Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Creative Space

This week, I'm very excited to have begun a four-week textile design course with the lovely Karuna of Design Crafty.  I feel as though most of my ideas usually revolve around what would work well for hand-printing, and figuring out all of the wonderful things that a professional printing company can do with fabric opens up a whole world of possibilities.  Repeating blocks!  Mirror images!  The magic that Karuna worked with her computer after our initial exercise was pretty amazing. 

In the first class we put together "mood boards" which functioned to gather inspiration and focus our ideas.  Having never been to art or design school, this was my first mood board assembly.  I really enjoyed the process, and after I came home, I found myself ripping pages out of magazines to set aside for future image collections.  Here are some photos of the mood board I set up in class.

I've been working with a pen and watercolors to visualize different designs.  I haven't played around much with watercolors in the past, but I really love the effect.  When I got home, Solomon and I set out the paints and worked side by side for a while during Aya's nap.

If you live in the Nelson area and are interested in Karuna's classes, you can find out more here.

I'm playing along with the fabulous Kootoyoo this week.  By the way, I'm loving the new look of Kirsty's blog.  She's just switched from Blogger to Wordpress, and the outcome makes that transition look awfully tempting.  Hmmm, something to think about. 

x Jen

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

In the Kitchen....

I've recently been enjoying a renewed interest in back-to-basics cooking: learning to make everyday things from scratch.  After getting a bit lazy over the holidays, we're back to making our own bread, and I'm making yogurt again.  This weekend, I felt like I was in the kitchen for entire afternoons.  A bit ridiculous, considering how insanely hot it was.  I thought about the women of our great-grandmother's generation and how they would have spent long days preserving and making sauces and jams in the late-summer heat.  I was lucky to be in shorts and not a long Victorian skirt, no?

At any rate, two of my new ventures were making homemade crackers and tomato relish.  I'd never experienced tomato relish in the States, but in New Zealand, it seems to be a pantry staple.  You can use it on crackers with cheese, in pasta sauces, or anyplace you would use ketchup.  Believe me, it is soooo much better than ketchup.  Heinz is out.  Tomato relish is in.

Our family's lovely auntie talked me though the final steps, and in the end, I felt quite proud of the joint effort (Jake for growing the tomatoes, me for preserving them, and Auntie Shelley for teaching me how.)

And crackers -- really pretty easy.  I've become aware recently of how many ingredients even the healthiest crackers have, and in the interest of simplifying and eating fewer preservatives and additives, I think homemade crackers are the way to go.  Hopefully I'll have the patience to keep these going -- they were delicious and felt like much more of a special treat than store-bought crackers.

I used the recipe from Alison Holst's "Dollars and Sense" cookbook -- one of my best and most often used purchases from the flea market.  She calls for two cups of white flour, but I used half white and half wholemeal (wholewheat) flour and that worked fine.

Homemade Crackers
1 cup white flour
1 cup wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
25 g cold butter
1 Tbs golden syrup or malt
about 1/2 cup water (I used more)

Mix dry ingredients well.  Rub in cold butter.  Mix the golden syrup with the water and add in slowly until the mixture is damp enough to form a roll-able dough.  Roll out thinly, using flour to keep the dough from sticking.  Cut into shapes with a cookie cutter or knife.  Prick each cracker in a few places and bake on a lightly greased tray for 10-15 minutes until golden.  Cool and store in an airtight container (if you don't eat them all first.)

And finally, I found myself out in the studio a few nights ago really and truly intending to do some serious work.  But I was confronted by my stack of thrifted plates and some leftover paint that would have dried out had I not used it immediately (I swear!) I played around a bit more, with better results than the first time.  Rather than fight the tacky, quick-drying texture of the paint, I just avoided layering all together. I have to remind myself that complicated doesn't = good.  Sometimes (meaning usually) simple is best.

I hope your week is off to a good start. x Jen

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Creative Space

This week, I've been playing around with something a bit different....we were given a lovely set of matching dinnerware recently, and suddenly all of my op-shop plates seemed a bit extraneous.  I bought ceramic paint ages ago, and it's been withering away in my desk drawer, so I decided to experiment with a new medium.

I used both a pen and paint for these ("Porcelaine" brand) and the consistency of each took some getting used to.  Now that I've got the hang of it though, I'm feeling hooked.  It's a good thing I have a whole pile of plates to go through.  The paint is dishwasher resistant, but I imagine these more as little depositories for trinkets or keys than for eating off of.  I'm sure I'll end up giving most of them away -- because really, there's only so many trinket plates my husband will tolerate.

Playing along with the lovely Kootoyoo this week.  Find links to many more creatives and their spaces here.