Dandelions Aren’t So Tough

My lawn is real purty this morning. It’s bedecked with random dandelion blossoms. So is the neighbor’s yard… but I know it can’t last. Suburbanites can’t stand dandelions and think they’re weeds. In a few hours their lawnmower man is coming, and away will go the beauty for something… kind of ugly, actually. I’m not sure why people would trade something so lovely for ugly barrenness.

I’ve been trying to remember a lot of things I knew while growing up while learning new skills. I always have dabbled in herbalism, but you can’t just dabble and let the flowers get mowed down. Nooooo. So even though I’m under the weather yet again, I rushed my butt outside and busily set to harvesting dandelions.

The neighbor’s son came up to see what I was doing (as is routine), and when I replied that dandelions were good eating he made such a face. It was the kind of face small children make when you ask them to eat their liver. I was laughing on the inside, but with a straight face I explained that the leaves were good for salads, the roots were good as a coffee substitute as well as medicine, and the blossoms I intended to try to learn how to make jelly with. I also mentioned they were stock full of four essential vitamins like A and K, and two of those vitamins are ones that are missing from your average American diet. Oh hell yes I was in  my yard harvesting dandelions before they got mowed down!

The main reason I think that people would die in an apocalypse is because they’d be sitting in a field of dandelions and never know they could eat.

The dandelion parts are in water and being washed thoroughly right now. I mean, dogs walk around the yard after all. (No sense in grossing out over that. Deer, rabbits, and a host of other critters walk all over the farm as well. In the garden.) I also have one blossoms that had started to turn to seed early in a glass of water, hoping it will open. I’ll take those seeds and cultivate them in a cleaner, more secure place if I can.

Incidentally I completely suck at harvesting dandelions. I only got a few roots, and my goal was to get a bunch. I have enough to start learning with, though. I’ve never dried dandelion roots up for medicine before. We’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime, here’s a video I did talking about more craft stuff.

Adventures in Office Hermitry

Man, oh man, but when I get inspired for an idea the rest of my world goes to the can.


chicken chase lineThe above image, if you can see it, is the planned charm line up for my next craft project. That’s a lot of charms, so having them done as acrylics to start with would be more than we could afford even if we weren’t begging for money right now to pay the bills. (No, we’re literally begging.) But, being as artwork is how I make a living I have to carry on. And this meant I had to find another way.

I’ve been making charm designs and then having them made because I have to have stock to sell. But it’s not bringing in the money it could or should, so I’ve decided to go another way. I’m back to making the charms myself for first runs and ordering an acrylic version once in a while here and there. I’ve always made them myself from shrinky dinks, and this is why we invested in a cutter. Enter my adventures for the last few days.

These adventures involve lots of cursing, much bemoaning, and at one point I went downstairs, threw the cutting mat at my husband, and told him I couldn’t take it anymore.

But beyond that some cool things have cropped up as I return to being an artist and not a work slave. (Make no mistake, this is what I’m doing, all in the name of carving out time to go back to being an author.) I’ve hit on this nifty idea for making the charms, and it involves resin and learning to make my own molds.

At first I started this conclusion by simply putting a domed clear cap on shrinky dink charms. The lady at Hobby Lobby recommended a product called mod podge dimensional magic. So I gave it a shot. This looked really awesome, btw.

Shrinky dink charms made using a vintage image and domed using mod podge dimensional magic.

That is, they looked awesome on the type of inket shrink film I used – a clear paper made by Grafix. When I printed chickens and Links on some Shrinky Dinky inkjet film I had, well, let’s say I was far far less pleased with the results. Not because of the mod podge. Because of their paper.

Many moons ago when I was first getting into things like this, Shrinky Dinks inkjet paper was slick. You had to choose the right side to print on, but beyond that things looked great. When the dinks were shrunk, the plastic was smooth and shiny. They always looked fabulous. And now… not so much. You don’t have to be careful what side you print on anymore, but when the charms are shrunk they’re rough on both sides. This texture makes them ugly. Even domed with the mod podge, they look bad. I wore a frowny face for a long time. I think I’m still wearing it. My shiny slick charms are gone. I have two left from an old batch. I’m keeping those for old time’s sake.

I decided to see if I had other options. No, I do not. And you know what else I found out? Mod Podge products are basically pva glue. That’s Elmer’s glue to you. And this woke the evil scientist in me. Because dimensional magic is expensive, and people were complaining that it was going cloudy a year two days after putting it on their polymer products. One person said it turned yellow after a year. Yeah, fuck that noise especially for the amount of money I paid.

I reasoned that if the other mod podge products, which are white and basically dry clear, are different types of Elmer’s glue then dimensional magic, which starts out clear, probably is Elmer’s clear glue. So I went to the store, got some clear glue, some rubber cement, and I started experimenting. And you know what I found out? Mixing rubber cement and  clear glue makes for a frothy mixture that dries very very hard but has a crapton of bubbles and needs further experimentation. Add polycrylic and it gets real fun.

I also found out that two layers of clear glue on my charms domes just as nicely as three layers of dimensional magic. The major difference was the dimensional magic product dented under my thumbnail. The clear glue did not. And so far the clear glue has not turned cloudy. Neither has the dimensional magic.

Inevitably, this meant I found myself shopping around and looking at doming resins. And learning about them. And deciding, wait a minute I can do a lot of pretty stuff with this that I always try to do with shrinky dinks. The end result is yesterday I spent the day learning how to cast in resin. And this morning I learned what I did wrong. Currently I have three projects curing that may turn out right.

I usually get excited, very excited, when learning a new skill. We’re taught this is a good thing. It’s not. It means you’re never going to do well at work because sooner or later you’re going to learn the entire job, and when that happens you’re going to get very bored. But I digress. Here I am excited and wanting to make stuff!!! And I have to wait because I could only afford the one mold and I haven’t learned to make molds for myself yet. (Coming soon.)

So far I like the look of resin casting far far better than the shrinky dinks. I’m still going to use shrinky dinks, but I suspect it’s going to be for mold making. Well, there are still quite a few very artsy things I can do with them… but if I can get my resin plan to work I hopefully will be revealing a new thing on this website soon. With chickens.

I have a bucket of broken jewelry that I’ve been keeping, because some secret part of myself knew there would be a day when I would call upon those bits and pieces to become new, shiny, glassy bits of jewelry. The pieces jump in the bucket, eager and filled with anticipation…