November 20, 2014

Vegetable Flower Carving

The day after prom, I stumbled out of bed way too early in the morning (around 11 AM) to go to a Girl Scout vegetable carving workshop. 

I didn't really know what I was getting myself into; I had mentioned it to a foodie friend and she presumed I would make a rose out of a watermelon. Cool, I thought. I'm going to learn to make stuff out of fruit!

Well, she and I both were spot-on, except I didn't carve any roses and didn't use any fruit, either. Today was a vegetable workshop. But although it was nothing like I was expecting, it was a really cool introduction to an art form I hadn't even heard of.

Bird carved out of a carrot, done by the instructor.
Each of us were given a set of Chinese carving tools, most of which were different sizes of "U"s and "V"s. It is with these that the allowed the magic to happen.

The instructor was a Chinese chef who partially developed the art of vegetable carving he was teaching us. When I later looked at his business card, it said he offers carving classes for vegetables, fruits, butter, and sugar! What a career! 

The carving tool-kit is featured out-of-focus to the left of the flower.
The first thing he had us make was a radish flower, shown below. It may look like nothing but it isn't exactly trivial, even if it was the easiest thing we made all day. (The flower is stabbed onto a piece of daikon radish--everything except the toothpicks are edible!)


Left- instructor's bouquet. Center and Right- my own creations.
Then we learned and practiced making several different types of flowers with combinations of red radish, carrot, daikon radish, cucumber, zucchini, and beet. My favorite were the daisies made out of daikon radish and then dyed red from beet juice. The hardest flower for me was with the cucumber; it was basically a stringy mess for me.

At the end, we made flower pots out of daikon radish to present the flowers in an aesthetically-pleasing manner. 


Perfect make-up and nails to cook?! They're leftovers from prom; don't expect it ever again ;)
All in all, the workshop was a really interesting introduction to an art form I didn't even know existed. While I was operating on five hours of sleep and the exhaustion from a big night, I still learned skills I continue to remember. Given the right situation and ingredients, these skills could come in handy!

Happy Crafting!!
--Elizabeth

November 6, 2014

Tie-dye: US National Park style

As the autobiographical craft blog that this is, it's a legitimate shame that I have not yet shared my collection of high-quality tie-dyed shirts. What kind of self-proclaimed hippie am I?!

Well, I must consent the tie-dye jobs may not be exceptionally high-quality, but tie-dye is an important indicator of my hipness as a tree-hugging individual. 

Given my affection for national points of interest (parks, beaches, etc.), I recently realized that I have worn every tie-dyed shirt I own at some kind of naturally protected place. So here we go: tie-dye, the national park edition!

August 2010, Yellowstone National Park
First up: indigo. In a middle school Girl Scout event, I had the opportunity to dye some clothing with indigo. This is not as lame as it sounds; the process of dyeing is labor-intensive and advanced, and I was lucky for the opportunity. To get interesting patterns instead of just a solid blue shirt, I used rubber bands and popcorn kernels, gathering techniques, and clothespins to keep some negative white space in the shirt. A year or so after dyeing it, I brought the shirt on our family trip to Yellowstone National Park in the summer of 2010, and I wore it on the day we wandered around the Norris Geyser Basin. 


October 2012, Point Reyes National Seashore
Next up is the revered Panther Camp t-shirt. Panther Camp was the orientation program for transitioning from elementary to middle school that was piloted during my year. Given how atrocious these t-shirts always were, it's both amazing and embarrassing that I even took it to college with me. I first dyed it my freshman year of high school with low-quality dye, so it faded quite quickly, evident in the picture of my sister and I on our first family backpacking trip in Point Reyes National Seashore in October 2012. 

August 2014, Lassen Volcanic National Park
But then I dyed it again! No reason not to, right?! So here's the shirt again, this time traversing the King's Creek Falls in Lassen Volcanic National Park in August 2014.

July 2012, Northern California coast

Last up for now is the chem shirt that brings back...mediocre...memories. That is, the experience of tie-dying the shirt in class made it the sole best chem class ever. But the class the shirt represents... let's just say I never understood the chemical processes involved in tie-dye. But this shirt is the most formal attempt at tie-dye I have ever done, and the traditional spiral turned out quite well. The pic is from a state beach in California near the Oregon border from July 2012.

I hope you enjoyed the #throwbackthursday tie-dye photo tour! Here's to many more backyard tie-dye adventures to come.

Happy Crafting!!
--Elizabeth