Zero Calories Sweets

Would you eat those chocolates?

Zero Calories Chocolates

I don’t remember how, but a few years back I discovered the incredible world of Japanese craft. The wondrous discovery  sent me on a buying frenzy on eBay. Not knowing the language didn’t discourage me in the least. I bought several books about felt craft and then I proceeded to study the pictures and interpret the instructions by looking at the images. One of the funniest project was decorating the Christmas Tree with felt goodies. I found working with felt relaxing, because it’s easy, fast, and the rewards are immediate.

Zero Calories Sweets

Painted Pumpkins

When I first moved to the United States, twelve years ago—can’t believe it has been so long already—I was exposed to the American art of pumpkin carving and decorating. Once I painted my first pumpkin, I realized I didn’t want for it to go to waste and be forgotten. So I started buying foam pumpkins to paint them with acrylics. Since then, every fall I paint at least one pumpkin—usually around three or four. Now, I have quiet a collection lying around the house all year long. Here are a few pictures of some of my special pumpkins.






























































































































































Painted Pumpkins

Roses and Teacups

I discovered that a batch of cold porcelain I made in February is still usable. Hard to work with, but adding small drops of Elmers glue to the dough it makes it malleable again. This is the first time a batch lasts this long. I tried to take a few pictures to illustrate how I model a rose and I apologize for the abysmal quality of the images. Not an excuse, but in a few pics I was holding both cell phone and dough. Needless to say, you get what you shoot for… or something like it.

A Rose

This is more or less what you need to create a rose.

The Cone









I start with modeling the cone that will support the structure of the finished rose. The petals are made by flattening  the small spheres between my fingers.

The Petal









Then, I wrap the petal around the cone like a tight scarf.

The Scarf









The second petal I add is not as tight as the first one, but more loosely embraces the stem.

Adding the petals









I keep adding petals, leaving them more and more open as I go around, while I pinch the base.

Assembling the petal









Finally, I have a fully formed rose.

The finished rose









I cut the rose from the cone and create the stem by rolling the remaining dough between thumb and index fingers. I repeat the process with a second flower and I add a rosebud.The two roses  








Close up of the small composition. To create the rosebud I make an incision on one end of an elongated cylinder and then I cover it with a snug petal.

Close up rose e teiera









I had to have some fun with the picture as well. Paint.NET oil filter on a resized canvas to accommodate my little piece of wisdom.

Life is too short not to have tea and smell the roses

Roses and Teacups

Tea Time

Several years ago, I painted a series of saucers and teacups for the dollhouse I was building. I used a dot of putty glue on the head of a golf tee and attached the little cups and saucers on top of it. Some nice ladies at the local miniatures club taught me that trick, and to this day it still proves invaluable. Would you like a cup of tea?















































Yes… I did glue the leg wrong…



























































To put things in perspective:













Everything is relative:

The quarter scale lamp on the side table was made using one of the teacups from the dollhouse cupboard.


Tea Time

Amazing Dough



AKA Cornstarch Dough or Cold Porcelain Dough

About ten or twelve years ago I started using a homemade modeling dough that was sturdy and durable when air dried and required a few cheap ingredients to make. After years spent working with the well known salt dough, I was looking for something that didn’t disappear before my eyes when the weather turned humid. At the time I was living in a small maritime town and all my sculpting efforts tended to dissolve in a poodle of salty goo. I found the recipe for the cornstarch dough almost by mistake, but I tried it nonetheless, and I have been loyal to it ever since. Recently, I saw that there is a commercial cornstarch dough sold at craft stores. It is quite expensive, but if you are in a hurry, and not sure if the fumes coming from cooking the mix of cornstarch and Elmer’s glue on your stove are healthy, I suggest to go for it.

The Recipe

The Ingredients:

  1. One cup of cornstarch flour
  2. One cup of Elmer’s glue or any other brand of glue with similar characteristics
  3. One tablespoon of vegetable oil
  4. One tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar
  5. One old, no-stick pan
  6. One wooden spoon

How to do it:

Mix the ingredients in the pan and once you have a thick dough turn on the stove and cook it on medium low, stirring with a wooden spoon until the dough comes away in one single piece from the pan. Turn off the stove, remove the dough from it, put it to rest on a cold surface, wait until you can safely handle it without scalding your skin, and work it as if it were pizza dough. When you have thoroughly worked the dough and there are no lumps in it, wrap it in plastic film, and finally store it inside a plastic bag. Remember, the cornstarch dough dries completely if exposed to the air and it becomes hard as porcelain. You can mix drop of food coloring, or acrylic paint, with the freshly prepared batch to obtain colored dough. I personally prefer painting the dough after a piece is done.








A final, important note: clean the pan and the wooden spoon immediately after you have used them and store them away. Do not use them for cooking food.

Other places where I talk about Cold Porcelain and its awesomeness:

Author Gabriela Popa has a blog where guests talk about anything but writing, and this is my humble contribution.

Here is a lens about cold porcelain I created for Squidoo.

Amazing Dough