Sunday, April 20, 2014

How to Hang It ?

The other day I worked on a sculptural wall tile prototype. In making the tile the question of how to hang it came up. How to hang ceramic tiles is an age old dilemma for many potters who make tiles. I've been wanting to change my tile hanging mechanism from a glued on wood or D hook to an integral system where I can attach a wire on the  reverse side of the tile.

I think a different method will be more secure in the long run. For this sculptural wall tile I've made a circular frame shape on the reverse with two holes in the sides where I can attach a wire. I can see the outline of the form beneath since I used thin strips of clay, so I'll make the tile portion thicker and try again. I'm happy with the dogwood flower though.

After reading about Meredith's problems with the glue she's been using this morning, I plan to do more research and trials on tile hanging systems next week. I found this article at Ceramics Arts Daily about a lug hanging system but drying the tile upside down won't work for my three dimensional tile. Some of the comments in the article suggest other methods of hanging tiles. I'll be thinking about those as well. I tried gluing tiles to plexiglas in the past but the glue failing is always the limiting factor. If  you have any suggestions on how to hang wall tiles please let me know. Happy Easter Happy Spring to you all. Thanks for reading and for all your comments.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Wild Violet Syrup

Nothing ventured nothing gained; I decided to try making wild violet syrup. I gathered two pints of flowers. a rocky slope isn't easy to gather the flowers. The flowers I gathered are wild violets, Viola triloba, growing as a native in Northwest Georgia on a dry rocky slope. Here is another link with some good close up photos of this variety of violet.

I didn't gather all the flowers growing on any one plant and I did not take all the flowers at that location. Some insects may be relying on these wild violets as their food source. Although as I was gathering at approximately 4 pm, at about 66 F, I did not see any bees or other insects on the flowers.

When I returned home I placed my flowers in the top of a porcelain coated double boiler. This type of container is best to use as it is non reactive to certain chemicals and ingredients. Stainless steel would work but this container or glass would be better.

I poured two cups of boiling water over the flowers. I detected a faint but fresh fragrance coming from the flowers soaking in the water.

I covered the violet water mixture and let it sit over night.

This morning I strained the violets from the water and discarded the flowers. I strained the mixture twice. I could have used cheesecloth as well but the water looked clear and free of debris.

Here's the violet water after straining, a faint lavender color. At this point I am thinking I should have picked more flowers but I didn't want to take all the flowers and it was too late at this point to add more.

I added two cups of fine white sugar per cup of liquid. I put water in the bottom of the double boiler and cooked the liquid till almost boiling, stirring constantly. This takes quite some time and my wrist was getting tired of the stirring. But this step is important to get the sugar dissolved in the water. At the end I skimmed all the white scum off of the top. The mixture began to turn a greenish violet color. I was getting worried but I set the pot aside to cool off.

After the mixture cooled down for about five minutes I put it back on the heat over the double boiler filled with boiling water and heated the violet sugar water till almost boiling again.

I added an 1/8 teaspoon of lemon juice at a time very slowly till the mixture turned back to a violet color. A bit more pale violet than I would like but I've come this far so no turning back.

I sterilized my half pint canning jars and lids. In this small town unfortunately I couldn't find any nicely shaped decorative jars to put the mixture into.

 Here are my four jars filled with wild violet syrup. They are a very pale color.

Next time I will gather twice as many wild violets. I will also remove the green calyxes from the bottom of the petals. I think that will improve the color of the wild violet syrup. Making the syrup is a lot of work but hopefully the flavor will be worth all the work. I just dipped my finger into the cooled mixture left in the pan and it tastes delicious and has a delicate fragrance. Thanks for reading and for all your comments.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Been Working

Between projects, planting, cooking, unpacking, sorting and the like I've made a few pieces in clay. I'm revisiting my stacked towers. The upper one is made with speckled brownstone clay, has sprigged flowers, and is about fourteen inches tall.

This one is made with little loafers clay, has twisted circles, and is about twelve inches tall. It's a real balancing feat for the twists on top.

And there's a few fern plates drying in the cabinet.

I must remember to comb my hair and spruce up before Gary takes my photo next time. Thanks for reading and for all your comments.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wild Violets Sweet Violets

When I was a child I dug up a small plant with purple flowers and brought it home. That plant was a wild violet, Viola odorata, sometimes called sweet violet. I didn't know the plant would multiply. By the end of the summer every windowsill in our home was filled with wild violet plants. My mother started giving violet plants to everyone she knew.

Yesterday I noticed the corner to our road is covered with wild violets. I ran out to take a photo to show you because we are expecting a bit of a cold snap. While I was researching information about the wild violet I found a blog post here about wild violet syrup. Since the plant is hardy and spreads easily I may harvest a bunch of the flowers and make some wild violet syrup. I hope the flowers last through the cold tonight.

The Violet
Down in a green and shady bed,
   A modest violet grew,
Its stalk was bent, it hung its head,
   As if to hide from view.

And yet it was a lovely flower,
   Its colours bright and fair;
It might have graced a rosy bower,
   Instead of hiding there,

Yet there it was content to bloom,
   In modest tints arrayed;
And there diffused its sweet perfume,
   Within the silent shade.

Then let me to the valley go,
   This pretty flower to see;
That I may also learn to grow
   In sweet humility.

While I was taking photos of the flowers I noticed leaves which looked like strawberry leaves and leaves of a bulb type of plant. I'll have to take a walk there often and keep my eyes open. If you have time look closely underfoot and at every turn, you never know what you may find. Thanks for reading and for all your comments.