Screen Printing and the Breeding of Future Fandoms

Hiya!

Full Derp 1

We’ve been honing our screen printing technique these past few weeks, so I thought I’d show you all some of our newest creations.

Here are some onesies I bought at Old Navy and printed up for Krystopf and Atlas’s baby boy who is due in October.

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Krystopf really liked my giant squid so I figured I could make him and his future son matchy-matchy shirts.  And babies are grabby.  Squids are grabby.  Same difference.

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And babies bite and have short useless arms.  And Tyrannosauruses bite and have short useless arms.  They’re pretty much the same thing, right?  RIGHT?

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And we’ve recently found out that Rusty and his girlfriend are expecting in the new year so I figured I’d get ahead of the game and rustled up these two.  Rusty (like most people I know) is a huge fan of the ill-fated Joss Whedon show Firefly, so I figured any kid of his would end up being a fan, too.

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I think both of these quotations are super appropriate for babies.  This one is inspirational (in a way): “I am a leaf on the wind, watch how I soar.”  We don’t want to talk about what happens after Wash said that.  We’re just not gonna talk about it.

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But don’t you love how I got the name printed on the pocket like a wee badge!  SO CUTE!  I had to do that separately and so it was like the world’s smallest screen print!  Actually, the MAL (for Malcolm Reynolds) on the one below was even shorter so TECHNICALLY …

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And everyone knows that most kids are secretly saying, “I aim to misbehave.”  I was trying for a rich brown here (because that’s kind of the colour of Firefly) but it sank in a bit too much to the fabric here and didn’t show as much as I wanted.  But that’s okay.  It means I can keep on making more until I get it right!

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Oh and here is one that the Pie made.  This was our first double-colour overlay, and it didn’t come out as clear as we’d wanted because our screen was getting old and was a bit on the loose side.  But it was a good first attempt.  And it is a spoof on Capcom, but I don’t really understand the reference.  You’d have to ask the Pie.  He seems to think it’s really funny.

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VERSUS: Two Ways to Bust Open a Pomegranate

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Somewhere in the world it is pomegranate season.  I know this because for once, the shiny red fruit arriving in our St. John’s stores is lustrous and blemish-free.  So they’re raring to go.  Plus, instead of spending $6-$7 per fruit, I’m only spending $3.  That’s still a lot, but you know, it’s Newfoundland.  I’ve long since stopped being concerned about saving money on produce.  Just ain’t gonna happen.

Especially when you consider how awesomely good a pomegranate is.  I used to love picking them apart as a kid.  I appreciate food you have to work for, like artichokes.  I think my mother loved them too because it kept me quiet and occupied for long periods of time, though it was quite messy.  Small price to pay I suppose.

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As far as I know, there are two decent ways to get all those juicy seeds out of a pomegranate.  There is the official, POM-certified method (which has its own brochure, situated neatly above the pomegranate bins at the grocery store), and then there’s the way that we all learned recently from the internet, which I call the SMASHY method.  I bought two pomegranates the other day so I thought I would test both methods at the same time and tell you which one I liked the best.  It’s a battle!

The Smashy Method:

This is the most fun I think of the two methods.  First, you pare off the top and bottom of the pomegranate.

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Then you score the skin around in a circle.

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And carefully pry it apart into two pieces.

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Set the fruit cut side down on your palm over a bowl, and make a little loose cup out of your fingers so the fruit can fall through.  Then you take a giant spoon, and you start smacking the skin of that pomegranate half.  I mean you can really go to town, smacking it all over.

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And the fruit will start to fall between your fingers into the bowl.

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And the skin will start to crack.  Keep going.  Beat the crap out of that thing.

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Of course there will be casualties.  Some seeds may fly elsewhere. Fortunately our canine vacuum is a fan of any form of fruit that may fall on his floor.

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But it’s quite effective in getting most of the stuff out.

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It does tend to leave some large chunks of pith in your bowl.

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Not to mention splatters of pomegranate juice in places  you’d rather it wasn’t.

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The Official Method:

Chop off the top and bottom and score and pry apart, just like last time.

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Submerge your fruit in a bowl of water and gently pull off the seeds.

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This may take a while.

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But note how the pith just floats to the top.  You can scoop it out with a slotted spoon or your fingers.  I ended up dumping the fruits of my labour (hahaha) with the other method into the water bowl as well, to get rid of the extra pith.

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Then you just pour it all into a strainer to drain and you’re good to go.

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VERDICT: While the “official” method was tidier, it took a lot longer (and didn’t involve hitting things with a spoon).  If there were ways to combine the two methods (smacking it with a spoon while under water) then I’d be completely sold.  Until someone comes up with a method like that, I’m just going to sit here and eat these.

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Quick Cushion Cover

Quick Cushion Cover

My mother made the Pie a cushion a few years ago out of a lovely soft brown corduroy, and he uses it to prop himself up whenever he’s reading in bed.  My mother DID NOT make me a cushion, so you can see who the favourite is right there.
Quick Cushion Cover

She did, however, give me this utterly fantastic fabric remnant as part of my birthday present.  Isn’t it ridiculously awesome?

Quick Cushion Cover

I wanted a bed cushion of my own, and I thought this fabric would do the trick.  It’s almost exactly the right size, after all.

Quick Cushion Cover

And if I just overlap the back part, like so, then I won’t need to add any fasteners. And using the selvages as my open edges means that I don’t have to hem anything either. I love selvage.

Quick Cushion Cover

After cutting the fabric to fit more closely on the sides, I pinned it in place on top of my cushion to line everything up.  I then removed the cushion and added some more pins to keep things in place.

Quick Cushion Cover

A simple seam, reinforced, will do the trick.

Quick Cushion Cover

Then you turn it right side out again.

Quick Cushion Cover

And add another seam, just for security.

Quick Cushion Cover

And then you stuff the cushion back in.  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.  The whole thing took about fifteen minutes.

Quick Cushion Cover

The pillow of course clashes horribly with our wedding quilt but I don’t really care.  I now have my own cushion, and it’s bigger than his.  Nyah, nyah, nyah.

Quick Cushion Cover

Practical Alcoholism: Cutting Glass Bottles

Cutting Glass

This was actually a project that Cait came up with as a guest post eons ago.  Obviously, she took too long to do it, I got impatient, and now I’m going to go ahead and do it myself.  Because that’s what I do.  I do it myself.  It’s kind of the point of this here blog.

The City of St. John’s has just this past year instituted a city-wide curbside recycling program.  Yes, we are about twenty years behind the times on this one, but we’re making progress.  What the city does not recycle, however, is glass.  I’m not entirely sure I understand why, but that’s the way it is.  We previously employed a private recycling plant that would take absolutely everything, including glass, but they of course disappeared once recycling became free.  As a result we’ve now started tailoring our grocery shopping to buying items that come in cans and plastic containers, rather than glass.  But some of that stuff sticks around.  I re-use glass jars as much as I can, especially when it comes to the contents of my spice cabinet.  Even so, we still have a lot of glass that goes in the garbage.  And let me tell you, for a girl who has spent the last 25 years of her life recycling, it feels some weird, b’y, to chuck glass in the trash.

Light Box Tests

So how can we re-use it some more?  You can only deal with so many spare bottles and jars lying around.  Their function is practical but limited.  So let’s create some other sorts of vessels from these things by learning to cut glass.

I purchased Ephrem’s Deluxe Bottle Cutting Kit from Artistry In Glass, based in London, Ontario, for you Canadian shoppers.

Cutting Glass

This kit has been around, pretty much unaltered, since the seventies.  In fact I don’t think they’ve ever bothered to change the photographs in the little projects book that comes with it.  But why mess with something that works so well, right?

Cutting Glass

You need some glass for this project.  Anything that is round, really, with smooth sides will work for you.  Bottles, jars.  You name it.  The reason I bought the “deluxe” kit as opposed to the regular kit is because it comes with an adapter so you can work on the curved parts of bottle necks and stuff, instead of just the straight sides. But I haven’t gotten to that skill level yet.

In any case, you’ll need to clean and dry your glass thoroughly first.  This means soaking off the labels and rinsing the containers out well.  If you can’t get some of the glue off the glass, try peanut butter.  It works really well, I promise.

Cutting Glass

So now I’m all set.  With my little kit at the ready, I wanted to make sure I did this right.

I watched the video about how to do it the way the cutting kit company tells you to in the instructions, with a candle and an ice cube.

And then I watched another video about a slightly easier and more efficient way to do it with boiling and cold water.  I will show you both.

This is the result of my first attempt to cut beer bottles.  As you can see, it’s not perfect, but it’s not bad, either.  I needed more practice.  You are not going to succeed at this on your first try either, so make sure you have lots of practice glass around before you start getting into the stuff you actually want to use.

Cutting Glass

Beer bottles are the best to practice on, because generally beer is cheaper than the more expensive wines that come in the nice bottles.  Plus you can get several tries in if you buy a six-pack.  The other bonus of practicing on beer bottles is beer glass is thinner and more prone to shattering (unlike jars of preserves, beer is cold-canned, and the bottles are not designed for temperature shock).  So because the bottles break easier, you have to be more careful in your practice.

Light Box Tests

Scoring the Glass:

So this is how you do it.

The kit has all sorts of knobs and screws that you need to adjust first so the cutter is perpendicular to the cutting surface.  This is important. Follow the directions and diagrams in the kit carefully.

Cutting Glass

Now, exerting firm, even pressure (you don’t have to press very hard either) and without stopping, roll the bottle or jar under your hands.  You will hear the cutter making horrible gravelly noises as you do this.  It is scoring the glass.  Keep going all the way around, until you hear a distinct click.  This is you hitting your original score mark.  Now you can stop.  Don’t score over the same spot twice.

Cutting Glass

If you don’t hit your original score mark, then you’ve messed up that particular cut.  I do this often.  I guess the pressure from my hands is uneven or something so the cutter and the bottle don’t stay where they are supposed to.  This is where the practice comes in. Also make sure all your screws are tightened all the way so stuff doesn’t shift.

Once you’ve got your cut, you can start shocking the glass.  We want to do this slowly and evenly.

Water Shocking Method:

I put a towel in the bottom of my sink, just to provide a bit of a cushion should some glass happen to drop. It will also catch the hundreds of tiny flakes of glass that fall off your bottles, so make sure to wash it thoroughly afterwards.

Cutting Glass

I have one jug of water in the fridge, the other boiling away on the stove.

Starting with boiling water, slowly pour a small stream over your score mark.  Turn the bottle so you get all sides of it.  Keep going until you can feel the bottle warm in your hands.

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Now, pour on the cold water in the same way.  You’ll start to hear some cracking — that’s the glass breaking along its score line.

Cutting Glass

Keep going, alternating boiling and cold water.  There will be more cracking.  Don’t try to force the two parts of your bottle apart.  If they’re going to come apart they will do so on their own.  Just keep alternating your water and it will eventually happen.

You can see here how I etched lines in parallel rings on this jar.

Cutting Glass

And then this is how it fell apart.

Cutting Glass

They didn’t fall apart completely evenly, but as I was only seeing if cutting multiple lines at once was even possible (as the book and the ‘net both tell you to do them one at a time), I wasn’t paying that much attention to my scoring.

Cutting Glass

Fire and Ice Method:

Cutting Glass

For argument’s sake, I also did the candle method as espoused by the kit itself.

Cutting Glass

Carefully hold the bottle just above a candle flame, so the flame nearly touches your score mark.  Rotate the bottle slowly to evenly heat all the way around.

Cutting Glass

When the bottle is heated, take an ice cube to the score lines and rub it all the way around.

Cutting Glass

You will find that you have to do more repetitions for this method, but it’s slightly more accurate.  Because the bottle is more gently treated your cuts will open straighter more times than not.

Cutting Glass

Of course, if you’re cutting rings, like I was here, the fire and ice method is very slow, as you have to do each ring individually.  The water shock method is much better for cutting rings, but I would use the fire and ice method for the lips of drinking glasses and the like, where a completely straight edge is important.

Cutting Glass

Finishing:

When you have finally achieved an edge on glass that you like, you will need to grind down the edges, because this is broken glass — it’s super sharp.

The kit comes with this silicon carbide powder, which you can pour on a sheet of glass that you don’t need to use for anything else, add a drop of water, and rub away until all the sharp edges on the glass are gone.

Cutting Glass

It’s a little messy though.  I prefer emery cloth, which is basically fine sandpaper, just the silicon carbide powder is glued to a sheet of paper.  You can still add a few drops of water to it (this keeps the glass dust down), and grind away!

Cutting Glass

Make sure to get the inside edges as well as the outside edge.

Cutting Glass

You can always dip a small piece of paper in water and sand down the inside by hand.

Cutting Glass

So my first successful efforts of today produced this lovely wee glass.

Cutting Glass

Which I filled with juice.  And which I plan to later etch and give to someone.

Cutting Glass

And these rings, which I will be making into another gift for someone else.  They’re not perfect, but they’re not bad.

Cutting Glass

Stay tuned for some gift ideas and things you can do with your upcycled cut-glass projects!

Cutting Glass

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