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Flower Power!

Lately, I’ve been making flowers. I purchased 3 used flower presses, but while I was waiting for them to arrive, I started making these lovelies:

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I’m having so much fun free handing it, that even though my presses have arrived, I haven’t been using them. I tried 2 of the presses, but the free hand flowers are way more fun to make.

I’ve never really liked flowers much (not a girly girl), but I absolutely adore these! They’re so pretty! They make perfect little desktop bouquets!

 Desktop Bouquet

These little bouquets are available for purchasing in my shop, with your choice of a clear, blue or tall vase. Or you can get just the flowers with no vase, single or bundles of 3.

I’ll also be adding more items to the shop this week, including angel wings and hearts, so keep an eye out. (Shameless plug 😉 )

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Cleaning Brass Tools Without Chemicals Or Harsh Abrasives

wpid-wp-1442632799541.jpegAs a glass artist, I use a lot of brass tools because hot glass doesn’t stick to brass.  They tend to get tarnished (patinaed) when left sitting unused, which really isn’t a big deal, as this doesn’t generally affect the use of the tool, but it’s not very pretty.  Recently, I’ve come across a bunch of antique brass German fruit knives, which are AWESOME for moving hot glass! They’re over 100 years old, so some (most) of them have a lot of tarnish. I’ve been reselling them, so if you’ve purchased one, here’s how to get it all nice and shiny, like new, again.

These methods work on ALL brass, so if you have some old presses, doorknobs, buttons, etc., that need a good cleaning, here are a couple of inexpensive and environmentally friendly ways to do it.

Method #1

Ketchup (Catsup or however you want to spell it.)

Yep. That’s right! Good ol’ Heinz isn’t just for hotdogs & hamburgers. Just spread some wherever the tarnish is, let it sit for a while and then rub it off, rinse and dry. You may have to repeat a few times, depending on how bad the tarnish is.

wpid-wp-1442632835652.jpegSmear ketchup on tarnished area. Let sit.

wpid-wp-1442636412826.jpegRub ketchup off. Repeat, if needed.

Method #2

Lemon juice

Put your tool in a container and pour enough lemon juice in to cover the area to be cleaned. Let it sit for a while and then wipe off the tarnish. If needed, repeat. Once all tarnish has been removed, rinse and dry.

wpid-wp-1442636146075.jpegPlace item in container. (baggie or shallow dish. wpid-wp-1442636159644.jpegPour enough lemon juice to cover item. Let sit.
wpid-wp-1442636429091.jpegWipe off tarnish and repeat, if needed.

Once the tarnish has been removed, there might be a little discoloring (orangey or pinkish color). This can be removed by polishing with super fine steel wool (000 or 0000). This will give your item a nice shine and won’t scratch it as long as you don’t press too hard.

If you would like to purchase a knife, I have them listed here.

Tips:

1. Vinegar can also used, as well as citric acid dissolved in water.

2. If your item is really bad, you can add some salt to your lemon juice or vinegar to make the reaction stronger. Make sure the salt is completely dissolved in the lemon juice or vinegar BEFORE you put your item in the container.

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Cauliflower Crust Pizza: Low Carb, Low Cal, Gluten Free Deliciousness!

wpid-dsc_0168.jpgOn my never ending quest to maintain some semblance of slimness, I’ve been trying to cut back on my carb intake, so when I saw a recipe for cauliflower crust pizza I just HAD to try it! The original was a little bit bland and didn’t hold up that great so I tweaked it and this is what I came up with.

It’s FABULOUS! I promise you, no one will know it’s cauliflower!

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(Measurements are approximate as I rarely measure anything!)

1/2 large Cauliflower (raw) (1.5-2 cups)
1 egg
1 cup shredded cheese (Italian, mozzarella, etc. Whatever you like)
2 Tbsp Coconut Flour
1 Tbsp Basil
2 Tbsp Dehydrated Minced Onion
2 tsp onion powder
2 Tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp Pepper Blend
1/2 tsp salt
Note: Use any seasonings that you like, but only DRY seasonings. Don’t use anything wet, other than the egg.

Preheat your oven to 400F

If you have a juicer, juice the cauliflower and then squeeze out any additional liquid, using cheesecloth or a nut milk bag. If you don’t have a juicer, just grind the cauliflower in a food processor or blender and then squeeze out the liquid using cheesecloth or a nutmilk bag. You want to remove as much liquid as possible. The goal is for the cauliflower pulp to be dry or as dry as possible.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cauliflower with all of the dry ingredients, including the cheese. Make a hole in the middle and drop in the egg, beat it slightly and then combine with the rest of the ingredients.

Once everything is combined, press it out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, or a silicon baking mat. Press it as thin as possible, but not too thin. (I know, how thin is too thin, lol?!) About 1/8″ (2-3mm) thin is perfect.

Bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes (crispy edges). Remove from the oven, flip over and top with your sauce & toppings.  (My sauce recipe is below.)

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Tips:

1. I don’t really measure anything. When adding the seasonings, I keep adding stuff until the “dough” smells yummy.
2. I roll my crust between 2 sheets of wax paper until it’s the size that I want. I then peel off the top sheet and flip the crust onto my baking surface. I then peel off the other sheet of wax paper. (Peel carefully to the side, not straight up, or you may tear the crust.)
3. Coconut flour absorbs liquid. If you don’t have any, you can leave it out, but I suggest you just go get some.

Pizza Sauce:

1 can tomato paste
1 can tomato sauce
2 tsp Sriracha (optional)
Italian Seasoning
Minced Garlic
Onion powder
Salt
Pepper

Combine all ingredients. (Season to taste.)

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How To Remove A Stuck Bead

DSC_0145We’ve all been there. You work so hard and the bead turns out absolutely beautiful! You can’t wait for the kiln to ramp down so that you can take it off the mandrel and show it off before listing it. Finally, it’s all cooled down, so you pop it in a glass of water to soak a bit before taking it off. After a good soak, you twist, and nothing happens, so you twist harder. Then you get the rubber gloves and vice grips… Still nothing. Someone suggests a vinegar soak but that doesn’t work, either. You try it all: vinegar, the freezer, fabric softener, dragging the mandrel on concrete… All of it and nothing works! Dammit!! You worked so hard and it’s the most beautiful, perfect bead you’ve ever made. It’s going to sell for hundreds! Thousands, possibly even millions. Okay, maybe only $50, but in our minds, it’s a bucketload, but oh nooooo… It had to get stuck on the freakin’ mandrel! Stupid ol’ crappy bead release…

Yep. We’ve all been there. Well guess what? There’s a super duper, easy peasy way to get those stock beads off without so much as a struggle.

Rivet Guns!!

A rivet gun will push a stuck bead right off without you even breaking a sweat. And they’re cheap, too! You can pick one up at Harbor Freight for less than $5! ($4.99, usually: http://www.harborfreight.com/hand-tools/hand-riveters/hand-riveter-set-38353.html) Check out this video to see how it works:

Although I’m not using anything in the video, you should really use something to cushion the bead from the rivet gun, like a piece of leather or a buffing pad. Just put it on the mandrel to provide a buffer between the bead and the metal part of the rivet gun. (Dremel buffing pads already have a hole in them and work great for this.)

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Mini Tutorial – Ribbon Cane

ribboncane2I made this mini tutorial several years when I had an “Aha” moment.  I’d never been able to make a proper ribbon cane until Jeff Barber took a moment to demonstrate it for me in a class I took back in 2006. (I raved all about it in this post.)  I posted the tutorial on LE, but not to my blog. Pretty dumb, huh? So, anyways, I’m sharing it here, now.  I certainly hope it helps someone!

First, choose a rod of a pale transparent (clear or whatever color you like):
1. Melt a blob (gather) and mash it into a paddle.
2. Square off the sides.
3. Paint a color (thinly) on 1 side of your paddle.
4. If you want a 2-tone ribbon, paint another color on top of the first color.
5. Cover the colored side with a big blob of the base transparent.
6. Flip the paddle over and put another big blob of of the base transparent on that side and all around the edges. (your color should be right in the middle of the blob, now.)
7. Attach another rod of the base transparent to the other side so that you now have a handle on each side.
8. melt the blob evenly, keeping it from getting distorted.
9. When it gets soft enough (melty but not quite drippy), flip it semi-vertical and start to pull and twist at the same time.

Don’t twist too fast or pull too fast because that will cause the ribbon to become distorted.ribboncane1

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Random Tip: Inexpensive Frit Trays (Repost)

ssfrittraysIn my never ending quest to find a suitable (and cheap) replacement for my beloved stainless steel frit trays, I have finally succeeded! I used to get these cute little sauce dishes from Target. They’re stainless steel and came in packs of 6 for around $5, but woe is me… Target stopped carrying them several years ago and I haven’t been able to find them anywhere else, since. Well, a few months ago, I was wandering through the garden section in Home Depot (God knows why because I have the blackest thumb on Earth!) when I noticed these cute little flower pot saucers in various sizes. The 4″ one is a perfect replacement and it was only 68¢. I later found some at Michael’s, as well, for even less if you have a coupon.

tcfrittray

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Gnomio, oh Gnomio…

I am still a  slacker!  I still  hardly ever torch at home, although I’m trying to get in the studio at least once a week. Emphasis on trying.  Nothing new going on except these little guys. They make me smile!

 

gnomes

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Lampwork Cabochons, No Mandrel!!

Glass cabochons are really easy to make and, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a mandrel to do it! I free-hand all of mine. Not that I make a lot, and since I don’t, I never felt like a cabochon mandrel was something I wanted to add to my already overwhelming collection of stuff I don’t use.

So anyway, here’s a short video showing how I make mine. I hope you enjoy it!

 

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Whipped Olive Butter (Body Butter)

olivebutter2Olive oil is naturally packed with anti-aging antioxidants and hydrating squalene, making it an excellent choice for hair, skin, and nail care and a staple in every naturalista’s basic kit. Just like coconut oil, I consider it a must-have.

Olive butter (body butter, not edible butter) takes it a step further and in the winter time, it can be a saving grace for chapped skin and lips. The problem with buying it though, is in general, the commercial products are either made from olive oil that has been hydrogenated to give it a creamy texture or made by mixing shea butter with olive oil. The latter isn’t really olive butter. It’s shea butter with olive oil, or whipped shea butter.  If I want shea butter, I’ll buy shea butter, thankyouverymuch. Stop with the trickery!  So, rather than be roped in by the shyster’s peddling their Shea butter blends cleverly disguised as olive butter, I decided to make my own and it was unbelievably easy. You only need 2 or 3 ingredients!! For once, I actually measured, too! Except the temp. I didn’t measure the temperature. Oh well. Use your best judgement.

Shae’s Olive Butter
Ingredients:
8oz Olive Oil
2oz Bees Wax

Optional: Lemongrass or other essential oil. (I used 20 drops of Lemongrass)

Tools:
glass bowl
Rubber Spatula or other scraping tool
Mixer with whisk attachment or stick blender

Using a glass container, like a measuring cup or glass bowl, heat your olive oil in the microwave for approximately 1-1.5 minutes. You want it hot, but not super hot. Add your bees wax and stir. Keep stirring until the bees wax completely melts. You’ll need to place it in the microwave a couple more times. I heated for 15 seconds at a time. You just want the wax to completely melt, to blend with the oil.

Once the wax is thoroughly melted, stir in 10-20 drops of your favorite essential oil (Totally optional) and let the mixture sit for a few minutes to cool, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture cools to the point where it is semi solid, like melted butter, whip it with the whisk or stick blender until it has a smooth, creamy consistancy.

Tips:

1. Cut the beeswax into chunks, shred it or use granules. It will melt faster.
2. If you use an EO, be sure it’s one that won’t irritate your skin. Lemongrass is an anti-microbial and anti-bacterial. Lavendar also offers healing properties.
2. You can use a double boiler for this. I chose the microwave because I didn’t want any moisture to get into my glass at all, including steam.
3. A mixer with a whisk attachment works better than a stick blender for this recipe.
4. If you want a harder butter, use less Olive oil or more wax. A 1:3 ratio makes a pretty firm butter. (1oz wax, 3oz oil)
5. You can use this same recipe with other oils, like macadamia, almond, avocado, etc.

Enjoy!!

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Horizontal Hearts

I shot this impromptu video a while ago because someone asked for tips on making heart beads and since Valentines Day is closer than you think, I figured I’d throw this post up.  And I also need more blog entries. I’m sooo LAZY!!!

So anyways, back to the matter at hand: Heart Beads!  Heart beads are super easy and super quick. This is a quick video on how I make my hearts. I prefer horizontal holes because it makes stringing them easier. I really hate wiring beads. : HATE IT!!

Steps:
1. Make a good sized bead, kinda fat. Make sure the ends are good (not jagged or lopsided).
2. Roll the bead lightly on a marver to flatten it and then heat the middle.
3. Using a straight edge tool, (like a butter knife or razor blade) roll the bead along the edge, like you’re cutting it in half . That’s your crease.
4. Heat the bottom center pretty hot and roll the mandrel back & forth quickly to form the tail. (watch the video)