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1  Re: Personal/Private Swap Gallery, 2014 in The Swap Gallery by Sarcastra on: July 10, 2014 08:12:39 AM
SheepBlue and I decided to do a personal swap for something arty, something experimental and possibly involving some less-than-traditional weaving. The results were fantastic!

From SheepBlue:

The artsy weaving. Isn't it splendid?!

Let's look closer:

SheepBlue used some of her art yarn stash to weave this creation. And look there on the left, that is a feather woven in. Very cool. And a rock - she wove in rocks. I love it.

She used branches for the frame as well as some smaller wood pieces woven in with the yarns. I like those clear beads - just a touch of sparkle. I also like the way that tightly wound blue and the fat, caterpillar-like green look together.

I realize you'll have to take my word for it, but that cream yarn is so squishy. It isn't too soft, but it isn't rough - it has a spongey, dense body. The fringe has been fondled, I admit. The feathers woven in are neat visual texture.

Beads, and rocks, and wood, and lumpy art yarn, and skinny art yarn! Oh my!

It really is amazing and it looks nice in my workshop, even in its temporary display home.
Thank you so much, sheepBlue, for this work of art. You're the best!
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2  Smeeps! in Dessert by Sarcastra on: April 18, 2014 08:31:03 AM
Looking for a last minute Easter baking project?

The stores are full Peeps right now. I don't like eating them, they are far too sweet to ingest, but I am inspired by those cute shapes and colors! I decided to make S'mores Peeps(=Smeeps). My problem was graham crackers. The rectangle shapes from the store completely hide the cute bunny Peeps and defeat my idea. So, I found a couple recipes for graham crackers off the internet, combined them and made my own, using a Peep bunny shaped cookie cutter to cut my crackers out. (I found the cutter at Michael's.)  

Thus, Smeeps! That one on the right got a bit burnt - I rolled those guys too thin.

When it is time to eat, put the Smeep in the microwave for 10-20 seconds and watch the fun. On the one I ate, the head swelled up enormously, but the bubble butt and ears stayed normal. I then went into a state of sugar-shutdown and had to sit on the couch and hold my head for a while. If you eat these, be ready for the sweet overdose, or maybe split one among two people.

What happens at 30 seconds in my microwave. The marshmallow swelling broke the bunny graham cracker before the chocolate released its hold.

I used Ghirardelli dipping, dark chocolate for the first time and it was Very Melty! There was no suitable in-between stage I could find, the chocolate was either solid chips or pure liquid, hence the drippy strips all over. I do not think this detracts from the fun deliciousness of the treat, but you might stick with a melting chocolate you are comfortable with if you make them and want a neater appearance.

Since I wanted to give away most of these, I wrapped them up in neat little bags as single or double servings for easy transport to our workplaces.

And now, the recipe with my notes. I almost always adjust recipes to accommodate my purposes and tastes, and for high altitude (Cheyenne sits about 6,000 ft above sea level - the air is 15% less dense here which changes baking and cooking noticeably) as well as for any ingredient substitutions due to availability. Your recipe mileage may vary.

Makes over 3 dozen bunny graham crackers or traditional-size rectangles and takes about five hours total to complete, with all the chilling and treat assembly.
~~If you're not at high altitude, round your baking soda up to to a fat one and a half tsp and maybe don't round the flours when you measure, just level them flat. And lower the Godiva liqueur to one TB only.~~
Ingredients for Dough:
1.5 C rounded; unbleached, high-altitude all-purpose flour
1 C rounded; graham flour
1 C level, dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1.5 tsp baking soda
.5 tsp salt
7 TB butter, cut into .5" cubes, chilled
.33 C honey
3 TB heavy whipping cream
2 TB skim milk (if you have fatty milk, just use that - I had skim milk and whipping cream, so ...)
2 TB vanilla bean paste (if your grocer doesn't have it, Michael's does)
1 TB vanilla extract
2 TB Godiva liqueur (my go-to flavor add)

Ingredients for Top Sprinkles:
2 TB white sugar
1 TB cinnamon, plus sprinkles of your fav sweet spices (like garam masala, allspice, coriander - whatever your thing is)

Make Dough:
Combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in bowl and mix together.
Add chilled butter cubes, use pastry blender to combine to a crumbly mixture. Butter cubes should end up the size of peas or smaller.
In another bowl, mix together the honey, milk, vanilla bean paste, vanilla extract and Godiva liqueur.
Add liquids to the flour mixture and mix together. Don't overmix, you want it barely together. It will be soft and sticky.
Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and dust it lightly with flour combo*, then dump dough out onto it and smush it about an inch thick.
Wrap it, then chill it until firm, about two hours or so.
When the dough is cold and firm dust a flat surface and roll half the dough out, leaving the other half in the chiller.
Use flour combo to dust as necessary, this is sticky dough.
Roll to about one-eighth to one-fourth an inch thick**, cut your desired shapes.
Using a blunt toothpick or skewer, pierce bunnies with eyes and nose - or whatever fits your shape best.

Make Top Sprinkles:
Combine last ingredients: 2 TB white sugar and 1 TB cinnamon, plus pinches of other spices as desired.
Sprinkle dough bunnies with the combined sugar spices. I ran a finger over mine to impress the sprinkling into the dough a little.

Heat the oven to 350F.
Stack the cut, sugared, and pierced dough bunnies on layers of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and keep them in the fridge until ready to bake. You want them to be firm, not floppy, when they go into the oven. Might take 30 minutes or so in the fridge.
Bake a test sheet with few bunnies to see how they do, and adjust your process as needed.
While the first batch bakes and cools, repeat roll, cut, pierce & sprinkle work with second half of dough, incorporating any rolling or baking tips you learned on the test sheet.
Bake sheets for 12-15 minutes, until barely starting to brown on the edges.
Remove from oven, allow to set for a minute or two, then remove from sheet to wire racks for cooling.
Once cool, they're ready to assemble into Smeeps.

A bottom bunny graham cracker, a layer of dark chocolate and smush a Peep bunny into it before it cools (to fix it in place) and allow them to cool. Then, another drizzling of dark chocolate over the Peep bunny and place the top bunny graham cracker on before it sets and allow to cool again.

* When I need to roll stuff out, I add aside a half cup or so of flour(s) and add the complementary spices to it (in this case cinnamon and sugar) at the beginning. I don't like the extra-flour taste you get when you have to roll out dough repeatedly and the sugar & spice additions help keep that taste at bay even with the very-last-rolled-and-rerolled-from-scraps crackers.
** Some of my one-eighth thick bunnies burned and some of my one-fourth bunnies were a bit soft. Try a few thicknesses on the test sheet to see what you like.

Hope you have fun with this!
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3  Re: Fabric Printing Swap Rd 2 Gallery in The Swap Gallery by Sarcastra on: April 13, 2014 07:16:12 AM
I received from sheepBlue yesterday!

She did a tasteful blending of a couple of my themes for each one.

An undertakers and embalmers print ad in charcoal on a dappled goldenrod color.
But wait, there's more!

Yes! Violet bird skulls and flame flies on a shale fabric with citrine dots.

They look AMAZING! I couldn't have made up such a perfect combination of all my favorites. 

But, I have one bone to pick with you! In your questionnaire, you called your skill level "intermediate" and that is a lie! These fabrics are perfect. They could be store bought from a fine LQS with factory QA stamped on them! As evidence of this, here's a thing that happened last night. I'd been at a quilting shop hop during the day and when I got home, I laid out my purchased fabric on one of my workshop tables. When I checked my mailbox, I had the package of FQs - I unwrapped them and laid them out beside the purchases and got out my camera. My husband wandered in to the workshop and looked at all the fabrics together - I was quietly watching to catch his reaction. He reached out his hand and ran it over the sheepBlue FQs then said, "wow, I didn't think the quilt shops would have fabric like this." Then I explained that they were the hand printed ones and he was impressed with the skill.
Seriously, you have the skill. You are no "intermediate", I think.

Thank you so very much, sheepBlue. I've already begun pulling other fabrics from the stash and planning some more prints to add to these for some projects, so far a quilt and a bag. They are both stellar and I love them!
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4  Re: Personal/Private Swap Gallery, 2013 in The Swap Gallery by Sarcastra on: October 10, 2013 09:46:29 AM
BushBaby and I did a personal swap for inchie houses. I really liked the seaside cottages she made during the swap we were in, so afterwards I asked if we could trade individually so I could get one for my own personal inchie village. She agreed and here is my own cottage, freshly assembled. I'm slacking - she has already posted pictures in this thread.

How cute is this?! I like the chimneys and the amount of house she managed to pack into a square inch!

All those small stones and outlines she did so well! I have a lot of respect for her thin, light and skinny lines.

I am stuck on all the small details she put into the cottage. Those doors on the left would open up to allow a boat to launch right in to the water from the lower house.
Quoted from her explanation:
... are based on the family houses of the fishermen in Kirkwall, Orkney. The lower half of the house they would store the boats & nets etc and live in the upper floor. hence the stairs up to the 1st floor. What i couldnt show is that they were built very close together with the narrow side facing the harbour. Each house has it's own slip from where the could land and launch their boats. Do an image search on google for Kirkwall Orkney and you will see what I mean. Smiley

Another excellent detail; the cat in the window! So very cute. The shading on the boat is great, too.

She also included a detailed stone base for the cottage to rest on, but I completely failed to photograph it.
Thank you BushBaby!
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5  Re: Inchie House Swap - Gallery! in The Swap Gallery by Sarcastra on: September 03, 2013 08:29:26 AM
Fellow Craftsters, I present my Rancho Mariposa!

All of my tiny houses together. First, from Doctor Whaddayoudoinghere, the gingerbread house. Second, from Loves2Experiment, a poetry cottage. Third, from Ninaprettyballerina, a (remodeled) seaside house. Fourth is mine; the only salvageable house from my first batch and fifth, one from the batch I sent to partners, plus tiny critters.

In order of arrival:
From Ninaprettyballerina, who had the minor misfortune of printing out her template at 150%. I really hope you don't mind, but I "remodeled" your house. I took it down to inchie size and reattached all the interior decor. It is really cute!

Front view. The party banners ended up on the roof, but I think it was just that kind of party!

This is the only new piece I added; this side of the roof. The rest of the original roof became a cozy rug inside. This wall previously was all large windows, now only one. Still a good view for the ocean.

Had a heck of time getting this shot, but the inside is all furnished! A full bookcase, a big bed with a runner at the foot, some art on the wall. The party place is decked out.
Thank you, Ninaprettyballerina!

Next in the neighborhood came the lovely poetry cottage from Loves2Experiment.

Front view. I really like this red door. I want this door on my real house.

An Emily Dickinson quote for the side. [Not sure if you knew, Loves, but I am quite a poetry fan.]
Isn't this roof great? It has a wonderful texture.

More celebration! A party banner along the back of the house. My Rancho is rocking.
Thank you, Loves2Experiment!

Third, from Doctor Whaddayoudoinghere, the gingerbread house!

It has been mentioned previously, but the gingerbread is a craft foam so it has a thickness like you would think of for a gingerbread house. The white paint icing is kinda giving me a bit of a sweet tooth. He enclosed a nice card and note, too (not pictured). This cute house came with its own landing pad. Now, all it needs is a witch and a giant oven and I can put it in a dark forest!
Thank you, Doctor Whaddayoudoinghere!

My excellent neighborhood; it is very sweet. Thank you all for the great houses and the great swap. This gallery thread is tiny eye-candy.
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6  Re: Round 2 More TM Inspired Patches Swap Gallery in The Swap Gallery by Sarcastra on: August 21, 2013 01:09:55 PM
Pioneer9 is camera-less, so she has asked I share photos of my patches to her.

For her theme of text and typewriters, just that - text and typewriters. I found a newspaper fabric, too, so these patches are text heavy!

The backs of the patches. I found a coordinating keyboard and number pad fabric for the back. You can't see them, but there are black stitches in the black areas for texture. For the Titanic text blurb, I pulled out a ship on the seas fabric. You can see the texture filler stitch well here.

And the patch kit. In addition to text, she had the themes of books and from her Pinterest I saw that she liked old-style camera print fabric and the bright, cartoony animals match her other favorites. I included some more micro-beads and some alphabet beads, too.

Hope everyone is having a great swap!
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7  Re: Round 2 More TM Inspired Patches Swap Gallery in The Swap Gallery by Sarcastra on: August 19, 2013 08:24:17 AM
I received from Pioneer9!

For the theme of Skulls, a skull on the left. Love this fabric. For the theme of Cats, a cute cat with an embroidered "Meow" above its head. I can just see this going onto a comforter, pillow or curtain to patch up a spot destroyed by kitties, perfect.

For the kit, a bat appliqued onto some yellow star fabric and red and florescent blue floss to go with it. I think I will make this one up sometime very soon. Pioneer9, as per your note, I don't think it looks too Batman, but I also like Batman, so it is all good.

Thank you so much!
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8  Re: Round 2 More TM Inspired Patches Swap Gallery in The Swap Gallery by Sarcastra on: August 10, 2013 10:52:47 PM
I received a stuffed envelope full of neatly wrapped packages from Watsonc7.

Each item came with a tag detailing the creation and inspiration of the item. Plus, all this thread used as ribbon will be easy to reuse in more patches!

For the themes of Forest we have a small 'patch' of forest, in which all the leaves are French knots, in multiple shades of green. I think I need to take a close-up of all those knots so you can see how cool they are. The texture is amazing. On the right for the theme of Grave, is a grave with a silver skeleton charm wearing a tulle and ribbon dress, from the perspective of standing at the top of the foot of the grave. The fabric is a brown suede, manipulated to look like piles of dirt.
ETA close-up of French knots.

The backs. The Forest takes on an entirely different look from this side, a little abstract, a little wild forest. And I love this butterfly fabric on the back of the grave. Strangely fitting.

Another patch! This one she made just for the kitties so they wouldn't feel left out! Sweet of you Watsonc7.

And a full kit. There is floss, a skull applique ready to use, multiple fabrics and batting! I could grab a needle and take this bag with me to make a patch.

Thank you so much Watsonc7! I think you've done a great job, especially for your first swap. Welcome to the addiction!
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9  Re: Round 2 Still More TM Inspired Patches, Signup 7-20 thru 7-28, Send out by 8/18 in ARCHIVE OF SWAPS THAT ARE TOTALLY FINISHED by Sarcastra on: August 10, 2013 06:17:39 PM
Well guys, I have received from Watsonc7, but I cannot find our gallery.
Until gallery time, I leave you with this teaser shot of the delightful items I got from Watsonc7.
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10  Re: Chunky Houses Halloween Edition Rnd 2 Gallery in The Swap Gallery by Sarcastra on: October 26, 2011 03:32:43 PM
I have received my two final houses.

From RamonaQ:

The front. This light doesn't show it, but there is a delicate iridescence to the the butterfly stripes.

The back.  I cannot imagine where you found that picture with the enormously skull-headed doctor!  Wow.  Like that gold foil trim, too!
Thank you, RamonaQ

From imera:

The front. Amazing texture and so many details!  The vampire looking at the moon, the bats (love those bats!!) the mysterious creeping fog. And of course, the ghost in the attic porthole window.

The back.  I really like your moons, the swirly paint is great.  Again, those bats kill me; I just love them.  Definitely worth the sore fingers I'm sure you had.  And my own personal little graveyard at the side.
Thank you, imera.

My neighborhood:

I love all my houses, ladies.  This has been a very good swap!

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