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1  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Weddings and Bridal Showers / Our "Gone with the Wind" Save-The-Dates on: December 30, 2009 02:51:31 PM
So, my fiance is a filmmaker, and we are both huge movie buffs. With that in mind, we decided to have a slightly movie-themed wedding. (Not TOO theme-y, but little touches here and there.) We decided long ago that we wanted our save-the-dates to be funny--a little less formal and elegant than the rest of the wedding. One very awkward photo shoot (because we kept laughing) and many hours in Photoshop later, here is the result:

What do you think? Smiley I'm pretty happy with how it came out! He loves it, so I'm happy.
If you don't know what the original looks like, here's a reference:
2  POTTERY, CERAMICS, POLYMER CLAY / Pottery, Ceramics, etc: Completed Projects / Majolica Marimekko-inspired casserole and Postal Service-inspired vase on: May 07, 2009 10:35:11 AM
These are both thrown earthenware, fired to cone 04, with majolica glaze. I love majolica because you can work with it like it's paint. Mmmmm.

This is a small (like a meal for two people) casserole dish. I wanted it to evoke sort of mod, Marimekko-style prints, so I took the time to draw out the patterns and paint them. It took FOREVER, but I'm really happy with it!

This is about a foot-high vase inspired by the Postal Service song "Such Great Heights." I love birds and tend to put them on everything. I wish I had more views for you; I'll see if I can get some more pictures. This one was really fun and stress-relieving to do.
3  POTTERY, CERAMICS, POLYMER CLAY / Pottery, Ceramics, etc: Completed Projects / Some random porcelain and stoneware vessels on: May 07, 2009 10:31:17 AM
I didn't want to give each of these a separate thread, so they're all here. But if you have any questions, please feel free to ask!

Porcelain vase, cone 10, with my own shino carbon trap glaze, sprayed

Porcelain bud vase, cone 10, with hickory and walnut ash glaze

Porcelain bud vase, cone 10, altered, with copper red interior glaze

Porcelain mugs, cone 10, altered, with celadon glaze

Porcelain bud vase, cone 10, with copper red glaze

Stoneware pitcher, cone 10, with green celadon glaze and wax resist

Stoneware pitcher, cone 10, with Shaner butter and tomato red glaze inlay pattern

Stoneware pitcher, cone 10, with Emily purple and Shaner butter glaze and wax resist

Porcelain tea bowls, cone 10, with my own shino carbon trap glaze

Stoneware vase, cone 10, with sunflower seed ash glaze

Thanks for looking! Smiley
4  POTTERY, CERAMICS, POLYMER CLAY / Pottery, Ceramics, etc: Completed Projects / Robin teapot and cup "eggs" on: May 07, 2009 10:23:54 AM
This was half of my final for my ceramics class this semester: a tea set. I decided I wanted mine to be inspired by a robin. So I made the little egg cups first, and then made the pot; and while the pot was still wet, I pushed the eggs into it, so they would nest underneath it. I glazed the eggs with a speckly blue and the pot with red and brown. I'm pretty happy with it! It's not that useful because of the tiny spout and little cups, but you can use it, if you want to.

5  POTTERY, CERAMICS, POLYMER CLAY / Pottery, Ceramics, etc: Completed Projects / Porcelain glaze-inlay series on: May 07, 2009 10:21:45 AM
This was half of my final assignment for my ceramics class this semester. I threw four porcelain vessels and then altered them; after firing (cone 10) I glazed them in a cobalt glaze that I mixed. I waxed designs onto them, then scraped away all the glaze that wasn't covered by wax, and then dunked it in that pale blue celadon glaze. It's called "glaze inlay." I'm pretty happy with them, although I think the third one is too busy; I like the simpler designs on the first and fourth.

6  POTTERY, CERAMICS, POLYMER CLAY / Pottery, Ceramics, etc: Completed Projects / Sugar and creamer set (stoneware) on: May 07, 2009 10:19:02 AM
I threw this sugar/creamer/tray set for an assignment for my ceramics class. It's stoneware, fired to cone 10, glazed with a color called Tender Lavender. The tray was two small circular ones, thrown, and then I cut off the ends and attached them together before I fluted it. I'm pretty happy with how this set came out!

7  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Discussion and Questions / Home theater screen on: February 17, 2009 03:22:30 PM
Okay kids, here's the deal. My boyfriend just scored a used but still wonderfully functional HD projector for under $50 from a university surplus auction (bless his thrifty lil' heart). It's totally sweet and I am foreseeing some epic Mario Kart tournaments in the coming weeks. Only problem is, we live in an apartment approximately the size of a shoebox. I think our living room/kitchen, the largest room, is about 15 feet by 8 feet. We can project from one end of the room to the other, but the only space to project on has two doors in it. So we're planning to hang a big sheet of thick white fabric over the doors when it's in use. The temporary solution is to put grommets in the edge of the sheet and sticky hooks on the wall so we can just hang it up when we need to, but this is less than elegant, especially since the sheet tends to get wrinkled when not in use.

So, basically, I'd like to make something that could pull up when we aren't using it, a la roman shades or a roller blind. But all the roller blind instructions I've found require a kit, and I can't afford the ones big enough for my sheet. (Also, I am keeping this kind of a low-maintenance project; I don't want to spend a TON of money or time on it.) Does anyone have good ideas for how I could make the sheet roll up out of the way? Thanks!
8  COOKING / Dessert / Hpnotiq Cocktail Cupcakes with Toasted Coconut Buttercream and Pineapple Gele on: February 12, 2009 11:02:59 PM
This is my first try at a cupcake recipe of my own! It was adapted from several others; you can read all the gory details on my blog, if you want. But I thought I'd give you guys a photo and recipe here. These were INSANELY delicious, probably the tastiest cupcakes I've ever made, and very beautiful. They're particularly yummy with a Hpnotiq cocktail to match! Wink

Hpnotiq Cocktail Cupcakes with Toasted Coconut Buttercream and Pineapple Gele

Makes about 18 cupcakes


1/2c unsalted butter, room temperature
1c sugar
2 large eggs
2c all-purpose flour
2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp salt (I like sea salt)
1/4c Hpnotiq liqueur
1/2c sweetened shredded coconut
1c crushed pineapple, drained VERY well (I squeezed it in paper towels before adding it)
Food coloring (I used Wilton Professional Icing Dye Gels in Teal and Royal Blue, just a tiny smudge of each)


2 large egg yolks
1/4c pineapple juice
1/2c Hpnotiq liqueur
1/4c sugar
5tsp cornstarch

1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
1/4c milk
2tsp vanilla
2c powdered sugar
1 1/2c sweetened shredded coconut
(Reserve extra coconut to toast for garnish.)

1. Toast the coconut for the garnish. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, spread a thin layer of coconut over a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet, and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the coconut reaches your desired doneness. I like mine dark brown and crunchy, but you may not. Your house will smell great!
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt with a fork. Set this aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until it's light and fluffy.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each.
5. Measure out the Hpnotiq into a small bowl or glass.
6. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the Hpnotiq to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. (I did 4 additions of flour, 3 of Hpnotiq.) Blend thoroughly after each.
7. Mix in the coconut and pineapple.
8. Add the food coloring, if desired. I used only a tiny bit of each gel color; about the amount that would fit on the end of a toothpick.
9. Fill cupcake liners 1/2-3/4 full. (They rise about an average amount; I keep mine on the low side to make room for the gele later.) Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
10. Place on a rack to cool.

1. In a small saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, pineapple juice, Hpnotiq, sugar, and cornstarch.
2. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slightly bubbly. (Be careful! It will seem very thin, and then thicken all at once. It took me about 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on it.)
3. Remove from heat and let cool while you make the frosting.

1. Beat the butter until smooth, making sure to scrape down the bowl.
2. Add the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla. Beat until smooth.
3. Add the coconut and beat until it's combined thoroughly.

1. Cut a cone into the top of each cupcake with a sharp paring knife. Set these aside; you will need them.
2. Fill each depression with gele.
3. Replace the cones. They will fit! Don't worry if they don't line up perfectly; the frosting will cover it.
4. Pipe frosting on top of each cupcake. I purposely avoided going out to the edges, because I wanted to show off the blue color. I used my sweet Williams-Sonoma mechanical pastry bag, but you could easily just use a Ziploc with the corner snipped off. (That's what I used until Christmas.)
5. Sprinkle with toasted coconut, and garnish with a piece of dried pineapple, if you wish.

That's it! They're incredibly yummy--enjoy, and please let me know what you think if you make them.
9  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / Unusual baby quilt for my youngest nephew on: January 31, 2009 04:35:20 PM
Hey all! Well, this is a bit late in coming, but my brother and his wife had their first baby about 10 months ago. Before the little peanut was born, I started working on a quilt for him. They picked really cool colors for his room, green and red with lots of other rainbow colors mixed in, nothing too baby-ish or little-boy specific (though they knew he would be a boy). I wanted to make the colors match, and I love green and red, but I didn't want it to look like Christmas, so I added a dark khaki color, too. I left the center blank so I could embroider his name once he was born. I was at school three hours away when he came, and my sister called me at four in the morning to tell me, "It's Colin! Start sewing!" So I embroidered like the wind, and drove home the next morning to give it to him.

I stupidly forgot to get a good, flat picture, so all I have are these silly ones. Sorry!
With me:

With daddy:

They took his first portrait on it!:

And just to illustrate how much changes in 10 months, that's the baby now!:

It was done with paper-piecing, in hand-dyed cotton lawn. Originally one of the squares had concentric circles in it--but the outside one was tan and the inside one was red, and it looked JUST like a nipple when I was done! I didn't want the poor kid to be going to a therapist in his 30s and saying "I think it all started when my aunt made me this quilt with boobs on it."
10  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / My Senior BFA Exhibition: Three-Dimensional Art Quilts (IMG & TEXT ROTUND) on: January 31, 2009 01:08:37 PM
Okay! So, just as a warning, this post is going to be...about as verbose as my posts usually are, which is to say, I'm never going to shut up. For your viewing convenience, I shall put the stories behind each piece inside quote blocks, so you can skip them if you don't feel like reading my life story, which is essentially what this is. You've been warned!

So, at my school, in order to receive your BFA in Studio Art, you have to put on an exhibition in the university gallery. It's a lovely facility, and usually you exhibit with one or two other people. Last semester, due to some weird scheduling errors and the fact that a lot more people than usual were graduating...there were TEN of us. I don't know how we managed to make it fit, but we did.

This was my semester to exhibit; I started work in September, and the opening was on December 2. Believe me when I say that I was working literally up until the moment they made me leave it alone so people could come and view it. I've never had such a stressful semester; there was not a single day in three months when I didn't work at least 8 hours on this, and every weekend I spent 24-36 hours. My bad mental state was compounded by the fact that it all went wrong from the very beginning. My committee rejected my original idea, which I had been planning for three years (experimental fashion; see my Mourning Dove Dress), and therefore I had a week to come up with a new one. The final idea is good and interesting, and was cathartic and fun to do, but it was not what I wanted and so it doesn't really feel like my show. I hate to start the post on a negative note, but it's taken me almost two months to post pictures because I still feel really bitter about that. I wanted to give my school the best, most personal farewell I could, and...well. No use rambling anymore about it, and I AM proud of what came out of this. I am feeling sooooooo happy this semester now that it's all over!

So anyway, the concept was this. I decided to do art quilts (fiber fusion method--layering fabrics to create color and depth, then sewing through them) about various life memories that have made an impact on me one way or another. Originally I had eight ideas, which I narrowed down to five. Two were happy, one was bittersweet, and two were the worst memories I ever had. These were very difficult to work on, but I do feel better now that they're out. I wanted a slight twist, though: the fuzziest parts of the memories would be covered with translucent fabrics with text printed on them (text saying what actually happened), and the most important parts of the memories would be three-dimensional. I'm not sure what compelled me to do that, since I had only done one 3D piece before (my anglerfish chair) and it was an absolute bitch, but there you go.

So without further ado...the pictures!

There Were All These Ripe Apples

The first piece I did. The tree branch was tricky; my boyfriend helped me build a wire armature, which we attached to a piece of wire mesh stapled to a wooden frame. The flat piece was then stretched over the frame, with a hole cut in it for the branch to poke through, and then the branch fabric was hand-sewed around it. The apple was the most fun; I had to make four before I got one I was satisfied with, but I think it looks suitably juicy. I used cotton sateen, silk noil, tulle, silk gauze, mercerized cotton, and habotai silk.

The facts were these:
When I was three, my father died. My mother met her second husband when I was six years old, and after they had been seeing each other for several weeks, she took me to his duplex to meet him. He had an apple tree in the backyard that was absolutely covered in ripe apples, and I really wanted to pick them. So much, in fact, that I don't remember anything that was said or done; I just remember staring at the apple tree. Finally, he said we could go pick some. It was a great day. In retrospect, it was especially great, because I had just met the man who would become my adoptive father.

The Adoption Judge Was Kind of a Jerk

I did this piece fourth, but it comes second chronologically. It was the most three-dimensional of all of them, and the most challenging in that respect; I had no idea how one would go about constructing a human head from fabric. In the end, I built a skull from wire and gorilla tape, then just kind of winged it; I've actually got no idea how it came together, it was a miracle. I'm really pleased with it. He's pretty intimidating up close, actually; you might not be able to tell from these pictures, but his podium is curved outward, so he leans over you and glares.

The facts were these:
My mother remarried, and my new dad wanted to adopt me. I was very excited but also nervous, as we had to go to the courthouse and talk to a judge, since I was old enough to be considered a "free-will" adoption. When we got there, the judge was a huge sourpuss. He acted like he was presiding over a divorce or something, not a happy event like an adoption. He made me really nervous and uncomfortable, and I was happy when it was over and we got to leave. He always stuck in my ten-year-old mind as this looming cartoon villain, though I'm sure he was just sitting at a desk or something.

I Was Out of Bait

This one was the second one I did, and one of the most fun--ripples and water splashes are super fun to sew! It actually sits on the floor, so you look down on it, since it's supposed to be the surface of the lake I live on. The fish has a really basic mesh cylinder inside him to support him, and the rocks were made from wire mesh and covered with fabric.

The facts were these:
I went fishing out on Lake St. Louis with my parents one day. We had been at it for a few hours and it was getting dark. I hadn't really caught anything, just some little minnows or whatever. Finally, a fish stole my worm and I didn't have anymore bait. My parents weren't quite ready to leave, so I threw my hook back in one more time out of boredom, even without a worm. When they said we could go, I pulled my hook back up, and about screamed my head off because this absolutely HUGE bass was attached to it. It was the biggest fish I ever caught, and I wasn't even trying. I remember all our faces looking shocked, reflected in the water.

Down the Road, Not Across the Street

This one was the third one I did, and was the easiest technically, though it took a long time to sew down each of those tiles (they're individual pieces). It has the frame, but no armature, since none of the 3D parts actually stick out. This one got the most attention at the show, although about half the people were interested and half were disturbed.

The facts were these:
I had a friend in high school with some fairly severe emotional issues. She used to cut, starve herself, that kind of thing. She was an absolute slave for attention, and even though I loved her, she exhausted me. When I got a boyfriend, I guess she felt threatened or something. One night, while her parents were out of town and she was babysitting her little sister, I got a call from her sister that she wouldn't come out of the bathroom and there was red water coming out from under the door. I drove over there as fast as I could, broke the doorknob on their bathroom door, and found her lying in the tub, blood everywhere. She'd slit her wrists. I got her out and took them both to the hospital (her parents wouldn't come home from their trip--ugh), but then I realized something. She'd tried to kill herself once before, and she knew the direction you're supposed to cut to kill yourself. Yet this time, she cut the wrong way. It bleeds a hell of a lot and is really scary, but isn't likely to kill you. I figured out, both by my own deduction and by talking to her, that she had done it for the attention...basically, to test her hold over me. I made sure her sister was taken care of, called her parents, then left and never spoke to her again. You want to help people, but there's a point when it just gets too toxic.

They Scattered My Brother's Ashes on a Beautiful Afternoon

This one went together very easily technically (I made it in the weekend before the show!) but was the hardest to work on emotionally. Still, it was fun to install the draped gauze cascading down the wall, and this was the general favorite at the show. Nothing tricky here, just TONS of silk gauze (maybe 10 yards in the clouds?) and very pale dye colors.

The facts were these:
When I was just about 16, my oldest brother, who was 32 and a commercial pilot, died in a plane crash. We still don't know what happened to the plane, though the investigators think it's likely that a bird got sucked into one of the engines. Either way, it was the worst thing that ever happened to me. I absolutely wouldn't have gotten through it without my wonderfully supporting boyfriend, who saw me through it all. A few weeks after his death, when the investigation was concluded, his friend, who was also a pilot, scattered his ashes over the airport he flew out of. It was an absolutely stunning day, the kind that would have made him sprint to his plane to be out in. Even though it was horrible, I was at least thankful for the weather, being so cooperative for his last time to fly.

Well, that's all the pieces. If you've made it this far, congratulations! A few bonus pics, just for fun:

My brothers and sisters. It's really awkward to take a picture around this freaking branch!

Facing down my childhood demons.

You wouldn't believe how many people did this over the course of the night.

I got pretty flowers! (Ignore my deranged expression.)

My family all came up in this massive van they rented. Funny story: on the way back, they stopped for gas, and found one of my co-exhibitors' friends sitting at the gas station. Their car broke down and they couldn't get home! So they squeezed 4 extra people in, and drove for three hours. Hilarity ensued.

Well, there you have it! Comments are much appreciated. Have a wonderful day! I know I will, because I don't have to work on all this anymore. Tongue
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