1. There’s nothing ho-hum about Oregon-based ceramicist Sara Swink’s work. She creates human and animal figures that tease our thinking and beg interpretation. She takes something familiar and gives it a dreamlike, bizarre, or even humorous twist. Her distinctive pieces definitely compel us to take a second or third look.
Her love of clay began when she was eight, with the encouragement of a neighbor who was a potter. She learned to throw on a potter’s wheel, hand build and mix glazes in high school, even buying her own wheel with money earned cleaning houses.
Some twenty years later, she began taking ceramics classes, then studied art history, printmaking, drawing, and foundry work at several universities while teaching. Studying with Coeleen Kiebert (whose approach is to fuse artmaking with the psychology of the individual) was pivotal in shaping Sara’s work. Sara’s pieces can be seen as expressions of her inner psyche; there is a personal narrative that runs through all her art.
Sara opened Clay Circle Studio when she moved to the Portland area in 2006 and continues to offer workshops. Find out more about her classes at her official website, where you can also view a wonderful archive of available and past pieces.
“It is important to have a child spend time in the kitchen — the most secure, comfortable, loving place in the house. The smell of food cooking, your mother’s or father’s voice, the clang of the utensils, and the taste of the food: These memories will stay with you for the rest of your life.” ~ Jacques Pépin
Jacques Pépin once asked his then two-year-old granddaughter Shorey Wesen whether she liked blueberries. She said she loved them, adding that they contained antioxidants. This early precociousness regarding food wasn’t especially surprising, since both her father and grandfather are professional chefs, and her mother Claudine cooks for the family every day, using fresh ingredients either from their home garden or nearby organic markets.
From about the age of five, whenever Shorey visited her grandparents, she’d stand on a wooden box next to Jacques so she could “help” him cook. Simple tasks like washing the lettuce, helping to gather herbs from the garden, or passing tools or ingredients, made Shorey comfortable in the kitchen and more enthusiastic about eating the food she helped prepare.
Just as he taught Claudine how to cook in one of his PBS cooking series, Jacques shares cooking basics with 13-year-old Shorey in this accessible collection of 75 recipes, 36 of which have companion 10-minute videos hosted at Sur La Table.
This is less a “children’s” cookbook than a primer for novice cooks of any age, with simple and elegant recipes presented via clear, step-by-step instructions, beautiful color photographs, Jacques’s winsome line art, engaging headnotes full of tips and family stories, and occasional quotes from Shorey. Recipes were chosen in line with Shorey’s favorites and what she would have the most fun making.
The book opens with lessons on setting the table and good table manners, followed by sections featuring Hors d’Oeuvres, Soups and Salads; Eggs, Sandwiches, Pizza, and Breads; Fish and Shellfish; Poultry and Meat; Pasta and Quinoa; Vegetables; Desserts and Confections; and Decorating for Fun.
1. Ho ho ho and Merry Merry! Tis the season for sending cool holiday greetings to your nearest and dearest. What could be better than Clover Robin’s gorgeous cut paper creations?
Buy these individually or in sets of 4 large or 5 smaller size. There’s “Joy,” “Winter Hare,” “Festive Wreath,” “Jug of Festive Foliage,” and my favorite, “Teatime.” They’re blank on the inside and come with natural colored 100% recycled envelopes.
A beautiful, one-of-a-kind volume invites readers to marvel at the time, effort, and care that went into creating handmade toys, tools, and treasures of the past.
Whirr, buzz, hum. Before busy machines in factories turned out most of what we need and use, people crafted these items by hand. From a globe to a pie crimper, a butter churn to a rocking horse, this unique collection highlights fourteen one-of-a-kind objects — each one drafted, stitched, painted, or engraved by hand. Author Carole Lexa Schaefer draws inspiration from real historical artifacts to create thirteen short works of fiction, imagining the hands that might have made and used each item. Several artifacts can be traced to their origin, while others remain complete mysteries, making for a fascinating patchwork of fact, guesswork, and imagination. Illustrator Becca Stadtlander breathes color and charm into thishandmade history, bringing to life the different objects, people, and times. The result is a singular glimpse of everyday objects and treasures alike — back when such things were made by hand.
I’ve always been a fan of handmade, “heart-made” objects, and can’t wait to see this book. I love the blending of craft + history + a touch of fiction + Becca’s art. 🙂
1.Molly Hatch is always good for a pottery fix. Though I enjoy her other collections (heritage, vintage farm, bluebird), I’m partial to her ‘good thoughts’ pieces. No surprise, since I have a decided weakness for dishes that talk to me.
Visiting her website to check on new arrivals is decidedly dangerous, since there will always be something I can’t live without, whether it’s a mug, gift book, muffin pan, cute throw rug, or piece of stationery. Remember when I featured Bouquet in a Book and the Teacup Collection Note Cards? Yep, I’m a goner.
Agnes has a beak that can crush bones and arms and stretch wide as a car, but that doesn’t make her a monster! After she comes across a postcard, Agnes, a giant Pacific octopus, strikes up a correspondence with various other creatures below and above the waves. Readers will delight in this unlikely introduction to the octopus life cycle.
Love, Agnes has received a glowing review from Kirkus, which deemed it “the most engaging of the recent wave of octopus stories, for reading aloud or reading alone.”
Irene is celebrating all month long with octopus poems and art at her blog Live Your Poem. Check it out!!
“Bring on the Cake. We really want to Live.” ~ Maira Kalman
When a cake shows up, it’s party time.
Cakes enjoy stealing the show at our most important celebrations: birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, holidays, graduations. Fancy and festive, they know how to have fun.
But cakes don’t have to be luscious, layered, and laden with buttercream to make a lasting impression. As Maira Kalman and Barbara Scott-Goodman suggest in Cake (Penguin Press, 2018),it’s more about whom we share our cakes with and why.
The true deliciousness of cake? Baked-in love. For celebrations, yes, but even sweeter for life’s everyday travails.
With warmth, wisdom and her signature panache, Maira serves up a series of short, delectable illustrated vignettes, most culled from cherished family memories. These are interspersed with 17 of Barbara’s scrumptious recipes, each with a delightful headnote, some with Maira’s gouache paintings alongside.
Maira begins with “The First Cake” she remembers, a chocolate cake with a side of grapes, an after beach treat she enjoyed on the “cool stone tiles” of Aunt Shoshana’s terrace in Tel Aviv.
There’s her “Ninth Birthday” cake, part of a stellar celebration where “all the girls wore fancy dresses” and she was easily “the happiest one there,” and “The Broken Heart Cake,” which Shoshana baked to soothe Maira’s teenage soul.