Yesterday I attended my son's Kindergarten graduation (and tried very hard not to be overly emotional and embarass my son, but c'mon!). I also came home with a boatload of art and projects to add to the boatload I've already collected over the year. At the moment, I can't part with a single piece of it. I know this will change, but for now, everything feels like a masterpiece, something special or sentimental to hang on to.
But I'm always looking for ways to get art out of boxes and bins and there's only so much wall space I can dedicate to it. So I was excited to find Child's Own Studio, where Wendy Tsao, a craft artist, creates toy keepsakes that are faithfully created from your child's drawings. For me, this is a much more satisfying idea than two-dimensional art, and probably a lot more satisfying for children as well. After all, who doesn't want to see their masterpiece brought to life?
Clearly, I'm not the only person who's fallen in love with this idea. There's currently a wait list for Wendy's creations. However, she has a "Softies Showcase" on her site that features other crafters who can help you with your project (along with examples of their work and pricing).
All photos by Wendy Tsao
I have a huge style crush on Hans Blomquist, stylist, art director, and author. Whether he's being moody or lighthearted, masculine or feminine, I get him. Right down to the soles of my feet.
I discovered him slowly, as I found myself drawn to images from various sources, all connected by one name - his. Infatuation. Then I ordered his book, The Natural Home, and...love. Admittedly, his book will not be for everyone. If it's color and contemporary design that move you, his is not the book for you. But if you love the moody, patinaed, textured, quirky and eclectic, with a distinctly European style, this book is most definitely for you.
What can I say? He's everything I hope for in a stylist.
More of his work:
I sort of gave up on blogging last week. I took a look at the the state of my house, the length of my to-do list, and the amount of coffee in my pantry and psychologically went on strike. After all, it's not like anything terrible happens if you don't blog for a week.
But I can never ignore the call of the Internet for very long and after experimenting with grapefruit cake again this weekend, I couldn't wait to share my discovery. And that's why I'm a blogger - the compulsion to share is always greater than the desire to keep it to myself (something my teachers may have complained about during my early school years).
At any rate, I've been thinking about grapefruit buttercream ever since I pinned this recipe from The Pastry Affair. That recipe led me to the pink grapefruit cake from Ad Hoc, which I've mentioned my great passion for. But I think of that as a cake you have with a cup of tea (or just passing through the kitchen on your way to somewhere else). I wanted another cake to add to my grapefruit repertoire, one that was festive and suitable for a birthday or other special occasion. The kind of cake you might drink a glass of champagne with.
I had an instinct that my favorite birthday cake, the Simply Delicious Yellow Cake from Amy's Bread in New York, would stand up nicely to grapefruit buttercream. It's not a cake that needs any fixing, so the only tweak I made was to add 1 tablespoon of freshly grated pink grapefruit zest to the batter. After that, I used the buttercream recipe from The Pastry Affair as a basis for mine, though the ratios for my final recipe are different.
It's exactly the cake I'd hoped for. The grapefruit flavor is definitely present, but not as intense as the cake from Ad Hoc. I find there's almost a floral quality to the grapefruit in this cake, with just a hint of tartness. The grapefruit also tempers the sugary overload you get from most traditional buttercreams, giving it a nice balance.
I thought it would be a cake for adults, and the adults were very happy with it (men and women, despite its feminine appearance). But what really surprised me is how much the children liked it, including my finicky five-year-old who declared it "delightful" and ate every bite in record time. Definitely a cake I'll be making time and again.
Pink Grapefruit Layer Cake
(Note: When testing this recipe, I weighed my ingredients instead of measuring them.)
3 cups (420 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder (20 grams)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups + 3 tablespoons (340 grams) whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons (320 grams) unsalted butter, slightly softened
2 3/4 cups + 2 teaspoons (560 grams) sugar
5 large eggs (260 grams - out of the shell)
1 tablespoon finely grated pink grapefruit zest
1. Preheat the oven to 350℉. Grease two 9-x-2-inch cake pans. Line the bottoms with rounds of baking parchment, grease the parchment lightly, then dust the pans lightly with flour. Shake out the excess.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk them gently for even distribution. In a separate bowl combine the milk and vanilla.
3. Using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until it is light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the eggs gradually, mixing well after each addition, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl often.
4. Lower the mixing speed to medium-low and add the flour mixture to the butter in 3 parts, alternating with 2 parts of the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Just toward the end, mix in the grapefruit zest. Mix just until it is evenly incorporated. (This is a thick, fluffy batter, resembling whipped cream. There should not be any lumps or dry pockets of flour remaining. If the batter has a curdled appearance it has not been mixed enough. Increase the speed to medium and mix for another minute or until it is thick and fluffy.)
5. Divide the batter equally between the 2 prepared cake pans. Weighing the batter into the pans is the most accurate way to do this. This ensures that both layers are uniform in size, and finish baking at the same time. You'll have approximately 930 grams of batter per pan. The pans should be about 2/3 full. Smooth the batter so it fills the pans evenly. Place the pans on the center rack in the preheated oven. Bake them for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cake is almost ready to pull away from the side of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs.
6. Cool the pans on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert them onto a wire rack that has been sprayed with cooking spray and lift off the pans. Cool them on the rack completely. Before frosting, be sure to remove the parchment from the bottom of each layer. While the layers are cooling, prepare the frosting.
1 cup freshly squeezed, strained pink grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon freshly grated pink grapefruit zest
6-7 cups powdered confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1. Put grapefruit juice in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat, then simmer until grapefruit juice is reduced to approximately 3 ounces (this will thicken the grapefruit juice a bit, while concentrating the flavor). Remove from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.
2. In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and zest together on medium-high until smooth. Reduce the speed to medium and beat in 2 ounces (1/4 cup) of the grapefruit syrup.
3. Beat in sifted powdered confectioners' sugar, 2 cups at a time, until smooth. After you've added 6 cups of the sugar, test your buttercream. If it needs to be thinned, add grapefruit syrup 1 tablespoon at a time until you've reached the desired consistency. If the frosting needs thickening, add 1/2 cup of the sugar at a time until you've reached the desired consistency.
If you need a baking scale, see my previous post for a recommendation. It's inexpensive and absolutely worth it!
To get the finest possible zest, I use a Microplane zester. I've had mine for more than a decade and it's still amazing.
I don't usually mention so many books in such a short time, but yesterday I received my copy of Bringing Nature Home and I was too excited not to share it with you. I think it's quite possibly the most beautiful (and accessible) floral design book I have ever seen - though it's not quite just a floral design book. One could argue for its interiors as well.
Conceived and photographed by Ngoc Minh Ngo, with arrangements created by Nicolette Owen of Brooklyn's Little Flower School, Bringing Nature Home contains page after page of gorgeous, yet doable, arrangements photographed in interiors that are equally beautiful and inspiring. The book is divided by season and includes a guide to arranging the flowers, but it's thoughtfully placed in the back of the book instead of interrupting the visual abundance of full page photos.
It really is one of the most beautiful books I've ever seen, with accessible "back to nature" arrangements. If you're a fan of nature, flowers, interiors, or beautiful photography, buy the book. It's well worth it!
(All photographs ©Bringing Nature Home: Floral Arrangements Inspired by Nature, Rizzoli New York)
Note: I purchased my book through Amazon, which currently says it's shipping within 1-3 months. However, you can search online for independent booksellers who currently have it in stock.
I'm a collector. I collect cakestands, glassware, photography, items from nature, white dishware, mismatched silver, typography...I don't formally set out to start a collection and I couldn't care less about the pedigree of anything I own. I'm driven purely by passion. I collect what I love.
As a result, I've learned to be a careful curator. I like to display my finds, but not all at once. I like to give them some room to unfold, to tell their stories to a careful viewer. I have no training in the art of display and I don't always get it right the first time. But I trust my instincts and over time, I'm usually able to add or remove just enough to make a vignette work. And truthfully, that's part of the fun for me. I get better as I go along.
I also learn from other people. For instance, I saw a photo from Sania Pell with a pair of scissors on a mantel. I immediately thought of a pair of shears I had in my office, not yet being used, waiting for companions. It inspired me to bring them down to my living room and they became part of my mantel display with the Inkodye botanicals.
I always think of it as writing a story. You need a good, strong first sentence. And when you have that (hopefully), the story starts to take shape. I think it's the same with creating visually appealing displays. Choose what you love and build from that moment. When you have it right, the effect will appear effortless, but nothing will be there by accident.
Group by Color:
Tine K Catalog (via Flickr)
(via Emmas Design Blog)
Group by Object:
(via My Sweet and Saucy)
House & Home (via Wish!)
Skona Hem (via Emmas Design Blog)
Rolland Bello (via My Sparrow)
Tips for creating visually pleasing displays from the book Creative Display by Geraldine James:
"Start looking at things in a different way and experiment. Move objects around in your home until you start to see shapes emerging..."
"Recognize beauty in imperfection and appreciate unusual, or even unique, qualities in run-of-the-mill objects."
"Give a display authenticity by creating it out of objects that have real meaning for you."
"Have the courage of your convictions to make unlikely alliances in your displays."
Title image from Debi Treloar Photography
*If you're looking for quick and easy Cinco de Mayo crafts and decorations, see today's post on Momster.
Ask people who or what inspired their aesthetic and they'll cite any number of influences. But it's taken me a long time to recognize that most of my personal aesthetic is inspired by the unparalleled beauty of trees in the South. Perhaps it's the birthright of a Southerner to have a strong sense of place, but the trees...It's one of the primary reasons I needed to come back home.
At any rate, I was looking through these photos I took a few weeks ago at Afton Villa, where only the gardens remain, and I realized that nearly everything I surround myself with or live with somehow looks good under those trees. Whether it's the colors I choose, the contrast of clean lines played against graceful abundance, or the well loved aspect of my favorite possessions, when you get right down to it, they are intertwined with those trees.
Now I know. And now that I've gotten that glimpse into my decorating psyche, I hope you'll enjoy these photos. I can never quite capture how spectacular these trees are in person, but that never stops me from trying!
The blackberries are already showing up in the market, perhaps due to the early spring this year. But with strawberry season virtually over, here, I welcome their arrival. I usually make blackberry crisp, but I stumbled onto a cobbler recipe in one of my cookbooks, Bon Appetit, Y'all by Virginia Willis, which brought back memories of the cobblers I used to prepare when I was growing up.
You see, cobblers are so simple to throw together that as an 11-year-old (for a brief time living in the country), I would run out the back door after supper, pick the berries I needed, and make a cobbler right then and there. We usually served it with vanilla ice cream, though I find I'm just as happy with freshly whipped cream as an adult.
The one difference is that I'd never baked cobbler in a cast iron skillet before. But I will from now on! I love the way the edges get crispy/chewy while the rest of it is soft and moist. This recipe is definitely a keeper (and if you need a cast iron skillet, see the Lodge website).
Have a great weekend!
(adapted from Bon Appetit, Y'all)
(Serves 6 to 8)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 cups fresh blackberries
1 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling, if needed
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Whipped cream or ice cream, for accompaniment
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Melt the stick of butter in a large cast-iron skillet or ovenproof baking dish in the oven (takes about 5 to 7 minutes).
2. Place half of the blackberries in a large bowl and mash them with a potato masher to release some of the juices. Add the rest of blackberries and toss. If the berries are tart, sprinkle them with additional sugar (up to approximately 1/4 cup).
3. To make the batter, in another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the 1 cup sugar, milk, and vanilla extract, and stir until evenly blended. Remove the skillet from the oven and add the melted butter to the batter and stir to combine. Pour the batter into the skillet, then add the blackberries and juices to the center of the batter.
4. Bake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the batter comes out clean, approximately 1 hour. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.
I've used and purchased products from the Martha Stewart Crafts Paint Line by Plaid since the day it was introduced last summer. But that didn't stop me from feeling a little giddy when I received an enormous box of supplies from Plaid with a directive to create a Mother's Day gift. Admittedly, I was overwhelmed by the bounty but finally decided to share one of my favorite products with you (the rest of these goodies we'll get to in time).
The self-adhesive stencils are brilliant. In fact, I need Martha Stewart Crafts to design more of them - a whole lot more! They're incredibly easy to use, there's no paint bleed, they never seem to lose their stickiness (even after multiple washings), and there's nothing better for stenciling curved objects. I don't think I could love them more.
Now, on to the gift. My peach lemonade is usually requested for both Mother's Day and Father's Day, so I decided to use that as the basis for the gift and the color palette. While I usually lean toward neutral, muted tones I wanted to create something fresh and summery, and I was loving the Tiger Lily pearl paint, which was perfect. So, big shock - I opted for stenciling glassware (if you've been reading my blog for awhile you know I have a little problem/obsession with glassware).
I had an unused set of white glasses I bought at IKEA ages ago and I thought they'd show off the painted design nicely, playing up the color and the delicate details. The beauty of this paint is that it's dishwasher-safe (after 21 days of curing). But it's not food-safe as far as I know, so I kept my design on the outside of the glass and below the drinking area. As for the design itself, I kept it fairly organic, which means that each glass is slightly different but works together as a whole. I just started from the bottom of the glass and worked my way around. With a stencil like this, it's hard to get it wrong.
To pull the whole thing together, I added a round tray, striped paper straws, and disposable coasters that I topped with wrapping paper scraps. Easy, doable, and pretty.
A sampling of what I had to work with. It's hard to see it all because there's so much here, but to give you an overview - The Martha Stewart Crafts Paint Line contains over 160 colors in five different finishes, specialty mediums, pre-cut stencils, a multipurpose heat tool and stencil film for cutting your own stencils, various types of brushes and bottle applicator tops, even a tool that converts the bottled paint into spray paint. It's a dizzying array of products (and you can find them at Michaels and Jo-Ann fabric and craft stores).
Prep: Clean the outside of the glass with rubbing alcohol to remove any fingerprints, oil, grease, dirt, etc. that would keep the paint from adhering properly.
Step 1: Attach the foam pouncer top to the bottle of paint and dab until the paint begins to flow. Align the self-adhesive stencil along the bottom edge of the glass in a straight line and carefully apply the paint in a pouncing motion. Remove the stencil from the glass, wipe the paint off with a damp paper towel, then repeat step 1 on each of the glasses.
Step 2: After you've painted the first set of designs on each glass, go back to the first glass (which should be dry by then) and place the stencil for the second set of designs - look for curves in the pattern where the second design will look natural and don't be afraid to place the self-adhesive stencil over the dried design. The idea is to make the designs look connected, but not in a strictly repetitive fashion.
Repeat this process on each glass, then go back to glass number one and place the stencil on the right side of the first set of designs and work your way through the glasses again. Repeat this process, left side, right side, on each of the glasses until the glass is covered. (You can also just work around the glass if you like. Personally, I prefer to work my designs from the middle out.)
Cleaning Your Stencils: Due to the delicate nature of this particular design, you may find that you need to clean the stencil periodically as you work. (You'll know when it's time as your design will become fainter.) What I like to do is adhere the stencil to a piece of plastic or acetate (I just use a piece of the outer packaging) and put it on a flat surface. Then I apply a little Brush and Stencil Cleaner, work it into a lather with a bit of water and use a small stencil brush to clean the paint out of the crevices. If I have paint on the sticky side, I clean that off as well. Rinse, then gently blot dry.
All craft supplies from Martha Stewart Crafts for Plaid
Glasses and SMARTA serving tray from IKEA (The particular glass I have may no longer be available, but the DIOD glass is very similar. The LEENDE carafe would also work well with this stenciled pattern.)
Striped paper straws from Shop Sweet Lulu (Orange Sherbet and Yellow)
Chipboard coasters can be found on Etsy
To round out this tutorial I tried the paint on clear glasses, just so you could see how it translates. I tried various colors, but personally, I liked the color against white and opted for metallic paint in Yellow Gold for the clear glass. But that's just my preference. You may be happier with a vivid color - and you can always wash off colors you don't like and try again.
Also, I created this design on a shorter glass and concentrated my design at the bottom, filling in the entire bottom area instead of leaving any gaps in the design. But I did keep the staggered edge at the top, some of the designs rising higher in places than others.
For the record, this glass is from CB2 (Marta double old-fashioned)
Get inspired with more of Plaid:
Disclosure: I wrote this post as part of a paid campaign with Plaid and Blueprint Social. However, the opinions in this post are my own.
I'm having my annual girl moment. It seems to happen in the spring so it must be my Pavlovian response to the sight of flowers in bloom. Almost subconsciously, I begin to lighten up my living space, indulge in a few pastels, use glass in my decor more (and retire elements that are wood based or deeper in color). It shows up in my Pinterest boards as well, when I find myself pinnning more feminine interiors and color palettes. It's fleeting, just like spring, but I enjoy the moment when it's in front of me.
Photographer Edward Pond for Style at Home
Hans Blomquist for Skona Hem
Hans Blomquist for Elle Interior
Top flower photo from Saipua
If you had told me I'd become obsessed with a grapefruit cake, I wouldn't have believed you. I like grapefruit, yes, but I tend to drink it - in sodas or cocktails. I have never once thought about baking with it. I had no idea what I was missing.
It started with a pretty photo of a grapefruit cake with buttercream icing (yet another experiment I'll have to undertake) that I found on Pinterest. I pinned it because the color of the frosting was irresistable, but then I just had to Google "grapefruit cake" and see what came up. What did I find? A recipe from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home, which I happened to own anyway (a clear sign that I need to spend an afternoon sifting through my many cookbooks and tagging what I want to cook!).
I made it that very afternoon, following Keller's directions exactly. But I ran into an issue with unmolding the cake after the syrup had soaked in and I lost the entire top of it. So it was ugly, to say the least, and I didn't bother making the glaze. But I tasted it and kept tasting it and I'm pretty sure over the next 24 hours ate most of it myself. So I made another one.
This time I altered the technique a little, which was more successful for me. And this time I'm trying to pace myself just a bit, maybe even share with others. So good! If you don't believe me, try it for yourself.
Pink Grapefruit Cake
(adapted from Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon grated pink (or red) grapefruit zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup strained fresh pink (or red) grapefruit juice (approximately 4 large grapefruit)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh pink (or red) grapefruit juice
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Grease a 10-by-4-inch or 9-by-5-inch loaf pan (or a pan with a 7-cup capacity). Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
2. Sift the flour and baking powder together and stir in the salt. Set aside.
3. Combine the sugar and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat at medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is thickened and the whisk leaves a trail. Beat in the milk, then the oil, grapefruit zest, and vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing just to incorporate; scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
4. Spread the batter in the pan. Put the pan on a small baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the pan around so the cake will color evenly and bake for another 30 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack.
5. Meanwhile, combine the grapefruit juice and sugar in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar, and simmer for 1 minute. Set aside.
6. After the cake has cooled for about 10 minutes, use a long skewer to poke deep holes every 3/4 inch or so all over the top of the cake. Carefully unmold it onto a cooling rack, then turn it right side up.
7. Begin brushing the grapefruit syrup over the top of the cake. It may be necessary at times to wait for the syrup to soak in, but continue until you've used all the syrup. Let the cake cool to room temperature.
8. Stir the powdered sugar and grapefruit juice together in a bowl until smooth. Using a spoon, drizzle the icing on a diagonal over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Slice the cake and serve. (The cake keeps well, loosely covered at room temperature, for up to 2 days.)
Serves 8-10 (or one)
1. The original recipe calls for a light oiling of the pan, no flouring or lining with parchment paper. However, on my second attempt at making this cake, with the tweaked unmolding technique and a nonstick loaf pan, two of my corners still got stuck in the pan and came off. So I looked at one of Ina Garten's recipes for her lemon yogurt cake (made in much the same way as this cake) and substituted her greasing directions instead.
2. The original recipe calls for putting the syrup on the cake while it was still hot and in the pan, then unmolding it. I did this and lost the top of my cake. Taking the cake out of the pan before adding the syrup was the answer and I didn't have any issue with the cake soaking up the syrup, even after 10 minutes of cooling.
3. I didn't use all of my syrup - probably 2/3 of it. Once the cake seemed really saturated, I stopped. On my first attempt, I used all of the syrup and the top got a little gummy because it couldn't soak up any more. That may have been why I lost the top.
4. If you're using a darker or nonstick coated pan, lower the oven temperature to 325 so that the crust doesn't darken too much. I cooked it for the same length of time at the lower temperature and it was perfect.
On April 14, 2011, David Brehmer and his best friend, Alex Chappell were driving back from band practice in Oakland, California when they were hit from behind by a drunk driver. David survived the accident with critical injuries, Alex did not.
Over a year of grieving, navigating the legal system, and learning to walk again, David put his thoughts and emotions into words. Unbeknownst to him, Alex's mother, Jeannine Chappell was processing her own grief and loss through visual images. Months later, as they learned of each other's work for the first time, they decided to collaborate on a book about their respective journeys.
One year later, This Has Happened - Words and Images After the Crash is ready for publication and a Kickstarter campaign has been launched to make this project a reality. The Kickstarter campaign has 12 days to go and the initial funding goal has been met, though it's only half of what will ultimately be needed. I encourage you to visit the website, read more about the campaign, and see samples of the book, as well as contribute to its publishing.
Those who have experienced grief and loss know the terrain is rocky and the road map unclear. And when it is an avoidable tragedy caused by the negligence of another, the journey becomes even more complicated. But I believe, in the midst of tragedy and loss, that creativity is a wonderful tool for healing. Indeed, it is a gift, something to be shared with the world.
Project Website: This Has Happened
So I thought the orange botanical prints I posted last week were fun, but I knew I wouldn't be able to live with either of them. They just weren't right for my home.
Instead I went back to the drawing board and ordered Inkodye in black, expecting that I'd create prints with a chalkboard feel. That wasn't quite what happened, but I'm very, very happy with the results of this particular batch of experiments and I learned a number of things, so it seemed worth it to post a tutorial this time.
What I Learned:
1. The black Inkodye didn't develop as a true black on fabric, but rather as a deep, deep teal with touches of black. I was satisfied with this effect because it was much deeper than the blue of traditional sunprints. It's possible that the glass had an impact, though even the edges of my fabric weren't a true black. (It was black, however, where the dye had gotten on the white foam core. So you could always try this on a base other than fabric.)
2. Different textured fabrics create different effects. I did most of my prints using a thin cotton muslin with slight striations in the weave. The dye picked this up, creating that same slightly striated effect in the finished print. When I used a textured linen look cotton fabric, the condensation patterns under the glass were so pronounced that the final print looked like it had rust patches on it. Still cool, just a very different effect. One other thing about texture - I used a garbage bag under my fabric to protect the foam core I was using (and I didn't tape it down). On one of my prints, the garbage bag was bunching up a bit due to the moisture and that effect came through in the final print as well.
3. Each piece is truly unique. My prints were similar, but some differed in ways that I can't offer an explanation for. But this is definitely part of the fun!
4. The color of the ink on the drawing makes a difference. For my first print, I used the white Sharpie paint pen drawing. The white allowed just a little bit of light to come through, which gave the illustration a slight sepia tint instead of white. When I used black for the drawing, the illustration came out in a range of whites.
Botanical engravings (or the drawing of your choice)
Glass pane (I used the pane of glass from a frame)
Pens of your choice - either white Sharpie oil paint pen (in Fine and Extra-fine) or black artist pens (I used waterproof, smudgeproof India ink markers) in Fine and Extra-fine.
White fabric (cotton, linen, or silk)
Foam core or cardboard
Garbage bag (optional)
Masking tape (optional)
Inkodye (1 bottle made four 11-x-14-inch prints)
Small foam brush
Small dish for Inkodye
Prep: Print out a copy of botanical art and trace over it with the pen of your choice onto a pane of glass. Let it dry for about 15 minutes before using.
Step 1: Cut your fabric to size, iron it, then stretch it out on your foam core and pin it in place. (Note: I started by using a garbage bag covered piece of foam core, then eliminated it altogether. Either works, but if you use a garbage bag, I'd suggest taping it in place to minimize wrinkling.)
Step 2: Working in dim light, brush a thin, even coat of Inkodye onto the fabric. The fabric doesn't need to be soaking wet, but damp.
Step 3: Turn your drawing inked side down onto the dye covered fabric. Carry it outside to a bright, evenly sunny spot.
Step 4: Set a timer for at least 5 minutes and watch it develop. You'll begin to see a color shift almost immediately, as shown here.
Step 5: You can see the dye developing more fully. The streaks under the glass are from condensation forming between the glass and fabric. Some of this may show up in the final print, creating a unique appearance in each print.
Finishing: If after 5 minutes, the dye isn't as dark as you'd like, let it sit for another minute or two. Then take the piece inside, remove the glass, and quickly rinse the fabric in warm water (this will stop further development of the dye). Handwash your fabric with a gentle detergent such as Woolite and rinse until the excess dye is removed. Hang it up to dry, then iron the fabric when dried, trim, and frame.
I started with the white paint pen drawing on muslin. The striations that developed were from both the weave of the fabric and the condensation that formed under the glass. Note how most of the drawing has a sepia tone instead of white.
This was the second printing using the white paint pen drawing on a textured, linen like fabric. It almost feels like it has rust spots from the condensation that formed. This didn't happen on any other fabric, so I assume the texture of the fabric itself helped create this effect.
This was my last print using the white paint pen drawing. It's harder to tell in this photo, but the tone of the illustration is actually a pale blue. This is because the paint started to break down a bit by the third printing, allowing more sunlight to come through and creating a tone-on-tone effect. Note the condensation marks on this print. They came from the wrinkling of the garbage bag underneath.
This time I used a black ink drawing on muslin and eliminated the garbage bag. As you can see, the wrinkled effect completely disappears and the drawing itself has a white tone. It's also a slightly finer print than the ones created with the Sharpie paint pen.
Buy more than one bottle if you can. It's addictive!
For the most consistent results, use bright, direct sunlight outdoors.
You'll be able to use your drawings for several prints if you're careful. Even though both my paint pen and India ink said they were waterproof, I did find that they started to break down a bit after being exposed to the dye. If you're careful when you remove the glass, you will avoid smudging your design. Let the condensation dry completely. You can go back and fill in any details that may have worn down a bit. Also, you may find you're left with streaks or light patches of dye on the glass. I didn't bother trying to remove these.
Inkodye can be purchased from Dharma Trading
The botanical engravings I used were from The Graphics Fairy:
UPDATE: It appears that black Inkodye has been discontinued for the moment. Here's the explanation from Dharma Trading (and what Lumi, the makers of Inkodye, hope to accomplish in the future):
I've looked at a lot of craft books over the years. If a book contains at least six projects I want to make, I'll generally buy it. But then there are the few craft books that are so lovely to look at, so inspired, that it takes a while before I'm even willing to put them away in a bookcase. That's how I felt when I received The Homemade Home for Children by Sania Pell. (CICO Books, $24.95. www.cicobooks.com)
The book is packed with 50 innovative ideas that cost little to make but are stylish enough for the most discerning of parents (and children). There are projects for the nursery as well as bedroom decor for the older set, projects for children to use in play, fashion accessories to make, outdoor projects, and one of my favorites, stylish storage ideas. The styling and photography are gorgeous and the projects are accessible, with clear, concise directions.
If you have children or need ideas for unique gifts, this is definitely a book to add to your library. And for more of Sania Pell's unique perspective, you can purchase her first book, The Homemade Home. She also has a beautiful blog, At Home.
© CICO Books
© CICO Books
Clay Butterfly Garland
© CICO Books
© CICO Books
Artist's Palette Chalkboards
When I was brainstorming for my column in the May issue of Family Circle, I decided I wanted to make sunprints out of vintage botanical clip art using Inkodye, a sun sensitive dye that comes in a variety of colors, not just the traditional Cobalt blue. I started by printing out this vintage engraving of a poppy from The Graphics Fairy, placing it under a pane of glass, then tracing over it with a black, fine-tipped artist marker. I coated a piece of white cotton fabric with a thin layer of the Inkodye, then placed the glass face down over the coated fabric and exposed it in the sun. The image shown above was the result of that experiment.
I knew immediately that it wouldn't be right for the magazine, but I knew just as quickly that it was perfect for me. I love the faded, mottled look (which occurs due to the condensation that builds up between the glass and the dye coated fabric as it sits in the sun), the uneven printing. It works for me. My next experiment will be with black Inkodye. I'm hoping for a mottled image that feels like a chalk drawing on a dusty chalkboard. (See update on this experiment.)
After this semi-failed experiment, however, I still had a column to do and I knew I wanted to do something revolving around botanical prints. I also liked the tracing on glass. I found it easy to do (lacking any and all ability to draw) and interesting to look at. But the black was too harsh for what I had in mind. I definitely had my heart set on white.
I picked up a couple of oil-based Sharpie paint pens (Fine and Extra-Fine tipped) at my local Michaels and tried again. Success! The pens were great to work with, capable of the finest detail, opaque and quick-drying. The result of that technique was a cleaner, sharper look - the opposite of my sunprinted image. Still, two paths that I'd like to explore further.
But what do you think? Which technique do you like the best?
I used this tutorial as a basis for my sun printing experiment. It recommends using dry erase markers, which is fine if you can find them with really fine tips. Otherwise, use fine tipped art pens (available at artist supply and craft stores) that are used for technical drawings and illustrations. Just make sure they're water and smear-resistant when dry.
For more information and examples of the botanicals created with the Sharpie paint pens, see Momster.
I've added another piece of affordable photography to my collection and I'm just as happy as can be with it, so I thought I'd share it with you. No, it's not a pretty washed pastel version of a nest with eggs in it, but that's not the kind of photograpy I live with anyway. I's beautifully printed and nuanced and makes me happy whenever I look at it. It's also living very comfortably with the rest of my collection.
The photographer is Lucy Snowe and you can find this photograph, French Country Empty Nest in her shop on Etsy (available in two sizes). She has lots of other nature photographs as well, both in black & white and color.
I'm a little obsessed with coffee filters after making my flower baskets and carrots, so I spent some time looking for other coffee filter crafts. My search kept leading me back to Aunt Peaches, who I daresay might be the queen of coffee filters.
Filters aside, Aunt Peaches is irreverant and fun and not at all afraid of color (like I am), so I greatly enjoyed the different perspective and thought I should share her blog with you, in case you're not familiar with it. I learned how to preserve blown eggs with ModPodge on the outside and the inside of the egg, figured out exactly what to do with the vintage costume jewelry I have hanging around once I saw spangled slippers made with tile adhesive, and suffered serious pangs of envy when I saw the most amazing coffee filter roses EVER (pictured above), along with a tutorial for coloring them with acrylic paint.
I think you'll enjoy her, so go visit. She definitely inspired me!
When someone once asked my son what I did for a living, his response was that I made pretty things and mailed them to other people. That's just about right, so during holidays I try very hard to make things for his Kindergarten class. His look of pride when I arrive with gifts makes it all worthwhile.
This year I was tossing around the idea of making crepe paper flower baskets, modeling them on versions found in one of my vintage craft books. However, I was so smitten with the coffee filter flower bowls featured in Martha Stewart Living that I decided to alter my approach for a faster, easier, less expensive version. But those frilly flowers just weren't going to cut it for the boys in the class. My son and I settled on carrots and I was still able to make them with coffee filters, which visually pulls everything together.
As fussy as these projects look, they came together very quickly. I dyed all of the coffee filters in stacks, which was a breeze. The greatest time commitment was the overnight drying time (which could be shortened by creating smaller stacks of filters). Once you get the hang of it, each basket or carrot takes about 10 minutes to make, so definitely a doable project, even for a large class.
Fortunately, they meet my son's rather exacting standards, which is all that counts. I caught him trying to sneak a carrot in his backpack, so I know we have a winner.
Junior size basket coffee filters (4-6 cup size)
Food safe food coloring (I used McCormick Neon, Regular, and Fall (orange))
Large rectangular baking pan or wire racks
Floral stems (for basket handle)
Glue dots (optional)
Quick-setting gel glue (Beacon 3-in-1 Glue)
For the leaves: Put a stack of filters in the dye (as they absorb the dye, they will completely flatten out). Let them sit for a minute or two, then remove them from the dye. Let the excess drip off and then put them aside to dry on a paper towel lined baking tray or on a wire rack set over paper towels.
For the flowers: Working in stacks, dip the edges of the filters into the dye, letting it work its way up as high as you'd like, but not saturating the bottom. Remove the stack from the dye, let the excess drip off, then put them aside to dry face down, keeping the shape of the filter intact.
2. Stack 5 dry filters together (2 of one color for the middle, 3 of another color for the outer petals), then fold in half. Make a slit in the middle of the half, then cut those two portions in half again. Finally, cut slits along the folded edge. Round the cut edges to make petal shapes.
3. Cut a floral stem in half, then bend it to form a "U" shape. Attach it to the sides of the nut cup using glue dots or another strong glue.
4. Take the top coffee filter and push it into the nut cup, arranging the petals as desired.
5. Put a little glue on the bottom of the nut cup and around the top edge on the outside. Attach the second coffee filter around the outside of the nut cup. These two layers will cover it.
6. Run a line of glue around the bottom and the outer bottom edge of the petal covered nut cup and attach the third coffee filter, cupping it up a bit so it connects with the glued edge. Attach the fourth and fifth filters by gluing them onto the bottom of the cup.
7. Fold a green filter in half, cut a leaf shape, then glue it to the bottom of the flower basket.
#6 size white Cone Filters
Junior size basket coffee filters (4-6 cup size)
Food safe food coloring (I used McCormick Neon green, and Fall orange)
Shallow dish (9-inch square dish is perfect)
Large rectangular baking pan or wire racks
Quick-setting gel glue (Beacon 3-in-1 Glue)
Pinking shears (optional)
1. Create a dye bath for the carrots and one for the leaves.
Carrots: Lay a stack of #6 cone filters flat in the orange dye bath and let them soak for a few minutes. Remove the stack, let the excess drip off, and set aside to dry on a wire rack set over paper towels or in a paper towel lined baking sheet.
Leaves: Dip the fluted edges of a stack of basket filters into the green dye and let the dye travel up around the edges of the filter. Let the excess dye drip off, then put the stack aside to dry face down, so that it stands up and retains its fluted shape.
2. Make a cone shape from the dry orange filter and secure with a line of glue along the seam. Fill the cone with candy, blocking the bottom hole with a piece of candy (chocolate eggs are perfect). Fill 2/3 of the way up.
3. Pinch the edges of the orange filter together to create a carrot shape. Take the green filter and gather it into a point at the bottom. Snip off the bottom tip with scissors or pinking shears.
4. Run a little glue along the outside the orange carrot top; place the green filter over the orange "stem" and squeeze shut.
Urban Comfort made it onto Babble's Top 50 list again this year, which is exciting news! But I share this with you because I'm in good company, with 49 other wonderful blogs, some of which you may not be familiar with. Definitely take some time to check them out.
In the meantime, I'm busy crafting, trying to earn my place on the list! If I don't make it back here tomorrow, have a great weekend! I'll be back next week, hopefully with some fun projects to share.