Sunday, June 30, 2013


Hi all, I have decided to move all my eco, crafting and foraging posts onto my new blog that can be found at:

I hope to update the blog fairly regularly, so check in from time to time!

Monday, June 24, 2013

This is a blog about making things, trying new things, growing things, forest gardens and living in a less commodified way.

I have been interested in free food, growing food and making things for a while now. My interest in foraging for food has recently driven me to give walk and talk courses in food foraging, while growing food has lead to an active interest in permaculture that in turn inspired me to develop a forest garden at Sonairte, an ecology centre where I volunteer. (The forest garden is in its gestation stage, as it grows and develops, I will write more about it. With respect to making things, this started with me making a bad batch of peach wine when I was 17, while the wine was bad, the idea was good, I CAN MAKE STUFF! My phobia of mom's sewing machine left me when I was 19 and enrolled in a one year fashion design course that taught me how to sew, design and draught patterns. My skills have improved with use and I make some of my own clothes and in the past have made things to sell. Having the confidence to make things inspires me to make other things, it is empowering, so over the years I tried my hand at making better wines, sparkling strawberry cider, cordials, preserves medicines etc.

Two years ago, my life research partner and I got married, we had a local, hand-made wedding. He made the rings, I made my dress, my mom and myself did all of the flowers (using sweetpea donated by other allotmenteers) and my sister baked the most beautiful wedding cake in the world. We made our own invites, confetti and wedding jewelry. It was tiring, but in all, great fun. We were able to do this because we had more time than money. For the last while, when we had a bit more money and a bit less time, our focus changed away from making things, and onto getting things done, things like studying and going to work and making plans for the future. We started buying the things that we can easily make and stopped thinking about our purchasing decisions. This change was subtle, I certainly did not realise it was happening at the time, though I remember putting off finishing a skirt I had started until my studies were finished. A fix that only took me 2 hours to do. Looking back on my time spent studying, it was not lack of time that was the problem, it was my own sense that I did not have the time, that and my penchant for procrastination.

Now that I have gotten my thinking time back, I have started sewing and reading again. THE GOOD LIFE LAB by Wendy Jehanara Tremayne really crystalised a lot of ideas for me. The idea of living a decommodified life (not buying what you can make, using waste to create stuff that is useful, sharing/gifting surplus) really appealed to me, I felt re-empowered to take steps towards our own decommodified life. Inspired by my husband's jam making last weekend (using raspberries from the freezer), this week, I started gathering my ingredients together and over the course of the weekend, I made:
  1. Dandelion coffee- dandelion roots gathered while weeding, washed, blitzed in food processor and roasted in oven till coffee like
  2. Rhubarb cordial- rhubarb stalks boiled up with water and sugar and the liquid drained off and bottled- to be used when bottling the kefir, pulp will be turned into a cake or something
  3. Yoghurt- 4 litres of milk, slow cooker, live yoghurt, heat milk in slow cooker on low for 2 hours, cool down to blood temp (2 hours) add live yoghurt, insulate slow cooker overnight, yoghurt can be used as is or filtered to make 2 litres of thicker, greek style yoghurt and whey for use in bread etc.
  4. Water Kefir- I bought some grains at a farmer's market, this is my first time tying this one, will keep you posted about it.
  5. Chilli jam- chillies were on special offer, can't wait to use my own chillies (Bolivian hairy is the variety that I am growing on the windowsill). 250G chillies, 2 slices ginger, blitzed up together, 250g sugar, 100ml vinegar, cook till thick, bottle into sterile jars
  6. Soda bread using the whey from the yoghurt filtering process, there are plenty of recipes out there for this, besides, I used too much soda, so mine is not quite right. Instead of brown flour I added 3 cups of a South African porridge meal to 4 cups of flour.
  7. Dried herbs/flowers for use as medicine:
    i) Mullein leaves- dried, infusion, expectorant
    ii) Clover flowers – dried, useful in an infusion to ease period cramps
    iii) Chamomile flowers – dried, infusion, calming
    iv) Elderflowers – dried, infusion, expectorant

After flurry of activity this weekend, I decided that it was about time I bottled one of the wines that I made last year 11 months ago. Peapod wine, not too bad, I got 5 bottles and a bit left over to turn into vinegar for salad dressings etc.

So this coming week's projects include: (time anticipated)
  1. Elderflower cordial (3 hours including foraging for flowers)
  2. Vanilla extract (20 mins, including buying vodka)
  3. Search for a found alternative to my favourite herbal tea (ongoing project)
  4. Bottle the ginger wine (1/2 hour)
  5. Search for a herb to be used against sinus infections (ongoing project)
  6. Bottle kefir and start another batch (1/2 hour)
  7. Work on a dress for a hen party (6 hours)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Saturday, July 16, 2011

engaugement rings

From DEE AND ZEE research for the future

so here are what i call the 5,000 stroke rings.
in order to make our wedding rings i had intended to make a two-part mold with cuttlefish(like a squid) shells that i had collected from skerries beach after several storms. as it happens using just propane i couldn't get silver to a sufficient pouring heat for a complex mold. as i sat and rethunk what to do i realised that the silver would pour but only into a simple form. so i cut out a simple long ingot mold in a piece of hardwood. after several tries and several small spills i was able to get the pour right and using just plain old sterling silver i was able to create an ingot that i could use to form up some wire from.
so then i got the silver shot i had bought and the additional pieces of zee's family gold that was to be added to the mix. don't ask me about ratios. it is purely a symbolic addition of family history to the mix. reading about precious metal alloys i came across the mix of silver and gold known as Electrum. this has long been used as a symbolic and sacred metal so it is fitting that for such a special set of rings we should have a unique mix of family history and a unique mix that no other humans shall ever have, sure isn't that life! i had to reforge the ingot three times due to the gold not mixing appropriately the first two times and causing splitting in the wire as i annealled(releasing the bonds of tension in the metal crystals when forced into a particular shape) and hammered it down to the right gauge wire for the rings.
once i had got a good mix it was easy enough to form the wire with careful hammering and care. it took a while and was done around all the other things that were happening on a daily basis but once i had the wire down to the right gauge i was ready to form up the rings.
reading up on the formulae for getting the right lengths out of particular thicknesses of metal i calculated(zee calculated, i'm maths terrible me) the length needed to make the size rings that fit each of us. and ting! ting! ting! fwoosh! ting! ting! ting! fwoosh! i had made two wedding bands! just filing excess thickness off and polishing with tripoli and rouge to do. didn't take long in the end! haaa!
From 16 Jul 2011

and so then the engagement ring.
zee had a nice dark sapphire that she had bought and shunning the specialness of diamonds(we had after all the most special of metals unlike any other in the universe!) i began to make a setting for the sapphire to fit in. i had already made a test ring from the electrum so i used this as a base for the engagement ring. cutting out a patch for the setting to sit in i made up a thicker setting to fit around the gem and soldered it into place then began to make the first setting i had ever made. using all the right burrs to make a seat for the gem i got it all into the right shape and placed the gem into it. i did it a bit backwards as i should have made the setting as finished as i could before setting the stone, oops! anyway, i carefully pressed all of the settings edge around the gem and burnished the edge down to a nice tight fit. then began the final filing and the finished ring. this took ages due to my mistake of setting the stone so early. but eventually it all got polished up and fully finished!
From DEE AND ZEE research for the future

i felt so happy to have created such a special group of rings and it was extremely fulfilling.
so how do you present an engagement ring? why place it in a box of course!
and so i made a nice simple two-tone stone box for the engagement ring to fit in.
From DEE AND ZEE research for the future

we went up to fourknocks to watch the sunrise one morning. and as we stood atop the old passage tomb waiting for the sun to burn through the clouds i did what any young knight might do and bent my knee to my lady.
(she said yes)
From DEE AND ZEE research for the future

Monday, May 02, 2011

sunday night art

did a small lino cut drawing. painted, washed and scratched lino.
inspired by the old video for A-ha's "hunting high and low" from the image of a man transforming into a hawk as he jumps from a cliff.
as you know i love folk tales and myths and legends and all that. i also love all kinds of ethnographic items such as transformation masks for shaman and this piece reminds me of all those kinds of things.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

a big ragworm.

i found a most unusual worm on the beach today. after going for a walk along the lowest tide point as the tide was out real low, spring tide i guess, i hadn't found anything of interest and then just as i was going to the white wall about a three feet from the it i saw this massive worm on the beach. typical to find something when you've stopped looking but also very wonderful. it was wrapped between a few rocks on the sand and looked dead. i decided to pick it up. using a few rocks i dug into the surrounding sand and picked it up. suddenly, it came to life. a few sickly wriggles but definitely still here. i brought it down to the watery sand that was well out of its reach and put it down in the water. it charged up and began flinging its hundreds of millipede-like flipper/legs. then it calmed down again. figuring it may still be too close to the shore i picked it up once more and brought it further out on the beach. then once setting it down on the shore again i dug out a nice hole in the water filled sand and once it had filled up i placed the worm down in it. not too much movement this time but then it began to get busy. it started slowly digging its head in the sand and by inches and with short rests it began to disappear into the sand. as it was doing this i also noticed that the sand around it was becoming stuck together as if by some sort of snail slime and was leaving a trail as the body dug into the sand.

it was a grennish blue on top and bluish white underneath. with a head like a sea mouse.
as near as i can figure it was a ragworm about a foot long. the only description of one that big and bluish green is this one---
though it seems to live mostly around america.

so here is a video that i took with my phone just after i had put it in the water the first time.
i also put my hand in the shot to show how big the worm was.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

skip diving!

over the past two days i have found some awesome stuff in skips on my street and other stuff that was being junked that i saved. loads of random wood which will mostly be used for fixing up the allotment. or be burnt as firewood. i also got the readymade tabletops from a small table set so an hour adding legs and we have a nice patio area. but by far the best stuff i have found was a watering can that needs a rose but our garden watering can has the same rose so now we don't have to carry the whole can back and forth to the allotment and i'm sure to pick a rose up somewhere. also found a rake that was a little out of shape, now fixed with a hammer. and as good as new but man forged so even better now! RAARRR! and the bestest bestestest thing? a whole picnic box that was left out in the dry weather for a few days after having never been used and lying dormant in a shed. it has knives and forks and spoons and a cheese board with cheesknife and a corkscrew as well as a set of four plates and four wine glasses not to mention the cooler-box for up to four bottles/plenty of food and the dry food area too! did i mention that it was all wrapped up like new? awesome thing! can't wait for picnics! all going in the wash right now.
i do have a sneaking suspicion i'm on the road to this!!!(check out the video below)

Monday, April 18, 2011

how the mask is progressing

just added the brow today. looking good so far. almost don't want to paint it once i add the cheek jowly bit. also real cedar smells lovely!
enjoy my freaky quiet mask update.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

what got done today?

i got the eye and mouth brackets cut out and cut the eye holes. was thinking of making little eye covers for the eyes out of black tights dipped in glue. don't think it is needed. eyes deep enough to be blacked out. also got tiny pegs to hold the eyes and mouth on. haven't glued them on yet though!.

hope you like it so far.

Friday, April 15, 2011

princess mononoke mask

it's only a low quality vid of how this is coming along.
i likes it so far.

lots more to do.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

the finished sculpture for freedom

finished her today, came out pretty well. i like it. and i learnt a fair bit too.
arms tired now.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

progessing on a work for freedom

the stone is coming along. looking more like what i am looking to do with it.
more again.
tired after day hammering but a good tired. :)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

more little doodles

just a few more doodles.
the first one is a potential sculpture.
the second and third are what seems to be a story growing in my head somewhere.

more soon.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

the wild hunt

today i have been doodling.
working towards a piece on a round slab of sandstone i found.
i decided on the wild hunt and wanted to do something simple and cartoony.
from wikipedia-

The Wild Hunt is an ancient folk myth prevalent across Northern, Western and Central Europe.[1] The fundamental premise in all instances is the same: a phantasmal group of huntsmen with the accoutrements of hunting, horses, hounds, etc., in mad pursuit across the skies or along the ground, or just above it.

and i decided on the herne the hunter deer-headed look.

so i did the doodle then the stencil to lay down on the stone so i can work to the pattern easily.
the main figure will be raised up from the stone and the dark figures will be raised too but only have minor detail on them.the background will be dropped back into the slab.
i was kind of thinking how the high-crosses were done when i was doodling so that is why it is so simple. also, i'm thinking of working at speed so simplicity is a necessity.
after all that i played with the hunters left from cutting the stencil a bit and the last pic happened.

more soon.

Friday, December 03, 2010

almost there 2.0

i wanted to make it look more like the old folktale pictures from books i loved as a kid.
so here it is with colour

Thursday, December 02, 2010

wandering the wastes

to go with the freeze i doodled a few pics of a snowy wander.
the dude is being kept warm by the bear things massive ears.
kind of a theme, still working on it.
"the northern lights" and "almost there"

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

a walk with the dog

a winters day walk can get rather chilly.
good for us we have man's best friend.

i'll be making this a bit bigger soon.
i love the tail changing into the scarf.
we shall see where this goes.

more soon.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

for a great old one

this is a piece i made for my friends thirtieth birthday.

i wanted to make an idol similar to the scale of the idol from indiana jones.
the decription of the idol found in "call of cthulhu" by H.P. Lovecraft--

"The figure, which was finally passed slowly from man to man for close and careful study, was between seven and eight inches in height, and of exquisitely artistic workmanship. It represented a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind. This thing, which seemed instinct with a fearsome and unnatural malignancy, was of a somewhat bloated corpulence, and squatted evilly on a rectangular block or pedestal covered with undecipherable characters. The tips of the wings touched the back edge of the block, the seat occupied the centre, whilst the long, curved claws of the doubled-up, crouching hind legs gripped the front edge and extended a quarter of the way down toward the bottom of the pedestal. The cephalopod head was bent forward, so that the ends of the facial feelers brushed the backs of huge fore paws which clasped the croucher's elevated knees. The aspect of the whole was abnormally life-like, and the more subtly fearful because its source was so totally unknown. Its vast, awesome, and incalculable age was unmistakable; yet not one link did it shew with any known type of art belonging to civilisation's youth - or indeed to any other time. Totally separate and apart, its very material was a mystery; for the soapy, greenish-black stone with its golden or iridescent flecks and striations resembled nothing familiar to geology or mineralogy. The characters along the base were equally baffling; and no member present, despite a representation of half the world's expert learning in this field, could form the least notion of even their remotest linguistic kinship. They, like the subject and material, belonged to something horribly remote and distinct from mankind as we know it. ."

so i decided to make something along those lines.
the idea was that it would be very crudely carved. just a simple form with simple details that would describe enough of the idea. as i was making it i didn't like the way the feet might look and so kept things mega simple. just head and wings and mass of body.
i made a small version in plaster but the plaster looked all wrong so i got a piece of red sandstone and made the thing again.

more at some other time...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

stuff i made in the last while, ongoing.

i have been working on the horse sculpture for a few days now. took a break from stone carving and made the head in the top pic.she's not totally finished but i like the look of her. there is a lock of hair falling down over her nose the idea for which came from zee's hair. for some reason the face took on a malaysian or mayan look as i worked it, i put this down to stuff milling around my head from our visit to belize.that's what happens with direct sculpture, you just see where the medium you use leads you from your original idea and how much of the idea stays defined.
i have a few more things to put up but i am waiting until i give them to friends as pressies.
more at some other time.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

sketches i made today

i'm making up a few figure sculptures at the mo. the top guy is called "out for a walk". he is just about to walk off of a height which should work better when he's given an appropriate base. he's meant to be coming out of a bushy area. this is only a sketch so far.

the second guy is a re-edit of a scuplture i made ages ago called the commuter. which got destroyed so now i have to make a new one. he's coming along though.

the third one is just a very low relief that i'm tryingto get a process right on. i'm trying for a repeating pattern. this is inspired by ivan mestrovich who did some pretty awesome sculptures in his time. he did some cool relief work that had repeating patterns going far back into the background but they were only done in very low relief. i'll have to keep practicing.

more another day!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

here's the new one

From DEE AND ZEE research for the future

From DEE AND ZEE research for the future

From DEE AND ZEE research for the future

From DEE AND ZEE research for the future

From DEE AND ZEE research for the future

this guy is a kind of celtic style monolith but a figure too.
i drew the doodle to see if i liked the idea and it looked good to me.
it kind of draws on the previous bust i made for the simple form with abstract detail.
once i made the form up he ended up looking somewhat like a chinese or japanese figure that my friend has a set of three of. it was entirely sub-conscious although i do like how he looks like an aging wiseman. i like the monumental aspect of him too, he'd be great as a huge rock out in the middle of a field!
i'm digging the simple form with simple design worked into it to delineate what the form is.
i think maybe i put too much on this guy but i like the look of him nonetheless. something to think on for the next one.