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1  FIBER ARTS / Spinning: Discussion and Questions / New Meaning of Handspun on: March 30, 2008 08:37:08 PM
Original:
I had a stomachache, and didn't want to get out of bed.

Next to the bed there was a small amount (2 grams?) of quiviut. I'd removed it from a small bit of musk ox hide earlier in the day.
I figured, what the heck, I'll try making some quiviut thread, by hand, just like in the ancient, ancient days.

Got about 15 yards done so far (oh there's *tons* more fluff to work through, LOL, I had no idea 5g of quiviut = 100 yards!), using my left hand as the orifice, and my right thumb and forefinger as the twister/spindle...

Update:
OK, it's done!
The scarf weighs a whopping 900mg -- under a gram! and is over 6 feet long x 2 to 3 spaces (2 to 3 knit-holes) wide.
It appears to an observer to be about 1/4" wide and slightly openwork.
(I still have 5 little balls of yarn left over, so, I might make another scarf Smiley  )
It will make a fabulous base for a fur scarf. The entire process: grooming the quiviut out, finger-spinning it & setting the twist, then finger-knitting it in to the scarf, took 2 hours.
The value on an item like this is based more on the time/labor then the materials; this scarf was 2 hours x $40 + 900mg spun-up 1-ply pure quiviut at $10/g. = $89. It is not for sale -- I am just showing you one way of how to calculate the value of an item you produce.
To compare, my former lightest scarf base was made out of nylon microfiber and weighed about 10g at 5 feet long x 2-3 knit holes (spaces).
Now I only have to decide what fur is most worthy to be woven through one of the most expensive and rare base fibers available.

Stomachache begone. Smiley
2  ORGANIZED CRAFT SWAPS / New Swap Theme Ideas / Animal Lover's Swap on: March 19, 2008 05:12:28 PM
Anyone else want to do a swap for pets, critters, or animals?
Kinda like the 2 I was already in.
In one, we crafted stuff for the person's pets. In the other, we crafted 3 items for the person's cat, or for the person with a cat theme.
I missed the forest friends round.

So maybe a swap that incorporates all of these good ideas:

You could craft items for the person's pet(s)
Or for them
Or you could craft wild animals (zebras and hedgehogs and otters, oh my), fantasy animals (like faeries, dragons, griffons, etc), or habitat stuff (like caves, stalagtites, fossils, etc)
... anything with a critter theme.

... Just wondering!
3  HOME SWEET HOME / Pet-Related Crafts: Completed Projects / Bird Climbing Net / Playstand Addition on: March 16, 2008 01:32:19 PM

54 yards of natural & organic jute twine later...

Specs:
Handwashed, hand-unwound, hand-braided, and then hand-knotted in to this dual-function climbing net.
Dimensions: About 30" x 20". Three-ply. Each rope on the net is about 1/4" thick.

Made just for my budgie and my cockatiel.
Depending on how the little birds feel right then, they can climb on the wider mesh side, or the narrower mesh side.

Safety: The jute is breakaway, so it will not "snag" on them and entangle them. The spaces on the plaiting are pretty tight, again for their safety. It is also made to be used outside of the cage, not inside, and under supervision only.

Time to complete: about 3 hours, not including the washing/soaking/rinse time which applied to all the twine in this batch.

A bird store wanted about $110 for one of these in this size.
Cost: About $3 to make.  Smiley   I am sure they will love it!
4  BATH AND BEAUTY / Bath and Beauty: Discussion and Questions / Soap-Making Questions (first batch) on: March 15, 2008 01:36:20 PM
Q: What should I do to make it become harder/trace better? Add more lye, render the fat better (re-heat), or add more water?
Q2: Is it safe to re-heat and re-use the mixed stuff?
5  POTTERY, CERAMICS, POLYMER CLAY / Polymer Clay: Completed Projects / Skunk and Ermine Miniatures on: March 13, 2008 08:11:57 PM
These cuties are made out of 2-part epoxy putty, hand-tinted with acrylics. They are not made out of polymer clay! There is no board for "2 part epoxy sculptures" so... here they are in the most relevant category.

These both took under 10 minutes to make, including the time to tint and knead the putty. They are a quickie.


These are tiny. The skunk is about 2" and the ermine, about 1.5". They are less then an inch high (the ermine is about 1/4" high). They both have ears, eyes, legs, and the general head and body shapes are pretty much correct for their species. They are made to be placed on a shelf or held in the hand.

I am giving them as a gift on Monday. We'll see what the response is!
6  FIBER ARTS / Weaving: Discussion and Questions / Smell Off The Fiber? on: March 11, 2008 08:51:59 AM
How do I remove the petrochemical smell from jute twine, a plant-based fiber (nonprotein)?
I was planning on doing some basic fingerweaving with it, but it smells like the arse end of a semi-trailer. Nobody's going to want that!
I washed these over-night (plain soap & water) and rinsed each ball of twine for 5 minutes and wrung twice, this morning. The smell is almost gone, but, it lingers.
I think the smell might be due to some chemical (a lubricant) applied to the spindle these are wound on, at the factory. Meaning it's probably a synthetic.
Should I toss these in to some paint thinner or MEK, and then wash/rinse again once dry?
Or hope for the best...?
7  FIBER ARTS / Dyeing: Completed Projects / WOW brilliant color fox fur pelt! on: February 29, 2008 10:26:02 AM
** This description is a how-to on genuine hair and specifically on the fur of tanned animal pelts or hides. It is pretty specifically geared towards stencilling or brush-on dyeing for fur pelts. If you are offended by such things, please close this page immediately. **
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Okay, this pelt was truly ruined. This experiment is "me playing around" with a pelt I considered to be unuseable. I didn't know what to do with it.

I scissored it from the base of the tail to the tip of the nose along the back. (it had a huge chew on the fur / the fur was chewed off, so this was easy) Then I spread it out - I noticed it had a huge hot pink stain in the neck area.

I figured I'd dye it and then do a knit/woven scarf with it... so out with the acid dyes!

I used just 2 colors: brilliant blue, and mixing red.

One side is primarily red/burgundy, and the other side is primarily violet/blue. Large areas of color exist, and small areas are also present. That's deliberate. I wanted a lot of each color for my knit scarf.

This pelt had been tanned with a syntan that would make boiling the leather ok.
or so I thought.
Over-cooked! Great for dye setting, but bad for the leather. No knit scarf for me... oh well!

The color is absolutely fabulous. OMG it is luscious. Great for dubbing (fly tying) -- there are no fewer then 32 shades or nuances on the pelt. Every shade is brilliant and jewel-tone. Everything from hot pink, to brilliant red or brilliant blue, to cranberry, merlot, burgundy, grape juice, ruby, garnet, amethyst, crangrape, violet, indigo, navy - you name it, it's on here! Some of the guard hairs stayed almost white, so there is some ice tipping. Smiley Some of the underfur is also white or pale silver, close to the skin, so you get a 2-tone/color topped effect when the fur blows in the breeze or moves in the water.








It is MUCH prettier in person. Shown wet, it will be a little more subtle when dry.

Ya likey?
8  HOME SWEET HOME / Pet-Related Crafts: Discussion and Questions / Avian Eatz / Dishes for Pet Birds on: February 26, 2008 12:50:17 PM
Here's what my Eclectus parrot eats:

Make in a large pan. No Teflon because the fumes from heated Teflon can kill birds.

The below makes 1 week worth of soft food for her.

Ingredients:

Stuff made for birds:
* About 8 ounces of Volkman's Featherglow / Fancy Soak n Simmer. This is a special cooking mixture for parrots. It has 12 different beans in it, plus "paddy rice", buckwheat, dried peas, corn, and lentils. A little goes a long way.

Stuff made for people:
* About 1 oz. white rice - Texas basmati is the usual fare
* ~12 strands of spahgetti, broken by hand in to 3/4" or so bits. Barilla this week.
* About 14 sliced carrot slices, frozen fresh (brand "pictsweet" this week and last)
* 3/4 tbsp of mollasses (brand - Brer Rabbit, unsulfured, natural)
* 1 teeny pinch of table salt, just to get the water boiling faster. I rinse it off after cooking, during the drain-off phase.

How to Cook:

* I use 4x the amount of water as dry ingredients. That allows for boil-off, allows for the stuff to absorb the water, and allows for some minimal drain-off too. All good things.

First I add the dried Volkman's to the pot. I don't soak it first because I have found that she dislikes beans which have an oversoaked texture. Then I put the hottest tap water in the pot, possible. Here it's about 145F. I turn around, and directly behind me is the gas stovetop. I put the pot directly on the burner, and crank the gas to "high" until I see the tiniest hint of simmer. I stir frequently, I'd say once every minute and a half. Once it's simmering I set the heat to "low" until the complex sugars in the bean hulls have broken down. This prevents a boilover/mess.
I add the mollasses after the boilover threat is gone.
As things go, I turn the heat progressively higher, until after about 45 minutes, it's time to add the rice, pasta, and carrots.
Once I see that the rice is fluffed and the pasta is tender all over, the mix is done!

Then I pour the whole stew in to a colander, and run the hottest tap water over it, possible. I rinse and rinse and rinse some more. I probably rinse for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. This removes 95% of the mollasses and all of the salt (this is good). Then I let it rest and drain for a couple minutes.

I measure 4 tbsp in to a baggie. One baggie per day.
Once it's in the baggies and cooled, I seal them, then I press the mix flattish, for faster freezing (more freshness!) and less space takeup in the freezer. It goes directly in the freezer once it's been made flattish.

To serve:

I put the baggie in the microwave and nuke it on high for 2 minutes. Then I stir thoroughly by kneading the bag, then I bring it up to her. I serve when it is cool, almost lukewarm, all over - that way she won't get burned.

I serve 2 tbsp to her and 2 tbsp to my Grey, who also goes bonkers for this mix! She gets all the carrots (about 2 slices/day); he doesn't like them.

Family Approval?: She absolutely loves this stuff. She gets all excited when she sees the new fresh bowl of food each day. It is the first thing she eats and the first thing she finishes, before she starts to eat the loathsome pellets or seeds. Smiley.

It takes an hour or so to cook. Is an hour a week too much to give your feathered masters, o happy human bird-slaves?

During the bird cooking hour, I usually cook myself something too. Today it was rice. I don't use any seasonings, salt, or oil in my food. So today's plain white rice was delicious, and a great way to keep working for the birds! Smiley

Food notes: This mixture is low to moderate in protein which is good for a bird who has suspect or overt liver disease. The quality of the protein the mix has, is high. It also has a little bit of extra vitamin A (in the carrots) which is good for Eclectus. It is miderate in all other things, and is relatively low in fat. Birds only have about 500 taste buds (people have over a million), on the roof of their mouth, so, texture and overall appearance is much more important then taste.

I'm like 50% Italian, so, I'm sorry that none of this is measured exactly. I grew up in a house where almost nothing got measured; everything is eyeballed to taste or to suit. I am a very bad cook for people, but a very good one for critters. With these directions it's pretty repeatable. Good luck and happy cooking!
9  FIBER ARTS / Dyeing: Completed Projects / Hair/Fur Dyeing (Detail/Hand Painting): Failure To Success, Part Deux! on: February 26, 2008 09:09:19 AM
** This description is a how-to on genuine hair and specifically on the fur of tanned animal pelts or hides. It is pretty specifically geared towards stencilling or brush-on dyeing for fur pelts. If you are offended by such things, please close this page immediately. **
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I wanted to be bad-asz and brag that I was the only one offering "totally natural earth pigment dyed fur".

Motivation, zeal, and enthusiasm got me going fast. I got some paprika, some henna, some indigo, and some black walnut, and picked out a pretty ratty-looking test pelt (which was tiger orange in color). The goal? A tiger-stripe on fur.

First the henna was allowed to release it's color in to the solution, then applied to the dry hair, according to manufacturer instructions. It was allowed to set until it dried naturally. This gave me a nice warm brown stripe.

Then the indigo was allowed to release, and applied to the dry, brushed-out hair according to manufacturer instructions. It was painted carefully on the hair, then allowed to set until it dried out via the air. This turned my beautiful warm brown stripes, to a verdigris/copper patina green. YUCK!

The person who sold me the henna and indigo swore that this combo applied in this order, would give jet black hair.

LOL.

My mistake, trusting a 3rd party's instructions with natural dye. Natural dyes are far more prone to error and variation, then synthetics.

I ended up using the paprika and black walnut on porky quills (they came out good enough).

So I sent the failed dye job to the tannery for cleaning. Got it back a couple months ago and it's been sitting here, irritating me, ever since.

Result? That is not the way to dye hair. I'm glad I hadn't tried it on my own hair. Verdigris green hair = ugly!

... I finally gave up and applied Miss Clairol Professional on the green stripes. So far it looks awesome. BUT it's not natural anymore Smiley

The other test pelt came out very nice. Not perfectly black, but really close: good enough to be used for the intended purpose as-is. I was really happy with the outcome.

See results below!
10  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Discussion and Questions / Air Dried Skulls / Prep Tutorial on: February 22, 2008 08:15:50 PM
** if you are offended by descriptions of usage of genuine animal parts, please close this page immediately **
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It's a new thing I'm getting in to.

No pics - LOL - that would definitely cause some issues.

I used to throw away the raw skull from every critter I got in for processing... what a waste, huh! The Native American in me would scream with every good intact skull I tossed. Especially since so many people, especially crafters and people with shelves for display items, love skulls.

So, if you PM me for my site URL I may give you the tutorial... Smiley

Happy Processing!

Gwen, 2008
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