Monday, February 18, 2013

what I've been up to lately

Lately I have been:

- Sewing and sewing and getting ready to sew some more

- Fulfilling lots of custom Etsy orders (always a good thing!)

- Finding ways to make my Intro to Digital Photography college course feel new and fun since this is my 10th time to teach it (time flies)

- Starting two new part-time jobs as a learn-to-skate instructor (!!) and a shop girl at a small, adorable local business (Shop girl makes me think of You've Got Mail.  It's just that sort of shop, only we don't sell books.)

- Riding my bike every day even when it's freeeezing and snowing, and feeling really stinking proud of that fact.

- Ice skating and loving it as much as ever.  I can't ever remember a day in my life where I had skating practice on my schedule and didn't want to go!

- Making lots of bees and other art in my very own darkroom (that I share with my studiomate Steve)

I haven't been baking much bread.  Oops.  I'm trying to get back on track!

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

year of bread 5&6/50: nestle tollhouse, betty crocker, and clabber girl

I used to watch Saved by the Bell while getting ready for school in the mornings, when I was in elementary school.  Reruns came on at 7 am, for some strange reason.  My absolute favorite episode was the one where the whole gang starts a business making spaghetti sauce, from Screech's grandmother's secret family recipe.  Their business really takes off, and eventually it comes out that the recipe was stolen by Screech's grandmother from a Betty Crocker cookbook.

There is also a similar episode of Friends, "The One with Phoebe's Cookies."  Phoebe's grandmother had an amazing chocolate chip cookie recipe.  She passed the recipe down to Phoebe, but Phoebe lost the recipe when her apartment caught on fire.  Monica's only request for a wedding gift from Phoebe is to have her grandmother's recipe.  Phoebe has one single cookie left made from the recipe, hiding out in her freezer (I guess it wasn't damaged in the fire?).  So she gives the cookie to Monica, and Monica bakes batch after batch after batch of cookies trying to figure out the recipe, but she fails.  Eventually Phoebe says that the recipe originated from her great-great grandmother from France, Nestle Tollhouse (say it with a French accent!).  Of course, Monica recognizes this as the brand Nestle Toll House, hands a bag of chocolate chips to Phoebe and has her read the recipe on the back of the bag, which it turns out, is her "grandmother's recipe."

No, my grandmother doesn't have a secret family biscuit recipe (that would be pretty cool, actually).  But after seeing a biscuit recipe on the back of the Clabber Girl baking powder when scouring the pantry for Saturday morning breakfast ideas, I decided to take a cue from Screech's and Phoebe's grandmothers and try it out.  There's a reason why they make an effort to put those recipes directly on the packaging, you know, and a reason why fictional grandmothers steal them and call them family secrets: they are really good!

On Saturday morning, I made these with unbleached, all-purpose flour.  On Sunday, I tried them again but with whole wheat flour (I added 1 Tbsp. gluten to the flour).  The result with both was delicious!  The whole wheat ones are a healthier given the extra fiber, so next time I'll either make the whole wheat version again, or do a 1/2 and 1/2 version.  I also used soy milk and vegan butter substitute since that's what I keep on hand.  And I cut them in an endearing heart shape since we're getting close to Valentine's Day!  And the fabric for my sewing project matched my plate, so that became my backdrop.  Thanks, Clabber Girl.  Maybe I'll start claiming this as my secret family biscuit recipe.

sewing soakers

I love putting multiple interests/skills into one project.  Two years ago, I decided to start taking screen printing classes so I could combine my love of drawing/designing and fabrics.  Sometimes I make prints on nice paper, but nothing makes me happier than printing my own custom fabric, then sewing it into something one-of-a-kind.  So when my catlady ice skating friend Dayna, who also studied art in school, and I, started talking about drawing cats skating and potentially using the drawings for some kind of project, visions of screen printing ice skating cats onto our own fabric immediately came to mind.  Last week Dayna, Lindsay, and I got to work to make this dream happen!  This is my 3rd sewing project of the year.

Dayna had screen printing experience as well, so we printed the fabric with my at-home screen printing set-up.  The design was a collaboration between me, Dayna, and Marie.  I just invested in 6 new screens not too long ago, so of course given that, along with my recent sewing ambitions, I am envisioning lots and lots of fabric printing in my near future!

And what did we make with all that cat fabric, you ask?  Soakers!  Soakers are soft blade covers for skates.  They help completely dry the blades after skating, and keep them from getting scratched up.  They are normally terry cloth (fabric material) on the inside, but the outsides can vary.  We printed our outside fabric with the cats.  It was a simple broadcloth from the quilting area of the fabric store.  We got lots of colors and are working on sewing up more pairs for all our skating friends!  When we finish them up, I'll make an illustrated tutorial of how it's done, but we modified the instructions from the Figure Skating Advice blog.

And by the way, these are my NEW figure skates.  They are so beautiful!  I have been figure skating for 16 years, and had my last pair of skates a total of 14 years!  5 of those years I did not skate regularly, but 9 years of skating is still a really long life for skates!  They were so worn out.  I am still keeping them around for when I get to teach skating classes for children on the weekends (skating with 3 year olds can be rough on the skates), and since I only had one pair of soakers between the two pairs of skates, this was the perfect, functional project for me.  My other pair of soakers is pretty wild...they are made of faux giraffe fur...13 year-old me picked them out and thought they were ah-mazing.  Miraculously, they are still in perfect condition after all this time.  The fur makes them a little more heavy duty than the average soaker.  That was a funny sentence to type!

If you're wondering what that print looks like, here is the computer file I made the transparency from (click to see it larger).  I drew the Russian splits cat.

I've already started on my next project, which I'll post about soon.  It's this vintage blouse pattern that I'm in love with.  It has everything...a big collar, a huge button, a front yoke, and elbow-length's perfect.  The fabric I chose is peeking out on the top left of this picture--navy and yellow tulips on a cream backdrop.  It's sewing up beautifully and if it fits well/I'm able to make it fit well, I know I'll be making several more of these!  More on that later.

Monday, February 04, 2013

a trip to the art museum

Last week, I went with Corey and my friends Lindsay, Dayna, Marie, and Marie's son, to the Columbus Museum of Art.  At first I was a bit skeptical of their featured exhibit, Let's Go LEGO.  While I know that art can be made out of any materials, I just wasn't sold on an entire exhibit of art made of Legos.  However, I quickly got in the spirit of things once we started walking through the exhibit, and it turned out to be a lot of fun!  I snapped pictures of a few of my favorite Lego sculptures, including this Lego Tide, which totally felt reminiscent of Andy Warhol's Brillo boxes.

There were Lego cigarettes.

And Lego clouds, that were actually made by a photographer who makes Lego props to go in his photographs.

Then there was a huge room filled with what was called Lego Columbus...a COLUMBUS, OHIO, MADE OF LEGOS!  It was pretty exciting.  There was this Lego greenhouse, which I'm pretty sure is supposed to represent Franklin Park Conservatory.

There was a downtown Columbus skyline of all the big buildings.

Little public transit buses.   Corey and I agree that now whenever we see a real bus, we think of Legos!

There was even a Batman!  And, apparently, an alien, though we never found him/her.

A well-known ART sculpture/sign in front of Columbus College of Art and Design downtown.

And the Ohio State stadium, which was SO HUGE, compared to everything else, it got its very own room.  Typical.

We looked around at some other familiar favorites in the museum's permanent collection.

They have some hands-on areas for children.

I always spend a long time with this Diane Arbus classic, but unfortunately, this print wasn't made by Arbus personally, but was printed a year or two after she died by someone else, from her original negative.  Still really cool.

Is it my (faux) modeling pose, or my entranced-by-art pose?  Actually, it was my glazed over look halfway through before I drank a cup of coffee!  Museums will wear you out, seriously.

No doubt, that's Corey's modeling pose.

Of course I love the paintings, but I'm also always smitten by the intricate gold frames.

John Singer Sargent.

A trip to an art museum is always a pleasure.  I love seeing old art and new art, reflecting on things I've learned about art history, and finding inspiration for my own art work.