Sunday Morning Coffee #18

A Heavenly Green Idea . . .

I get asked all the time about whether Sheer Heaven can be reused after an inkjet transfer is made from it. It cannot give you another perfect transfer, but it can certainly be used again for many other art projects. We have talked about some of those before, and will revisit them in the future.

But, I have discovered another awesome way to reuse Sheer Heaven that is more about the art of gardening.

Whether you have actual green thumbs or not, the experience of planting a seed and watching new life emerge is not one to miss, and is one of the great joys of Spring.

Some plants, like Morning Glory and Sunflower, are very easy to start from seed , and will reward you with a baby plant in no time at all. The problem is that many of these same plants are very hard to transplant later , because the experience is too traumatic for the roots. This kind of plant is usually started in a peat pot, which can be planted in the ground with the seedling and will disintegrate on its own (supposedly). I don’t care much for peat pots because they dry out too quickly, and most of them are too hard for the roots to get through, once the pot is in the ground.

I had read about using the tubes from inside paper towel and toilet paper rolls as seed pots, but my experiments with that were disastrous. Soak one of those in water for a minute and you will see what the problem is.

But the article got me thinking. Sheer Heaven could be used the same way, and it would not fall apart when wet. And I surely have a lot of  leftovers from Sheer Heaven transfers!

The first step is to cut pieces of used Sheer Heaven that are about 3.5″ x 8.5″. You can get three of these from a letter size sheet, or cut your larger scraps to size. Size can vary a bit. You will also need a stapler, double-stick tape, and a Sharpie Marker.

On the good side of the Sheer Heaven, write the name of the seed using the Sharpie Marker . . .

Apply a strip of double-stick tape to one end of the Sheer Heaven – still on the good side . . .

Roll the Sheer Heaven so the ends overlap by about 1/2 inch and press together. Be very sure that the bottom edge is an absolute match up . . .

Reinforce the join with a staple at each end . . .

Stand the Sheer Heaven rolls on a tray with a lip and a flat surface bottom . . . a cookie sheet that will not rust will work fine. The tray is acting as the bottom of the container, so you want contact between its surface and the Sheer Heaven bottom edge.

Planting Medium . . .

Mix equal parts of potting mix and seed-starting mix and dampen completely without making it too wet – just wet enough to stick together in a ball. Never use dirt from your garden or potting “soil” to start your seeds because both can contain bacteria and/or insects that will harm your new seedlings. Do not use seedling mix alone because it will not hold together well enough for this method of planting.

Fill each Sheer Heaven container to about an inch from the top with the planting medium. Tap it down enough so you have a solid fill, but not too much. New seedlings need air in the potting mix.

Yes, you will make a mess but that is fun. Gardening is like playing mud pies for big kids.

Pre-soaked Seeds

All seeds sprout better when pre-soaked. Large seeds like Morning Glory are easy to soak. Just put them in water to cover and leave them for 12-15 hours. The ones that start sprouting are the ones you want to plant.

Drain them and place two in each container – equally spaced and lying on top of the mix.

Add another 1/2″ of potting mix to cover the seeds. Pat down very gently.

Place a piece of glass or plexi over the containers (to keep in the humidty) and place in a sunny windowsill. You should see the first two leaves of the seedlings within a week. When you do, remove the glass, and keep the potting mix moist by misting (use a cleaned old hair spray bottle for a nice fine mist). DO NOT pick up these “pots” until transplanting time. By then, the roots and settled potting mix will hold the contents together. Right now, everything would fall out the bottom.

I will keep you informed as these seedlings progress, but I want to mention why this method of seed starting is so wonderful.:

The new roots cannot grow through the sides of the Sheer Heaven tubes, and so will grow down, creating a deeply rooted, healthier plant.

The Sheer Heaven holds moisture in.

When it is time to transplant, the Sheer Heaven is planted with the plant and then pulled up halfway to make a little protective “fence” for the fragile seedling – which will protect it from bugs and breezes. When the plant is mature enough, the Sheer Heaven strip is pulled up, washed off, and once the staples are removed, can be stored flat for reuse next year. How green is that!?

Note: Place the pre-soaked seeds that did not yet spout within a damp folded paper towel on a plate and keep in a warm place. Check in another 24 hours to find more sprouted seeds and plant them. If I have some that don’t sprout at all, I toss them into the yard where I will eventually plant the seedlings. If they feel like sprouting later in the season, they will.

Although Copyright has been the most discussed topic among artists on the internet for years (generating the most uptight and boring discussions, I might add), there is a recent resurgence of angst over the subject because of the success of social media sites like Flickr, and, especially, Pinterest.

This is a huge topic, and we will discuss it in small chapters. I promise the discussion will be neither uptight nor boring. But that being said, some of you are not going to like some of the things I have to say.

And who am I to say? I’m not an attorney, but I am an artist/illustrator,photographer, with wide exposure, who has been copied since I first stuck my head above soil (a seedling reference, of course).

I have made my living through art, its sale and licensing. As the owner of a graphics and marketing firm in San Francisco for 20 years, I also dealt in the marketing and licensing of other people’s art and photography.

I have been to court and I did win.

So, the topic is more than familiar. But the territory is new. The internet has changed so many things, most for the better, and there is no going back. So rethinking is in order, and let’s start with a little recent history.

Remember Napster? If you don’t, it was pretty much a stolen music site (circa 1999), which generated a LOT of money for attorneys and was shut down only to emerge as an online music store and then get swallowed by a bigger music service. It was never intended as a stolen music site. It was intended as a sharing site where folks could share music they purchased. Because of infringed COPYRIGHT issues, a legal 3-ring circus was generated.

But what came of that? Fast forward to today.

Can you say MP3? Have any on your computer? On your iPod?

Where are the record stores? Do you still buy CDs and listen to them on a bulky CD player?

Are musicians still able to sell their music? Yes. Are MORE musicians able to sell their music? Yes, because  they can get exposure for work that would NEVER have seen the light of day through the old paradigm of the music industry – where fat cats were in charge of whether your music lived or died. Are the fat cats still mad about all this? Yes.

SHARING is the huge issue in the changing landscape of copyright, and an agent for change so massive it can topple huge industry icons.

Just a couple of months ago, we almost allowed the beginnings of censorship – in the hands of Washington DC legislators who have NO internet savvy – all in the name of the fat cats of the movie industry, still fighting the uphill and losing battle to keep their industry the same as it always has been.

The only “has been” in all of this is the status quo.

All things change (these days at an alarming rate), and intellectual property rights are in the whirling center of the change. Do we have to rethink things? Yes, we do.

More about that next time.

Artist of the Week/Blog Favorite

We will talk a lot about style in our Copyright conversations. Artists who have been making their art for awhile, develop a “style” all their own, whether they mean to or not. Often, we are very attracted to styles which resemble our own in one way or another, and, quite frankly, that is what first attracted me to the work of Lori Vliegen

But, once attracted (found her through Pinterest, btw), I found much more to appreciate.

She is the prolific blogger I wish I had time to be – lots of posts and all creative content – no blather.

I love that Lori is willing to grab her pens and watercolor pencils to tell any story, big or small.

She also dabbles in crafts projects that are clean, design-y, and different.

Her hand lettering is wonderful, and she has a workshop to share her techniques with you.

Her blog is clean and simple and a pleasure to browse. You can spend some big pieces of time here . . . without a wasted moment.

Elvie Studio


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