March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!


Wishing you and your families
a Happy Easter
as we rejoice in the
Resurrection of our Lord Jesus!

March 30, 2013

Ronald McDonald House


What do the Philadelphia Eagles and Shamrock Shakes have in common? 
They both lie at the root of The Ronald McDonald House!


Sure, I've been hearing about Ronald McDonald Houses for years. I had recently passed one in Philadelphia, and thought I'd try to set up an interview for one of my "Let's Give Back" blog features. Little did I know the wonderful experience I was in store for!

I thought that this location was just a random one that happened to be in my neck of the woods. What surprise and appreciation I felt at being told that this location was the very first Ronald McDonald House in the world!


Beginnings - dating back to 1974:
Dr. Audrey Evans, a pediatric oncologist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, compassionately noticed the parents who spent many a night at their children's bedsides, and recognized a need for better accommodations. She envisioned a home-away-from-home facility and set to making her dream a reality.

Meanwhile, NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles’ player Fred Hill had a daughter being treated for leukemia at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, also in Philly. Eagles manager Jimmy Murray, wanting to make a donation to the hospital, was steered toward Dr. Evans. Together, they approached McDonald’s, suggesting that Shamrock Shake profits be donated to their project. 

McDonald's jumped on board, and as the saying goes, the rest is history. There are now 300 houses world-wide.


The Chestnut St. Philly location is in a grand house with amazing architecture, including original wood parquet and mosaic tiled floors, coffered ceilings, custom carved woodwork, and even a Tiffany glass skylight at the top of the staircase.




Chestnut St. has 45 guest rooms.
An addition was eventually built to offer area for expansion. 
Take a look at this fantastic children's treehouse play area!


A cozy living room area, made bright and cheery with an abundance of natural light.
Notice the nice patio outside.


A room was built with teens in mind. Air hockey, pool, and a TV area. 
There's a great workout room. Computers are available throughout the house.



This cute electric train display is a favorite among the kids. 
A group comes in regularly to decorate it for the season. 
Push button controls toot the horns, light the lights, and so on.


A large kitchen-dining area...


...with an adjacent play room.



An outdoor play area.


Watch this terrific VIDEO to see more!

To learn how you can arrange a stay, volunteer, or donate,
visit the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House website.

Thank you, Jen, for a wonderful tour.
Truly heartwarming.

March 28, 2013

Pearl River Mart - SoHo NYC


When we visit SoHo, the Pearl River Mart is a must. Such a great place to explore!
Asian themed. Three stories of merchandise. The variety is unbelievable.
Join me as I stroll through, and you'll get some idea of the variety of items they sell.
Words and photos really don't do the place justice, though. So much to see!




Firecracker decorations.

Pretty butterfly garlands.

Origami paper.

Home decor - shoji screens, lighting.

Colorful wood occasional tables, stools, trunks.

Sparkly embroidered satin slippers.

Gorgeous dresses.

Beautiful fabric.

Lovely paper parasols.

Pearl River Mart is located at 477 Broadway, NYC.
Here's their website.

Stop by if you're in the neighborhood!
You'll be in for a real treat!

March 27, 2013

Edamame Press

Lotus, Three Stages

I'm crazy about the rustic look of woodblock printing. 
The work of Amanda Gordon Miller at Edamame Press 
caught my eye as an outstanding example of this handmade craft. 

Listen in as I interview her. 
You'll enjoy seeing her prints, as well as the behind the scenes angle
she offers us with pictures of the woodblocks and prints in process.

Start by telling us some things about yourself, Amanda.
My husband and I live in Baltimore, Maryland with our two beautiful kids. We love to travel and spend time outdoors, and we strongly prefer warm weather. I'm a Resident Artist at the Howard County Center for the Arts. I recently moved into my new studio after years printing in our home basement laundry room, and I love my new space!

So, give us a brief definition of woodblock printing.
In a nutshell, a design is carved in relief on a piece of wood. The unwanted areas are carved away, and the raised, uncarved areas are inked and printed to create the woodblock print.

Fairy Woods in Winter

I appreciate that you use environmentally-friendly materials. Tell us about that.
As an artist, I'm committed to a nontoxic (or less toxic) art practice, which is safer for myself, my family, and the environment. Akua inks are wonderful because they are safe to use, easy to clean up, and they are incredibly high-quality inks, with intense, light-fast pigments and unique working properties.  I also choose natural materials, like wood for carving, and cotton rag paper.  I love responding to the materials themselves--the opacity or transparency of a pigment, the direction of the grain of the wood, the absorbency of the paper fibers. All these factors go into the final print.

Monarch Butterfly

Please explain your process of woodblock printing.
I start by sketching a line drawing on the first block. This is the "key block," which has most of the lines and details for the print, and will eventually be printed in black or brown.  I then carve away the negative space (the undrawn areas between the lines), leaving raised areas that will receive the ink when I print.  For the color blocks, I transfer the key block design to the uncarved blocks, then carve a separate block for each color, removing the unwanted areas and leaving a raised surface that will receive the ink.

On the Outside

I ink the carved woodblock with a brayer (an ink roller). The raised, uncarved surfaces receive the ink, and the areas that have been carved away remain clean. I print on a Conrad Etching Press. I place the inked block on the press bed, place the paper on top (lining it up with the registration jig), then roll it through. I print the color blocks one at a time, then print the key block last.

What is it about printmaking that you find the most rewarding?
I enjoy all the steps in the process, and the fact that it is such a process, with many steps and I can always jump in and work on something.  But my favorite step is definitely the printing: working on the inks and modifiers, mixing and layering the colors, experimenting and figuring the right combinations, and then finally printing the edition. That is the most satisfying part!

Sweet William

Tell us about your subject matter.
My subjects are landscapes and other organic subjects, reflecting an appreciation for both the grand beauty and intimate details of nature. Working from nature offers endless beauty and complexity to explore, showcases themes that are important to me, and ultimately creates a unified connection between my subject matter and my materials, which are natural and nontoxic.

Pine Cone, editioned Woodblock Print on Japanese Washi with Inclusions

What inspires or motivates you as an artist?
My inspiration is based in memories of time spent outdoors as a child and the need to reconnect with nature as an adult, especially as a parent, learning to slow down and view the world as my children explore it for the first time. The landscapes are places where I've spent time and made memories, whether during childhood or during my daily life or travels as an adult. There is often a certain plant, tree, or landscape view that catches my eye again and again until it finds its way into a woodblock print!

Barn and Dahlia

We thank you, Amanda, for sharing your love for woodcut printing with us.
It's evident that you are passionate about your craft,
and that passion really shines through in your work!

Experience more Edamame Press here:
EdamamePress on Twitter

All images used with direct permission from Amanda Gordon Miller.

March 25, 2013

Atelier Stella Ceramics


Personality plus! That's what these pots have.
Each one is uniquely created by ceramic artist Stella Baggott, at Atelier Stella in London, England.

First off, I simply had to look it up.
An atelier, so says, is an French word meaning
"a workshop or studio, especially of an artist, artisan, or designer."
Love that, don't you? Truly romantic.

Stella is a trained graphic designer and illustrator, but after taking a ceramics class,
she found a passion working with clay. What's behind her creativity?
She says this, "I'm influenced by Swedish and Italian potters from the 50's and 60's,
mixing the rustic use of patterns with the frivolity of character."

As we look at more of Stella's work, I dare you not to smile!











These items and more can be purchased at Stella's Etsy shop, Atelier Stella London.

Don't be surprised if her cupboard is bare, though;
she can't keep the shelves filled fast enough to keep up with her orders!
They're that popular! And understandably so.

All images used with direct permission from Stella Baggott.