Sunday, July 20, 2014

Baking, not Beading

Getting ready to put together Russian tea biscuits
My mom came to take care of me in June after I had surgery.  Every time she visits I ask her to bring one time - Russian tea biscuits.  This time I think she brought me some from Lucy's Sweet Surrender, but I will take them from almost anywhere. If you don't know what these are, you probably haven't visited Cleveland, Ohio.  I search a bit and found their origin is a bit foggy and often confused with Russian tea cakes aka Mexican wedding cookies. You can see here and here that while their origin is mysterious, you can find them all over Cleveland and if you discover them elsewhere, ask if the baker is from northeastern Ohio.

We planned to make Russian tea biscuits last month when she was here.  One thing led to another and we never got around to it.  Yesterday I decided it was time.  I hoarded a number of recipes on Pinterest and decided to make this one from "Do you know a good recipe for...?"  I actually planned to make this recipe from Salon because of the discussion of Cleveland and Lax & Mandel bakery, but some wires were crossed when I got working.  My mom brought from Ohio Braswell's red raspberry jam that turns out to have been made in Statesboro, Georgia.  It is perfect for this recipe.

I had a little help from a small, sleepy sous chef.
I made the dough the day before and refrigerated it.  In the morning, I chopped all the nuts and fruits for the filling.  Since this is Georgia, and I didn't want to make a run to the grocery store, I used pecans instead of walnuts.  My pecans came from a local orchard, Clover Pecan Company, and are the Stuart variety.  I bought them in May at the Valdosta Farm Days market and popped them in the freezer (my favorite way to store nuts, dried chiles, and ginger).  My recipe called for raisins and dates/figs.  I prefer sultans or currants, but those aren't to be found in Valdosta except around the winter holidays so I used golden raisins and dates. Remi and I planted a fig tree this spring which has grown a whopping six fruits.  Next year we should have enough that I will use home grown figs.
Rolled pastry getting an egg white wash and sprinkle of sugar.

I had divided the dough into four parts and as I rolled and filled each I learned a little something useful.  Rolling this dough between sheets of plastic wrap makes it much easier to get it to the proper shape and thickness.  I also discovered that after topping the dough with jam, nuts, raisins, and figs that using the wrap to assist rolling the 14 inch long piece helped me to get a tight roll and to place it seam side down.  After spending some more time in the fridge, the dough logs get sliced, brushed with frothy egg white, and topped with sugar.
Ready to go in the oven.
20 minutes later
They are delicious!  I was worried that I would not get that Cleveland deli taste, but they are so good that I took a few to my brand new neighbors.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Adventures in Looming

my first piece of loom work
I bought myself a little Beadzu loom and have woven a few pieces.  The first one, above, is based on a Latvian floral bracelet pattern.  I used 11/0 Toho beads and put in the edging with 15/0s.  I really had no idea what I was doing so I went to YouTube and watched some videos.  I wanted to figure out how to loom with as few warp threads as possible, but I decided I might just try the most basic method first.  I used Nymo to thread the loom, but have since read that if I use Fireline or another thread that is difficult to split, I might be able to pull the warps through the finished piece in sort of a serpentine so that I end up with only two threads to deal with at the end (see video at the end of the post).
you can see my wobbles, but I was happy and they aren't so evident when I'm wearing the cuff
butter soft leather lining
I stitched the piece to a thin piece of leather and found the perfect bead for the closure.

Next, I decided to try weaving with some 15/0s.  Crazy, huh?  Well I decided that looming went so quickly that I might as well use the tiny beads I love so much.  I had seen this pattern in a Bead and Button a few years ago.  It turned out that the crazy part of this attempt wasn't the 15/0s, but the 37 warp threads!
"In Flight" pattern from B&B
Look at all those warp threads!
I'm still looking around for the perfect leather or Ultrasuede to back this piece.  The cream beads are matte finish and the red are Toho inside-color jonquil-hyacinth lined (TR-15-303/c).

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Yellow flowers

I have not been doing much jewelry photographing, but I have been making pieces.  This is a the second lariat I made based on Leslie Frazier's Trumpet Flower Necklace in the Aug/Sept 2012 Beadwork  
Now I must get busy with the camera in order to show off what I have been doing since last spring. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Just back from Costa Rica

I just got back from Costa Rica.  Two other Spanish teachers and I took 17 students for a week touring Costa Rica.  No time for a full post - more later with monkeys, sloths, iguanas, hummingbirds, and volcanoes. For now I have just a bit of inspiration.  From the town of Sarchí, home to the largest ox cart in the work, here is something in a smaller size.
An ox cart from Sarchí

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Arabic motif bracelet

Apparently I didn't manage to write a blog in April.  I don't know what happened to the month.  It was here, I blinked, and it was gone.  Only the bills remain.
from a La Bella Joya pattern: Arabic Motifs

I loved the colors in Marcie's piece and had to make one myself.  Actually this is the second one I made.  The first I completed a few years ago, but I used thread that was a little too light weight and had problems with the aventurine beads breaking the thread.  For this piece I used 4 mm aquamarine and 6 lb. Fireline.  No problems.
I hoarded this aquamarine for years - it is much prettier in person

Gwen Fisher commented that she saw a similarity to the Archimedes Star in this design.  I see it too.  All the little triads and groupings of six.  I have been reading Gwen's article "Using tiling theory to generate angle weaves with beads" and am excited about thinking through angle weaves (RAW, CRAW, MRAW) in a new way.  I am a very big picture person - I like to understand how everything fits together before I start exploring details - and this article helps me wrap my mind around the weave and imagine possibilities.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Miriam's Garden

This piece is based on the Carole Horn Neptune's Garden bracelet from the December 2011 Bead & Button.  I used the size 8/0's listed in the magazine for the diagonal peyote base, rolled the edges, added three Czech floral buttons for the closure, and then went all Miriam Haskell adding beaded flowers and leaves until I had a corsage bracelet.  I think this piece went from being Neptune's Garden to Miriam's Garden.
The 8/0 peyote base is very supple even though I stitched it with 8 lb. Fireline.  It was easy to add the embellishments to the base because of the large 8/0 holes.  I tried to get a good balance between matte and shiny beads.  I even found a spot to add a pearl.
loops on the right for fastening to the three floral buttons at the far end
looking into the garden