Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Preparing pumpkin mush for cakes, muffins and pies

I know I posted details of making pumpkin mush a few years ago, here, but decided to again while pumpkin muffins were on my mind: I made a huge batch of them a few days ago, in advance of Valentine's Day. The main thing is to make use of all the pumpkins available in October (in my family we usually get two to carve for Hallowe'en and then cut them up for cooking when the festivities are over). Basically the pumpkins are cut into cubes, after removing the hard outer skin.The cubes are cooked with some water (not too much as they contain a lot of water), lemon zest, and lemon juice.


Drain the fluid when all cubes are fully cooked and softened.


Mash.


When cool measure into 400-450g bags and freeze.


I usually have about 6 or 7 bags for the freezer, which is enough to last me the whole year, making cakes and muffins and pies for special occasions. For Valentine's Day I made nearly four dozen muffins but forgot to take a picture of the muffins after I iced them. Today there are only 4 left! The muffins are light and delicious, the pumpkin mush makes them moist. The recipe I use for muffins and cake is here. One 450g bag of pumpkin mush will make 2 delicious pies, though I have not posted that recipe YET!


Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Shamrock bowls - revamped!

In 2018 I made two foliage bowls, which I was really happy with from a beautiful results point of view, but realised that I put such a huge amount of effort into their making that I wanted them to remain unique, for my own use only. Last autumn I wondered if there was a way for me to create several similar bowls that I would be happy to sell at a reasonable price. I decided that I would make the bowls using one plant and that I would make them without "feet" thereby removing the necessity to take them home in order to complete. Details of making the fern and wild rose leaf foliage bowls are here and images of those finished bowls are here. I had a pot of shamrock in bloom, so I brought it into the ceramics workshop and cut sprigs from it for my design.


I was using plastic pudding bowls (I had 3 different sizes) as formers. Each bowl need a cling-film lining and then I swirled long sprigs of shamrock inside the bowls.


The clay was wedged and rolled out into a a large slab, from which I cut random pieces, which were fitted together as I worked.


I used my fingers to press the pieces together, letting the finger dents remain as part of the interior bowl form.


From the outside, one can see how the shamrock has been embedded into the clay from the pressure of joining the pieces. The cling-film creases will also add to the final design, apparent in the glazing process.


Here are the five bowls posing with the shamrock. Normally they need to be leather-hard dry before removal from the bowls, but since I was not adding feet to the bowls I could leave them until they were totally dry and ready for firing.


I glazed all the shamrock bowls with a food-safe green, wiping the glaze on the exterior in order to allow the glaze to only be in the plant and crease areas. I liked the way the glaze worked on the interior, accentuating the finger marks, however, I thought it was a bit too pale on the outside. I did submit them to the craft fair (more pictures can be seen here) but when they returned to me, I took the opportunity to make them better bowls.


For each of the five bowls I made feet that I thought were an aesthetic improvement. I knew that once they were fired some glaze could be used as a glue and the bowls could be re-fired with their feet.


I also took the opportunity to use a darker glaze on the exterior, with not such aggressive wiping in order that the creases were more apparent as well as a stronger appearance of the shamrock. For the deeper bowls I made tall feet.


For the two shorter bowls I made feet rings that were appropriately shallow. I am quite pleased with the results.


Wednesday, 5 February 2020

A Short Walk to Fort Carré - in progress

Towards the end of my studio residency at Signal Arts Centre in 2018, I created a number of drawings based on my many visits to Antibes. The size of the drawings corresponded to the size of my lino blocks and I had the intention of returning to these images during my planned studio residency the following year, i.e., in 2019. My focus for the residency at Signal last Autumn was printmaking and bookbinding, and it was relatively easy for me to return to the Antibes drawings of the previous year. I prepared them and transferred the drawings to the lino blocks.


Each plate was carefully cut, and I decided that the connection between the images, while specific to Antibes, was more exactly descriptive of a short observational walk between the apartment where I usually stay in the South of France and Fort Carré.


The images consisted of flora en route, Vauban Harbour, and a corner of the fort itself. My end plan is to make a small edition of prints and bind them in a portfolio.


 I did a number of test prints using black ink. This enabled me to see if any additional cutting needed to be done on the lino plate.


I tried a number of colours before I decided on final tones for the series. I was delighted to be able to borrow a small printer to create the prints. I made a heavy card "window" for the lino blocks to sit in
so the press would not have to deal with the high relief of a lino block.


I have chosen the prints and decided their order of the eight images to reflect A Short Walk to Fort Carré. In the end I was not satisfied with the image of Port Vauban or a zoom shadow, so they will not be bound in this portfolio, in its edition of three.