Somewhat Back in the Studio

I put the first head on the work table and decided to make it all about the printmaking part of me. I pulled out all the old type stamps that were collected years ago for no other reason than to own them. Not one was ever used to write a word. They are as gummed up now as much as the day I bought them. So I glued them onto the head. And then filled in some of the empty spaces with used tarlatan rolled on small bits of chopsticks. I have no idea why I had so many sets of Chinese restaurant chopsticks in my stash, but they cut easily and now whatever I had is in pieces with tarlatan glued to them.

I have some super large wood fonts that I may fit into the head somewhere. But first I think that I need to construct some dormers out each side for the right and left brain thinking. Nice roof topped dormers with collections inside of prints, small books and maybe these cute little pencils that seem to fit. I think there needs to be more stuck into her hair bits. Something equally messy. And each of the chopstick ends that show need a glob of printmakers ink stuck on top.

I pulled out old carving tools that probably are not any good any more to stick into her head but found I could not part with them just yet. They may be able to be used to do more carvings. She might need a small carved wood block stuck to her forehead. She might need it to be recessed into her forehead. That is a better idea. So obviously this is still in the “planning as you work” stage. More as it progresses.

I had company this week. Two of the children from deceased siblings. Of the six children that my mother had there are only two of us left….me and a sister that was not very good at it, so we parted ways many years ago. Every family has one that you really wish you did not have to invite over….usually the old conservative and grumpy uncle….ours was this sister that, rather than endure, we just took her name off the Christmas card list and everything else fell into place. Life was better without the drama that attached itself to her.

But with the two, one niece, who is actually a grandmother and one nephew we had fun remembering old times in almost forgotten places. Lee joined in by way of smiling at all the appropriate times but asked as we waved them off in the driveway, “Who were those people?”

I tried to jog his memory about going to visit the niece when her mother was alive. There were loads of stray farm animals and dogs and cats and a catfish pond at their place located near a far away town in the deep, sultry south of north Georgia country. He still looked puzzled. I even told him of my sister’s (the niece’s mother) collection of ashes of passed away pets and relatives. She had quite the collection in her closet and when she moved in with her daughter, each was laid to rest around the property…..all facing the catfish pond. I smiled when I remembered this….especially the ferret placed near the poodle with painted nails.  Lee smiled too but any memory of who and where I was talking about was lost.

I am still smiling now as I get this posted and take Lee out to the brewery for our Thursday lunch.

Til later.

New Experiences and Experiments

This is the old collograph that I made titled, “Daily Grind”. Small prints in a row of five ways I have been served coffee. I did give some away and one was to a cafe called The Daily Grind. I might have sold two or three. But I did find several unsold ones in my prints drawer. Now some of them look like this.

The one in the middle is a monoprint that I made in the middle of taking French classes. It was called La Librairie meaning book shop….not library….that would be biblioteque. The spellings could be wrong but it was years ago and I have no idea why I wanted to speak French other than there were free classes being offered at the local library. I drew this image from a sculpture that I still have that has a book for a roof. The crow is there because back then there were lots of crows on my work.

When giving prints to local businesses I gave this one to two places of business.

It was a challenge to come up with a beer label for an exhibition in Asheville at BookWorks. This was a wood engraving and underneath the image were the words, “A beer you want to occupy.”  Anyway one of the places I gave a framed print to is the Hayesville Brewery where we go every Thursday for lunch and another to Parson’s Pub. We went back to the Pub after several years of absence the other day and this was our lunch….a Reuben with fries, a Fowler’s Pie and of course, two dark beers.

And right before we went to lunch we went to the hardware and bought more weeder eater spools, more glue and two self-closing toilet seats. With seats being left up now this seemed like a good investment. I am amazed that with just a bit of a touch to close them both parts head quietly down to sit in place.

Also back in the studio I am working on the first of the wooden heads. It is why I needed to go get more glue. Lots of pieces to stick in place. Next time I will post a picture of how that is going.

Also this week I needed to order a new Microsoft Office program as Word just decided on its own not to open for me. Thank goodness I had help getting it installed via the internet. Nothing is easy anymore….but most everything is irritating.

Til next time.

Studio and Cookie Update

The studio is completely repaired and cleaned up. Next thing to work on down there will be those heads and I can hardly wait to get started. I think all five of them will be autobiographical of different versions of me with left and right brains in conflict seeking common ground. Stay tuned as I work out carving into the first one.

Upstairs in the den I have been working on those little print/stitched pieces. Someone saw a few of the more “boro” ones in the shop and asked if I would teach a workshop on them. Seriously?! It is just stitching into cloth and papers. And if they are for sale in the craft shop why would I take others through all the steps to duplicate them?

Anyway….I like that word….here is the larger one with all the cloth stitched on but I think a print of a crow might need to be added…just thinking….I have some crow prints I could use.

Maybe resting on the top edge. And the new tiny ones that are 2.5″ by 4″. They are from a collograph I did back in early 2000 showing the four different ways I had been served coffee. Hence the coffee colored ink. When I printed them I put them in a row so I had a long horizontal of prints. I gave them to local coffee shops I was going to at the time. And I am sure I gave more away than I sold. But by separating the images they are perfect for tiny little stitched prints. I often lose the patches before I have them stitched down. One on the left is finished and the one on the right needs sewing.

But besides all that with the studio and hand work, I have mastered The Second Best Malted Cookie I Ever Ate recipe.

While in Asheville for an overnight last month I did the usual Trader Joe’s and then stopped into Whole Foods (formerly Greenlife) to get a coffee and muffin for the road home. A nice young man asked if he could help me find something and I asked if he carried a barley malt. He thought maybe so went to where molasses is found and on the bottom shelf picked up a jar from Eden foods. The jar was clear and I could see it was thick, so bought it. (I will say that a couple of years ago I sent a letter of reprimand to Eden Foods for their homophobic hiring practices). Hopefully that has changed in the time since.

The first batch I upped the temperature by 10 degrees and the cookies cooked too fast to flatten out as much as I wanted. We ate them anyway.

But this morning this!

Starting with the General Electric mixer that Lee had before we were married fifty two years ago.  It is our only mixer now as I gave that behemoth of a KitchenAid to our son last month. You can see the barley malt here in the picture.

So here is the recipe:

On a parchment paper sift 2.5 cups all purpose flour with 1.5 tsp ginger and 1.5 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp salt.

In a mixing bowl place 1 cup packed brown sugar, one egg, 3/4 cups softened butter, 1/3 cup golden syrup and 1/3 cup barley malt.

When blended mix in dry ingredients.

It is very sticky but try to get lumps the size of walnuts and drop into a bowl of granulated sugar to coat and place on parchment covered cookie sheet.

I get them all done at one go so I can clean up the mess. as I bake.

In an oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees use the middle top rack only and bake for nine minutes, then take out and slam on stove to create good deep cracks. Put back in oven on same rack for 6 more minutes. Remove from oven and put next sheet on the rack in oven to repeat process. Let sit for a bit before removing from the parchment. Turn parchment over to use for next group of fifteen cookies. But let it cool completely before adding the raw cookies so they go into the oven as balls and not melted lumps.

They should be the color of caramel when they come out of the oven.

After completely cooled, they are crispy and can be stored in a tin like this one.

And then put the rest in the freezer in baggies. The recipe makes between 45-50 cookies.

You can also share a few with friends but remember the time it took to make them so only with special friends.

I will admit that the Eden Barley Malt is not quite as good as the Saunders from Australia….not as thick but makes a good substitute since we don’t have much of a choice here in the states.

So that is all I have to say about those cookies.

Til later.

Slowly Work Gets Done

The studio did not get completed this past week. A promise of Monday. The same day I have to get Lee to a dentist two hours away for a root canal. But both will be finished by end of day. It is hard to access anything in the studio because the plastic covers everything. But I have been able to get some stitching done upstairs.

The John C Campbell Craft Shop took all the new pieces and I took two of the ones they had in inventory back home with me. I told them to mark the rest down to what would sell, gave one to the auction, two to redecorating plans they have in the works and then gave two like the ones below to the two girls who work there and have always been so supportive and encouraging of my efforts.

They were very appreciative and loved the new work.

And here are some images of what I am working on in the den with Lee.

I love that the cloth has memory, some from my own clothes or sewing projects and then these antique Japanese textiles from Wafu Works near Hobart, Tasmania. It is fun picking out color and sizes of threads to work over the arrangements of cloth and print. This one below is worked over a less than successful dry point engraving with fabrics I contact dyed while in Australia and here at home patched in. There is also some silks dyed by a friend in Australia…..I cut up a scarf she made because I knew I would not wear those colors. Also are scraps torn from wood block prints. I just move the bits around until I like the way it looks, then try to still like it after the stitching.

The funny thing is I tried to add some luscious red threads to a piece and it looks awful. I can’t work in bright colors even when I think they are just what it needs. I might tear it apart and use the good bits in another one. I often wish I was raised to be more wasteful. Then I could just toss it. But we were told that things must be used up. So I am always thinking there are possibilities even when it is quite clear that all possibilities have been exhausted.

A young man came this week to do all the weeding. Nice kid. He is willing to come every few weeks to do it again. And this morning another not so young young man came and reset all the slanting stepping stones with packed sand. He also stopped by the hardware to pick up twenty bags of mulch for the younger young man to spread when he returns in a few weeks. I felt like I was getting somewhere this week.

The repairman doing the ceiling in the studio even stuck around and had a bourbon with us. It was great because I could vent all I needed on any subject I wanted. He is a good listener and I have missed having one.

In the middle of being out of sorts earlier this week, our satellite TV went out. I called and of course eventually got someone with an Indian accent. She forwarded me on to someone in billing who told me (like I was an idiot) that this was billing and not repair service. So I tried again and got the Indian woman a second time and as soon as I was getting into it, she hung up on me. So I asked the ceiling painter to come up and fiddle with the controls. He obliged but was stumped. I called the phone number again and this time got someone I could understand who put me in touch with the right people and ten days later I would have a service man come. I mentioned that I would likely be spending many hours in a bar watching their television and she said she would put “urgent” on my request.

And here is the best part. I went back into the den, pulled out the secret hidden control that goes from satellite to DVD and sure enough it had been bumped when I put it back the night before and was on some channel completely foreign to the Satellite and DVD player. I made the adjustment and all was fine.

I called back to cancel the service request (which took more time than getting the service scheduled) and the nice, very nice young woman told me it would be wise to just keep the appointment and the service man could check all the wires and connections, to set my mind at ease.

Then she politely asked if there was anything else she could do for me and I told her, “Yes, please, please do not vote for Trump or any Republican for that matter.” She laughed and I felt sure she would not make the wrong decision at election time.

So all in all, a good week.

Til later.