With Mardis Gras swiftly approaching (February 9 for those of you that don't know), my wife, PinkyK, asked me to cook up a King Cake. She's typically the reason why I dust off my Kitchenaide.
Anyway, just a little background on the King Cake or Kingscake. Not to get all religious, or anything, but the King Cake derives from the feast of the Epiphany (12th day of Christmas). For those of you that don't know what the feast of the Epiphany is, it is when the Three Wise Men or Kings came upon the baby Jesus in the Manger. Hence the name King Cake. The King Cake Season supposedly starts with the 12th day of Christmas, all the way through the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday or Mardis Gras.
So, what is a King Cake? Essentially, it is a Brioche that is filled with pralines, and topped with a Sugar Icing and Colored Sugar Crystals. The sugar crystals are typically colored Green, Purple, and Gold.
Long story short, this was the first time that I have attempted a Brioche. I scratched my head over the recipe a couple of times, thinking that for a bread recipe, it called for an awful lot of butter. Once I consulted several other recipes for Brioche, I proceeded. Despite screwing up the bread recipe (somewhat), this is what I got. For those of you that are interested, here is the recipe that I used: http://www.nolacuisine.com/2007/01/06/king-cake-recipe/.
Exterior Close Up
I hope that this inspires you. Thanks for looking.
This Saturday, Pinky K is throwing an all encompassing Holiday Party. When she throws a party, one of her requirements is that the guests get a takeaway item. So, for this party, we agreed that we were going to make some fused glass ornaments as the takeaway.
The objective was to come up with simple designs using simple shapes, so that we can easily mass produce ornaments. Also the ornaments were intended to be no more than three inches in height. So, most of these ornaments are between 2 - 3 inches tall.
The first group of ornaments that we made were 5 Pointed Stars. We made some out of glittery green, solid red, and clear glass. The design is really simple combination of like-sized triangles.
The next group of ornaments that we made were Christmas Trees. We used glittery green glass for the tree, and a white stringer to simulate the string of lights on the tree.
After making some extremely simple ornaments, we tackled something a bit more complex. The next batch of ornaments were Angels. The Angels consisted of small circles for the head (yellow/orange) and halo (clear), which were a total pain to cut and grind. The body was a simple blue triangle, and the wings were white half circles.
At this point, Pinky thought we were being too Christmas with our Ornaments, and wanted something festive. So, we did a batch of Martini Glasses. The martini glass was two triangles and a rectangle using clear glass. The olive (green/yellow) was a small circle, which again was a pain to grind. The toothpick is a green stringer. In case it doesn't show in the picture, the olive does have a little red pimento (red frit).
So, Pinky said that we needed to have candy canes. I really dislike doing curves in glass, because I hate grinding. So, cutting curved candy canes was a pain. The base consists of three separate white pieces, two that make the curved part, and a rectangle for the long straight part. Then using solid red, we cut small rectangles and put them in place. The red was used to join the three white pieces. This had to go through a full fused, and they were just cooling down this morning.
Also, in the above picture, was the very first ornament that I attempted, a snowflake. It was a total pain to assemble, which is the reason why there is only one of those ornaments.
So, this brings us to our latest batch, which is yet unfired. I got this crazy idea to do Penguins. The Penguins consist of a solid black eggplant shaped piece for the body, with a white oval for the chest. There are three solid yellow triangles for the feet and the beak. There are two solid black triangles for the wings. I couldn't come up with anything good for the eyes. We don't have any white frit. White stringers didn't seem to be working. So, I might have to go to the glass store to get some white frit.
Here is a picture of most of the completed ornaments, on our kitchen counter. We are probably going to epoxy bales or copper loops on the backs of the ornaments so that they can be hung. I would drill them, but I am very concerned about cracking the glass. Sigh.
I think tonight, I will be staging some Stars of David and maybe some gift boxes.
Hi everybody. It's been a while since I have posted pics of any new stuff. So, here are some of the latest and greatest.
This dish was made with White, Green and Blue Glass. The process was two step. First, a full fuse was used to flatten all of the pieces. Second, a slump fuse was used to mold the piece into a bowl form. This is my personal favorite, so far.
This next dish was an experiment. I wanted to try a type of basketweave with a solid circular center. This too was a two step process. First, a tack fuse was used to meld the basketweave to the solid piece of glass. This was an utter pain to lay out. Next, a slump fuse was used to mold the piece into a bowl form. Unfortunately, during the slump, the center piece of glass cracked. I think the thickness of the basketweave was the cause, and the kiln probably needed more time at certain points in the fuse. Because even the oops came out pretty cool, I think that this one will be worth trying again.
This dish is of a similar style to the first one, only different colors.
This dish was my first attempt at a basketweave with a solid core. I screwed up by making all of my glass strips the same size, instead of allowing for variation. The end result is a somewhat sloppy dish. Experiments like this often lead to newer and better ideas. Needless to say, my next dish of this type will be much better.
Lastly, with all of the leftover strips, I glued the strips together in layers and then ran a full fuse. Its rather simple and neat at the same time.
I hope everyone enjoyed the little tour through my latest projects.
Since my last post, I have been playing around with glass and the kiln quite a bit. The scientist in me is trying to gain a better understanding of how glass reacts to certain temperatures and ranges of time. I have to admit that glass fusing is so much more fascinating than I really gave it credit for.
In my last post, I showed a blank for a basketweave dish. I finally slumped it into a mold (13 inch bowl mold), and here is the final product.
After the success of making the basketweave dish, I wanted to try another multistep process. I wanted to create another dish blank with a really simple design, and run it in a full fuse, before I slumped it into a dish. Unfortunately, there was a quality about the blue glass that causes it to become very brittle, and it developed cracks, even after going through a thorough cool down procedure. The cracks aren't too apparent, but you can make out a line in the bottom left of the picture. Here is the final product.
Blue Dish with Square Designs
I liked the square design, but wanted to tweak it a little to make some of the squares pop more. Also, I was growing tired of using the Blue/Green palette, and wanted to try a different palette. So, after a visit to the local glass supply store, I got to work using my new colors. And, this time, instead of creating another dish, I went for making a votive holder. The main piece of glass was red and it was cut into an octagon.
Red Glass Votive Holder Top View
Red Glass Votive Holder Side View 1
Red Glass Votive Holder Side View 2
Red Glass Votive Holder in Candlelight
The votive was a total experiment. There weren't too many tutorials on this type of slumping, so I was overly cautious on my peak temperature and hold times. As you can see from the picture, the piece got to the point where the glass just got soft enough to fold and wrap itself around the mold. The glass wasn't soft enough to droop creating more of a tulip style votive holder. I'll have to play with the temperature and timings to try and get a decent tulip style slump.
In all, it turned out to be a pretty cool experiment.
For Christmas 2007, I got PinkyK a glass kiln for Christmas. Surprisingly, the kiln sat unused for several months, because she was afraid she would screw it up (mixing COEs, explosions, etc.). Heheheh.
Finally, several months of the kiln sitting in the garage, I convinced her to fire something, and her and her assistant put together several pieces. Of course, the courageous task of working out a firing schedule for a full fuse fell on my shoulders. Needless to say, my cooling schedule was too slow, and many of the pieces devitrified (crystallized), and weren't really usable.
After some tweaking to various schedules, I seem to have a decent tack-fuse schedule and a decent full-fuse schedule. I am currently trying to tweak a slump schedule. And, I have to admit that I rather enjoy watching what comes out of the kiln and trying to figure out how to improve it.
So, after much chiding by PinkyK, I reluctantly picked up a glass cutter and started putting together some experimental pieces for fusing. I say reluctantly, because I always wanted this to be Pinky's thing, and only wanted to advise her and be the behind the scenes science adviser.
First, before proceeding too much further, I want to say that the color palette is pretty much the same for all of the pieces you will see below. I was working with scraps that PinkyK had laying around the house. If I was really adventurous, I would have gone to the glass store to try to change up the palette. As it is, I am really more interested in the process and seeing what can be accomplished.
I myself have never been a believer in starting small and working up to big projects. So, my first project was an attempt at making a square votive holder. Unfortunately, I miscalculated the effects that the tack-fuse schedule would have on the glass, and the piece tipped over, leaving something of a puddle. We took the puddle and ran it through a full fuse, and will probably cut it into smaller pieces for jewelry.
After being slightly crushed that my grand experiment failed. I tried a smaller piece, with some scraps that I had lying around from the failure. This ended up making a cute little pendant/brooch, which is about 1.5 inches on a side.
After contemplating one success and one failure, I decided to go big again, and try a different approach to making my votive holder. The approach was to fuse each of the sides of the votive holder separately, and then fuse them together after the sides were made individually. I was pleased with the result of making one striped piece of glass. Instead of proceeding to make a votive holder, I cut the striped slab into smaller pieces to make pendants, brooches, and rings. Unfortunately, I thought I had taken a picture of what I refer to as the striped slab, but I guess I forgot to, before it was sawn into pieces and put into a full fuse.
Striped Slab Collection (all cut from the same piece of glass)
Striped Slab Square Pieces (about 1 inch on a side)
Striped Slab Circle Pieces (about 1 inch in diameter
Next, after some thought, I wanted to try some other things using stripes. This resulted in the first step of my basketweave dish. I basically made a square basketweave design approximately 6 inches to a side and ran a tack-fuse on it. I am going to run a slump on it later using a 12" dish mold. I think it should come out pretty neat.
Basketweave Blank for a Dish
Finally, I had some scraps left over, and thought I would try putting them together in different shapes and forms to see what would happen. Pinky seems to like some of these results. I really want to do a full fuse on the Asterisk and see what it turns out to be. I think it will be pretty neat.
Just wanted to provide an update on the Wilton Star and Tree forms. The forms survived the beaded madness and produced some pretty cool shapes.
When they popped out of the Silicon Bakeware they were hazy looking (not shiny and clear). So, whipping out the blowtorch, they polished right up.
The question is what to do with them. I'm thinking that we might drill holes in them and make them ornaments.
PinkyK has pictures, which she should post sometime today.
EDIT: Here's the pictures!!
Here is a shot of the molds I used:
Close up of the Christmas Trees
We then loaded them up with beads:
Then we put them in the oven to melt. We put them in the oven at 380 degrees for about an hour. Kappy and I are always talking about our fume prevention and ventilation system. Here is a picture of it. Basically it is a little HEPA filter on our counter. We also run the vent fan on the stove on high. You really don't need the extra air filter. We just got nervous with a brand new baby puppy in the house so we took extra precautions.
Here they are out of the oven. You can tell they shrunk up quite a bit.
For my project, I sought inspiration around the house. While looking around, I thought to myself, why not build a 2 inch scale model of the house. It was different. It was unlikely that someone else would do it. It could actually be neat. So, why not.
I present to you: Home Sweet Home
This is PinkyK's and my Real House from the Front
This is the Miniature House from the Front
Basically, I created a basswood structure resembling the house, then I used narrow strips of construction paper to create the effect of Siding and Shingles. I used waxed paper for the backing of the windows, in an attempt to make them look different from the rest of the house.
I really wanted to do the bricks and the steps. That would have looked cool. Unfortunately, that would have put me over the 2 Inch limit. Sigh!
Here are more pictures of the house and the construction process:
This is an idea I have had bouncing around in my head, for a while now. After all of my experimenting, I was ready to try to execute the idea.
The first step was to bake all of the pieces. This piece required baking 4 separate pieces. Two bowls, a partial ring, and a disc.
Once all the parts had cooled, the first step was to use the blow torch to fuse the two bowls together. I thought that having a blue side and a green side would create an interesting aqua effect. Anyway, the bowls didn't fuse together perfectly, so there are lots of little gaps between them. So, it's not water tight.
Oh yeah, you can see where the bowls have an etched appearance, and do not appear glossy.
Once the bowls were fused, I used the blowtorch to go over the outsides of the bowls to shine them up. Just moving the torch quickly over the outside until the surface turned glossy, worked very well. I then proceeded to assemble the pieces together.
In another post, I talked about how using a blowtorch essentially turns the beads varying levels of gooey. With this in mind, I took the large plastic bead globs, which you typically get in the floral section of Michaels, and using a pair of pliers, I super heated one side of the bead until it was super gooey. When the bead is super gooey, you can press it firmly against other beads, and it will all melt together. So, I used this to connect the bowls to the ring, and the ring to the base.
Here are pictures from the finished product.
I want to mention one last thing about using the blowtorch. When the beads get really hot from the blowtorch, they tend to catch fire. When this happens, sometimes there are scorch marks, where soot from the burnt beads settles into the melted beads. Unfortunately, this doesn't buff out easily. If you look really closely, you will see some spots where there are burn marks. One of these days, I'll have it figured out.
Its been a while since I have posted anything, but that doesn't mean that I have been idle. I have been experimenting with manipulating melted beads with a blowtorch. Surprisingly, it works better than I first reported. It's kind of neat, using the blowtorch on beads, the beads get soft, then gooey, then liquid, and if you aren't careful, they also catch fire. Gooey is really cool to work with, because you can connect pieces together and bend them, when they are gooey.
This is a sculpture which I made from several different parts. Mostly, I was goofing around seeing what I could do. No cool color schemes or anything. Each of the parts were melted together separately in the oven. The forms were simply folded aluminum foil.
Then using the blowtorch, I attached five of the long bead sticks to the round base.
After that, I placed the base with the sticks over an Arizona Tea Can, and applied the blowtorch gently to the base, and let the sticks droop down. Then I cut up the remaining sticks, and using the blowtorch, attached them to the sculpture. Once everything cooled, I removed the can, and voila.
This was an attempt at making a dish. What I did was create a form out of aluminum foil. The shape is roughly like an Iron Cross. In a way, I wish I had measured things out more accurately, but then again, I was really goofing around.
After cooking the beads, I let them cool, and removed the foil. Then I took everything outside, and applied the trusty old blowtorch. Using the edge of a shelf on my gas grill as a straight edge, I applied the torch (in quick back and forth motions) to the piece to get one side of the cross to droop. I then repeated the process for each of the other sides. When all of the sides had drooped, I then used the blowtorch to heat up the seams, and tried to get them to melt together. Because the measurements were a little off, things didn't come together quite right.
Someone in my wife's office is getting married, and her office is having a shower for her. Somehow, I got volunteered, as I always do , to bake something for the office. Because of this being a special occasion, I got volunteered to do a special cake.
With it being World Cup time, and that the bride and groom are big soccer fans, and play soccer, my wife wanted me to make a Soccer themed cake. Its been a long while since I pulled out the tools, and am just a tad rusty on the cake decorating skills. So, here goes the end result. I hope everyone enjoys.
For the couple on top of the cake, I used some soccer decorations from Michaels. I hand sewed some Thule for the veil on the bride soccer player.