It was a cool but damp late October morning when we arrived at Jeff’s Studio. Pots had been thrown the week before and bisque fired, now it was time for the glaze. We were trying our hands at a pit fire. We gathered all types of wood from around the farm, sprinkled and piled dog food, egg shells, seaweed, and salt into and over the pots, hoping to have color and texture merge onto the waiting surfaces. Jeff lit the fire and instantly, it was a blaze! The fire was then covered with wet cardboard and wooden boards and after hovering around the warmth of the fire, back into the studio we went so Olive could throw more clay.
After about an hour, the fire had died down, wood was cinder and we went to the pit to see the results among the still smoldering ashes. See what you think! We were very excited with the outcome – the texture and mottling appears to be galactic and the depth of the black is beautiful. We are already planning for another one. Very fun and interesting to see the reactions (and non reactions) that showed themselves on the final pieces. What a great way to spend a fall morning in West Michigan!
Welcome to tech class! Before we begin, a brief over view of what circuit bending is: A man named Reed Ghazala created circuit bending in 1966 when unexpectedly, a toy shorted-out when it touched a metal object in his desk drawer. This created surprising types of unusual sounds. Circuit bending today is when people (like us!), customize the circuits in electronic devices, like toys and digital synthesizers to create new musical or visual instruments! WHEW! Now that you know what circuit bending is, let’s move on.
Over the last couple weeks we’ve made changes to over 8 different toys! We’ve changed things like the color of the lights inside, on toys that spoke we shifted the pitch of the words and even the speed of the sentences! By far the most complicated toy was Reggie the rooster. He has all sorts of springs, wires, lights, speakers and buttons which are all controlled by the circuit board inside. Plus, he sings great little songs… One thing that was particularly interesting with some of the toys that we first opened, is that some of them (the ones that have buttons that we could press and it starts talking or making noises) have these little plungers that are connected to the button, so when they touch the mother board, that triggers the lights and sounds! Cool right?
We used a jump wire to find circuits that made new sounds or glitch. By doing this we could make the lights change color, sounds go deeper or turn the board off or on entirely. We then took sounds and worked with Dad to loop them into his audio system. Now, we can use it to make MUSIC!
As an ongoing project, there will be more updates on this especially if something groundbreaking happens, but be sure to keep your notifications on and if you’re not willing to do that, keep an eye out for our next post!
Essential Oils. It seems they can be found everywhere. We recently had a workshop with an ultra awesome “Scent Jeanne” (magic in a bottle – get it?) who has her own skin care line and has spent 20 years researching and experimenting with essential oils, teas and natural remedies. After a talk about plants and their properties, possible uses for them and ways essential oils are obtained from the plants, we headed outside blindfolds and essential oils on hand. Jeanne loves the brand Mountain Rose Herbs because of their craft and attention to the growth, care and harvesting of their plants. Eden’s Garden is also a brand she appreciates the quality of.
One by one, accompanied by a breeze and the sunshine, we teamed up to explore our experiences with different scents. I partnered with the famous Emmy, with one person blindfolded, the other dabbed oils on a q-tip and allowed our brains to figure out what they thought of it. And boy, did mine think! In retrospect, I wonder how great my sense of smell is. I couldn’t tell if it was that I was trying too hard or I simply couldn’t smell as well as I thought I could. Later, we had a scavenger hunt in which we would smell the plants in Jeanne’s garden and pair it by smell with the right oil! That was tricky stuff, but it was super duper fun!
Thank you to Jeanne for just being so cool and teaching us about all of this radical stuff and to Emmy for being my excellent buddy and class partner! We hope this post made a lot of “scents” (get it?).
Sometimes all you need is a great idea. In this case, a suggestion from our recently adopted-by-proximity, nephew, Kevin. As our niece/nephew(s) came for the ‘Finale Family Dinner’ before graduation day from Undergrad, we knew it was time.
DIY videos rolled, supplies gathered and the next thing we knew, it was Pour Time!
All hands were on deck for the giant (36″x48″) first-time pour! Not many explanations needed, would use more paint, thinner and heavier layers of lubricant the next time, hopefully to get bigger cells. Check out the pics. Excited to do it again (and again!!).
This is what it looked like once it dried… some crazing (cracking) in thick paint areas but WAY COOL! Can’t wait to do it again!
First off, I promise not to do any egg related puns because we have some good and bad news about the progress of “Project Incubation”. As you may or may not know, a few times through the incubation of eggs, bright lights (candles a long time ago) are placed up against the shell of the egg and you can usually see shadows and blood vessels, and later in the development, even a baby chick, moving around! Where there is only a yolk, you can see that too. In some cases, you will see only a single blood vessel along the surface inside the eggshell. These are embryos that started to form, but died for some reason in the process of development. We saw a video online and they called their eggs ‘yolkers’, ‘quitters’, and ‘winners’.
So! First the bad news. We candled our eggs on day 10 and found only 3 of them are viable out of the thirteen that were shipped to us. One egg broke during shipping. We had 3 quitters and other 7 were yolkers. Either they got scrambled in shipping or they weren’t fertile. Giant bummer. We have hope that the 3 remaining are going to hatch and be healthy hens, since our ordinance says “no” to ‘roos. Probability is against us, but maybe all the ones that quit were the males?
So we’ve decided instead of waiting another month for a new batch to (possibly) hatch, we are going to get baby chicks from Tractor Surprise (Supplies) but we might have to compromise on the breeds we originally wanted… hence the name Tractor SURPRISE.
The good news? We’ve still got 3 eggs in the bator and it gives us a little more time to finish the coop which has been hard to work on since the weather here on the Michigan Lakeshore has still been so cold. Soon, the baby fluff balls will be here and we will post how the hatch went. Chick day is right around the corner!!
The egg-straviganza has begun on Water Street! Today is day 7 of incubation. We started with 13 eggs with the egg-ception of one that broke in transit from Wisconsin. We purchased the fertile bantam eggs from Purely Poultry (which were strangely egg-spensive). We chose egg-squsite blue laced red wyandottes, egg-septional golden and silver sebrights and of course, egg-strordanairy easter eggers, since Mom loves those egg-straterrestrial blue eggs! It took a while to get the incubator to be consistent in temperature and humidity, but once it was set, we scrambled to get the eggs in place! Our incubator has an automatic egg turner, which is simply egg-semplary because otherwise, we’d be turning them by hand 3 times a day which would be egg-sausting and quite an egg-sercise! Keeping the humidity constant at around 45% has been egg-cruciating, luckily, we’re home and can keep a close check on it.
This morning, we candled the eggs it was a little unnerving having the eggs egg-sposed to the cold air but we have to because the infertile ones can egg-splode! It was hard because the embryos are so little (see the development chart) and many of the eggs have darker shells. We are egg-specting that 2 are infertile and possibly 3 more that are no longer viable, we’re hoping it won’t get any more egg-treme. Ugh. That will bring us down to 7 possible chicks that we are hoping and hoping and hoping are FEMALE! Day 5, the gender is determined. We visited often, b-egg-ing for healthy baby girls!!!! Why so many girls you ask? We can only have hens according to this ordinance pilot. Four of them. Statistically, we’ll end up with 50% female, but then toss on top of that, we are hoping for a variety of breeds and this could end in trouble. Oh nature! This is such an amazing egg-ucation!
We’ll keep you posted with sunny-side-up developments. I promise not to include this egg-stream amount of puns in the next egg-semplary update! I’m just so egg-cited but I know this can be egg-sausting. I better get crackin’ with the rest of my school work – it’s almost the weekend!
NOTE: The Featured Image at the top of this post was taken from Nantahala Farms. We had a terrible time trying to capture our own candling process so we thank them for the great shot of what we experienced here :0)
We’re always trying to find balance. Every day… when we stand, squat, pick up a bag or our plate from the kitchen to bring to the table. We experienced finding the center of gravity in many new ways… we’ve learned about before and these hands on activities helped remind us and reinforce some superior balancing skills!
Activity 1: Grab a 3′ dowel. Find the center point by balancing it on a finger and mark it with your best guess. Now measure it to see if you were right. How close was your mark? Ours were pretty close :0)
Activity 1b: Next, take that same dowel, turn it on its end and balance it on your palm. Pretty simple, right? Add a fist full of play dough and position it towards the bottom of the stick. Now try and balance it again. Easier or harder? Flip the dowel over so the play dough is toward the top. Try your hand at balancing it again. Easier or harder this time? We thought the results were surprising until we thought about the center of gravity and rotation!
Activity 2: Then, we did this cool experiment found here. 2 forks, 2 toothpicks, a lighter and a LOT of patience (Thank goodness for Olive!!). This experiment was SUPER fun… we love ay experience that we get to see bits of fire.
Activity 3: The last activity was using an empty pop can. Try and balance it on its bottom edge. Doesn’t really work… UNTIL… you grab a cup of water and add a little until you find the optimal balancing point of your choice. (Here’s a tip: less is more…. thats a clue, but you’re a smart organism – you can figure it out!) Depending on how much water is inside the can when you first balance it you can keep filling it in its balanced state until it goes over its center of gravity! (But be aware, after learning the fun of this we kept filling it more and more until it tipped and it nearly wiped out everything that was on the table!)
They were fun experiments and helped us better understand something that is happening every day all around us. Finally, we know how to find balance… well, except for that long list of things we need to do…..;0).