that way you wont scratch your stone.
 So start by slipping the corner of your screwdriver in between the stone and the bezel. Again, your flat side is going to help you get super close to the stone and wedge the bezel open. Wiggle the screwdriver gently to get it to start opening up.
 Once you get it open a little, slip your screwdriver deeper into the bezel and at a 45 degree angle slide your tool along the inside of the bezel.
Viola! The bezel is open with no damage to the stone, and minimal damage to the bezel!

 Go ahead, pop out that stone and you are done! And all it took was 1 minute of careful work.
Man, that was kinda fun. Anyone have some bezels they need opened? Anyone?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ghost Rider

 Howdy! I've got a fun piece today! I found a lovely little agate from Montana over at Handleys. At first I was all ho hum, then I saw it: A cowboy riding through sage brush! So that what I did, and here's how.

First came designing the piece. Getting a decent cowboy silhouetteis one thing, getting it in the right proportion is another! It took me several tries, but i finally got my cowboy and horse the right size.

Next came making the piece. I switched over to a  new torch setup in the middle of making this. From acetylene/air with a big torch tip to oxy-propane with a MINI torch tip. Well, I had some trouble getting it hot enough to solder up right, but I kept trying and finally got it. yikes, though, what a nightmare!

So I got the bezel made and all ready to go, and drew on my little cowboy
 I cut him out

 I was careful in my sawing as I couldn't add metal if i screwed up! But he turned out okay
Now one thing i did take into consideration was the possibility of the back plate tarnishing. I am trying to mitigate that by creating a fine silver layer (using depletion guilting) under where the stone sits. We'll the very least it makes the stone appear whiter.

 I set the agate in and it looks pretty darn good. One thing I didn't realize was the stone tapers off by a millimeter on one side! so to get it to fit into the piece I had to do a bit of resizing. Anyway, it looks pretty good. The camera didn't want to pick up on it, but you get the idea. he comes out pretty clearly in real life.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Meet the Sheep

Have you meet the sheep on the farm yet? First, meet MY sheep: his name is John and he is a ram lamb. I bought him at the flock and fiber festival from drumcliffe farm. He is a fantastic little ram and I think he will do his job well.

Infact, he spent all weekend next to the ewes at the festival and was feeling, um, hot blooded to say the least. When we got him to the farm and introduced him to the girls they all were stomping their hooves as if to say, "oh my! who is this?! just showing up?! harumph!" HE on the other hand started licking his lips (or actually tasting the air) and proceeded to chase them. Well, it was funny to watch him chasing the three ewes, and the confused llama chasing whoever! In the end, though, the yearling ewe felt things she never felt before, shall we say they are boyfriend and girlfriend now?
Hunka hunka burnin' love
 It took a few days for the other two ewes to get used to him, but they seem to like him now.

One thing, though, is the ewe are very tame. That is okay with ewes, but John, as a ram, can NEVER be tamed. When rams are tame they are no longer afraid of humans, and that is when they start to hurt people. For now, I can pet Wilda when she comes up, but I cannot let myself pet John. He needs to always fear me, even when he is grow (just like a real son!)

So lets meet the sheep! (Meet, i said, not MEAT!)
 We have Wilda, the friendly sheep. She gets in my face when i have out the camera, she is also the one who will walk inside the house if you let her. Crazy sheep
Standing like the champion she isn't. Nice try!

 Then there is bright eyed Sparkles.She is very pretty and learning from her aunt Wilda how to beat up coyotes....sadly, they confuse my dog with a coyote sometimes. Anyway, Sparkles is Johns ewefriend. 

 Then, there is Sparkle's mom: Ariel. She's the one with crooked horns. She is also the most skiddish.
Now here is the fun part: the sheep are Jacobs sheep. This breed can have 1, 2 or ever 3 sets of horns. However, its kind of a crap shoot. All of these sheep had parents with 2 sets of horns, yet they all only have one set. John's sire had a total of 4 horns, his mom had 5 horns! And John? He has only two. Because all the sheep come from lines with multiple horns IF the gene skips a generation, or if it is recessive I have a good chance of getting at least a few (if not all) lambs with multiple sets of horns. Come spring we shall find out.

By the way, if you are interested in learning more about Jacobs then check out

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

New Turquoise Stone

I bought a cheap piece of turquosie off etsy the other was cheap for a reason 30% was matrix and the polish was pretty poor with lots of scratches. Hum, I said to myself...

If there is anything I have learned in cutting my opals is sometimes less of a stone is a better stone, so put it on a dop stick. chop chop, polish polish and in 5 minutes had this:
Much higher polish, better dome, less matrix. I could even take more off for a perfect oval with very little matix left, but I like like the shape as is.

So there you go, lesson learned: don't be afraid to make a smaller but better stone, or your customers may reshape your cabs. Oh, and turquoise? Takes a polish like a dream!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

And the Winner is...

 A couple weeks back I posted asking folks to vote on what the opal setting should become and the resounding answer was: a ring! Oh, but the problem with rings is what size? I decided since its such a fun and funky piece anyway, I might as well make it resizeable. So here it is my space age opal cocktail ring in sizes 7-10!

Thanks to everyone who voted! If you like it the piece is available on my etsy store: