Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fall in full swing at Shaw Orchards

Today my family and I went to visit Shaw Orchards, it is located in Stewartstown Pennsylvania right on the PA Maryland line (half the orchards are probably actually in Maryland). The family farm has been around since the 1890's, I am not sure how large the farm is but it covers a good amount of land.  Since fall is in full swing, and it is apple and pumpkin season...we rode the hayride to pick our own pumpkin.  I also, bought apples to make an apple pie and stewed apples for my son.

There were many apples to choose from, from the local York apple to the common Red Delicious.  We bought a type called Nittany, which if you didn't already guess is a Pennsylvania apple.  It is tart and sweet and very juicy.

There were also may pumpkins and gourds to choose from, it was chilly and windy out in the pumpkin patch!

My son and husband on the hayride out to the pumpkin patch

My son and husband with their pumpkin

 If you are in the area it is worth the drive, you can get all types of butters, preserves, other baked goods and of course cider.  You can also see their production line, where you can watch the apples come in from the fields and taken with conveyor belts to get cleaned and sorted.  This time of year you can pick your own (PYO) pumpkins and apples, but at different times of year you can also PYO cherries, blueberries, strawberries, peaches, nectarines and apricots (I may have missed something, but you get the idea.)  Check out their website for the latest in whats ripe and in season and for the times and directions.  I do recommend getting there early if you plan on PYO, before 10 am.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Encaustic Painting

Something that I haven’t talked much about since I have started this blog is that I really enjoy creating art. I actually have a BFA in printmaking from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. I haven’t been doing nearly as much as I want or should, I have even wondered if I “still got it”. Lately, I have had the need or urge to get in my make shift studio (if you can even really call it that) and do something.
A couple of years ago, I decided that I wanted to use beeswax in one of my paintings for our living room (which is still unfinished by the way) so while I was visiting my uncle he mentioned that he had some old wax left over from when his father-in-law had bees. So I jumped on the opportunity to grab it, it was probably close to 5 pounds of wax.

Well for some reason a couple weeks ago, I got a bug up my butt to start Encaustic Painting. I have never even dabbled in using melted wax in my work; well I have dripped a little candle wax on a mixed media piece. Anyway, so I started to save and collect tin cans like tuna and cat food cans, joined my local Freecycle group and requested an electric griddle. I picked the griddle up the other day and started breaking up the wax.

So to back track real quick and let you know what it is exactly (from Wikipedia)…

Encaustic painting, also known as hot wax painting, involves using heated beeswax to which colored pigments are added. The liquid/paste is then applied to a surface—usually prepared wood, though canvas and other materials are often used.

The simplest encaustic mixture can be made from adding pigments to beeswax, but there are several other recipes that can be used — some containing other types of waxes, damar resin, linseed oil, or other ingredients. Pure, powdered pigments can be purchased and used, though some mixtures use oil paints or other forms of pigment.

Metal tools and special brushes can be used to shape the paint before it cools, or heated metal tools can be used to manipulate the wax once it has cooled onto the surface. Today, tools such as heat lamps, heat guns, and other methods of applying heat allow artists to extend the amount of time they have to work with the material. Because wax is used as the pigment binder, encaustics can be sculpted as well as painted. Other materials can be encased or collaged into the surface, or layered, using the encaustic medium to adhere it to the surface.

This technique was notably used in the Fayum mummy portraits from Egypt around 100-300 AD, in the Blachernitissa and other early icons, as well as in many works of 20th-century American artists, including Jasper Johns.
Ok, back to me…Once I broke up the beeswax, I added color using broken crayons. I had them on hand and I know they should mix in fairly well. I let the wax melt down and using a stick I stirred to make sure the color was incorporated. I chose to start with just some basic colors; I want to use the natural wax as much as possible. This is straight from the source and is a golden color and even has a little organic matter mixed in.

My wax set up
Above is the unmelted wax (starting to melt) on my griddle, the small cans are cat food cans the large in the middle is straight raw beeswax.  I played around and basically experimented with brushes, dry times, heated objects, etc.  I didn't have an iron that I could use or a heat gun, so I used a piece of copper tubing that I let sit on the griddle to heat up, then just rolled/rubbed in on the surface to smooth and bind the wax. 

Experiment #1
Above is the 'finished' piece.  It was a lot of fun to create but the hardest part is knowing when to stop and walk away.  I thought at one point that I should have stopped but I just kept going.  I finally had to pull away, and this was the result. 

I can't wait to do some more...this is definitely going to be a new medium!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fall Fun

I just want to share...My son, who is 10 1/2 months old, decorated his first pumpkin.


This weekend is the first weekend in October and ours started off with our first Halloween Party of the month (really the only planned one we have).  Yes, we went to a Halloween party on October 9th, during the day.  Granted I think it was more geared to children and adults who act like children, so starting at 2 in the afternoon isn't such a big deal. 

The house was decorated to the nines, but I think it would have been better at night (I think I am going to drive by one evening to get the full effect.)  There was a scaled Psycho house in the front yard with a door that opened letting a red glow seep out, a dead man in the tub with a bloody curtain in the bathroom, Michael was in the garden, a mummy on the back porch, and misc. other items throughout the house.  In addition to the decorations, there was a bounce house, bean bag toss, a box of wigs and masks to use, and a spot to fish for skulls. 

I was assigned a Halloween themed appetizer.  So I went with mummified pigs in a blanket...can you ever go wrong with pigs in a blanket at a party? No.

I made them the same way you would make normal pigs in a blanket, with refrigerate crescent rolls and I used the cocktail sized sausages (not wieners/hot dogs).  I cut the rolls in to strips and wrapped the sausage, leaving a little space for a "face".

I used a little mustard on the end of a tooth pick for eyes, but you needed to use a lot to make it stay.  As the mustard dried it kinda faded.  But that didn't matter, they were all gone within 20 minutes, next time I will make more (I used 2 packs!)