Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Triptich...

(I dedicate today's post to Calvin and Karen, a friend from the past and a friend from the present.)

Greetings, Dear Friends of The Tearoom!
I'm showing you a project that I have been working on for a week or so because today, it is done!

In the late 80's, I worked in a bookstore with a very sweet man named Calvin.  He and I clicked right away when we began to work together and we remained friends until his death from AIDS in 1992.  The summer I began to work in this bookstore with him, I had an interest in reading some classic books from the horror/thriller genre and read "The Phantom of The Opera" by Gaston Leroux and "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde.  In "The Picture of Dorian Gray", Dorian reads and is influenced by a "morally poisonous" novel.  The name of this novel was not revealed in the text of the book, but reading the introduction, I learned that Oscar Wilde had admitted that this book was the decadent French novel "À Rebours" or "Against Nature" by J.K. Huysmans.  I asked Calvin if he had read this book and he told me he had and encouraged me to do the same.  This decadent book was unlike anything I had read before and I found it fascinating.

Last year, I learned that one of my favorite musicians, Marc Almond, was starting a Kickstarter campaign to fund a musical version of this book he was composing with fellow musician Othon and poet Jeremy Reed.  I contributed to this campaign and followed its progress with interest.  The project was funded, the musical was produced and resulted in a lush, hallucinogenic and decadent musical interpretation of this book.

And so today, I bring to you the unveiling of a triptych of digital collages inspired by and dedicated to the artists responsible for this musical piece!  You can take a peek at the liner notes for the project here, at the official Against Nature website.

(As always, please click the images in order to see them larger.)

Marc Reading "Against Nature"
For the First Time

Othon and The Hypnotic Effects of Music

Jeremy Fashions Poetry from
the Fabric of Words

The frames I used for the collages were adapted from the title page illustration from a 1922 copy of "Against Nature" (or, as it is called for this edition "Against the Grain"), from The Internet Archive.

Other images for the collages came from the painting "The Yellow Scale" by Franz Kupka (1907), Valentine Grimm on Etsy, The Graphics Fairy, YouTube, Othon's website and Jeremy's Twitter site.

The flowers in Othon's and Jeremy's collages were modified from photos of flowers from my own garden.

A big thank you goes to Marc Almond, Othon and Jeremy Reed for their talents which made their project possible and inspired me to do these three pieces of fan art.

Finally, a hug and a big thanks to Karen L-W, my new friend and fellow Marc Almond fan, for making it possible for me to receive a much-cherished souvenir from the Against Nature workshop performance.  Thank you to all who were involved in this surprise for me!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

How Very Nice!

Dear Friends of The Tearoom,
One of the things I like the best about having a blog is how many lovely people I have had a chance to meet (in an Internet way, that is)!  One of those nice people is my friend Bill Charlebois!  He has a cool, art-oriented blog himself and does some super fun digital art and has even had online classes!  The thing I admire the most about Bill is that he is very good at following his creative muse.  Whatever is interesting to him at the time shows up in his work and I greatly admire that.  Right now, he is fascinated with chandeliers, the sparklier and twinklier the better (although Bill does a nice job of increasing the sparkly/twinkly factor!!)

Bill is an avid follower of my blog and was especially happy to visit during my recent opening of the museum from my imagination, "Le Musée du Divan Rouge".  He was so enthused that he created one of his recent chandelier collages in honor of it!!!  How beautiful it is!!!



You can find Bill's blog here and you can find out more about his classes here!

Hoping life finds all Dear Friends of The Tearoom well and following their respective muses!

(Speaking of which, I am currently working on three digital collages which are being inspired by something of interest to me right now.  Keep watch to see what I'm working on!)

Friday, December 25, 2015

A Cooking Lesson...

Dearest Friends of The Tearoom,
We greet you warmly once again and hope you are all having a Most Lovely Christmas Day!!

It is our pleasure to meet with you again, here in the atelier above the museum, for some hints and tips on making tiny miniature tea food, such as was served at our opening at the museum last night.  Such a beautiful night it was and how nice to have so many friends and family with us!

It's easy enough to find toy and miniature foods, made of non-edible materials, but I wanted to challenge myself to create edible food that could be served on doll's dishes.  I will admit freely to being inspired by some videos I found on YouTube where people cooked tiny edible food, sometimes over tiny stoves heated by tea-light candles!!  If you search "cooking miniature food", you too can be inspired!

The sandwiches served were a combination of my own creation and here is how they were made:

(Please click image to see larger.)

Enchanted Garden Tea Sandwiches

5 oz. chevre or cream cheese (I used a chevre flavored with herbs and garlic, but plain would be fine)

3 tablespoons of milk
A small handful of fresh dill, very finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

An unsliced roll (I used a mini baguette roll from Whole Foods, but any finely-grained unsliced roll will do)

Several very thin slices of small Persian cucumber
Several very thin slices of French Breakfast or Easter Egg radish
Several pretty leaves of baby lettuce
Several watercress leaves
Edible flower petals such as pansies, violas or nasturtium (optional) *

To make the chevre mousse, beat together the chevre (or cream cheese), milk, dill, salt and pepper until creamy.  It must be soft enough to pipe, so add more milk if needed.  After mixing, scoop into piping bag and set aside.

Cut several thin slices (approx. 1/4 inch) from the roll with a sharp knife, remove the crusts and trim so the pieces to 1 3/4 inch-2 inch square.  Cut each piece in half.

Assemble the sandwiches by piping the cheese mousse on one side of half of the pieces of bread.  Cut in half the radish and cucumber slices and overlap if necessary so that the edges show, but not overhang from the edge of the sandwich.  Do the same with the lettuce, watercress and edible flower petals.  If necessary, place small dots of cheese in between layers to keep the sandwich together.  Serve on a plate from a doll's tea set or an old-fashioned butter chip (a plate used to serve pats of butter).

Makes several sandwiches, depending upon the size of roll used.

*Please make certain that any edible flower you intend to eat has been grown organically, has not been sprayed with pesticides or chemicals and has been washed thoroughly to remove any small insects or specks of soil.  Also, please do not eat any flower unless you are certain it is edible, as some are toxic.




Dark Chocolate Icebox Cookie Cake
with Buttercream Frosting


1/4 cup softened butter (I prefer salted, as it accents the other flavors, you may use unsalted if preferred)
1/4 - 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
A few drops each of vanilla and almond extracts, to taste

8 Famous Chocolate Cookies or other thin wafer cookie

1 piece of plain, soft white bread

Whip the butter until creamy.  Add 1/4 cup of the powdered sugar.  Beat.  Add more powdered sugar if necessary.  Add the vanilla and almond extracts to taste.  Add more sugar or drops of milk as needed to make the frosting soft enough to pipe.

Start with one of the cookies and evenly spread the frosting.  If the center is thicker than the edges, make certain there is more frosting around the edges so that each layer will sit firmly together.  Repeat process until each of the cakes has 4 layers each.  With the edge of a butter knife, smooth around the edge of the cake so that the frosting looks even all around it.  Pipe frosting in a decorative design on the top of the cake.  Repeat the process to make the second cake.  Refrigerate cakes in a covered container along with the piece of white bread, torn into 2 or 3 large pieces*.  Place the bread around the cakes and refrigerate for 1-2 days.

After they have been left in the refrigerator to become softer for a couple of days, remove them from the refrigerator and with a sharp knife which has been run under hot water and dried, carefully cut each cake into 4 pieces (Please don't allow the cakes to remain out of the refrigerator for too long before cutting.  It is essential that the frosting remain cold and hard when cutting so that it does not squish out between the layers).  Serve on plates from a doll's tea set or on old-fashioned butter chips (plates used to serve pats of butter).

Makes 8 pieces of cake

*When my mother would make homemade cookies, if they had become hard, she would add a slice of white bread to the bag where she stored the cookies to add moisture back into them from the bread.  The plain bread adds no taste at all, only makes the cookies softer.  The purpose of adding it to this recipe is to make the cookies soft enough so that they can be cut without crumbling.




Tea

One of my favorite tea flavors is Vanilla Caramel.  It reminds me of a very Marie Antoinette-like tearoom in Paris where I had caramel tea for the first time.  I prefer mine with milk and sugar.  Of course, Earl Grey is always nice, as well.  The lovely bergamot flavor which makes it so special is actually from a citrus fruit, grown in Sicily.  This tea is also nice served with a slice of citrus in the cup, so for my tiny dolls dishes, I was challenged to find one small enough to use.  I found a small Meyer lemon and cut it into pieces.  It had a lovely flavor and was just the right size.  Also, slices of kumquat could be used.  Of course, you may substitute any tea that you prefer.  Tazo's Wild Sweet Orange would also be a delicious choice, should you prefer an herbal tea.  Serve in tea cups from a doll's tea set.




Thank you so much for attending my cooking lesson in making miniature edible food today!  I hope to be able to create more lessons such as this so that you and your own Doll and Animal Family can enjoy some lovely tiny meals together.

Wishing you all a Most Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve at The Museum

Dearest Dear Friends of The Tearoom,
My own Dear Family of Dolls & Animals and I would like to warmly greet you with wishes for a wonderful Christmas Eve!  Whether you are joining us tonight or at a later time, we are so happy you have chosen to join us for this happy occasion!

On this Lovely Christmas Eve, we welcome you to the opening of Le Musée du Divan Rouge (The Museum of The Red Couch)!  This lovely old space of red brocade and purple velvet and tiny, twinkling lights is a warming and welcoming place in which to view a very special exhibit tonight!  The Dolls & Animals have looked forward to this event for such a long time!  For tonight, the exhibit is one of a collection of many of my own digital collages from The Blog of The Tearoom, all displayed in ornate frames!!  And we do hope you will stay and have a lovely evening tea with us all as well after!

Everyone is so happy to see you here!  Thursday has a new dress and new shoes she would love to show you (or, perhaps, you saw her preview of her new outfit here yesterday)!  Joining her here tonight are Baby Hoobert, Mr. Mookie, Teddy, Brownie McNutt, Mr. Bear, Betty Boop, Baby Adin, Bebé Agnès, Bebé Noisette, Baby Petunia, Mr. Bun-Bun and Tulip.  They are all most excited to be joined by their Paperdoll Sister Victorienne!!  What a special occasion it is for them to all be together tonight!

(As always, please click images in order to see them larger.)

The first to arrive are Thursday and Victorienne.


Days to Come

(Bebé Agnès loves this one because it reminds her of
warmer days, of sunshine and pansies...)

Mommy

(Victorienne loves this picture of her Grandmother,
who now lives in Heaven.)

Violette & Victorienne


We are so happy that Bebé Noisette, Bebé Agnès and
Baby Adin could be here with us tonight!  They are
all original members of My Dear Mommy Cupcake's
Doll Family!  If you would like to know more about them,
you can read their stories here.

Joining them is Betty Boop, swaddled in speakeasy chic!

Word Salad
(This collage was one I made for a very early blog post
on The Gossamer Tearoom blog.  It was an illustration
for a poem I wrote.  You can read it here.)

Still Life with Plum

The Pansy Garden
(This is one of Betty's favorites because she loves how
happy Victorienne looks in the pansy garden!)

Teddy and Mr. Mookie are having so much fun
they can hardly stand still!

In the meanwhile, Victorienne is getting a big bear hug
from that big old softie himself, Mr. Bear!!
He gives the best hugs ever!

Balloon Vendor Two

Valentine Universe (The Universe of Love)

Balloon Vendor One

Baby Hoobert and Baby Petunia are here as well!
Such good babies they are!
So well behaved.
Their big sister Thursday keeps an eye on them,
but it's probably not necessary.
They are just quietly cooing to each other...

The Photograph
(Victorienne tells us that her favorite part of being part of
this collage was getting to pet the giant white kitty!)

Eugenie
(Mr. Mookie wants to know where the circus is located
where this beautiful lady performs her balancing trick!)

The Hotel Unusual
(Victorienne has just shared a secret about this interesting
hotel with Thursday.  She'll be sharing it with you soon...)

And just look who has just arrived!
It's Tulip and Mr. Bun-Bun!
We are so happy to see them here with us tonight!

The Fairy of Great Potential

Flying Fish

(Teddy hopes the next time Victorienne goes on an
adventure such as this she takes him with her!!)

The Halloween Party

Diva

Moonie Moon

As I mentioned in my recent story about Mr. Bun-Bun, many of my dear family are rescues and so they have stories they have never told to me.  Who would have known that our own Dear Brownie McNutt was a piano virtuoso!  Here he is, entertaining us with twinkly plinkly music from the toy piano!!



Plink Plink-a Plink Plink!!

And while we enjoy the lovely music, we will all enjoy a light evening tea picnic, right here in the museum!

Menu for Christmas Eve at
Le Musée du Divan Rouge

Enchanted Garden Tea Sandwiches
(baby lettuces, watercress, Persian cucumber, 
French Breakfast radishes,
goat cheese mousse with herbs on baguette)

Dark Chocolate Icebox Cookie Cake
with Vanilla Almond Buttercream Frosting

Vanilla Caramel Tea with Milk and Sugar

Teddy, Thursday and Mr. Bear are
so enjoying their sandwiches, cake and tea!

Victorienne is feeding Baby Hoobert and Baby Petunia
some cake!  What a helpful big sister she is!!

Tulip and Mr. Bun-Bun are so happy to be spending
time with their family tonight!

And here's everyone all together!
Such fun they have all had tonight!

Once again, we all thank you warmly for visiting with us tonight!  As a special treat, won't you please join us again tomorrow for a very special cooking lesson, where I will show you how I made the miniature edible foods we enjoyed here today!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Treats...

Dearest Friends of The Tearoom,
I have promised to share a recipe today with one of my lovely Twitter friends and so decided there might be others who would enjoy it as well!

It comes to me from The Embassy of Greece in Washington, DC.  When I first lived in Washington, I worked for an office where the Vice President would take us for a Christmas treat to The Choral Arts Society to see a performance of Christmas music at The Kennedy Center and then to The Mayflower Hotel afterwards for an elegant dinner, sponsored by a different embassy each year.  The first year I attended, the dinner was sponsored by the Embassy of Greece and tied to our goodie bags was this delicious recipe for Kourabiedes, a traditional Greek cookie, which has become a part of my Christmas traditions.  They are the perfect last-minute cookie gift because they can be made so quickly but also, are a lovely, delicate, not-too-sweet cookie, perfect with tea any time, so please don't save the recipe for just Christmastime!

Kourabiedes

1/2 cup butter (recipe calls for sweet,
but I happen to prefer salted)

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon of baking powder

Additional powdered sugar
(if desired)

In mixer, cream butter and powdered sugar.  Beat in vanilla and almond extracts.  Add flour and powdered sugar.  Mix until just incorporated.  Chill for 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  You may form the dough into 1-inch crescents for a traditional look.  I prefer to scoop out portions with my melon baller, roll them into balls and then flatten them to make small circles instead.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Cookies should be pale and not browned.  Traditionally, they are dusted with powdered sugar, however I generally skip this step and just serve them without.

Makes approximately 20 cookies.

A New Dress for Thursday...

Greetings to you, Dear Friends of The Gossamer Tearoom,
Today, I bring to you a special surprise, the first of my very special blog posts this week!  Tomorrow night, The Doll and Animal Family have a special treat in store as they ask that you join them visiting the opening of Le Musée du Divan Rouge!  Such a fun thing to do on Christmas Eve!  And on Christmas Day, won't you please join us again for a miniature cooking lesson?

Today, I am happy to give you a preview of the lovely new dress and shoes I have made for our own Darling Thursday, just for this special event tomorrow night!

I enjoy doing lots of projects of many kinds (as you will see in my posts over the next few days) and doing hand-sewing is just one of them!  When making new dresses for my dolls, I don't use patterns.  I basically just wrap the fabric around them until I can see what style of dress I want to make, cut and sew, cut and sew, until the dress emerges!

The dress I'm showing you today is a drop-waist black velvet dress, accented with black satin, inspired by fashions of the 20's and 30's.  It is decorated with a millinery violet on the shoulder and set off with a large black taffeta bow!

(As usual, click on the images to see them larger.)

For those of you who do not know Thursday's story, 
you can read it here.
She is not perfect, but then, no one is.
I celebrate her imperfection by sewing beautiful clothes for her!
She and her paperdoll sister Victorienne are truly the super-models
of my Doll and Animal Family!!









Below is a close-up of the shoes I altered to match
Thursday's dress!  I ordered some little vintage
shoes on Etsy and then added more millinery
violets and laces made of black organza
ribbon.  I wish I had a pair to fit me!!



Don't forget to visit us again tomorrow when
The Doll and Animal Family will have a fun
Christmas Eve adventure as they attend the opening
of Le Musée du Divan Rouge!

You can see more glimpses of Thursday's new dress,
as well as meet other members of the Family
you may not have seen before!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

An Invitation...

Dear Friends of The Tearoom, Old and New,

The Doll & Animal Family and I 
would like to extend to you an invitation...


We do hope to see you there!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

And Now, For Something A Little Darker...

Hello Dear Friends!
Anyone who is a devoted friend of The Tearoom knows that I vacillate between the sweet and the slightly sinister!  I love them equally, so after some of my sweeter recent posts, my darker side has requested equal time.

Another of my favorite contemporary illustrators is the talented and visionary Camille Rose Garcia.  I have been in love with her work since her singularly gorgeous re-interpretation of "Alice in Wonderland".  If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it!

I follow her work on Twitter and Instagram and was super excited to learn that she had a fun challenge, involving a printable mini-book, available as a download on her Big Cartel site!

The book is called "The Cabinet of Dr. DeeKay - The Hospital", the first in a series of three and the download comes with super-helpful and complete instructions on printing, cutting and assembling your booklet.  Then, the fun part of coloring her illustrations begins!!

(As always, please click on the images in order
to see them larger.)

I started the project by printing the pages on very nice resumé paper by Crane, which is a much better use for resumé paper, if you ask me!

After carefully cutting out the pages, I then started the cover by adding some Black Diamond Stickles on the lettering, as well as just a teeny bit of what I am calling "glitter-gore" on the roots of the tooth in shades of bright and dark red!  I also shaded the edges of the tooth.  She had recommended that we staple our books together, but I wanted something a bit different.
I punched holes in the spine of the cover and each of the pages and tied the book together with black and white twisted twine.  I love the way it looks!

I also made endpapers for the book out of black satin book cloth that I had stashed away.


Please forgive the blurriness of this picture, but it's the best way to show the colors that glimmer through the black of the Stickles.  I accented all of the pages in it for lots of dark glittery-ness!!

Also, I tinted the pictures in one of my favorite ways to work, using cotton swabs dipped in stamp-pad ink!  At a former job, I taught a class in rubberstamping and developed a new curriculum for the class, one which incorporated many altered book techniques.  Since that time, I have enjoyed using this technique on many projects.  It's not always the most precise, but sometimes I enjoy the freedom of it.


Here is an illustration of Dr. DeeKay, following his rather mad operation.  As you can see, I added more touches of glitter-gore to to his face, for just a touch more menace!


Here's a close-up of that picture so you can see the effects of the glitter more easily!  A bit of smudgy purple around his eyes just makes him a little bit scarier!!




This was a fun project!

And considering the time I spent in the hospital this summer, at least somewhat cathartic, as well.

Keep watching for the long-awaited announcement regarding the opening of Le Musée du Divan Rouge, coming very soon...!