Sunday, August 8, 2010

Challenge: Are you trying new things?

Happy sneak some zucchini on your neighbour's porch day! 

As I've decided this is my year for trying new things, I've been trying new things (including being obvious Swift!). I put out the challenge out in the middle of June to try something new, and I set out my own goals...and I haven't really updated much on that, so here it is!

A few people took on the challenge with me...Lynda set out to make soap, Kristin set out to make lotion, Laura set out to install a butcher's block in her kitchen, and Madeaj wanted to try shampoo and conditioners! How're you all doing?

Silkscreening! We tried this and it was an epic fail. But we learned what not to do, so we're trying it again this weekend. We put too much emulsion on the screen and it wouldn't wash out. This time - less emulsion and less time in between putting the emulsion on the screen and burning the image.

Stencilling! So I moved on to making more elaborate stencils, like the cupcake one to the right. I'm so happy with them! I made Raymond one that looks like a Nintendo controller, and I finally have a purple baby Dalek shirt (above), a black atomic shirt, and a pink flying monkey shirt! Our summer wardrobe is complete! Next up? A library book bag with a really cool stack of books type stencil. (If you're interested in knowing more about stencilling with freezer paper - unbelievably inexpensive - click here!)

Resin casting jewellery! I bought a kit while on holiday at Rings & Things in Spokane, and I'm loving this! My first experiments were with putting pictures into bezels and pouring resin over them. I put glue on the pictures (scrapbook paper), cut them out, then placed them in the bezel before pouring in the Easy Cast resin. I am very pleased with them, although I should have glued down the picture in some way as they did float a little bit. I didn't have any bubbles in them, although there was a little spill over. (It's a lot like pouring lip balm - you're trying to get that awesome bubble effect but if you add one more drop, it'll break the surface tension and it oozes over the sides!)

I forgot to buy some molds, so I decided to make my own. I read you weren't supposed to use silicone ice cube trays without the conditioner, but I guess that slipped my mind when I made these adorable yellow flowers. It worked just fine. And I drilled the hole with the infamous hair-hating Dremel (without accidents!) I would really love to have a smaller drill, but the kit and the collar are about $40 and that's not in my budget right now.

If you want to use a silicone ice cube tray, make sure it's a good one from a kitchen store or Ikea. The dollar store ones aren't really silicone and they take forever to remove!

So I made my own molds from Amazing Mold Putty (or a name like that). I tried making molds of a few different dice (did I mention I was a Dungeons & Dragons geek?) but only the 4 sided die looked good. So I bought a few adorable erasers from Otion (we made a pilgrimage last week) and made molds out of those as well as a gummy bears. This is an ice cream. I can't show you the finished results because apparently mixing blue and yellow makes sludge, and the bead turned out horribly. But I'm trying it again with another colour later this morning. The gummy bears were successful, but I don't have pictures of them as I've taken them to my local beading store to convince the owner to get some resin casting stuff in stock! I'll take pictures of them when they come home.

If you're interested in learning about resin casting, check out this section at Rings & Things and download the tip sheet! Definitely order a mold - I didn't and I'm pressuring my best friend to add to my order from because I need some soon! (I want those lime green hair clips and I don't even wear hair clips!) And stock up on bezels - once you've started, 10 isn't enough!

Sausage making! We have the kit, we have the meat, so we need to get down to Langley to get the casings. We've been grinding meat, looking at recipes, trying spice blends - I think I've perfected my English banger spice mix - so we've set a date of August 21st for sausage making day!

Jamming! I think we had too much liquid in our strawberry jams - the processed and freezer jam pectin ones turned out great but the ones we made using lemon juice are syrups. So we're going to try re-doing those with pectin and see what happens. Plus, blueberries are in season - my favourite-est fruit of all time! - so I want to make some jams out of that. Then pickling season is upon us - cucumbers, green beans, asparagus, and garlic! Yum! We're hoping August 21st or August 22nd will be the jamming date, but it depends on how the sausage making goes!

Playing with new ingredients! You can see I've been loving my esters - in fact, there's a whole series coming up on them - and I'm having fun making anhydrous products again. I'm working on a foaming bath butter recipe - so far the winner appears to be a variation on the cream cleanser for dry skin - and I'm hoping to get to deodorant sticks later this week as I have some Tinosan and Ordenone that are crying out to be used in this application. (How could you resist a Clementine Cupcake scented deodorant?)

And finally, before the end of next week (that would be around the 20th) I will try making the Shower Jelly dupe from ages ago! For some reason, the carageenan has me a little worried, but the worst that happens is I get a gooey mess. I had a gooey mess before, so it's not like I haven't experienced that yet!

And I've been organizing. I'm very disorganized - very might be too mild a word - and I want to clear out my formulating binders and start again. I want one for the standard recipes I use and love, and one for my trying out new things stuff. Each page has to go into a paper protector so I can write on it with a grease pencil as I go. I'm planning to do this today while I veg and watch some TV.

An aside on TV: Have you seen "Sherlock" yet (UK, BBC)? It's excellent! I just finished watching "Modern Family" again - if you miss Arrested Development, this is a good substitute - and "Big Bang Theory", all three seasons! But I'm waiting for Tuesday as we finally get the DVD set of Max Headroom! I've been waiting forever for this - I had it on videotape, but my player is broken! And, of course, there's always the Simpsons! I swear season 21 is the funniest one in recent memory! 

So what have you been doing this summer? Have you set yourself a challenge? Did you try it? What haven't you tried that you'd like to try! Why are you not trying it? Let's get rid of all those annoying fears and worries and make a successful mess!


Soap By The Slice said...

I tried making a cream a week or so ago. It was Gaaaawgus!! (Gorgeous!) I loved making it, but I want to try it again, but make it much thicker. Also, I want to try making a gel. Should be fun.
But will all have to wait a few weeks until we've moved though.69

Madeaj said...

No I didn't get to the shampoos and conditioners. But I did get to make some balm for my dad's itchy scar skin and lotion bars for his wife.

I made lotion bars for me and a nail oil. That was fun. I just couldn't get the time to make the shampoo and conditioner. My next goal is to make some facial products but I waiting to read the posts on esters. I set the goal for September. In the meantime, I'll probably make some body butters for the fall and a nice scrubby lotion bar for a mechanic friend.


kontakt said...

Darn. I wrote a long comment, then something went wrong and I lost it.

I didn't really accept your challenge I guess. But, I think I am getting over my fears of sewing. I used to be so careful and it took forever, then one simple mistake killed my courage. Now I do simple things quick, and it works. I changed the shoulder straps of a dress I bought so they wouldn't keep falling off my shoulders (they always do that, in all dresses) arranging them in a fun way, and accidently twisted one of them before sewing it back. Oh well. "If I bought it and it was like that, I would probably have used it anyway". After a week I changed it. It was very easy (although removing stitches is never exactly fun) because I wasn't irritated doing it.

Mich said...

YES! I didn't reply to the challenge post because my challenges sort of found me, rather than my choosing them!

Anyway, we needed to replace our deck and we saved over $3,000 doing it ourselves. In the meantime, I learned to be the master of three power tools that used to intimidate me: the circular saw, the saber saw, and the router. It turned out great!

Then my daughter decided that she needed a better desk. Even the fiberboard junk started at $100--bummer. On a whim, I went to the thrift shop and found one for $7.49. Most of it is beautiful real wood--but it required MAJOR cleanup/restoration. But the choices of various finishes--lacquer, varnish, oils, polyurethane, etc. always overwhelmed me! I studied up, got it straight, and my daughter now has a gorgeous oak desk. And now I think I can tackle some other items around here that need to be revived.

Also made some jewelry using some techniques I hadn't tried before, but my next "hurdle" there is soldering with a torch instead of an iron. I'm afraid of flame, so that oughta be interesting.

Made some good (and not so good) fragrance oil blends, have tons more combos in my brain to try!
My kids have fried their hair with chlorine and sun, so I have to tweak my favorite conditioner recipe because their hair types are total opposites. Still working on making the perfect blush shade and there's always the quest for the perfect lipstick color...

Lynda said...

Susan, I finally made my OO soap yesterday! I've made others but never with 90% OO. Anyway, it turned out great and even made it without hubby stirring the lye! Can't wait to use it in a month or so.