Monday, October 31, 2011

A day off

Nick has some days off that he needs to take before the end of the year, which is a rather nice thing, so we planned to have a nice Monday, pootling through town, having a nice lunch and going to the cinema. But as with all best laid plans it didn't quite happen like that. We had noticed that the tap in the kitchen had developed a small leak and upon investigation this morning I found that the water was leaking down into the cupboard below and directly on to the plug for the dishwasher. So in my wisdom I thought - get out the B&Q book and have a look on the Internet, it can't be that hard to sort out a washer! Well, within an hour we had figured out how to take the mixer tap apart and removed the cartridge (which contained the ceramic washers), to find that there was a crack in the cartridge casing. Pottering down to Homebase no cartridges were to be found but happily they sent me on to Majit's up in Moseley. There I got lots of advice - including the immortal 'you won't get that back together' in regard to the cartridge now sitting in bits on the counter top. I meant a magnificent man, who by his own words was 'at the end of the line' (dying of terminal cancer), who spent half an hour telling me how to install a tap and picking out the bits I would need, all the while getting later and later for his own appointment. Back home, kitted out with a new set of taps and some flexible pipes, I dug out the pipe cutter and blow torch I had bought for plumbing I was talked out of in the house in Acocks Green. I even found the right adapters and we were ready to go. More B&Q book reading, a youtube video and an hour later (plus a bit of swearing!) and the taps were in place. But everything was leaking. So a liberal quantity of PTFE tape was applied to all screw joints and the leaking stopped. Isn't it amazing that a small amount of tape is the only thing between a flood and a working water system!

We did get time for a quick expedition into town for coffee too.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

All Hallow's Eve cupcakes

I was super excited when this bat cutter arrived from kit box. But I held it together until today when I could set about making Halloween cupcakes - with a smidgeon of orange puree and orange essence in the sponge and a little orange essence in the orange coloured icing, they are very tasty!!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Red House Glass Cone

Today we went over to visit Laura in Stourbridge and popped into the Red House Glass Cone where they were blowing Halloween inspired glass - cats and pumpkins and spiders. We had a super time watching the pieces appear from the molten glass and then enjoyed some yummy lunch and cakes in the crystal tea rooms.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Lake panorama

Having had a play with the new version of Photoshop I present the panorama of the lake above Kilpishalle where I walked with Dave in Finland. It was so tranquil up there, and there were lots of blueberries, croberries & lingonberries!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

30 items

The laughingsnail etsy site reached 30 items today. This seems to be a magic number - though I am not sure why, may be it indicates a certain quantity of stock and choice to buyers? Well fingers crossed it helps with a few sales!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Eucalyptus flower bud?

When we were down at RHS Wisley recently we found a eucalyptus tree with these super little but odd green spiky things on it (on the right!). There were also the regular nuts - so we did wonder what they were. After a fairly extensive trawl of the Internet I think they might have been flower buds ready and waiting for next year. I found them fascinating and really inspirational. So I commandeered some green porcelain (with Sue's blessing I might add) and after a little exploration I fashioned this objet, with a texture and white dusting over the surface in imitation of the 'planty thing'.

Black cherry tomatoes

With the chilly weather upon us we harvested all our tomatoes - a variety called black cherry. They're very tasty but sort of chocolate coloured (the picture makes them look rather too red). Rather than pickling this year we made some passatta - which was also an interesting chocolate colour!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

Glass fusing at home

 Over the weekend I have completed a small experiment/test run of the kiln for fusing glass. I had some off cuts of glass for making stained glass (which meant I didn't know what COE it had and wasn't going to start mixing colours together or making anything special). These I made a little double stack of and popped onto some thinfire paper in the kiln (this stops the glass from welding itself to the kiln shelf). Then I set the program and walked away. 24h later, holding my breath and hoping I hadn't ruined the kiln, I opened it up. And phew!! Everything looked as it should! The glass had fused and the edges were nicely rounded. There is a little pulling along the long sides but that's probably the glass trying to get to the magic 6mm it likes so much. So I think we declare the experiment a success! And a progression can be made to better glass and design :-)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

It's a ......

...well now, the answer to that is a secret til tomorrow! Kathrine is expecting a little baby in the new year and she found out the gender last week. So I have made her some baby reveal cupcakes to tell the others in the lab what it will be. They're vanilla sponge with a little bit of cake taken out that has been filled-in in an appropriate coloured (!) blob of icing. Then I covered that up with plain icing and some rather jolly balloons!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Chocolate button cupcakes for Chocolate week

This week has been chocolate week and I have been so busy it seems I haven't had a moment to myself. However I have managed to make some button moulds and cast 'chocolate buttons' using candy melts in turquoise and red. We had hoped to do this for the wedding but in the end we bought some vinatge 'chocolate buttons' from Hotel Chocolat - which with the fiddliness that I experienced this week was a good thing! Here I have used the buttons to decorate fluffy-light chocolate cupcakes topped with Dairy Milk icing. The final touch was a drizzle of dark chocolate. So I think that pretty much ticks all the chocolate boxes!! However Nick & I had one at lunch tme and discovered there could be too much of a good thing. We will need to find some willing helpers to eat all 12 of them!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Snowball ware

I was checking out Kate Malone's creations the other day and came across her interpretation of 18th centuary Meissen snowball ware. Having a few flower icing decoration cutters I thought I'd have a go at making a little decoration/wreath. So here it is as I have finished applying the last flower, its off for bisque firing now - I hope all the flowers reamin attached!

The second picture on this blog article shows an amazing original snowball ware vase! It was on exhibition at the Gardiner Museum of Ceramics in Toronto - which is worth a visit if you're in the area.


At the weekend we were discussing why people didn't get tooth decorations - except diamonds and gold, no blue teeth or tattoos evident but this morning I came across this webpage  - tooth tattoo (or tattooths as we thought they should be called) - they're not in the mouth but still there you are!

Presumably people don't stain (on purpose) or tattoo their teeth because it looks unhealth or leads to them having problems/cavities/falling out.....

Monday, October 03, 2011

Kota timelapse

On Saturday evening we had a great time in the kota - a wooden structure where there was a wonderful fire. We pottered in and out going for saunas and then all sat round the fire and ate smoked fish, chorizo and manchego cheese, Timi from the school in Kilpisjarvi had us singing West Indian songs too!
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