Here are directions for making a simple steamer. I learned how to do this from Jane Dunnewold. I purchased my pot and spring form pan at a thrift shop. The hardware cloth, metal duct tape and metal duct pieces came from a hardware store. Please read through all of the directions before making the purchases. You will see that the size of each piece you buy is dependent upon the size of another.
Items to gather together:
1. Large stock pot, measure the diameter before buying the ducting. 2. A section of metal ducting that, when assembled, will fit into the pot and be supported by the spring form pan. 2. A spring form pan that fits nicely into the stock pot 3. A piece of fiberglass screening (window screen) 4. Hardware cloth 24: wide worked well for me. (comes in a roll) 5. Two large hose clamps, that when joined will fit around the outside of the spring form pan. 6. Cheese cloth or light weight fabric (to cover the roll) 7. Wire cutters (I found the small jewelry type worked well on the hardware cloth) 8. Needle nose pliers 9. Metal duct tape
Remove the bottom of the spring form pan and put aside. Cut a piece of screen and stretch over the top of the pan. Connect the two hose clamps to make one larger one. Slip it over the screen and tighten, making sure the screen is snug. Trim excess screen, but not too close to the clamp. Put the completed pan into the stock pot with the screen up.
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The duct comes with a self locking edge that you may have to put together. Once assembled, tape the edge closed with the metal duct tape.
The duct should stand nicely on top of the screened spring form pan and not quite touch the edges of the pot.
Next comes making the roll or "core" from hardware cloth. This will fit into the duct, vertically, with the fabrics rolled around it. So, do not make it so large that it fills the duct. Mine is about 2 1/2-3" in diameter and fits into a 7" duct. The hardware cloth is quite stiff and hard to roll. When it comes in a roll, it wants to stay in that size roll. Flatten out the length you want. To cut, you will need to cut each wire down a row. Leave one side with no wires protruding and the other end with the ends extended.
Using the needle nosed pliers, bend the extending wires through the matching square on the opposite end and bend to secure. It is a bit unwieldy, but can be done with a bit of patience.
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The wire core now needs to be wrapped in cloth. Cheese cloth works well and is easy to work with. I used a curved needle to sew it through and to the core.
Congratulations, you are just about ready to steam!
I use pieces of old sheets to wrap my fabrics. Lay out a piece that is larger than the article you want to steam. Fold the long edges over the article. Remembering that the steamer core is only 24" wide, if your article is wider, it will need to be folded lengthwise. Be sure every surface of your article will be covered by the sheet. No area needing to be steamed should touch any other. Roll the entire package around thecore, smoothing as needed. Tie loosely with a strip of fabric. When folded and rolled, leave a few inches of the core exposed where it will sit on the screen. It helps to avoid wetness.
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Put boiling water in to the pot (water boiling when the roll goes into the pot saves time and helps with timing.) Insert the duct and be sure it is standing on the screen. Slip the wrapped core into the duct with the uncovered end down. Place a small towel over the top to collect condensation. Sit the lid on top of everything. If the pot did not come with a lid, use the bottom of the spring form pan that you put aside in the beginning.
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My steamer sits on the floor atop a single electric burner. I will steam a 2 yard length of fabric or several scarves for 30 minutes. Timing starts when the steam is rising. The mitts are necessary to prevent steam burns when you remove the top.