Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hand-bound sketch book

My husband asked me if I would make him a hand-bound sketch book.  I was very reluctant at first, because I usually only make smaller books.  But, since he asked....

I first started with an 18" x 24" sketchpad, 50lb paper.  I cut the paper in half, so I ended up with 12" x 18" sheets.  These I then folded in half to make each folio.  Six of the folios made up one signature.

I wanted to add a little more, so I used scrap-booking paper as the outer cover of each signature.  
 Unfortunately, the paper is only 12"x 12", so I glued two pieces together to make the correct size.

Taking a piece of paper, I marked off equal spaces of where I would punch the holes for threading. 

 Then the tedious threading... I only pricked myself one time. 
 This shows the signatures being added one by one.
 Next, I picked a fabric for the spine.  The first one on the left was what my husband had said he liked best when I showed him the new fabrics that I had just bought.

I used the cardboard that was the backing for the sketchpad as my book board. And then glued the fabric to the three pieces of book board using Aleene's Tacky Glue.  Do Not use a store brand of Tacky Glue, they are not the same - trust me.
 This shows the inside of the cover and the three pieces of book board.
 Again, I wanted to use heavy scrap booking paper for the outside of the cover.  They were not big enough, so I used two pieces and put ribbon on the seams to cover the joints.
 A view from the inside...
 Repeat on the backside....
 Having to glue in the bookblock (pages) is the hardest part, particularly with this size of a book.  I was so frustrated by this point, I forgot to put in the headbands (a little piece of cloth that goes at the top and the bottom of the bookblock.) Oh well, I probably shouldn't have said anything.
 The finished book!
This shows the scale of the new sketch book and the size of the books that I usually make.  I honestly probably won't do another large book, unless my husband asks again.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

October Featured Artists at Liquidambar Gallery

I wanted to let everyone know that I will be having two amazing ladies as the Featured Artists for October.  Beth Hayden, from Raleigh, NC. and Jo Lovvorn, from Hillsborough, NC.  The reception is October 7th, from 2-4pm.  We will have Andrew Kasab performing music and there will be complimentary food and wine!  Everyone is invited!

Beth Hayden:


Elizabeth Hayden was born and grew up in Wilmington, NC and began exploring the
arts through painting, collage, drawing, and set and costume design.
As a child she spent many years in private lessons with Hester
Donnelly at the St. John’s Art Gallery. She received her BFA in art
from UNC Greensboro in 1986
and an MLS from UNC Chapel Hill in 1990. After spending a number of
years living and working as a librarian in places as diverse as
Istanbul, Turkey and Houston, Texas, she once again returned to
painting as an outlet for her creativity and her love of art and
painting again became a passion. She was a founding member of the
Foothills Painters Guild in Hickory and has participated in shows at
the Wilkes Art Gallery, the Rockingham Fine Arts Festival, and as the
featured artist at the 2009 Wake County SPCA Fur Ball, their annual

Artist’s Statement:

I look for the way in which light illuminates the ordinary and

transforms even darkness and shapes into color. The world consists of
tiny snapshots made by an observer; the observer chooses how to view
this world. I try to paint things that I believe are sadly overlooked
in our frenetic society, putting my own snapshots of the world onto
canvas. Impacted by the fleetness of beauty in the commonplace and a
rapidity of life, where change seems the only constant, I feel that,
through art, time can be instantaneously frozen into intimate moments.

PLUS: Beth is donating 100% of the money from the sale of this piece, French Bulldog - $175, to the Carolina Tiger Rescue!!!! Thank you, Beth!  

Beth's pieces are available for purchase through November 25th, 2012, at Liquidambar Gallery and Gifts.

Jo Lovvorn:

Artist's Statement:

There is such a rich clay tradition in North Carolina and so many accomplished potters locally, that I feel fortunate to be a part of this very vibrant community. My goal as an artist is to embody the joy and sense of play I feel when working with clay whether I'm creating functional pots for everyday use or decorative pieces for the home. Most of my work is wheel thrown using high fire stoneware clay. Designs are created with slip and glazes and stamps and are typically abstract, sometimes primitive, and incorporate elements of nature. I am attracted to variations in form and strive for clean lines and designs that spatially fit each pot. The final glazing is done by layering shino glazes or by firing in a soda kiln. All of my functional pots are glazed with food safe glazes, and are dishwasher and microwave safe.

Each pot is unique. I do series of similar design, but no two are ever exactly the same and the designs are always changing. Every piece is created with attention to the way it feels in your hand or on your lips, to the visual pleasure it evokes, as well as its function. I want you to experience pleasure every time you touch it day after day, year after year.

Check out Jo's website at

Jo's pieces are available for purchase at Liquidambar Gallery and Gifts until October 28th, 2012. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Daily salad

Several of my friends have asked what I live on (eat).  I have Celiacs, but I am also highly allergic to wheat, and many other foods, including dairy products, plus, I do not eat beef or pork (for my own reasons).  I also do not leave my gallery for lunch.  I try to be good and take a healthy lunch, but that doesn't always work out.  I have found the easiest thing for me to do, is to prepare a large cold salad that I can take with me and leave in the refrigerator and eat on it during the week.  So, I thought that I would share.

When it comes to recipes, I do not measure.  Plus, this you could modify in so many ways to suit your tastes.

The first thing is to make a pot of Quinoa.  We buy quinoa in bulk from the market.  You fix it just like rice.  One cup of quinoa to two cups of water (I add a dash of olive oil, too).  Bring it to a boil, cover, turn on low and cook for 15 minutes.  Very easy.  If you are not familiar with quinoa, it is the only grain that is a complete protein, so it is like eating a big piece of red meat without all the bad stuff.
While the quinoa is cooking, I chop up three carrots, three celery stalks, and three cloves of garlic (yes, I love garlic).  I also dump in a medium size can (3.8 oz) of drained, sliced black olives, and a regular size can of salad beans.

I use the organic beans that are a mix of kidney, pinto, and garbanzo beans.  I have found a number of products that add wheat, but these do not.  These beans are a good source of iron and they are high in fiber!
Next, you mix in the quinoa.  I like to wait till it is a bit cooled off, because all the other ingredients are already cold.

Next I dump a bunch (I don't measure) of Balsamic Vinaigrette in the salad until it evenly coats everything.  I use the Kraft Lite BV, again, theirs does not contain wheat or dairy products.  Plus, the Lite doesn't have very much fat in it.
I eat my Quinoa Salad on corn chip Tostitos Scoops.  Because I do not add any salt to the salad, this gives it a nice flavor, plus adds texture.  I also add my hot pepper sauce to give it some zip.  (You can find that recipe at

This recipe can be modified in so many ways.  Add a can of corn or black beans instead of the salad beans, or .... (the list goes on and on).  But, if you want to add fresh green peppers, only add to the portion that you are going to eat right away.  The peppers can go bad quickly and it will spoil the rest of the salad.  Because this has the vinaigrette in it, the salad can last for quite a while. 

If you use all of the garlic that I do, make sure that this goes into a sealed container when you put it in the refrigerator.  If you just use plastic wrap or aluminum foil, your whole refrigerator will stink the next day!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My dog Biscuit 2002? - 2012, Aug 6th

I have wanted to write a blog about my dog Biscuit, but it has been very difficult to do.

Back in 2003, we had just bought a new house and we thought that we needed a new dog to go with it.  We were not really looking, but the family happened to be out at the local Petsmart and they were hosting an adoption event.  PAWS was one of the organization there.  John spotted Biscuit away from the rest of the puppies and dogs, sitting in her crate.  She was very shy and just looked a bit nervous.  John decided that was the one he wanted.  So she became part of the family.

Biscuit was a mix - her papers called her a "Tri-colored Beagle", but she was also something else (probably pit-bull).

Biscuit was a very protective dog.  She had been abused my a man and this made her my protector.  There was a pecking order in our house - First me, then her, John, Clint, then Nancy (she didn't like a second female trying for her spot.)
 Clint took this picture in 2005 and I then turned it into a painting.  
Which was purchased by a vet's office from Raleigh.

To me she was so sweet and lovable, but to others she was not so nice.  She did not like children or other dogs of any kind.  When we would take her for a walk people would want to pet her because she was so cute, but then she would bare her teeth and they would think differently.  We figured she was probably about a year old when we got her.  So, we really don't know what happened as a pup.

In 2006, the family went to Kenya for 6 months.  During that time my sister, Kim, from PA, took Biscuit to live with her and her family.  Biscuit loved it there and actually became friends with their dog Buddy. 
(This picture was just before she went to live in PA)

In 2008, we bought our river house.  Biscuit was most happy, running along the river, staring down deer, and      
just being able to be off the leash and be free.

She also loved the snow!

She was also a bit of a nut case.

You could always tell when she was happy by the smile on her face.
And she always had a way of breaking your heart with her puppy dog eyes when she wanted something.

In 2010, we had a temporary visitor, Mercy.  Mercy was the neighborhood cat that lived with us for the last six months of his life.  Biscuit really did not know what to think of Mercy.  Biscuit would growl and bark at Mercy, and Mercy would just purr and rub up against Biscuit.  Mercy was completely deaf and didn't know Biscuit was growling.  Finally, Biscuit just gave up and accepted this intruder.

In 2011, we started to build our new house on the river property.  Biscuit oversaw all of the workmen and checked on every detail - every day.   Since we were living on the property, we would take a daily walk to the construction site and she could do her inspecting.  
She was happy when her new dog-house was finally finished! 

It was about this time that she started having digestion issues.  She was a pure junk-yard dog and would pretty much eat anything she found in the woods.  The vet said that was typical of Beagles and not to worry.  Plus, she was over weight so we took her off her regular dog food and started more of a special diet.  Over the months she continued to get worse.  By August, 2012, she was losing so much weight. 

On September 2nd John took her to an emergency vet (of course this was over Labor Day weekend, so everything was closed.)  They did an x-ray and found a mass that appeared to be in her small intestines.  They gave her a shot and sent her home, telling us to take her to our family vet on Tuesday.

  Well, by Monday morning so was so week and wasn't even keeping water down.  The emergency vet told us we should take her to the North Carolina Vet School, in Raleigh.  When we got there they looked at the x-rays and decided she needed to have an ultrasound.  The ultrasound showed that the mass needed to be removed right away.   We were able to go in and say goodbye before she went into surgery.  She was so sad.  But, we thought that this would finally give her some relief.  

The doctors called after a 5 hour surgery and told us that they had to remove most of her small intestine because it was all tumorous.  There was more that needed to come out, but they couldn't do it, because that is a major source of blood.  But, they said she was strong and doing fine.

They called back at 1am and then again at 4am to say that she was doing worse.  Her incision had come apart because tumorous cells don't act like regular cells and there is really nothing to attach to.  They heavily sedated her so she wouldn't be in pain.

At that point the doctor said there wasn't any thing else they could do for her.  They could operate again, but  they knew it wouldn't work.  Plus, she probably would not live very long with all the tumors that she had.

This was one of the hardest decisions that I have ever made in my life.  But, I couldn't let her suffer anymore, even though I am so selfish and wanted her for myself.

You will always be in our hearts.  I miss you.

Monday, September 10, 2012

More Peppers - Green Bells

I last posted about all of the hot peppers that I have been getting out of my garden.  Now, it is green pepper time.  I end up picking about 15-20 peppers every couple of days.  I did take a bag full to the local watering hole so they could use them in a home-made soup.  But, there are still way more than we can eat.  Luckily, I happened to mention this to one of my artist/gardener friends, Michael Thompson, and he told me to freeze them. 

This is so easy - even I could do it!

First, just wash the peppers very well.

Second, take all the seeds, stems, and ribs out.
 Third, cut them into pieces.  I use my peppers mostly for stir fry, so I left them kinda big.  If you use it for sauces, you might want to cut them up pretty small.  Or do two batches, one big and one small, then you always have what you need.  Just place them on a baking pan and pop them in the freezer.  Since peppers are mostly water, you end up with little ice peppers.
After they have frozen (desn't take very long at all), just put them into a freezer ziplock bag and put them back into the freezer. This bag has at least 20 peppers in it and the bag is not full.

 Whenever you need some you can just dump out what you need right into the pot.

I told you this was easy!

Now back to the garden to pick another batch.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Special Artist - Janet Searfoss

I have been wanting to write a blog for a long time about a wonderful artist, Janet Searfoss.  Janet and her husband, Harold, have Searfoss Designs.  Janet's roll is the artist and creator behind these incredible pieces of art.  Harold's roll is the matting, framing, bagging and all the behind the scenes work. They make a great team.  

Autumn Sentinels - The original is at Liquidambar Gallery and Gifts for sale.

Janet's artform is Batik.  
"Batik is an art form dating back 2,000 years ago.  Batiks were found in 
the tombs of Pharaohs and are now associated with Indonesian culture.  
The Indonesian word "Batik" means "wax writing".  The wax resist 
process is also referred to as "Rozome" in Japan.  The Japanese 
version of batik consists of direct application of dyes and wax on silk.  
The Indonesian technique usually uses cotton cloth and does 
immersing into dyes and also direct application.  The wax resist process 
consists of applications of hot wax onto fabric using brushes and  
tjanting tools.  Tjanting tools are made of a wooden shaft with a metal 
reservoir with a tiny metal tube that allows wax to flow onto the fabric 
leaving  lines or dots..  The fabric is then immersed into dyes and on
the unwaxed areas accept the dye.  The process is repeated to attain 
each new color working from the lightest color to the darkest.  The 
waxed areas get bent and the cracks or fractures allow the dye to 
penetrate leaving fine lines of color referred to as "crackle" or "ice". 
Janet refers to the crackle as the thumbprint of batik.  The wax is 
removed through ironing the fabric between newsprint which absorbs 
the wax.  The finished batik is drymounted onto foamcore, matted and 
framed." (taken from Janet's website)

Carmel Snowflake - a new piece by Janet

What impresses me more than the beauty of Janet's pieces is the fact that she is so prolific.  Some of these pieces take Jane more than 100 hours of work, yet she produces so many in such a sort period of time.  She must just eat, sleep, and batik.  
Silent Hunter - another new one

Wing Swept - the latest

Janet creates prints from her originals.  She produces 100 of each size.  After they are sold out - that is it.  There are a few of the prints that are no longer available.  Please check out her website for all of the amazing pieces that she has done.

If you purchase from Liquidambar Gallery and Gifts, at 80 Hillsboro, Pittsboro, you will not pay the shipping and handling.  Also, Liquidambar has some of the prints that are no longer available on-line, such as:
Wind Break

Liquid Light

Photo Shoot at the Railroad

One of John's and my great friends, Scott, took us out to the old railroad station so we could shoot some photos.  As you probably know,...