Archive for the ‘diy’ Category

making earrings with bonbon oiseau

April 16, 2009

I’ve always had the desire to work with my hands, though I hadn’t really given myself the opportunity until recently. Partly inspired by the resurgence of DIY, and partly by the budding craft movement, I’ve begun to pick up a range of new skills.

Over the last year, I reintroduced myself to the sewing machine, taught myself crochet, learned block printing, got into baking & soupmaking, and got acquainted with street tree bed gardening.

Tonight, I added a new skill – jewelry making. Through make workshop (run by sewing guru Diana Rupp), I learned the art of earring assemblage from Deb Stein of Bonbon Oiseau. Deb is super down to earth and seriously encouraging of her students. She’ll be teaching another class in memento assemblage with bracelets and necklaces next month (details).


(Focusing on tiny beads and delicate chains. Deb Stein at right.)

Deb makes it a point to use ethically sourced materials — like antique beads — in her jewelry line, which is made at her studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Her beautiful baubles are available in the US, Europe, and Japan (she’s especially popular there). Deb will also be at the Brooklyn Flea for its Spring re-opening this weekend. She’s also designing jewelry for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Cherry Blossom Festival.

I walked away from class with two pairs of dangly earrings and a new skill to add to my DIY bag of tricks.

diy yogurt

April 15, 2009

I’ve been wanting to make my own yogurt for a while now. I just read a great tutorial in the NY Times on how to do it. The thing is, I’ve come to prefer goat’s milk yogurt to cow’s milk. It’s supposed to be easier to digest. I might not have an easy time tracking down goat’s milk to make it a regular practice.

(Goat image via Redwood Hill Farm)

Maybe I’ll experiment with other types of milk, though I’m not sure if it’ll work… hemp milk yogurt anyone?

To make yogurt, first choose your starter yogurt. If no one offers you an heirloom, I recommend one of the ubiquitous global brands, sweeteners and stabilizers included. They tend to have very active bacterial cultures, including EPS producers, and the additives end up diluted to insignificant levels. Delicious specialty yogurts make less predictable starters.

Then choose your milk. I prefer the flavor and consistency of yogurt made from whole milk. Many types of reduced-fat milk replace the fat with milk solids, including acid-producing lactose, and make a harsher tasting yogurt. Soy milk sets into a custardy curd that becomes very thin when stirred.

Heat the fresh milk at 180 to 190 degrees, or to the point that it’s steaming and beginning to form bubbles. The heat alters the milk’s whey proteins and helps create a finer, denser consistency.

Let the milk cool to around 115 to 120 degrees, somewhere between very warm and hot. For each quart of milk, stir in two tablespoons of yogurt, either store-bought or from your last batch, thinning it first with a little of the milk.

Then put the milk in a warm jar or container or an insulated bottle, cover it, and keep the milk still and warm until it sets, usually in about four hours. I simply swaddle my quart jar in several kitchen towels. You can also put the container in an oven with the light bulb on.

Once the yogurt sets, refrigerate it to firm its structure and slow the continuing acid production. To make a thick Greek-style yogurt, spoon it into a fine-mesh strainer or colander lined with cheesecloth, and let the whey and its lactic acid drain into a bowl for several hours. (Don’t discard the whey, whose yellow-green tint comes from riboflavin. It makes a refreshing cool drink, touched up with a little sugar or salt.)

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handmade in brooklyn, the old-fashioned way

February 25, 2009

Since making it a priority to shop at the farmers market every week, I’m more appreciative of certain things. For one, I appreciate where food comes from, and really, where other things come from as well. I think more about who produced things and how. I’m more gung-ho about supporting locally made products.

There’s a great article in the Times detailing the Brooklyn culinary movement, comparing it to 1970s Berkeley in its return to the traditional way of doing things. Some of the gastronomic arts highlighted: pickling, hand butchering, chocolate making, knife crafting. It warms my heart to support local/handmade products in response to the proliferation of mass-produced, made-in-foreign-lands goods. Whether I’m eating a salad at Franny’s made from farmers market greens and locally made cheese, chowing down a grass-fed burger at Diner, or crunching on deliciously spicy Mean Beans from Rick’s Picks, there’s a great sense of satisfaction that I’m supporting people who care a whole lot about what goes into what they’re making.

The next step in my appreciation for all things local was to bring it all even closer to home. I’ve begun cooking more at home, baking, and making other things with my own two hands. I now save veggie scraps to make stock (I made about 10 quarts less than a month ago and have already gone through it all making soups). I’ve been experimenting with muffin and dessert bread recipes (ingredients are as local and organic as I can get). Unfortunately I missed the really good end of summer pickling season, but I plan on taking advantage of it this year. And I’ve started making crafts as well.

Why buy it if you can make it, or remake it?

Some of my projects…

Inspired by a picture frame I saw on Etsy, I made this picture frame out of vintage upholstery buttons, linen, and an old frame I had lying around. (I’m the little one on the right.)

I’ve been wanting a neckwarmer that would fit under my coat better than a scarf would. So I taught myself to crochet using the Stitch ‘N Bitch book and crocheted this one using super-soft Peruvian highland wool. So cozy!


I read recently that crochet can only be created with human hands. So when you see something crocheted, you know that no machines were involved (except for maybe the spinning of the yarn).

I also wanted to freshen up an old bookcase we had, so I got some milk paint (in Soldier Blue) to do the job.

I think I’ve got the DIY, crafting bug, and I think I like it.

PS. I just found this great green crafting blog, Crafting a Green World. Exciting!

adorable diy undies just in time for valentine’s day

February 8, 2009

I love it when you can transform something old and boring into something super cute and useful. Here’s a little video from Clare Bare — indie lingerie maker extraordinaire featured on ThreadBanger. It’s underwear that you can make yourself from an old shirt, just in time for a happy heart day. Enjoy!

BTW, if you’re not handy with the sewing machine you can get a pair of these fancy pants on etsy.

how to make a loomed scarf or belt

January 6, 2009

One of my fondest art projects as a kid was making a cardboard loom and weaving a little piece of textile (it was too small to be called a rug and there weren’t any computer mice at the time to make one of those silly rug mousepads).

I just got all nostalgic watching this tutorial on ThreadBanger. Barbara of Bobbi Clothes shows us how to make a simple loom and then weave a scrap fabric scarf or belt. I’m inspired to whip up one of these beauties myself!