Monday, December 9, 2013

A Christmas ornament

I have not been active on crafts department in the recent times but I have been doing small projects here and there like trying acrylics and some cards here and there. But today's post is about something different. A Christmas ornament made by glassblowing. I tried this last year and I was amazed at how beautiful it looked and so I did it again. Last year I made a blue ornament.
I wanted to do more like a glass blown vase or a display piece but it was getting too expensive to try any such thing in the studio. So this year again I went back to make a Christmas ornament that I wanted to gift a dear friend of mine. In contrast to last year, I picked a red color this time. I love this bright colored one as it is more Holiday-ish and signifies fall colors.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Baking Artisan breads - Croissants, Brioches and Danishes

After a long break, I decided to restart my blogging experience. While I was thinking what to write, I found a good reason to write - not about arts and crafts but about a similar interest I keep - cooking/baking. I always wanted to learn the technique of baking french pastries and  finally got a chance to learn.

I shall say it is an elaborate process. We started this process yesterday by mixing the dough and then layering it with butter. And several steps of folding these two layers and then freezing the dough. After repeating 3 times, I had to leave it overnight. The dough has a different mixing process for croissants and brioches. For brioches we had to mix all other ingredients first and after a window test, we had to add butter bit by bit while for croissants everything was added at once and mixed in the stand mixer. Few things I learnt was weighing ingredients was very important to the accuracy of +/-2 gms. Also freezing the  dough between each fold was important too so yeast can work its magic uniformly.

Window test was a process of spreading the dough until you can see through the dough without making holes while doing that. If you are able to do that, that means the dough reached gluten development stage. Then there are some new terms I learnt too. One is proofing - which is keeping the croissants in a hot temperature about 80F proofing device to let the dough rise. If you do not have that, one option is to put the croissants in an oven with light on and put some hot water at the bottom of the oven.


Those are the croissants and danishes before they went into the oven. Look at the fancy shapes we made for danishes. Pinwheeel shapes, diamond shapes and chocolate filled danishes etc. We had a lot of fun making these. The dough is very much the same as croissants. Danishes are much more forgiving than croissants however. Brioches had more moist and silky elastic kinda texture, which was different from croissants.

Danishes after baking.
 Some of the other students used peaches blueberries as toppings on danish along with pastry cream while I used pastry cream due to my fruit allergies. The pastry cream, I learnt is nothing but custard we make at home but made from corn starch and eggs instead of ready made custard mix. 


Look at all the golden brown french pastries. They are just melting in my mouth. This is how I packed and brought them home. Yummy !! We requested our teacher to teach us some macaroons next spring. Hoping to learn some of those techniques too.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The figurine experiment

I call it the figurine experiment. Today in my acrylics class, we were asked to paint a figurine. I have added a photo of the figurine we were asked to paint and the painting I ended up with. It's not anywhere close, but I am just happy, there is at least a human face that is visible in the painting. :)

This painting is a step towards painting real models. In two weeks time, we are going to get real models and we will have to paint them. So today, we tried to accentuate different shades/shadows in the figurine by using monochromatic black and white colors. The different shades from whites to darks are coming just from mixing blacks and whites in different ratios.Hopefully it is a good start towards getting better at painting figurines. It almost looks like carbon drawing but this is all acrylics. Interesting, isn't it?  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My love for Roses portrayed in Acrylics

I love, love, love flowers, and roses are my favorite. I love spring because it is so colorful with all the blooming flora. So I try to use flowers in my cards, my jewelry, my painting even. :) So when I started learning Acrylics with Thea Peterson from Kirkland Arts Center, after the first class, I went to Michael's store to see if there are any books that teach you to paint and I found one with pictures of flowers, though not many instructions. I picked up that book and showed it to my teacher and asked her, if I can learn to paint some of the flowers from that book some day. She said, let's do it right now, and she asked me, what is your favorite flower. I said Rose, she turns to this page where this flower is and says, this is complicated but we will do it.  And it took me almost three classes to actually get all the intricate details. This was after second class I believe. I still have to take a picture of the one after third, which does not look that different but it adds a little bit more details to the middle area where all the petals looks merged in this picture. But before I forget, I wanted to post this. As always, your feedback /comments are much appreciated.  Btw, I have one more that I did this week, painting an apple, that looks like a kid trying hands on painting. Wait for it for some good laughs. :)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Jewelry Booth at Geetanjali Event

Hi everyone,  A warm hello to you all.

It's been a while I posted anything in this space. So I figured what better chance to post again. I had an opportunity to put up a Jewelry booth at an Asha organized musical performance show, Geetanjali.

I had setup a booth last year but for handmade cards, not jewelry with two other friends and much better pros at card making Chaitali and Pooja.  I think we raised more money from cards than my jewelry, but no amount is insignificant in my mind, when it comes to donations and fundraising for a good cause. We had a lot of roadblocks yesterday, started with power outage for two hours which delayed the show and people were not to excited to look at the jewelry in the dark while being confused about whether the show will happen or not. But I have to say, there was an old-aged couple who came by and the uncle switched on his flashlight keychain while his wife looked at the jewelry and I switched on my cell phone flashlight. She actually bought 3 sets and convinced another lady to buy earrings. This simple gesture had warmed my heart and made my day. That was the biggest sale of about $65 I made. Other than that there are few folks who bought some earrings. But that was about it.

Usually folks stop by during the dinner break to checkout what's there but given the power failure, there was no break. And volunteers left and my role changed from selling jewelry to helping in different roles as I am also an active volunteer with Asha.  There was so much confusion all around, lack of volunteers had made it even more difficult but I am glad everything was okay at the end. Whoever was there helped their best to move things forward and make the event succeed. Besides all the obstacles, the show was a great success, though my jewelry was not so much of a success. But hey, I am hoping there will be lot more opportunities like this.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


The next one in the line of painting flowers in acrylics is violets.


Here is my try of painting Poppies using acrylics.I think it looks like a kid's painting :) 

Valentine's sweet treats

Today I met with my fellow card makers to make some cool cards and sweet treats boxes for valentine's day.  I found the theme a little funny. I will tell you why. First of all, I don't have a valentine in my life, so making these cards made me think, I am getting ready for a valentine, just in case, I get lucky before valentine's day. :) First we made a box for chocolates as shown below.
I thought it was funny because, as they say in India, the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, as most Indian guys are foodies. Not sure about other nationalities, so do not want to generalize here. The fact that we added some candy to the mix made me laugh. At least that way guys will look at the card, isn't it?If that's not enough, we made more sweet treat bags like above. If you cant make sense of it, its a little candy bag with well decorated Hershey's on either side.

If you think it's indirect to give a box of sweet candy to the guy, I also made a card that you see vaguely in the pack above. See, don't you think, I am getting ready to ask someone ? Alas, if only there was a guy to ask that question, isn't it?

If you think the guy won't be too impressed with my spelling skills, or my humor, I also made it extra clear with the right spellings like below.

Isn't the theme funny in itself? I guess, if not this year, I will keep these for next year for my valentine to show up. :)

Saturday, February 9, 2013


Cosmos are annual flowers very similar to dahlias. Well, I just got to know that fact now. :) I was looking for flowers to paint in acrylics and I found this one with different shades and gradients of yellows and oranges that caught my eye. Hence I decided to try it out while I am still in the art mode today.  This view is from the back side/bottom of the flower where you can see the sepals and the petals. This I thought was a step forward from my flowers earlier this week. I love all kinds of flowers because of their cheeful colors that bring a smile on my face any day. The reason why I love spring too. :)

Idle brain's workshop

Well, I stayed home today, as my back has not allowed me to go run or do something active and my eyes watering due to some allergies, I have been looking for ways to kill time. So what better way than to practice the new skills that I just learnt?

The next target is my favorite animal - the horse. I love horses since I was a kid and I read stories like Black beauty and Circus. The circus was my favorite story book when I was a kid. The story was about a girl who works in a circus and takes care of a horse and the horse gets lost and she goes searching etc. I vaguely remember the story now but I still love horses. :) Here is an attempt. I didn't get the hairs right but I hope it looks like a horse. For me it does, though I can do a much better job at it. :)

Adding one more here... a cowboy hat. :)

My first charcoal drawing

As I had mentioned in my earlier post, this year is about exploring different forms of art and figuring out what I like best. For any form of painting, you know you need to know some drawing skills. So I thought I will do a basic drawing workshop. I did just that last Saturday. They thought us drawing basic shapes, some shadowing techniques etc. But the part that I was interested in, drawing faces, figures etc. is something we did not even get to. I wanted to practice a little bit of that. So this morning I got up and I was in the mood to draw.

I did not know where to start. So I picked the easiest. There was an image of a girl as a cover of newsprint journal we use for drawing. I did not get the face exactly right and I did not even get the facial features right. But hey, who gets it right the first time right? This just means I need to practice a lot more. :)

Next one was  a painting that my friend had gifted me - a rose that is on my living room wall. I tried to draw that and here is my attempt. This does not do justice to the painting, his painting is so much more better. :) I also need to try  painting that using acrylics.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Trying my hand on acrylics

As you probably know by now, any thing related to arts or crafts catches my interest.  I always wanted to learn some form of art since I was a kid. Since I already know I am really bad at performing arts like dance, music, acting, etc. fine arts always caught my interest. But I never had the confidence to try it.The last one year I had indulged so much into crafts, that now I got some confidence.

This year, I decided to try something new as always. So I joined an acrylics class in the neighborhood. I have been going for past three weeks but the last two weeks has been just basics that I didn't even get to paint much. Finally this week, we got our hands dirty. We were asked to paint a vase that was kept in front of us all. Here is what I had made. As you can see, one thing I realized is that not everyone can be an artist, clearly not me. :) But wanted to share my little achievement. :) This looks like a kid's painting but I guess it is one of my first paintings. :)
Today I went to one of the Paint and Sip events and managed to paint another acrylic art. This also is pretty naive, but two paintings in a week is something that i have never done and hence I am happy about it. Hopefully will soon learn to paint different shades and shadows so they look real and 3D instead of this flat 2D paintings. :)
As always, I will be updating my blog with the updates and would love tips and suggestions and feedback from all you readers. Thanks for taking your time to visit my blog.