how to chiffonade

Are you having difficulty cutting basil, or spinach?  It can be a bit tricky but with the chiffonade method there is no need to worry. Chiffonade is a technique for cutting leafy greens into thin strips.  In 3 easy step cut your greens into beautiful and delicious ribbon.

Step 1- Wash the leaves and cut off the stems
Step 2- Stack the leaves

Step 3- Tightly roll of the stack and cut into desired width.

Isn’t that easy?!  Have fun :)

How to slip-cast

As I mentioned in my earlier post, How to make a cavity mold, I had tons of slip, so I made house bottles.  Slip casting is a way to replicate an object in ceramic. It is also great for small scale production and editioning.  There are two ways that something can be casted, either solid or hollow. Here are the detailed instructions for hollow slip casting. Directions for solid slip casting are briefly described at the end.  And here, below, are my houses waiting to be glazed!

(the ones in the front row are still drying)

water or slip dope
spoon, or something to mix with
rubber bands
clay shaping tools 
blow dryer (optional)

step 1- make sure the inside of your two-piece cavity mold is clean, fit the two pieces together and close it tight with rubber bands.

step 2 – mix your slip to remove any clumps.  add water or slip dope to thin your slip so that it is the consistency of half-and-half or heavy cream.

step 3a- pour the slip into the mold. after a few seconds the slip may sink a bit, so add some more.

step 3b- the plaster of your mold will begin to absorb the moisture from the slip, and a wall will start to form (pictured above).  when you have achieved your desired width(at least, pour the slip back into the container for later use.  for my object I waited about 8 minutes(depending on the size of the object you are casting and the thickness of your slip, you may need to add or subtract to your wait time.)

step 4- wait at least 2 hours to let your slip dry.  the longer you wait, the better your object with come out.  if you don’t want to wait, you can dry it with a blow dryer.  and again, if your object is larger than mine, wait longer.

step 5- gently pry the mold apart.  BEFORE removing the object, slice off the excess slip at the top of the object, to easily get an even lip.

step 6- trim the object with trimming tools and/or smooth with a sponge.  let dry and underglaze, or bisque fire your objects.

directions for solid slip casting

follow directions above, but skip step 3b.  simply fill the mold and let dry.  but note that smaller objects, like mine, are ideal for this method because if your object is too large or thick, it will explode in the kiln.


xxx G

How to make a cavity mold

After having about 9 lbs of ceramic slip leftover from a previous project, I figured I might as well slip-cast until I have none left.  So with some help from the internet and my friend/ studio neighbor, Alex Mac, I made a cavity mold from these cute little house bottles I found at a flea market.

A two-piece cavity mold is ideal for pouring a liquid into a mold that will harden, such as wax, rubber or slip.  The mold has a hole either at the top (for vases, cups, bottles etc.) or the bottom( for statues or objects)
This type of mold is best for slip casting because the plaster absorbs the water from the slip, which allow the casted object to harden into its shape.  Directions for slip casting will be posted soon.

foamcore board or cardboard
x-acto knife
object to cast
duct tape 

Step 1a- place your object on your board and draw a square or rectangle around it.
* note- the top of the object will be close to the top edge, the other 3 sides should have enough space to make grooves to lock in your mold when you use it.
Step 1b- measure the depth of your mold and cut out flaps (object’s width+ 2 inches) to fold up to make walls

Step 2- score the bottom of your box to fold up the sides and tape it up really well, making sure to tape up your score lines also.

Step 3- take your object and cover it with clay halfway, to where the 2 halves of your mold will come together.  I used ceramic clay, because I had it, but I’m sure sculpey will work just as well.

Step 3a- place you object in the box and fill gaps with clay.  (It doesn’t need to be perfect, but the smoother it is, the better your pieces will fit together in the end. ) after filling in the clay, press your index finger into the clay 2 or 3 times in different places to make shallow craters
Step 3b- (it is not pictured here) but you also want  make a little hill starting at the top of the object, widening out to the wall.  ( reference the picture for step 7)

Step 4- cover your object, clay and walls of the box with vaseline being careful to get every crack and corner.

Step 5a- make the plaster and pour over the object covering it completely, and then some more.  you can also mark your box to where you want the plaster to meet if you think you will be unsure.
Step 5b- Once you poured your plaster into the mold, tap the sides and wiggle it around a bit to get any air bubbles out.
* wait at least 1 hour for the plaster to dry.  i know! be patient.

Step 6- when the plaster is dry, slice the tape and open the box.  it is ok if the cardboard sticks to the plaster.  take out the block of plaster and remove all the clay, leaving the object in the plaster. place the plaster block into the box, object facing up, and tape it back together.

Step 7- fill in any gaps with clay and make another hill at the top of the object. (sorry for this pictures, I had made another mold because the blue house wasn’t as good as the green house, and this mold came out better in the end.)

Step 8- repeat steps 4 and 5

Step 9- wait for the plaster to dry completely at least 1 hour.  BUT i would wait overnight because you can’t use your mold for 24 hours anyway. :)

Step 10- when the plaster is completely dry, slice open the box and carefully separate the two pieces.  remove your object and HAPPY CASTING!

<3 G


how to bind a book

I started keeping little journals, and I eventually wanted to self publish them and make them by hand.  I thought by taking a book making class I would learn how do just that. I learned various ways of publishing and different binding styles, but I never really got around to it.

When I was visiting my niece, Gabriella, in Brazil this past summer, she saw my journal I was writing in and wanted one just like her favorite aunt.  So when I came back to the states, I made one for her with the book cover in her favorite color, PINK.  I usually only see my brother and his family once or twice a year, but I was lucky enough to see them just last week at our sister Melanie’s wedding, which is when I gave Gabriella her journal.

So here I will show you how I made Gabriella’s journal.  The supply list seems excessive, but the more you have, the easier the process will be.  I apologize for such a long post, but the process requires much attention. Please read each step BEFORE moving forward. I will do my best to explain the process, if there are any questions feel free to ask them.

book board
paper (i used printer paper)
binding thread
binding needle
lineco super cloth
neutral ph glue
straight edge ruler
box cutter
bone folder
glue stick
2 sheets of card stock
damp paper towel by your side
wax paper
c-clamps or strong clips
book cloth
brush (for glue)


step 1– with you bone folder, fold your pieces of paper in half and group them into 4, so you have 20 signatures. you can have more or less signatures depending on how thick you want your book.
* a signature is a section of pages in a book, each signature has 4 pieces of paper that make 16 pages.

step 2– once you have your signatures all put together, line them up at the spine (folded edge) and draw 4 evenly spaced lines down each of the signatures.

step 3– with an awl, or sharp, needle-like object, poke holes in each of the signatures where you marked it, being careful that your signatures are lined up.
* some people put one side of the signature when making the holes for support.

step 4a– cut a piece of binding thread, I cut mine the length of my signature and multiply it by the number of signatures I have, plus 1.  It’s always better to have more than not enough.  thread your needle with the binding thread and begin sewing.

step 4b– begin at the bottom of the last signature and sew a running stitch of the spine, leaving a tail at the end.  add the next signature by sewing into the top and down to the 2nd hole.  when you come up from the 2nd hole, sew into the 2nd hole from the previous signature and up from its 3rd hole.  sew back into the 2nd signature, this time into the 3rd hole and finish the running stitch.

step 4c– tie the tails from the first two signatures, BUT DO NOT CUT.  add on the next signature  and sew to the top. once you’ve reached the top, before adding the next signature, insert the needle into the top stitch between the first 2 signatures.
*keep in mind to tighten your stitches so your book will be nice and tight together at the end.

step 4d- repeat the sewing process with a running stitch and sewing back into the previous signature and looping into the stitch. when you get to the end, loop and tie off with a knot.

step 5– apply glue to the spine and clip together. let dry.

step 6– cut a piece of super cloth measuring the length of your pages, and 1 1/2 inches wider on each side.  apply glue to the spine, put the super cloth over the spine and apply more glue. let dry.


step 1– now that you have your book pages measure the edges as well as the thickness.    find the grain* of the board and measure it so it is vertical for the cover.  you will need 2 board pieces for the front and back, and a piece for the spine of the book.* cut the front and back 1/4in. larger on 3 sides (top, bottom and edge of pages), so the spine is flush with the edge of the board. cut the piece for the spine the same size as the spine. to cut the book board BE PATIENT! score the board several times with a box cutter against a straight edge. if you feel comfortable to cut through the score marks without the ruler, do so. otherwise keep on running the blade through until you go all the way through.
* you can find the grain by bending the board slightly, the way it bends easier indicates that the grain is running up and down. (the way you want it)
* you can omit the spine piece for a soft, slightly rounded spine.

step 2a– place your pieces onto book cloth. space the spine between each board with 2 book-board-widths on each side.  (i usually leave a bit extra for easier closing of the book, but either way it needs this space to close.) trace the boards in their places and measure at least 1 1/4 ins. around all four sides. cut the book cloth to the size needed.
step 2b– at the four outer corners of the pencils markings measure 2 book-board-widths. cut the edges.

step 3a– apply glue to the book cloth and book board and glue together.  flip it over onto a piece of wax paper and smooth with your bone folder.  when you flip it back over, be sure to remove the wax paper that may have glue on it.
*the best way to apply glue is to make a zigzag all the way down, then starting from the center, brush outward.
step 3b– cut a piece of book cloth for the spine as I have done,if you’d like, but it is not necessary, and glue down.
step 3c- starting with the top and bottom, apply glue to both sides and fold the book cloth over and smooth with bone folder. do the same for the sides, but pay extra attention to the corners.

step 4- fold each piece of card stock and with your glue stick glue onto the first and last pages of your book pages.

step 5a- put a piece into between each of the pieces of card stock and apply white glue to book board and the back of the last (card stock) page.  line up the spine with the edge of the book board and glue down.
step 5b- do the same on the other side, but when you close the book, do not open it.  keep it closed under a stack of books overnight.

turkish map fold instructions

My book making teacher, Ellen, made this amazing compilation of different folds and book bindings for the class to purchase.  Of course I bought it, and boy am I happy about it! In the book there are instructions for the turkish map fold, which I used for one of my books.  It is such a beauiful fold that looks complicated but it super easy!  Try it out yourself :)

square piece paper (rectangles can also work with careful measuring)
bone folder

step 1- using your bone folder, fold your piece of paper diagonally in both directions, with the image (if any) facing itself

step 2-  open the paper, turn it over and fold the piece of paper in half the other way so the image is facing out.

step 3- unfold it and turn it back over so the point is facing up, and push the horizonal fold inward

step 4- fold the top two points inward, meeting in the cetner.  flip it over and do the same thing on the other side

step 5- invert the folds of the four points so they are tucked on the inside

happy folding.

xx g