Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Near and far, though not in that order

Image source.
If all is going according to plan, right now I'm on a plane headed for Scotland. (I really hope all will be going according to plan, and I dig being able to schedule my blog posts.) It'll be a little slow around here for a while, but I plan to return with memory cards overflowing with photos, some of which I will share with you, my fantabulous readers.


In other news, I was foolish enough to sign up to have a table for *three* days, June 4-6, at the Rose Festival. Ack! I sure hope some of you come by to say hello. There will be a ton of cool vendors there. Here's the info: 


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sewing reverse applique eyeball shirts with Creative Kismet

This week, How-to Tuesday is actually happening on Thursday, because that's when Regina from Creative Kismet is going to be on the Martha Stewart Show. She'll be showing everyone how to make these reverse-applique eyeball shirts: 

Be sure to tune in! (Check your local listings for times.) Also, if you haven't been to the Creative Kismet site, scoot on over and check out Regina's tutorials and projects. She's a sewing superstar and carves a mean stamp

[Update 6/09/09: Here's a link to the video segment and complete T-shirt instructions on the Martha Stewart Show website. Also, Regina is now selling eyeball shirt kits in her Etsy store.] 

Monday, May 18, 2009

Amazing 3-D resin paintings (video)

Wow, check out the 3-D resin works by Dustin Yellin in this Etsy blog video about the Red Hook Labs collaborative art space. Many of the works are paintings (volumetric tomographic paintings, to be precise) done on layer after layer of resin. The guy's a wee bit obnoxious in the video, but the art is so cool that it more than makes up for the goofy narration. 

More of Dustin Yellin's work can also be found on his website

[via Craftzine]

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Roomba art [Sunday shout-out]

In the past week this photo from signaltheorist has made its way around the internets: 

It's a 30-minute exposure of a Roomba's quasi-random cleaning path (the spiral part was the starting point). In case you're not familiar with Roombas, they're robotic vacuum cleaners from iRobot. People get very excited about their Roombas. They make videos of their cats riding around on Roombas. They dress the little gadgets up as horny toads or in Santa hats. They hack them. And they argue about the efficiency and randomness of the path taken by a Roomba.

But lately, people have been making cool art with Roombas, too. 

"Battery… dying…" by wonder wombat on Flickr. 

This 13-minute exposure captured the the Roomba's light changing from green to yellow as its battery power dropped.

"Robot art" by zim2411 on Flickr. 
And this one is actually a composite of 30-second images taken with a ceiling-mounted camera during 40 minutes of a Roomba's run. 

But Roomba owners won't stop with just photography. Nope. This Roomba makes a pretty cool Spirograph:

With all the Roomba hacking that goes on, I was surprised that I didn't find many more Roomba art projects out there. I mean, there are only 11 images in the Roomba Art pool on Flickr! Did I miss some? Let me know in the comments. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Make your photos look like miniatures [How-to Tuesday]

Image by Zevotron on Flickr

This adorable miniature train is not really a miniature. It's one of the many charming fake minis made with tilt-shift miniature faking.

Remember that photo I shared yesterday of the building with the cherry-blossom-strewn steps? Here it is again, as a fake miniature, next to the original:

I tweaked the photo using the website TiltShiftMaker. It's easy to do and somewhat addictive.

How it works

A hallmark of a true miniature scene is a shallow depth of field. Our brains see a scene with a central plane in focus and blur in front and behind it and interpret that photo as a close-up. When a photo of something that is normally large, like a football stadium or a landscape, has that same focus pattern, we still interpret it as a close-up photo, and see the scene as a miniature.

Fake miniaturization uses filters that selectively blur areas of your photo to imitate this tell-tale shallow depth of focus. It also helps that the colors in fake miniatures are often bright and saturated, which mimics the lighting and coloration one might expect in a miniature scene.

The process of digitally making fake miniatures is called tilt-shift miniature faking, but the "tilt-shift" part refers to physical tilting and shifting of camera lenses used to manipulate camera focus.

How to make your own fake miniatures

If you're lazy (like me) you can use the website TiltShiftMaker, which automatically creates the filters needed to selectively blur certain areas of your photos. The site allows you to control the placement and width of the band in focus, how much the focus changes, and how quickly it changes.

If you're slightly more ambitious AND you have Photoshop version CS or later, you can try making your own filters with one of these three tutorials. Here's a tutorial for Photoshop Elements users. And if you use the (free! open-source!) program GIMP, there's a how-to for you, too.

Now let's all sit back for a minute and admire this miniature vineyard of mine:

Oh yeah, and my miniature Central Park in spring:

And my miniature bridge-somewhere-in-Arizona-that-I-can't-remember-the-name-of:

Sure, these examples aren't the most artful, but you get the idea and now you can go do it better. Have fun with that shrink ray!

Monday, May 11, 2009


Schizoid weather and flurries of cherry blossoms can only mean one thing -- springtime in Portland!

The dogwoods are making up for some of the colossal storms we've had.

And how's this for a welcome home? (Not my home, but someone's. Probably several someones.)

I hope you're all enjoying a beautiful May, wherever you live. 


The past week has been a busy blur and I've ended up posting less often than I'd like. Posting will probably continue to be light throughout May, as I'll be on vacation in Scotland for the last half of the month. Yeah, it's a rough life… 

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Oatmeal cookies with rum-soaked cranberries and white chocolate chunks

Mmmm, how-to Tuesday is delicious this week. Here's my recipe for oatmeal cookies with white chocolate chunks and rum-infused dried cranberries. I suffered through a few incarnations of this recipe before I got it just right. It turned out best when I based it on Ye Olde Family Recipe for oatmeal-raisin cookies, which I'm pretty sure came off a Quaker oatmeal canister circa 1975. 

  • 3/4 c. butter (softened)
  • 1 c. brown sugar (packed firm)
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1-1/4 c. all-purpose flour 
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 3 c. rolled oats (not instant or quick)
  • 1 c. unsweetened dried cranberries
  • 1/4 c. rum (I used light, but dark should be fine)
  • one 6-oz. package of white baking chocolate (chips just aren't the same)
Start by soaking the cranberries in the rum in a glass or ceramic bowl. You can microwave them for 15-30 seconds to jump-start the infusion. Let them sit for at least 15 minutes (with microwaving) or up to 24 hours. 

While the cranberries are getting to know the rum, chop up the white chocolate with a heavy knife. You can microwave the chocolate for about 10-15 seconds to soften it a little so it'll chop cleanly instead of splintering. Yes, you *can* use white chocolate chips instead, but once you try this with white chocolate chunks, you won't want to. (And please, check the ingredients on your white chocolate! It should contain cocoa butter, not oil.)

Next, blend the butter and sugar together in a large bowl by hand or with a mixer. Add the egg, water, and vanilla and blend well. Add the flour, salt, and soda and mix again. 

Next, add the oats and stir by hand. Drain the cranberries (save any extra rum -- pair it with club soda and a dash of lime for a yummy mini-cocktail). Finally, add the berries and the white chocolate chunks and stir again by hand. 

Drop the dough by rounded spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 325°F for 8-10 minutes. The cookies are done when the edges are golden and the centers are still soft. Makes 2-3 dozen cookies, depending on size.

It's possible that these are the best cookies I've ever made, and I've made a *lot* of cookies in my day. 

Variations: You can make these with just raisins, with chocolate chips and raisins, or without the rum. For a crispier cookie, omit 1/4 c. flour, add another tablespoon or two of butter, and cook an additional 2-5 minutes. 


Other deliciousness from B/M/C/B:

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday shout-out: Christopher DeLange

"Biorganic", by Christopher DeLange

Portland-based artist Christopher DeLange draws, paints, sculpts, makes electronic music, photographs, and designs. Talk about multi-talented! 

His sculpture "biorganic", pictured above, will be in the New Beginnings re-use art show at the Re:Vision gallery at SCRAP, which opens this Saturday, May 9th. (Everyone welcome; more info here.)

Christopher, aka csdj, took a few moments to answer some questions about his work. 

How do you describe your art to people?
Often, I carry some work with me, so the question sometimes gets answered with a visual, but the short answer is "Surreal".
Who are your artistic influences?
Hans Bellmer, Salvador Dali, M.C. Escher, H.R. Giger, Robert Williams. 
Is there a story behind your sculpture "biorganic"?
When the piece was assembled for the first time, I was preparing my studio for an art show. There was a table [where] I had gathered assorted junk pieces and tools that were to be cleaned off and put away.  The art show was the following day, and I had a piece of wallspace that was still empty.  As I was going through the loose parts and junk I had a vision.  I began assembling some of the pieces on the table and that was what I came up with.  That piece has travelled from Charlotte, N.C., to Portland, and during the move, the piece got scratched pretty badly.   For the "New Beginnings" show at SCRAP, the piece was disassembled, repainted then reassembled. 

What's the creative process like for you?
I usually work in the mornings, and late at night.  In the morning, I have an hour long commute on the bus, so I am able to devote that time to my drawings. Most all the drawings I have done over the past couple of years have either been started, worked on or finished while on the bus.   I try to spend anywhere from 1 - 4 hours a day, seven days a week making art.

What are you working on now?
Currently, I am working on a series of drawings, building a coffee table and making electronic music. In June, I will be showing work in the Justice Center windows, so I am preparing for that as well.

Here are a few more of Christopher's artworks. Hop on over to for the full gallery.




Images courtesy of Christopher DeLange.


Recent Sunday shout-outs:

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Upcoming events

Hey Portlanders, the Re:Vision Gallery at SCRAP is open! The gallery will have month-long exhibits of fine art made from reused materials. The opening reception for the first exhibit, New Beginnings, will coincide with SCRAP's grand reopening party on May 9th. If you haven't been to SCRAP (The School and Community Reuse Action Project), that would be a great time for a first visit. 

Tomorrow I'll be featuring the work of one of the artists from this show, Christopher DeLange. Stay tuned!

SCRAP's grand reopening gala details: 
  • Saturday, May 9th, 2009, 6-8 pm
  • Commissioner Amanda Fritz will cut the ribbon and toast SCRAP’s new home
  • Live jazz musical performance with the Eric Skye/Brian Casey Duo
  • Junk2Funk Fashion Show
  • Free Parking right next door (enter on Morris St.)
  • Delicious refreshments and libations, courtesy of SCRAP sponsors
Here's a map to SCRAP. See you there!


In other news, I'll have a booth at First Thursday in the NW Alphabet District on May 7th. Come by if you can -- it should be a fun event.