Monday, January 28, 2013

Sketches from the Ball

While I would never claim to be that good at it, I do very much love to sketch at events where people are dressed up. It combines the delight of people watching with some artistic exercise, isn't as lazy as poorly-done photography (the only type of photography I'm currently trained in), and removes any awkwardness of attending an event alone. I used to be better at it, as demonstrated by some scans from the 2008 Ball [1] [2] [3]. My rusty skills in no way deter me from continuing to attempt it however.
Favorite Edwardian Ball 2013  Sketches
I had a lovely tiny black square book to work with this year, which I believe is an improvement... though I've a spot in my heart for the old now-filled-up sketch book which was tall and narrow with an ornate cover and magnetic clasp...

Some highlights & photos taken by a talented collection of random photographers:

  • Diver Helmet Man w/ Bowler was fantastic! He had a drink in his hand, a dapper hat atop his helmet, and what looked like a good attitude from my vantage point across the dance floor. Interestingly enough there was another diving helmet, though I think dapper hat man wore it better.
  • This year's Dark Garden fashion show was one of the best yet. The fashion line of corsets + dresses/skirts made me seriously re-consider my no-corset stance. Sadly I can never sketch these shows because I'm absolutely frozen in place with awe. There were in particular a lot of buckles and straps across corsets and skirts and lovely silhouettes that were snug on top and flared around the knees. [1] [2]
  • I am always delighted by the acrobatics at the Ball. This year had a talented silk straps act, an impressive rope/cord act done by a woman (I believe I've only seen men perform with it so far), and a far more amazing then initially expected bike act. There were other acts as well, but I've not found good photos of them yet...
  • I saw Holy Motors a couple days before the Ball... let me just say, it made watching her act a bit uncomfortable. That movie is really, really, really strange... that doesn't mean it's good, am not sure if it's bad. It's just odd to the point of being nearly nonsensical...
  • Did not like the music as much as last year, sadly. I saw Shovelman in passing but didn't get to listen to him play as much as I would have liked. Delachaux is an awesome DJ & I can barely stand to listen to Miz Margo string together more then 3 tracks.
  • The belly dancer was to die for. I believe her name is NagaSita. Her movements are magic. (I wish she had more appropriate music to dance to... like some killer techno)
  • New crazy costumes every year. Less Edward Gorey themed ones this year (no one in a giant iceberg, alas) but some very original ones stood out: gentleman frog & tentacle woman (sketched below and not be be confused with this other lady adorned with squid)
Alas, my black marker was lost rather early on the second night and let me tell you, you can not sketch at the Edwardian Ball without copious amounts of black ink. This wound up putting quite a cloud over Sunday night and sent me home before the end of the evening (that, and Miz Margo's DJing)
Edwardian Ball 2013 Sketches
Though none of them made it into scanned sketches, mad props given to the crew who posed upstairs in their stark black & white costumes without moving (or with minimal but continous movement). Enjoyable to watch, useful to sketch, good idea all around. Hope they carry it over to next year. Luckily my friend Suko attended with me on Friday night and took a lovely shot of both the model modeling and myself hard at work trying (but failing) to sketch him.
In closing, here is something rarely seen- an photo of me in full get-up. The outfit was more silly then usual, as is my pose. I compensated by wearing all black on Sunday.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Hectic Week

Last night and the night before was dominated by the Edwardian Ball. Good times were had, sketches made, and trinkets purchased. I currently have a minor headache though due to the lack of sleep so I don't feel like shuffling together all the scans and photos to go with it. Next post, next post...

Short version: it was fun- though not as fun as previous years. Lost my black pen relatively early Saturday night and there is NO way you can draw folks at the ball without copious amounts of black. Also- Friday has lots of stuff going on to walk about and see, but Saturday is all show for which I will always buy VIP tickets for. Why?

Edwardian Ball Balcony
My, what a lovely performance that only the balcony folks and a handful of the lower class can see!

My sleep depravation starts before this weekend though. Finally felt the crafting itch and spur of the moment like made this fellow.

Warm up project
That wasn't really what I had planned for the evening, but I'm happy with the results. More scorpion like then spider like, alas. Dug out a new soldering iron tip and practiced not sucking... looks like I need more practice (I've no complaint how the bug looks, but my joints are sloppy and my technique horrid) Did a better job this time with getting the legs to line up and whatnot. Magnets! Magnets solve everything! I used one to hold the fellow in place while I worked, which also happend to be the final offset hight from the surface I wanted so I knew the legs were all sitting correctly. It also helped that I soundly sanded and then wiped down where I was soldering to on the bullet casing.

Was happy to bring him into work. Nothing says "Rebecca sits here!" like little monsters and bullet bugs. Calming. Pleasing.

Where does Rebecca sit?
The fellow has already lost half a leg though- testament to my shitty soldering job. I think I'll bring the iron into work and just fix him there though. Walking down the street holding him is and odd feeling.
My new job
Work itself has been going well enough. Not sure what to say. Oh! I guess I could say that I've been making bugs at home and fixing them at work all week long. Ha! A joke! Bugs & bugs! Hahahaha.a...aha.... I'm going to take a nap now. My head hurts.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Starting 2013

A lot has been going on. One example: starting my new job at Rdio. There's a lot that will be going on. One example : this Friday & Saturday is the Edwardian Ball.

Tonight I went to Dr. Sketchy's. The model was lovely and her outfit crazy. The theme was the artist Basquiat which was... confusing.

Dr Sketchys : January 2013

Also there has been some gaming going on. While waiting anxiously for the next 4th Terminus game I've picked up FTL. Haven't beaten it yet, but I find the distraction it provides to be pleasing.

...sketches made during last session's game...

Friday, January 4, 2013

Natural History Museums

There are a couple facts that I don't mind restating over and over again. Have I mentioned I love my Kindle? Well, today's fact is that I love Natural History Museums. They're like zoos, only better! So much less guilt and the animals hold still so you can sketch them!

This year I managed to visit six Natural History Museums : Muséum national d'histoire naturelle (Paris, France), American Museum of Natural History (New York, USA) (been there before), Smithsonian (Washington D.C, USA), Muséum d'histoire naturelle (Geneva, Switzerland), Natur-Museum Luzern (Lucerne, Switzerland), Museum Mensch und Natur (Munich, Germany)

When I travel, I always look up two things at every location : yarn stores and Natural History Museums. Doesn't matter how many of them I've been to, I adore going to the next (or the same one again!) At NHMs I'm happy to wander and look, even if I can't read the signage... but I love even more the chance to sit down for several hours and sketch. A snippet from some travel ranting I wrote explains part of the not-sketching appeal :

... but in a nature or science museum, you are displaying information. Part of that display is equipment or dead animals, but how you show it and what you chose to say about it are in themselves a vital part of the exhibit. What you chose to show and neglect to mention- this is interesting. What is highlighted across a wide selection- interesting. It frames subjects in unique ways at each location, and it says something about the place you are visiting.

Why rant about that now? Well, Adam just recently made a quasi-spur-of-the-moment purchase (as much as someone like him can) and we now have a lovely, sleek, new Canon MG8220 Printer/Scanner. This means I can scan my lovely little backlog of sketches done at some of these museums!

Smithsonian     May 2012

Smithsonian : Rodents Smithsonian : Wildebeest
Smithsonian : Giraffe I've dreamed of going to the Smithsonian for many years and finally got my chance to this summer. Would have loved to spend more time there, but I also really enjoyed the other museums and monuments we visited while there. I gotta' say I was pleased with the layout of the NHM, the way there was lots of glass and open space around the specimens. It was far too crowded for sketching though, and I remember finding a nook with a good view to be hard. I especially loved my loose giraffe sketch, for which you can see the subject of in this photo. Good display layout

American Museum of Natural History     September 2012

New York NHM : Peregrine Falcone chick New York NHM
Have been here before, not one of my higher rated museums... This time some of the mammal halls were closed so I spent most my time with the birds. The taxidermy isn't that bad and I was able to sit out of most foot traffic while sketching.

There New York NHM : Prairie Grouseis a special place in my heart for friendly encounters I've had in museums while sketching. The first time in New York, someone handed me his card and we chatted about my sketching which he was very complimentary of. This time a young boy and his family came over. All but the father spoke some European language I was not clear on, but the kid didn't let that stop him. I handed over paper and pencils as I always do and he sat with me in front of the Prairie Grouses and sketched. (His choice bird was actually part of the illustrated backdrop, rather then one of the stuffed specimens which was... odd). He actually sat and finished his sketch, despite his siblings antsy-ness. The father was very supportive, which was great.

New York NHM New York NHM : Barn Owl

Museum of Man and Nature     November 2012

Munich NHM : Kleiner Ameisenbar

Munich NHM : SchuhschnabelThe best part about this museum is that it's right next to the Nymphenburg Palace which is worth a visit on it's own. Tiny, but delightful. Very open, lots of seating, almost no English. Meh. Win some, lose some. I spent all my time in one set of rooms and had burned myself out sketching before I realized there was another set of rooms with even *more* animals! There was a gannet and I failed to draw it! So sad! On the up side, I feel my sketches from here came out really well... freakishly well, given how rusty I was at that point...

I should note that while I sketched the Schuhschnabel (Shoebill) bird there was a video looping on the screen I used as a table. This meant I saw a cycle of cute little birds and then suddenly there'd be a monsterous closeup of the Schuhschnabel, face filling the screen and looking right at me around the edge of my paper, snapping it's bill. Turns out that those fellows are scary as fuck on the other side of a zoom lens when you're not expecting it.

Munich NHM
Munich NHM : Weissbauch schuppentier
Good times.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Meat cookies

My friend Suko hosted a Christmas cookie swap- my first ever. After consulting with Adam's mother on a number of traditional recipes, I decided to throw caution to the wind and cook in the Rebecca fashion.

The creative process went as such: I had a jar of bacon bits because I was at the grocery store one time and thought "Why not!" Nom nom nomThen T-3 days to cookies I had been making bread and while holding the fridge door open seeking inspiration, I came upon the jar. Day of cookies had me frantic for a guiding flavor ingredient. My essence of orange? Lots and lots of rosemary? What could stand up to and out amongst a sea of sweets? Savory! When everyone zigs, I must zag! And what gets more savory then delicious bacon? Done!

The sugar/flour/butter ratio was lifted from a cook book because while I have my ratio guide book I still have not produced success using it. The amount of bacon bits added was... random. Not really too taste since I didn't taste the mixture till long after. There was beet thrown in for color and then a dash (a half dash more then needed actually) of squid ink to even out the color (based on results from my mini test batch).

The cookies were rolled as thin as possibleCookies (since that's what the original recipe I lifted called for) and was an excellent decision. It keeps the bacon flavor frm being overwhelming and lets you nosh on as many cookies as you wish nearly gilt free. How can something so tiny be bad for you? It made cookie production obnoxious though. The dough is a bitch to work with and I had to freeze and re-freeze the dough nearly every step of the way. Mix, freeze, roll out & cut, freeze, pull off of wax paper & cook.

I used and immediately regretted my awesome dual unicorn cookie cutters for the cookie swap. This lead me to labeling them as "Christmas Unicorn Meat Cookies". Waaaaay to much work though. When I hacked into my frozen dough lump for the New Year's party friends were throwing, I went with the much simpler "roll out dough, slice cookies from it" strategy. Actually looks best when cut into thin strips but even that was too much work.

The following recipe makes a LOT of cookies... I'd recommend cutting it in half, if not more. Mix the sugars & butter, then mix everything else. Bake at 350° for ~14 min.
  • 1g squid ink
  • 99g white sugar
  • 226g butter
  • 40g brown sugar
  • 256g flour
  • 30g bacon bits
  • 37g finely grated raw beet

In other news, as I hurry to write this post, today Adam and I are currently at cooking 100% of our meals this year. Success! Clam sause, squid ink, linguine, and home made rolls. Here's hoping we can hold to our plan of one home cooked meal a week...

Home cooken'

In conclusion: MEAT COOKIES! SO GOOD TO EAT! ... so gross to make ...

Looks so tasty!