Functional Arts and Crafts- Making a Mirror

Easy as 1-2-3-

First I took a plate of clear picture framing glass and rubbed it down with alcohol to thoroughly remove any grime or oils. The glass’ surface must be  scrupulously clean- if it is not you’ll have issues with  peeling later on.

Then I drew up a little design for some corner ornaments on a post it note. I placed that under each corner and carefully dabbed on a thick coating of contact gilding adhesive. I used Pebeo’s Gedeo Mixtion Relief which comes in an easy-to-use tube with a fine-tip applicator. The adhesive is white when wet but dries clear. Remember you are reverse gilding/silvering- so you will be working in reverse on the inside surface of the soon to be mirror.

After the adhesive dried I cut up a sheet of 23 kt transfer gold leaf. I then carefully pressed the leaf (gold side down) into the adhesive. The parchment backing of the leaf was peeled back leaving the gold thoroughly stuck in place on the ornaments.

After the gilding size has cured for a few days I dusted off the excess gold leaf and sealed up the ornaments with a layer of raw sienna acrylic paint- which gives the overlying layer of gold a richer color and renders the ornaments opaque-

Next I turn the glass into a mirror with some handy-dandy Looking Glass Silver spray paint from Krylon-

The Looking Glass paint is easy to use- just make sure to apply it in multiple thin coats or the mirror with develop a blotchy appearance. Do this outside. Yeah note the weird reflections around the mirror-in-progress above- I did this in the parking lot against my car using a sheet of old plexiglass as a shield- hence the hubcap visible in the upper left.

After the spraypaint has dried (which only takes a few minutes) it needs to be top coated with something to protect it- I find Rust-Oleum’s Matte Clear Enamel works wonderfully. The enamel coating seals up the looking glass coating and it’s matte appearance makes the reflective finish more pronounced and brighter.

After the enamel has cured for a bit the mirror is ready to be framed. I placed this mirror in a cassetta-style frame I made a few years ago. The gilt ornaments beautifully complement this simple but classic molding profile.

A slightly closer view-

The Looking Glass paint gives a softer reflective effect than commercially made mirrors. It also has a slight texture to it (due to the droplets of paint) and with a dark board placed behind it takes on the appearance of an antique mirror.

New Additions- April 2019

We’ve really been cramming the shelves full this month with a plethora of new products-

First- the batch of stoneware pottery I started last year (before we moved) has finally been fired! I made an assortment of leaf-shaped dishes (Oak, Tulip Tree, Maple, etc.) with finishes like Autumn Scarlet (glossy), Dark Cocoa Brown (semi-matte), Autumn Gold (matte), Mushroom Soup (satin) and First Snow (matte). The First Snow and Autumn Scarlet finishes look especially nice on the brown of the clay body.

I also made an assortment of serving bowls, relish dishes and little trinket boxes (they were supposed to be salt cellars) with an oceanic look to them.

New Additions to The Pantry:

  • Organic Buckwheat Flour
  • Organic Coconut Flour from Tropical Green Organics of Sterling, VA- my home town! The coconuts that went into the flour weren’t grown in the state though- they sourced those from Sri Lanka.
  • Organic Spelt Flour
  • Organic Chia Seed
  • Organic Farro (a kind of wheat berry)
  • Organic Scottish Oatmeal

Back in stock:

  • Bulgur Wheat
  • Organic Whole Flaxseed
  • Almond Flour
  • Sorghum Flour
  • Millet Flour

Also new:

  • Organic Chia & Quinoa Restaurant-style Tortilla Chips from Late July
  • Organic Ancient Grain (Spelt Flour) Pretzels from Hanover
  • Organic Sprouted Whole Wheat Pretzel Shells from Unique Pretzels
  • Gluten-Free Multigrain Crackers from Crunchmaster
  • Whole Wheat Fig, Raspberry and Strawberry Bars from Nature’s Bakery
  • Whole Wheat Double Chocolate Brownies also from Nature’s Bakery
  • Dill Pickle Spears, Pickled Baby Beets and Pickled (baby) Green Tomatoes from Jake & Amos

Note: The pretzels are quite a deal at $7.49 for a giant, 28 oz container.

New to the Wine Rack:

  • Bluestone Vineyard’s 2016 Chardonnay and Petit Manseng, 2017 Moscato- Their Cab Franc is very spicy with lots of cardamom and black pepper. The Petit Manseng is complex, fruit-forward (tropical fruit- think starfruit) and luscious. The 2017 Moscato is slightly drier than previous vintages.
  • Castello Di Gabbiano Chianti Classico- rich, full-bodied and spicy with notes of tobacco, earth and violets.
  • Rabble Pinto Gris- light-bodied, mellow with notes of pear, golden delicious apples and a refreshingly tart finish
  • Slow Press Lodi Zinfandel- Spicy and rich with juicy black cherry on the nose and cedar on the palate.

Fresh out of the kiln 5/03/18

My first batch of pottery made with brown stoneware clay have finally been glazed and fired-

For this batch I applied an underglaze of Amaco’s Satin-Matte White and top coated that with their Satin-Matte Clear Glaze. Upon firing the white and clear glazes melded beautifully creating a creamy, grayish-white hue. The underlying khaki color of the brown stoneware clay really gives a wonderful depth to the finish. My favorites from this batch are these vaguely sea sponge-like luminaries which all miraculously survived.

Unfortunately only one of the bivalve-shaped napkin holders survived, and it shrank so much I think it works better as a sponge holder. The pieces I specifically intended to be sponge holders turned out nicely though.

All of the soap dishes survived- and I especially like how the clam shell-shaped ones turned out with the creamy white glaze.

A couple of serving bowls. The lip of these bowls undulates which gives them built in spoon rests.

Some oyster shell shaped spoon rests- the glaze looks perfect on these.

A cluster of miniature flower bud vases.

Some larger vases-

While these may seem purely decorative and very delicate these ceramics are both functional and quite sturdy.

Lots of New Stuff!

We’ve been busy restocking and finding great new products for you to try.

*Firehook Flatbread crackers are back- with a new multigrain flax flavor.  Perfect with Greenhaven Farms soft goat cheese.

*Nana’s Cocina tortilla chips are back and in smaller packages(smaller price too!)

*We now have BBQ sauce from S&D’s BBQ in Hillsboro–Sweet & Tangy and Sweet Diablo.  Dan, the “D” of S&D, used to be the Cookie Guy and the chocolate guy.  He sold his chocolate equipment to Andrea Howard (Veritas Artizen Chocolates) and we now sell her bean-to-bar chocolate confections, including new 80 and 90% bars. It’s a very small world.

*We now have sampler sizes of the gourmet oils and vinegars from Flavor Pourfection as well as a few new flavors like “Milanese Gremolata” infused olive oil

*In addition to a fresh batch of salted VA peanuts from Plantation Peanuts we now have their redskin peanuts in 22 oz. cans.

*For our VA wine lovers, we have new ladies black T-shirts with the state of Virginia on the front and the words “Wine. It puts me in a good state!”

Speaking of wine, we got a little carried away at the Kysela warehouse tasting last month.  New on the shelves:

  •      Veuve Du Vernay Sparkling Rose and Brut from France
  •      Prime Brume Soave and Cortenova Pinot Grigio from Italy
  •      Layer Cake Rose from CA
  •      Thorn Clarke Milton Park Shiraz from Australia
  •      San Elias, Siegal Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc from Chile
  •      Reibeek Pinotage from South Africa
  •      Burgo Viejo Rioja Old Vine Garnacha from Spain

*Cave Ridge’s Riesling, Red Silk, Mt. Jackson Rouge and Rose are also back, along with the last of their 2013 Syrah!

*New beers have also been added–Cael & Crede Irish Ale (barrel aged in Irish Whiskey casks); The Duck-Rabbit Wee Heavy Scotch Ale; Campion Killer Kolsch and Hog Waller Scramble (Breakfast Stout brewed with coffee and chocolate). Beer for breakfast? Yes, please!

And stay tuned–BIG news coming soon!

 

Finally framed

My first batch of winter landscape studies are finally framed and up on the walls-

“Winter Forest Late Afternoon”- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on board, 8″ x 10″. C. 2018-

 

 

For this piece I went with a distressed, dark pine frame I made from raw boards. The texture I gouged into the edges of the moulding compliment the expressive brushstrokes and texture in the paint surface.

“Snowbound Forest at Sunset- 1/15/18″- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on board, 13 1/2″ x 10 1/4”. C. 2018

For this painting I went with a walnut frame that I parcel gilt with composition leaf on the front surface. The bright gilt surface of the frame really makes the golden hues pop in this piece.

A clean, elegant walnut frame joined with keys and parcel gilt with composition leaf.

“Winter Forest at Morning- 1/15/18″- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on board, 8″ x 10”. C. 2018

 

The warm metallic gray of the silver leaf in this frame warms up the highlights in the painting and helps to tone down the blues of the shadow areas.

 

The rich dark brown of this frame helps to warm up this piece and compliment the purplish gray ground. The texture of the olivewood veneer blends in nicely with painterly tree trunks. This is the only frame in this bunch that I did not make myself.

“Winter Forest in a Snowstorm- 1/15/18″- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on board. 14″ x 10 1/4”. C. 2018

 

“Snowbound Forest- 1/16/18″- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on board, 10″ x 14 3/4”. C. 2018

 

For this piece I went with a simple, “bump” profile moulding. The grain of the oak plays off the movement of the snow covered trees and winding grape vines. The rich, golden color of the finish cools down up the warm gray hues in the painting.

 

“Snowy Winter Forest- 1/19/18″- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on board, 7″ x 10”. C. 2018

For the last two paintings I went with a very clean museum profile that was painted black and gilt on the top surface with aluminum leaf. The cool silver tones of the aluminum leaf make the cool whites of the painting seem warm by comparison. The depth of the moulding and the contrast between the flat black of the sides of the frame and the gilt front surface really makes these pieces pop off the wall.

 

“Snowy Winter Forest- 1/16/18″- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on board, 10″ x 7”. C. 2018

Mead is Back!

Misty Mountain Meadery was offline for a couple of years, but they are back and we just got some of their rich, mellow and complex libations.  In addition to their traditional  blend (just honey and water) they now offer a lemon honey blend fermented with fresh lemon juice.

THE MEADERY

Misty Mountain Meadworks is a small Virginia Farm Winery and is the oldest operating meadery in Virginia. The Meadery is owned and operated by the Copeland family and located on a fifteen acre tract in the mountains bordering the Shenandoah Valley near Winchester, VA.

Their beehives produce a unique flavor of honey due to the abundance of local orchards, wildflower fields, and forests. Rick, the meadmaker, has been successfully making Mead since 1983 and it is handcrafted from start to finish, from the bees to the bottles.

Sweet Mead is an incredible dessert wine which can be served chilled or warmed, depending on the season. Enjoy serving Mead with pears, nuts, cheeses, and even cheesecake.  Mead is, of course, the beverage of choice for all solstice and equinox celebrations where it is served with everything!

Back in the game

So after a couple months hiatus I managed to have a very productive weekend of sculpting-

Luminaries, vases and napkin holders made from a light brown stoneware clay

In this batch I have made a variety of kitchen implements and vessels with a new stoneware clay that should come out a dark beige color. *If* they survive I’m thinking I’ll coat them with a distressed layer of warm white glaze and over top that with a clear layer which should give the appearance of antique ironstone pottery.

Two spoon rests and a soap dish.

This pieces in this collection, like most of my work, has a very organic look to it. The spoon rests and napkin holders look vaguely like seashells.

The napkin holders remind me of ancient brachiopod fossils.

My favorites from this batch are the luminaries which resemble primitive sea sponges-

A trio of very organic looking luminaries.

I really hope the luminaries survive as they were very time consuming to make. Each little hole in them is a potential starting point for cracks. With any luck these pieces will survive the slow drying process over the next couple weeks and then it will be time to glaze them.