Sunday, September 29, 2013

dream cabin

Dear Santa:
Will you please bring me this little cabin for my workshop/teaching space/sanity hide-out?  Pretty please?  I promise to be extra super good forever and ever.  I've been wanting one for so long and this one is just perfect.

There might even be extra cookies in it for you.

xo Lisa

p.s. this would totally make up for the pony you never delivered on.  Totally.

A girl can dream, can't she?
What's on your probably-not-gonna-happen-but-I-can-dream-can't-I? list?

Friday, September 27, 2013

thank you for the connection

It's been a long time since I allowed myself the pleasure of crawling back into bed after ushering my boys off to school, but that's just what I did this morning.

The rain was little more than a mist, the sky grey and non-committal, and my youngest was busy out in the barn with her daddy.  I started reading Tuesdays with Morrie last night and decided to sneak in just a few more chapters.

Instead, I finished the book, and officially started my day with the relief that a good cry and a hot shower brings.

Now I'm sipping a cuppa tea, making a list of what I'll be working on today (those stones up there are on the list) and thinking of all of you that spend a snippet of your day with me.

Thank you, each of you, for reading along.  I appreciate your time, and the thought that we're all connected somehow if only in this small way, more than you know.

x. Lisa

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

dyeing with mustard yellow polypore - Phellinus gilvus

The little polypore I found the other day - the mustard yellow polypore - gave me some color in the dye pot.

After noticing the interior had an ochre color, I tore some up into pieces and put them in a mason jar filled with water and a splash of ammonia.  After letting it sit for a day I put the mix in my dye pot and let it simmer for about an hour, adding a little more water in the process, then turned off the heat and let it set overnight.

The next day I strained out the mushrooms and put them back in the dye jar, where they are still making color, and added my fiber to the dye liquid.  I heated the dye pot up to just under a simmer and let it heat for about an hour, then turned it off and let it, too, sit overnight.
I let the fiber dry in the sun before rinsing it.  I feel that the color gets a chance to "stain" into the fiber more, and I also get a sense as to how lightfast the color will be.

From left to right above - unmordanted wool, wool mordanted with alum, and undyed wool for comparison.  Beneath the wool is unmordanted silk and cotton, and unmordanted cotton floss next to undyed cotton floss for comparison.

The mordanted wool took up a really lovely golden color while the unmordanted wool is a very pale wheat color.  The silk and cotton floss also picked up a lovely golden color while the cotton cloth picked up only a small amount of color.

All in all, a lovely experiment, and one I'm glad I did.  When I went to check on these mushrooms yesterday they were all dried up and almost unrecognizable.  I may try dyeing with the dried ones too, just to see.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Yesterday I took my 7 and 8 year old boys with me to Ripple River Gallery for their annual raku firing.  I've always thought raku is so pretty but I've never seen it done in person.  What a treat it was.

We each got to glaze a little vessel and it was fired right there while we watched.  When it was done firing they took the pots out and put them in a small metal garbage bin full of newspaper and sawdust and closed the top.  After a few minutes the bin was opened and the pieces were removed and hosed off.  Where our chalky glazes had been, color and shimmer emerged.  It was like magic.

My grubby-handed boys were very proud of their pots and are already looking forward to going again next year.  I am too.

Not only did we get to participate in this bit of alchemy, but we got to nibble homegrown apples, look at some fiber art, and watch the release of 2 rehabilitated red-tailed hawks and a pileated woodpecker.
Definitely not your ordinary kind of day for us and we enjoyed it immensely.

Hope you're enjoying your weekend too.

Friday, September 20, 2013


Well look at that.  In the span of 24 hours those sulphur shelf mushrooms I was watching went from nubbins to somethin's.  Enough to warrant cutting a few off for a side with dinner.

I just sauteed them up in some olive oil with some sage from the garden and put them on pasta.  This is a step up for me, normally I have no restraint and eat them straight from the pan.

I should be able to harvest more in a day or two and I'll likely put them away for winter.  It's such a treat to have good mushroom soup when the snow flies.
It's the little things.

Have a great weekend, all.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

my oh my, mushrooms

A walk through the woods revealed something that I've been waiting and waiting for...
mushroom season.
With the dry weather we missed out on some of my favorite edibles - lobsters, chanterelles, black trumpets - but after a bit of rain it was really encouraging to see this:

That's a sulphur shelf mushroom aka a Chicken Mushroom growing on an oak stump.  I've harvested Chickens off of this stump before, most recently this spring, and never before has it given me two fruitings in a year.  I'm feeling pretty special.

These guys grow really quickly so I'll have to check them daily to be sure I get them when they're still young and tender.  Trust me, it's a task I don't mind doing.

Sharing space on the same dead oak were these little shelf mushrooms which I believe are mustard-yellow polypores.  The yellow and white edge caught my eye as they reminded me of the dyer's polypore in miniature.  When I pulled one off the stump I noticed the pretty ochre interior and thought I'd better see if it would give dye.

I picked a few, tore them into pieces, and put them in a jar of water with a splash of ammonia and bam! color.  I'll let it sit a few days before I try to dye with it but I'm excited at the possibility.

There were some other little lovelies popping up to say hello from the leaf litter.

But most special of all were these amazing specimens that flew all the way from B.C. to be with me.  

Aren't they gorgeous?  Handmade by the immensely talented Kristy of fog and swell.  If you don't already know, in addition to being a talented maker, Kristy also captures some spectacular images of her wild surroundings.  You can find her blog HERE.

The stitching on the gills is just fantastic.

They make me so happy.

Hope you all have a happy day too.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


 Their own nest, carefully cobbled together from ferns and twigs (and is that poison ivy? yep).  Like little momma birds.  Slightly itchy momma birds.

Acorn eggs and a cap to represent the shell of one that already hatched.  Nestled together.

Their imaginations soar when their toys are nature and time is their own.
That's probably true for a lot of us.
We should do that more often.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

a natural rainbow

The threat of near-frosty temperatures on our overnight made me a little nostalgic.  I'm not quite ready for the cold.  We only just got over the scorching hot and now... 36?  Really?

It's only temporary, our temps are supposed to be back in the normal early-fall range again for the rest of the week but regardless, the threat of frost was enough to make me want to clutch a little tighter the days of gathering leaves and twigs, barefoot mornings in dewy grass, and the dyepot humming.

This rainbow represents a full year's worth of gathering; leaves, bark, mushrooms from last fall, kitchen scraps, walnuts from Illinois, and more.  I tend to hoard my natural colors, only pulling them out when I have a special project to work on. 
Though I do think perhaps I could hang them on the wall, I like them so much.

Hope your week starts off beautifully.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

naturally dyed stones

It's been a busy week.  I'll be back soon, but in the meantime here are some naturally-dyed stones to look at.  (you'll be seeing them again soon)

Have a lovely weekend, all!

Monday, September 09, 2013

from the cuff

I found this perfect little pebble in my pant cuff.  A stow-away from my trip to the Lake last week.

I thought it would be fitting to incorporate it into the first of my stones from that trip, something I'm working on this morning while waiting for the rain to clear.

Speaking of stones...since I'm in the process of doing my next edition for Art-o-mat, I thought I would also make a small edition to share.  There are a few $5 stones in my shop now.

Have a good start to the week, everyone.

Friday, September 06, 2013


Yesterday I spent a glorious day on the shores of Lake Superior with a friend.
I couldn't have asked for a more perfect day.  The weather was wonderful and the company equally so.  We didn't have anything on our agenda except play on the beach, which we did.  For many, many hours.

 There was rock-picking.  Oh yes there was.  We spent much of our time picking up the stones, feeling their texture, marveling at the different shapes and colors and how warm they were from the sun.

I skipped a few, kept a few more, and played with some too.

A number of agate-hunters were combing one of the beaches we visited.  Some of them walked where the water met the shore, some crawling on their hands and knees digging in the stones, and some of them right in the water with their shoes on. 

So when I found a nice little agate among the smooth stones I snuck down to the water and left it, hoping it would make one of those agate-hunters happy.

 All of the stress of earlier in the week had been forgotten and replaced with a fullness that comes from a day with your feet on stones and lake breezes.

I hope this weekend give you a similar fullness.
Happy Friday, all.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013


Life is not easy for any of us, me included, but yesterday was especially tough.  It seemed everything was a battle, everything was a struggle, nothing came easy.  It was just... hard.  The kind of day where you lose your perspective and start to feel a little sorry for yourself.

I hate those days.

So after wading through a handful of chores for hours that should have taken me minutes, I headed outside.  I fed the chickens and watered the ducks and checked on the guineas, and there behind the guinea coop were blackberry bushes still with a few ripe fruits on them.

The fruits on our wild bushes aren't pretty and voluptuous like the cultivated varieties.  They're guarded heavily by thorns, kind of misshapen, and undeniably small, but when you get enough of them they're just as sweet.

And it hit me.

That's kind of how it goes with life, isn't it?
Maybe it isn't pretty and perfect or quite as big as you'd like it, but when you gather up those misshapen moments, those hard-fought pleasures, it's incredibly sweet.

And often, you find wonderful things along the way that you weren't expecting at all.

And that's the thought I'll carry with me.

Happy Tuesday, everyone.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

mushroom installation at its end

I took a little time yesterday to get out to the woods.  I was in need of some one on one time with mother nature and I was hoping there would be mushrooms up.  Sadly, the dry weather has left us without mushrooms for now, and it seems my mushroom installation has gone that way too.

The last time I looked, some little critter had pulled the mushroom out of the hole and dropped it at the base of the tree.  I expected to find it still there but it was nowhere to be found.  I can only guess that said creature hauled it away to line its nest for winter.

So thus ends my project.
You can see how it progressed by visiting these posts:



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