Encaustic Wax, Flower Printing, and Plaster Play



I've finally carved out a niche in my outside studio to play around with encaustic wax!! (Happy dance here.) It's summertime, so I can throw the doors and windows open to keep the studio well ventilated. I just need to make sure no critters get caught inside! (On acreage in the middle of the forest, this is a real challenge.)

Also on my list of things to try out is creating prints by pounding flowers into either fabric or paper. And in keeping with my non-linear, crazy mind these days, I'll throw in a smattering of plaster to mix things up even more.  The options are growing exponentially as I write.

I had a damaged wooden board stained with indigo India ink, cast off from a failed project. This would be perfect to start my foray back into the world of encaustic wax. Blue = sky, easy beginning; and I love flowers, so there you go. 




Here are some detailed shots:



















That was soooo much fun! But that's just the beginning. 




I have a large bare spot on one of the walls in our cobalt blue tiled bathroom. Unfortunately, the first piece is a horizontal panel, and I needed a perpendicular panel to fill the void. So on to the next experimental art adventure I go.

We are in the middle of a pandemic, thus I am trying to use things I have on hand. Since I didn't have a correct size wooden panel, I ripped leftover drop cloth into the size I wanted, and added a layer of plaster of Paris to the front (let it dry) and then the back of the cloth. I had seen this done by Jeanne Oliver for smaller journal pages. Perhaps this isn't the best thing for a larger panel like I'm making as it may crack or break fairly easily, but I forged on ahead knowing that it's just for me, and on the wall, and I'm pretty careful.  

What shall I put on this panel? I have been vying to try hammered flower cloth. What, you ask, is hammered flower cloth? Take flowers and hammer them into cloth. I used a very thin, woven, cotton muslin type cloth. I went around my yard and gathered a variety of flowers to try.










I layered a piece of paper underneath, added the thin cloth, arranged the flowers on the cloth, covered the flowers with parchment paper, and used a rubber mallet to hammer the flowers into the cloth. The parchment paper allowed me to faintly see where the flowers and colors were transferring onto the fabric, helping me create a more cohesive design. I went in after the first pass and added more flowers and greenery where it was needed. The bottom layer of paper had a faint ghost print from the color that seeped out from the fabric. You could use this paper for a mixed media piece, or attach it into your journal, or whatever you like. 

Here is the cloth panel. 




I won't wash this. If you wanted to use this technique on a washable item, you would need to treat the fabric before and after doing the flower pounding. Since I knew this was for the wall and wouldn't be washed, I used untreated fabric. 

To attach this fabric onto the plaster substrate I used encaustic wax. I laid the fabric onto the plaster panel and added a layer of encaustic wax on top of the flower print. The wax soaked into the thin cloth and down into the plaster. I am hoping the encaustic wax will not only act as a binder, but also help to seal in the color of the flowers and keep it from fading. 

Here's a portion of the cloth before the encaustic wax was applied.




And after the wax was applied.


 

And here's the same area after I added some darker encaustic wax accents. 




Sweet peas on fabric.




Sweet peas after clear and some white encaustic wax. 




Here are close ups of areas with the darker encaustic wax and some indigo colored wax details added. I wanted a little of that indigo/cobalt color of the bathroom tiles in the piece. 







I left the edges rough, but felt it was a little too rustic. I had leather straps that I added to the piece by stitching a loop and hanging them onto the copper tubing I used to hang the piece by. 




The leather covers the rough edges on the longer sides and makes the piece look cleaner. I used a piece of wire as a hanger, but wanted to obscure it a bit so I added a few pussy willow branches to the top. 




I like how the plain plaster is still visible at the top and bottom of the piece. 

I learned a lot by just playing around with materials I had on hand, trying to make do. I'm happy to have a piece of art to hang in the bare spot of the bathroom. I hope you give the flower printing a try. It's very easy. There are all sorts of tutorials on Youtube showing different methods. I even saw that some people used rocks to pound the plant materials into the fabric. 

Happy summer, everyone!








Nut Meal Recipes ~ One Savory, One Sweet



What to do when your favorite soy or nut milk is no longer available due to pandemic supply problems? Make your own. I had never tried making nut milk before, so I was surprised at how easy it was and how much better the flavor and texture was.




The more I made, the more nut meal I had to use in some creative, delicious way. There were a few recipes online, but none that fit the flavors I wanted or ingredients I had on hand. A cold, rainy day makes the perfect time for a grand baking experiment. Usually I never bake. Why? Because I'll just eat it all! I have no will power. But today was the exception, so I tried to keep it somewhat healthy. I do not know how many calories or what the nutritional values are. This is a baking experiment day, not a math day.

I made one savory and one sweet batch of batters with only ingredients I had in my pantry. I am pleased with the results, and happy that they are more than edible. I hope you enjoy them as well, or perhaps you can do a little experimenting of your own with what you have on hand.




                                                             Pumpkin Spice Mookies 
                                       (cross between a muffin and a cookie ~ yep, I just made that up)
                                       (edit: actually I didn't make it up because I just hashtagged it on IG and it's                                                        already a thing. Who knew?? I didn't until now.)

1 C nut meal (mine was dried and somewhat ground up like flour with a few lumps in it)
1 C pumpkin puree (about half a can)
1 old banana
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon all spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/3 C whole raw oats
1/3 C chopped pecans
1/3 C maple syrup
1/3 C coconut oil, in liquid form
1 egg

Mix all the ingredients together. The batter will be fluffy and slightly stiff, like cookie dough. On a parchment lined baking sheet, mound heaping tablespoons of batter. Cook at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until the outside crisps up a bit and begins to crack. Take them out of the oven and let them cool for about 15 minutes so they set up a tad before handling. I'm not sure how many it makes because we ate a few before I thought to count them. I think it makes about a dozen.




These mookies are the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea.

Next up is savory ~ slightly spicy, depending on the salsa you use, dense and moist, yet the cornmeal gives it a nice crunchy tooth. 




                                                Chili Pumpkin Nut Meal Slices and Croutons

1 C nut meal (mine was dried and somewhat ground up like flour with a few lumps in it)
1 C pumpkin puree (about half a can) 
1 tablespoon Organic No Salt Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 C salsa verde
1/4 C olive oil
1 egg

Mix all the ingredients together. Pour the batter into a buttered 9" cake pan. Cook at 350 degrees for 45 - 55 minutes. Cool on a rack. Once cooled, slice it up. If you would like croutons, dice some up and put into a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes and/or under a broiler for about 5 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the croutons cool down in the oven to further dry them out. 

I put the croutons in my salad ~ yum! Tonight I'll melt a bit of cheese on the slices and serve them with dinner.  

I'm happy to have used up a few languishing ingredients; and to have created some new, tasty treats while sheltering in place. 




Edit update: Rhubarb is in season, so I'm adding another recipe.

                                                         Rhubarb/Pear Coffeecake 

4 C rhubarb, stems only, 1/4" slices
1 pear, cubed
1 1/4 C sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 1/2 C nut meal
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger (I used 1 cube of frozen ginger)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 C full fat coconut milk

Toss cut rhubarb with 1/4 C sugar. Add pear and mix. Butter 9" round cake pan, and dot with 1/2 stick of butter. Add rhubarb mixture. 

In a separate bowl, whisk nut meal, baking powder and salt.

In another bowl, beat remaining butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in ginger, lemon zest, and OJ. Beat in one egg at a time. Add vanilla. Add dry mix and blend. Add coconut milk and mix. 

Spread mixture onto rhubarb. Bake about an hour or so in a 350 degree oven. 













Linen



I've recently rediscovered linen, with all it's lovely slubbiness and texture, ranging from rustic to delicate handkerchief, providing versatility for a variety of projects. Details such as hemstitch and fringe or tassels always catch my eye. Having a little more time on my hands than usual lately, I decided to give these a go while making some gifts for loved ones, and a few for myself as well.

My friend Mary forwarded me an email from fabrics-store.com, and I was immediately smitten. Their selection, quality, patterns, tutorials, every day pricing, and deep discount sales hooked me in. Many of these are accessible on their website for all to see, but once you purchase from them, you have access to all of it, including free down-loadable patterns. I had been curious to try linen towels. They had directions and a pattern for making bath towels, which was the perfect segway into my linen sewing spree.




Having always used plush, terry towels to  dry off, I quickly made one single bath towel to test it out. I was surprised how wicking the linen was and how quickly the towel dried after being used. I could see the benefits of this, especially if one lived in a humid area.




I couldn't wait to dive into trying my hand at hem stitching. The process is methodical and soothing, and I love the results! Here's the tutorial I used.




Creating the fringe and tassels is a great way to be productive while binging those favorite Netflix shows. Here's the tutorial for the fringe.




Since my sewing machine was already set up for mask making, my first order of IL019 bleached medium weight linen was sewn up likety split; and now I've just washed my second order: rustic natural, striped and daisy. These will make up some fun towel sets as Christmas gifts. I'm also considering making a slipcover for my couch. I've watched a few videos on how to do it, and it's a rather adventurous project for me. I'll be honest, I'm kind of terrified to try it! In the meantime, I'll make towels, sheets, blankets, scarves, shawls, and maybe a few clothing items all the while getting up the courage to give it a go.




This scarf doesn't need a sewing machine. I even ripped the long edges for a frayed look; then tasseled the ends.



You can just see the sunlight through the medium weight fabric, making it not too sheer yet not completely opaque.




No sewing machine required for this wrap, shawl either. It would also make a nice table topper or tablecloth for a smaller table. I used one yard of fabric.

I'm toying with the idea of making a top with Sonya Philip's Shirt No. 1 pattern with hem stitched arms and fringed hem. What do you think?