Thoughtful Gift and Packing Materials

Last night a package arrived from Dave, my brother-in-law. He sent us three jars of the jam he has been making. That in itself is very cool, but the I thing I was more excited about was how he packed them.

When I dug through the sea of white, I found this–

Jam Out of the Package

I love the packing materials which have now been added to my stash of potential art materials.

Jam Packing Materials

The last time Dave visited he brought me tea tins that he thought I might like to use in my work. Words cannot express how it feels to have such a thoughtful and supportive person in my life.

The Death of a Sad Plant or Sad Death of a Plant

There are plants that live with us for years. Their beauty brings joy and perhaps even a sense of well being.

After I get past the death aspect of the plant, I start to see the textures and color combinations.

Death Sad Plant

Can’t help first thinking about textured ceramic glazes.

Glaze Detail

Multiple Glaze-Fired Detail

Glaze Detail

Multiple Fired Glaze-Fired Piece With Egyptian Paste.

Then how can I make a similar surface on wood and metal. I generally do not think about how to use the actual plant in my work.

There is beauty to be found in so many things, even a dying, rotting plant. And I do love sharp and pointy things that act as protection.

Death Sad Plant Detail

I did a bit of research today regarding diseases of cactus and found some information on cactus disease on The Cactus Museum site. Then to my surprise there is a cactus moth.

What is it with moths? Have they always been around and I never paid them much attention? There are moths that pollinate my Brugmansia, so some moths are good for the garden.

The Cactus Museum

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Texas Parks & Wildlife– Cactus Moth Poses New Invasive Species Threat to Texas Biodiversity

Sad Plant

The other day I found one of my plants in a terrible condition.

Sad Plant

I contacted a plant friend for advise and he sent me the following instructions–

Plant Removed From Pot

Unpot the plant, clean all soil off of roots.

Mix a solution of 1 cup of water, add 1/3 cup 70% isopropyl alcohol, add 1 teaspoon of soap (Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint castile soap). Mix well

Immerse plant for 10 minutes, then rinse well with tap water.

Plant Soak

Repot in a clean pot with fresh mix.

Repotted Plant

Wait one week then water with dilute general purpose fertilizer.
Water once a week Spring through fall, Once every two weeks winter

Plant the Day After

Plant the day after.


Plant on the day that I brought it home in 2009. It was a beautiful plant with lovely flowers.


After Bath…

I have been trying to figure out how to age/distress wool pieces. I was pretty sure that cold wax would be the solution, but an interesting thing happened. I removed the felt that I had stitched onto the back of a piece to find casemaking moths living in a crease near the bottom.

That was it, nothing left to lose. I filled the bath with water and sodium bicarb. Tossed in the piece and left it overnight.

Piece in Bath

The next morning I applied a solution of peroxide, white vinegar, and salt.

Piece After Bath

Then wrapped the piece in plastic, a bit of a brief fuming. When I unwrapped the piece sometime in the afternoon, much of the metal had oxidized. I took the piece outside and sprayed it down with the garden hose. The piece was left outside to air dry and catch some sun.

My hope is a soak overnight in salt water, saturation with a metal oxidizer, a drenching with water, and some sun would break the moth cycle.

This is how the piece looks tonight.

Piece With Rust

Tomorrow I plan to give the piece an application of shellac. Yep, bug goo. I have been testing some oxides mixed with denatured alcohol, then added to shellac.

Eventually, it will be time to build a frame/box most likely out of cedar.

Moths, Conservation, Cold Wax…

I am still fighting case making moths. Last night I opened a jar of small pieces that I made for testing, to find moths living amongst them. I hate killing things, but I am getting quite frustrated with not knowing where or when I will find critters. I am pretty sure that I brought them into the house in hay for the bunnies.

On the Conservation Center site I found this information about a moth infestation of a Tibetan Ladahki Headdress. I had originally read that the only way to kill the moth cycle was heat. Not a good solution, since I previously used wax on some of my pieces. This is the method used–

…frozen to prevent contamination of the other objects in the lab and to kill moth activity, including all adults, larvae and eggs. After remaining in a freezer at -20˚C for one and a half months…

I have been reading a bit about artifacts and conservation looking for information as to how to age/distress components added to artifacts. Thought perhaps some interesting materials or methods to use them might be appropriate for some of my work.

I feel like I am constantly learning new things about, well just about everything. I don’t want to alter the color of the wool pieces too much, but I do need to distress them. Perhaps the solution for future pieces is to distress the wool before I use it, or not use it at all. When I have used hot wax on wool the result is a rather plastic appearance.

I ordered a variety of waxes and am attempting to use cold wax processes. I am liking d-limonene with white and amber microcrystalline, but I do not like that my studio has the odor of orange oil.

White Microcrystalline Wax with d-Limonene

Waxed Pieces

Displaying the finished wool pieces is another problem that I have been thinking about. I was planning to build boxes/crates to house/display the pieces, but then how to keep the pieces in place? I generally opt for nails straight through with a head that I like.

This would be a great option–

Mounting Headdress

Mounting Headdress. Image from the Conservation Center Site

Finished Conservation of Headdress

Finished Conservation of Headdress. Image from the Conservation Center Site