I work on a lot of small scale stamping projects and I stamp a lot of tiny stamps, many unmounted. Sometimes I stamp things like little words for collages, mini greetings for tags and cards, or dates or days of the week for planners and journals. I like to stamp a lot of extra paper pieces for future projects when I get my stamps out – it saves a lot of time.
When I stamp a lot of tiny stamps at a time, the task is a lot easier if I tear a bunch of paper strips with a ruler then temporarily attach the ends to a piece of scrap plexiglass with rubber bands or tape. Otherwise the paper strips are kind of hard to keep in place for a clean print since they are so light and the ends tend to curl a bit.
I use the fronts and the sides of small acrylic stamping blocks to temporarily mount my tiny stamps with double-sided tape. I’m not that fussy about keeping the blocks clean since I usually stamp in black. But every once in awhile I’ll scrub them with stamp cleaner or Simple Green cleaner when they get too inked up to see what I’m doing. One of the reasons to use clear acrylic blocks is to see where you are stamping! If it’s not that critical to be precise you can use any small object that you can tape a stamp to and don’t mind getting inky as a temporary mount, for example I often use the lids of pill bottles or the edges of Tic-Tac containers.
Tag Art Template (scroll up and alt-click to download or get PDF – PDF Tag Art Template) Ball point pen Medium weight black marker Black rubber stamping ink Rubber stamps with sentiments Light colored, light weight paper Assorted paper scraps in a selected color scheme – I used neutrals in this demo Clean scrap paper Ruler Bone folder or squeegee Scissors Glue sticks Hole punch String, twine, or embroidery floss
Download my .jpeg graphic Tag Art Template above. If you prefer a PDF file here is a link – PDF Tag Art Template. Print it out onto cardstock if you can, or print it on regular paper and glue it to cardstock for stiffness and durability. Cut around the tags and punch the holes. Now you have a set of tag templates ready to use.
2. Trace the tag shapes onto assorted cardstock pieces. If you have scraps this is a good way to use some up. Cut out the tags close to the lines you drew, but a little outside. That will help you cut a clean edge later.
3. Pick out some light-colored paper that complements your chosen color scheme. Use a ruler as a straight edge to tear the paper into strips. Stamp greetings and sentiments onto the paper pieces with black stamping ink.
4. Place the tags on your work surface with the outlined sides down on clean scrap paper. Glue a sentiment on the front of each tag. Fill in the rest of the tag with paper scraps. Tear them into narrow strips with the ruler if you need to.
5. Trim the tags following the pen line on the back and punch out the holes.
6. Outline the tags with a black sharpie marker
7. Select two or three strands of string, twine or embroidery floss and thread through the holes with a lark’s head knot.
Once you have made the tags, what can you do with them?
Put one on the front of a greeting card.
Decorate a gift package.
Use as a bookmark.
Make a tag book.
Enhance a shadow box.
Incorporate into scrapbook or journal pages.
Make a decorative seasonal garland.
Make motivational notes for yourself.
Create decorative door hangers.
Label bottles or jars.
What else can you think of? Have fun with your tag art!
Here is a quick little “housekeeping” notice. I have a business Facebook page called Carolyn’s Stamp Store that I started back in 2011 to help market my rubber art stamp line. After expanding into other art supplies in addition to the other rubber stamps, I renamed my Etsy shop CarolynHDesign.
The Carolyn’s Stamp Store Facebook page has been getting a lot more traffic lately so I updated some of the info on it this morning so people who visit it don’t get TOO lost and confused. I have a lot of tidying up to do on it as well as on most of my online accounts and web sites.
The month of July 2023 will be my 25th anniversary of launching my first web site, Lime Green Evolution World of Art, later renamed to www.limegreennews.com! Things really change a lot in 25 years don’t they! The Lime Green News site needs a lot of repair and updating but still has a lot of content on it, some of it useful if you ignore the aging infrastructure. I have a very different philosophy of web sites now than when I started. As I repair I will start replacing the infrastructure bit by bit while keeping some things “old fashioned” on purpose.
Back in 2020, my husband Tom and I made a series of videos to help share art with people, which we called Virtual Art Parties. We did 8 or 9 videos before getting overwhelmed with exhaustion and personal crises (mostly affecting me). I had nothing in the tank for awhile to attempt to help other people, I needed everything I had to survive then help myself so I could help others. I attempted to restart the Virtual Art Party series this past spring. Here is the resulting video with special guest my Dad, Don Hasenfratz. This was going to be a lot longer but it got cut off early, maybe by a wifi glitch or something. I didn’t realize until it was over that only the introduction was recorded. After watching it, I am sharing it here because I still like what was conveyed. Check it out if you’re interested.
I have experimented with other video platforms in the meantime, but for now Facebook Live is still the easiest that I know so I’ll likely keep using it for awhile as I gradually restart the video series.
The work on this page was inspired by the project “Collaborative scribble drawing” in the Expressive Arts Activity Book that I use a lot for study and inspiration (Darley and Heath 60).
Scribble art is a great icebreaker. No artistic talent or skill is needed so it’s easy to get started. If done as art therapy it can also create a rapport between the facilitator and the client by making it into a collaborative activity (Darley and Heath 60). For example, in a two person exercise each person can make a scribble on a blank piece of paper, then the participants trade papers and finish off each others drawings. The initial scribble can even be made with eyes closed to take all the pressure off of having to show artistic skill. Abstract results can also be a way to encourage conversation about something the scribble might remind the participants about (Darley and Heath 60). Following are several examples of scribble art that I made with my husband Tom and my Dad Don.
If you want to try something like these samples, here is a list for tools and materials.
Tools and Materials
Bristol board or drawing paper
Black markers in various widths
Found papers for collage – I used the insides of business envelopes
Tom and I each made a scribble with our eyes closed with black marker on Bristol board. Next we traded papers and used commercial stencils by The Crafter’s Workshop to further develop the designs. Then we finished off our designs by coloring in parts of the image with colored pencils and markers.
Tom’s scribble was a challenge to work with because it was very dense. It did remind me of something – I turned it into moths trapped and tangled to represent trying to overcome some kind of frustration or challenge. This kind of work is not only good for the brain but just from a visual point of view it’s a good way to discover effects you might want to use in other art later on.
These examples were made by my Dad. First I gave him an introduction to Zentangle and doodle art which I wrote about in a previous blog post. He practiced making some repeating textures. Then we each made scribbles on two sheets of drawing paper. We kept our favorite of the two sheets then traded the other. Then we filled the sheets in with textures from our samplers. For extra fun we glued cutouts from the insides of business envelopes into some of the areas in the scribbles. I thought they looked cool with the hand-drawn textures. The tape and tracing paper from the materials list were used along with the pencil to get my collaged paper pieces to fit in their spots on the scribble drawing.
I’m grateful to Dad and and Tom for doing art with me from time to time. I sure do feel a lot less lonely when I get to do a project with somebody. It helps us all with our general well-being and is also a great way to spend time together. When you’re working on art that is mostly mindless, once you get started, it’s easy to talk about various things. It’s also a good activity to do alone when you’re stressed and need to get in a better state of mind. The finished product really isn’t the point if you’re doing it for therapeutic reasons, but I also get skills and inspiration for future art work while I practice.
Works Cited andRecommended Reading
Darley, Suzanne and Wende Heath. “The Expressive Arts Activity Book: A Resource for Professionals”. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2008.
On Martin Luther King Jr. day Tom and I attended a meeting for the Victory Garden at St. Catherine Laboure church where we volunteer. The garden serves multiple purposes. One of the primary missions is to raise produce for food pantries. We are going to be growing vegetables and herbs. One topic that came up in the meeting that has been making me think strategically is that different clientele at different food pantries have preferences for certain foods. If the clientele does not know how to prepare the vegetable or herb and is not familiar with it, they might leave it behind. The people at the Victory Garden have been learning what foods are in demand at what food pantry locations and have been adjusting the distribution and growing patterns to suit the local clientele.
In addition to adjusting supply, it was suggested to also adjust demand by distributing recipes. There are lots of reasons why everyone isn’t familiar with every vegetable or knows how to cook it. Some people are from parts of the world where the cuisine is different. Others might have a lack of grocery stores in their area so have less access to a variety of fresh foods. I also have known several people with plenty of access to food who have never learned to cook because they rely mostly on pizza and fast food. I have seen terrible health issues in some of my friends at relatively early ages due to this kind of deficient diet. It doesn’t have to be this way!
I have been blessed to have been taught to cook by my Mom who was not only a home gardener and a multiple culinary contest winner, but also had a very adventurous palette. She passed on knowledge of cooking and diverse food preferences to me and my late brother. When we were younger my brother and I used to get a silver dollar or a silver half-dollar from a great uncle if we finished all the food on our plates when we had dinner at his house. I guess we kind of neglected to admit that we almost always ate all our food, including the vegetables! We liked almost everything and had pretty hearty appetites. That was decent money when our weekly allowances were about that amount or not much more than that!
I am not a professional chef or food writer but I do like to publish recipes from time to time. I know so many people who are intimidated by food preparation. If I publish a simple recipe that I just made I hope that will inspire someone out there to try it. Since I cook a lot with herbs that I grow I also hope I can suggest ways of using them. A lot of people who don’t cook frequently are very intimidated by dried prepared herbs and spices, much less fresh ones. If you’ve been exposed to a wide range of herbs, spices and flavors your whole life you just know what goes together without having to follow a recipe. I don’t know how you teach this without long-term exposure but at least with a recipe I can show examples of combinations that work.
I am in terrible shape from recent inactivity so I’ll be using recipes from Weight Watchers and healthy recipe books a lot for inspiration as I try to increase my fitness. I inherited a lot of these books from my late uncle, brother, and grandmother. I often start from there and make modifications. If the results are good, I like to tell people about it!
Before I get to a simple new salad recipe, I’ll post links to my Fun With Food page (old but recipes still good!) and recipes of mine that are on blogs.
For inspiration I used a recipe called “Dilled Beet and White Bean Salad” (Gagliardi 70) from a Weight Watchers cook book, but I made a lot of changes and substitutions. For one thing, we had no dill! It still turned out great. It really woke up my taste buds.
3 TBSP apple cider vinegar 2 tsp brown mustard 2 tsp olive oil 1/2 tsp garlic salt 2 (15 1/2-ounce) cans white beans, rinsed and drained 1/2 bag of mini sweet peppers, chopped 1/2 onion, chopped 3 Roma tomatoes, chopped 1 tsp dried Parsley 1 tsp dried Basil 1 tsp dried celery pieces 1 jar sliced beets 1 can sardines 1 bag fresh mixed salad greens, such as spring mix, spinach/arugula mix, or something similar Nutritional yeast
Get out a large mixing bowl. Open the can of sardines and empty the juice into the bowl. Set drained sardines aside.
Add to the bowl the vinegar, mustard, olive oil, garlic salt, Parsley, Basil and celery pieces. Mix well with a whisk.
Add the drained beans, chopped peppers, onion and tomatoes. Toss well.
Place greens on plates and spoon about 1/4 of the vegetables over the greens per serving. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast. Arrange about 5 beet slices and 4 sardines on top of each salad. Enjoy!
When I was in grade school in the 1970s, I developed an unquenchable doodling habit early on. I covered almost everything in sight with doodles, including my brown paper textbook covers, folders, notebooks and tops of desks – I used pencil on the Formica tops so it would wash off. I thought my habit was harmless and decidedly my own business because I only doodled on my own property or with media that was washable, and I refrained from doodling on homework. I remember that my third grade teacher didn’t agree with that point of view at first and would try to curb my habit by confiscating my implements whenever she saw me doodling away. I don’t think that lasted long. My Mom complained to her about it and gave me extra pens and pencils so I’d always have another one anyway. I was mostly an obedient child but this is one area where I flat out refused to conform. Before too long I was left alone as long as I washed my desk top periodically. That seemed fair to me and all was peaceful from then on.
A popular item I remember from the 1970s was a DoodleArt kit. These were basically sophisticated coloring posters for older kids, teenagers, and adults. The black and white design was Doodled for you and the consumer was meant to color them in with colored markers. As I recall these were sought after items by myself and my peers in the 70s. While shopping at the toy store and the craft store I would drool over them. If I got one for Christmas or a birthday it was a thrill. Here is a link to a vintage DoodleArt kit for sale on Etsy, and I also found an apparently attempted DoodleArt revival on Facebook.
In the present day, many adults once more enjoy adult coloring, similar to actual DoodleArt. Many people like related activities such as art journaling and bullet journaling. Popular Zentangle is a form of meditative pen and ink art where the artist fills in sections of a design with repeating patterns, usually in black pen or marker. Some people add color to their Zentangle designs. Zentangle results do remind me of DoodleArt in a way, though Zentangle practitioners freehand draw their own designs instead of purchasing pre-made coloring pages.
A lot of my art journal pages are somewhat similar to Zentangle, in that I often like to fill in sections with repeating patterns, sometimes hand-drawn, sometimes traced from a stencil. Whenever I put some of my new art journal pages on Pinterest, in the area where you are shown similar pins to your own, a lot of Zentangle art comes up in my feed. I decided just for fun to try Zentangle for real just to learn a variation on what I already like to do. It really scratches that doodling itch that I still have!
There are lots of samples online of fill-in textures that you can draw in your Zentangle designs. I’ve linked to a few on a Pinterest board so you can see samples and get inspiration. After viewing some samples I decided to make a few of my own samplers featuring my own textures inspired by art journal pages I’ve already done. Here are some easy instructions for making your own sampler.
Tools and Materials Drawing paper Ruler Pencil Eraser Selection of fine tip black pens and markers of different diameters Optional – circle template
Some samplers I’ve seen online are works of art in their own right. The ones you see here are not that refined – they are more for practice and developing a vocabulary of textures that reflect my own taste in design. When I’m ready I’ll have lots of choices I can use to make my own version of Zentangle art.
Coloring Idea #2: Rainbow Effect With Gel Pens and Colored Pencils
Sometimes when I do “adult coloring” I have a specific idea that I am trying to explore. At other times, I just want to color without thinking too much – it’s so soothing. Rainbow color gradations are a sure fire way to lift my mood. Here is how to get a fun effect with stencils, gel pens, and colored pencils.
Step 1: Tape a stencil over the design area and outline with a thin, sharp pencil. For this kind of utilitarian marking I really like a mechanical pencil. It’s easy to erase and I don’t have to keep stopping to sharpen it.
Step 2: With the pencil and ruler, draw parallel lines at intervals across the page.
Step 3: Note how the pencil lines you drew divide the design into striped areas. Outline your pencil lines in one gel pen color per stripe in rainbow order. For example, I outlined the first in blue, then blue green, then green, then yellow, continuing through to pink.
Step 4: To make sure the gel pen is dry, lay a clean sheet of scrap paper over your design then burnish with a squeegee or bone folder. Lift the paper and check to see if any of the ink is coming off onto the scrap paper. Repeat if necessary until no ink is transferring.
Step 5: Erase your pencil lines. You probably won’t be able to get all the pencil lines out from under the gel pen ink lines, but the rainbow effect will still come through well enough. If the pencil lines bother you, you could go back in and touch up your work later with opaque gel pen colors, paint markers, permanent markers or the like.
Step 6: Color in gradations in pencil between and around your gel pen lines, maintaining the overall color progression in hues. There is a lot of room for creativity in how to color in this step. I choose to make the pencil colored in areas lighter tints of the hues in the gel pens and keep analagous colors roughly together. Keep experimenting and coloring until you are satisfied with the effect.
The example at the above right is not finished yet. Here are a couple more examples I’m working on of the same idea so you can see the work a little closer.
This is a time-consuming way to color, but sometimes that is just what I want. It requires just enough concentration to distract me from problems I want to forget for awhile, but it’s not so hard to do that I need a lot of energy. Sometimes when you’re in a crisis great ambition isn’t really there. I may or may not leave some of the background white. We’ll see!
Bringing the coloring to Dad in the hospital
I worked on the samples you see in this article and for PART 1 both on the go and at home in order to have samples to show to my Dad. Dad likes to do the #12daysoftomsbeard project and he requested that I bring him some shapes for it to color on at the hospital. I wanted to give him a choice of coloring techniques, so I had samples of each technique ready. I had supplies on hand to cover either choice, but to streamline my supplies I only brought colored pencils as both techniques can be done with colored pencils even though I used colored markers for the first one. Dad chose the stained glass effect from PART 1 – stenciling over patches of background color.
When I brought this project to Dad, he was only a few days past some serious seizures that affected both halves of his body, but especially the left. Dad is left-handed and I was very worried because Dad’s left hand had been in a claw-like position for about a week or more. After the seizures his hand relaxed. I wasn’t sure how much function Dad would have in the hand yet, so I prepared a couple of sheets of shapes in advance for us to color, one for me to demonstrate on and one for him. I taped the shapes to scrap chipboard pieces so they wouldn’t slide around while being colored. I also brought some shapes that still needed to be cut out so that Dad could cut some if he was able.
I showed Dad an overview of what we were going to do, then I offered him a chance to try cutting some shapes. He did a great job on them – with a right-handed scissors no less! I was overjoyed and a bit teary-eyed to see him doing so well. I told him this is what I want for Christmas – to see you able to do this! It seemed like a miracle compared to how he was just a few days before. For awhile I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to ever talk with him again, much less do art together!
I suggested some color schemes for Dad – primary colors, secondary colors, and analagous colors. It wasn’t critical that the pieces be of any particular color scheme, but when I teach a project, if I can I like to include some useful art information. I’m not a trained art therapist but I am a trained artist so I can legitimately call these activities “educational” even if I can’t officially call them “art therapy” (Darley and Heath).
I got some colored pencils out for him to cover each scheme, and let him pick from among them. Instead of covering the whole background like I did on mine, he mostly drew small shapes all over the background without covering it all the way. And instead of coloring in the negative spaces between stencil markings, he put numbers on his tags, numbers 1-11 to go along with the #12daysoftomsbeard. He was short one tag, so I’ll make a #12 later when we get to that.
In this kind of project, expressive arts for therapeutic purposes, the process is far more important than the finished results (Darley and Heath). There is no reason to try to change what Dad wanted to do if it varied from my samples. Dad has always been creative – I was so glad to see that ability is still there!
Here I am drawing stencil lines over the colored in shapes before filling in the negative spaces with black permanent marker. The main difference between coloring over marker vs. colored pencil is that the colored pencil creates a slightly waxy surface which might resist the marker at first. To help with this, I outlined the black areas in gel pen before filling in with a black Sharpie marker. The gel pen sticks better to the colored pencil and once the outlining is done then it’s not hard to fill in with the Sharpie.
I have started embellishing some of the pieces that we colored with punched paper pieces, glued-on sequins and little dots of squeeze paint to go along with the stenciling.
When #12daysoftomsbeard starts on December 25, we’ll have a good selection of items to display on the beard. Hopefully people will send us more parts as a challenge to incorporate each day. The first year we did this activity, in 2019, I started out by clipping little pieces of paper to Tom’s beard with tiny clothespins. To keep things interesting, we’ve been gradually elaborating by making little garlands, involving Tom’s glasses, adding found objects and props, incorporating parts of the background, using far-out creative filters and more.
What will happen?
Above is a commemorative artistamp sheet I made to show off some of my favorite beard pictures from the first three years we did this project.
Works Cited andRecommended Reading
Darley, Suzanne and Wende Heath. “The Expressive Arts Activity Book: A Resource for Professionals”. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2008.
The 2022-23 Holiday season for many people is probably going to be the closest they’ve had for awhile to normal patterns of celebrating. My Dad and I have made some attempts to join in this year, but to be realistic most of our energy has been absorbed by the effort to get and stay healthy. My Dad has been having some medical issues since mid-October and I’ve been staying with him frequently at his house and visiting him him a lot in the hospital. Except for the past week – I just took a week off because I seem to have been hit by a flu-like illness (not COVID, I took the test!). I’m on the mend now. Dad has been taken care of during this time at a rehab hospital and will be coming home later this week if all goes as planned.
When he’s discharged, I’ll be providing some care he’ll need for about three weeks. I’m not sure how much either of us is going to be able to attend holiday activities in person. We will probably have to sit a lot of it out. But we will try to keep in touch online!
The annual project #12daysoftomsbeard is one that my husband Tom and I have been doing every year at Christmas time. It’s a way of combining crafts, installation art, photography, mail art, digital art and conceptual art into a holiday celebration for us and our friends and family and anyone else who wants to join in. From December 25 through January 6th he poses for me with different items in his beard and I apply wacky filter effects then upload the results to Instagram. We invite people to send in pieces to use in the beard. My Dad in particular really enjoys this activity and he wanted to work on some beard parts while he was in the hospital. I’ll show you how we combined stenciling and coloring to make a bunch of pieces to use in Tom’s beard during the 2022-23 Christmas season. I’m going to try to make an extra big deal out of it this year for my Dad and myself because we are going to miss out on most other holiday activities this year.
If you want more background information on #12daysoftomsbeard before reading on, here are a couple of my earlier blog articles about it.
Tools and Supplies Beard printouts – scroll to bottom of the page for links to 6 graphic files to download and print Cardstock and chipboard Pencil and eraser Ruler Black permanent markers Black gel pens Colored pencils Colored markers Painter’s tape Stencils and/or cookie cutters Scissors Hole punch Scrap paper for covering work surface Glue stick Squeegee tool or bone folder
Optional for Embellishments Sequins Glue Squeeze paint
Coloring Idea #1 – Stenciling Over Colored Markers
Scribbling some colored backgrounds is an easy way to make vibrant backgrounds for stencil art. By filling in the negative spaces with black marker, you can create an attractive faux stained glass effect.
Step 1 – Color in the background with markers in random patches to make something similar to camouflage patterns
Step 2 – Tape a stencil over part of the work area and outline in black gel pen, black fine tip marker or black fine tip pen.
Step 3 – Repeat with different stencils until the whole design area is filled with outlines.
Step 4 – Color the negative spaces in with black marker.
Step 5 – With a glue stick, paste paper pieces to chipboard or cardstock and cut out.
Step 6 – If needed, touch up the edges with black marker to make a neat edge.
Stay tuned for PART 2: Rainbow Effect With Gel Pens and Colored Pencils.
This is going to be another one of those blog posts of mine that will be updated periodically as I work on and document a project. I have to move and rehome some aquariums that I’ve had set up in my condo for many years. I am donating some of my aquariums to schools and/or nonprofit organizations to make room for me to rehab my condo because it has mold damage from the upstairs neighbor having a serious water leak this past August.
The main way I’ve been using my aquariums over the last few years is to over winter plants and animals from my pond and the small water garden I kept before I had a pond. I need a place for the animals and plants from my aquariums to stay while I’m working on moving them. I’m currently staying with my Dad at his house because last week he had surgery and he needs some extra help for awhile. While I’m here, I’m reviving the aquarium I set up many years ago for my late brother. It’s been empty and dry for awhile, but I’m going to bring it back to life to make space for the plants and animals while I do my moving and setup tasks.
It takes time to set up a new aquarium and make it safe and healthy for aquarium life. If this is something you want to try, follow me as I set up a new aquarium, or two, or three so you can see how it’s done. Allow yourself about 30 days from the time you fill up the tank with water to the day you add the fish. You are almost guaranteed success if you follow my steps – they are based on decades of experience.
While I’m working on documenting my process from beginning to end, you might also enjoy an older article I wrote that includes information that can be applied to all fresh water aquarium keeping. READ: Create an Indoor Water Garden
Also here is an article I wrote about water quality in ponds. Even though the scale is different, concepts about nutrients in the water and types of filtration are basically the same. Reading it should give you a good overview about the topic of water quality. READ: Help – My Pond is Full of Algae!
How to start up a freshwater aquarium
Tools and materials needed: Aquarium Aquarium stand Aquarium gravel Aquarium filter Aquarium lid Filter Filter medium 2 large aquarium safe buckets Thermometer Lava Rock
Options: Aquarium heater Aquarium safe silicone sealer Air pump Air tubing Bubble wall Activated charcoal Ammonia test kit PH test kit
1. Test the aquarium, used or new, for leaks. Place it outside or on a basement floor that can get wet near a drain. Make sure it’s on a hard, level surface. The water will be very heavy when the tank is full so the surface must be level in order not to damage the tank. You can temporarily place it on it’s stand if you’re using one.
Check the aquarium in a day or so to make sure all seams are dry. If it’s free of leaks, empty the water out and proceed to Step 2. DO NOT move the tank with any water in it. If there are leaks, get some aquarium safe silicone sealer to patch the leaks after thoroughly drying the area you are patching. Follow the directions on the silicone sealer packaging about curing times and such.
2. Place the aquarium on the stand in the spot you have chosen. If all goes well, this aquarium will sit in this spot for many months or years so take some care in where you place it. Near an electrical outlet is convenient for running your equipment such as lights and filters. Near a window is usually not recommended because the excess light might cause algae growth. However if you are growing plants with a high light requirement, you might prefer to put it by a window. If you do get algae, it’s annoying but not the end of the world, I’ll tell you how to fight it later.
It’s best to use a designated aquarium stand unless you are placing it on a sturdy piece of furniture that you are certain will hold the weight. In my example I’m using our old buffet which has held 30 gallon aquariums in the past for many years, so I know it will take the weight safely.
3. Add aquarium gravel. The safest gravel to use is pre-packaged and intended specifically for aquariums. Rinse the gravel before adding to get any dust particles out.
Add only enough gravel to barely cover the bottom – deeper gravel will be harder to keep clean.
4. Fill the aquarium with tap water.
Once the aquarium is filled with water, we have to take some steps to make it ready for aquatic life.
Remove Chlorine and Chloramines
It’s important for the water to be agitated a little bit so that gases can exchange at the surface, except for the few special cases where certain plants and animals prefer very still water. Oxygen needs to get into the water, and toxic gases need to get out. If your filter agitates the water enough, you don’t really need to add an additional device for making bubbles. On the other hand, I think bubbles are so beautiful that I’m happy to go through the extra trouble and expense to add them.
If you have chosen a type of filter that uses an air pump, if the pump is strong enough you might be able to add a valve and bleed off some of the air to divert to a bubbler device. You can also just get another small air pump to run the bubbler.
What are some examples of a bubbler, also called an aerator or airstone? There are wands, molded stones, and porous tubing in various sizes and shapes you can choose from. This picture shows a couple of different kinds that I’m using right now. To prevent crumbling, soak air stones in water for 24 hours before running air through them.
Do you need to worry about PH?
It’s far easier to just choose plants and animals that like your water conditions than to try to use chemicals to manipulate the PH. If you get plants and animals from clubs or other hobbyists in the area using the same tap water and they don’t manipulate their PH, then you don’t have to worry about it. I haven’t tested my water for years – because I keep just a few species that I know can live in our water, it isn’t necessary.
Whatever plants and animals you end up adding to your aquarium, find out if they have any special temperature or PH needs before you get them. Then you can be sure to group plants and animals together that like the same conditions. Then if there is a need to alter your PH you’ll be prepared. There are test kits and chemicals available at pet supply stores to help you monitor and change the PH if necessary.
TO BE CONTINUED…
AquariumPlant Species Profiles
Anubias – Araceae I have a few of these that I got from an aquarium store in the 2010s. They have very low light requirements and grow slowly.
Coontail – Ceratophyllum demersum This grows well for me in both my pond and in aquariums with good lighting. I left some in my pond over last winter and it survived with a small heater keeping a hole in the ice and keeping the water from freezing over completely.
Egeria, Elodea and Hydrilla look very similar. They live mostly submerged but flower just above the water surface.
Brazilian Waterweed – Egeria densa This grows well for me in both my pond and in aquariums with good lighting. I left some in my pond over last winter and it survived with a small heater keeping a hole in the ice and keeping the water from freezing over completely. I found my original specimens in Missouri in the Current River.
Canadian Pondweed – Elodea canadensis Native to North America but has been introduced to other continents (Perry 85). A perennial commonly sold in pet stores for aquariums, also known as Anachris. Needs a lot of sun. (Atkinson and Mathison 53).
Hydrilla verticillata – looks very similar to and is related to Elodea (Perry 88). I don’t think it’s as pretty as Elodea and Egeria, because the leaves are more sparse making it look more leggy.
Duckweed – Lemna I grow two sizes in my ponds and aquariums, Lemna minor and Lemna major. They are very beautiful grown separately, together, or with other floating water plants such as Azolla. The different sizes, colors and textures can be stunning when allowed to grow naturally in a patchwork fashion. If grown you must take care not to let it blanket the water surface completely or it might interfere with the gas exchange at the surface and cause a damaging lack of oxygen in the water. If you need to remove excess duckweed, that is a bit of extra maintenance you have to do, but there is a bonus – the tiny plants make excellent feed for vegetable-eating animals, or it could be a very nutritious addition to your compost or worm bin.
Water Fern – Azolla
Water Hyacinth – Eichhornia crassipes
Arrowhead – Sagittaria
Creeping Jenny – Lysimachia nummularia I have the gold leaved variety ‘Aurea’ which is a gorgeous lime green color. This is a truly amazing plant. It will grow in regular garden soil as long as it gets enough moisture. I first bought it because I saw it being used a lot as ground cover when I went on a house tour. I fell in love and got some. It makes an excellent aquarium plant too if you can give it enough light and grow it in an emerging situation such as on a waterfall or in a refugium or bog setup. It does fabulously well in the shallow, rocky, “stream” portion of my outdoor water garden too. It looks beautiful trailing out of containers.
Papyrus – Cyperus papyrus I bought two Papyrus plants at the beginning of this past summer to put in the “river” portion of my pond. The grower calls one “Prince Tut” and the larger one “King Tut”.
Parrot Feather – Myriophyllum
Pondweed – Potamogeton
Works Cited and Further Reading on Indoor Freshwater Aquariumsand Other Indoor Growing Situations
Bailey, Tom and Nevin. “Pet Fish Talk.” Pet Fish Talk, 2002-2022, web.archive.org/web/20220522003017/https://petfishtalk.com/. Accessed 28 October 2022.
Boruchowitz, David E. The Simple Guide to Freshwater Aquariums. T.F.H. Publications, Inc., 2001.
Brackney, Susan M. The Insatiable Gardener’s Guide: How to Grow Anything & Everything Indoors, Year ‘Round. Five Hearts Press. 2003.
“Field Guide.” Missouri Department of Conservation, 2022, mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide. Accessed 27 October 2022.
Julian, T.W. The Dell Encyclopedia of Tropical Fish. Dell Publishing Co., Inc. 1974.
“Plant Directory.” University of Florida / IFAS / Center for Aquatic & Invasive Plants, 2022, plants.ifas.ufl.edu/plant-directory/. Accessed 27 October 2022.
Sakurai, Atsushi, Yohei Sakamoto and Fumitoshi Mori. Aquarium Fish Of The World: The Comprehensive Guide to 650 Species. Chronicle Books. 1993.
Van Patten, George. Gardening Indoors: the Indoor Gardener’s Bible. Van Patten Publishing. 2002.
Windelov, Holder and Jiri Stodola. Aquarium Plants: A Complete Introduction. T.F.H. Publications, Inc. 1987.
Works Cited and Further Reading on Outdoor Water Features and Water Gardening
“Aquatic Plants.” Chalily, 2022, www.chalily.com/product-category/aquatic-plants/. Accessed 28 October 2022.
Art, Henry W. A Garden of Wildflowers: 10 Native Species and How to Grow Them. Storey Communications, Inc., 1986.
Atkinson, Susan and Suzanne Normand Mathison, Editors. Garden Pools Fountains & Waterfalls. Sunset Publishing Corp. 1989, 1974, 1965.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve been creatively inspired to make things out of scraps. When I work on hand-stitched fabric projects, I often have several going at one time which means I switch thread colors often. Although there are many needles in my sewing tool stash, I have two or three that are my consistent favorites. Re-threading needles is easy for me since I do it constantly, but it’s a task that still takes time and care and I don’t enjoy doing it more often than necessary. Once I have a needle threaded, I want to use the color all up until the thread is too short to be of any use, even to me!
If I don’t have a project in progress at hand that can use odds and ends of threads, I will often sew semi-random scraps of fabric to scrap pieces of backing fabric to run off the extra thread so that I can quickly switch back to sewing with one of my favorite needles. Over time, I periodically accumulate enough of this new “textile” to make something else with it. Since these types of scrap textiles have a lot of raw edges in them, I won’t use them in something that gets a lot of wear or has to be washed because they would not survive for long. Even with that restriction, I have found good uses for the scrap textiles. Here are some examples!
What will my rainbow piece turn into? I’m not sure, but I have some crazy images in my head involving that piece and some pale yellow, lime green, and electric blue tulle. What will happen?