Monday, June 20, 2016

New Digital Collage. . .

Hello Dear Friends!
I hope your weekend was a nice one!  We have spent a great deal of it on our porch, eating meals there, reading, even doing projects!

I have been working on several projects recently and one of them is this new digital collage:

(As always, you can click on the image in order
to see it larger.)

This one is called "The Guest at the Wedding".

I made it from several images from the public domain collection of
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

I don't always know where my inspiration comes from, but sometimes a new project idea will form from lots of things I've been seeing, thinking about, experiencing, etc.  I started following The Woodrow Wilson House in Washington on Instagram (Mr. V and I got married there) and there was a picture of the music room and the gorgeous rich wall tapestry in that room.  If it had rained the night of our wedding, it's the room we would have been married in, instead of the beautiful, lush garden.  (We would have had the reception in the Presidential Dining Room, which is gorgeous, but not nearly as grand as it sounds.  You can't have an event of more than 36 people there, if you wish them to be seated.)  The colors of my collage and the scale of the background make me think of that beautiful tapestry.

As for the fruit sitting next to the wedding guest, I think I was inspired by one of my favorite paintings "El Jaleo" by John Singer Sargent.  It is one of the major pieces in the collection of the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum in Boston.  In this painting, a flamenco dancer whirls across a darkened stage, in front of a row of chairs, where the musicians are sitting.  If you look carefully, you can see there is an orange sitting on one of the empty chairs and that has always been one of my favorite details of this painting.

And, as always, seeing the beautiful images at The Rijksmuseum inspire me!  How wonderful it would be to visit there someday and see some of the works in person!  As you look through their online collection, you can make up your own collection to look at or use in projects later.  Here's mine.  Thanks, as always, to The Rijksmuseum for making so many of their wonderful works available to use for art projects!

Keep checking back, as there are more projects in the works in the world of The Tearoom this summer!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Summer...

Greetings to you again, Dearest Friends of The Tearoom!
I hope you are enjoying your early summer so far!  It is my very favorite time of the year and I spend many days, house-bound due to snow and ice, dreaming of my wonderful warm days on the porch.  Today, I bring you some cheerful pictures and memories of summertimes, past and present.

My current project is repurposing some of my old clothing into some new summer dresses and accessories for The Doll Family.  As I do this, I am flooded with memories as I deconstruct the dresses and blouses I wore on some of the hottest, most sultry, happiest days of my life during summertimes spent in Washington, DC.  As many of you know, I lived there for 15 years and so I spent 15 summers, sitting in front of fans, keeping cool by wearing linen dresses to work each day, walking home under verdant canopies of trees, past little gardens and brownstones, changing into shorts and tank tops in the evenings, making only cold meals from May 1 until sometime in October (I couldn't even think of turning on the stove in those months!) and generally just enjoying the wonderful weather and frequently jarring thunderstorms and downpours of rain!  The sound of the traffic outside my kitchen window as I made dinner and the metallic rattle of the cicadas made me happy!

Many nights, after dinner, I would take walks in Dupont Circle, my neighborhood.  I would walk to the fountain at Dupont Circle and sit on the marble edge, cooling in the summer breeze blowing the spray on my back, watched over by the three art deco marble figures which make up the base of the fountain.  Poets performing spoken word poetry or men who played the drums on stacks of plastic food buckets were common entertainment here.  Leaving the circle where the fountain is located in a small green park, I would wander into Kramerbooks, my neighborhood book store and browse.  I could stop by my favorite Starbucks (there are 5 in the neighborhood!), visit with friends and former co-workers, get a drink and keep walking.  If I didn't feel like cooking, I could go to Teaism, a lovely pan-Asian tearoom, get a bento box and an iced tea or ginger limeade and sit in their tiny garden and eat, surrounded by tall, flame-colored cannas.  Your dinner there is only complete if you get a big salty oat cookie and munch on it while continuing on your stroll around the neighborhood.

Summers are different now.  We jealously covet the few hot, and even warm, days we have.  We cherish a few lush green days spent on the porch, knowing we will have 3 times the number of days in the year that we won't even want to go outside.  We spend entire days, sitting in our Adirondack chairs, eating meals, reading, working on art projects, watching the hummingbirds fight over the feeders.  There are no cicadas (which delights Mr. V no end, but causes me great pangs of homesickness for DC) and the bird sounds, though they fill the air, are different here.  Instead of the mockingbirds, which mimic the car alarms in the city, the catbirds here chatter away with snippets of song, punctuated with "meow" in between, chirps, beeps and cackles.

Returning to our here and now, here are some pictures from our little garden porch from the last couple of weeks.  As always, please click the images in order to see them larger.

The beginnings of my little garden...a tomato seedling
and my old dolls teacups I used to soak morning glory and
nasturtium seeds.

A tiny memorial garden I planted to remember
my dear friend Cardie, one of my
Starbucks Family.
I know he sees it from where he is now.


A sunny morning on my porch.

Here are three members of my Doll Family,
wearing clothes I made for them!
On the left is Hyacinthe, the newest
member of the family, sent to live with us
from Liz, a new friend on Twitter!
And of course, if you are a Friend of The Tearoom,
you already know Thursday and Baby Hoobert!

Hyacinthe sitting in front of the pansies.

I made her drop waist 1930's-inspired dress
from one of my linen dresses.
The collar is made from an old blouse,
which I stained with tea.
The dress is accented with ecru satin ribbon
and my signature mismatched buttons,
from my vintage button collection.



I found some shoes to fit her from an Etsy
seller.  I love their butter color with the lilac
and ecru colors of her dress.  I added more
vintage buttons to coordinate.

Here is Thursday,
wearing a sheath dress I made from another
of my favorite linen dresses from my
summers in Washington.
The dress was made from a flowered fabric
and I appliquéd flowers from a blouse I had
in the same pattern, only in a cream color.
Mismatched vintage buttons, 
vintage black shoes from Etsy and a jaunty
bow make her outfit complete.







And this is Baby Hoobert,
enjoying watching the birds on the porch!

He's wearing a romper I made for him from
some striped taffeta I found in my mother's
fabric stash.  I used some dark red vintage
buttons, which look like cherry candy to me!

Oh! A flower has his attention now!

A sweet baby.

A typical boy, he decided the dirt in the pot
was more interesting than the flowers!
Hoobert!  Quit that!!

We all hope you are having a beautiful day,
wherever you are!

Lots of fun projects coming up for me, so keep checking back often for more summer fun,
here at The Gossamer Tearoom!




Saturday, April 23, 2016

An Alien City and Its Unlikely Origins. . .

Greetings to you today, Dear Friends of The Tearoom,

I have always been fascinated with worlds which might exist someplace else.  When I was a little girl, I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up and there was a time when I answered, "An astronaut!"  I was told that girls didn't become astronauts.  I accepted that answer at the time, especially because my grandfather was an amateur astronomer (even built his own telescopes), and even he didn't think there was any reason that girls should be interested in astronomy!  Luckily for me, even though I had plenty of people telling me what I couldn't be, something in my head told me that I could do whatever I wanted to with my mind.  So, I now dabble in whatever interests me and see things through my own vision as much as I want!  I now place no limits on myself as to what interests me and I am certainly more enlightened when it comes to any ridiculous, if not dangerous, limits placed on anyone based on their gender.

(As always, please click on the image to see it larger.)

My collage today is of an alien city, perhaps located near that brightest star you'll see in the sky tonight.

I think the most curious thing about my collage today might not be what is about, but the source of the images I used to make it.

For sometime I have been fascinated by the botanical photographs of Karl Blossfeldt.  He photographed stems of plants, seed pods, blossoms and buds, very closely, with a camera he made himself!  I was able to find many of these images online at The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.  They very most generously have made 200,000 of their works of art available online in their RijksStudio and placed them in the public domain.  You can even save collections to use in your artwork or for future reference, as I have (take a peek at my collections here.) After looking at several of the Blossfelt photographs there, the wheels of my imagination began to turn and I began to think of these botanical artifacts as buildings in an alien urban landscape.  To see which botanical images inspired me in this work, take a peek here.  I also used several images from space from their site for the background of my collage.

Thank you, Dear Friends, for taking a trip with me through my imagination once again today!

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Bat Babies. . .

Greetings Dear Friends!
Some of my most creative ideas sneak in the back door when I am sleeping and I hardly hear them come in until I realize I am in the middle of them.  But others come riding in, making all kinds of ruckus, on the backs of other projects.  This was the case with my new collage sheet Bat Babies & Their Garden of Gloomflowers, for my Etsy shop Velvet Revived.  As I was working on my last collage sheet The Rootababies, I was getting ideas for making some kind of bat creatures as their play-mates!

And so, today, I introduce you to their world...

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

When the moon is full
The Garden of Gloomflowers is at its most morbidly fragrant...

Their scent attracts many creatures,
and I think I hear the quiet beating of leathery wings now...


Here comes one of the Bat Babies now, 
cute but creepy,
baby-faced creatures of The Night...


Let's get a closer look...


And, look, she is being joined by some of her sisters!

The Bat Babies and their flowers of Gloom can come
to live with you and make your art projects just a
bit gloomier by visiting my shop Velvet Revived!



All of my collage sheets, printable invitations & other
fun and decorative projects are available for
instant download, and therefore, instant gratification!

Oh, and by the way, I just finished the updating of
my shop!  I hope you like it!

I've even taken advantage of Etsy giving us more sections to
use by creating a "Digital Oddities" section for my
dark-but-fun creations!!


And now, back to the mental drawing board,
where my next dark idea is starting to pick at me...

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Sunday...

...and Happy Easter and Happy Springtime to all Friends of the Tearoom!  Wishing for lots of sunny days ahead for us all!


Little Victorienne has brought you some flowers to celebrate!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Rootababies. . .

Dear Friends,
I hope this finds you all well, enjoying cups of tea and formulating your plans for the arrival of spring!

Recently,  I have been researching which plants I would like to plant in my container garden on the porch this summer and I started thinking again about an idea I had had a while ago.  I was thinking about how kind of funny and creepy some root vegetables look.  So, you know me, as soon as I spot them, I feel compelled to follow those breadcrumb trails of creativity!  After finding some public domain illustrations of root veggies, I added some butterfly and insect wings and some images of doll faces (and even one from a spirit photograph!) and soon, I had discovered some new friends!!

And so, in celebration of my newest collage sheet set at my Etsy shop Velvet Revived, these are The Rootababies and this is their story:

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


Somewhere near here (or perhaps, far away)
there is an ancient abbey in ruin.

Covered in vines and overgrowth,
a mysterious group of creepycute creatures lives within.



There, behind the crumbling wall of the ruin,
there is a patch of bare ground,
frequented by a variety of insects and butterflies...

During the day,
these creatures lie in slumber underground.
But at night,
they come up from out of the Earth...






They are so curious about you!
I hope you won't mind if they flutter close to your face!


Here they are, 
emerging from their hideaway in the ruin,
fluttering happily away into the moonlight!

If you find these little creatures interesting,
they would be happy to come and live with you
and make your projects more creepycute!

Click here to be taken to my Etsy shop
Velvet Revived
in order to find The Rootababies!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day Tea Dance 2016....

Dearest Friends of The Tearoom,




Not everyone loves Valentine's Day like I do, but the Queen of Valentines hopes you are having a lovely day nonetheless.  Here's hoping that those who are having a day of gooshey red, pink and purple, mummified in doilies, wrapped in yards of lace, covered in cupcake crumbs will be able to share some of their joy with those who take a more cynical view of the holiday!

I do hope that all Friends of the Tearoom, the Covered-in-Cupcake-Crumbs Crew as well as the Cynical of Commercialism Crew will all join me on the dancefloor as I spin a selection of cynical as well as sweet odes to the day!


David Bowie
Strangers When We Meet


Crystal Castles ft. Robert Smith
I'm Not in Love


New Order
Bizarre Love Triangle


Scritti Politti
Perfect Way


Echo and the Bunnymen
Lips Like Sugar


Psychedelic Furs
Love My Way


Marc Almond
She Took My Soul in Istanbul (Blue Mosque Mix)

(Whew!  After so much dancing, you should have a piece of cake!)


(Images used in my collages from Tumble Fish Studios on Mischief Circus.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Tribute...


(As always, please click the image to see it larger.)

Dearest Friends of The Tearoom,
The collage above is the one I have finally finished in tribute to David Bowie.  

I was so very shocked and saddened to learn of his death very early in the morning on January 10th, shortly after it was announced by the BBC.  

I always admired him and his sense of innovation.  In his career, he constantly re-invented himself. 

As we now know, he was still creating art until only a few days before his death, in spite of being so ill.  As an artist, knowing this affects me greatly.  He leaves us with a tremendous gift of an enormous body of work, hours and hours, days and days of music, endless amounts of video performances, interviews and movies.  In this amazing time of digital information, you can surround yourself with his art and almost forget he is gone.  As I listen to his music and watch him online, one thing occurs to me:  To my mind, his parting gift to us was raising the bar as an artist, one last time.  He has challenged us all.  What can we do to devote ourselves to our art by spending every moment we can, perhaps even some of our last ones, making our art?  

UPDATE:  Please see my response to a comment by my friend Bill below for a note about something interesting I learned after posting this collage and blog post.

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!!