Thursday, December 18, 2008

yay, prints!

I've gotten some prints of my older work made! Because of higher overhead costs of the Somerset Velvet cotton paper, I decided to go with Kodak archival photo paper. It's actually great, because I can offer each print very reasonably. 4" by 6" are $4.50, 5" by 7" prints are $6.00, and 8" by 10" prints are $8.00. Right now there's only one 4" by 6" print of "Monster no. 1" in the store, but more are on their way!

Also, I might be getting a new scanner after Christmas! We'll see what I find under the tree.

way back when

I don't know if you've heard of Shorpy. It's a fascinating repository of old photos of America. A friend gave me the url a year ago, and now part of my morning routine, right after getting my coffee and right before reading the news, is to browse through their archives and see what they've posted for that day.

Look at this picture of a Christmas parade from the 1930s:

Look at the teeth on that paper mache head. Is he supposed to be an elf? Or a radish? It's so weird. I wish I could see what color it was painted.

And the clown! Can you imagine a clown in a Christmas parade now? From the look of it, the clown is an early prototype of the American clown, all smiles and birthday parties, and not the raunchy, almost burlesque old world clown.

Anyway, check out their archives when you're looking for something to do.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


After weeks of intermittent searching, I found a theater that will be showing Let The Right One In.

It opens this Friday, and my best friend will be getting into town a few days later. I'm torn between going to see this or getting tickets for Mary Zimmerman's The Arabian Nights.

two more before i return to gift-making and wrapping

I wish the picture quality weren't so horrid. The next plain clear day I get I'm going to reshoot all of these, but still - I can't wait until I make enough for a new scanner.

Each of these is listed for $35. A little on the low side, but I'm attributing the extra time it took to cut them to the new designs and the fact that I'm sick.

new silhouette

$35, listed just moments ago.

Monday, December 15, 2008


The US Priority Mail deadline for Christmas delivery is December 20th. So, for all of those who feel a little ambushed by the passage of time, I'm having a sale! Check it out!


It's a beautiful sunny day, perfect for photographing new pieces. Except I haven't made too many new pieces. I'm terribly sick.

Well, no. I just hate being sick, so even if it's just a bad cold I tend to whine and grouse and try the patience of everyone around me.

Given that my mom was a bit of a hypochondriac, I have a lot of different cure-alls to choose from when I'm sick. Samgyetang, or Korean chicken soup will probably find its way onto the table sometime this week, but when I got up this morning (well, closer to noon than dawn) I cut a slice of Camden's delectable banana bread and made myself the simplest medicine of all.

one knob fresh ginger, about the size of your thumb
a little good honey (optional)

Peel and slice the ginger across the grain with a sharp knife into thin coins and place in a clean teapot. Bring some water to a boil and pour over the ginger, and let it sit for at least four or five minutes. Stir in a little honey if that's to your taste.

Friday, December 12, 2008

holiday test recipe: parmesan black pepper biscotti

A couple years ago I worked at a bookstore, and when the holidays began looming over the horizon I made liberal use of my employee discount and bought books. Lots of books. I'm too embarrassed to say exactly how many, so let's just say the entire pile of loot weighed, oh, around a hundred and twenty pounds.

I will say this: I agonized just a much over those books as I am agonizing over my handmade gifts this year. Books are tricky. They seem so straightforward, a bestseller here, a critical darling there, maybe a glossy cookbook thrown in to add some color. But - well. Let's put it this way: a couple weeks after I'd been hired as a bookseller, a customer asked me to pick out something for her to read over Christmas break. "What's your favorite novel?," she asked.

"Oh," I replied, "that's a tough question, but if I had to choose just one I'd choose Lolita! Have you read it?"

She smiled politely and shook her head, and soon after she excused herself, saying she had a train to catch. A week later I saw her chatting enthusiastically with one of the veteran booksellers, each of them clutching a copy of 'The Secret Life of Bees.'

This year I thought, to hell with that. Say what you will, there is no awkward subtext to a handknit hat. Handknit mittens don't spark heated (and unwelcome) existential arguments with a customer/relative/stranger on the bus. And homemade cookies, candy, and biscuits? The worst I can expect is for someone not to like them. Or maybe have an allergic reaction.

Actually, I thought that's what happened to Camden when he munched on one of these. He took a thoughtful bite, chewed appreciatively, then sneezed four times in quick, violent succession. I asked him if he wanted some water. "No," he wheezed, "I just sneezed because the taste was so awesome I couldn't contain it in my mouth. I had to set it free."

I know he was just being polite, but the sneezing did illustrate a point. There's a lot of pepper in here. It's potent. But without it the parmesan is a little overpowering, and anyway, the spiciness makes it a wonderful soup dunker or accompaniment to a cold pint.

(adapted from Gourmet magazine)

1 1/2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting (I used half whole wheat, half all purpose)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated (2 1/4 cups)
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F.

Pulse peppercorns in grinder until coarsely ground. (I used a mortar and pestle)

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, 2 cups cheese, and 1 tablespoon ground black pepper in a large bowl. Blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Whisk 3 eggs with milk and add to flour mixture, stirring with a fork until a soft dough forms.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and quarter dough. Using well-floured hands, form each piece into a slightly flattened 12-inch-long log (about 2 inches wide and 3/4 inch high). Transfer logs to 2 ungreased large baking sheets, arranging logs about 3 inches apart.

Whisk remaining egg and brush some over logs, then sprinkle tops of logs evenly with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and 1/2 tablespoon ground pepper. Bake, rotating sheets 180 degrees and switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until logs are pale golden and firm, about 30 minutes total. Cool logs to warm on sheets on a rack, about 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.

Carefully transfer 1 warm log to a cutting board and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices with a serrated knife. Arrange slices, cut sides down, in 1 layer on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining logs, transferring slices to sheets. Bake, turning over once, until golden and crisp, 35 to 45 minutes total. Cool biscotti on baking sheets on racks, about 15 minutes.

two new silhouettes

Both are $35.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

alice's gift

I'm taking a break of sorts this weekend, just listing one or two items every day, so that I can make some progress in my gift wrapping and holiday stuff. Other than tissue paper, so far I haven't had to buy any extra material.

I made my boyfriend's mom a set of handknit and felted nesting bowls and a necklace:

I started with a cigar box.

Then I filled the box with cotton batting, made a little niche and lined it with tracing paper so the cotton wouldn't stick to the bowls, and put that in. I made lined the innermost bowl with more paper, put in a little more batting, and then made the card for the necklace and put that in:

This way the card stands a little higher than it normally would, since it's resting on the cotton.

Then I put in the necklace:

Inserted the paper cap:

Stuck in the tag for the nesting bowls:

And put on the lid!

I sealed the card closed with sealing wax, which I use to package my miniature silhouette and smaller pieces so I have a lot of it to begin with. All the paper is paper I had lying around. The cotton batting was purchased years ago for a project I never got around to finishing.

So far I'm pretty behind in all my wrapping, partially because I'm still waiting on a few things to arrive, but I'm not feeling stressed out yet. One of my presents to Camden this year was that I'd take care of all the gift-wrapping and presentation, and I'm actually having a lot of fun.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The satsuma peel is to give a control for color. It was actually sunny today so I didn't have to tweak the temperature or exposure at all.

I'm having fun with the layering of the mistletoe, and after the holidays I'm planning on using the sme layering method with different motifs, but I'm the joining at the top bugs me a little. I wish there were a way to make it less visible.

Thanks, Craftershock!

Earlier this morning I got a mention on Craftershock, a fantastic craft image-sharing blog. Check out the post, and check out their archives - it's chock-full of really lovely things.

Friday, December 5, 2008

This morning I actually got up on time.

There are three of us living in my apartment, and only one of us goes to work every morning at the same time. My sister and I both work retail, and I only on the weekends, so our schedules tend to be all over the place. Camden, on the other hand, gets up Monday through Friday at 4:30 am. to get to his 6:00am shift in the city. This is usually the point in conversation when our friends gasp in horror and wonder how he hasn't died yet.

The truth is, his shift is great if only because it ends a couple hour earlier than most other people's. He gets off work around three, gets home at four, and if we're feeling especially ambitious we'll go have a pint at the pub and come home before five. We usually have dinner early, but if I've gotten a late start on a braise or something needlessly elaborate for a weeknight dinner it's still on the table no later than eight. We usually watch something from our Netflix queue, then have dessert and tea and are in bed by eleven. It's a staid, pleasant routine.

Except that this is how it almost always goes: Camden gets up at 4:30, showers, gets dressed, and goes to work. I stay in bed until after noon.

I've oscillated between insomnia and oversleeping since high school, and I'm not really sure why. It's frustrating, because when I oversleep I feel like I'm wasting time. Last night, Camden asked me if I'd like him to bully me into waking up with him, and I said yes.

Which is all a really long way of saying that I woke up at 4:45 this morning, and I got a lot done today.

There are a couple more miniatures, actually, but I'm going to list them later after I tweak the photos. Right now, to cap off the first really productive day I've had in a while, I'm going to go get a drink with some friends. Happy Friday!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

object of affection in eggshell

New "Object of Affection" silhouette up in the shop.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

spoke too soon

It doesn't seem like I'll be able to finish any more of the larger mistletoe pieces before the sun goes down. Oh well, I'll be up bright and early to take pictures tomorrow morning. For now here are three new miniatures to tide over til then.

holiday silhouettes: objects of affection

Four new silhouettes in the shop. With any luck I'll post four more by the end of the day, as well as more miniatures and such.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"The Pledge"

This is the second series of silhouette studies related to the same piece as the Finch miniature series.

This will be a very limited series, only three pieces, but I'm pricing them fairly low because they're fairly simple. I'm still torn on whether or not to offer the complete piece as an original or try to get prints made.

Here's the difficulty with prints: my camera sucks. It's hard to get a complete image of anything over 8" by 10" and most of my detail shots are a little blurry, even with the tripod. I'm doing some research into what would be a better camera for art shots, but I think I might just have to suck it up and buy a new scanner.