Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mother's Day Mushroom

It has been a very busy couple of weeks for me.  There was our school's super fun auction (Where my personnel-hemorrhaging band played after much hand wringing [me] and practice [us]. And successfully, might I add.  I had way too much fun!) and a big craft styling job for Family Fun's Back-to-School clothing feature which you will have to check out in Septmber because there are some really awesome projects in it.  I was left utterly exhausted.  Bed at 7:15 one night and basically the walking dead for many days.  So, the pictures I want to share of the opening of BIG spring in my life are a little dated now, but too yummy and fun to not document.

Above is a photo of a morel mushroom.  They sprout up around Mother's Day in old orchards and lucky, lucky me, I've got one of those!  They are so delicious that my entire family ignores all of the beautiful, shiny poison ivy leaves, marches right through them, and even weaves their hands past the perilous plants to snare these craggly fungi with abandon.  Ok, maybe I am shouting at everyone a little to be more careful, not to rub their eyes (for heaven's sake!), and to try a little harder not to trip into the biggest patch of P.I. they can find (my poor 4 year old tripper...I mean, trooper).  My kids wouldn't actually even try to eat a mushroom, but they do like to hunt for them! 

Our friend Terry and Harry on the hunt.  

Little brainy looking things, aren't they?

Just because apple blooms are pretty and smell divine.

The best part about going to the orchard - a (slow) ride in the truck bed!

Catherine's legs sealed with plastic bags and duct tape.  I can report that she did NOT get poison ivy.  Maybe I got a little.

Pasta with morels, goat cheese, and asparagus from the farmer across the road.  The table wasn't silent, but we didn't really talk either.  Well, the kids did, but only Ava's mushroom loving friend Ben was actually eating what we were eating.

This is another example of why I love living here.  Just when you think you really can't take another day of winter, spring comes.  With gifts.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

simple silk screening with kids (or not)

Now that I've discovered that silk screening is one of my favorite things to do, I am busy figuring out how to do it on the cheap.  Buying a pre-stretched frame is simply out of the question, them being about $25 a pop.  I've stretched the screen fabric over a frame used for stretching canvas (which worked well), and I imagine that using a thrift store frame would be equally handy.  Yesterday, with a whole afternoon unplanned and stretching out before us, I was hoping to intoduce my kids to the joys of screen printing, but, alas, had no frame of any obvious sort around the house.  While rifling through stuff in the basement I spied a scrap of foam core - Why not?  I cut a frame out of it and stapled screen fabric to it.  We had so much fun and Ava and Harry were amazed by the results.  Here is a step-by-step tutorial.  I really encourage you to give it a go.  It is so so satisfying.

-foam core
-contact paper (shelf liner)
-sharpie pen
-craft knife
-12xx silk screen fabric (you can get this online or at an art store)
-screen printing inks (also at the art store)
-masking tape
-plastic spoon or tongue depressor


1) Cut a frame out of a piece of foam core.  You can make this any size, just be sure that your squeegee can fit. Staple screen printing fabric so it is really tight.  This takes some fiddling and pulling but it isn't hard to do.

2) Have your child draw a really simple image onto the paper side of the contact paper.  You cut it out with a craft knife.

3) Peel the paper backing off the contact paper and carefully stick it to the underside of the screen (that would be the flat side facing the table) positioning it so it is centered in the window.  Smooth out any bubbles and be sure that it is flat against the screen , especially by the design cuts.  This will keep the ink where it is supposed to be.

On the inking side (the side with the foamcore frame on top) tape the window with masking tape so no ink can escape out the sides.

4) Now you are ready to print.  Gather t-shirts, blank cards, paper and whatever you want to print onto.  You can make about 20 prints before the contact paper wants to start peeling away. If you are using t-shirts, put a piece of cardboard or paper between the layers because the ink will bleed through.  
5) Put a couple spoonfuls of ink on one side of the image and then pull the ink across the screen with the squeegee.  Be sure that the ink went into all the design spaces.  You can pull the ink across a couple times, but don't do it too many times or the image will look a little blurry, not crisp.

You can see here that the ink hasn't filled all the design space, so she will have to pull more ink across.

6) Lift the screen off the print and hang print to dry.  Repeat process over and over again.  Make stationary, posters, napkins, placemats, shirts, flags, etc.  When done with image (really done, as you will be throwing it away with this method), remove from the screen, wash the ink off the screen thoroughly and save for another image another time.  We used the same frame and screen for Harry's design after Ava was finished.

Here are some cards the kids made.
and some t-shirts, too!

Note: I have posted more about silk screening so if you're interested, check out October 5th post.