I first heard of Philippine-made bobbin lace from a designer friend who had the opportunity to see these handmade confections at a bazaar. She wanted to include some bobbin lace pieces in my wedding dress, but time was our enemy and there just wasn't enough time for the lace to be made in time for my wedding.
That piqued my interest because I have recently realized how much work goes into handmaking lace. I looked closely at some pieces in dresses and in spools and I can't get over how intricate and beautiful they are. My ever reliable Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Needlework book has the basics of making bobbin lace and some simple patterns for small projects. Now I'm not a slave to tools and gadgets but I feel that embarking on a bobbin lace making project requires, at the very least, proper wooden pegs to produce good pieces. I have yet to find the appropriate peg nor the dexterous courage to start this project.
Bobbin lacemaking essentials from RD Complete Guide to Needlework
pattern for bobbin lace from RD Complete Guide to Needlework
I did however, find myself at the International Bazaar last weekend where I found the booth of WUTHLE (Women United Through Handcrafted Lace and Embroidery Inc.) with a breathtaking display of exquisite bobbin lace and quaint embroidered pieces. A lady was quietly demonstrating how bobbin lace is made at the corner of the booth. WUTHLE is a livelihood program that was started by a Belgian nun who taught ex-Hansenites and their relatives how to make bobbin lace and helped enhance their embroidery skills. At present, there are 50 women who depend on these crafts for a living.
Lady demonstrating how bobbin lace is made
I got some coasters for Php 140 each (about $3), not bad for something beautiful made by simple hands and an earnest spirit. WUTHLE also accepts orders for all sorts of decorative what-have-yous, from appliques for Barongs to placemats and pillowcases.
Bobbin lace coaster from WUTHLE. Sure beats my crocheted coasters!
If you're interested, you may contact WUTHLE at firstname.lastname@example.org, or snail mail at P.O. Box 153 5000 Iloilo City Philippines.
I came across this article about arranging bookshelves. This got me thinking on how I arrange my own books so I trooped over to the reading area and this is what I saw:
Old magazines I find interesting together with Terry, Harry, Sir David, A.S. and a snapshot from a friend's wedding...
my precious Make and Craft zines, my precious Bob Ross, Bill, Haunted (best gross-out book EVER), old organizer notebooks, button making machine, excavation toy...
Relic from a Spanish class I took, boy books, girl books, etc...
Lovely rocking zebra, colorful cocoa tin I got in a Bangkok grocery, Jules Verne and other mindprickling books...
children's books, a Wedgwood, polaroid from a friend's wedding...
my favorite Gocco print, art and science, a college class picture...
hardbound and heavier books, a wooden box from Thailand...
my Neil Gaiman shrine smooshed with project notebooks and journals -- sorry, Neil; and the box of a murano glass pen I dropped (sob)...
graphic novels, wedding candles and soon to be posted posters...
Egypt books and other what have yous...
my good friend, Sherlock and other interesting friends.
Hmm. I'm trying to be more organized, but I love how haphazard my bookshelf arrangement is; with the first couple of shelves arranged by genre and slowly getting unhinged as you go down. How about you, how do you arrange your books?
I don't know what came over me when I told my sister-in-law that I'll make the cupcakes for my niece's baptism party. I guess I forgot that I didn't have an electric mixer and that my electric oven can only accommodate a maximum of 12 cupcakes at a time, and that my cupcake pan's capacity is just 6. I woke up the next day barely able to lift my arm from mixing batter for 60 cupcakes.
With everything considered, it wasn't a total disaster. The cupcakes turned out nicely, a bit dense for my liking, but they were tasty little suckers. The only thing that didn't fare well was the frosting. I used the store-bought kind as I knew I'd be strapped for time, and it melted into a gooey, sticky mess come party time.
Here's my ever-reliable vanilla cupcake recipe from Chockylit (don't you miss her? I super do) who got it from Magnolia Bakery cookbook:
Vanilla Cupcakes from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook 12 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature 1 cup sugar 2 large eggs, room temperature 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/8 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup milk 1 teaspoon vanilla
1. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds. 2. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. 3. Add eggs one at a time, beat for 30 seconds between each. 4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl. 5. Measure out milk and vanilla together. 6. Add about a fourth of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine. 7. Add about one third the milk/vanilla mixture and beat until combined. 8. Repeat above, alternating flour and milk and ending with the flour mixture. 9. Scoop into cupcake papers about half to three-quarters full (depending on whether you want flat or domed cupcakes). 10. Bake for 20-22 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.
I am achingly enamored by Eliza Frye and her work, I want to marry her even if I'm female, straight and happily married. I can't stand looking at her work for too long because I ache with the beauty she produces -- I'm not even kidding. She sells hand-printed mini books, her paintings and other beautiful stuff. I want, I want.
While I was making caramel for Creme Caramel early today, I was fascinated with how plain white sugar turned into a golden, gooey, fragrant mess at the bottom of my pan. I've always been intimidated with sugar. As a child, I got burned by hot caramel and that experience effectively kept me away from cooking sugar for a good decade or two. I found some other interesting things people do with the good ole sweet white grains:
Amazing blown sugar:
Here's a how-to for pulled sugar decor (just ignore the super old-skool soundtrack and graphics)
It seems so easy, but I'm sure it takes a lot of skill to do that.
I've been so busy lately, I think I may have accidentally stumbled into the business of invitation printing. I bought my Gocco purely as a hobby, but I've been printing non-stop since December, mostly invitations for friends.
First one was for the birthday party of the mom of a good friend with a retro-funky theme:
I printed the text in my trusty old computer printer because I was afraid of using Gocco for text but the rest of the designs are Gocco-printed. I cut out the felt circles and affixed them with a grommet to lock the invitation flaps.
Next was my bestfriend's wedding invitation. They're fun enough to pick the photo stencil design (I was secretly hoping they'd pick that, so yaay!) and the rest, they gave me carte blanche.
I chose a scripty font for the text and gold ink -- I fearfully printed it using the Gocco this time, to great success -- on white parchment paper. This one turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself (heee).
I have another wedding invitation project in the works, I'll post it here when I'm done.
My husband and I are currently updating our apartment and in one of my furniture-hunting expeditions, I came across this lovely, heart-shaped gem of a small plate:
It was love at first sight. This little piece was in a display cabinet by the cashier and was behind other trinkets. The color called out to me, as I'm presently in a blue-white phase. I was afraid to ask how much it was -- it looked too precious to be cheap, and in a thrift store, you know that something that's encased in glass is bound to be valuable. I was enamored enough to ask and the shopkeep immediately brought it out and quoted a price. It was priced at Php 500 (a little over $10), which I thought was expensive for a thrift shop find and I was ready to put it down and do a little sour-graping. Just when I was about to ask the owner to put it back in the cabinet, she immediately added that it's now at Php 200 (about $4) due to the largish chip at the back of the plate.
I didn't care about the chip, I whipped out my wallet and gave her the money. I love everything about the plate, inspite of the damage. Upon closer inspection, I saw that the back is embossed with the word Wedgwood. When I was younger, I was enamored by a set of Wedgwood plates that I still think of to this day but I failed convince my mom to buy the exquisite set because a) it was horrifically expensive and b) my mom had plenty of dinner sets.
I researched some more of the one I just bought and I learned that I have a Jasperware, one of Josiah Wedgwood's enduring and popular inventions. Jasperware is a type of stoneware with a matte finish with white handcrafted embellishments and features ancient Greek or Roman scenes.
Here's a video of Wedgwood craftsmen making exquisite Jasperware by hand
Strangely enough, I'm not that interested in photography. I like taking pictures neat and fast without fiddling too much with dials, meters and all the little bits you need to think of when taking a decent picture; which is everything that my point and shoot does and really well, too. A couple of months ago, my best friend, who's a photography enthusiast, posted a video clip of Wim Wenders extolling the virtues of a Leica camera. I admire Wim Wenders' visual style and seeing him use an extremely retro-looking digital camera sufficiently piqued my curiosity. That and I was really getting sick of all the ubiquitous high-tech big-ass cameras.
I read through plenty of reviews about Leica and discovered that there is a sizable cult following for the teeny camera with the red dot. Professional photographers are always awed by the Leica and would almost genuflect at its presencse and gaze reverently whenever they see it. Japanese fans would rather poke their eyes out with a fork than take their prized vintage Leica out of its shrink-wrap plastic casing (I exaggerate, but you get the picture - pun intended).
With all this hype, how could I resist digging deeper into the Leica culture? I delved deeper into this and was astounded when I learned that a Leica is almost fully handmade and yet, it's not one of those unwieldy patch-up jobs. It is a true work of mechanical art that surpasses aesthetics; it ventures down into the hard-wearing and durability zones dominated by machine made products. Surprisingly, Leica is legendary for its durability and reliability, qualities that other cameras can only wish to have. And again, the Leica is almost entirely handmade. No wonder it has that enigmatic charm and enormous mystique (as well as a hefty price tag) associated with it.
This discovery stopped me from wondering why people are so obsessive over the Leica -- it's because it's hardwired in our senses to be drawn to something that was made by hand.
I've always believed that food made by your own hands tastes a lot better than anything otherwise. My mom is a firm believer of handmade and hand-prepared food and she'd mention that manually prepared food is superior in terms of taste, texture and quality. Of course, she'd been handling food all her life that she can actually tell the difference. For me, it's mostly romantic. Food is much more soulful when human skin touches it and I seriously think that a metaphysical part of the person preparing the food is incorporated in the finished product.
I came across this entry from Robyn of Eating Asia and I found the whole process of making something as mundane as rice noodles utterly poetic and romantic. A bit of warning - you may find the images disturbing if you're extraordinarily squeamish and/or a stickler for food hygiene.
One of the crafts I wanted to dabble in before was pottery. I have all sorts of pottery books I bought years before but I've yet to try it. Watching this video makes me want to seriously take up pottery.
I found some really nice strawberries at the grocery store last Friday. I bought two packs, at Php 48 a pack (a little over a dollar) and ate some of the fresh, sweet berries with a bit of deep, dark muscovado sugar.
The rest, I cut up and macerated in a splash of balsamic vinegar and a teaspoon or so of white sugar, as seen in a Nigella episode. I'm planning to make a gooey, fudgy chocolate cake and top it with the macerated strawberries. Perrfect.