Wednesday, May 25, 2011

DIY Dye class at Stitch Lab with Kathleen McTee!

Oh my goodness, this was so much fun. I can't believe I've never been to Stitch Lab before. It's fabricky-crafty paradise with tons of classes taught by only the coolest teachers Austin has to offer. This class caught my eye and the time seemed ripe. As you can imagine, it was Quite Awesome.Our teacher was the fabulous Kathleen McTee who was Really funny and Really knowledgeable. My gosh, did you know that you can use liquid dishwashing detergent as a dandy little bleaching agent on fabric?? So you can print with it, do all sorts of cool things with it. Lindsey, I can imagine you having a field day with that one!

ALSO, my gosh, did you know that soy wax actually washes out of fabric in the washing machine? So you can do batik or just any sort of cool print-making with the wax and then wash it right out. Not so with paraffin wax ...
She showed us how to make prints, roll it over textured surfaces (like neat-though-tacky plasticky doily placemats), and even screenprint with thickened dye.
Pause to breathe heavily over the rolls and rolls of deliriously beautiful fabric.....
After she had introduced all the techniques she just let us loose for about two hours to do as we pleased... it felt like someone had set up a crafty playground for us and our only job was to overcome our inhibitions and PLAY. My gosh, I think I will, thank you very much!

It was all in the name of experimentation so I'm not too attached to my outcomes, but I do really like the one where I rolled the dye over a wood-grain texture, and I like the turquoise blue one where I used Kat's beautiful screen she had made with a beautiful Indian mandala. And my eyes are opened to a wealth of possibilities... I'm really excited to do more.
All told a major hit. I can't wait to go back. Kat has a screenprinting crash course one-time class going on this Sunday... I'm going to be out of town or else I'd go. Looking forward to more time on the playground....

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Camping... with NO KIDS. What???

One of my goals this year was to start a really solid women's group and to keep it going. I'm really excited because I think I discovered the key to really keeping it going... delegate some of the responsibilities. Some wonderful superwoman stepped up to do the organizational stuff and keep everything flowing, SO excited about that. I just want us to meet once a month (at Amala Foundation!) and go on two camping trips (mamas only!) a year.

This was our first camping trip. OH man, let me tell you, it was so hard to go. I wanted to cancel it so badly. So many reasons not to go through with it... but I am SO glad we persevered. It was glorious. Check out the gloriosity that is Krause Springs:
I snagged these beautiful photos off the internet... didn't have my camera with me when we were down carousing in the glorious springs.

Doing Best Year Yet by lantern-light....
My own little cocoon of aloneness and quiet... I just can't tell you how wonderful that felt to have all to myself after 7 years of clamorous din.
Raini cooked the most amazing food... fresh mozz and homegrown tomates, and MUSSELS!!!

More delicious snacks and breakfasts... we treated ourselves well.
I tell ya, it is one thing to get out of the house for a few hours of mama restitude, and quite another to take yourself out for a whole weekend of Glory Hallelujah quiet, communion, and deep relaxation.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Go-carts in tinkering class!

Glory hallelujah! Go-carts were made and successfully zoomed this week in tinkering class! Oh, the steering mechanisms, the brakes even, that these kids figured out by-and-large on their own... (OK, some gentle nudges applied at times, but barely...).. driving it home more, more, more that I love the tinkering style best of all. Yes, they would have learned a lot if we had built a go-cart from a template or set of instructions, but dang! They designed and built these puppies mostly on their own at their tender ages... quite a fine formative experience, I'd say.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Learning about wasps and bees with Dr. Hook!

Dr. Alan Hook works at St. Edwards University and he offered to take us over to the Blunn Creek Nature Preserve and talk to us about wasps (his speciality) and other insects. We said Sure!
On his way walking over to meet us, he saw two carpenter bees and he captured them in these little containers so we could hold and observe them. How often do you get to get up close and personal with a bee? These ones were big, fat and black. Under other circumstances we might find them a little unnerving.
Yoli said you could feel the container vibrating when they were buzzing inside.
We found some oak leaves that were chockablock with gall wasps. Fun fact: did you know that Kinsey specialized in gall wasps before he went on to his more well-known work as a sexologist?
Checking out two bees in a cactus flower.

He found some cochineal, which is a tiny bug that nests and lives on cacti. It has been used as a red dye throughout the ages, and until very recently it was used as a red dye for sodas and juices. It is still used to color the soda Big Red! Gives new meaning to the term 'bug juice', eh....
You can see how he's crushing one and it's just filled to the brim with bright red juice. So wierdly gross and amazing! If you ever want a natural red dye you can find it around here in cactus patches by the thousands.

Texas used to be under one giant sea oh, 40 million years ago or so, and the hill which we hiked up used to be an adorable little volcano.
This little boy Henry was so excited that he discovered a bug for Dr. Hook to identify. These are some leaf-footed insects that sand wasps like to feed on.
Dr. Hook specializes in solitary wasps. They have homes in the ground by themselves rather than in nests with others. Obviously, solitary wasps are a lot less likely to give you trouble than those in a nest... you won't get attacked by angry hordes defending the nest.
They were doing a crackerjack job of getting rid of loads of invasive species of trees down in the nature preserve. This is stacks and stacks of privet. I want that wood so bad! I'm salivating to do another lashing event. And when I was in Northern California at Gever's house, we did some lashing with a whole bunch of eucalyptus trunks, which are an invasive species there and are incredibly long, straight and strong. Building with 15 foot trunks rather than four foot long sticks makes it possible to achieve incredible height and strength of a lashed structure in almost no time at all. I'm itchin' to make a real Swiss Family Robinson mansion of a treehouse. Who's with me?? I need some help hauling out this wood.
Another great morning with the Creek class thanks to Dr. Hook (who told us we could call him Dr. Hook, Mr. Hook, Captain Hook, or Fish Hook).

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Gee, thanks!

It says, "I think you are the best cook in the world. And I think you are better than Gaver Tolly at tinkering. HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY MOM! Love Jack."

Just one man's opinion, I certainly hope this won't offend Gever :)

Friday, May 6, 2011

A glorious walk to the river with Ginger Webb!

Another one of our Kids in the Creek classes.... a perfect morning! I introduced the group to one of my favorite, favorite, most amazing spots... my kids call it Little Downy River and someone just told me that it's known to others as Hidden Beach. The secret is out... it's at Roy G. Guerrero Park... take the main trail (ignore the 'Trail Closed' sign) and hang a right about a 1/4 mile down the way... you'll see a smaller but very clear path that veers off down towards the river. As you can see, it is an AMAZING place... I always say that it feels exactly like the seashore, and yet it's only about a 10 minute drive from my house. Such a treasure.

And the cherry on top was meeting the amazing Ginger Webb of Texas Medicinals for the walk down to the river! She knows everything oh everything about plants, especially the native plants of this region. Even lots of plants that you'd never find in books, because they're too common or they're only photographed when in bloom (but look totally different in other stages of life).
I think she really granted us a terrific gift... to feel that the plants around us are friendly, and have much to offer if we look closely and learn their secrets.

And the kids will never forget that these delicious Oxalis pickles are nature's own fast food... available almost anywhere, any time, and totally tasty and fresh... they loved them.

THANKS Ginger! You're the best!