Thursday, May 31, 2012

Summer jewelry by Alery

When I first saw colorful earring and pendants by Alery I instantly fell in love! Bright summer colors of Alery earrings radiate positive energy and make me think about ocean vacation, exotic flowers and refreshing cocktails at a beach.
I was curious about the technique and materials these bright pieces are made from. Thus, I simply had to talk to Avery and share what I’ve learned.

Could you please tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Valery and I was born and raised in Kiev, Ukraine. It’s a beautiful city with rich history and beautiful ancient churches. A few years ago my husband, our two children and I moved to California where we now live in a small city not far from San Francisco. I work in IT but in my spare time I turn into a jeweler.

How did you start?
I’ve always been into crafting and art. Over years I’ve tried different crafts, techniques and fibers. Finally jewelry making became my main passion. I started about six years ago with incorporating precious stones and beads into my jewelry. Later I moved to wire wrapping techniques and metal. Nowadays I mostly work with hot enamel. I love to experiment and to incorporate completely different techniques into my creative process.

What are your main sources of inspiration?
On one hand I’m inspired by the diversity and sophistication of nature. One can indefinitely contemplate intricate creations of nature finding something new and surprising every time.

On the other hand man made objects can be as beautiful. Apart from nature architecture and art serve as great sources of inspiration. The simplicity and elegance of minimalism where every shape and every line have a well defined meaning and purpose prompt me to create simple yet bright and colorful jewelry items.

Could you tell us about the technique you use in jewelry making?
The technique I use is called enameling. A metal surface is covered with a finely grounded glass powder. The surface is then heated to about 1450F so that the powder melts and fuses together. One can use either kiln of hand torch to heat the powder.

It usually takes a few melting iterations for a jewelry piece to be ready. With each iteration a jeweler can change the color of the glass powder, its quantity and transparency. As a result most of the pieces turn out to be one of a kind and completely unique as it’s simply impossible to replicate them.

The process of enameling offers a jeweler a lot of freedom for creativity and experimentation. The results are sometimes very surprising and unpredictable. I totally love it!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Art clock by Anna Gaponova

We all put a lot of effort into making our homes look beautiful and cozy. There are so many ways to add color and style to our living room or our kitchen. I’ve recently come across a very talented artists Anna Gaponova from ArtClock. Anna hand paints wall clock to create unique and special art objects.

Q: Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Anna and I live in Kharkiv, Ukraine. I’ve always been into drawing and painting. It all started as a hobby but later painting became my profession. My clocks are not just art objects. I paint on wooden plates and turn them into real clock that can serve both as a functional decoration and a piece of art.

Q: How have you come up with an idea of painting on clock?

I’ve painted my first clock two years ago. I had an old vinyl record at hand and decided to turn it into a wall clock. The process of painting and creating new clock-faces turned out to be so exciting that I’ve been making clocks ever since. Within time I substituted vinyl to wood and all my clocks have a wood base now. Since every painting is different and unique I hand cut all wood pieces myself. I don’t want to outsource anything and make sure every part of the clock is done the way it should be done.

Q: What inspires you?

I find my inspiration in folk, native ornaments and decorations of different peoples living all over the world. African, Mexican, Indian patterns and color combinations always serve as a huge source of inspiration for me. Everyday encounters can make me start thinking about a new image for my clocks be it a unique color combination or music accidentally overheard in a street.

My stylized drawings of elephants, turtles and fish serve as symbols of peace, love and happiness. I very much hope these images truly bring positive energy and luck to homes they settle in.

Thank you, Anna!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Unique and beautiful paper art by Anatoly Vorobyev

Paper is a unique material. It’s fragile, delicate on one hand and flexible, versatile on the other hand. Art pieces made of paper look timeless and amazingly beautiful. I’ve recently came across a unique artist Anatoly Vorobyev who works with paper and creates one of a kind paper cut silhouettes, shadow boxes and art paper cutouts. His art work is so beautiful and exclusive that I couldn’t resist posting an interview with Anatoly on my blog.

Q: How have you started your paper cutout adventure?

I first developed an interest in making origami and modular paper sculptures in 2009. Later I’ve switched to paper cutouts. It’s an ancient technique that has been known for centuries. Over time many nations have developed their own unique styles and approaches to working with paper. I’ve got so fascinated by the possibilities provided by a simple sheet of paper. We often associate paper with books and publishing and rarely think about it as an art object.

Q: What amazes you in the process of cutting paper?

I love to combine traditional styles and techniques creating something completely new and unique. It’s such a joy to see how step by step a plain and pure piece of paper is turning into an art object. I like to experiment, mix and try something new. Every step of the process is aesthetically very rewarding be it drawing a silhouette or cutting a piece of paper.

Q: What are sources of inspiration?

I spend a lot of time outside and nature is my major source of inspiration. Plants, birds, animals make me thing about my future designs. Folk ornaments, vintage lace, mythological creatures and characters of favorite books, music, movies are great sources of inspiration as well.

When I see an interesting ornament or a unique pattern I start thinking about paper and how this object could be turned into a paper cutout or a shadow box.

Anatoly, thank you for sharing!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Orange poppy seed cake recipe

While living in New York City we became huge fans of Sweet Melissa cafe located in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. It turns out there is a book that has all the recipes of the amazing pastry we used to eat in Sweet Melissa. We couldn't resist buying the book. My husband Andrei is an avid baker. The first recipe from the book he tried was orange poppy seed cake. Coming from Eastern Europe we love pastry with poppy seeds!

To bake the cake we will need:
1 whole orange; 1 cup of sugar; 3 eggs; 12 tablespoons (1 and 1/2 sticks) of welted unsalted butter; 1 and 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour; 2 and 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder; 3/4 teaspoons of salt; 1 tablespoon of poppy seeds

After we bake the cake we will cover it in a glaze. To make the glaze we will need:
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice; 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice; 1/4 cup sugar

We start with cutting an orange into pieces and removing the stem. In a bowl mix the orange (skin and pulp) pieces with 1/2 cup of sugar until pureed. Make sure no large pieces of orange remain.

In a large bowl whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and eggs then add the orange puree and the melted butter. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds. Gently combine both mixtures.

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Pour the mixture into the loaf pan. Bake for 50 - 60 minutes until a wooden skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Remove from the pan and let the cake cool.

For the glaze simmer orange juice, lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan for about 3 minutes. With a pastry brush apply the hot glaze over the cake while the cake is still a bit warm.


Monday, May 21, 2012

DIY How to make felted watermelon earrings

To make bright and happy summer inspired watermelon earrings we will need felting wool in bright red, green, white and black, soap, pure water and bubbled wrap paper.

To make a watermelon we will need to lay out wool in a shape of “hot dog”. First we cut a piece of red wool of about 5 inch. We mix red wood with a bit of black wool to make it look like our watermelon has seeds. On top of red wool we lay white and than green wool. As a result we will have a green wool “hot dog” that inside will have red, black and white wool.

Once our “hot dog” is formed we wet is with water and soak it in soap. As it gets wet and soapy we start rolling in on a piece of bubbled wrap. We roll it on a plastic wrap for about 15 minutes until it gets firm. The wool will shrink by about 30%. Let our felted piece dry well.

Our next step will be to cup our “hot dog” into equal parts. You can cut it with scissors. As a result we will get round pieces of felted wool that will look like freshly cut watermelon. If you attach pieces of felted watermelon to simple earrings hooks you will get nice and fresh watermelon earrings.

The watermelon earrings look fun and bright. They will be a truly hand made item as I doubt you can buy anything like that in a jewelry store. The fact that you've created them with your own hands will make watermelon earring even more special.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

DIY How to make city style felted bracelet

I have recently received beautiful wooden beads as a gift. They are of a cylinder shape and dark tan color. I don't have anything like that in my beads collection and I felt instantly inspired to create a summer themed piece of jewelry or a light and bright accessory using these beads.

The color combination of pure white and brown is my favorite. Accessories in white and dark chocolate look stylish and classy. They go well with business or casual outfits.

To create a bracelet we will need felting wool in white and brown and wooden beads. We will also need a piece of bubbled plastic wrap paper, soap and clear water.

I first start with felting a white bracelet. On a bubble wrap piece of paper I lay out pieces of wool to form a rectangle. The rectangle will later turn into the bracelet. Since the wool will shrink I make the rectangle about 30% bigger that the original size.

Once the rectangle is formed I wet it with clear water and add soap. Once the piece is all wet and soapy I cover it with the rest of bubble plastic paper and start the process of felting. I stroke and rub the plastic helping wool fibers to bind and felt.

When the wool has felted well I rinse my bracelet in clear water and let it dry completely. With a piece of brown wool I make a felted bead by rolling a wetted and soapy piece of brown wool between my palms.

Once my bracelet is ready I needle down brown wooden beads. The color of wooden beads matches the color of the brown felted bead nicely!

The bracelet turned out to be very soft, thin and light. It's made of all natural materials and is very pleasant to wear. The felting technique is very eco-friendly as to felt an item one just needs some water and a bit of soap. No chemicals are used in the process of felting. To wear the bracelet one simply has to fasten the brown button.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Artisan rye bread Russian style

My husband Andrei is an avid artisan bread baker. He bakes all sorts of breads including baguettes and focaccia breads. However, our all time favorite is Russian style dark rye artisan bread. That's the bread we grew up with and the one that's impossible to find in any grocery store around. We would like to share the recipe with all the bread baking enthusiasts and bread lovers.

300g rye flour
250g unbleached bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
100g mother starter at 100% hydration (i.e., consisting of 50g flour and 50g water)
370g water


It's great if you have scales at home as bread making requires a high level of precision.
Give your mother starter a feeding 12-24 hours before you start. It makes sense to keep the starter at 100% hydration, i.e., to add equal amounts of water and flour by weight.

The process of mixing and baking:

In a bowl, mix flours and salts with hands. Add starter and mix in, breaking up starter to small chunks and mixing thoroughly with flour. Transfer to a Kitchenaid mixing bowl, knead using the hook attachment on medium-low speed for 5 minutes (or knead on a flat surface with floured hands). Coat a plastic or glass bowl with spraying oil, transfer dough, cover, let rise for 12 hours. Coat a bread pan with spraying oil. Transfer dough to a floured surface, shape into a cylinder equal in length to the bread pan. Transfer to the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for two hours. Pre-heat oven to 375F. Remove plastic wrap, and brush dough lightly with water, being careful not to de-gas it in the process. Bake for 45-50 mins, or until internal temperature reaches 200F. Remove from pan immediately, let cool. Slice and enjoy!

Rye bread is very healthy. It tastes great and stays fresh for up to a week. Back in Russia we eat it with all sorts of spreads including sour cream, butter, mayonnaise but the all time favorite is a slice of a fresh rye bread just sprinkled with a bit of salt.