Monday, November 28, 2011

Handmade Holidays...the Countdown

Well it’s the final countdown to our Dec 3rd grand opening and the set up fun continues.    I have to admit, I was a tiny bit relieved when Floyd and Melanie decided that Gallery 2 was still the best spot for the jewelry gallery.  

Being a creator of jewelry and maybe even more importantly a discriminating consumer of jewelry, I try to be fussy about what we accept and encourage for this event.    I think you’ll be pleased with the offerings this year finding value for unique design.  We tried to accept work that would truly be a one of a kind treasure for the gift giver to present.

Saturday turned into a long day but I left feeling self-satisfied with my efforts.   I have a little more to do to get the jewelry gallery ‘just so’ but that’s just me being fussy.  Regardless,  I’m not giving away any secrets until the opening however.

My advice is, “the early bird gets the worm” so plan on attending our opening this Saturday to get a look at the largest selection of our inventory.    Melanie and I have already begun to do our Christmas shopping and a few of our regular boutique artists have set their caps for items the same time they were dropping off their work.

I always have a little trouble switching gears from shopping for ‘me’ to shopping for everyone on my list.  For a while it seems it’s one gift for the list and one gift for me.   Well, this year is no exception and if you can keep a secret, I’m going to highlight my recent self- indulgence here.  

Melanie plans on highlighting an artist each week and I’ll probably get in trouble for leaking this one out in advance (or not if I let her use it too).  This is the cleverest little accessory;  I just had to have one.
Last week I was discussing with one of my female co-workers just how hard it is to keep my cell phone on me.    We both had a long litany of complaints and awkward places to attach our phones to us.  

Ask my family how disgusted they are at trying to reach me on a cell phone I never answer because it’s in my purse which if I have my way, I rarely carry.  In fairness though, how does a woman carry her cell phone without having a huge lump showing through her clothing or carrying it around in her hand.?   I figure I have enough lumps in places I wish I didn’t and therefore vanity keeps me from having mine on me at all times.
Ok.  Here comes the cell phone solution.  Heidi Hammel of Reclaimed Creations ( )  has come up with a delightful, attractive and cost effective solution to how/where to carry my cell phone conveniently.  I wore this accessory all day Saturday and discovered it would even hold a pair of my inexpensive reading glasses.  I loved that I never had to dive for my phone as it was handy, dandy on my person.

Tie-bag, by Heidi Hammel
Retail price for this lovely convenience is $19.00.  We only have a few so if you know someone who might like this nifty little diddy, make sure you stop in next Saturday during our Grand Opening to be sure  to get the best selection.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

From Our Table to Yours

For many years, I wouldn't even look at a sweet potato, let alone eat one, until my sister, Sara, started bringing this incredible dish she called "sweet potato casserole" to our Thanksgiving meal.  Loaded up with sugar and topped with crunchy munchy goodness, it soon became my favorite holiday food.  It's almost more dessert-like than a side dish, but I have never had a problem mixing savory with sweet on my Thanksgiving or Christmas plate.

My husband, Jeremy, was openly against the humble sweet potato, just as I had been adamant that never a bite would pass through these lips.  "I just don't like those marshmellows on top," He said when I told him about Sara's casserole.
 "Oh, but this is good," I replied. "No marshmellows in sight!"
He wasn't convinced, but seeing as he's not that picky of an eater, and really likes his food, I figured I could get him to try some of my sister's casserole, eventually.

At dinner a few years ago, as we passed the dishes around, Jeremy took a scoop of the family favorite and plopped it on his plate, without really paying attention to what he was about to eat. He tucked into his food and began singing the praises over the heavenly flavors in his mouth.  "Sara, this orange crap with crunch crap on top is DELICIOUS!" he said with great enthusiasm.
My sister, in mock offense, replied "Crap?!? Did you just call my sweet potato casserole crap?!  Oh, I see how you really feel. Orange Crap With Crunch Crap On Top.  I see how it is. You think it's crap."
Jeremy started laughing and said " No, no, that's not what I meant.  I didn't know what this was. Sweet potatoes? I didn't realize this was sweet potatoes. This is really really good."
"No it's not. It's Orange Crap With Crunchy Crap On Top.  You said so yourself," Sara said, continuing to pretend hurt feelings. "See if I ever make it for yooou anymore."
"Well it's good Orange Crap With Crunchy Crap On Top," Jeremy replied.  The family was laughing pretty good by this point, including Rebekah, who normally is appalled by our use of the word crap, especially around the dinner table.
"Hey," Floyd said, "Can you pass the Orange Crap With Crunchy Crap On Top this way, please?"

Since then, Thanksgiving or Christmas, the one important question usually is, "So who's making the Orange Crap With Crunchy Crap On Top this year?"  Because in our family, it's not a holiday meal with out being able to say "Please pass the Orange Crap With Crunchy Crap On Top." 

Without further ado, we'd like to share with you our family favorite: Orange Crap With Crunch Crap On Top, or the more appetizing name: Sweet Potato Casserole.

Last year's OCWCCOT, just out of the oven. Yum!

Sweet Potato Casserole
4 C mashed sweet potatoes (I use canned, but I have also boiled and mashed the yams)
½ C butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 C sugar
2 eggs beaten

1 C brown sugar
1/3 butter
1/3 C flour
1 C chopped pecans

(NOTE: some like to make this in a 9x13 pan, it’s thin, which makes it less potato to topping ratio per bite…WE usually do it in a round casserole dish or oval, so that there’s more potato to the crunchy topping per bite, which we like better)

Mix first five ingredients thoroughly and put in a grease dish.  Mix flour and brown sugar together. Cut in butter.  Mix in pecans and sprinkle on top of potatoes.  Bake in a 350 degree oven until hot, bubbly, and topping is lightly browned. 

(about 30 minutes in a 9x13 pan, 30-50 minutes in a deep dish casserole, depending on if recipe is doubled, etc).

Friday, November 4, 2011

Featured Artist: Mary Stoudt

From September 10, to November 5th, we present "Felt So Good" during which we'll focus on individual artists here on our blog.  Today, we're pleased to introduce to you: Mary Stoudt

Artist Statement: 

 I create my art quilts looking through a lens informed by decades of experimenting with a wide variety of art media, manely photography, printmaking, ceramics, weaving, collage, bookmaking, and sculpture, etc.

To begin an art piece I imagine a basic composition in my head concentrating on color and form, and then work intuitively through each piece. As I progress through the quilt, I improvise, perhaps like a jazz musician would.

Sometimes, I give myself quilt assignments such as, "See how big you can make a quilt', or "use wool and cotton together" or "see how many layers you can add to make a quilt. Some of my quilt creations could be put into categories such as color studies, storytelling, or optical illusions.

Warm Planet

About the Artist: Since the 70's I have been stitching, weaving, making paper, creating mixed media all to create diverse works some of which have been described by critics as being whimsical and spiritual. In 2003 I started layering fabric in a grid-like fashion. Simply put, I visualize the quilt composition , its colors and forms in my head and then as I move through the process, I improvise the details. For certain pieces, I make an actual size pattern as I move through the process, but I introduce new elements while using the pattern. I love the warmth, the flexibility, the play of color and textures of quilt making.

Here is a mixed list of my favorite artists and other inspirations:
Paul Klee . Gees Bend Quilters . Pennsylvania Mountains, Fields . Traveling . Andy Goldsworthy . Red Grooms . Blues Music . NY times Sunday paper . Gustav Klimpt . Oiseaux Sisters . Joseph Cornell . Fabric Stores . Frank Gehry . Audrey Flack . Childhood Memories . My family . Hundertwasser . NPR . Goggleworks . Literature

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Featured Artist: Caleigh Stednitz

From September 10, to November 5th, we present "Felt So Good" during which we'll focus on individual artists here on our blog.  Today, we're pleased to introduce to you: Caleigh Stednitz

Mind of a Madman
Artist Statement for “Mind of a Madman”

    In working with the primitive process of felting, I explored less concrete themes of the mind.  Felt is an airy and light material that proves to be durable and protective.  I chose to use felt to create a map of what I believe the mind of a sociopath resembles.  In researching brainwaves and patterns of sociopathic persons, I came across studies that show that sociopaths tend to think in spirals; the thoughts constantly running through their mind until it reaches its acme, which usually leads to an event performed by the person.  Felt allowed me to create an airy and abstract field on which to create a mind map, alluding to the notion of the mind not being a concrete object.  I built up peaks of emotion by felt, embroidered marks representing repeating thoughts, and couched rope to represent the horrific thoughts that lead to unfortunate events. 

Duality of Livestock

Artist Statement for “Duality of Livestock”

    The process of using wool from livestock such as sheep allowed me to explore the duality of the material.  Wool is used to create wearables that offer warmth and protection from the elements.  However in contemplating the usefulness of the material, I began to think about the other uses livestock provide: meats.  It seemed strange to me that something that produces such a soft and cozy material also hangs in a meat freezer, waiting to be fed to consumers.  With the felting process I chose to incorporate these two ideas, illustrating the duality of livestock.  I embroidered abstracted slabs of meat hanging from chains.  This is embroidered on a piece of needle felt.  I chose to hang the piece using hooks to simulate that the piece itself is a slab of meat, with the viewers being consumers.  In doing this, I hoped to create a thoughtful piece that presents both sides to our use of livestock as both something protective and edible.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Featured Artist: Mary Schwarzenberger

From September 10, to November 5th, we present "Felt So Good" during which we'll focus on individual artists here on our blog.  Today, we're pleased to introduce to you: Mary Schwarzenberger

Vortex. Machine and wet felted 17"x25"

Artist Statement

I don’t remember a time when I did not regularly engage in creating things. It seems that I have always had a few projects in progress at a time. Throughout most of my life the need to create has been just as strong as the need to eat and breathe. When bringing creative ideas to life, as decisions and obstacles appear, the brain is always ready with ideas, solutions, and alternatives. After studying language and learning for many years, this whole process is intriguing to me. There is not much I’d rather do than create something!

Vortex, detail. Machine and wet felted 17"x25"

In my fiber art I try to create moods with color that soothe or stimulate. To quote Kaffe Fassett, why use one shade of red when you can use 17? More recently I have been exploring diverse techniques to create texture, from manipulating fabric with a needle felting machine to couching yarns on the surface. The garments I create are designed to provide comfort and create visual statements. It pleases me when they initiate conversations and interactions I would not likely have otherwise engaged in. I am highly influenced by the beauty of the local flora and fauna and I try to incorporate natural themes into my work.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Featured Artist: Tanya Prather

From September 10, to November 5th, we present "Felt So Good" during which we'll focus on individual artists here on our blog.  Today, we're pleased to introduce to you: Tanya Prather

 Artist Statement

Although I’ve worked in many forms of media, I’ve been drawn to fiber in recent years because it engages more of the senses.  It is not only visual, but tactile. Fiber utilizes the same principles of design as other mediums, but the results are manifested through a process that is both planned and organic, and the aspect of texture takes on a much larger role.  My goal with any fiber piece is that it should be so compelling that the viewer not only looks at it, but has an insatiable need to touch and feel it.

Nesting Instinct
Because fiber is often pigeon-holed as craft rather than fine art, I am constantly challenging myself to take it beyond the traditional wall hanging or wearable.  My felting has a tendency to evolve with a 3-D or sculptural quality. 

I am fascinated by the endless possibilities of Nuno felting because it allows disparate materials to be fused together seamlessly.  I most often use protein fibers – silk and wool – but sometimes integrate rayon, polyester, linen or cotton when a “found” piece of cloth captures my interest.  I enjoy cutting scraps from old clothing, repurposing things that have been tossed aside – making unlikely matches and marveling at the results.  Recycled cloth provides a broad palette of textures, patterns, colors and weights, and because it comes with a history of its own, I find it more intriguing and thought-provoking than fabric taken off the shelf.