Friday, April 25, 2014

Labor of Love

My latest piece was truly a labor of love.  I wonder if I jinxed myself in the post about my last piece, when I said it just went together without a hitch.  Not so with this one.  The May challenge for my guild is the theme of bowls.  Immediately I knew 2 things, I wanted to make a yarn bowl and I wanted it to have a different design, perhaps 2 levels that were separated by space.  I made some sketches and came up with a design and shape that made me swoon.  I decided to use hammered metal spirals to support the upper level of the bowl.  While this idea was fun, it proved a challenge.  In hindsight I would have made the bowl and drilled holes into it for the metal supports.  I had actually considered doing this, but was wary of how thick I'd have to make it for drilling and was worried that I would drill through the bowl, so instead I tried to build the bowl around the metal supports.

I began by making a first layer of the basic shapes I needed to create the look I wanted.  I used a glass vase to form my shape.  After the first cure I wanted to sand down any bumpies, and in doing so cracked the top piece right in half.  I guess it wasn't cured well enough, as that should not have happened.  Super glue to the rescue and onto the second layer for strength.  This layer went off without a hitch.  Next up, was to build the hammered metal spirals -  I shaped these with my round nose pliers and hammered them on my anvil, and during that process I once missed and hit my thumb with the hammer.  Did I mention that this piece was a labor of love? ;)

After a few choice words and successfully forming and hammering all of the spirals I glued them to my pieces, which was a feat in and of itself!  Once I had them glued, I had to create another base layer to bring the clay to the same level as the metal.  In this next curing the cracks started.  I had 3 cracks from where the metal was straining while the piece rested on the vase for support.  I patched up the cracks, added another layer and back into the oven for another cure.  This time the cracks were healed, but I still wanted one more layer.  Imagine my disgust after the additional layer was cured and I pulled the piece out to find 3 cracks in the same general area as before!  One more patching and a layer of black lpc fixed that issue.

Next I gave it a good sanding all over to eliminate the bumps and fingerprint marks, then another layer of lpc for one more full polymer coating.  I wanted a surface treatment on the bowl that was just as unique as the shape, so I opted for a version of what I call impasto polymer technique, which I did in the Premo Bright Green pearl color, straight from the pack because I love that color so much. 

One final curing to harden the surface treatment, as I held my breath and watched over like a mother hen for fear of more cracking.  It survived with no issue! YAY!  I gave it a nice coating of a polymer gloss sealer for extra protection.  The interior bottom of the bowl, I forgot to mention, is a slab of mokume gane polymer done in black, silver, wasabi pearl and white.  You can get a glimpse of that here:

As I said, the idea for this was to be a yarn bowl, and the 2 layers askew were meant as a place for the knitting needles to rest as seen here:

And the yarn is meant to feed through the metal spiral like this:

Yes indeed, this one was a labor of love.  Lots of work went into it and while it is not perfect, I do love this piece.  The design of it is very "me" and I was so pleased with how the surface treatment turned out considering that part was totally unplanned.  I love it when pieces come together with something that just "happens"! :)  If I ever revisit this project again, I will definitely make the base parts full thickness first and then drill the holes for the wire support, that's the lesson for this one.  But overall I'm quite pleased!  What do you think of my funky bowl?  Have you ever had a project that kept giving you problems all through construction but you stuck with it and it turned out as good as you had originally hoped? Tell me about it in the comments!

Friday, April 4, 2014

My Vegetarian Pizza recipe, it's in a contest... I'd appreciate your votes!

I'm finally posting about this on the final day of voting for this contest, but better late than never.  I entered a recipe contest for a vegetarian/vegan meat substitute called Neat.  This stuff is awesome.  I've made meatballs with it that seriously taste just like the real deal!  Anyway, they had a call for entries, and they were requesting creative recipes.  Because I've never seen a vegetarian or vegan pepperoni that didn't have soy (another thing I don't eat), I decided to send them my Neat-eroni Supreme pizza recipe.  The creator and owner of the company already chose the #1 and 2 recipes, but I'm in the running (with 4 other recipes) for the #3 slot, which will be determined by a public vote.  Voting ends tonight (Friday April 4th) at midnight EST.  So, if you have a facebook account, you can vote for my recipe here:  Go to the bottom of the neat page and you'll see "Stop back on our Facebook page to vote for your favorite dish!" you can click on that link and it will take you to the facebook poll.   Pretty Please!!   Thanks! ...and here's my recipe:

Vegetarian neat-eroni Supreme Pizza 
Make the Neat-eroni ahead of time to allow it to cool enough for slicing.

1 package Neat brand original flavor meat substitute
¾ c. Garbanzo bean flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill brand)
2 ½ c. water
1 T avocado oil
1 ½ t. liquid smoke
1 t. organic barbecue sauce (I like Annie’s)
1 T. paprika
¼ t. to ½ t. cayenne (depending on how hot you like it)
1 t. sea salt
1 T. cane sugar
1 t. whole anise seeds
1 t. fennel seed
1 t. whole red or black peppercorns
1 t. green peppercorns
1 t. crushed red pepper

Bring the 2 ½ c. water to boil over medium high heat.  Whisk the garbanzo bean flour into the boiling water.  Cook for one minute stirring constantly.  Lower heat to medium low and continue cooking for 5 minutes.  Set aside and let cool slightly.  Either with mortar and pestle or with a coffee grinder, grind anise seed, fennel, peppercorns and red pepper flakes.  In a bowl, combine the cooked garbanzo bean mixture with the packet of neat, avocado oil, liquid smoke, barbecue sauce and all spices.  Mix well.  Divide mix into 2 or 3 equal portions, spoon each portion onto a well oiled sheet of heavy aluminum foil.  Wrap each portion into a log and wrap tightly by twisting the ends of the foil.  Using a steamer insert, steam in a pot for 45 minutes.  Let cool.

To make the pizza:
1 batch pizza dough (see link below)
pizza sauce (my original recipe below)
neat-eroni – sliced thin
your favorite toppings (I used organic green pepper, organic red onion and organic mushrooms)
grated romano cheese (Locatelli is best)
grated mozzarella cheese
Make the dough first, using your favorite pizza dough recipe.  This is the best pizza dough recipe I’ve ever found, and its what I use faithfully for a great pizza:  While the dough rises, make the sauce (see below) and chop the veggie toppings and neat-eroni in thin slices.  Once dough has risen to doubled in size, punch down and shape into pizza crusts (if using the dough recipe in the link I’ve added, it yields 3 pies).  Spread pizza sauce on crusts and top with neat-eroni and veggies, sprinkle with both cheeses and oregano.  Bake at 500˚ until crust is browned and cheese melted to your preference.
To make the Pizza sauce:
2 24 oz. jars pureed tomato
1/3 c. avocado oil
2 t. garlic
1 t. salt
1 T. sugar
1 T. oregano
1 t. basil
Add all ingredients to sauce pan and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes, or until oil has been incorporated into the tomato.  Adjust seasoning to your preference.

If you make the recipe, leave me a comment and let me know how you like it!  And thanks for any votes! :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Voting time!

Voting time is here! ...actually we're already 3 days into voting time!  You have until midnight on April 7th to cast your vote, so please head over to the PCAGOE blog and choose your 3 favorite entries!  This month's participants really pulled out the stops with so many creatively engineered and carefully constructed pieces.  I know it was a tough choice for my top 3 votes... Have a peek at all of the lovely artwork for this month:

Remember, you could win a prize for voting, so head over to the blog and cast your vote!