Leather!

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I asked some friends if they could guess which new medium I recently got into – and none came up with the answer! We went through the long list I had played with – drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, sewing, knitting, pottery, woodworking, metal clay, jewelry, glass, metalsmithing – and when I said, “Leather!” Somehow it came as no surprise!

My love for leather dated back to when I was eight years old when my cousins from Toronto came to visit bearing a small leather wallet as a gift. I can’t remember the design exactly but will never forget the sweet smell of genuine leather and all the little compartments and pockets it contained. Yet it wasn’t until my sister bought me a Cartier wallet did I truly appreciate the premium craftsmanship of a high-quality leather piece.

Finding Beatrice Amblard was a total coincidence through Google for classes on working with leather – and was not even the type of techniques I was looking for. But as soon as I found out that a Hermès trained master artisan was teaching the centuries-old craft of refined leatherworking right in my neighborhood, I simply couldn’t pass up this amazing opportunity! Moreover, within 12 hours of my finding Amblard Leather Atelier online, I received an email from my sister with a link to the EXACT same workshop! (To learn more about Bea and her incredible work, check out this wonderful article – she’s the last artist featured so scroll towards the end.)

Without further ado, we signed up for the non-commitment evening class and on our second class, we opted to do the all-day Saturday workshop when the new 12-week session starts in October! To say that we are hooked is an understatement!

Our first project is a card holder – completely crafted by hand! – something small so we can learn every step of each technique. I am a long way from creating that tote of my dream but I sure am enjoying the journey . . .

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What sets this apart is the finishing of the edge containing four layers of leather!

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Finley – My First Portrait!

After my last blog post on my Craftsy’s class project, I went searching for a subject for my own colored-pencil portrait. I just so happened to come across a picture of Finley, the most adorable boy of one of my students, Vanessa. Children are much easier to draw than adults – pigmentation and wrinkles require a lot more work! 😉 With Vanessa’s approval, I immediately dove in, especially since I just received my new set of Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils!

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I think I am ready to draw an adult next! …

Colored-Pencil Portraits

I have been drawing since I was a little girl. In high school and college, I always had a sketch book with me and my favorite subject was pencil portraits using photographs in magazines as a base. I can’t tell you how many times I have drawn Brooke Shields!

After intense drawing and painting classes in both undergraduate and graduate schools, my love of drawing was cast aside by life’s other more pressing matters. Once in a while though, I’d still dust off those neglected pencils and did a few sketches but the urge never lasted.

Then came the Craftsy’s class Step-by-Step Photorealistic Colored Pencil Portraits with Karen Hull. I first discovered Craftsy classes for knitting and then expanded to jewelry making when I started doing metalsmithing. I also love that Craftsy is not subscription base so I can go at my own pace as well as go back and watch the video classes as often as I like.

I have always wanted to work with colors – did acrylic and pastels in school – and although I really would love to get into oil and watercolor, colored pencils are more suitable for my lifestyle at the moment due to its ease of use. No set up or clean up – just open the box and go! And “go” I did!

Karen recommended Faber-Castell’s Polychromos and Caran d’Ache Luminance pencils for their light fastness but I couldn’t wait and just used what I had old Prismacolor and some Derwent. I did take advantage of the sales and purchased some Polychromos and Luminance for my next project! 😀

Step-by-step I followed Karen’s detailed instructions on drawing a girl named Katie…

As soon as I did the first lesson on her left eye, I was hooked! I did the right eye the same time as her left (yes, there’s a lesson on the left eye but I have never been good at following instructions in sequence!)

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I skipped ahead and did her lips next (did you expect otherwise? ;0)) …

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Then her nose… Karen’s instructions on seeing different hues and layering the colors to shape are invaluable!

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And finishing her face

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Even though Karen said the lips were the hardest, I was most worried about her hair.

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With the potential wax bloom of the Prismacolor, I decided to not worry about covering the tooth of the paper and called this drawing complete – for I am anxious to try my newly learned skills on a subject of my own!

 

Sibylle Shawl

Sibylle Shawl is a large deep-crescent shaped shawl based on the Herbert Niebling’s pattern of the same name. Sibylle is worked from the top down with increases throughout the body. The original pattern, in half, is a half circle. I added patterns to the two edges for a softer deep-crescent shape. I hope to continue modifying these amazing designs – Sibylle is the fourth one after Quadratische Decke (QD), Pfingstrose (Peony) and her sister, Simply Peony, and Blattkranz (Leaf Wreath) – into a shawl shape with well illustrated charts and clear instructions so more knitters will discover and enjoy the magic of Niebling.

Sibylle uses approximately 985-1020 yards / 900-930 meters of heavy-lace-weight yarns. It may also be knitted in lace-weight yarn (765-820 yards / 700-750 meters) for a more open look, or fingering-weight yarn (1095 yards / 1050 meters) for a denser fabric, and even larger shawl. Sibylle may be knitted with or without beads.

Join us in our Ravelry group, enVision, for a Sibylle knit along this month!

 

Tish
Test knit by Tish

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Enchantment Series

Have been busy melting glass getting ready for the International Society of Glass Beadmakers annual conference, The Gathering, in Las Vegas end of this month. This will be the debut of my Enchantment Series at its Bead Bazaar – an all-artisan-glass show on Saturday, 1 April.

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This one is the extra large size at 40mm / 1.57 in!

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A group shot for size comparison:

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An Exceptional Evening at Benu!

There are six Michelin Three-Star restaurants in the Bay Area with three – Saison, Benu, and Quince – in San Francisco. Needless to say, reservation at these restaurants can be difficult. We were lucky to actually manage one at Benu last evening with only a five-week in-advance booking (neither Saison and Quince had availability thus making the decision easy).

Benu offers prix-fixe Asian-inspired cuisine and its offerings exceeded all of our expectations. It was truly an extraordinary evening of creative culinary delights.

We also did the (shared) beverage pairings and enjoyed sake, Riesling, Grüner, beer, Madeira, Pinot Noir, and Côte-Rôtie throughout the evening but for the life of me, I can’t remember what was served with what!

The evening started with “small delicacies” and there were many of them! Each was single-bite size yet Benu managed to introduce so many fabulous and complementary flavors within that one bite – we felt like a symphony was playing on our palates with each course!

First delicacy was a chicken “jelly,” mountain caviar

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It was followed by tuna “marrow” but none of us took a picture! 😉

Third delicacy was ankimo (monk fish liver), crispy bulgur wheat, ikura (salmon roe)

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Fourth delicacy was dumpling with pork belly topped with an oyster

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Fifth delicacy was Korean blood sausage wrapped in ika (squid) “sushi” (didn’t know blood sausage could taste this good!)

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Sixth delicacy was abalone and crispy abalone “liver”

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Last (seventh) delicacy was egg white custard, truffle, faux shark fin

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Whole-grain bread fresh from the oven served with tangerine-infused honey butter was followed – finally – by the first of our menu items! Wasn’t sure I was hungry at all by this time… but we did persevere! 🙂

Thousand-year-old quail egg, potage, ginger – it wasn’t quite 1,000 years but the egg did take six weeks to make

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Foie gras xiao long bao with house made soy sauce

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Uni (sea urchin) marinated in fermented crab sauce served with green onion Koshi Hikari short-grain rice

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Crispy frog’s leg, lettuce, vegetable sweet and sour (I skipped this due to my issue with frogs… don’t ask!)

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Steamed bass, fish maw, black moss

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Smoked quail (we were told that Benu works with a farm that has been raising these quails for the past 40 years, breeding them for a larger size, and picking the docile ones for their sweeter meats … )

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Served along with spring bamboo shoot

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Warm mantou (Chinese steamed bun) with truffle cream

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Sea of Okhotsk sea cucumber (I never liked sea cucumber until tonight!) stuffed with lobster

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Beef rib steak with assorted condiments – kimchi radishes, marinated fern with shaved cashew (sure wouldn’t want to be that sous chef shaving those wee cashews, one at a time?), and soy bean paste (the leftover from its house made soy sauce that takes 9-12 weeks – in the little celadon jar)

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Leafy crudités for dipping in the soy bean paste

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Consommé, shiitake mushroom, vegetables

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Omija (five-flavor berry – sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami), olive oil

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Fuji apple, bellflower root, acorn and chocolate (another miss on the photography!) rounded out our scrumptious dinner!

I recommend putting a Benu dinner on your bucket list – it IS that good!

First Online Bench Sale – Success!

My first online Bench Sale was week was a success! A heartfelt thank you for all your support! I hope to do one twice a year depending on my teaching, demonstration, and show schedules for I usually do not have enough inventory to do more than one venue!

I’d like to recap this momentous event with pictures of what were available. Happy to share that the majority of the items have already arrived at their new homes! 😀

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Enchantment Series
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Scheherazade Series
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Celestial Series
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Dragon Scale Series
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Forged Copper Leaf Shawl Pins

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Sterling Silver Interchangeable Necklace