Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The one with the Custom Order and other things

I was asked to create a couple of cakes out of paper boxes. Hmmm...yep, it took about three seconds to decide that that sounded like a great time! My poor neglected(and not half finished) tea set sits on the corner of my table waiting to be completed, but the cakes were calling, and what's a girl to do?

I love doing custom orders, because it's certain that you are creating something that someone else really wants. It brings a certain joy to creating that...well, a different kind of joy I guess. There's joy in creating anything, or most of us wouldn't put the time, effort, and love into our work.

I know of many artists out there, online and in real life that are such perfectionists. We just can't leave a piece alone, they day after something is completed, I know that I will critique it with my beady little eye, and just have to add one more thing...and that thing leads to another, and maybe just one more touch here... If we really charged by the hour for the work that we put into our pieces, most of them would be astronomical. I think many of us are famous for undercharging as well. But when you are doing something that you love, it just doesn't seem like work. I love my art, love creating so deeply, that I would pay someone else to just let me work for hours and hours.

Anyway, here are some photos, my custom cakes, and a couple of pieces for my upcoming show. If anyone out in Blogland is going to be in the Chicago area DECEMBER 8th and 9th, come to Bucktown's Holiday Art and Craft Faire, its guaranteed to please everyone, and there are some really terrific artists exhibiting.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Post #64...The one Where I Smooch the Mailman

Well, not literally (I doubt she'd appreciate it, LOL) but what a superdooper hyper-fantastic package she delivered to me, from my new friend Laura over at the Little Orange Kitchen. This was courtesy of Jenny Hernandez's (Miss Polka Dot Pixie herself)Storybook Swap. Liam and I were just giddy opening up all of the goodies, especially the to die for CHOCOLATE!! Laura sent some Malted Milk Balls, and some Chocolate covered Oreo's that were drenched in the thickest, richest, most melt in your mouth milk chocolate that I have ever had. Had Liam not been home, I'm not sure that I would have shared ;)

Check out all of this great stuff!! I had to borrow a few pictures from Laura, because we dug in so fast!! The wrapping was exquisite, and she even decoupaged the package with pictures from storybooks!! This is one talented chickie!!

Laura, I absolutely loved everything, the gorgeous magnetic bookmarks, with Bedtime for Frances, and Amelia Bedelia, OMG, so much goodness in one beautifully decoated box...LOVE IT!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Swappin' again! and Saltwater Taffy explained LOL

One of the things that I love about swaps is that you get to meet new people. My partner Laura (Polka Dot Pixie's Vintage Storybook Swap) of Little Orange Kitchen is such a complete darling!! She and I are from the same city, but she has moved away, so no Vince Vaughn sitings for her :( But she is just such a dear, her blog is fantastic, and her writing really just draws you right in. Her blog is the kind of blog that you want to have a nice cup of tea with, to really just sit back and enjoy. She is just as cute as a button, and if you've not had the pleasure of visiting the Little Orange Kitchen blog, you really must!

I had a great time making the bookmarks, truly such fun!! HUGE thanks to the amazingly talented Jenny Hernandez for hosting such a wonderful swap!!

I just uploaded some pictures of my sweet ones, so I'll share :)

Aidan is 14, Brendan is 11, Liam is 7, and Annalise is 5 :D :D

and this one is my Hubby, Pat, having some fun in the water

This last part is for my lovely friend Shannon from Paint Mine Pink. The Cotton and Candy swap was hosted by Shann, who is an Aussie, and they do not have Saltwater Taffy over there (and we don't have Fairy Bread over here, but I'm so glad to have learned about it!) Anyway, I've copied and pasted this from anycandy,usa.

Salt Water Taffy
How the beach-side favorite got its start
The exact history of how taffy came to be is still a mystery. Taffy has been part of American life since the late 1800s, and has been a beach-side tradition since it appeared in Atlantic City more than 100 years ago. Some say taffy appeared in the Midwest at county fairs even earlier. However, Atlantic City is known as the home of salt water taffy.

Many manufacturers claim a shopkeeper by the name of David Bradley was one of the first sellers of the candy. In 1883, a huge storm hit Atlantic City and flooded the boardwalk. Bradley’s store was flooded and the ocean water soaked his entire stock of taffy. In one account, a young girl asked if the store still had taffy for sale. Bradley jokingly told the girl to grab some ‘salt water taffy’. This is believed to be the first reference to salt water taffy. Today some recipes for salt water taffy call for a teaspoon of salt.

However, Joseph Fralinger is credited with popularizing salt water taffy. Fralinger observed sunbathers and boardwalk visitors and came up with the idea to sell salt water taffy. He figured tourists would want a reminder or souvenir of their vacation to Atlantic City. As an experiment, Fralinger boxed the candy and sold it one weekend. It was a huge success and the demand became too much for him to handle.

Competition was not far behind Fralinger’s success. Enoch James became Fralinger’s biggest competition around 1900. The James family moved from the Midwest to Atlantic City after hearing about the salt water taffy craze. James located his store near Fralinger’s shop on the boardwalk. Each shop had different recipes to advertise to visitors. When James came to town, Atlantic City’s first ‘taffy war’ started.

By the 1920s, salt water taffy was at the height of its popularity. More than 450 manufacturers were making and/or selling the candy at that time. In the early 1920s, John R. Edmiston obtained a trademark number for the term ‘original’ salt water taffy. After obtaining the trademark, Edmiston then asked the larger taffy companies for a share of their profits because they were using his trademarked name. The James brothers sued Edmiston over the use of the term ‘original’ salt water taffy. In 1923, the Supreme Court ruled the confection had been around too long and used by too many people to claim royalties off of the ‘original’ title.

Today salt water taffy is found mostly on the Eastern seaboard and is a popular treat for people to bring home after visiting one of those beaches. Taffy is also found in other parts of the country at some theme parks.

How is Salt Water Taffy Made?
The original process of making salt water taffy dates back more than 100 years. Skilled pullers would hang 10 to 25 pounds of taffy over hooks. When the taffy reached 5 to 6 feet in length, it would start to fall off the hooks. The puller would then pick the taffy up and put it back over the hook. The pullers listened for swish, smack, and slap noises to keep the taffy soft and less sticky. The process was typically done in plain sight on the boardwalk. A similar process is still used today when making homemade taffy, a great activity for children.

Most taffy recipes contain corn syrup, butter, sugar and some varying ingredients. The ingredients are melted down in kettles at a temperature between 250 to 270 degrees. The lower the temperature the chewier the candy, and the higher the heat the more brittle the candy. The ingredients are then put on a marble slab or pan and cooled. Once cool, the pulling process will start. The process of pulling the taffy over and over incorporates air into the mixture. The air gives taffy its unforgettable texture.

Eventually, the taffy will become harder to pull. When this happens, it is put on a marble slab or pan to hold its shape and then it is cut into pieces with greased scissors. Taffy should be stored in airtight containers to keep out the moisture. If any moisture gets into the candy, it will become very sticky.

The modern manufacturing methods have changed the way salt water taffy is made. Today’s taffy is cooked in large stainless steel or copper kettles and then vacuum cooked a second time. The pulling and packaging is now done with machines. This produces more quantities of taffy at greater speeds.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thursday already!

I can't believe how much the time flies when my kiddos are at school. I have all of these fantastic ideas floating around in my head, and I should have so much time to turn them into reality...but the real reality is, that it just zooms by!

Sometimes when I sit down to create, and I have many ideas in mind, I spend so much time deciding where to begin, that I do everything but begin :)

Today for instance,while pondering which project to start, I ended up washing the kitchen floor, cleaning my countertops, washing the tabletop...straightening up the living room (all good projects of course, but not very artistic) I did finally get down to business, but not with as much time as I would have liked. Tomorrow will be better ;) I've made a list of the things that need to be created, and I'm sticking to it this time (hopefully!)

Now in my Etsy:

I made this cute little banner yesterday, I'm so deeply into Christmas that poor Halloween is getting sidetracked.

I recieved a lovely package today from Shannon's (Paint mine Pink) Cotton N Candy swap, my partner was Sonya (from Love of Yellow Roses) and she spoiled me so! She sent me such an assortment of goodies, from Cotton Candy body wash (YUM!) to my favorite mouthwatering Swedish Fish, and everything in between. The cutest tissues that you ever saw, yummy fruity candy sticks, and jawbreakers of fantastic colors. The best was the adorable hanky tussie, full of pastel colored saltwater taffy. My kids were THRILLED with this swap, as was I! Thanks so much, Sonya!!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Now in my Etsy

Getting into the Cupcake spirit! I had so much fun making this. This is old school papier mache, strips of newspaper and glue, layers and layers, but man was it a blast to make. I love papier mache. I'm in the process of making a papier mache tea set, not sure if it will turn out, but I'm having such fun doing it.

I have a couple dozen faux cupcakes to make today, I'm doing an art fair in December and I want to get a head start on Christmas. Have a great day everyone!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Ava Grace Angels Auction

I found out about this little sweetie through Mica's blog (Garboodles Soup) and had to be a part of it. Poor little sweetie... If you haen't checked it out yet, there is a link on the side of my blog. I've said it before, and I'll say it again...the art community is the best community in the world :) :)

Here is my offering for the auction:

Thursday, September 6, 2007

How FANTASTIC is this!!

While perusing the world that is blogland, I happened upon the blog of my very favorite artists in the world! Of course, I am talking about Stephen and Bryan from GLITTERVILLE!

Since I bought my first Glitterville piece at Mona Lisa in Palos Heights, I have been such a fan. Last year when they were featured in ME's Home Companion, I was so excited!! Their work is one of my greatest inspirations, and is just the thing when you are feeling down. One look at one of their yummy sparkles and you can't help but become giddy with joy!

When you look at their work, its as if the whole world is a wonderful, whimsical place. For a while, you get to be a child again, delighting in the fabulous colors, textures, and humor. Their work is truly a joy to behold, and I was just so thrilled to find their blog.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

You've got to check out this Etsy Store

(First, Annalise pulled the winning name, and the Halloween cupcake goes to Mary Timme, from Bead Fluff :D :D Thanks a million, everyone!!! :D :D)

While browsing (which I spend WAYYYY too much time doing) I happened across an artist that I've not seen before, and oh my goodness her stuff is just so fantastic!! I had to write to her and ask if I could blog about her, and she said yes, so here we go! Her shop is Cindricksbabys.etsy.com (my links never work, sorry) and she just does the most imaginative stuff, I was instantly smitten!

Her work speaks for itself, so here are a few of my favorites:

Aren't they just the most precious? I love the freedom that she expresses, you can just imagine time standing still for her while she gets lost in her work, creating these lovely pieces. Like so many of us, she really enjoys working, creating, and getting her hands mucky. The best gift that we can have as artists (I think) is to have something wonderful come out from doing something that we just love, and when it is obvious to someone else's eye as well, it is a magical thing indeed.

Do check out her etsy, its a real treat!