August 21, 2014

Tiny box of macarons

I'm obsessed with macarons in real life- little crunchy-soft bites of intense flavor and cream filling.  What's not to love?  Plus, they're gorgeous to look at all laid out in colorful trays.

Naturally, a box of macaron miniature needed to happen.  The first version has six macarons in a rainbow.

Cute, if perhaps a bit different than what I'd normally choose if I were assembling a box of macarons for myself in real life.  So, naturally I fell down a macaron Pinterest black hole (the best sort of black hole, really.)

And the extra 16 flavors of macarons pictured above are the result!

Top row: pistachio, key lime, blueberry chocolate, lemon lavender
2nd row: mocha swirl, caramel chocolate, milk chocolate, peanut butter chocolate banana
3rd row: birthday cake, vanilla bean, orange creamsicle, neopolitan
4th row: strawberry chocolate, pink lemonade, strawberry, raspberry

What flavors did I miss? Which ones would you add to a little box?

August 18, 2014

Gah! Dust! Part 1: A clean work surface

One of the single most frustrating things about working with polymer clay are the little speckles of dust that seem to seek out white clay and cling to it for dear life.  You can easily spend twice as long trying to get that one little fleck of dust off of your perfect piece as you did sculpting it in the first place.

Dust prevention will make your sculpting a whole lot more enjoyable and save you all that time fixing pieces later!

There are a lot of different tips and tricks we've picked up over the years to help with dust prevention.  This week, I'll break it down into a series of posts with one tip in each one, and a whole dust-prevention roundup at the end.

The first step to dust prevention is working with a truly clean surface.

I use three things: a white ceramic floor tile, rubbing alcohol (or alcohol-based hand sanitizer), and a clean cotton cloth.

The ceramic floor tile is a fantastic work surface for so many reasons- inexpensive, flat, stays relatively cool to the touch, and the white surface shows any dust or clay residue very easily.  I buy my tiles at my local hardware store, and they're cheap.  I'm sure you can also find them easily at a Habitat Store or any major home improvement store.  Get the white ones with a totally smooth surface.  I like to work on an 8" x 8" or 6" x 8" tile.

Rubbing alcohol (I like the 90%) dissolves the clay.  This makes it an ideal cleaning agent to use on your tile. It will clean off any residue from the last goodies you made, so you won't need to worry about color residue showing up on your perfectly white clay.

A clean cotton cloth is the last crucial item in your cleaning arsenal. I save old cotton sheets and cut them up to use as my cleaning cloths. The woven cloth doesn't shed fibers the way that towels can.  A quick swipe over your tile with a cloth and some rubbing alcohol and your surface is beautifully clean and dust-free!

I have a bunch more dust prevention tips to come, and will link back as I write them up!

August 12, 2014

Heirloom tomatoes

When we were growing up, our dad always planted a fantastic vegetable garden.  Each year, he'd pick one of us three kids and he'd plant radish seeds in the shape of our name. When the seedlings started to sprout our name would be growing there!  The fresh carrots, sugar snap peas, endless zucchini and squash were all delicious. It was the tomatoes, though, that were the real prize. Colorful, sweet, warm right off the vine.

For years, I'd been meaning to sculpt miniature heirloom tomatoes.  This year, inspired by my neighbors at the Charlottesville City Market, Broadhead Mountain Farm, and many many awesome food and farm instagrammers, I finally made some prototypes!  

These are the first three: a green zebra, a yellow pineapple, and a classic red tomato (not sure what variety!).  What other varieties should I make to flesh out the tomato rainbow?