Crafting and Cocktails: Pimm’s Cups, Barnacles and Porcelain Pens

This was a crafty kind of weekend.  I tried a couple of artsy projects that have been on my radar for a while – with varying degrees of success – and also perfected the craft of making a superb Pimm’s Cup.  I want to share all three with you – the good, the so-so and the delicious.

Remember the paper clay barnacles I shared a couple months ago as a DIY I was dying to try?  Well I finally did, and it was FUN.  The full tutorial can be found over on Design Sponge, but I made a few discoveries and modifications along the way that worked for me.

barnacles 2

The original tutorial includes directions for making the paper clay mixture at home, but while the place we’re renting for the summer – used mostly as a vacation rental for visitors to wine country – is amply outfitted with martini shakers and wine glasses, it’s a little scant on actual cooking implements.  Even if there were a mixer here, I probably wouldn’t feel comfortable using it to mix glue and joint compound, so I was excited to find a ready-made mix at JoAnn Fabric that worked for this project.

This stuff is really easy both to make and to clean up after.  You mix the powder with water (they provide some measurements for different consistencies, but it’s pretty intuitive) in a ziplock bag and massage it around until it’s uniform.   It didn’t adhere easily to the  balloons, so I laid out a piece of plastic wrap and spread it out (below left) then just wrapped it up around the balloon and smoothed it with my fingers.

barnacle process

I really like how they turned out – I’m planning to put air plants in them when I’m back home – and the total cost was about $7 (for balloons and mix – I used a coupon) with lots of both left over.

barnacles 3

Barnacles have a special place in my heart.  In fact, they’re one of my favorite animals.  They may seem inanimate, but they are living some extraordinary lives out there in the ocean.  Their life history is a tangent I could wander down for ages, but I’ll just share a couple highlights.

Baby barnacles

That’s a nauplius on the left and a cyprid on the right. I took these pictures when I was in grad school and had access to all the lovely seawater and microscopes my heart desired.

Those are BABY barnacles!  Well, barnacle larvae.  They’re released into the ocean looking like the little critter on the left, where they drift around and eat before metamorphosing into the bean-shaped cutie (essentially a teenage barnacle) on the right.  Its job is to crawl around and find other, adult barnacles (by smelling for ’em) on rocks, docks, boats, whales – wherever they might be.  Then – and this is where it gets crazy – they secrete a cement out of their head, stick it to the rock, and build their shell around them.  They are doing a headstand for THEIR WHOLE LIVES and eating with their legs.  Seriously awesome.  Next time you’re at the ocean, belly up to a tidepool or the edge of a dock and watch their hairy little legs comb the water for food.  It’s mesmerizing.

Okay, back to crafting.  I had a less successful foray into the world of porcelain pens, though I’m going to blame user-error rather than the product itself.  I’ve been wanting to try these for a while and I ordered a black and a white one from Amazon.

porcelain pens

I picked up two plain vessels – a planter and a vase – at the thrift store for about 99 cents each.  The paint goes on quite thick (I found it was thicker with the black pen than with the white) and dries quickly, so it’s pretty easy to work your way around without smearing the part you’ve already done.  As it turns out, though, drawing straight lines on curved surfaces is HARD.  I might try a more free-form design next time, or  Cameron had some ideas for how to use our lathe to turn the pot so I could just hold the pen in one place to get a straight line.

painted vessels

Pimm’s Cups have been our drink of the summer, and I’m happy to share an easy recipe that we’ve perfected with plenty of practice.  These are refreshing, slightly herbal and not too sweet.   Just right for sipping in the backyard on a hot evening.

Pimm's Ingredients

I feel compelled to mention that we’ve been working on this bottle for over a month.


  • Pimm’s
  • Ginger Ale or Ginger Beer
  • Lemon
  • Cucumber
  • Ice

Muddle (smash) three slices of peeled cucumbers and a quarter of a lemon in the bottom of a glass

Muddled cukes and lemon

Add a two to one ratio of ginger ale to Pimm’s.  We put in 1/4 cup Pimm’s and 1/2 cup ginger ale.  Stir, then add ice and garnish with sliced cucumber and lemon.  Enjoy!

Pimm's Cup

Thanks for reading along!  Did anybody else do some weekend crafting?  We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

8 responses on “Crafting and Cocktails: Pimm’s Cups, Barnacles and Porcelain Pens

  1. y2knina

    Great post!

    I loved your barnacle tangent. My husband and I are long-time scuba divers and I like nothing more than finding and observing critters beneath the sea. Seriously I have come close to running out of air (whoopsie) on a couple of occasions when I have just been so mesmerized by the incredible life all around down there. (My 2nd favorite underwater activity is finding lion fish, those invasive buggers, catching them and eating them. Yummy.)

    I think both your craft projects came out great and I would like to personally thank you for the arduous testing you performed on our behalf in your quest for the perfect Pimm’s Cup. We who are about to drink salute you!

  2. pippin

    I love a good Pimm’s cup! I like to put mint, apple, and strawberry’s in mine. Really just about any fruit works with Pimm’s! I don’t know how you made those vases, as they look difficult and thus might explain the Pimm’s consumption.

  3. Katy Gilmore

    I love it when you tell stories of the critters from the sea! You bring your most original take on them “doing a headstand FOR THEIR WHOLE LIVES and eating with their legs” – who knew? – and the same is true of your craft projects (not that they eat with their legs, but they always have your very own flair). Such fun to read the directions and the experiments and then see the results, and I’m curious about those porcelaine pens – glad to know about them – thanks!

  4. Carol Crump Bryner

    I like to stand on my head, but I’m not sure I’d want to do it for my WHOLE LIFE! So interesting to read that. Those barnacles came out great. They sort of remind me of wasps nests. Alas, I did no crafting projects this weekend except for making a birthday card for my husband. But my daughter and her sons made stitch markers (for knitting) and key fobs out of “Shrinky Dinks!”

  5. k80bennett

    Thank you all for your comments! I’m at a trailhead and about to head into the woods and unplug until the end of the week, but i’ll check in again when I’m back!

  6. michellet2013

    A lifelong headstand—I had no idea that barnacles were such fascinating creatures! Thanks Katie—another example that so much more is happening than might be readily apparent. Your clay versions look fantastic too.

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