Ukrainian Easter Eggs and Family Stuffed Sock Bunny Workshops

I took a late afternoon walk around our neighborhood yesterday with my daughter Celia and our wheaten terrier Maizy. It was so pleasant to have the sun shining on us in the late afternoon. The streams were rushing with the water from the weekend storms, providing  plenty of mud and puddles for the girl and dog to explore. There was an abundance of downed sticks and branches on the ground to poke into the mud and instigate a game of tug of war with the pup. Nature had created the perfect playground for my companions. I relished their happiness and started to believe that spring is slowly creeping it's way to Maine. 

I'll be giving my first Pysanky egg decorating class at Art Mind and Soul studios on March 28, 2-4pm. I was captivated by this technique as a child in Canada, a very kind neighbor spent an entire afternoon teaching me the craft. Although my designs are not authentic, the process is true to it's origins. If you become a committed follower of Ukrainian eggs there's an entire alphabet of authentic symbols to memorize and master. I love how easily this craft can be  modernized to suit your own creative style, in many ways it's similar to batik. A small stylus is used to heat beeswax over a candle flame enabling you to draw the wax directly onto an egg. The egg is repeatedly dipped in dye and more wax is applied after each immersion. The dramatic finish happens when the egg is heated over the flame and the built up wax is wiped away to reveal the colors and designs.

It might be because Easter falls close to my birthday but I've always loved this season of renewal! To celebrate I'm offering another spring workshop for parents and their children to enjoy together on Saturday March 27, 1-3 pm also at Art Mind and Soul Studios. We'll be cutting up socks, stuffing and stitching them together to make adorable stuffed bunnies.

Mark your calendars, and send me an e-mail I'd love to have you join in the creative fun!

Needle Felted Hearts and Raspberry Square Recipe

Last night I enjoyed a wonderful evening sharing needle felting techniques with creative women at Art Mind and Soul Studios in the Fort Andross mill. This renovated brick mill sits beside the Androscoggin River in Brunswick, Maine. The interior has been beautifully renovated into office and artist studios, the building is also home to restaurants and antique shops. Art Mind and Soul recently opened their doors as a center for the visual arts community. It's a wonderful place to hold workshops, create for an hour or two or rent a small studio space.

My approach to teaching this needle felting class was to hand everyone a kit full of supplies and impart as much technical knowledge as I could. I demonstrated wet and dry felting techniques along with flat and three dimensional construction. The joy of needle felting is that you immediately start poking fibers together with a felting needle. I was thrilled with the originality of the finished projects. They were stunningly beautiful raised designs abstract to illustrative on wool felt rectangles, charming three dimensional hearts and even a few white bunnies.

If you missed out on this workshop, don't fret I'll offer it again soon with a different theme and new construction techniques. I'm looking forward to sharing Polymer clay millefliori beads and stamped charms on Feb 23 and Pysanky egg dyeing on March 28. If you're a parent of young children please click the sidebar link to find a listing of my inexpensive family workshops also held at Art Mind and Soul studios.

The other hit last night was my mums' raspberry coconut bar recipe named 'Louise Cake'

My parents are British, my mother kindly converted the amounts from weighted quantities. For the sake of the workshop I doubled the recipe and baked the bars in a 11"x13" metal brownie pan, I needed 35 minutes to brown the crust.

Preheat the oven to 350

Cream 1/2 cup of butter and 2T +2t of sugar together.

Add 2 egg yolks to the creamed butter and sugar.

Stir in 1 cup +1T of flour and 1t of baking powder.

Press the crust mixture into the bottom of a greased 7"x11" baking pan.

Generously spread raspberry jam over the 'crust'.

Whisk the 2 egg whites until they're stiff.

Fold in 2/3 cup of sugar and 1 cup of sweetened coconut.

Gently spread the topping over the jam.

Bake 20 minutes until the top puffs and starts to brown at the edges, let cool completely before cutting into squares.