India Trip in October

I am already back from India… and it only took me 30 plus hours of travel (the “only” was to be read with a sarcastic tone).   I am disappointed in the fact that I couldn’t stay for Diwali but at the same time it is very nice to be home with my family.   This trip was a very quick trip and all of my time was spent working.   I still want to share several pictures of my trip… (even if many of them are taken from taxi rides)

These pictures are going to be somewhat random… and if you are not familiar with me… they may seem somewhat odd.   I wished I had better pictures but again I was very short for time.


Below is a picture I took to send to Isabelle and I didn’t even have time to send it.   This picture was originally just meant for her but now I will share it with all of you.

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“I donut know what I’d do without you”… and I mean that sincerely. (maybe a bit more sincerely with respect to Isabelle… hmm I wonder if she will see this? and I wonder even more if she will still appreciate it after seeing that I shared it with everyone)

I always like taking picture of signs especially advertisements.   I find the cultural differences to be fascinating.   The sign below I thought was incredibly “scary” (could be advertising a haunted house) but after consulting a couple of co-workers it was explained to be “good” luck to place this on your home. (in my obviously cultural biased opinion I believe you are still asking for you home to be “possessed” by Nazi vampires)

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This sign was above the highway and it made me smile… I doubt I am sleeping with my enemy… but I wondered if I could be sleeping with someone else’s enemy.  In pondering this question for the next several miles I could not come up with someone who would consider Isabelle their enemy… nor could I figure out what this sign was about.

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I thought a lot above the sign in my office  stating that it is illegal to refuse participation.   Do you think you could spend jail time?   “Hey what are you in for”… “Um well I refused to participate in a fire drill.”   (I bet they have to put these types of criminals in isolated confinement to protect the rest of the general prison population)

Often advertisers use “subliminal” messages in their campaigns.   They are often too difficult to discern especially when you don’t share the same cultural context.   With that said I had no problem seeing the very subtle “adult” innuendo in this advertisement

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I am going to stop with the “signs” and show some of the beautiful country side.  (Like this post’s feature picture)  I have only been in India in December and January and it is definitely not as “green” as it is in October.   I want to again apologize for my poor pictures.   They were taken from the car and it was raining.

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hmm… they all look the same.   It definitely was much better in person… plus I saw monkeys on the side of the road and was not quick enough to get a picture.

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Two posts before this one I shared a rangoli that was done at my office.  Here is another one and these were done by professionals.  The office had an internal contest where teams created the same thing in our break room.   Here are my co-workers versions.   Leave a comment with your vote for “favorite”.

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And… for those wondering… I had nothing to do with the cigarette smoking the man. (Although this is definitely my kind of rangoli… and obviously my favorite..although I would have changed the words to say something different… like maybe “smoking humans has been shown not to cause lung cancer in “lab cigarettes”).  All of this was done as part of the Diwali celebrations…  very very cool.

I had best put in some random tourist pictures (they can’t be worse than the earlier green mountain pictures)

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The last one is not very “touristy”.  I noticed the guy on the motorcycle had the brightest work boots I have every seen…  Here is a close up

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While showing my pictures to the kids we evented a game.  The game is called “which way should the cars actually be driving”.   Here are some of those pictures.

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Can you tell which way is the proper direction?  The last one is really hard to see but I had to get the face of my driver as a huge tuck on his right came within inches of his door….

HMM another coffee table book idea…  (Which way should I be driving?)

Last picture… promise.

This trip I didn’t get sick and I can’t tell you what a relief that was.   I did take precautions like lots of hand sanitizer and… well this is kind of embarrassing to admit… I packed all of my own food.   Here is what I ate every day for the week that I was in India.

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Peace out… (I lied.. and broke a promise…  oh the deceit…) 

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This coin is actually the last picture… I think it is celebrating the bikini… (you might have to think about that for a while)


Pune (Interesting Picture of Day 2)

Here is my second picture taken in Pune India… (sorry if you are expecting great tourist pictures)

You will note how BIG my hand is… and you know what they say about big hands…  They make bananas look small.

I was left these bananas along with an apple and an orange in my room last night.   When I asked about these “small bananas” a co-worker told me “They don’t make you cough”.   I am still trying to figure out that statement and would appreciate anyone enlightening me on what was meant by “not making me cough”.

Pune India (Interesting picture of the day)

I am in Pune India…   I want to share this beautiful  Rangoli that was created yesterday while I was working just outside my office lobby door.   I am often the reason why “we can’t have nice things”… and true to my nature I almost walked through it spreading the sand everywhere…  (I only ruined a small portion at the top left… you can see the small smudge to the left of the “happy”… no one in the office saw me do this… so in my opinion it is like it didn’t happen and if anyone asks… I am going with an “artist just got lazy” story)

Weekend with Walnut Hull Dye

I want this weekend to share my experiments with walnut hull dyeing.  Two years ago had you told me that I would have been dyeing, spinning and knitting wool I would have laughed and thought to myself “You would think that I would have picked a real hobby”.  I do not know why I am so fascinated with this but I continue… at the expense of another hobby I have been trying to kick start… (I really want to create a forge… by “modding” my brick oven with a blower and then forge a knife…  a much more “manly” hobby.  )

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If you read walnut hull you may have thought of the shell around the nut… but the hull is the casing around the shell.   Anyone that has had a walnut tree knows that if you don’t pick these green hulls up they turn black and stain driveways and sidewalks.  My brother had a very large walnut tree and we looked forward to having walnuts every year.   He has since moved and instead of just picking these off the ground (free) I had to order them from the internet.   I wished back then I would have known that I would be using them to dye things… and that I could have made money by selling them instead of throwing them away.

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Here are the hulls in the burlap sack that the seller package them in.   I felt stupid buying these even at $6.00 but the packaging made it a little better.  The package hid the purchase from Isabelle who could not tell that it was just the hulls we use to throw away.  The other benefit of the sack was that I could avoid touching the hulls and just throw it into the water as is.   In the above pictures you can see the sack placed into water and believe it or not this is just seconds after it was placed.   I could not believe how quickly the water changed color.

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I let the walnuts sit overnight and then placed the pot on the stove and let simmer for 60 minutes.  I removed the sack… (not straining!).  The water was black… very black.  I knew that you can use walnut hulls to get a black… but that is not at all the color I wanted.

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I read that you didn’t need to mordant the wool and I thought that if I skipped the part I would not have “black”.  I still soaked the wool in warm/hot water since I know that if the wool is wet it dyes more evenly.   In the picture above you notice that I divided the wool into two even parts.   I wanted to “purposely” create two different tones for the wool…   in the past this has been always by accident.

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I added one of the two parts to the hot dye for 20 minutes and then added the second part along with the first for another 20 minutes.  This means that one half was soaking for 40 minutes and the other half for only 20.

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Here you see the results.   I let the two parts dry and then spun them into a yarn.  I really like this subtle two tone yarn.   I also am very please with the resulting color… (was worried about it being too dark).   This is the last bit of yarn I needed to finish my “second manly knitting” project… (another scarf… for those who are curious, here is my first Inky Dinky Do’s Scarf  – Weekend Finishing Alpaca Scarf)

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Here is the finished scarf… My goal was just to play with dye and practice knitting  (some day I will knit a sweater).  This scarf is made up of six dyed color and one natural color (dark brown)

Here are the colors left to right:

  1. Grey – Weekend Dyeing with Cabbage and Beans
  2. Dark Brown – natural color
  3. Green – Weekend Dyeing with Red Onions
  4. Yellow (mixed with the grey… the yellow was too bright) – Weekend with hiking, trail work, and sagebrush dye
  5. Blue/Purple – Weekend with Logwood
  6. Weird Yellow – Sunflower Dye
  7. Walnut hull – This post

I gave this scarf to Gwen (my second daughter) who pleaded continually for it.  I was relieved that my scarf making days were done and started looking at how to make a sweater.   Ben and Sam (two sons) separately came to me and asked if I would make them a scarf… umm which means my scarf making days are not quite done.

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I had some left over walnut and log wood wool so I spun them in different combinations along with the natural brown.  You can see I have started Sam’s scarf.  I am hoping to talk Ben into a small hat…  (looks like my sweater and forge are going to have to wait)



Weekend and Fall Colors

This is really a crazy week…  lots of work and less time to… well do weird things.   I was able to sneak in a small drive up into the mountains near my home.   I want to share with you just a couple pictures from that drive.

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I brought along a co-worker from Israel who was visiting our office in the US.   In the above photo I told him I was taking a picture of him for my blog.   He laughed thinking I was joking… but we all see who has the last laugh.  Sorry Alon!… you are now famous. (famous might be stretching the truth a bit… )

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Alon was surprised  at the rich colors of the fall leaves since evidently Israel really doesn’t have an Autumn.  (I half wondered if he was just kidding me… but I confirmed his statements on google) As we drove I was amused at his “childlike” glee and frequent “look there” requests.    I suddenly realized that I have become blind to the incredible beauty offered by this time of year.  What a shame to have such amazing colors just behind your home and not appreciate it… WORSE… I don’t even have good pictures because I didn’t bother bringing my real camera.  Alon stated that he didn’t believe you could actually really capture the beauty on film… so I felt better and said “that is why I didn’t bring my camera”.  (I am such a liar)

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I do have one weird picture to share….

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The “weird picture” is of a sign from the forest service.  I wonder about all the “clever” attention grabbing signs they are creating.  Do you think they are hiring college graduate students with liberal arts degrees… you know the ones who can’t find any other job? (wow… that is kind of mean… I don’t really mean any of that)

This particular sign is written in two language… “English” and “Dog”.   What strikes me as weird is that they are not paying any attention to sign placement.   The sign is obviously too high for any dog to read.

Here is a close up.

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It seems that dogs can state things much more succinctly than humans… and with that I will try to be succinct and end my post now.


Weekend Making Epoxy Jewelry

This weekend I am going to share with all of you our Epoxy Jewelry making experiment.  This was not my idea nor did I lead this project.   Gwen (my 14 year old daughter) headed this up guiding both her little brother as well as myself through each step.   (If it sucks… it is all her fault)

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We started with clay to create the molds for our jewelry.  Gwen decided on a tear drop shape, Ben a simple circle, and I chose a heart.   Gwen didn’t approve of the “finishing” of my heart and smoothed out the inside of the mold telling me that I had to do a better job or it wont work.

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Epoxy 03We baked the clay for 30 minutes in the oven (basically following the instructions).

NEXT…. the most important part…  we  looked for what we wanted to put into the clear epoxy.   I found an old tooth of mine.   I thought that the tooth would be awesome but  Gwen said that “Mom wouldn’t approve”.  I guess in her mind since I had shaped the mold into a heart that it must be a gift for mom.

I gave into the adolescent peer pressure, put aside the tooth and decided to get some small flowers.

OH THE DECEPTION…   Ben and Gwen didn’t limit themselves in the same way they limited me.  Ben found a dead beetle in the garage and Gwen found some insect wings.  hmmm…

We gathered our stuff and placed them out to be painted.  You must paint the objects or the epoxy will leach out the colors.  We used clear gloss paint and while I painted my stupid flowers I was incredibly jealous  of Ben’s and Gwen’s cool things.   (I blame Isabelle)

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Before you place anything in the mold you must treat the mold with “Mold Release” or the epoxy well not come out.   Gwen had made all of the necessary purchases and you can see above what we used to treat our molds.

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Here is the epoxy Gwen had purchased.   It has almost no smell and it cures relatively quickly.  It comes in two parts that you mix together.  You must be very precise in your measurements and it is measured by volume not weight.  Notice how carefully Gwen is pouring out the two liquids.

Gwen had an earlier attempt and it never went hard.   She said that she just “guessed” when mixing the 50/50 ratio.   I told her projects like this require precision in measurements and that it is very important to carefully follow the directions.   (This was not very genuine since I would have done the same thing…  I just wanted to sound like the wise father.)  You can see that we marked clear plastic cups with black lines so that the amounts would be exact.

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We poured the epoxy into the molds and then placed in our “decorative” items.  umm…I am not sure that Ben’s dead bug is very decorative.

We also placed in a small copper wire so later we could connect chains.  The epoxy takes several days to become hard.   We impatiently waited and I admit that I was ready to cheat and take it out early but Gwen took to heart my “follow instructions” and wouldn’t let me.

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I pulled it from the mold and the side that was touching the mold was “milky”…. hmm this isn’t at all what we wanted.

We used some very fine sanding paper and even Isabelle’s nail buffer to try to smooth out the surface.  (Don’t tell Isabelle)  This was great for smoothing things out but it didn’t make the epoxy clear.

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After googling… (sounds so weird)…

We learned that all we had to do was to brush on a thin layer and it would smooth out and become transparent.  We mixed up another small batch and brushed it on.   This process worked very well to our surprise!

Here are the finished items!  (Wished I could say mine was the best)

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Even with the clear paint my purple flower petals turned white.   Nothing went my way on this project… first letting them talk me out of the tooth and then loosing the purple color.

Worst of all…

I am extremely jealous of Gwen’s bug wings.  In any case look how nice these turned out with just a little added top coat.

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Ben’s is a little bit “bubbly”.  We played with the beetle too much when it went into the epoxy.   Ben told me that he is giving this to Hanna, his oldest sister for her birthday.  I smiled and said I bet she will love it…(wonder if she will ever wear it)

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Here is Gwen’s necklace.  I honestly love hers and find the wings really intriguing.  I hate it when my kids show me up in these kinds of things… and when I can’t even lie about whose is better.

I gave Isabelle her heart and well being French she didn’t know that she was suppose to at least pretend to like it.   (She told me that she didn’t like the shape or the flowers… wonder if she would have liked the tooth?)   Gwen told me that I should do another one for mom but with her mold…

Ya Gwen…rub it in.

Sunflower Dye

Yes more dyeing and this time from a bag of sunflowers that Isabelle picked on her walk back from the gym.  (Technically she stole these flowers… proof that she isn’t so “perfect”)   While “googling”, I have seen many different colors coming from different types of sunflowers so I was curious as to what color I would get. (yes that is a subtle way of getting you to read or at least look at the rest of this post… admit it… you are wondering what color I will get too)

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Above is the first 2 ply yarn made with my new spinning wheel (see It finally came! (my spinning wheel)).   I put this in an alum mordant for two hours to prepare it for the dye.

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I first thought about only using the pedals and plucked them off into a pot(this pot is a big mistake… you will learn about that later)  Sunflower pedals are covered in sticky “guck” (can’t think of a better word) and all of the plucking made my fingers yellow and sticky.

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After watching the water a bit I notice I was only getting a pale yellow and well I didn’t feel “yellow” so I decided to throw all of the rest of the flower parts in.   (Geez… I didn’t have to pluck).   The water turned an orange brown and well I didn’t feel like this either.   I decided to play with PH.   Making it more base made it turn to an ugly color of “gray/beige”.   I tried adding vinegar and this made it turn a red orange.  I kind of liked this color but you never know… with all of the dye experiment I have done lately I know that you can never trust the color of the water to predict the end result.

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I decided that I had best do “trail” first.  I dropped some cotton yarn in and it didn’t come out the expected color. (I will show you the color later)  I decided that I would try the wool and hope that it wasn’t too ugly…  You can see the wool in the dye bath above and I like the color of the water in any case.

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Here is the wool out of the dye and it is definitely not the same color as the cotton trail… how confusing.  I can’t imagine that cotton and wool would come out so different.  I then noticed that the cotton strings that I tied the wool up were the same color as the wool.

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Here are the two together… weird huh.   I then took a closer look at the wool and noticed small parts of the yarn were green.  After some thinking… I finally figured out the problem.  The pot I used was not my typical “non-reactive” one and the trial cotton yarn sunk to the bottom and touched the pot.   The wool floated and didn’t touch the metal of the pot with the exception of some small areas.   Any part that touched the pot metal turned the greenish color while the parts that didn’t turned the rose color.

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Here is the finished yarn next to the original color.   Ben told me it was cool and it was “skin” color. Isabelle told me she didn’t like it.  (the French harsh way…  I think she said “that is an ugly color”)  I like the color and I learned to be careful when choosing what pot to use to dye my yarn.

Thanks for reading this!