Monday, December 29, 2008

The Story of 100 Mandala Record Bowls

Today is the day, I am finally going to ship out my big wholesale order of 100 Mandala Record Bowls for Viva Terra. I worked on this order during September, October, and November, finished it on Thanksgiving Day, and now I can finally ship it (they wanted me to wait until after Christmas). After reading the vendor guidelines about 5o times, I am pretty sure I have done everything right with the packing list, box labels, etc., so all I need to do is get it dropped off and I can breathe a big sigh of relief to have it off my hands, allowing me to look ahead to my new spring line.

I have posted some of these pictures in previous blog entires, but I wanted to consolidate the entire process into one story, so here you go, this is how I did it.

I started out with lots and lots of vinyl records. I got a 4' x 8' board at the Home Depot and had them cut it in half to make two manageable 4' x 4' boards. I pounded nails into the board every 12" so that I could hang 16 records on each one. (Here's Julius.)

Then I sprayed the records, 32 at a time, with white primer.

I allowed the primer to dry.

I carefully sealed up the spindle holes of each record, and allowed that to dry.

Here is what a stack of 100 primed, sealed records looked like:

The next step was to paint the base coats. 50 of them were to be green, and 50 of them cream-colored. Each one took two coats of the base color, which meant a lot of drying in between times.

My best friend Melodie helped with the base-coat painting. Thanks, Melle!

Soon the disks were taking over the house. I didn't want to stack them, so it was a bit crazy for a while...

...until I went to Goodwill and got several of these vertical files, which saved the day.

So yeah, the next step (and the most time consuming!) was the painting of the mandala designs onto the record. That's a lot of the same mandala, over and over again. Each one was painted freehand, and a lot of them required two coats, too.

Once I finished the 50 green records, the next step was to form them into bowls, and each one was individually heated and sculpted by hand to make 50 groovy bowls.

The next step was to paint my signature on the bottom of each bowl. I used white and black paint to paint a psychedelic eyeball over each spindle hole, and to paint the words Eye Pop Art somwhere on the record label.

After that dried, I coated the bottoms of the bowls with a protective semi-gloss finish and allowed that to dry.

Then I flipped 'em and proceeded to do the same thing to the tops of the bowls.

Here are the 50 finished bowls, peeking out of their boxes.
Once the 50 greens were out of the way, I had to repeat the whole deal all over again, painting the same mandala design 50 times in green on the cream-colored records.

These also were heated, shaped, etc...

...and the bottoms were done...

...and the tops were done...
...and they were all wrapped in tissue paper and put to bed for a month.

These are the temporary boxes that the order has been living in for the last month. I have since repacked them uniformly into four large boxes, each containing 25 bowls.
Today the 100 bowls will go on a journey, and some time very soon they will make their appearance in the Spring 2009 catalog by Viva Terra! I can't wait to get a copy.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Holidays, holidays

Hello! I hope you had a lovely holiday - and if you had snow like we did, I hope you had a nice, relaxing vacation! We did! Not only were we "snowed in," but I was also without a computer for about a week (did you notice?). So there was much baking and eating and playing of board games, and reading and going for walks in the snow to do our last-minute Christmas shopping at Value Village and the pawn shop on the corner! (Since we couldn't drive anywhere, and it's not like I would go to the mall anyway.)

We watched VCR movies and played long games of Rail Baron with the kids. It's a game where you buy railroads and travel to destinations and collect money when people ride on your railroad and stuff. We are really into it. We played the UK version which took three days and we are now playing the Australian version.

We also had a great time with my old friend Michael Cordova, who lives and works in San Francisco (oh my gosh, he is a digital artist and he worked on the new Star Trek movie!) but was in town for the holidays. He and Melodie and I all became good friends back in high school. The three of us, and Chuck, had an excellent dinner at Bamboo, then caught the Bloodies' set at Plan B, and took a cruise down Peacock Lane before landing back at my house where this picture was taken:
Just like the old days!

I am getting ready to ship my big wholesale order TOMORROW - the 100 record bowls for Viva Terra. It's been ready to go since Thanksgiving, but they didn't want me to ship until after Christmas. I'm excited to get the boxes out of here!

Also, I have about five working days to design a new spring line to offer at the Portland Gift and Accessories Show, which is coming up January 10 - 13. I am totally procrastinating. I also need to come up with line sheets, order forms, business cards, and a display. (I'm allowing two additional working days for these tasks.) I am sharing a big triangular booth with five other artisans, and we will each get about 2' x 2' to display our samples.

I really need to get to work on that. It is hard. I seem to be stuck in holiday mode. More cookies!

For once, we are not planning to have a New Year's party - so we might be staying in! New Year's Day will be Chuck's and my 13th wedding anniversary - but we've actually been together for almost 18 years. And I might add that it will also be my one-year anniversary of not drinking. Feature that. Then January 5 is my birthday, and the day the kids go back to school!

I do have some ideas for the spring line, it is going to be very simple and cute.

In the meantime I've listed a few new cuffs in my Etsy shop! Take a look:

Best wishes to you and yours for a happy 2009!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How to make Candy Cane Cookies

These festive holiday cookies are a tradition at our house. Although they are not particularly delicious, they are really cute and fun to make!

You can find the official recipe from Betty Crocker, although I use almond extract instead of peppermint.

Here's how it's done - you mix up the dough, then divide it into two sections. Set aside one half and tint the other half with red food coloring, like this:
You will then have two lovely lumps of dough, one white, one red.
If you've ever done ceramics, you'll like this part. Form coils from the dough by rolling it gently back and forth on a lightly floured board. I always like to tell kids about this when I teach ceramics classes: "Remember this method at Christmas time, you can do it with red and white cookie dough and make Candy Cane Cookies!"
The recipe says to make the coils or "ropes" about 4" long. I started out this way but ended up making them longer and longer for bigger cookies.
Press two pieces together and get twistin'.
You have to be careful with this step as the dough can fall apart easily.
You can then roll the twisted dough lightly to smooth it out.
Curve one end down to make a candy cane!
Place them on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 9-12 minutes or until the white part becomes a very light golden brown.
Be ready with your crushed peppermint candy! I unwrapped some real candy canes, stuck them in a bag, and whacked it repeatedly with a hammer. There is probably a better way to do this, but I don't know what it is.

Mix your crushed candy with an equal amount of granulated sugar and sprinkle this on the hot cookies as soon as they come out of the oven. It will stick to the cookies and give you some added textural interest and peppermint flavor.

I made these for the SCRAP Holiday Bazaar and Bake Sale, which happened on Saturday, and here are a few pictures from that event. Here is Lee from leethal:
Here is Liz from
My table looked cute:
And here I am, black Santa hat and all: