Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Creation Meditation

Saturday, October 4, 2014



Potstickers are an absolute favorite of mine because they're full of veggies and awesome flavors, they're easy to make and most importantly, I feel fancy eating with chopsticks. And although it took me five different supermarkets and a train to China Town in Buenos Aires to get my hands on some sesame oil, I was stoked to realize how easy it is to make the dough at home via howtodothisandthat

The dough is very easy to do, but I did realize with the first bite that it is important to roll it out really thin or it's just too much.

1/2 onion
2 garlic cloves minced
1 chunk ginger minced
1 carrot grated
a handful of mushrooms, preferably shiitake 
(but since they're so damn expensive any mushrooms will do) 
a quarter of cabbage
a couple chopped stalks of green onion

sesame oil
soy sauce
a glass of wine.
for you.

Stir fry all the veggies above with a little soy sauce until they are semi cooked but not too limp and set aside to cool. Once your dough is rolled out and cut into circles, fill each circle with a large spoonful of the veggie mixture and pleat the edges. 

Cooking the potstickers: Put a touch of sesame oil in the pan and set the potstickers upright without touching. When the bottoms are golden brown, throw in a quarter cup of water and immediately cover it. After a few minutes take the top off, let the steam burn off and then flip the potstickers on each side for a couple minutes until the sides are golden brown.

Then repeat in batches until all the potstickers are cooked.
That's about it!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Soldering: A Story of Trial and Error

This is an overview of how a seemingly simple process can be, in fact, extremely complicated, and a nod towards artisans that have truly earned their skills by persistently pushing through trial and error for many years.
*First of all, I am a mostly self-taught-sort-of-making-jewelry-person. I prefer to refer to myself
as a maker since my realm includes many mediums, without really specializing in anything.
I also learn from experience. I have a horrid patience for reading about what I am going to 
do instead of just doing it. Now that you know that, let's move on.

I noticed that the delicate chains on my necklaces have been slipping out of the jump rings. 
Bad, bad bad bad. This terrible reoccurrence has lead to my next exploration that has ultimately made me want to kick down a door in frustration. But I'm getting it. 
I'm teaching myself how to solder gold-filled wire. 
My first thought was yes totally I will just solder them closed. Easy solution. Done. Little did I realize how big of a project I was about to take on. First was watching tutorials and purchasing the necessary tools and chemicals to get started. This included boric acid, jewelry pickle, and a Smith Little Torch.

*I normally buy from RioGrande as they have excellent products and customer service, however
they are not always the cheapest. I got the same torch from Amazon for about $30 less.

When soldering anything gold-filled, it is best to first coat your piece with a mixture of boric
acid and denatured alcohol. You can then either burn the alcohol off with a torch or set it in the 
sun to evaporate. Your piece will be covered in a white layer of boric acid that will protect the 
gold-filled surface from the torch while soldering. This step in necessary because when something
is "gold-filled" there is a layer of at least 10k gold pressure bonded to a base metal. The gold layer
can easily be melted, revealing the base metal during the soldering process. 

Because the surfaces you are soldering together are at least 10k gold, that is the material best suited 
for the job. The price of gold fluctuates, but I bought easy gold sheet solder from RioGrande for 
about $50 per pennyweight. Yes, it is the sad truth of having a hands-on-get-it-done-this-may-be-a-
terrible-idea attitude, I gatta go straight for the pricy stuff without practice. Anyway, 
everything works more efficiently if everything is clean. So first, clean your solder 
with steel wool- but remember to remove the steel wool from your workspace after
as it is extremely flammable. Next you cut the sheet of solder like a grid, producing little
pallions like the one below. 

Next you add a dab of flux, which will aid the flow of the solder and keep the surface of the metal 
clean during the process. After laying the pallion onto the joint, you are ready to light up your
torch. I've been practicing with a number 5 tip, because I couldn't get the number 3 tip working
well *I need to play around more with the different tips to see what works best.
However, you can control the size of the flame/temperature a bit within each tip, and 
the number 5 seems to be doing the job so far.

It's like a little dance. I approach the joint slowly and straight-on and if the pallion slips
around on the flux, I gently chase it down, guiding it back to the joint. If it runs away too
far I pull the torch back and replace the same chip onto the joint and try again.
As you approach with the torch, you begin to see the chip wiggle, then wrinkle a bit before
reaching it's flow point and melting into the joint. Yum. It's so nice when it works out the 
way it should. You can see the soldered joint (slightly out of focus) below.

After the soldering is complete, drop the piece into a pickling solution. This will clean the piece and
help remove any firescale that may have showen up. Yesterday was officially my second day doing
this. I made about 15 successfully soldered joints...out of about 40...don't get discouraged.
But, maybe don't start out with gold-filled if you're not pressured by time (like I am!).
After the pickle, (using only copper tongs to remove pieces- steel will contaminate the solution)
rinse the piece in water, then grab a soft brass brush to finish the cleaning, using dish soap
so the brass does not rub off onto the copper. 

Now do everything over again about 50 more times. 
And that's about where I am right now.
Any advice from actual jewelers is more than appreciated.
Tomorrow will be day 3 of soldering trials and errors and I'm actually pretty excited for it.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Floating Skate Ramp

some inspiration for your Thursday. Dream big ~

Monday, March 17, 2014

Creation meditation


 New favorite pass time: creation meditation. 
Taking time outside alone, collecting natural materials and piecing together mandalas.
Keeps my mind focused and my hands busy fusing intentions into each piece.
It's pretty cool building these vibrant pieces from the things I see growing around
 me every day, sitting with them, then watching them slowly blow away.
Take a look at the inspiring work of Andy Goldsworthy 
in his film Rivers and Tides 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Woodworking in Masaya: Day 2

Working with Maria and Jose Gutiérrez was such a rad experience that when they offered to 
teach us more techniques, we jumped on the opportunity. After completing the small bowls on 
the first day, Fran and I were dying to go bigger- so that's what exactly what we did. The process 
is very similar but we use machinery to remove most of the inside so time and energy isn't 
wasted carving it all out. 

After the shape is formed and sanded, the hole in the bottom created by the lathe is 
filled with wood putty and sawdust. When dry, the bottom is then sanded smooth. 

The tops of the pieces are burned black for a specific aesthetic look using a combination 
of Nafta gas and air to create the perfect temperature. 100% pure Austailian beeswax is rubbed
 onto the pieces for a water resistant finish. 

Wood used today: Espino de playa
Wood used yesterday: Guayacan

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Discovering the Artisans of Wood

From a block of wood to a bowl. 
Masaya, Nicaragua

Throughout Costa Rica, Fran and I kept seeing this incredible wood work- bowls, plates, cups, 
vases, giant and small, organic and symmetrical. When we crossed into Nicaragua the work 
continued and after chatting with a store owner in San Juan Del Sur, we discovered the source. 
Masaya is a small town about 20 minutes outside of Granada and is a hub for artesanías. Determined
 to locate a workshop, we hit the tourist artisan market and met Maria Gutiérrez. We got her 
home address and took off in a taxi to hunt down her husband. Upon arrival, we explained our 
curiosity and Jose Gutiérrez showed us his simple workshop. After demonstrating a bowl he 
helped both Fran and I make our own! Super incredible experience and I think he was as entertained
 by it as we were.  

To create these pieces, the only machinery used is a bandsaw and a lathe. Similar to glass blowing, 
the outside of the piece is shaped first with the bottom facing outward. It is then rotated on the lathe 
to cut out the inside with the sharpened steel tools. When the inside is removed and all the cuts 
are smoothed out, the piece is sanded before it's removed. The final product is rubbed with beeswax
 that soaks into the wood sealing it and deepening the natural colors. 

The style Fran and I made is about as simple as it gets. Instead of rotating the piece, the bottom
 itself is screwed onto the lathe (so our bowls have shallow holes in the bottom that don't penetrate 
the piece). When working this way, the outside point of the wood starts out as the top of the 
bowl instead of the bottom. 

One of the most common woods used (a beautiful deep red) is called Brasil. I can't believe I 
forgot to ask for the name of the wood we used- but we're headed back to the workshop on 
Monday so it looks like I'll get another chance.

Super stoked on my first introduction to wood and thankful for amazing people that are 
open to sharing knowledge and art. And for my creative man that likes to hunt down these

47 Días en Centro América

Panamá, Costa Rica, Nicaragua
A very rough outline of my trip so far

-Notes and ratings are clearly only based on my own experience & are narrow for places with
short visits
-We are staying in private rooms in hostels which are sometimes much more expensive, most
of the time the same, and sometimes cheaper than dorms, prices listed are for two people

Dec 28-29
Panamá City, Panamá 

Notes: Only one night in Casco Viejo, beautiful, architecture reminded me of Cartagena
Colombia, on the expensive side, hostel approx $35

Dec 29 - Jan 2
Isla Colón, Bocas Del Toro, Panamá 

Notes: Lots of rain, expensive hostel, absolutely gorgeous bike ride along the beaches
(Bluff Beach), tourist town for people in and out of country alike

Jan 3-5
Isla Bastimentos, Panamá 

Notes: Way cooler than Isla Colón, and just a quick taxiboat away. Stayed in Hostel
Bastimentos for $20 per night, awesome place muy tranquilla, less people, quieter, 15
minute hike to Wizard beach, taxiboat to Red Frog beach, rad Afro Caribbean people
 speaking a mix of Spanish and English, less touristy, excellent food and definitely less

Jan 5-8
Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Notes: Small surf town perfect for yoga and riding bikes. Excellent and cheap food but
you need for search for it- higher end hotels and restaurants available as well. Hostel
$25. Beautiful bike ride to Punta Uva and Manzanillo, gorgeous beaches, nice vibes. 

Jan 8-10

Notes: Bussed through San Jose to the Pacific side, very different vibes- much more
touristy and expensive. Has a Pizza Hut & Quiznos if you know what I mean. Didn't dig
 the beach much, a bit on the dirty side. Not my favorite place based on my experience.
Hostel $25.

Jan 10-11
Puntarena, Costa Rica

Notes: A place people pass through to get to other places, and therefore I kind of liked it.
Seemed to be a tourist destination only for people of the country. One day & one night.
Warm calm water, excellent sunset, hostel $20. Definitely less expensive than Jacó but
not particularly cheap. 
Ferry to...

Jan 11-13
Montezuma, Costa Rica

Notes: Absolutely adorable town- seems to be mostly composed of long-term travelers,
excellent food (but expensive!) the best little beach I've ever been to with insanely clear
water, great for snorkeling, very relaxing place. Excellent vibes. Yoga available. $20 hostel.

Jan 13-14
Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

Notes: Cute yes, but very expensive and very touristy- therefore I was not very relaxed.
Excellent beaches for surfing, bonfires, & the sunset. Tons of Argentinian girls traveling
in packs. 

Jan 14-19
San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua 

Notes: Expensive day bussing through Costa Rica to Nicaragua but the moment we hit
Nica- BAM, excellent vibes. Absolutely loved San Juan Del Sur. Hostel $18. Lobster tail
dinner $6. Hike to El Cristo Mirador- insanely gorgeous but bring $2 to enter at the top.
 Rented a motorcycle $20 for 4 hours. Love love Love.

Jan 19-23
Ometepe, Nicaragua 
Santa Domingo/Santa Cruz area

Notes: An island with two volcanoes (Volcáns Concepción and Madera) in Lake Nicaragua.
Scary little fishing boat there on rough waters but bigger ferry available- both cheap. Hostel
$14 in Santa Domingo. Hiked Volcán Madera, need a guide but don't pay more than $10
per person and give yourself about 7 or 8 hours. Has fireflies and a lot of heavy wind. Electricity
goes out a couple times a month. Very small, special place. Very cheap if you try.

Jan 23-25 (today!)
Granada, Nicaragua

Notes: Great location for day trips to other places. Hostel $15. Laguna de Apoyo is absolutely
gorgeous for (topless) kayaking, very chill, just outside of town. Hostel can set you up to go,
or bus & walk. Nearby town Masaya is a hub for artisans. 20 minute bus ride out of Granada
for $0.36. We ended up hunting down a couple that creates various bowls and functional art
pieces from wood and got to visit their workshop which leads me to my next post... 

and that's all for now,
Buen viaje!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Up in the Hill

What: Coffee shop & organic farm
Where: Isla Bastimentos, Bocas del Toro, Panamá

After hiking to Playa Wizard from Old Bank on Isla Bastimentos, Fran & I took a detour 
following giant flowers made of recycled plastic. After fifteen minutes of practically swimming
 in mud, we came upon an absolutely beautiful two story open faced building filled with hand 
made things, jewelry and art. Up in the Hill is a coffee shop & organic farm that pretty much 
offers everything else. They make a variety of natural body products for sale and offer a variety 
of raw chocolate treats and drinks. They have a book exchange and you can rent surfboards 
as well. They use only rain water that they also sell by the cup or liter, and offer two types of 
greens from the farm for $2 a bag. The family that has created this space has done so for 
11 years. The woman is from Scotland, her boyfriend from Argentina, and they have 
three adorable boys born nearby in David, Panamá. Very happy we turned right on that muddy
 trail today. If you ever make it to Isla Bastimentos here in Bocas, follow the plastic flowers.