Sunday, December 28, 2008

Good Clean Fun

Last year (or maybe it was two – yikkes!), a wonderful beadmaker – Bethany Adams - Gwacie Beads – gave me a little present at the Winter Wonders Bead Show. She’s a gem of a person and fantastic artist. Without her I would not have the banner I so wanted for my Etsy site (as she was the wonder woman who fixed my flaws!). What Bethany gave me was a treat for my shower and something that has been fun to do with the kids I work with and to give as gifts over the holidays.

Everyone likes to have a little “somethin’ somethin’’ for the shower or bath. The winter’s here in Michigan are cold and skin drying. Instead of using a scrubbie to exfoliate, I now use a felt covered soap bar. I thought you might enjoy the directions for this fun project.

It’s really very easy and even young children enjoy making them with help (you have to be careful with the hot water). For a young child I cut the bar in half and round the edges with a butter knife so the felt goes on smoothly. It also makes it a lot easier for youngsters to hold the bar while attaching the felt. Bonus, it’s also easier for them to use in the tub….smaller size and doesn’t slip away!

For this project you'll need:
1. A bar of lathery soap (I’ve used just plain old Ivory with great success!)
2. Some raw wool - often called "roving" (available on or Google Roving)
3. Hot water
4. A washboard, or ribbed mat of some sort (optional) - I used a sushi-rolling mat.
5. I've heard other people use the ribbed top of a Tupperware-type container. It's not required, but it does seem to help speed the process.
6. The bottom of an old pair of pantyhose or knee-highs (likewise, optional) - These too aren't required, but they do seem to help keep the wool more evenly distributed around the soap. I use this constantly and it is the easiest way to keep the wool in position as you scrub the wool down to size.

Making a Felted Bar of Soap

Pull some wool from your package and fluff it up – lay the pull pieces together so you have a rectangle that it is about as thick as a normal washcloth (not the “Martha” thick kind – you know the kind, those cheapie Walmart 2 dozens in a package). It will take some experimentation to find the right amount of wool to use to make the thickness of felt that you like.

You’ll need a least two lengths and often more. Each layer doesn’t have to be super thick or cover the bar completely. As long as the layers alternate and eventually cover the entire bar. Wrap the wool around the soap, both lengthwise and widthwise so that the bar is completely covered. I wrap mine as tight as I can because once you wet it down it’s going to become temporarily loose.

Yes, it's going to feel baggy and loose and you'll wonder how this is EVER going to work! You can layer colors together, or just add a stripe of a contrasting color. Experiment! I have used all kinds of colors and they all look great.

Wet the Bar

When the bar is completely wrapped, begin to slowly dribble hot water onto the bar. Get it completely wet, but not drenched.

At this point, the soap and wool will look like a wet cat. Gently begin to massage the soap and wool together. Be careful not to be too rough at this stage or you'll expose the soap underneath. I am very careful at this point and I kind of pat the felt down to the bar and squeeze out any excess water.

Note: If you are going to use the stocking (I use knee high panty hose) this is where I carefully put the soap into the toe of the panty hose. I take the excess stocking and pull it all up tight to bar and tie it in a removable slip knot so I can use the knew high over and over.

Wool Shrinking - Soap Lathering

As you massage the bar, dribble more hot water onto it. (I often have a bowl of very hot water and I dip the bar - stocking and all - with a slotted spoon into the hot water). Using very hot water seems to speed things along. The soap will start to lather up through the wool, and the wool will begin to shrink and form to the bar of soap.

Keep gently massaging the bar, dribbling (or dipping and squeezing) more water onto it every once in a while. I also gentling roll the bar in my hands as if I were washing them with the soap.

Rub a Dub Dub

Once the wool has started to shrink and conform to the soap, you can really start rubbing. This is where to use your washboard, sushi mat, felting mat or other ribbed surface. Rub the soap on the mat - making sure that you get all sides, including the edges. This will really get the wool fibers to knit together. Wool fibers actually have little barbs on them and you are literally linking and catching them together.

Note: The ribbed surface is not required - it just speeds things up - you can get the wool to felt just by hand, it will just take a while.

Check the Felting Process

After you've rubbed for a while, check the progress of the felting by dribbling some more hot water on it to wash off the lather. You'll notice that the wool has really tightened up and formed a case around the soap.

Blot - Let it Dry - Use It!

Once the wool has completely formed around the bar of soap and isn't shrinking any more, you're done. Gently rinse (this where being in that stocking really helps) and blot the bar of soap on a washcloth and set it up to dry. I remove it from the stocking at this point and usually leave mine to dry on a piece of plastic by the heat register. I also find that the soap will last longer if I let it dry out very thoroughly before I use it.

Note: Don't be disappointed by the lathering of the felted bar the first time you use it in the shower. After the felting process is done and you've let the bar dry, it takes a little while for the lather to come back through the felt. But once it does, it's wonderful.

Make a ton of soapy fun this winter and keep clean and warm : - )

Disclaimer: And, so sorry folks – that’s not my hand. My mat looks like that though. Strickly ‘Martha Stewart’ from Kmart, hahaha. This is a repurposed and rewritten piece from a ton of sources and experience. Way to much like college and I ought to have a bibliography at the end. But, it’s soap...and it’s good clean fun!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Beads

I thought maybe I might show you a few of the beads I've made this season. These had been set aside over the past four months to make some jewelry. Sorry about the blurry photo - I think I forgot all the rules about depth of field. Holiday beads are fun to make and I can't wait to start on the Valentine themed ones. Maybe soon.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

ToP TeN FuN things to do in an Emergency room

1. Poke fun at the “clone/s”. They’re the wannabe’s. You know…I wannabe a doctor so please tell me your story so I can go and try and repeat what you said to the wannabe resident doctor who wants to be the attending doctor who wants to be the genuine article and the last person in the hospital food chain. They’re all genuine and work hard but I still enjoy the deer in the headlights look when you explain what is going on with your body.
2. See which size of the Kimberly-Clark Sterling Nitrile Powder-Free Exam Gloves (isn’t that a mouthful) fits. My size: Medium
3. Take a nap – Oh yeah, sure – About the time you’ve given up on expecting that they’ll come to your curtained cell and you close your eyes someone comes in to ask you an important question. It's difficult to answer with spittle in the corner of your mouth.
4. Stay quiet and listen to the “life trauma” going on around you.
5. Count the empty specimen jars in the bin on the wall. Ponder the number your bladder could fill, if full : - ).
6. Pick the dog hair, deposited by the three stooges at home, off your fleece shirt. Why the hell didn’t I notice I looked like a hairball this morning?
7. Start a hash list ( llll ) and keep track of the number of times Housekeeping is called to go and clean something up! I keep wondering what it is.
8. Sing to yourself. Be brave, and sing out loud because you might get some really good medication. My favorite tonight has been “Doctor, doctor give me the news – I got a bad case of lovin’ you”.
9. Read a magazine or book – You were smart enough to pack one, right?

Interesting (or NOT) thought about nurses. Traditionally nurses were always female, as were stewardesses. But when they hired males why did they get a new title? First the boys were called “steward” and then they all became flight attendants. Why the new designation? I mean why did someone think it so generic a noun (nurse) that when males joined the ranks it wasn’t worth changing! I’m thinking it was some committee of doctors who figured they deserved all the titles (Internist, Surgeon, and Dermatologist). Why wouldn’t everyone in their universe be referred to by some non-descriptive gelding driven adjective or noun?

They put a Greenfield Filter in my hubby’s leg. You Michigander’s are going to recognize this pun….Does this mean we get a free pass to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village? Or is he going to go off like a bomb or bell – Bata boom, Bata, bing – when we visit? Do we get a prize? We were at Henry Ford Hospital after all.

10. You can collect a list of famous hospital lines:

  • This might hurt a little, feel cold, hot, pinch, sting.
  • Just a little poke.
  • Alright _____, I’ll be back to see how you’re doing…

”Hi my name is_____________, and I’m here to_____________.”

Really people, you’re nice and all and just doing your job but why don’t you just say, “HI, I’m your Phlebotomist” It’s not like I need to know the first name of everyone in the hospital Besides, I always think - What’s good for the goose is good for gander. So why isn’t the doctor coming in and introducing himself by his/her first name? Why stand on all of that formality after you ordered all the poking and prodding. And, IF you “gotta’ be all that” just give me your employee number, do your job, and move on. But then again, maybe if everyone used first names and came over for dinner once in awhile you’d think twice about how you actually treated them when they were in your “care”. What a concept, huh?

Actually my very favorite line as of last night is this: “Where does it hurt?” I heard countless people (attending physicians, senior physicians, nurses, aids, house physicians, (ad infinitum), ask the same people in other curtained cells this question over and over and over.

Answer: I have a chart the size of Texas and you’re the fifteenth person to ask me the same damn questions. Isn’t that chart important? You have to send the stinking thing with me to every department I go to. Nurses live in fear they’ll forget it. So, why don’t you pick it up and read for yourself where I hurt. Then, you and I can have a MEANINGFUL conversation. Pick it up and read it – I’ll still be here when you’re done.

Ah, four hours later…………………and Doogie Howser from Neurology comes in. WTF! I mean it too! This squirt of a kid is going to someday operate on someone’s nervous system and I’m sitting here making him nervous with my questions. Once he handed me back a piece of paper I wrote my questions on and said that the house doctor (Is that Doctor House? – Woo Hoo, now we’ll get some answers) would answer all of those. Uh OH! Let me repeat myself, WTF. Okay Doogie, then here is something you can do for me. “Go fetch me the genuine article because I need someone old enough to have the keys to the cookie jar if you’re not allowed to answer the questions yet.” Do you think I got the deer in the headlights look then? Can you just see him slinking away? Tough – suck it up. If you can’t play by my rules then get out of my sandbox with your scalpel. I only do cute on Tuesdays – Saturday’s are tough.

Let’s see, I think I’m losing my sense of humor, nope, still in tact. It’s a tad on the sardonic side but alive and ticking. I've been wondering if I am channeling George Carlin. Maybe I can create a line of hospital beads. Hmmmmmm, lets make some preliminary sketches. Perhaps I’ll show you those sometime.

At about hour six things really got interesting. I started to wander, and it makes the clones even more nervous. I looked at the people in the other cells and nodded my head. We were all about the same age, give or take a decade. I kept imagining an uprising of the middle- aged captives.

I think I'll introduce you to my cell mates. There had beenf two across from us who used the same bed. Both of them were vomiters. One by illness and the other via an overdose of drugs – they gave him charcoal in a tube. I don’t think he had to worry about the drugs. His mother looked like I’d look in that situation. Kitty corner was interesting. The clones kept going into this one guy’s room and doing the repetitive question thing. Once, when the king of the clones was in the cell he asked the poor man when it was he drank last. The man looked up at them and seemed puzzled. He answered that he drank that morning. The clone had to rephrase the question. Point for homeless drunk guy! On the other side was a moaner, then a whiner, and there was a screamer down the hall. I think the clones had their hands full – we were definitely winning. I began to tire of the game and decided I wanted to take my sandbox shovels and go home.

I actually amuse pretty easily. I’m an only child and can play endlessly with absolutely zip. I love airports and big lobbies. They’re interesting and full of people buzzing about. We, us and our collectivve cellmates, were stagnating and starting to smell (I know the drunk did because he couldn’t make it to the bathroom and used a bed pan - Oh Lord help me). “Yo, brother from another mother, been here an hour without a visit”. Hello out there? (I heard an echo – where’d they go?). Oh for Pete’s sake. And then I saw it. They called in reinforcements and they were briefing them too. The clone shift changed and in came the new recruits. They came to the curtained cells and it started all over. “Hi, my name is Doctor First Year Student. I bet you’re ready to get discharged.” Now that was the freakin’ understatement of the year!

My friends know that at this point I would consider this cheerful new face the first victim in a competition of wits I was not about to lose. Send in all the fresh replacements you want. Think fried green tomatoes – “Face it girls. I’m older and I have more insurance!” I thrust the questions into Dr. First Year’s face. “Be glad to, but first you’re going to have to have to answer some questions.” It was high noon at the OK Corral. He began to read them. I was confused (for a millisecond!). He began to read them aloud and answer them. Cool Beans First Year. Then he made the fatal volley, “I’ll go get your discharge papers.” Nope!! Whoa, hold on there Tonto. Your Lone Ranger here needs an answer to question number one. “Stop right there!”I shrieked. “Yes, Madam, is there something else I can do?” Stupid, stupid boy! “Ah huh, you missed a question,” I raised a brow and looked over my glasses. Slowly he turned around, cleared his throat, and read it aloud. Deer in the headlights – prey for the middle aged – boy toy doctor. “Yes, that’s it – go ahead – answer that one.”

“I can’t”, he said. I knew that (I thought quietly). You see, at that point I just wanted to make him say it out loud. Admit that he, his colleagues, and minions could not figure out why my DH’s ankle and leg were swollen. It’s like a game of chess. You strategize, play the game, and go in for the kill – CHECKMATE!

It wasn’t a wasted day. I already knew the answer to the question. Exhausting, but not wasted. What I do know for sure is that whatever caused his tootsies to swell was NOT life threatening. We had the test results to prove it. All things considered, on our 12 week roller coaster ride, this was not the worst day. No new blood clot, no infection. “See your family doctor and don’t forget your follow up with your Neurosurgeon.” I let him have that one.

Eight Hours – Fifteen Minutes.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Long Time No Post

Just to past on a goodie, a super beadmaker and all around neat person has been featured on another great artists blog and I think maybe you ought to go and have a lookie loo at them both. It's Bella Bead's blog that you'll be going to, and Mallory Hoffman is the featured artist.

Here's the link: Bella Bead Jewelry by Linda

Monday, December 1, 2008

Santa is Coming!

I've been showing everyone what my customers are doing with the fun beads I make and today's entry is no exception. In fact, it's more like exceptional, but then I think all of my designers are! I love what Jodi did with the Santa Hat. How absolutely wonderful is this necklace? Not just because she used my hat but because it's such a cleaver use for it. I'd of never thought of that.

All of this artistic prowress is from Jodi Masington. She is Loopie Beads from Houston, Texas. She was hit by that recent hurricane in Texas and I just can't imagine how hard that must be to go through. I guess I shouldn't complain about the snow and slush here in Michigan. We are definitely living in Winter Wonderland. Ho Ho Ho!

By the way...have you been naughty or nice?????