New Uses for Old Things: Jello

Alternate Title: Undoubtedly the longest post about not eating jello in the history of blogging....

I am not a jello fan. There is just something not right about it.... I don't like eating anything that bounces back in my mouth.

However, thanks to a friend of mine, I discovered a new use for jello last week - no eating required! I went way out in the woods to my friend's lovely home, and we made gelatin monotype prints.

"What are gelatin monotype prints," you may ask.

Well, I'll tell you.

Or show you, rather.... (These instructions are by no means complete - if you'd like to try this, just google "gelatin monotype prints" to find instructional videos, books, websites, etc.)

You will need:
  • Plain, unflavored gelatin (google for a recipe for gelatin monotype prints)
  • Small rectangles of plexiglass
  • Large piece of glass, an enamel tray, countertop, or anything that you can work on and don't mind getting a little paint on.
  • Masking tape
  • Brayer/Roller
  • Printer's inks, fabric paint, or acrylic inks
  • Paintbrushes, Stamps, Sponges - whatever you want to apply paint with
  • Jar of water
  • Print Making Paper
  • A sharp knife
  • Ruler

Basically, you take plain, unflavored gelatin, mix it up according to the directions, and pour it into cookie sheets - ours was about 1/2" thick. When it has set, you slice it into plates. Ours were about 4"x6".

Next, carefully place your gelatin plate on top of a small piece of plexiglass, which you have taped down to a non-moving, protected surface (like a large sheet of glass). You should tape it only along one edge, so that you can "lift" the plate to add/remove your reference sketch underneath. You'll also want to create a "frame" around the jello plate by adding a few layers of tape - this will help keep it from moving, and keep your image lined up correctly. (See image above.)

Prepare your sketch, then slip it underneath the plexiglass, so that it is centered under your gelatin plate. You should be able to see the image clearly through the gelatin and plexiglass. Now you're almost ready to roll!

Prepare your paper by dampening it slightly, then taping it along one side so that it can "flip" over onto the plate. If you'd like to do a "ghost print," add another piece of paper to be flipped from another side. Make sure you have the "right" side of the paper facing down onto the gelatin when it is flipped in place. Once they are securely taped, flip them out of the way for now....

First you'll want to do your background. You can use a brayer to mix a tiny amount of your background colors, then roll them gently onto the gelatin.

The inks we used were a combination of printer's acrylic inks, fabric paint, and acrylic "calligraphy" ink.
We used brayers, our fingers, even rubber stamps to create backgrounds...
Once you get your background colors painted onto the gelatin, carefully fold your "good" paper over onto the gelatin (making sure you pull it evenly for each "lift"), and smooth it onto the face of the gelatin with your fingers, the back of a wooden spoon, a small rolling pin, or any other smooth object. Do not press too hard. Once you have lifted with your first sheet, you can try lifting any remaining paint off with your "ghost" paper that you have folded off to another side.

Use a dampened sponge to carefully remove any lingering ink from the gelatin. You'll want to do this between each layer you add. You may also need to spray your papers with a light misting of water to keep the paper from sticking to the gelatin. Just be sure to blot the paper to remove any droplets, or it will cause your inks to run on your next lift.

Once you've done your background, you can begin working on your image. You have to work quickly or do different layers, because you have to pick up the inks before they dry.

Make sure you don't make your ink/paint too thick, or it will smoosh around and smear, making your image look muddy.

Here's my completed background for my first print.

Then I added some branches and leaves in the next layer...

And finally, I painted my birdie and transferred it to my paper!
Unfortunately, things went downhill after my first print...

As your gelatin and your inks begin to dry, it gets more and more challenging. I kept having trouble getting my inks to lift after the first print, and I had trouble keeping them from smearing too - too much ink.

As you can see, it makes quite a mess.... I was lucky enough to have a kind friend who prepared the gelatin and set all of this up for us, but I'm not sure I would go to all the trouble myself... especially when it is very difficult to get good results.... But it was a fun experience, and I learned something new. I think I will try some watercolor monotypes - no jello required- you use sanded & soaped plexiglass, and you can reactivate watercolors when they begin to dry out.... But that's another project for another day...

Until then, I'll leave you with a few of my favorites:

My first (and best) attempt.... It was all downhill from here...

My nod to the season. You can see that I used rubber stamps on the background on this one. He got smeared quite a bit, so I did a little salvaging and touching-up afterwards directly on the paper. I guess the print-making police will come and get me now...

My first attempt at doing one freehand - I didn't go by any sketch on this one, which makes it very difficult to line things up and add anything to your original painting. I like it (and didn't cheat on it, but I think the skep is too large and is competing with the "B" for space.... So I re-did it.

I like the layout of this better, but it got a little muddy looking, so I cheated and touched up this one too.
Oh, and by the way, if you do anything with letters - make sure you paint them backwards on your gelatin, or you will wind up with this:

Right before I packed up to leave, I decided to do a quick "J" for Josh to go with my "B" for Beth. And of course, he had to have cowboy boots on his....

Unfortunately, I got in such a hurry that I forgot you have to reverse the letter when you paint it. Whoops! Didn't have time to do another to correct the problem, but thank goodness for Photoshop!

Overall, it was a fun experience, and I had a good time learning this new medium with my friend. If you choose to give it a try, make sure you've got plenty of time, plenty of space, and plenty of patience!

Hope you're having a lovely week....


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

I hope in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, you're remembering the real Reason for the Season...

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah 9:6-7

I am linking up at the Nester for the 2010 Christmas Tour of Homes.

In other news...

I'm excited... today is my husband's last day of PA school before his Christmas break, and tonight we're going to see "Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader." I hope it's as great as the book, but it won't be. :o)

Have a lovely weekend...



Brown Bagging It

Howdy folks,

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We had two nice days - one with my husband's family and one with mine - good food, good memories..... lots to be thankful for!

In between baking sourdough rolls, greenbean casserole, and sweet potato casserole (my contributions to the meals), I managed to finish up another buttercup bag! Here are the pics....

This one is a custom order for someone, but I will be making some more for my Etsy shop! Check back soon for more in my shop, or contact me if you'd like to order one for yourself or as a gift for someone special - I'm taking orders for Christmas! 

Hope you have a lovely weekend!  I think I'm going to go slip back into my turkey coma for a little while!  



Another Modified Buttercup Bag

Today is my Mom's birthday (Happy Birthday, Mom!). I thought I would show you all the gift that I made for her. Don't worry - I gave it to her already, so we won't be ruining any surprises....

Mom really liked the modified Buttercup Bag that I made for myself this summer, so she requested one of her own for her birthday. I frantically threw this one together on Saturday evening, just in time for her party on Sunday.

Unfortunately, by the time I finished it, it was getting dark outside,
so I wasn't able to take any very good pictures....

Fortunately, my Mom took a few, so here are hers....

 The purse is made of a very soft sage green wool felt for the exterior. The interior is 100% cotton quilting fabric. The flower embellishment on the outside is made from scraps of both the lining and exterior fabrics, and it is sewn onto a detachable pin, so you can use it on the purse or wear it on a blouse or jacket.

As you can see, I added two little "labels," one inside on the pocket, and one on the outer side seam.
"Bee Handmade" is the newest section of my Etsy shop. Whereas most of my Etsy shop is centered around my original artwork, prints, and jewelry featuring my paintings, "Bee Handmade" will feature one-of-a-kind items like this purse, needle-felted pieces, and other little handmade odds and ends.

("Why all the bee stuff?" you may ask. "Bee" is a nickname my nephew gave to me when he was learning to talk and couldn't pronounce "Beth." And it stuck.... Now my family calls me "Bee,"  I've started accumulating lots of bee-themed paraphernalia, and bees often show up in my advertising and work. Plus, bees are just amazing little creatures. That's why.)

I don't have any purses up in the shop yet, but I plan to have some soon.
I will let you know when I get them made and listed!

If you would like this pattern to use yourself, you can download a free copy of it HERE from designer Rae Hoekstra's blog. She is offering the pattern free for personal use, but asks that you purchase it along with a license if you plan on making any to sell. Just so you know, I purchased the pattern and am now a licensed seller.

The pattern itself makes a TINY little bag. I actually enlarged it quite a bit for both of the bags that I made, and I added the interior pockets, switched out the buttoned tab for the flower, and shortened the handle on the green bag several inches. It's a nice basic pattern, however, and requires very little fabric if you use the original pattern (2 fat quarters, I think). I wound up buying about 1/2 yard of both interior and exterior fabrics since I enlarged it and added the pockets inside. You will also need to use interfacing if you choose a fabric that's not very thick. (I didn't use it on the wool on this bag, but I did on the lining, pockets, and handle. I used interfacing on everything for my first floral bag since I was using thinner cotton.)

Anyway, if you are interested in pre-ordering a custom bag from me, please e-mail me. I would be more than happy to make one for you - it would make a fabulous and unique Christmas gift for any lady on your list! If you would like to choose your own fabrics, that would be fine too. Just e-mail me for a list of supplies you'll need, and then you can send me your picks! Or, just tell me what you have in mind, and I'll try to track down the perfect fabric combo for you!

In the meantime, you can start your Christmas shopping by visiting my Etsy shop! I've got lots of prints and jewelry that would fit right in under your tree! :o)

Have a lovely weekend!



On Assignment: Write a Poem!

Alrighty, once again it's time for "On Assignment: The ADD Challenge," where, basically, I give you some random assignment, and you come back a week later and share it with the rest of us if you, in fact, participated, which I very much appreciate.


Please note, we have now changed the link party to Wednesdays, and, unless otherwise noted, we will be continuing on Wednesdays forever or until I change my mind again or decide I'm tired of this whole experiment, whichever comes first. Okay.

This week's assignment was: Write a poem, then share it with us. Obviously, you do not have to be a poet to participate, otherwise I certainly wouldn't be subjecting you to my attempts.... This is all in fun. So, link up your poems below let's see what you've got! And please, if you do link up, be kind and reciprocate the MASSIVE traffic you will receive from my blog (ha!) by posting the party button on your own post (you can grab the code on my sidebar). Thank you!

Before I kill your attention with my never-ending poem, I'll go ahead and give you next week's assignment....

NEXT WEEK'S ASSIGNMENT: Since next Thursday is Thanksgiving and no one will have time for blogging, then just give us a list of things for which you are thankful. I will still do the linkup party on Wednesday for anyone who remembers to participate.

And now, without further ado, my poem.... my apologies in advance for attempting to rhyme  snarky with malarkey. I started out trying to write a funny poem, and it sort of morphed into a somewhat-serious poem. Please forgive the jar of transition....

A Blogger's Prayer
by Beth Stone

Shutter flying, keyboard clacking -
Blog post deadline – No more slacking!
(House neglected, dirty dishes…)
Post about my Christmas wishes…?

Blogging is a vast abyss
(One which many people diss:
So many writing to so few,
Quite likely – if we only knew!)

HTML, gadgets, widgets
(Coding sends my brain to fidgets!),
Sidebars, templates, buttons, headers,
Colors and cute fonts for letters…

Looking for my "voice" and theme,
Debating – to, or not to meme?
Am I typing, like a droid
Writing to an empty void?

Checking for comments – Boo! – I've none.
Oh wait, I think I may have one!
Got some new readers – I just checked,
Hello there, Google Friend Connect!

What is it that I want to say,
To readers who will come my way,
To people who will find this space?
I may be their one brush with Grace.

Do I post the daily fluff?
Or dwell on more important stuff?
This blog's an empty slate, you see,
Its purpose is left up to me.

Anecdotes and household tips,
Photographs and movie clips,
Projects and a joke or two,
Something old or something new,

Giveaways and sales and savings,
"On-my-soapbox" rants and ravings,
Recipes and funny stories,
Paintings of blue morning glories…

So many things to blog about,
But should I really take that route
When I can make somebody see
The Truth, with one stroke of a key?

To speak the Truth's my calling plain;
My words are being read in Spain,
And all around the globe they wrap,
There are the red dots on my map.

Each dot is one soul, I know well,
That's bound for God or bound for hell.
Their life's end may be decided
By the Truth that I've provided

If I've been faithful to the call
To share the Truth of Christ with all
Who come across this path of mine,
Some face-to-face, and, some, online.

So speak the Truth, with love and grace
Strive faithfully to run the race,
Shun temptations to be snarky
To a world that's run malarkey.

Be a candle brightly burning,
Before people lost and yearning
For the Truth in the dark night -
Guide them quickly to the Light!

LORD, take this blog, and all I do -
Here let them see, not me, but You.

Now it's your turn to link up!



Felting Mania!

I've been making some more needle-felted pieces!

My latest project: a felted bee ipod touch case!

The case has a strap to hang around my neck; I just flip the cover up to access the screen. I can also tuck my ear buds into a special little pocket on the inside of the flap when I'm not using them, and button the whole thing up when I'm not using it.

I love to listen to podcasts while I'm painting, working on a mural, or puttering around at home. There are so many great books you can get for free on itunes - I use a lot of podcasts from Librivox. It's a free, volunteer-read collection of books that are in the public domain. Even if you don't have an ipod, you can still listen to them on your computer. Check them out!
And yes, I nearly always feel the need to embellish. :o) Love those bees!

A friend came over the other day and wanted to learn how to do some needle felting....
She made a sheep, and while she was working on that, I made this little birdie...

 And I had so much fun doing that, I stayed up late after my friend went home and made this tiny terrarium! I'm infatuated with terrariums lately - I want to make a real one, but for now, this will do nicely...(and no watering required!)

 The mushrooms and the moss are felted. The tiny little wooden ladybug came off of a package that was wrapped for me in a cute little store in Athens, Greece when I was there in college. I had been saving it for something special, and this was perfect! The "cloche" is an old jelly jar! I may do something to the lid, which is now the base, to make it look less jelly-jar-lid-ish. Paint it black, maybe?

Hail, hail, the gang's all here!  (Well, almost - I forgot to grab Reepicheep for the shot. He was probably busy anyway - off fighting a giant or some such thing. The little rascal.)

Have a lovely weekend!