Tag Archives: ceramics

Experimentation with Fermentation! Part 2

My maiden name is Guenther, and my dad’s side of the family has a pretty German heritage, but somehow or other I don’t think I ever tasted sauerkraut until I was an adult. Most likely my mom, who is all Irish, didn’t fancy the stuff. So it just wasn’t something I ever ate as a kid, and I must have therefore figured it was a “yucky” food, and never sought it out. Until one day I was visiting some relatives on my own after college, and they had sauerkraut as a side dish. I enjoyed it from the first tentative bite! It was like pickles, sour and salty and a bit crunchy. I started buying it at the store from then on – not religiously, but when I remembered it as a flavorful condiment.

After learning more about fermented foods, recently, I have decided that homemade sauerkraut is the next project!
And not only that, but I decided I first needed to make my own ceramic crock to ferment it in, being that I am a potter, after all.

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My first attempt at a handmade fermentation crock

Now that I had a crock to ferment in, here’s the process I followed for homemade sauerkraut!

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Chopped Cabbage and Salt

I filled a huge bowl with chopped cabbage. Just one head, about 2 lbs. One head of cabbage was more volume than I expected! But then I added sea salt, probably about 3 teaspoons (I didn’t measure), and started squeezing the buhjeezus out of it.

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Massaging the salted cabbage

This got the cabbage all coated with the salt, and already it started drawing the water out. After walking away, and then coming back to repeat the massaging process every 10 minutes or so, the cabbage really started releasing its juices.

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Cabbage juices pooling in the bowl

After an hour of this, I felt the cabbage was sufficiently reduced in volume and wilted enough to start packing into the crock. I tossed in a teaspoon of caraway seeds (because Michael Pollan added some to his in Cooked), and then into the crock it went, handful by handful.

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Pounding down the cabbage

I used a cocktail muddler to really pound down the cabbage. This forces out the air, packing it down, and it gets the water to continue squeezing out of the cabbage. The cabbage juice (or brine) needs to be at a level above the solid cabbage; this protects the kraut from exposure to air, which can cause it to mold (bad).

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Weights to keep the kraut submerged below the brine level

Once I felt I’d pounded enough, and the cabbage was sufficiently juicy, I topped them off with two half circle ceramic weights I’d also made when I made the crock. These will keep the kraut from floating to the top and getting moldy. The bacteria that transform the cabbage in to sauerkraut prefer an oxygen-free environment, so that’s the environment I intended to create.

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Adding water to the moat creates an airlock

The photo above shows my little helper Ethan, pouring the water into the reservoir around the crock lid. The water will let CO2 out (it’ll “burp” to release pressure), but won’t allow any air to go in.

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My kitchen helper

Look how proud he is, helping Mama. Nevermind that he spilled most of the water on the counter, haha. By the way, how is it possible that this kid is two-and-three-quarters already?? Obligatory observation on how time flies.

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And now we wait…

So that’s it! Now my pretty little crock will live on the kitchen counter for a few weeks, and hopefully it will produce a yummy, probiotic sauerkraut!

And out in my studio I’m working on improving my design. Swing over to my Jadeflower Ceramics Etsy Site – I’ll have crocks like this (better, even!) for sale in my Etsy shop.

Here’s to my continuing fermentation adventure! Bye for now!

 

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Filed under DIY, Fermentation, food, Recipes, tutorial, Uncategorized

New Summer Pricing in my Etsy Shop!

Hey there! Hope the beginning of summer is treating you well!

I’ve been enjoying the Pacific Northwest’s excellent early summer – super long days, and weather in the 70s. Little Ethan is keeping me busy playing outside, but I’m also getting as much studio work done as possible. And to celebrate summer, I’m lowering my prices on a whole bunch of my items!

Summer pricing banner

This includes many of my Doctor Who Tardis pieces and my new Game of Thrones inspired mugs and steins!

GoT Stark SteinGoT Lannister mugGoT Targaryen Stein

I’ve also done some spring cleaning in my studio, and pulled out a few older items and put them WAY WAY on sale. Time to make some room for new items! So I hope you’ll click over to my shop (https://www.etsy.com/shop/jadeflower) to check out what’s new!

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Just the newest stuff in Jadeflower’s Etsy Shop

Hi all! Just stopping in for a moment today to post a few pictures of what’s new in my Etsy Shop. It’s funny – for the past two years really, I’ve been so swamped with custom orders, mainly Tardis related, that I’ve had virtually no time to work on other things – to develop other art and products. I’m not complaining about the success of these popular items! No no. It’s just the reality of being a solitary person with a finite amount of time to work. There are only so many hours in the day.

But as of recent weeks, my backlog is finally becoming more manageable, and I’m actually finding the time to work on additional things. So here’s what’s new!
I don’t know if any or all of these will become regular players in my Jadeflower lineup, but I’ve been enjoying their development, and I guess we’ll just see how they play out. 🙂

Ceramic Dalek Creamer

Ceramic Dalek Creamer

After several request for a Dalek companion to the Tardis Teapot, I’ve created this creamer/pitcher. This is currently a made-to-order item in the shop, but I hope to have the time to build some that are ready-to-ship.

Dalek Creamer Tardis Teapot

Dalek Creamer Tardis Teapot

And I even have a dorky little video to demonstrate the Dalek’s pouring power on the Jadeflower Facebook page. Check it out!
Next, continuing with the Doctor Who theme, I had been wanting to make very very small Tardis figurines, intended for terrariums, for quite a while. Here’s the newest (and smallest) Jadeflower Tardis!

Tiny Tardis Figurine

Tiny Tardis Figurine

Each one is made of porcelain and glazed in the same blue as all my other Tardis items. I think they’re so cute! And the simplicity really appeals to me.

And my last item of the day is an Adventure Time creation! If you couldn’t tell by my last blog entry about bacon pancakes, I am a huge Adventure Time fan. So, expanding my repertoire of strange and interesting teapots, I made a whole tea set based around the character Beemo (BMO) who is basically a living handheld video game device. It’s hard to explain…

Beemo ceramic teapot and cups

Beemo ceramic teapot and cups

There is an episode where Beemo is talking with his alter ego “Football”. He attempts to teach her how to drink tea. It’s adorable.

“No, Football. Like this!”

The tea set is complete with 4 tea cups. The glaze on my tea cups isn’t as vibrant (oh those cartoon colors!), but the design is so detailed and decorative! I love the way they turned out.

Beemo's Adventure Time tea cups

Beemo’s Adventure Time tea cups

So that’s what’s new! Hope you take a peek over in the shop to peruse!
Now, enough from me! Back to work 🙂

Oh! And be sure to “like” my Facebook Page to get up-to-the-moment looks at what I’m working on!

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Filed under Etsy, Jadeflower Ceramics

Faux Bois Fever

little faux bois cylinders

I’ve been doing lots of work with my Jadeflower Etsy Shop in recent months, not only working on day to day ceramic items, but also working on what I want my Jadeflower Brand to be. I’ve seen stuff all over my favorite crafty sites and blogs about the importance of not just making cool stuff, but making cool stuff that relates to this identity that a successful business needs to create.

Now, I certainly haven’t gotten to the point where I have a cohesive brand identity (and at this point, I’m not really a full-blown business yet…trust me, I am working diligently on making that happen soon!). But I am slowly reeling myself in, and focusing on what I want Jadeflower to BE. I’m not going to reveal all of my brainstorming yet, but I will share some stuff that is already popping up in my shop.

stoneware faux bois vase

I found this really great wood-grain pattern at my local ceramic supply store, and I’ve been using it on some new items. I first stumbled upon the faux bois decor phenom while I was planning my wedding – so many woodsy-chic wedding ideas out there. Lots of centerpieces incorporated tree branches, log sections and birch bark. I guess it reinforces my idea that the woods are very romantic.

faux bois tealight holders

 

So I’ve been making new items to incorporate this new pattern. I’m still playing around with colors and sizes to see what I like the best (and what gets the best response). And I think my “product line” is moving in the right direction, with the addition of  home decor items inspired by nature, with an earthy-yet-chic vibe.

rustic chic utensil holder

 

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Clay projects

I’ve had several requests for custom ceramic pieces lately, so I thought I’d share what I’m working on for other people!

Continuing on my lace-textured trend, as seen in my cuff cups…
…I decided to use this texture in two other projects.

The first was commissioned by a friend – two wall-pockets. These are conical vases that are intended to hang on a wall or other vertical surface. They are pictured still in the unfired stage (bone dry) so the lace pattern isn’t easy to see. Once they are glazed, the lace will be much more prominent.

The second project was a request for something garden-esque for a silent auction basket donation. Whatever I donate would be added to other garden items, and the proceeds from the auction benefit the Woodland Park Zoo.

So to keep things simple and functional, I decided to make a set of 3 slab-built flower pots, again with the lace texture…

Each one is unique  (as handmade items are!) and I plan to glaze each one in a slightly different color.
I just wish things didn’t have to dry so slowly! Ceramics is definitely a game for the patient.

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Market Recap

So yesterday was my first experience as a vendor at the Fremont Sunday Market. What a day!

I shared a booth with two of my lovely & talented friends, Tiffany and Stacie, so our booth had an awesome variety of items – ceramics from me, unique fashions from Tiffany, and beautiful handmade cards and journals from Stacie.

The day started early and slowly: non-member vendors (i.e. not the regulars who come every week to sell) have to sign up at the Fremont Market desk to get in line for a spot at 7 AM (ug!). After arriving at about 7:15 and getting my name on the list, Tiffany arrived, and we headed over to Peet’s for coffee. We didn’t need to be back at the desk until 8:30 to get our assignment (members get priority before non-members), so we just hung out for a while and Stacie met up with us.

The whole process of getting a market booth was really easy (although I was totally antsy up until they called my name) and the folks who run the market were really friendly, but I am still so glad that Tiffany and Stacie were there with me. It’s always way more fun to do these things with other people!

So when we finally got our spot, we rushed into action! Setting up the cheap-o ten-foot canopy I bought from Rite Aid was not as embarrassing as I thought it would be (next to all these professional-looking vendors with their pop-up tents). Stacie was great and had 2 six-foot tables for us to use. By ten o’clock (when the Market officially opens) we were pretty much ready for the day!

our team at the market - ready to go!

I was really happy with how my table looked, especially since I spent a good chunk of time Saturday figuring things out. Everything looked very cheerful and inviting!

jadeflower ceramics display

jadeflower ceramics display

And like I said yesterday, I looked at this day as a Spring Cleaning attempt – to clear out stuff that I’ve had in storage for a while, so my display had all sorts of odds n’ ends!

The day seemed to go by so quickly. It was lots of fun to spend the day hanging out with Stacie, Tiffany and M (who came for the whole day, the sweetie!), and we couldn’t have wished for better weather! The sky was perfectly blue and clear, it was warm and sunny, and lots of people came out to the Market to enjoy it.

sunshine at the fremont market

I ended up selling quite a few things, which was certainly nice (and I made back my booth fee and then some). But I definitely didn’t sell as much as I wanted to (ain’t that always the way, though?), especially since I wanted to clear out all this stuff and it was all priced so LOW! haha oh well!
We made a few friends with some vendors around us, and everyone we encountered was really nice. All in all, it was a most satisfying day 🙂

I have visions of becoming a regular member of the market, but for now those ideas will have to wait. I’m just not ready to do this on my own yet. But I would certainly do this kind of shared booth again. It was certainly fun enough!

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Filed under Crafts, Events, Jadeflower Ceramics, paper

Jadeflower at Fremont Sunday Market!!

One last reminder before the weekend!! Jadeflower Ceramics will be present this Sunday at the Fremont Market. So if you are in the Seattle Area, please stop by!! Sunday May 9th 10AM-5PM

That’s right! This will be a Spring Cleaning Sale for Jadeflower! I am cleaning out all my older stock and items that don’t appear in my shop. And the prices will be LOW!

$2 cups? I gotcha!
Buttons half-price? Got that too!
All sorts of single items that you won’t find anywhere else, because the are one-of-a-kind? You KNOW I got that 🙂

Please note: I won’t be bringing my large spiky pieces – this us just a sale for my smaller, more transport-friendly stock. However, if there is interest in any of my spiky guys, just let me know in the comments here, and I’ll see what I can do!

Cleaning out my studio and storage areas is the name of the game so that I have plenty of room for NEW pieces this spring and summer! Prices will be very attractive, you won’t have to pay shipping, and it should be a beautiful spring day. So if you’re in Seattle, there’s no reason not to come see me! Even if it’s just to say Hi 🙂

All the best, and Happy Friday!

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Filed under Crafts, Etsy, Events, Jadeflower Ceramics