Thursday, September 13, 2012

Making A 3D Papier Mache Animal Sculpture: Part 1

It seems for an art and crafty blog, my programming has been more eating and pets lately so I am going to try and get some art stuff back into the mix!

I've been asked by a friend to make a large, 3D sculpture of an animal in the Chinese zodiac to be carried in a boat parade during the opening of the new Chinese Reconciliation Park here in Tacoma.  About half the animals were already taken so I chose dog from what was left over.  It seemed appropriate to my life right now.  They need to be about 4 feet tall/wide and light weight enough to carry on a dragon boat.  I have no idea how they are actually going to be used.  I will find out on September 29th!

First, I started by researching the Chinese Zodiac and printing out some dog examples.  (see above)  I decided I didn't want the Pomeranian style dog so I went with a little more stereotypical, yet stylized, dog.  But he's a happy dog.

I drew him on a one inch scale and then roughly transferred him to a one foot scale on cardboard.  My friend Kim is also working on this project and she gets giant heavy duty bike boxes from her husband's work.  Handy. 

I cut out 2 body silhouettes because a) it's supposed to  be 3-D and b) we need to have a tube in his body for a stick to hold them to go inside.  The one at the front of his body is just to balance it out.  I bought a long piece of plumbing pipe at the hardware store and then just cut them to size with a hack saw.  I used heavy duty adhesive to glue the pipes to the cardboard and taped them down to hold them in place while drying. 

Next, I applied glue to the tops of the pipes and set the top cardboard down and weighted it with books. 

Good to know my art history textbook from college still has its uses!  The tail is not glued in yet, I just set it there for looks. 
Next part I will be attaching the legs and tail and then bulking up the body to make it 3-D.  It's fun to do these big arty community projects. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bristle Bone: Best Dog Toy Ever?

I guess it is a dog posting sort of day because after showing you that video of Oskar, I want to show you his favorite toy.  This may be the best dog toy I have ever seen; it entertains, stops them from chewing on things they should not be chewing on, and cleans their teeth at the same time! 

OK, the above photo of the "Bristle Bone" looks very pretty but look at it after hard use for just a week! Note the left rawhide ring has been completely eaten away.  They come in four sizes so you can get the perfect size for Fluffy or Spot.

I paid about $16 for it at our local fancy pet store but just discovered it's only $10 and covered by Prime on Amazon.   So when we need a new one, I will probably get it there to save a whopping $6.

You also have to buy these replacement rings.   

The whole toy unscrews so you can put new rings on.  Some reviewers on Amazon noted their dogs were able to unscrew the toy but we have not had that problem yet.  I figure when the plastic screw eventually strips out, it is time to buy a new toy.  That is one important lesson I have learned about having a dog.  I thought you just bought toys and that was that.  No, it turns out our dog relishes destroying toys.  Better the toys than our furniture!

Replaced ring in toy and ready for action!

No time like the present! 

He loves to jump onto his bed and work away on his toy.  
Who ever thought of this is a genius! 

Corgi Video, Can't Help Myself

We just upgraded our phones to Samsung Galaxy 3s, which I am still trying to figure out all the bells and whistles for, but I learned this morning that they take great video!  Oskar loves Vincent and they play all the time.  Vincent is pretty patient with him most of the time and only starts to hiss after about 15 minutes or so of Corgi madness.  The camera is shaking at the end because I am laughing so hard.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

38 Things: Make Ravioli From Scratch

 Every time I look at my list of 38 Things I Want to do Before I Turn 39, I am most smitten with the cooking and food items.  Maybe I need my own list of food related desires separate from my artsy and home ones?   Last year's list had Make Pasta From Scratch; this year I upped the ante and decided to make ravioli from scratch. 

Ravioli is intimidating.  You have to prepare the filling.  Then you make the pasta.  Then you have to make the raviolis themselves.  Then you have to cook them and figure out some sort of sauce.  It took about 3 hours from start to finish to make dinner. But that included green beans gratin and an arugula salad too.

I actually enjoy all of these monotonous steps.  Prepping: cleaning, chopping, and organizing is one of my favorite parts about cooking.

I made my filling out of shitake and crimini mushrooms plus shallots, garlic, sage, parsley, and rosemary and sauteed it in a blend of olive oil and butter.   Once it cooled I pureed everything in the food processor and set it aside. 

Next up was the pasta itself.  I had 4 different resources out: Ethan Stowell's New Italian Kitchen,  Tom Douglas' Seattle Kitchen, Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, and the manual that came with the pasta machine.  I tried both Tom and Mark's egg dough and in the end, Mark's won hands down.  It had 2 whole eggs plus 3 yolks and had a lovely golden color.  Bonus it was easy to work with.  But Tom and Ethan both had nice instructions and photos for making raviolis. The pasta machine manual was extremely helpful in rolling directions.  It's very easy to make the dough: blend all the ingredients in the food processor until it forms a dough, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Then scrape out onto your floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes until dough stiffens.  Cover and let rest 30 minutes.  Then proceed with making your noodles or what have you. 

We found that it was best to work in an assembly line.  Trevor managed rolled out the dough and then I made the raviolis.  Each time you put it through the rollers you have to fold it over and roll it again to really blend the dough.  Then you slowly turn down the thickness of the rollers as you go.  We needed it pretty thin for ravioli.  

The machine cranks out dough about 5 inches wide which is perfect for folding over into ravioli.

I set out little scoops of the mushroom filling onto the dough.  Then with a pastry brush I used water to wet the dough, folded it over and pressed out the air bubbles.  The recipes were very strict about pressing out all the air bubbles but I know I didn't do the best job of it and the ravioli came out great anyways.  

Finally, I used a fluted cutter to cut out the ravioli and then I placed them on parchment paper with a light dusting of flour.  
I lightly boiled them in small batches for about 3 minutes.  When they float to the surface, you know they are done.  I tossed them with an olive oil and garlic sauce and then we dug in!

I think everyone should try making pasta from scratch at least once.  It tastes far, far superior to anything that comes in a box, including the "fresh" pastas you find in the refrigerated section.  And if you are just making linguine, it takes about 1/3rd the time of making ravioli!