Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Talent Lost

“Good night sweet prince: And flocks of angels sing thee to thy rest.”
      Wm. Shakespeare

Unless you are residing on another planet, you will have heard of the untimely death of the music superstar Prince.  He has been called “iconic”, enigmatic, and, above all, supremely talented.  Prince was a composer, performer, musician and choreographer. 

As I watched TV footage of some of his many concerts and performances spanning the decades from the 1980’s, I was struck not only by his musical prowess, but his ability to transform a concert into a magical, often overwhelming experience.  It could never be said that the artist was boring, dull nor uninspiring.  Part of this mystique came with the costuming of his productions.  I am, after all, inspired by textiles and costuming and stage presentations featuring, what were, in the beginning of his career, considered, by some, to be well over-the-top.  Many a “tsk” could be heard when describing his outrageous and flamboyant use of dress ( or in some cases, undress).    Today we are used to the pyrotechnics, elaborate costuming and gyratic choreography preformed at every sports event, awards ceremony or ribbon cutting dedication.  In light of today’s standards there would have be few raised eyebrows by his provocative stage performances.

I heard one of  his costume designers interviewed who expressed the joy of working with such a talented, artistic mindset.  Prince Rogers Nelson was an original.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Art Therapy

Art Therapy

While on vacation visiting my New Zealand relatives, I mentioned to my sister-in-law that I really needed the vacation.  Sensing some degree of stress on my part, she told me about an adult coloring book that was given to my mother-in-law for Christmas.  Apparently, I was the only person who had not heard of this trend to eliminate anxiety and stress.  While shopping at her favorite book/gift shop, my sister-in-law introduced me to a large selection of these art books.  I was amazed at the intricacy and variety of designs, so much so that I bought several different “Adult Coloring Books”. Amongst my selections were two books of textile designs and one of traditional Japanese designs.

I began with a book of William Morris wallpaper designs. (See my blog about Morris- William Morris, Textiles and Interior Design, 6/18/14)

Brooklyn Museum, Pomegranate Publications, 2009

I decided upon one of his monotone designs which I wanted to reproduce, as much as possible, in the original colorway.
Illustrated coloring page - Arcadia Pattern
Original Pattern and colorway
My effort

My other textile book presents Liberty of London fabrics ( see my blog, Liberty Style, 2/16/14) and I am researching the original fabrics chosen for the book.

While this might seem a frivolous use of time, I found the degree of concentration necessary to complete these designs actually provided  stress relief.  One of the most challenging aspects of this activity is choosing the art materials to use (I selected ink and brush for my first efforts.  Next, I will try watercolor pencils.)    Of course, changing the color palette creates an entirely different look and this would be a good exercise for any textile student.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Food and Textiles

Food and Textiles

As I have written many times, I love books and have quite the collection.  Of course I have my textile books and, for nighttime reading, mysteries. I recently started collecting old cookbooks as I find the history of food and the culinary arts very interesting.  I recently purchased an illustrated history, which is a compilation of very old recipes.  Several short recipes are supposedly from Roman times including one for “boiled parrot”.  The recipe ends with the suggestion that if you cannot obtain parrot ( I guess the local butcher along the Apian Way didn’t get his weekly order) you could substitute flamingo.

While reading through these cookbooks I noticed many recipes had names in common with textile terms.  Think “cotton candy”.  Here are a few of the many I found.  Perhaps you can think of others.

Red Flannel  Hash
  According to Eric Quale (Old Cook Books, An Illustrated Histtory) the recipe was created in Vermont’s Green Mountains and favored by the Revolutionary Green Mountain Boys.  It is made from mashed, cooked beetroots and potatoes, mixed with minced, cooked steak, butter, cream, onion and salt and pepper.
  Flannel cloth refers to the weave used, usually a plain weave, not its fiber content.  It can be made from cotton, wool and manufactured fibers.  The term “flannel” comes from the Welsh”gwlamen”.

Chiffon Pie
    Chiffon is a word that can describe either a cake or a pie, light textured and fluffy.  A professional baker invented chiffon pie in the 1920’s, and another professional baker invented the chiffon cake in the 1940’s.  According to Women’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, the pie chef’s mother was taken with the dessert named it “chiffon” as it reminded her of a pile of the fluffy fabric.  For lemon chiffon pie, one would need a baked pie crust, unflavored gelatin salt, sugar, water, lemon juice and grated lemon peel, eggs and whipped heavy cream.


  Chiffon fabric, originally made of silk but, today it can be made from manufactured fibers as well as silk and rayon.  Highly twisted yarn in plain weave produces a transparent, fine fabric which is durable despite its delicate hand.

Chantilly Cream
    Chantilly refers to fresh whipped cream with the addition of egg white and flavoring. It is more stable than whipped cream and maintains consistency for 24 hours.
     Chantilly lace is a bobbin lace from Chantilly, France and was a favorite of royalty.  It was originally made of black silk , but also famous for white silk “blonde”  Black lace was extremely popular during the ‘mourning period” of Queen Victoria and during the American Civil War..
Shawl of black Chantilly lace

Crepe is French for a very thin, delicate pancake sweet or savory, plain or stuffed.  The recipe calls for eggs, butter, milk, sugar, salt and flour.  A crepe is almost always made from white flour (crepe de froment) but can also be made from buckwheat (galette ) Galettes are nearly always served s a main course, not as a dessert.
(.David Lebovitz, My Paris Kitchen)

crepe suzettes 
    Crepe fabric is woven in plain weave from yarn which has been twisted in extreme degree under tension, giving the fabric a wavy appearance.  The fiber may be wool, cotton, silk or manufactured. 

Red Velvet Cake
   Anne Byrn, author of The Cake Doctor, searched the origin of this dessert with somewhat mixed results.  One source traced the recipe to the Waldorf- Astoria Hotel in NYC in the 1930’s.  However, it seems as if the Waldorf chef was only responding to requests of diners, finally asking one of the callers to send him the recipe.  Basically, the cake is a chocolate ( or German- chocolate cake) to which a bottle of red food coloring has been added to the batter.  The food coloring adds no flavor but a certain dramatic flair.  It has been noted that there are versions of this dessert in green and orange!
    Velvet fabric -  Perhaps originating in Italy during the Reanissance, velvet is a plie fabric which can be woven from a wide variety of fibers.  There are two methods of construction.  One method involves cutting wires inserted in the weft.  The wires cut the pile as they are withdrawn.  A more common method is the creation of a double cloth with separate pile threads joining the two layers.  After weaving, the pile threads. are cut.