Saturday, April 23, 2016

Carbonized Tofu

It's been a while since I've done one of my potion bottles.  This beautiful little nugget has been in my collection for years.  Yes, this is a genuine piece of tofu, made with real soybeans, forged in the fires of Mount Doom or maybe somewhere close to that.  It's charcoaled appearance is in no way reflective of my culinary skills, and has everything to do with the commitment that the folks at Genuine Artifacts take towards the authenticity of all their products. 
The Genuine Artifacts home office is in Yalgoo, Australia.  According to, "Typically there is some confusion over the origin of the town’s name with some sources claiming that it is derived from an Aboriginal word yalguru meaning blood, thus suggesting that the area was connected with initiation rites. Other sources, however, suggest that the name comes from Eyalgru meaning bloodwood."

The inside of the card reads: Carbonized Tofu, Rare gem excavated from the tomb of vegetarian voodoo priestess, Mambo Kiskeya, who performed all her sacrifices using the blood of turnips, whole grains and virgin tofu.

While I do have a lot of fun with voodoo stereotypes,
I thought I would include this interview to create balance. 
Here's a blank label if you'd like to make your own Genuine Artifacts.  I glue the labels to cereal box cardboard for structure, but any thick cardstock will do.  

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Star Flower - Palm Weaving

During my recent jaunt into palm weaving I saw exactly two pictures of this pretty star flower thingy here and here, but no instructions on how to do it or even what it's called.  I searched on variations of star, flower, pinwheel, palm, ribbon, and paper weaving to no avail. Did I miss anything? 

I did find what's called a Matariki Star and a Moravian Star, which I also found referred to as a Froebel Star. They have a very different look from the flower thingy, but structurally they have a lot in common, especially the triangle twisted points.

I also found lots of instructions for palm roses of which there seems to be two basic methods.  One starts by creating the outside of the rose working towards the center and the other starts with the center working outwards.  I think the latter is the prettier of the two, although my opinion is questionable.  I prefer roses Morticia Addams style or not at all.  This video uses a wider leaf but I like the way the end of the leaf is used to tie it off.  This video is a little grainy but shows it with a thinner palm leaf and ties it off using string. 

Since I couldn't find what I wanted, I figured it out myself or at least I figured out how to make something that looks like what I wanted.  Either way it works for me. 

To start you will need four strips of palm.  I've found a width of 5/8 inches or 15cm to work the best.  If it's too thin it's hard to keep the points tucked.  Maybe with more practice this won't be a problem? Too thick and well, we'll get to that. For instructional purposes my palm strips are an inch wide. It was just easier to keep things in place while taking pictures. Remember palm leaves can be refrigerated in a ziplock bag with a moist paper towel to keep them soft and pliable if you are not going to use them right away.

I've also included some pictures using ribbon in hopes that the different colors might help with explaining things, but ribbons are a great choice for this if you just like pretty colors.  I used 1/4 inch width curling ribbon. I think wired fabric ribbon would also work, but I can't guarantee it since I haven't tried.  You need something stiff enough to hold form. 

Take a palm leaf, open it up and split it into two pieces.  Remove the hard outside edges. Save those in a plastic bag for later.  If your palms are wide enough, you can get away with splitting each piece in half, otherwise you may need another leaf. 

You want four pieces total, close to the same width.Trim the tips a little this will make the weaving easier. 

Stack the pieces of palm and wrap them together with wire. Here the ribbon is easier as you can twist it together and wrap it really tight. For future reference the colors are; dark pink, light pink, dark purple and light purple.  I know, not the most contrasting colors I could've picked, but they all came together on one spool. 

This flower or star or whatever you want to call it, is built from the bottom or the backside.  To start we are going to make a box.  Spread the palms/ribbons out in a cross with the wired end sticking up.  Pick one side (dark pink) and bring it down over the next (dark purple).

Bring the one we just crossed (dark purple) over both the first one (dark pink) and the next (light purple).

Same thing, bring the one we just crossed (light purple) over both the last one (dark purple) and the next (light pink).

Again, bring the one we just crossed (light pink) over both the last one (light purple) and the next, which is also the one we started with (dark pink).

Then tighten each side to make a little box.  Here's where I ran into trouble with the palm being so wide. You can see it's more of a rectangle and if I made it a square the box would be way too loose.

You can see this isn't a problem with the ribbon or this palm flower using 1/2 inch wide strips.  


So I trimmed the end as much as I could and tightened the box over the end instead of around it. 

This is the front view with the rectangular box on the left and with the squarer box after trimming. 

Here's the back again and we'll start to make the points.  With the ribbon it helps to crease each fold, with the palm keep it pinched as you go.  This next bit is just like those stars I mentioned earlier. Here I started with the dark pink ribbon again, folding it over to the left.

Then fold it back and down, making a triangle  But not a super pointy triangle, you need to give yourself enough room to do the next fold.  

Fold the triangle in half, under itself.  For the next step it really helps to keep that triangle pinched together.

This is also where things deviated from those other stars, instead of inserting the end of the ribbon through the loop directly below the triangle, we are going to go through the loop diagonally across. In the ribbon picture the dark pink ribbon is going through the loop created by the light pink ribbon.

Here is what it looks like from the front.

 Working counter-clockwise, fold the next strand into a triangle and...

...slide the end through the loop diagonally across.  In the case of the ribbons the dark purple has been folded and slid through the dark pink loop. 

Still working counter-clockwise fold the next strip.  There are two strips coming out of the same spot.  The one on top is from the first point (dark pink), it's the one on the bottom (light purple) that you want to fold into a triangle. 

Again, the end of the strip (light purple) is going to slip through the diagonally opposite loop (dark purple).  It's a little hard to see the points in these pictures, the tension is making them pull up.

Last one, for this round at least.  Again there are two strips, you want the bottom one, if I had a ribbon picture it would be the light pink one. 

Make the triangle point and slide it under the loop diagonally across.  This part is a little tricky and best explained with an interpretive dance. Just kidding, but lets take a step back in time.  This is the four square grid or whatever you want to call it, that we started with. The dark pink is going to make a point and go across to the light pink loop.  Then dark purple to dark pink, light purple to dark purple, and where we are now, light pink to light purple.

I say it's tricky because the first point is now covering that loop. Here I've pulled the first point out a little so you can see.  The ribbon picture is a bit deceptive because the light purple loop looks dark pink because of the reflection, but what it's showing is the light pink ribbon sliding through the light purple loop with the dark pink ribbon going over both. 

Here is what a finished round looks like from the front. 

Those four points are locked in, so now we start over for the next layer.  It really doesn't matter which strand you start with beginning each layer as long as you keep moving in the same direction each time.  Again fold it back over to the left. 

Then down and under.

Then fold the triangle in half and under to make a point. 

Slide it through the loop diagonally opposite. 

Continue on counter-clockwise, doing this for the next three points. Remember on the last one to make sure you are going through the loop from the previous set and not just under the first point that you made in this layer. You can see in this picture that each strand should be passing under two layers when all four points in this round are completed. 

Here's what it looks like with a total of four rows.  Note on the backside for the last row each strand is still passing under two layers.  I dressed it up a little with some fake flowers for the very top picture, but I think something natural like baby's breath would look better. 

And here's what the ribbon looked like finished.  I trimmed the ends at an angle to mimic the points. 

This is what the palm flower looked like after it dried out.  Keep in mind the palms shrink as they dry.  Whatever you make, try to work it as tight as possible because it'll loosen up after drying.  In this case the wire was so loose I just took it off.  I added glue to the center ends instead and a little sprig of dried palm bits.

To make the little sprig I looped some wispy bits and bound it together with a thin thread of palm.  Then I folded it in half and stuck it in a book to dry.

This flower I pressed in a book to dry.  There was less curling around the edges than the other one but I think it looks a little too squashed and won't be doing that again. And so that's my adventure in making a palm woven star flower whatchamacallit. Check out my palm cross to see how to use this flower as a decorative element.