Wednesday, March 11, 2009

survey says

Since I've still been studying rather than making (unless, of course, you count making flash cards), here are some of the 52 objects on my plate for this week's Survey of Decorative Arts II midterm...

I am (crosses fingers) feeling pretty optimistic about this one!  And next week is spring break!!!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

as promised...'s Alice's bead, based by my clay bits.  Cool, no?

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Wow, one of my pieces has been included in another treasury!  Selected by fishstikks, this one includes my Shifting Expectations pendant.  It's been a good day!


Just got word that the lovely lasses of the Etsy Off the Wall Ladies Street Team (a.k.a. OWLS) included my necklace, The Littlest Owl (top right), on their blog today, along with some other great owl-themed pieces. Check it out here.

Friday, March 6, 2009

finding your voice

So my friend and studio-mate, Alice, is participating in an online workshop for glass bead makers called "Finding Your Voice."  For this week's assignment, they were asked to have a friend make five "simple but not basic" shapes, from which they would then choose two to conjoin and render in one color of glass.  Alice asked me to partner with her on this, and it was really fun!   

I opted to use terra cotta, rather than Sculpey for two reasons, first: I happened to have some under my desk (really, you never know what you'll find in here) and neither Alice nor I could find our Sculpey, and second: I actually really miss working with clay.  Those who know me well are probably groaning at this point, recalling my lengthy tirades last year about my frustration with wheel-throwing ("all it does is make a circle"), but remember, I really liked the sculptural possibilities of hand-building.  So, anyway, here they are my quick shapes (and yes, ever the over-achiever, I made six):

And here are the two she chose, stuck together: 

Alice's version is in the kiln, which I'm resisting the urge to open.  Pics to come soon...

Monday, March 2, 2009

read, write, study, repeat

It's midterm time. Figured I'd post the topic of the paper I'm currently writing (or would be writing if I wasn't so busy with self-indulgent blog posts... I swear, I'm just taking a break). This stunning French late-19th Century glass vase was designed by Eugene Rousseau and manufactured by Appert Freres. It's currently in the collection of the Walters Art Museum.

Oh, and I should also be continuing to study be these, among others, for my 17th and 18th Century Costume midterm Thursday:

It's going to be a long week...

at last, progress

Despite being even more distracted than usual by anything and everything in my path, I actually have managed to make a a few things lately.  These earrings are my new favorites; so much so that I kept a pair for myself and have been wearing them almost daily.  They're part of a new line that can be made available for wholesale order to retailers. Since I like to use vintage materials, it's always a challenge to find components in quantity.  

Below are a few pics of other new pieces that will soon be added to my etsy shop I'll likely retake some once the snow melts, for some reason, they're really grainy.  I've also been reshooting older work, relisting, and trying create a more cohesive look in the shop. There's still work to be done, but check it out and tell me what you think so far.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

mmm... crafty

                                     metalwork by Jessica Benzaquen, Jika James

Just a little teaser of my favorite work from today's visit to the American Craft Council show.  I have to say, it almost makes me wish I still worked in metal.  More thoughts on all things show-related later... I'm still digesting.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bonjour, Paris... er, Courcome!

Okay, this isn't really a studio update... but I'm going to France!!! Just got word this week that I've been accepted for an internship and will be spending most of July working for an atelier that specializes in the creation and restoration of murals and decorative finishes.   Many thanks to the French Heritage Society and the great folks at my graduate program for making it happen!!!  More details soon...

Friday, February 20, 2009

we all scream for...

                    Image from ulterior epicure under a creative commons license.

I'm still sick, which means I've accomplished nothing but feeling sorry for myself these past few days.  I have, however, contemplated a number of things that I've been meaning to do.  Like make ice cream.  It's a delightful 32 degree winter day here, 20 degrees with the windchill, but my dreaming of icy desserts knows no seasonal bounds.

A few weeks ago, I picked up a Cuisinart ice cream maker, new with its wrapping, directions, and an extra freezer bowl, at my favorite local thrift shop.  I'd been obsessed with getting one since last summer, when a friend's aunt took some mint from my garden back home with her to Chicago to make mint ice cream.  Still, knowing my track record for domestic project follow-through, I couldn't bear dropping actual money on one.  So, $10 at the Mission Thrift seemed reasonable.

Here are a few of the recipes I'm planning to try first:

Strawberry Basil - I made a strawberry basil sauce to go over ice cream and pound cake a few years ago and now I just can't get enough of this combination.  Really, you should try it.

Dark Chocolate Orange - Another of my favorite flavor duos.  I was just talking with someone the other day about how much we loved those chocolate oranges with the little separate wedges.  Yum!

Peach - My granddad made this every summer in his little wooden barrel ice cream maker.  I can still remember how fresh and peachy it was. Sadly, I don't have his recipe and there are so many out there in interweb recipe land.  I narrowed it down to this one though; I like the addition of almond extract.   Peaches soaked in Amaretto and then lightly grilled is another of my favorite summertime treats.

Mint Chocolate -  One of my all-time favorite ice cream flavors.  Think I'll get this recipe from the afore-mentioned aunt.  It only seems fitting.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

my favorite things

Buy Handmade

I'm sick again, which is making me nuts, so no school and no real studio time. Instead, I've been napping, Facebooking (really, how much friend stalking, ridiculous photo commenting, and group joining can a girl do in 48 hours?), and adding things to my Etsy favorites (click on the images above to see some of them).  And don't worry, I haven't reached the Barbie buying stage.   Yet.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

and the winner is...

So today's the day! Last night was officially the end of entries for my Valentine earring giveaway, which means that today someone gets to win!!!  Many thanks to all who participated, your comments and feedback were much appreciated.

And the winner is...

...comment #2, Audrey from Audrey's Country Crafts!  Audrey, I'll be in touch for your address.

Have a great day, everyone!

Friday, February 13, 2009

things to come

OK, I've clearly spent way too much of my recent studio time entertaining, cooking, and eating, with occasional breaks for cleaning and painting.   I'm apparently having trouble getting motivated to actually make stuff.  I do have some cool new half-finished pieces in the works though, inspired by this vintage silhouette of my mother-on-law. Eventually, I'll finish them.  I promise.

And don't forget... today's the last day to enter to win free earrings!  

Thursday, February 12, 2009

an affair to remember

I have to admit it. I've taken a lover. Well, three: Pratt, Lambert, and Benjamin Moore. I'm such a naughty girl, but I can't break their hold over me. The affair started so long ago...

I loathe cleaning, only do laundry when I've absolutely run out of clothes, and cook in fits and spurts, but I will happily repaint everything every week. Maybe even every day. Walls, ceilings, trim, lawn furniture, the front of the dishwasher, the ugly floral kitchen tiles left over from the previous name it, I'll paint it. My methods: oil, latex, acrylic, spray can, brush, roller, rag, sponge, fingers, whatever works for the job. But I think I love painting walls the most. There's something so gratifying about staking your claim, about covering over vast expanses of the old with something fresh. It just feels like progress when sometimes nothing else does. Like the D.I.Y. equivalent of getting a new haircut after a break-up. And I love the fiddly masking off and cutting in. And the color. And the intoxicating off-gassing smell. But my obsession is likely more a statement of my fickle nature than of a creative temperament and a desire to be stoned on toxic paint fumes. That, and I like to get all paint splattered and messy.

It should be no surprise then that, since I have plenty of other things to do, I suddenly feel inspired to paint the studio foyer. I've been putting it off for a couple years because I really should repair the plaster walls first. I'm afraid to find out how bad they are under the existing cracked coat of faux stucco though; it may be the only thing holding up the whole room. (Yes, preservation friends, I should know better and I'm a bad doobie; I promise to say a few Hail Clem Labines and talk smack about vinyl to atone for my sins.)

And so, earlier this week, after nearly a year of resisting the urge, I was called back to my old loves in the paint aisle of the Clark's (an awesome, local, family-owned hardware store). We're still in the test pot stage, but our future looks promising.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

summer rolls in winter

Yesterday was pretty balmy here for February (mid 50s - today will be even warmer), so I decided that unexpected spring-like weather was justification for summer-like food. We had a few friends over to the studio to make summer rolls with veggies, mint, shrimp, and tofu.  It works best when the veggies are cut down into thin little matchsticks. I realized I dind't have full-sized carrots though, so ended up julienning baby ones, which was a little ridiculous. Lately it seems like I'll do anything to avoid actually making art in here!

Here's a relentlessly cheerful tutorial from a Food Network hopeful:

Monday, February 9, 2009

studios aren't just for art

Shimpy appetizers: pate and soup

So I had a little studio distraction and an excuse to really clean, thanks to some friends who cooked their way through a mini Iron Chef-inspired meal at our place last night.   The cooks, Ami and Jeanne, often use Facebook to post what they're cooking for the day, which has apparently inspired some kitchen rivalry. So, they got the idea to do their own Iron Chef via Facebook, and sent a note out asking friends to vote for the protein of their choice: pork, beef, sausage, chicken, or shrimp.  

The initial plan was to tally the votes the day before the meal, plan a menu and purchase ingredients in one day, and then cook for each other's families the next night to see whose meal was most popular. My husband, who has a little Facebook-related cooking obsession of his own, instantly upped the ante and suggested they cook for a crowd at our studio (one of the many perks of having an old church is an awesome industrial kitchen). Amazingly, they agreed!  

So, we found ourselves and 30 guests, many of whom I'd never met, enjoying a delicious menu of shrimp dishes (happily though, the secret ingredient did not have to be included in the desserts; I was terrified there might be shrimp ice cream). Kids and adults alike seemed to enjoy the space, and it was so nice to see what is often pretty solitary workplace become so warm and lively. 

The food was so good it was hard to choose, and apparently I wasn't the only one who felt that way... the cooks tied!  (And tsk-tsk to those who didn't vote - you know who you are!)  We're already plotting the rematch... 

Sunday, February 8, 2009

smoke and mirrors

Looks like a little slice of studio heaven doesn't it?   I've been cleaning and organizing...trying to get everything into a more workable state.   Don't be fooled though, here's what it looks like if you step back a bit:

I think it may actually be possible to have too much space to work in.  See?

And the chair isn't even mine.  It will be headed to it's rightful owners (my parents) this week.  Still, this must be progress.  Right?

Friday, February 6, 2009

front page, baby!

Yay!!! I finally made it to the Etsy front page!   My fame was fleeting (I actually missed it entirely), but sweet nonetheless. Many thanks to my friend Juliet, at The Broken Plate, for spotting it and capturing a screen shot.  

These earrings sure are getting around... don't forget, you have a chance to win a pair here.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

so very blue

No, I'm not feeling sad; I just wanted to share this stunning glass bead, made by my friend Alice St. Germain-Gray (who does not yet have an etsy shop and really should... nudge, nudge).  I think she has the best sense of color of just about anyone I know.  One source of inspiration for her here was the vibrant blue and red combinations she saw while traveling in London.  The way the green enamel came through was apparently a happy accident.  Very happy indeed!

I love this bead so much that I want to paint everything I own to match it!  And something about it has inspired in me a desire to gold leaf the ceiling in my very red studio bathroom.  Here are a few more pics in case, like me, you just can't get enough...

Monday, February 2, 2009

the great studio cleanup

I'm once again trying to clean and organize my studio space, which, thanks to another recent cleaning frenzy and some "new" storage drawers from my friend Alice, is better than it was but still unacceptable.  I really need to figure out how to juggle wanting all of my stuff spread out around me with not wanting to sift through piles every time I want (or really need) to find something.  It shouldn't take 30 minutes to find a pair of pliers when you use them every day.  

Sunday, February 1, 2009

valentine giveaway - because you're special

I'm so excited that tallib included me in her treasury yesterday that I've decided to give away a pair the "Because You're Special" earrings she featured.  Think of it as my Valentine's Day gift to you (well, to one of you).  All you need to do to enter is follow the directions below and give me a little etsy shop love... Here's the skinny:
  • Open to all.
  • To enter, visit my etsy shop, then, before 12:00 AM EST on Valentine's Day, post a comment to this blog post telling me which of my shop items you love and why.  Be sure you also include an email address or, if you have one, etsy username; otherwise, I can't contact you if you win!
  • I'll draw a name at random on Valentine's Day, and will contact the winner (via email or etsy convo) and post their name here as well.  The winner will have until 12:00 noon, Monday, Feb. 16 to reply; if they haven't replied by that time, I'll draw a new name.
Good luck!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

treasury: think regal

I was excited to learn today that my "Because You're Special" earrings were included in a beautiful new Etsy treasury by tallib.  What a nice compliment! Click on the photo above to see it all up close.   Here's hoping it makes it to the front page!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Just a few photos from this week's breakfasts at our favorite local greasy spoon, the Harvest Inn... I've been working on improving my interior shots with the camera on manual, rather than auto, settings. Still not great, but getting there. I've forgotten so much since taking photo 101.

And no, that's not Santa, or Jerry Garcia, or Sasquatch, or anyone from ZZ Top... that's my dad! He hasn't shaved since I was born.  Believe it or not, under all that hair, he and I look remarkably alike.