Friday, September 22, 2017

Thanksgiving prep and giant cauliflower

Since the years of the farmshare, when I got enough corn to feed a herd in my shares, I have been very sparing in my use of it.  Like squash, of which I got waaaay too much, this year I have not touched it at all.  Lost total interest in eating it.  Maybe it will return. And this is the best corn, freshpicked at the farm a mile away, home to eat, all that.

So, since Handsome Son needs his corn at Thanksgiving, I bought a few ears and prepped them for the freezer, thereby fulfilling the charge laid on me at his birth, to be Perfect.  



I don't like prepping corn, all sticky, and that.  And I remove the kernels my own way, not by cutting vertically, which I think it a fast route to the bandaid box, but horizontally.  You get them off just fine cutting down with the ear laid flat, and you can swipe off any missed kernels afterwards.  So four ears, or their kernels, are now lying in a bag pressed flat on a plexi board, in the freezer, so when they freeze, I can shake them loose to separate, and they'll be easier to use.



And there was the first cauliflower of the season, fresh out today, absolutely enormous, and expensive.  However, it smelled wonderful, and before this picture, I'd swiped Duncan off the counter because he was enjoying the leaves, green salad for him.

I cut it into medium florets so that when I want to use it, it will be interesting as cheese cauliflower, or cauliflower cheese, and if I want soup, easy to reduce.  So it's now in the freezer, which is having trouble getting the lid down.  Cheese cauliflower is when you have the whole head or sizeable chunks of it, and baked it with a cheese sauce over.  Cauliflower cheese is when you make a sort of casserole of cheese sauce with much smaller bits of cauliflower.  Technical point there, very important, write it down.

I'm not fond of prepping, but when I come to cook I'm always glad I did, having ingredients sorted ahead of time.

Thinking maybe cheese cauliflower with roast chicken next time Handsome Son comes calling. Possibly next week.

It's a Hindu nine day festival, starting yesterday, and one of the neighbors gave me a dish of a very sweet food, with noodles and maybe condensed milk, not sure, but very sweet, and I gather it's a feast before the fasting of the nine days. It seems to coincide with the Jewish High Holy Days this year, wonder if they both do the same astronomical math to arrive at their dates. Good wishes to my Hindu readers and Jewish readers and blogistas!

One of my Indian friends remarked that they have tons of holidays in India, but people don't get scheduled vacations, so they seize on this sort of partying time to visit relatives and generally live it up.

 The odd thing is that it's the same reason the medieval Christian year in Europe had so many church festivals, since it was the working folks' only time off, and they made the most of it.  Especially the time between Christmas and the Epiphany.  No crops at that time, so once animals were cared for, you could stoke up the fire and get out the mead, I suppose.  And a lot of the festivals were centered around the agricultural year anyway.

 And while I'm sending wishes, back to the present, many thoughts to the people who are struggling with earthquakes and hurricanes, seems to be a season of disaster for so many people.  Remember, best help is money!  send if we can.  And remember them in the months to come.  This sort of cataclysm isn't over in a few days.

 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Little tribute to an old friend in art

I found out by chance yesterday, that Maureen Jordan, an old friend in art and adventures, and keen follower of this blog, had died last winter.  In her last few years, her healthy declining sharply, she had preferred to be among family, and I had respected that wish, so I wasn't aware that her life had ended.


Here she is, on the right, one of her last outings, in 2012, at a fiberarts opening at the library gallery, good naturedly holding a Dolliver, she picked Blondie Firstborn, along with four other special friends on Dolliver duty.  

Left to right Shabnam, Girija, humble blogista, Stefi, Donna and Maureen.  Good friends don't mind posing with dolls!  All artists, the two on the left artists in food, they all had a good time fooling about.  I like to remember this party and how the rest of the crowd stood back to let us get on with it.

There are wonderful memories of her, exhibiting in groups together, taking part in the traveling artist book for the Plainsboro Artist Group, loyally encouraging and supporting each other's work.  She has a paper collage in the local Town Hall,  did exciting collages with mulberry paper, when she wasn't painting in watercolor.

We would go into Manhattan to museums, one wonderful day at the Frick where we spent hours studying Old Master drawings, a once in a lifetime collection.  We spent time at her shore house, and went out drawing and painting together.  And went to drawing groups in a nearby town, as long as she had the stamina to be up and about that long.  She was the best fun to be out and about with.

As her health declined, it was more about visiting her at home, as long as she wanted that, and taking her little baked items -- we had cooperative teas, where I brought the baked goods, she had her husband set up the tea.  

She was a great fan of anything lemon, so I always brought extra when I made lemon bars, so as to leave her a couple for the next day.  She had three daughters, all local, each with a family of her own, so there were a lot of grandchildren, but she was a tactful grandparent, only giving me the Cliff notes version of their activities!  I did look at their art, though.

All in all, some lovely memories of a lovely person.  A lot of these were already memories even during her lifetime, as she was less and less able to take part, and we did a lot of reminiscing then.

So glad to have known her, and how lucky to have had her in my life.

 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Moss painting followup

A while back, I made up some moss paint, and decorated my planter boxes on the fence with it,  for added interest there, they being ordinary cedar boxes, weathering slowly.

For weeks and weeks there was no sign of anything! it dried, and seemed to have vanished.  Then, in the last couple of days, signs of life.  The moss appears to be starting to take hold.



Just a shadow now, but this means they are starting to grow. And that the torrential rains we've had since the painting was done didn't, as I feared, wash all the moss off to land on the ground.


So I took a couple of pix, and you see the irregular shapes I painted in.  This sort of environment is better with more random markings than over-organized ones.

This being the case, I took out the rest of the paint from the freezer, thawed it and chucked it at the other fence, to form a freeform backdrop to the bare twigs of the yellow roses, anyway, that's the plan. 



 So now again, all I have to do is wait and see if it takes.  Spectator art.

You can click on the label at the bottom of this post, if I've done it right, to see the blogpost where I talked about the recipe for this paint, which I used right away after making it.  We'll see if the fungi survive the freezer.  I'm guessing they will since they are long lived in this climate where it freezes every year anyway. 

This is the intersection of art and gardening. Fun, too.  I believe you can use this paint to decorate pots, too, but mossy pots are not really my cup of tea.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Chinese calligraphy, diy style

Just to show that food is not the overriding issue in my life at the moment, though Field and Fen might lead you to suppose otherwise, go there to find out why!, I decided on a new art adventure this winter.

Last winter was about spinning and improving my yarn output, which I did pretty successfully, and added new skills to my life. Spring and summer was about papermaking and transparency work. But I always need a new horizon, since mixed media is an endless quest, and the local rec. department offerings finally had something I'd like to try.

At least that was the plan.  I signed up weeks ago, got the course title, time, date, location, etc., couldn't find any description anywhere, but never mind.  

Then I got a mysterious email to me and a list of others, all but two with Chinese names, all written in Chinese, with attachments of beautiful calligraphy in chinese...I wrote to the rec lady asking if this course was being offered in English, otherwise I wouldn't be able to make use of it.  And if the email I received actually related to it, couldn't even figure out that much.

She got back, assuring me that knowledge of Chinese was not necessary to attend the course.  I wonder now if she meant I could come, but wouldn't understand anything, including the directions on what supplies to buy.

Then another email, more lovely enclosures, and this time I wrote back to the writer as well as the rec lady explaining that unless I heard from them in English, I was very disappointed to say I couldn't use this class.  

We do have a sizeable Chinese population, so it would be popular for them, however, I didn't think they had intended to shut out nonspeakers.  I wonder if they never expected a Westerner to be interested, too.  Anyway, I have heard to date, and the class is this evening, nothing, crickets.

Soooo, nothing daunted, they got me interested for which I'm grateful, I proceeded to check out the library and the internet and to see what supplies I already had in the studio from long ago.

I did manage to get a great beginner's book, and to unearth my ink block and stick, and one brush which will do till I get more appropriate ones.  And I thought it would be fun to work on a giant post-it pad I was given ages ago.  


You see the back of the ink stone here.  Years ago I was doing block printing on fabric, and used it as one of my blocks, because the size and shape were just right.  Then I realized I really liked the design I'd created accidentally, and turned it into an artwork by just hanging it face-in.  It appeared in a show of mine years ago!



Then here's the ink block right side up, so you see the well the water goes in, and the slope the inkstick is rubbed on to create a well of ink.  That's the stick resting on it.  The outside is lacquered so you don't get inky fingers in the process.

Everything comes in handy sooner or later. I will need more appropriate paper for a beginner, but I already have the newsprint to protect my surroundings..

The book gives supply houses, so I can get my brushes, using the advice of the writer, and I think I'm getting set for my winter adventure.  It does take a long time to get any good at this, and it's a meditative pursuit, so that's fine.  Even grinding the ink stick down to make the ink to use is part of the meditation, not to be rushed. 

So now to study Rebecca Yue and send off for the brushes she suggests for beginning work, and look forward to some serious learning.  My goal is to incorporate the strokes into other works, to create small artworks that might get into my mailbag, which has been totally neglected for quite a while, and generally to enlarge my repertoire of art skills.  Of which patience is definitely one that needs work. 

I suspect that "easy" in this context may be a bit optimistic.  Engrossing perhaps, ready for that.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

It's all go on the arts front this week

Monday I unexpectedly gave a gallery walk and talk on the current exhibit of Joy Saville's fabric constructions, My Journey Into Abstraction, at a gallery in the retirement community where the embroiderers hold their meetings.  

Up to the day before we thought, we being the embroiderers' guild, that we had a different presenter up for this, found we didn't after all, and I was asked if I could just you know, step in...good thing I knew her art and was able to say a few things.

Here's Helen H., our president doing the intro to Joy, not to me, because they already know me too well to need any info.


Some of our officers are there in the front of the audience. They are great embroiderers, from way back in their families.

If you're unfamiliar with Joy's work, go here 
to see a video of her opening in New York City last year, she's seen seated there, and many of the same pieces are in the current show for which  I did the gallery walk.  

I had never met her, despite attempts by mentor Maggi Johnson who wanted us to meet, but great surprise, she did stop in briefly before our chat, and I got to meet her finally.  I didn't do a pic, felt she might not want that at this point, a bit frail now.  She now lives in the community where the gallery is, which is how we got lucky with this show.

Then onward to the Plainsboro Artists 2017 Annual Exhibit, which I blogged about a few days ago, see here and we do try to make good food to bring.  Anyone in the show brings something edible, and I thought ah, here's a chance to make shortbread. 



Easy to eat standing up, always welcome.  The cook got to eat the edge bits. leaving the proper squares for the artists' dining pleasure. Not many of them came home.




And it took its place among a wonderful array of exotic offerings. We have a number of cultures in our group, and this mosaic of food is really part of what we're about, come to think of it. This was taken before the table was filled up as people arrived and added their dishes. 

then  some pix of artists and their work




Vimala on left, busy discussing her work, partly visible in the middle, with the painter of the moonlit scene on the left. The gentleman on the right didn't show this time but brought in a lovely painting on cedar to show us. That's what they're examining there.


one of Donna S., the gallery curator who hung the show with great expertise, and whose felted scene is in the show, next to Art Lee, whose big fabric collage is behind them, but I did pic it earlier.



and here's Annette N., a wonderful watercolor painter who has exhibited all over the region, very successfully




This is one opening where a lot of talk is about art, and people make a big point of finding each other to ask about their work, and give feedback.  Openings in general are not my cup of tea, since so often the art is ignored, but this one is a shining exception, great fun with me mates.  And there are spouses I only get to see at this event where they loyally show up, so that's a bonus.

This show is up to late September, so if you're local, stop in to Plainsboro Library -- any hour it's open, the gallery is too.  It's a strong show, well worth your trip.  Your humble blogwriter has a piece in there, too.  Just sayin.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Dreamscapes, Annual Exhibit by Plainsboro Artist Group

This is the annual group show by the Plainsboro Artist Group, hanging till late September, and there in the Library Gallery over the time of the Festival of the Arts.  



Local blogistas are warmly welcome to come to the reception, Monday September 11, 6-8 p.m.,  meet the artists, and enjoy a strong show.  It's one of the biggest we've put on, 33 pieces in all, on the theme of Dreaming.  Wide range of takes on the concept, worth seeing. 

















The pix are a bit lopsided, largely because the reflections in the glass in a gallery with a lot of windows, are hard to avoid without being on an angle.  But the show is well worth coming to see. This series of pix is far from doing justice to them.

This is a small town, 22K, and the range and depth of artistic talent is pretty good, even if we do say so ourselves. As you see, there's a range of media, oils, watercolors, printmaking, ceramics, drawing, mixed media, stitching, feltmaking. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Quilted art exhibit, and blue glass accidental art

Seen recently, at Windrows, the current exhibit of Joy Saville's amazing quilting.  Explosions of color and meaning, very much art quilts. Local and regional blogistas are probably familiar with Joy's work, seen around in exhibits, and many in large collections.  So I just thought you'd like a quick glimpse of a few of her amazing perceptions.










This exhibit may become a focus of an upcoming Embroiderers' Guild chapter meeting.

And nearer home in the living room, to be exact, a sudden ray of evening sun caught this blue glass pitcher and the mirror it stands on, casting wonderful flares and blue shadows.  If you see this pic from a distance, it changes quite dramatically into another image. For me, anyway, if not for you, don't sweat it.





Sunday, August 20, 2017

Budgie mugshots

So the first budgie is done.  Knitted, stitched, perched in branches, he's official now.


 Seen from each side



and front view



Among the Most Wanted Budgies.  That frontal shot is really malevolent.  Peck you as soon as look at you. If you see this bird, do not approach him. Armed and dangerous.  Call your Budgie Emergency Squad.

I used beads for eyes, then stitched over the knitting with gold threads and various embroidery flosses.  The tricky part is to stitch without drawing out stuffing along with the floss.  I used raw cotton for stuffing, very soft, much nicer to handle than batting.

So here's the first of what might be a group.  Anyone have a good name for my First Resistance Budgie?

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Budgie takes life, a bit eerie in a way

Budgie progress, now knitted, and I'm in the process of choosing interesting colors for extra feathers. 






 Knitted but not yet stuffed, not my favorite part


Stuffed and ready for additional feathers and overstitching to emphasize his beak.


Suddenly came to life and is taking part in the choosing, this is a bit scary!

The odd thing about making dolls, or animals, is that they start to take on personality so fast in the making.  Handsome Son was visiting last evening, took a look at my budgie, compared it to the one in the pattern and commented that mine already had a different personality.  So true.

This is a terrific small idea for using up yarn leftovers.  And, if you stitch in the eyes rather than use beads as I did, they're nice handsize toys for little kids. Mine came out approximately lifesize.

And watch this space.  This may be the first of a line of Resistance Budgies.  I have an idea for coopting a Budgie Brigade in supporting local good causes, as part of the Good People Doing Something that seems more vital than ever right now.  More later, once I've finished at least one budgie! It will be a participatory enterprise, blogistas to be included in it.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Honoring Florence, and Knitting a Budgie!

I have to start with a shout-out to Florence K, friend, and stitcher extraordinaire, about to be profiled in our Embroiderers' Guild newsletter, and I did the pic of her with the first piece of embroidery she ever did.  



When I tell you she has great grandchildren, you will see that this was a while back!  It's a lunchbag, which she constructed, learning all the stitches, and how to apply snaps, then finished with the cross stitch monogram in a design.  Her work now is a far cry from this first effort, done when she was about eight.  She creates heirlooms nowadays for lucky descendants.

And since another event was cancelled this afternoon, I had to make something, to deal with the sudden vacuum.  So I decided to knit a budgie.  Obvious, really.


 Size three needles, free pattern from dotpebbles, see here and I'm using crochet cotton I had dyed in variegated blue for another project.  Seemed like a natural for a blue and white feathered subject.  There will be stitching after it's made, too, to add features, colors, and so on. Watch this space.This is a bi-stitchual project.

It's a Claire Garland, dotpebbles on Ravelry and Twitter, design.  She's the creator of the design from which I adapted the Dollivers, and has been very encouraging about their exploits.  Nice person, lovely designer, great pattern maker. Very generous with free patterns.

Anyway, this budgie, aka parakeet, just seemed to need to be knitted.  I've had many parakeets, so there's an interest in this for avian reasons.  And this one won't peck me when it's annoyed.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Drawing August, and honesty germinates

Finally after a long hiatus from drawing, made two ink drawings on my handmade paper, and posted them to #drawingaugust on Twitter. But they're here, too.




One is on iris/abaca paper, and I was happy with the texture for drawing on, nice and close, and hospitable.  These are the yellow flowers on the deck which come back year after year, forget what they are, it's been so long since I planted them.


The other is some of the succulents in the strawberry pot on the deck, and the paper is yellow onion paper, which actually makes red paper, and which I leatherized.

This is probably a word invented by my papermaking teacher, Joan Needham, a fabulous paper artist and sculptor, also a teacher whose lessons stay with you.  You leatherize by painting a solid coat of white glue on the paper and letting it dry.  It then becomes slightly shiny, and tough, looks exactly like leather.  I'm thinking, since this succeeded nicely with this piece, of using it as artist book covers for future uses. And I have some other thoughts about it.  I think you could make a nice wallet or phone case with it.

Meanwhile, after torrential rain yesterday, I see the honesty seeds I put in  a while back, have started to germinate, yay.  

 
The seedpods are those lovely silvery ones, which I can use decoratively or in my future papermaking adventures. But first, purple flowers. There's nothing like growing your own art materials.

About germination, the three tiny succulents in the house are now clearly visible if you stoop down and squint.  A friend stopped in the other day, did this, since she also loves propagating plants, and after studying them a bit, said, well, it doesn't take much to amuse you!