Monthly Archives: July 2012

Wood Carving at the John C. Campbell Folk School

Last week was spent playing with wood and hanging out with my granddaughter,  a combination of two very enjoyable activities.  The John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina has an Intergenerational Week every summer when parents or grandparents can share  a class with a child aged 12 to 17.  I’ve been taking classes there for years by myself and my granddaughter was very excited to learn that she could come with me as soon as she was 12.  She chose the wood carving class so we set off to learn how to handle sharp blades without cutting ourselves.  Here is a photographic overview of the class.

The entire class started with the goose so that the instructor could take us through all the different stages of carving.  Once we had finished the goose, we were able to chose the next project from the many blanks that the instructor provided.  I chose a mouse in western red cedar.  My granddaughter chose the cat in redwood.  Both of these woods proved to be a bit of a challenge for beginning carvers, but we were happy with the results.  My third project was my own design.  I put a flower, maybe a daisy or coneflower or black-eyed Susan, on top of an egg-shaped blank, wrapped the flower stem around the egg and put three small ladybugs on the stem.  I’m still playing with it and tweaking the design.  I don’t know exactly how I’ll finish it, but I had fun and learned a lot with the carving.

As our last project, both granddaughter and I chose to make gnome heads. She did a large one and I did a little one.  Both were re-engineered from Santa heads! For both of us, these last projects were a very successful conclusion as they felt as if we had some command of the project rather than having the wood rule.

My puzzle over the next six months is how to incorporate the wood into my books and if I really like carving enough to spend the necessary time and effort.  Stay tuned!

I’ll be back to working on my books and marbled paper soon and may even be taking another class on marbling.


Filed under Craft design, Life, Other crafts

Accomplished! Pickles & Portfolios

The last few days have been very productive, both for me and for the garden.  When  I was in the garden, I started picking cucumbers and got seven or eight ripe ones.  Many too many to eat, so it was time to make bread and butter pickles!  This is the first time in about ten years that I’ve had enough cukes to make pickles, so I was happy.  Took them inside and got them sliced, but didn’t have any onions.  Unfortunately they are not quite in season yet so had to get them at the grocery store rather than the local farm stand. Sliced the onions and put them with the cucumbers to sit in the fridge and do their thing.  By late afternoon they had sat long enough, so I started cooking up the syrup.  I had forgotten to check on the canning supplies, so a frantic search for rings and new lids took place.  I knew where the canning jars were since I have boxes and boxes of them from the years that I canned in a major way.  I grabbed the canning kettle and a box of jars just in time to add the cucumbers to the syrup.  Everything worked out in the end and I now have ten pints of pickles for the coming year and I’ll probably have lots more, if the raccoons don’t get the cucumbers first.

On the Portfolio side, I finished my next set of portfolios.  I design a way for them to hold a pad of paper that I hope is strong enough!  There were, of course, some hiccups on the way – like cutting paper the wrong size – that happens when I’m pushing to get something done.  They all worked out in the end and I’m pleased with the final results.

These are all for sale at Long’s Cards and Books in Penn Yan, NY.

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Filed under Craft design, Life, Notebooks

Gardens, Portfolios and Vacations

I haven’t taken time to write about my activities recently, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been quiet.  I was able to plant a garden this year in spite of the cold April weather and it was off to a beautiful start.  Now I just have to keep it watered in all this heat.

Here’s what it looked like a week or so ago.

It’s not very big, but it gives me all the  tomatoes I can eat and delicious potatoes.  I try cucumbers every year and I think this year I will actually be feeding myself instead of the deer and rabbits.  You can see my rather makeshift fencing.  Although a determined deer could easily jump it, it seems to be enough of a discouragement that they don’t bother.  After I found a rabbit sitting inside the fence which has only 2″x3″ openings, I wrapped the bottom with chicken wire and that seems to have kept them out.  There are lots of other wonderful things for them to eat on the rest of the property, so they have to stay out of my garden!  

There is a nearby farm that has U-pick strawberries and every year I plan to get some to freeze.  It works out that I do about half the time!  This year I picked 14 quarts and was very glad I did.  It was a wonderful strawberry season. We had a lot of rain followed by hot dry weather at the perfect time.  The strawberries were luscious! Big and sweet. I’ve found that the varieties that are  huge can tend to be tasteless, especially when frozen.  These are a variety called Sparkle and they have a wonderful flavor no matter their size.

Enough of food, so what have I been doing with my paper?

As I mentioned in my last blog, I’ve started making designer portfolios and last week I finished a set of four.  Here they are:

I’m very pleased with these and there was only one real problem.  On the red one somehow I made two left sides and so I could either throw it all out, have the cranes flying upside down or have the “pocket” on the wrong side.  I opted for the latter.  My next set of large portfolios will have replaceable pads on one side like the smaller notebooks do. Not sure I like this, but I’m trying to sell them in a local office supply store and the owner suggested that might help.  We’ll see.

In mid-July I’m taking off for one of my favorite places – The John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, N.C.  My granddaughter and I will be taking a course in wood carving, so that will be a whole new world for me!  I don’t know how the blogging schedule will go for the next month, but I’ll try to pop in with pictures occasionally.


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Filed under Craft design, Life, Marbled Paper, Notebooks