Eggciting Herb Garden

Eggciting Herb Garden

“I was wondering why you have a carton of eggs on the ground!” said a fellow housemate while I was out back in the yard with a camera around my neck ready to photograph the above. I shall explain in detail below:

Hello everyone! Today I want to share with you a project (or part of a project I might say) that I have been working on as part of my Introduction to Ceramics course at uni. I said ‘part of a project’ only because it is actually one of the processes that my tutor demonstrated and talked about in one of our tutorials – and that process is called Slipcasting.

Slipcasting is basically a mass-production technique used in pottery especially for shapes that are not easily made on the wheel. Liquid clay (known as slip) is poured into a plaster mould and then removed one the clay is set solid. For a hollow piece, the liquid is poured out of the mould once the plaster has absorbed most of the liquid from the outer layer of the clay.

Our tutor also showed us how we can dip porous objects into slip. She demonstrated by dipping a sponge into the slip, had it fired and the result was just amazing. Basically what happens is that when the slipped object goes into the kiln at mid-fire glaze, the object burns out from the high temperatures and leaves the outer shell of the object. So you can imagine how a sponge turned out, it was so fragile and aesthetically beautiful as well.

So that’s what I did here, I completely submerged an egg carton in slip and let it to dry. I then did another coat of slip because the first layer started to crack while it was drying. I had the carton fired and it came out looking really great! I then applied layers and layers of oxide glazes (cobalt, chrome and china blue) and dipped the whole carton in a clear glaze. It was then fired again and this was the result:

Eggciting Herb Garden

I got the initial idea of slipcasting an egg carton through images I saw online while searching for inspiration for the first project for my ceramics course (which is ‘botanica’, basically nature-inspired). I saw images of egg cartons being used as planters, as well as pot holders for eggshell pots. So decided, why not make a permanent egg carton holder?

Eggciting Herb Garden

As you can see from the image above, the eggs don’t quite nicely sit in the hole. This is because when objects get fired in the kiln they tend to shrink a bit (and I’m guessing the two layers of slip ate a bit of space too). So my extra large eggs that I originally had saved could not fit at all, I had to buy new eggs that were smaller in size just so they could kind-of fit.

Eggciting Herb Garden

Hope you enjoyed reading and viewing this post. Please stayed tuned as well for when I actually finish making what I am supposed to make for my Botanica project. I will be making a set of plates inspired by water lilies and lily pads! The second project for this course is to make a vessel and I was thinking of stemming from project 1 and creating a centrepiece to tie the whole project together. So yes, look out for that in the next month and a half!

– Ally xx

Beetroot Gnocchi

Beetroot Gnocchi

Yesterday (30th April) was the 10-year anniversary of the iconic and always quotable click flick Mean Girls. I cannot even begin my obsession over this movie (okay, I’m not that obsessed, I just love it so much that I can quote it all day long). Leading up to this day, I planned a Mean Girls themed party and since its anniversary fell on a Wednesday, we had to bring in a pink dish to share, and of course wear pink as to quote Karen Smith, “On Wednesdays we wear pink”. If you want to skip ahead to the recipe, scroll down, otherwise enjoy reading about my DIY Mean Girls shirt:

Mean Girls Day: DIY Shirts

I was initially going to buy a shirt off eBay but it was a bit too expensive – well that was one of the reasons, the other reasons were the font not being right, not the right shade of pink, etc. Yes, the designer in me kicked in. And then I thought, yeah I’m a designer, why not I just make my own t-shirt? And so I did! I bought a pink tank top from Esprit and can I just say what a snatch! Originally priced at $14.95 and was down to $7.95 – and then a further 50% off from that price! With the help of my lovely friend Tara who does textiles as one of her majors for her degree, she taught me how to screen print using the photo-emulsion technique. Yeap, making my own screen printed shirt was the way to go, literally costed me less than $5 but a bit of time and effort. At least it was something that I am happy with and it turned out so great! “YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US!”

Mean Girls Day: DIY Shirts


So for the pink dish that I made to share with everyone, I made Beetroot Gnocchi. I’ve never made gnocchi before so I was a bit nervous as I didn’t want to screw up and have nothing for my guests to eat, but as always, beginner’s luck was on my side once again. They turned out really well and I would like to say that they taste really good (and I’m sure they do), I’m just not a very big fan of beetroot. It’s just something about the taste of it that I can’t really put my finger on. But as I said, I’m sure they would be so fetch for beetroot lovers.

Beetroot Gnocchi

PREP TIME 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 30 MINS SERVES 5-6

INGREDIENTS

For the beetroot purée

  • 1 bunch beetroot, cleaned and scrubbed (if the greens are still attached, cut them off, wash them, and reserve them for another use such as for salads)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 sprigs rosemary

For the beetroot gnocchi dough

  • 3/4 cup roasted beetroot purée
  • 2 cups plain flour, divided
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

To garnish

  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • Rosemary sprigs

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 250C. Place the beets in a large piece of aluminium foil. Coat the beets with the olive oil and sprinkle rosemary leaves over. Feel free to use plenty of olive oil as we will then use the beet-infused oil to dress the gnocchi. Fold the foil over and crimp the sides closed. This helps keep the beets moist, and also contains all the juices. Place in the oven and roast until tender. Smaller beets take about 25 minutes while larger and older beets can take up to an hour. You can check its tenderness by piercing a fork through them. Once done, remove the beets from the oven and set aside so that it is cool enough to handle. Once cool, you can use your fingers to to rub off the their peels. Transfer the beet-infused oil into a small bowl and reserve for later.
  2. Cut the beets into chunks and place them into a blender. Blend until smooth. Take 3/4 cup of the beet purée and place it into a medium bowl. If you have any extra puréed beets, place them into a container and refrigerate. You can use them for other dishes. Stir in the ricotta and parmesan cheese, eggs, salt, and pepper. Then mix in 1 & 1/2 cups of flour (the dough can be made a day ahead, just keep it refridgerated).
  3. Place the remaining 1/2 cup of flour in a bowl. Lightly dust a baking sheet with flour. Scoop the dough into rounds and transfer to the bowl with flour. Then with the tinges of a fork, press down into the dough and then transfer to baking sheet.
  4. Working in batches, cook the gnocchi in a large pot of simmering salted water. Cook for about 2 minutes or until when the gnocchi starts to float to the surface. Cook the gnocchi for a further 1 & 1/2 minutes longer. Then, using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to a serving dish. Drizzle with the beet-infused oil and top with lemon zest, a few squeezes of lemon juice and fresh rosemary leaves.

Beetroot Gnocchi

Beetroot Gnocchi

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

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