A good fashion photographer is hard to find. I know—I’ve produced too many fashion shoots to be considered a sane woman. (Being a part of fashion shoot is as about as close as you can get to running away to join the circus without actually doing it.) But I’ve been around the block enough to spot a good book when I see one, and if I could hire Scott Nathan, I would in a nanosecond. This west-coast-based photographer has it all: lighting technique, set design, good taste … and that most ineffable of photography skills, the ability to connect with the subject’s inner essence and bring that beauty out in the shot. Bravo! Check out Scott’s great work here.
Landon Godfrey sounds like she should be a poet, right? January 30, 2009
Why isn’t the art of poetry more valued in this country? I really can’t think of a more laudable profession, yet professional poets seem to be a vanishing breed these days. So it’s a delight to stumble upon one who is still plying the trade with diligence. Landon Godfrey is of that ilk. Just sample a few lines from her poem “Oklahoma:”
Orange trumpet vine
plaits through scrub oak
and a chrome-green hummingbird
labors at each fount,
the two-way seduction
rare it seems to me.
Scrumptious Hot Cocoa January 29, 2009
By Julia Pantoga
For the past month I’ve been on the road, visiting family. Along the way, I did plenty of domestic-goddess things including making a cake with three young children, “helping” a pre-teen clean his room (which mostly consisted of me sitting in a chair and bossing him around for two hours), making dinner with my nine year old niece, washing and chopping vegetables (several people enjoyed having someone around who loves to chop so much). One thing I didn’t do though, is write any of these columns.
Now I’m back home making hot cocoa for friends that are helping me shovel out my car from the snowstorm we had this morning. It is common these days to mix the chocolate sugar that you buy in the grocery store with skim milk and call it hot cocoa. I grew up making hot cocoa from scratch though, and from what I hear from my friends, it is something different entirely. Besides the recipe below, one tip I have is to quadruple the syrup portion of the recipe, use only one portion for the current batch of hot cocoa and keep the rest in a jar in the refrigerator, so that you’re ready for any hot cocoa emergency that pops up. I received fancy cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg as gifts for Christmas, so I expect the batch today to be awesome!
Homemade Hot Cocoa
Note: Cocoa and cinnamon don’t mix well with milk, so it is essential to do this step independently from adding the milk (you can only imagine what store bought brands do to the cocoa to cause it to dissolve so easily in milk).
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (this adds quite a bite; you may wish to use even less; but if you use your hands to add a pinch, be sure to wash them thoroughly before you touch your eye.)
2 tablespoons whole milk (if you have heavy cream, or even half-and-half, for this, use it! The higher the fat content, the better)
½ teaspoon vanilla
1. Measure the first six dry ingredients into a sauce pot. Blend together thoroughly. Remember, if you are using a non-stick pan, you must not scratch the non-stick surface with metal utensils. Use a wooden or plastic spoon or a plastic whisk (not only are scratched pans unsightly, you don’t want that toxic non-stick coating in your food.)
2. Add one tablespoon of the milk. Mix thoroughly into a course paste.
3. Add the vanilla and 2nd tablespoon of milk. Mix thoroughly into a thick syrup. Make sure the syrup is smooth (has no lumps) before storing it or using it in Hot Cocoa.
Syrup (recipe above)
4 cups whole milk
For garnish: chocolate sprinkles, whipped cream, wafer cookies, homemade marshmallows
With the syrup in the sauce pan, add ½ cup of the milk. Mix the syrup and the milk thoroughly before adding the next ½ cup of milk. Mix thoroughly again, then add the remaining 3 cups of milk. Heat gently, stirring often. Be careful here, you want to heat the milk, not boil it. When hot, use a molinillo (Mexican Hot Cocoa Whisk)l to create a froth and make the mixture creamier. Serve and garnish (if you must, I don’t; this hot cocoa stands on its own).
One Cool V-Day Card You Can Embroider January 28, 2009
I’m endlessly impressed by Sublime Stitching’s Jenny Hart, mainly because I don’t know anyone who can live in Austin while making embroidery hip and also be totally glam. All three are commendable, but how often do you find all this in the same package? Well, we can’t all be as cool as Jenny, but we can definitely work her cool projects. And this Itty Bitty Cupid Card Kit is just about as cute and cool as they come. Stitch one up for your true love (and for just $4.75!)
Indie Jewelry Designs: Oceano Seaglass January 27, 2009
Today’s featured merchant interview is with Christine Gable Epstein of Oceano Seaglass Jewelry. Christine’s jewelry is available at www.oceanoseaglass.1000markets.com.
Genuine sea glass started out as broken bottles and glass and is naturally recycled by the movement of the sea and sand. It has a natural frosted beauty of its own. Christine, who lives in Puerto Rico, uses those beautiful sea gems to create lovely one-of-a-kind, handcrafted jewelry.
I asked Christine how she found inspiration for her jewelry.
“When my sisters and I were little, our grandmother used to make clothes for our dolls. Together we would comb through fabric scraps, lace, rick-rack and odd buttons, out of which would come marvelous little dresses. The magic of “from nothing into something” really made an impression on me, and instilled a life-long lust for art supplies! Is there a better day than when your supply order comes? That little carton, so full of possibilities! Here in Puerto Rico, I get to hunt and gather seaglass. I love every part of the process: the excitement of finding a perfect piece, washing the salt and sand away, laying it in the sun to dry, sorting the shapes, and matching the colors. This handling of the seaglass IS the design process for me, when each found piece presents its gemlike qualities and I develop ideas about the type of finished piece it will become.
I live 500 yards from the ocean, and every free minute is spent there—in the water, watching my daughter surf, beach combing and walking our dogs. I also tend a little organic veggie patch with tomatoes, squash, herbs, and sugar cane. And since I’m not a native speaker, I’m always working to improve my Spanish-language skills.”
When you stop by her shop, you’ll see what a fabulous photographer she is, which makes her shop all the more attractive. Christine shares some photography advice for other merchants.
“Photographing seaglass is a bit of a puzzle. Capturing that magical translucence, but not washing out the delicate coloration and subtle texture is very important. Having been a stylist in New York, I really love shooting the photos, almost as much as making the jewelry! My advice to anyone who sells online is to take loads and loads of photos so you are assured of a few great shots—that’s what the pros do. A fabulous picture is really the most powerful selling tool we all have.”
Being a part of the Reclaimed to Fame Market, Christine is a strong believer in recycling, as are her neighbors in Puerto Rico.
“We live off the beaten path in a small fishing village. In our neighborhood, nothing goes to waste. If you prop up anything marginally useful next to your garbage can at 6am, it will always be gone by 9am. Very little gets ‘trashed’.
A lot of things in our daily life get reused for other purposes. All of our newspaper is shredded for mulch or laid down thickly as a weed blocker in the garden. Any plastic container not used for collecting my beach-finds is cut to make protective collars for vegetable seedlings. I really admire the recycling I see all around us here. It’s borne from a spirit of resourcefulness and inventive reuse.”
All artists have a creative process and here is Christine’s.
“It seems natural that I would wind up designing and making jewelry. I’ve always been interested in fashion, and my art school training serves me well in terms of working with color and design. Coming from a family of seamstresses also means that I have a love of anything tactile and a yen to do something useful with my hands. These things all contribute to the way that I think about and handle my materials.
Part of my process is built around awareness for the safeguarding of the environment. Oceano jewelry is handmade from recycled material because I want to unite my need to create with my views and beliefs. While I’m creating jewelry, I also keep in mind the notion that I am making tiny pieces of kinetic sculpture that interact with and respond to the wearer.
Adornment has been around since the beginning of human existence and it’s a reflection of the customs and societies in which it is worn. Choosing to wear something artisan-made and ecologically responsible helps you look good and feel good. And don’t we all need a dash of sparkle now and again?”
The Next Big Fashion Trend: Depression Chic Spring/Summer ’09 January 25, 2009
This post was originally written and published by Louise Sleigh of Catwalk Creative. Her boho chic Fall ’08 story continues to be in Athena’s top 10 hits, since Louise has a psychic prescience about what’s hot and the stock in her fab vintage/resale shop to allows you to get style on a budget. Can we say it enough: We love this practical fashionista from across the Pond! Read her Catwalk Threads blog here. Buy from Catwalk Creative here.
There is no doubt that fashion trends are dictated by many influences, from world events and the economy to what teenagers are wearing on the street and even the latest block-buster movie. It appears that our economists failed to see what was coming and yet top designers were already working both sides of the US stock market crash of 1929 to come up with one of my favourite trends of summer 2009. Yes, you guessed it – the next big thing is depression chic!
The Spring/Summer runways were awash with the most amazing trends ranging from goddess dressing to 80’s trash and vaudeville. An eclectic mix that will soon be heading to boutiques and high-streets the world over.
As mentioned, one of my personal favourites is the ‘depression chic’ trend (shown above) with insightful designers appearing to be one step ahead of the economists. Now how exactly do they do that? There were lots of sparkly flapper frocks from Alberta Ferretti and Aquilano Rimondi and sack dresses from Burberry and Bottega Veneta (more photos below).
If there’s one thing that every girl should be partying in during Spring/Summer 2009, it’s that perfect fringed dress or the style of clothing with that’s evocotive of the 1920’s and 1930’s. Here’s a couple of my own pieces which are currently for sale in my eBay store: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Catwalk-Creative.
Some other trends to look out for this coming season are:
80’s trash and vaudeville
Here are some of my favourties:
By Katya Moorman of StyleDefined
Suffering from mid-winter blahs and recession blues? Then the Stephen Sprouse retrospective at Deitch Projects might bring some much needed color into your life. Deitch, in collaboration with Louis Vuitton, provides an energetic and immersive environment that provides a brilliant introduction to this iconoclast.
Sprouse was famous in the downtown nightlife of the early eighties and hung out with the likes of Keith Haring and Debbie Harry. Before the explosion of hip-hop, Sprouse was on the tip of mixing street culture and high fashion: day-glo colors, graffiti and Warholian style screenprints. This exhibition is a fantastic overview of his work. In addition to his clothes the exhibit features Sprouse’s artwork and videos from the period. It is fun, fresh, and funky and seeing it made me ridiculously happy and hopeful that great creativity can happen in times of economic uncertainty. Go before it closes on 2/28
Good Morning, Starchild January 23, 2009
I have a new artist discovery in Starchild, and I don’t know quite how to describe his work, except that I’ve never seen anything quite like it before, which makes it indescribable. So I’m just going to let Starchild describe his work himself in this extraordinarily lucid recent excerpt from his blog:
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
This is a piece that I’ve titled “This Was England”. I recently got hold of some old wrestling posters from 1977. Wrestling was a big thing when I was a kid, every Saturday at 4pm on ITV we’d watch a bunch of fat old leotarded blokes squashing each other on the canvas. I remember the patriotism of the whole thing quite vividly. That, and my dad getting into it as he’d had a couple of pints in the afternoon. Unlike big, pumped up and brash American wrestling, this was crap “seaside entertainment” British wrestling. There’d be a load of grannies in the audience prodding the wrestlers with their walking sticks and shouting obscenities just beyond the range of the microphones. My dad took me to watch it live when I was 11. I’ve never sen him so excited. Even as a child I appreciated that these guys were playing the part of working class superheroes. Unlike the oiled up toned monsters of today, these guys would probably be seen in their local pub on a weekend. They certainly had the build of heavy drinkers.
Starchild sells his art at: http://www.blindangle.co.uk; http://www.1loveart.com, and is in an exhibition in London (“Mink Schmink” at the wilson williams gallery) details and photos here:
Take Your Knitting on the Road January 22, 2009
An expert knitter once said to me, “Knitting is my friend—I can take it anywhere.” Boy, is she ever right. I’m a sewer, but when I want a portable craft, knitting is my numero uno choice. And there’s a book created for exactly that purpose: Knit 1 for the Road by Margaret Nock (who knitted her way through inaugural day making chemo caps!). Margaret also publishes a companion blog for her book. So grab your No. 8 needles and hit the road!