Monday, 28 February 2011

Day 231-Frame Baskets For Gathering

I knew it!  I knew it!  I knew if I tabled basket making as part of the agenda at The Gathering, I would finally be able to make a decent basket or at least understand instructions!

 What Gathering? 

The Gathering is a monthly mini meeting between founding  members, Cindy, Asuka and me.  Since June 2010, we have met  once a month. Without Fail.   We have 2 Honorary Members, Dale and Rosanna, who attended our 1st and  3rd Gathering respectively.

 We try to plan for  at least one mini making at each Gathering but deciding what to do can be a bit of a headache as our styles , preferences and methods are different, sometimes even  at odds. Cindy, the reluctant captain, is often tasked with the unenviable job of deciding what to make.  Coincidentally or not , it is usually something I want to make. Poor Asuka!

What Instructions?

If you have read my post on Day 213, you may remember how hopeless I was at trying to follow basket weaving instructions from my book, 4 pages of which are extracted here (see left)  for you to decipher.  I thought maybe my 2 other friends can translate these codes. 

So I emailed Cindy : How about we make baskets at the February Gathering? Finally, something all 3 of us can use despite our different genre.  So we met yesterday and I found out I was wrong about 1 thing:

 It turned out  that none of us were really good at  following the written word. 

Luckily, Cindy had made frame baskets before, way back in September 2009 and she remembered this wonderful pictorial tutorial at Linnanukkis

Going back and forth my laptop to look at the pictures in the tutorial, this is what we did: 

Materials:  We used these plastic line to make the frames. But you can also use wires or even papers.  For the baskets, we decided to try different materials. Cindy decided on brown paper from paper ropes,  Asuka and I , cotton cooking strings. 

Frame:  Make the frame and then use tacky glue to hold them in place. 

Handle Joints:  This is the tricky part that took us a while to unravel. You first make a cross at the part the frame joins the handle. You then start weaving diagonally, one spoke at a time in one direction until you are satisfied. 

Skeleton and Body: After you have done the weaving at the  handles, build the skeleton body by adding more spokes gluing the edges of each spoke at the part the handle joins the frame.  Then start weaving in and out of the new spokes. Use two strings , one at each handle  joint and have them meet at the center for an  easier finish.

It took us between 1 1/2 hours to 2 1/2 hours to  finish the baskets  up to this stage, just before varnish.  Guess who took the longest? Moi, of course. We all decided that paper gave the best results as it looked the most realistic. The smallest basket made by Asuka measures 5/8" at its widest , mine  is 1" and Cindy's 1 1/4".

Varnish : We used wood varnishes for the cotton baskets and just a matt acrylic varnish for the paper one.  And then,

the baskets are finally ready for some gathering

1st, we have Asuka's baby basket for freshly dug potatoes

Here, you see plucked oranges and figs overflowing from the basket  by Sans!

And perched on OM's ladder is Cindy's willow skein frame basket for those mountainous magic herbs.

You may want to know that just one of those potatoes , bought in Bangkok but dirtied and painted by me,  can fill  OM's  stomach for the whole day.

And the baskets of oranges and figs , gifts from Kiva, are so precious to the Rollas that they only eat one of them a month.  These fruits DO NOT rot.

Last but not least, those herbs or  real dried flowers, when pounded and applied to the face with the mountain mud, will instantly make you look 20 years younger. So don't use it if you are less than 20 years old !

Monday, 21 February 2011

Day 230-Ode To Ladder


Why do I love thee? 

Let me count the ways!

I love thee to the depth and breadth but mainly  height

To that cave I can reach, which without you may be out of sight 

 And where mountain herbs huddled impossibly 

at Land's Ends in   i d y l l i c    Grace

I love that with thee we can level to herb gather 

for everyday's quiet needs to a youthful Face

 I love thee freely, so we might visit thy neighbour's wife;

Who's jealous husband has locked her Way U

in a mushroom  h o u s e  all her life

But mostly, I love thee purely,

For no matter how f  a  r the mountain high

Even when m eye  meets the  sky

With thee, I'm exactly where I want to be.

How I Made My Rustic Ladder

This rustic ladder has to be one of the easiest mini to make.  You only need 1 material, fairly sturdy twigs. The tools are as shown in the picture. First, I cut 2 twigs to the same height , these will make the sides of the ladder. Then I cut the steps to a length I am comfortable with.  Mine need six steps. Make sure they are of equal length of course. 

For the perfectionist, you can use a ruler for this next step. I was too lazy so all I did was to put the 2 long twigs right next to each other and align the holes which I created with a simple round file (the tool with the orange handle in the previous pic). I made a dent on the twig and then dug deep but gentle because otherwise, the twig may break.

 For the steps, I shaved the ends with a fine chisel (best thing I bought from Daiso last month, thanks to Cindy!) like that in the picture above. Then I put glue at the 2 ends and in the holes of the long twigs. 

Here's where I fit the ends of the step into the holes. One by one, till I make six. Don't be afraid that the steps might not fit because it is so easy to just shave a bit more off the ends or if it becomes too short like one of mine, I just cut another step. After all the steps were fitted, I varnished the ladder with a matt finish. This ladder was finished in less than an hour.  Maybe that's long for some of you but it's pretty darn short for me! 

Truth is I really do love ladders. I have 3 in my home.

The really useful one which we use mostly to hand our rags to dry. I think it is a universal use for ladder when it is idle. 

This is the disused but cute  one which I just don't have the heart to throw away. I even wrapped the rusted bars with rope strings. I used this one once to take pictures of my minis.

Then we have ta-dah, the completely useless one which has been leaning against this window for the past 3 years and more. For the photo shoot today, I put 3 pots of plastic plants to give it some hint of usefulness. 

And this is the tag that's still hanging on the ladder since 2007!

What to do? 

I love ladders and sometimes 

for no other reason than the fact that they look pretty. 

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Day 224 & 228-River Fishing In The Rain

             About five miles and an hour's walk away from the Rolla House, behind a tall tall Bonzai Tree, lies a mysterious, meandering creek. The villagers call the creek Longkang Ganga as many believe it to be a tributary of THE Source of Life itself, Mother Ganga or the River Ganges. BUT no one really knows where the creek originates from or where its mouth is as the rivulet seems to go on in an endless infinite stream

AND despite being nestled amongst the isolated hills and rocky ridges of the harsh Rajasthani desert,  the river never seems to run dry. This is a river revered, a gift from the Gods for with its abundant fish life, the river also holds a promise for the hardworking that they will never go hungry. 

That is, if you follow a few simple rules....

 Use only the traps and baskets made by your own hands. 

And if it rains on the day a brand new set is used, 
your harvest will be quick

Eat what you kill and do not kill more than a week's worth.

And so it was on a mid-winter's dawn that Om took his baskets and trap, weaved only the night before,  and started his l o n g walk to the creek. He was just about to step into the creek when the 1st drops of desert rain started pitter-pattering on him. And the trap had barely hit the bottom before Om felt the morning's 1st catch. A single, glimmering, beautiful river trout. Ro will be so happy, OM thought, happy himself.

Now, Om hardly had time to open the fish's gills to gut it before two more appeared..

and  before he could utter Namaste to the new arrivals, another one came and then...


until we have S   I   X  ! 

That's just nice for a week  as the family goes without meat 
once  a week on the last day. 

So quickly, 
Om removed the trap from the river bed, 
store the fishes safely in his basket
 and began 
his long but satisfying walk home.

Will you agree with me if I say
you just can't get them any fresher than this?

Or any more realistic... Fishes by Kiva Atkinson, of course. I commissioned Kiva on 4th Feb 2011 to make me some river fishes and I landed these beyond awesome trouts on the eve of Valentine's Day. When I emailed her that I have received them together with her gifts of fruits and platter (which I will show in another post),  she was having a meal with Lance at a Chinese restaurant, probably steamed fish. 

My brother had held one of her creations in his hand and said "This is reeeeeeeal!" I swear they are too. One of them kept flopping out of the bamboo tray wherever I lay them! Look, if you don't believe me.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Day 225-227-An Oasis At Daybreak


                  this is still the wee hours...
                                                                         but maybe you are already awake

W  A   I   T ...

S   t   a   y      r   e   a   l   l   y    s t i l l

       now close your eyes 

take a deep breath

Can you smell it?

.....  it's the sweet bouquet of the cold just before sunrise



Can you hear it? 

.....its the light breeze of first blush saying

                                                          let's sound the chimes

                           the world must wake.

and already we see the first sign of life 

followed shortly by another

the early morning dew

 and dawn is finally breaking

Though when the sun is shining bright

the fishes may run and hide

but we know they are still there

SEE the bubbles and their air

And in the harsh light of day,

we see yesterday's flowers on display

in their rusty cans,

with their suntanned leaves

But prettily they still sway

To music the broken chimes play

So welcome to the oasis at daybreak

This is my garden in the Village.

                           This is my sanctuary of peace.

Postscript : Some of you may find this style of presentation faintly reminiscent of another. I shall shamelessly admit that this is not my usual way but that of a Wonder Twin. I hope she likes my Laser Light Show and Tell. I hope she'll enjoy her ride.  And I really hope you do too. 

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