Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Artist, Apak

I am madly in love with everything these two do. They live in the sweet fantasy land pictured above, but you need special vision to see it this way in real life.
I mean, who else could make a sloth look cute?
Apak is the fantastical magical duo( as they put it) known as Aaron Piland and Ayumi Kajuikawa Piland. Visit their flickr page to see some tiny sculptures that look positively edible.
A pink tapir? Having tea? Brilliant.
Of course, they have an etsy store too.

Monday, April 27, 2009

dead battery + juliapott

I just love the animated videos by Londoner, Julia Pott. She will even make a custom animation for you!
I have to deal with a dead battery emergency this morning, so this seemed an appropriate post to fill in for my Monday missive.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Cakes that aren't chocolate

Travesty? Or genius? You decide.
Carrot Cake with Walnuts
Maybe it's just that it is Spring, but I have been baking cakes that do not involve chocolate in any form. Unheard of! I am now nursing an addiction that alternates between carrot cake and banana cake. Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
All day long, I think about when I can have my next piece. I have resorted to sneaking a small wedge from the end, only to return minutes later to "even it up." Ha, I am so transparent.

Cake is easy to make. Just be sure to line the pans with buttered parchment cut into rounds for guaranteed success in getting the cake out of the pan. Here's the recipe for carrot cake. And banana cake.
<~~~I like to stack up four layers instead of two, so I use dental floss to slice the layers in half.
<~~~As you can see, I favor this form currently. It's rustic in it's simplicity, and the outside edges dry out a tiny bit for a nice textural contrast. That is, if it lasts long enough to sit for more than a day.
<~~~Cream cheese frosting is really easy too. Just be sure to let the cream cheese and butter sit out long enough to soften properly
. <~~~this is my trick for controlling the powdered sugar clouds that form over icing-making. It's just fine under that kitchen towel; you don't have to watch it every second.
It doesn't count if you eat cake standing up, right?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Inspiring, Chinese painting

Ink on paper, Qing dynasty, attributed to Tang Yin
The peonies are getting ready to bloom! Mr Cranky bought sixty different varieties one year because all the catalog descriptions were so compelling that he found it impossible to eliminate any. (That reminds me of one of my favorite childhood books, Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag.) A few of them have died out, but we do have a pretty wonderful month of May with fresh, fragrant peonies in vases all over the house.
I wish I could handle a brush like Tang Yin could.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tales, Bothell and Yeti

Everyone has something they do when they need to cheer up and feel better. Yeti and Bothell like to zoom around and pretend to fly.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

more yeti works

Finally, I finished taking photos of the porcelain jewelry I've been making. The individual pieces (necklace above) are about 2" in diameter, the necklace is 8" across at the widest point. I wore it at a show last week and couldn't keep my hands off of it; it is so compelling to fondle the shapes.
I put some of the pendants in the etsy shop (tile etsy becaue they are blue & white).
Because we have two etsy shops (tile etsy and pottery etsy) it can get confusing as to what to put where. My general guidelines are: blue & white goes in tile etsy and earthenware and sculpture go in pottery etsy. But 'tales' images are more tile etsy-ish, even though some are done in earthenware. And some of the pottery is blue & white. But I put Mr. Cranky's jewelry in pottery etsy, because that is generally more his work...
So I'm sure you can empathize with my conundrum. Oh, wait, there are bigger problems in the world? Okay, I'll try to get a grip on myself.
I sign the backs with my little bird. The metal links are handmade because I like how they look (big and clunky, but in a good way) and it is necessary to achieve a proper fit for each individual piece. I wrestled with how to hang them for a good while before coming up with solutions that I love; metal wire (stiff) that holds the pieces in place for the larger ones, and a generous dark blue ribbon for the pendants. The ribbon allows you to tie the pendant at the exact length you prefer, infinitely adjustable.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Artist, Joana Vasconcelos

I don't remember how I found this Russian blog, but these crochet pieces by Joana Vasconcelos are fantastic. Click here to see more of her work. I can't understand a word of the text on the blog, but there are some great images to see.
I have admired these crocheted stones forever, by Canadian

Friday, April 17, 2009

When Lucy was small

She was briefly held hostage by an obsessive-compulsive cat.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Inspiring, tz'u-chou

Chinese, Tz'u-chou, 12th century, stoneware, incised and combed decoration
The beauty of this bowl practically makes me weep.
Graceful, free, relaxed, sophisticated.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

yeti works

I finally photographed and put some of the jewelry Mr. Cranky has been making. Now it's up in the etsy shop. We wanted to have a name for our new enterprise to distinguish it from the pottery and tile. Mr. Cranky identifies with Yeti for some reason, so he thought up 'yeti works'. Then we wrestled with the thought of:
yeti wear
yeti ware
yeti wear ware
but stuck with the original yeti works...
I love wearing this antler necklace. It makes me feel so badass. At first I thought it should face the other way, but that feels really dangerous when it is on. This position precludes hugging however. It is pretty big (about 10"), so I want to have a photo of someone wearing it. I don't have any models handy at present though...

Monday, April 13, 2009

italian potato tart

If I ever open a restaurant, this will be the only thing on the menu. It is so good. I used to be a professional chef and worked at L'Auberge (a French restaurant in Portland) and at Genoa (a Northern Italian restaurant owned by the same person). We made a great many fantastic dishes at both restaurants, but nothing was as good as this.

First, boil and mash 3# potatoes with some olive oil. Add sliced onion that has been sauteed in olive oil, and some grated parmesan. I am lazy and mash potatoes in my stand mixer, but you have to be very careful not to over-do it and end up with gummy potatoes. And never, never use a cuisinart unless you need some spackle to fill holes in your walls.
Trader Joe's has these adorable little whole milk mozzarella balls, called ciliegine. I have no idea how to pronounce that, but it is the middle size of the three sizes available.
Cut the mozzarella in half and squish them down into the mashed potatoes.
Spread a bit of fresh tomato sauce (or in this case, leftover marinara) on top.
Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, sliced green and kalamata olives, and capers. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. I like to hold a little cup of olive oil really high above the tart to get a thin stream and make a Jackson Pollack pattern ( unnecessary, but fun).

I got this recipe from a friend who lived in Eugene at the time. We used to cook together all the time. He took a cooking class from a woman who had just returned from a trip to Italy and this is one of the recipes she came back with. This recipe and one other from her (pepperonata) have been staples of my repertoire ever since.

Here is a copy of the original, oil spotted recipe.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

my mom sent this

Ha ha ha ha ha :)

Creme Egg

Some people have way too much time on their hands.
Happy Easter!

*via dar_jan

Friday, April 10, 2009

Tales, Annabel T. Bunny

Just in time for the celebrations of Spring, fertility, and rebirth, it's time to meet Annabel T. Bunny. She is represented here, as per usual, with sketch unearthed from the bottom of my bag that was quickly drawn on the back of a grocery list.

Annabel loves surfing the internet, mahjong, and crafting. She was a gymnast in her younger days and spent her high school years perfecting her stag leap. Skilled at pantomime, she performs a hilarious rendition of a dying fish. Her siblings, Bothell and Lucy, enjoy playing pranks on her. For instance, they will hide her trifocals (she is practically blind without them) and then yell "snake" when there isn't really any snake*. Annabel is a people-pleaser who finds it easy to merge with the wishes of others, so much so that she sometimes finds it difficult to identify her own needs. She has the capacity to give to the point of exhaustion coupled with a surprising rebellious streak. She is helpful and humble and believes that chocolate is the solution to everything.

*Ha, ha, ha...that's soooo funny!

Monday, April 6, 2009

what is the opposite of 'grumblegrumblegrumble'?

Inspired by our success with cutting kiln shelves for the broken woodstove ceiling, we cut another one to serve as a pizza stone It is great. Three* minutes later= hot bubbly pizza. Because we always have a fire going, we can put the shelf in whenever we want to bake something; no oven preheating, no wasted energy. Yay!

*the stone has to be placed ahead of time to get thoroughly hot though...

This reminds me of the story of the Chinese man and the horse.
A Chinese villager's horse, which represents his only wealth, runs away. The other villagers gather around him to comfort him and mourn his loss. But the man says "it may not be such a bad thing." The next day, the horse returns with a mare, and the villagers gather around to celebrate his good fortune. This time he says, "it may not be such a good thing." The following week, his only son is thrown from the horse and breaks his leg. Again, the villagers arrive to grieve with him. The man says "it may not be such a bad thing." However, the broken leg prevents the son from going to war and possibly being killed. And he says, "it may not be such a good thing." And so the pattern goes on.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Art Show

We are at the First Unitarian Church today and tomorrow for a fundraiser/art show.
Come visit if you are nearby. Our new jewelry is making its debut, I'm excited!

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Mr. Cranky and I spent pretty much the whole day repairing the fl#x*zbpshttt-ling woodstove.
I got up this morning to stoke the fire, as usual, only to find that the cast iron baffle from the ceiling of the woodstove had warped to the point that it had fallen down on the coals. Again.
thick cast iron baffle (broken)
Mr. Cranky had to break it to get it to come out through the door of the stove.
cardboard templates
We decided to replace it with kiln shelves because we didn't have any cast iron handy. I made cardboard templates of the size I thought would work. It had to be in two pieces because we preferred not to dismantle the entire stove. However, because I am apparently dyslexic, I had to cut them out repeatedly because I kept putting the angles in the wrong places.
tile cutter
Mr. Cranky used my pattern with the el-cheapo tile cutter to cut a mullite shelf to size. Actually two. I didn't trust myself to cut them properly by this time.
see; they're up there^
There they are, sitting pretty up top. I hope they don't fall down.
I like to solve problems like this and it is satisfying to have this fixed because we knew it was just a matter of time before it failed. So how on earth did this take a whole day? I don't know but it did. Today I am Ms. Cranky, I guess.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tales, introducing Clementine T. Raccoon

Clementine is imperturbable. She takes care of everyone around her in her calm and reassuring way. She never gets mad. Clem is always the designated driver, because her husband, Bothell, tends to get lost a lot. A loyal and supportive daughter, she calls her mother everyday. She is the anchor of her family, unfazed by anything. An avid reader, she generally carries an enormous book with her. She just likes really thick books. She is tolerant, skeptical, and has a droll sense of humor. A lover of board games and cards, she excels at scrabble (seriously, she will beat you every time). She has a talent for cutting hair and making candles, but does not cook. Clementine is such a comfortable presence, it is relaxing just to be around her.