er, update I suppose

I’m a terrible person. I have been very lax in keeping this updated, partly because I’ve been working on top secret projects for friends so I couldn’t post about them, though now they are all revealed so I can share them!

Meanwhile general update:

Spoon – same. Though now I have the proper cabinet scrapper to do the bowl and a method of keeping it honed. I’ve also started working on a small bass wood one because I was bored and wanted to try out my new chisel. (oh my god, chisels are amazing!)

Pewter – I made a bunch of tiny hedgehogs for Thyra to give out as tokens at pennsic, and those went over well so she used my tiny hedgehogs for her guard token (!!) and had me make a larger hedgehog for tokens. The larger one is adorable. I’ll post both soon.

Embroidery – I made a panel for a AOA scroll box for my friend Gwen, using really high quality fabric and silk. It was a great project as it really made me learn how to do things properly. Also I made two adorable hedgehog roundels for Edward’s coronation present for Thyra.

Sewing – I made Thyra and Edward both hoods for pennsic. Then I’ve been working with The Worshipful Company of their Majesties’ Underwear, making garb for Edward and Thyra – mostly for coronation, but also other upcoming events like Crown. Cassandra has been teaching me a great deal about the art of doing things right the first time, which are the main sewing lessons I need. When we have a bit of downtime, she’s also going to help me make myself a fitted late period bodice with skirt so I can have more than 2 vaguely court appropriate garments. (Since I somehow got roped into retaining for Edward and Thyra, in which I’ve been having fun). She’s also promised to teach me fitting in general.

Brewing – nothing this fall yet, though I do have some wild honey from my friend’s hive I want to make into mead soon. Still haven’t been brave enough to try anything we bottled last year.

Cheese – We kinda forgot about the cheese in the fridge and now we are all afraid to open it.

Bread – I perfected a multi-grain bread over the summer, but then decided I needed less bread in my diet so I haven’t done much baking since.

Illumination – I made a scroll for my friend’s AOA! And now I’m going to be doing the illumination on a second one. I’ve also been working on a bunch of practice pieces to try out new techniques. Constance wants to get me into making scroll blanks for her, but I feel like I need more practice still, which is probably true, but I also need to just go for it and do them since one can practice forever but if you never actually do something all the practice is for not.

wooden spoon – beginning to almost end


This has been a long process (mostly due to weather), and I’ve only gotten one spoon thus far, but I figured including all the pictures would be a way to show the process.

So I started out with a slightly warped Cherry turning block, which I cut in half, and then in half again horizontally, making 4 spoon sized blanks. On these I sketched the design:


From there I started to remove the wood, using some cheap gouges I had bought on amazon. It was a very slow and painful process:




So I started to look at my options, cut by band-saw, rough out using a hatchet, whittle or gouge. The rest of this page follows the gouged one. I’m going to probably start working on finishing the other three at some point in the near future as my new knives (flexcut) and gouges (Lee Valley) are significantly better.


Taking the one on the far right above, I then used my knives to finish roughing it out:


I then used the new gouges to make it pretty and thin. Today I sanded it down and used a tack cloth to remove the saw dust. I forgot how magical tack cloths are.



It still has a few nicks that became apparent when I got the saw dust off, so it’ll have to be be sanded a bit more in those spots. Also I can’t figure out how to sand the inside of the bowl.


But it is certainly spoon shaped and theoretically could be used to eat from right now! Though washing it would be a real pain with that rough wood in the bowl.



Incubation chamber

Incubation chamber

So we had a sturdy Omaha Steak cube just hanging around, but this would work in any cooler. I filled it with warm tap water, and then added an aquarium heater and popped in a thermometer just for curiosity’s sake. It works wonderfully and keeps the water between 85-95 degrees perfectly, and it’s entirely cat proof with books on top.


yogurt drink

So I am pretty addicted to Kefir and drinkable yogurt, but at nearly 2 dollars for 8-10 ounces, I can’t bring myself to buy them. They are a better value at the 32 ounce bottles, but I like the portability of a smaller portion. (Also the smaller portion keeps me from drinking all 32 ounces in one go)

I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to make this at home. I’ve tried making my own kefir, which went badly, though I may try again now that I have a better incubator chamber. And I’ve tried to make my own yogurt, which has been a trial of various methods, but I think I’ve finally hit a method that consistently works. And then how to incorporate the fruit and sweeteners? The first few attempts were pretty good, but had periodic lumps of yogurt and or fruit that were a bit disconcerting.

Making yogurt:

3/4 of a gallon good whole milk (you can use any fat content, but I went with full fat as the latest research suggests it’s a “good” fat)
6 ounces of yogurt. We’ve used both Fage and Hannaford’s version of Chobani. You really don’t need to measure this, it’s mostly dollups.
2 half gallon mason jars (or quarts if that’s all you have)
Immersion blender (you could use a regular blender if that’s all you have, but oh so much easier with immersion blender)
Something that can hold water at about 85-95 degrees for many hours.

  1. Get your water bath to 85-95 degrees
  2. Pour milk into your half gallon jars, leave about 4 inches from the top
  3. Add half the yogurt to one jar, the other half to the other.
  4. Put the immersion blender into the mason jar, blend, add a little more milk (to the shoulders of the jar) and then blend again.
  5. Cover the jars with plastic lids (metal will work, but they’ll rust quickly, I suspect even plastic wrap and rubber bands would work
  6. Put the jars in the water bath. Make sure the water comes up to the shoulders of the bottles.
  7. Wait 6-16 hours. I generally do it at night before bed, and then move them to the fridge when I remember…
  8. Let them cool in the fridge for a few hours, it helps the yogurt gel up a bit.

Making fruit syrup

frozen or fresh fruit – I’ve been using Wyman’s Berries mostly because it comes in 3 lb bags and it’s reasonably priced.
honey or other sweeteners

  1. On the stove put about a pound of fruit into a pot on medium
  2. Add in about 4 ounces of honey, the amount will vary depending how sweet your fruit is and what sweeteners you use
  3. Heat until the fruit starts to break down
  4. Take your ever handy immersion blender and puree the fruit. At this point you could also strain out the seeds if you really wanted to.
  5. Allow to cool enough that it won’t burn you if it splashes (it will splash, consider an apron)

Putting it all together!

A large bowl, preferably with a pour spout like this one
Containers for your yogurt drink, I use pint jars, but have also used the same half gallon jars I made the yogurt in if I know I’ll just be home drinking it.
Canning funnels vastly improve the pouring process

  1. Half fill your batter bowl with yogurt
  2. Pour in 1/4 of the fruit sauce *I generally eyeball this
  3. Immersion blend
  4. Using a canning funnel, pour into smaller jars
  5. Repeat until you are out of yogurt

3/4 of a gallon of milk, 1 lb of fruit, 4 ounces of honey, 6 ounces of yogurt = 160 ounces of yogurt or approximately 8 pint jars and a quart jar (or in this case half of a half gallon since it was already “dirty”


Approximate nutrients:
in 8 ounces (around 50 cents)
(2 servings per jar)
130 calories
5 g fat
15 g sugar
6 g protein

Pewter Spoons!

This is what happens when you get impatient and try to pour too often (the mold didn’t cool enough) and take the spoon out before it has fully hardened.


Perfect bowl!


the vinning on the back came out pretty well. I’m going to sand them up a little to make the surfaces more regular.


about 4/5ths of the spoons I cast, had pits like this from the pewter not going in smoothly.


Tiny shavings from drilling the holes:


the best part of my light desk…

It’s heated. After a number of different lighting options I finally decided to go with a white rope light, and much like many a 2 AM Saturday evening, I’m warming my fingers by its gentle heat.

First attempts at calligraphy using the light desk and a dip pen, not too bad! All of my practice in meetings at work with a cheap felt tip pen have paid off, I may yet some day be able to make a C look proper. Also I really think I prefer a’s written this way. They are so cute. g’s on the other hand I would rather avoid at all costs.


And while I’ve got the light desk out, figured I might as well trace out a bit of the book of kells and try inking directly on bristol board paper through the light desk, which it is entirely strong enough to do, particularly if I turn off the overhead lighting in my room. I also played around some with gouache, which, having been trained for many years in watercolors, we were always taught distaste for it. (“real” painters don’t need white) I have to say think I much prefer my watercolors, though it may be just that it’s a cheap brand of gouache, and my watercolors are top of the line. It just feels chalky, and I hate how it covers the black lines. I think I’m going to go back over them all with the ink and see if that works. I also forgot how much I love doing Celtic knotwork, particularly the ones with the weird animals in them, as you don’t realize quite how amazing it is until you are actually following the thread throughout the piece.

This is the tree of life motif that is pretty common throughout the book. I have no idea what those pod things are supposed to be so I painted them as if they were buds. Image
But yeah, nice warm work with a mug of tea for a cold and blustery day. My skin still feels raw from the 20 minutes we spent outside trying to wrap the chicken coop in plastic (which we utterly failed at, I need to go back out tomorrow and screw a board in place, sandwiching the plastic between the board and the coop.)

Finally made the pewter spoon that started this odyssey


Little fox for size comparison. It still needs to be filed down and sanded, but in comparison to the first 4 pours, this one is nearly perfect. The bowl is so smooth and thin! I think I’m going to fill in the knob on the end though as it’s really heavy. I had originally  made it with the knob so it would sit better on the table, but it’s pretty strange looking and feels wrong.


And on the backside you can still see the leaf pattern, though not as distinctly as I had hoped. I may try to carve in the spine a little more to give it more definition.

Here’s the original wooden version, it sadly did not make it out of the mold in one piece. But it’s neat to see how close they are to each other. Its come so far from its first day. I can’t believe it has only been six weeks in the making. I feel like I’ve been obsessed with spoons for much longer!

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