Thursday, July 10, 2008

Fourth of July Mishaps

This year's celebration was mild as compared to previous years. The only mishaps were a burnt toe from stepping on a spark, and a spray of sparks when the wind changed direction. No one's hair caught fire and we didn't burn the pier down, so it was deemed a successful weekend!

Each year for July 4th, we go to the lake with friends to celebrate and see the fireworks show over the bridge, put on by the region's Chamber of Commerce. We've always gone by boat because we've been told the traffic on the bridge is terrible and it takes a ridiculously long time to get home.

The first year we went, we drove the boat in as close as we could get to the bridge for the show. What we didn't realize was once it got dark, it would be difficult to find our way back home! There are no lights on the lake, other than the few houses and piers lit up for the evening.

Once the show was over, everyone turned their boats around and drove back, all at the same time! Everywhere you looked, there were boats within 25 feet of us in all directions! On top of that, it seemed a good number of those boaters were drunk, which made for some scary moments. We managed to find our way back without incident, thankfully.

The next year we ventured out, we didn't go in as close and came prepared with a searchlight in case we got lost. We thought we were set, but what we didn't anticipate were the swells from the other boaters. The first year we went out in the 1977 "Swinger" speedboat, which loses another part each time we take it out, but this time we took the newer pontoon boat (20 years old, with a pathetic 25 hp engine!).

So here we go, puttering along back home with all the rest of the lake population zooming by us. Our little boat was rocking and swaying like we were in the worst storm in decades. Now would be a good time to mention I get motion sick something fierce. I'm so bad, I can get sick in a hammock. We hit a few swells which washed over the front deck of the boat. The third swell was the biggest and almost did us in.

One moment we were riding along in the water, the next we were nearly perpendicular to the water, the engine behind us over our heads, looking down into the lake! It seemed to hold there for an infinite amount of time and we all thought we were going down. Finally the boat recovered and the engine went back into the water where it belonged. The dogs huddled next to me on the seat, one under each arm, shaking with fear.

No one said anything for several minutes, then there was an exclamation of something like "holy ****" and we all started laughing our heads off.

Now when we go out, we are at the very back of the crowd and the first boaters back to shore! The fireworks are so far away we can barely hear them!

Fortunately for us, this year we stopped right by the pier of someone who'd spent their retirement money on fireworks, so we got our own show right over our heads. It was very nice and made up for the distance we kept from the official show.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Making handmade paper

Here is what I've been working on most afternoons for the last week. I have a nice stack of handmade paper now, in various colors. This is a great summer project to do outside on your porch or deck. It's kind of drippy and messy, so it would make quite a mess indoors.

It's been about 8 years since I last attempted to make my own paper. At that time, I thought the project went well, but now that I have a better idea of what I'm doing, I think not!

Some of my paper was so thick it came out looking like the toilet paper wads you see on the ceilings of public restrooms! I've concluded I had too much pulp in my vat. I ended up tearing all the super-thick paper up and recycling it for my new paper.

The project went very well this time with the exception of a little mishap I had with some inclusions. They looked very pretty, like little crystals, but turned out to be rather uncomfortable to run your hand across once the paper was dry. I think they would be showcased better in a paper casting, rather than a sheet of paper.

Here is a sheet from my first batch. I used recycled paper (copy paper and letterhead) with no inclusions, other than the flower seeds I originally used 8 years ago.

A green sheet using dark green tissue paper and green cold water dye. The dark flecks are the tissue paper.

This piece is from the same recycled pulp, but this time I added purple and lavender tissue paper to my blender of pulp. The tissue only lightly colored the pulp. The dark purple I blended longer than the lavender, resulting in large areas of lavender and flecks of dark purple. A nice effect, I think.

I had some leftover dye from a previous project, so I dumped it into the next blender full of pulp. The dye was called chestnut brown, but as you can see, the paper ended up more terra cotta than brown. I used Arnold Grummer's Gold Dust in this vat. (see for supplies--great customer service!)

Here is my last sample from today. I've photographed the paper both wet and dry to show the dramatic difference in color once the paper dries. I used more leftover dye in denim blue and Arnold Grummer's Silver Sprinkles. There are more sprinkles in the wet piece than the dry because it was the last of the pulp and I poured it into a mold, so the sprinkles were very concentrated.
As you may have noticed, it sounds as if I am addicted to making paper, and I think I am! I find myself walking around the house wondering what would happen if I added this or that to my paper! Quite possibly there will be more experiments to come. In the meantime, have a safe and happy 4th of July!
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