Follow by Email

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I'll Trade You Two Whistlers For A Piccaso

I have a knack for getting into trends only after they are passe.

I recently heard about Artist Trading Cards. If you remember baseball cards as a kid you have a good idea what these are. They are cards the same size as baseball cards only they are created by artists. As near as I can figure out, it seems way, way back in the late 1990s someone made a bunch of these cards and gave them away. Other artists got in on the trend and the only stipulation was that the cards be given or traded, never sold.

As was inevitable the cards moved from the realm of art to the area of scrapbookers and rubber stampers. Which is not to say the cards aren't still lovely little things to have, they have just evolved from what they were.
I discovered them through some random google search and decided to try making some. The results were not bad so I decided to see if I could get in on a "swap".

Groups would host swaps sometimes as part of a quilter's convention or some other auxilliary activity. Artists or crafters would bring a supply of their cards, often linked by a theme, and trade them for other cards. There are on-line swaps where the crafter must send their supply of cards (enough to swap and one for the "pot") before the swap deadline. The swap organizer would then randomly sort the cards and everyone would get back a selection of cards from the other artists.

It seemed the cards were hotter than Matchbox cars and that crafters and artists everywhere were creating and collecting them. I decided I had to get into a swap but first I had to find one and then I had to make my cards.
Cards are made by several methods including rubber stamping, collage, paint and just about any other technique. Some are even made by computerized graphics. Cards can be made individually or a whole sheet of paper can be made into one design and then cut apart into the individual cards.

I found a swap organized by a beading shop not far from me. It was handled by mail. As directed I made my selection of cards - enough for the swap and one for the shop - based on the theme announced on the web site. I didn't cheat. I even tossed the "not good enough" cards and made extras that were up to my standards.

I sent off my cards as directed in the appropriate sized envelope with sufficient postage and a postage paid self addressed envelope enclosed. And I waited. I waited. Waited.

I never got my cards. I called the shop and was told they had never received them. I did check the web site a few times to see if any of my cards appeared in the postings but I never saw them.

That was my first and only attempt to swap them. Too bad because I made enough cards, according the the posted themes, for the next few monthly swaps as well. But I couldn't bring myself to send them. That's a lot of postage to let your precious works of art disappear into post office oblivion.

So I kept the cards and showed them to a few people. The best one, Turkey Girl, I gave to my sister. She loved it, of course, as I knew she would.

Maybe I'll make some more cards some day. They are fairly easy and quite a bit of fun. But I don't think I'll try swapping them unless I find a live swap, which isn't likely since nobody seems to be doing the swaps anymore. They seem to have faded away. Too bad. From the examples I have seen on the web sites, I would really like to have a collection of these cards, just for fun.

If you are reading this and would like to swap cards with me let me know. Maybe we can work something out. In the meantime, google Artist Trading Cards and marvel at the images.

Quotable Quotes; in the category I Don't Know Much About Art But . . .

"I've never believed in God, but I believe in Picasso."
Diego Rivera

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Say It's Only A Paper Doll!

When I was a kid we played with paper dolls. Didn't everybody? The kind we liked best were the kind you could buy at Kresge's. They probably cost less than a dollar or we wouldn't have been able to buy them. They were on the same rack as the coloring books. Whitman made those coloring books. They probably made the paper dolls too. I think the Little Golden Books were on the same rack.

The paper dolls were the punch out kind. I think you had to cut the clothes out with scissors, though. The clothes had those obnoxious tabs all around, the dolls had a half-moon thing that you had to insert into the feet to make the dolls stand up. The deluxe models even had a pocket in the back of the book to stick all the clothes so they wouldn't get lost. Right.

In Kindergarten and possibly first grade, there was a very high tech "paper" doll that had a velour surface. Her clothes were felt and would just stick to her without tabs. I think there was a wooden "paper" doll too. her clothes were like folded cards, joined at the shoulder, and slipped over her head. Look, Ma! No tabs! Those dolls were awesome.

I also liked the paper dolls that were published by Dover. Jackie Onassis paper dolls, Marilyn Monroe paper dolls, Princess Di paper dolls. Complete with replicas of famous clothing by Oleg Cassini and other designers. Awesome.

I went over to Chris's house to play sometimes. Playing at her house was like going to Disney World (I've never been to an amusement park, not even Edgewater in Detroit. I don't think Bob-lo Island counts). She had books that did not exist in my world - An Old Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott. Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield. Her dad painted pictures and these were stacked up against the walls in the basement. She played different games than we did in my neighborhood.

One day, Chris said we could play with her paper dolls. Fine, I love paper dolls. But I had never seen paper dolls like these. They didn't come from any book or any store. Chris and her sisters drew them themselves. These were charming dolls, hand drawn and hand tinted with colored pencils. Rosy cheeks, rosebud lips, flirtatious eyes, hair bows and clothes drawn on (no tabs). Chris and her sisters drew dolls in nightgowns, dolls in school clothes, dolls in play clothes, dolls in their Sunday best.

Then Chris showed me her doll house. Imagine if you will a Montgomery Ward catalog. Flip to the furniture section - beds, sofas, tables and chairs, desks, etc. Imagine a slit cut in each page. On the beds, a slit under the pillows. On the sofas and chairs, a slit where the seat joins the back. Chris would slip the paper doll into the slit and voila! Paper doll in bed; paper doll sitting in a chair; paper doll working at a desk. I was intrigued and amazed, as I was at just about anything Chris did.

Chris's mom's cookies were better than ours. Her school lunches were better than ours. Her bedroom was better than ours. Her books and even her paper dolls were betters than ours. Was I jealous? I was not! I went home and immediately tried to create exact replicas of Chris's paper dolls. Did I succeed? I did not!

I contented myself with my crummy 79 cent Whitman paper dolls and my "Portrait of Skipper" story book. Cuz I knew that next time I went over to Chris's house, I would get to see her awesome paper dolls again, and all her other awesome stuff. Life is good sometimes.

Quotable Quotes; in the category What She Said . . .

"I enjoy getting dressed as a Barbie doll."
Vanna White

Saturday, October 11, 2008

My Favorite Vegetables

I love to do green beans this way. I don't recall where I first found the recipe but as is usual I added the things I like, omitted the things I don't, and changed the rest. Now, it's mine.

I like to do most vegetables this way - green beans, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, just about any green (or cabbage-y) veg.

The first time I tried this recipe it was with a bunch of purple colored beans I had bought at the Farmer's Market. Remarkably, the beans turned bright green as they cooked. Could these be Jack's magic beans from the fairy tale?

Try these. I bet you'll like them.

Green Beans
(or asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, etc).
minced garlic - a clove or two
crushed red pepper flakes - shake some into the pan
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
Optional - hazel nuts, walnuts, pecans or pine nuts (the original recipe called for pine nuts and I found another that called for hazel nuts with walnuts as a substitute. I only use the nuts if it's green beans).

Usually, I just put everything in a skillet just big enough to hold it all, drizzle the oil over and let it sit there until I'm ready to start cooking. I get it ready in advance, have a martini or six, and then I just have to turn on the stove and watch the house burn down. No muss, no fuss.

Or you can heat the oil in a small skillet, add the garlic and red pepper flakes, being careful not to let them burn. Add the beans (or other veg) and saute over medium-high heat until the veg starts to brown and carmelize and become nicely glazed with the oil. Add the nuts about this time and stir and toss just until they toast - don't let them burn. Finish with salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.

When I'm doing Brussels sprouts I usually cut them in half so they cook through. I like it when the veg get really brown, even scorched in spots. For tougher veg like the sprouts, broccoli or cauliflower I might add a little water to the pan to help them steam and cook through.

These are delish. Enjoy them often. And for a real treat, do the beans with slivered almonds and serve alongside a pair of rainbow trout, dredged with seasoned flour and cooked in butter until done. Mmmmm.

Quotable Quotes; in the category You Must Remember This!

"It doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't add up to a hill of beans in this crazy world."

from the film Casablanca

Saturday, October 4, 2008

More Salad

Ann read the post about the grape tomato salad and gave me a "recipe" for another one. I love how something simple using two, maybe three ingredients and only common sense to prepare can be called a "recipe" but there you go.

This one uses bocconcini (those tiny little balls of mozzarella cheese) grape tomatoes and pesto. Make the pesto if you want or just buy a jar of it at the store.

Combine approximately equal amounts of the grape tomatoes and the bocconcini. Use cherry tomatoes if that's what you have and cut the tomatoes in half if you wish.

Dress with a goodly amount of the pesto, toss and pop this in the fridge. You want the flavors to meld so everything will be yummy and tasty.

This is one of those dishes that I love to take to a fancy potluck dinner or party. Everybody thinks you worked for hours to make it, or else that you spent gobs of money to buy it at one of those gourmet take out places. In reality, it could not be easier and is not too expensive (like the shrubbery in the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail). There, I've given you something to think about while you slice your tomatoes and toss the salad.

Quotable Quotes; in the category How Do You Make That Again?

"Recipe: A series of step-by-step instructions for preparing with ingredients you forgot to buy, using utensils you don't own, to make a dish even the dog won't eat." Author unknown