At HOME Residency: 1,000 Pollinators!

I am excited to have finished creating the last of my 1,000 pollinators! Everything is pinned and boxed except for the blue butterflies, which I am currently working on arranging and pinning in 2 clear wall mounted cases.  The other 30 boxes and drawers are designed to be viewed from above.  I’m working on a prototype of a display table with some materials I have in the studio…I’m envisioning modular units with detachable legs that can be easily disassembled and packed in the car.

I spent four hours earlier this week photo documenting the work.  I wanted to use natural light and we had the first clear day in a long while, so I took full advantage. The images you see here such as the Beetle Box above are photographed without their glass tops to omit any extraneous reflections. (I had a small furry companion during my photo shoot, but I’ve discovered that if I use a small low table that just fits a foam core sheet and the work that I don’t have any kitty leaps at inopportune moments:)…)

A little help documenting my work…
1,000! Pollinators…I kept count on this clicker…

I have also posted images of the completed works on my website.  You can view them in this web gallery:

http://ingrid-erickson.squarespace.com/new-gallery-4

You can read my artist statement about this body of work here: http://ingrid-erickson.squarespace.com/artist-statement

Testing the larger blue butterfly case…I still need to true and glue the pins once I have my final iteration.

It is a bittersweet feeling to come to the end of a big project…

So, what’s next???  That’s always the question on my mind when I finish one studio endeavor…My work is time consuming and requires a lot of research, so I always have a number of ideas on the back burner–often for several years at a time.  Sometimes the process of growing ideas over these fallow periods (as I focus intensively on other studio work) is really useful.  It can make things richer and deeper. 

start of a hand-cut paper white cedar branch…

So here’s what’s next:

I am working on building a selection of 3-D cut-paper bird’s nests representing specific species.  This will be another facet of my MUSEUM series (an imagined natural history collection which currently includes my Osteology series, as well as the new Pollinator Project pieces.)  I am currently just starting to develop an array of hand-cut paper nest materials—leaves, lichens, feathers and feather down, mosses, vines, etc.  I will be working virtually with several ornithology collections (a first for me, since I usually do my research in person), and reaching out to several ornithologists to discuss some of the questions I have relating to this project. 

I will begin sharing some progress reports with you once I get a little traction on this new piece.  I can tell already that it will represent a different rhythm of working than the last piece, which will be a nice change to my daily practice.  I anticipate each nest taking a long time to construct, with perhaps multiple pieces going at once…we’ll see.  In the meantime, I will be creating a vast library of cut-paper “materials” to work from.

apple and radish brunch salad with homemade orange powder-infused dressing

I have been so wrapped up in my studio work that I haven’t had as much time and patience for extensive cooking.  I have had fun assembling an array of colorful salads and veggie side dishes without using any recipes.  I made lemony chickpeas and zucchini with homemade lemon tarragon croutons, a radish and apple brunch salad (with the orange powder I made in a splash of oil and vinegar dressing), and roasted brussel sprouts with oranges (the sliced oranges don’t get cookedJ) and a zesty lime dressing using lime juice and the lime powder I had made earlier. 

As we seem to linger in these wet, cold gray days of February, I keep reminding myself that we are fast approaching March—my big planting month. I will be able to start quite a few seedlings in the greenhouse soon.  I can’t wait!

AT HOME Residency: 980…

I broke the 980 mark today…only 20 cut paper pollinators left to go!  Funny how the last few pieces seem to take longer, perhaps because they have to complete the whole installation at this point—there’s less leeway to bring it all together towards the end of a project like this.

I just finished a grouping of green butterflies and moths…here is my trio of luna moths…Here are a few process photos…

luna moth
green moths

I save all of my scraps grouped by color as I work…

my paper scraps…

I also recently completed a small grouping of leopard moths.

leopard moth
leopard moths…
leopard moths…

It is exciting to reach this point in a big project–There’s a bit of fine tuning to go, but I am beginning to see how it will all come together. 

looking at the work in progress…

I brought all of the boxes out into the living room briefly to see how the whole piece is shaping up…here are a few shots.  It’s a pretty large installation now, with 30 boxes pinned and 2 drawers complete. I will also have a pair or a trio of wall-mounted butterfly cases. That’s the final part that I am working on now.

I was just reflecting on how this all began with research at the College of Idaho Natural History Museum when I was an artist-in-residence at Surel’s Place in Boise back in the autumn before the pandemic.  It seems a long time ago.  I was working intensely on another body of work at the time (my Cabinet of Natural Curiosities installation which I was preparing for exhibition), but was so excited by the museum’s entomology collection that I couldn’t resist logging in some substantial research time.  I’m so glad that I did. 

Another significant experience that shaped this project was my participation in replanting the habitat of the endangered Oregon Silver-spot butterfly while in residence at the Sitka Center—my last trip before being grounded by the pandemic. This species has a special relationship with a single plant species–the early blue violet.

chicken salad with tarragon and toasted walnuts
lingonberry and ginger breakfast scones

When I work intensively in the studio, I also walk a lot and do lots of cooking and baking.  There’s something about it that helps my creative flow…Since I last wrote, I made a chicken salad with tarragon and toasted walnuts, a radish and carrot salad with tuna and capers, and a batch of The Queen’s Jam.  It is one of my favorites to make at home.  It features a trio of berries and works nearly as well with frozen fruit.

spinach and feta scones

I made lingonberry and ginger breakfast scones as well as a batch of spinach and feta ones.  My most unusual bake was a small pan of blondies with lemon zest and rose sugar.  I’m still on a bit of a soup kick—my favorite lately was Nevada Berg’s Creamy pheasant and wild mushroom soup.  (I used her suggested substitute of chicken.)  A good earthy bowl for lunch after a brisk long walk.

creamy wild mushroom soup

We’ve had lots of birds visiting lately…woodpeckers, flickers, wrens, cardinals, and bluebirds love the suet we put out during the cold snap…and all but the bluebirds also come for sunflower seed. 

dinner rush at the birdfeeder…
such a busy day…

It’s busy at my little feeder during the dinner rush…

AT HOME Residency: Towards 1,000…

In the studio, I am up to 850 cut paper pollinators.  I am working on a grouping of blue butterflies this week. Here are a few photos.  They are a work-in-progress—I will be adding detail and layering wings and fluffing antennae.  I find it easier to work on the big picture first, so I know how they will work as a unit, and fit into the entire installation.

Blue butterflies (and moths) begin to take shape…
#2 insect pin packets…I’ve used over 500 so far…
I’ve devoted time this week to grouping and boxing more species…
more beetle boxes…

The weather has been on a seesaw lately…We walked in half an hour of steadily falling snow in the park last week among the white pines (one of those funny site specific snow showers where you can see the end of the cloud cover and the snow-free zone not far away)…A few of my tulip bulbs and irises have sent small green shoots up through the soil…I hope they don’t get too tricked by the upswing in temperature—we still have many cold days ahead.

I’ve been on a bit of a soup kick lately now that it is colder.  Some recent favorites are potato and leek soup with thyme two ways (fresh lemon thyme and dried thyme), channa masala soup (I made my own garam masala spice mix since we were all out), zucchini and za’tar soup, and lentil and lime soups with marinated feta. 

Channa masala soup
Zucchini and Za’tar soup and sesame crisps…
lentil and lime soup with marinated feta…

I baked a batches of sesame bagels, sesame crisps, and spicy cheese straws.  I also made my first homemade pickled ginger (lots of zip!), cinnamon butter, lime powder, and fresh lime curd.  The lime curd paired well with my mandelmusslor (Swedish almond tarlet shells) and some toasted coconut flakes on top.

sesame bagels…
pickled ginger…
dried lime peels ready to grind into lime powder…
almond tartlet shells…
fresh cheese…

I made a big batch of farskost (fresh cheese).  It takes a little patience, but is well worth it from time to time since you can season it to suit yourself.  You can see a few process photos here. 

heating the milk…
the curds begin to form after adding vinegar to the 200 degree F milk…
straining the freshly made cheese through a clean linen towel (you can use cheesecloth if you have it…)

This time, I made three bowls—one seasoned with just sea salt and a twist of pepper, one with chervil, thyme, tarragon, and garlic, and the third with a hint of pineapple juice and toasted coconut flakes.  They are great on crackers or toastlets.  Other good pairings are radish slices, asparagus tips, or fresh fruit. The savory ones will work well on flatbread or homemade pizza.  It is best eaten within 3 or 4 days, so it is good to plan a few different recipes if you are in a small household like we are…

a winter’s nap…

During these wintery days, I’ve had fun designing flower crowns (midsommar krans) for the American Swedish Institute’s virtual Midsommar celebration in June.  I will be teaching (virtually) a series of 3-D cut paper botanical workshops at ASI in May and June—a perfect project for a gardener!  I’ve had a blast creating original designs for the crowns as well as cut and colored paper moth orchids and amaryllis plants.  More on that as we get closer to the time.

AT HOME Residency: Looking Out, Looking In…

Sometimes I find myself working in series mode in the kitchen—a carry-over from my studio practice (also, of course, a practical way to make the best use of ingredients)…

Orange peels ready to dry…

This week it manifested itself in the color and flavor of orange.  I brewed a pitcher of elderflower drink with orange slices, dried my own orange peels in the oven (at 200 degrees F for an hour) to make dried orange powder for baking, and used it to make homemade orange ice cream with fresh squeezed juice, zest, and small-diced orange cubes.  In the same color vein, (albeit a very different flavor profile) I made a small batch of cloudberry ice cream with powdered cloudberries and cloudberry jam, and a saffron colored batch of cloudberry vinegar for salad dressing. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my studio table has a pile of orange to gold papers resting there, awaiting my next grouping of hand-cut paper butterflies and moths.

Dried peels…I love how sculptural they become.
Orange powder ready to use in baking…
Cloudberry icecream

Cooking-wise, I also made pickled beets with horseradish and fennel fronds, homemade raspberry jam, and potato on rye smorrebrod (Danish open-faced sandwiches) from Trine Hahnemann’s Copenhagen cookbook.  Another favorite open faced-sandwich was pickled beets, egg, lemon thyme, and smoked birch salt on fresh baked dark rye.  I used up our bruised apples to make fyriskaka—a Swedish apple cake with tons of cinnamon and a punch of cardamom.

Potato on rye smorrebrod and pickled beets
smorrebrod with pickled beets, egg, lemon thyme, and smoked birch salt…
homemade raspberry jam
raspberry jam on fresh baked seeded rolls…
fyriskaka/Swedish apple cake

In the studio, my concentration has been on arranging groupings of pollinators that I have already cut—a process based on a combination of scientific classification and aesthetics. I have 8 Riker Mount boxes and 2 glass-topped entomology drawers arranged so far.  Here are some images of these works in progress. I will pair them with custom (made by me) glass topped tables, and a variety of smaller Riker Mount boxes.

Riker mount boxes with preliminary composition of beetles…

I have discovered that it is important to stop and take stock of things when working on a project with so many individual components.  I have to make sure that the individual pieces are working both together and in support of the whole…It’s a fun challenge!

Working on arranging some of the moths…
Ants…

This is the quite season for my garden, though I am still collecting small bunches of herbs.

snow sky…

We had the tiniest dusting of snow last week…I am hoping for one real storm…Today I am making due with a misty gray day of rain…

A dusting of snow on my garden…

Speaking of a very different season (literally and metaphorically—summertime and pre-pandemic), I was quoted in this story about Hog Island Audubon Residency in the National Audubon Society magazine online.  You can also see a work-in-progress shot of my installation that I made in response to my time on the island.  The article is titled “Ecology and Creativity; Isolation and Comradery.” The author is Lindsay McNamara. You can view it here:

https://hogisland.audubon.org/news/artist-glimpse

During this time of working at home, I have been focused on looking out and looking in–staying connected to the outer world in new ways, and thinking about the intensity of what one can accomplish in a smaller sphere than usual…home…I’ll be very eager to travel again when that seems safe and responsible, but for now there is more to be done right here…

AT HOME Residency: Into the New Year…

What a year it has been! And what a start to the New Year…So much has happened in the US (and the world) since I began writing this post last week.  I’ve been glued to the news over the past few days with grave concern…In 2021, so far I have twin feelings of dismay and hope.

A January morning…
dried oak leaves and acorn caps collected on my daily walk...

We have a tradition in our house of writing out our New Year’s resolutions on New Year’s Eve and examining last year’s lists that have been posted on the side of the fridge all year.  They can be serious or not, large or small…Looking back, we accomplished most of our closer-to-home list (lots of picnics, playing with the kitty a lot, learning how to make pickles) but my more global goals will have to wait a bit longer…

I’ve been very busy in the studio and have made over 800 cut-paper pollinators…I think I’m on track to reach 1,000 by February.  Here are some progress photos.  Recently I’ve been working on moths. I’ve also started to organize and box some groupings of “specimens” in Riker mount boxes and the glass-topped scientific supply trays used in entomology collections.

moths…
fir tree reflection in our window…

A flock of Robins is busy eating as many Holly berries as they can hold on this misty day.  I have the diced candied and dried fruit soaking in a bowl on the counter in my first attempt at a panettone.  Here are some process photos (see next 4 images).  I consider it a good first attempt for this 2 day process…I will definitely be making another sometime (not too soon) perhaps with more contemporary fillings.

Just baked…

I started carving my first wooden spoon last night.  It’s great to try new things, even on a home-based scale…So far I’ve generated a satisfying pile of wood shavings and some progress on shaping the handle…I think it will be a little bit at a time type of endeavor. A good one for winter evenings when I want a change from knitting.

homemade vanilla, just started

Speaking of small firsts, I recently started my first batches of homemade vanilla (to mature for 6 months in a cool, dark place, but testable in just 6 weeks), simple syrup (a one to one ratio with water), and aquavit (with juniper berries, caraway and orange zest and peel). 

Jul Log

I also made a tasty vanilla walnut Jul Log for Christmas Eve.  I served with homemade nutmeg whipped cream and pomegranate. 

In the last few weeks, I baked apple cider doughnut muffins, orange oatmeal muffins with golden raisins, birch bark cookies (in decoration only, no birch seasoning) and a saffron bundt cake studded with pears.

saffron bundt cake with pears
“Birch bark” cookies…

I also made big batches of yellow split pea soup with homemade ham stock, and winter root vegetable stew with parsnips. 

winter root vegetable stew with parsnips…

Our freezer is full, so on days when we don’t feel like cooking, we’ll be ready.  We are still harvesting a small quantity of fresh herbs, but I can’t wait until the garden is green and leafy again…

AT HOME Residency: Butterflies & Garden Dreams…

When I began writing, the first wintery mix of the season was falling as it had all through the night…It seems somehow appropriate to be dreaming up next year’s garden as I work on crafting cut paper butterflies in the studio…I have been spending parts of the last week doing color tests (in the studio) and building up my “collection.” I actually ran out of my stash of #2 insect pins finally and had to order 500 more from a scientific supply company.  I am happy to report that I have reached 610 (out of my goal of 1,000 pollinators)! I have also set myself a deadline of the last day of February to have the whole 1,000 created. There’s nothing like a deadline to keep the momentum going…

Butterflies & moths…work-in-progress…
color test…
work-in-progress…

Above and below are a few images of my color tests and butterfly progress. I am working to develop color, shape, and scale across a variety of species before I add the details. These are in very early stages and need lots more work.

Embossed wings…

Garden-wise, I have developed my dream list for the spring…It includes many things hard or impossible to find in the grocery store these days…kohlrabi, rhubarb (we’ll see if it’s cold enough here, but I found a variety developed for the south—this is one of my favorite plants! Every kitchen garden I saw in Iceland had at least one or two hearty plants.  Closer to home, I remember the fun of cutting the ruby red stalks with their dark bristly green leaves from Grandma’s Vermont rhubarb patch near the home of “George the woodchuck” next to the rock garden…), celery root (celeriac), lovage (a celery like plant great for soups and stews,) arugula, basil, cilantro, radishes, and a selection of lettuces…Also more blueberries, lingonberries, and golden raspberries (a good substitute in color at least for cloudberries which won’t make the climatic leap from their arctic environs to the summer heat of North Carolina…)

roasted kabocha squash with feta and maple-glazed walnuts
Smorbrod with homemade meatballs
homemade cucumbers with caraway and fennel fronds

Cooking-wise, the highlights were roasted kabocha squash with feta and maple glazed walnuts (these four ingredient walnuts are also good on their own as part of an autumnal cheese plate), Swedish pancakes, smorbrod (Danish open faced sandwiches) with homemade meatballs, pickled cucumbers and red onion on German pumpernickel bread, summer rolls, and whole grain rye and buttermilk bread with toasted caraway, fennel, and anise seeds. 

Summer Rolls.
Swedish pancakes.

The most fun to make (though slightly ticklish for the first few minutes) dish was a batch of aebleskiver (round Danish pancakes classically served with powdered sugar and jam). 

Aebleskiver

The recipe I chose used lots of fresh ground cardamom and nutmeg.  Once I got the 7-welled cast iron pan hot enough, and mastered the art of the quarter turn that you need to make in order to create the round shape, it was great fun! Next, I plan to try a savory or a filled batch…

maple glazed walnuts
A fir tree enthusiast…

AT HOME Residency: Wintering…

I am always a fan of handmade and homemade.  Both seem especially fitting this year.  I made simple wrapping paper using watercolors and a roll of white butcher paper, and baked a batch of pepparkakor (Swedish gingersnaps) to decorate the tree.  My favorite shapes are hearts, Dala horses (one is pictured in the featured image above), and pigs.  I dug out a very well loved Dala horse cookie cutter that I remember from my childhood.  It came from my Swedish great grandmother.  I also put these homemade Danish woven paper hearts on the tree—every year we seem to make a few more in different sizes and colors.  They make great garlands and table decorations too.  Kittikens, our feisty little calico cat loves her fir tree.  She spends many of her waking moments underneath it or investigating its branches.  We have learned to hang the ornaments higher and higher…

some of my homemade wrapping paper (top)
pepparkakor (Swedish gingersnaps), glogg, and a homemade pomander with cloves (I like to use clementines rather than oranges since you need fewer cloves…)

In the studio, my work continues…I am up to 541 hand-cut paper pollinators at last count.  Sometimes it is slow going. I have to remind myself that many things that are worth doing take time…I want the things I make to be thoughtful and well-crafted parts of a larger whole.  Often the making goes swiftly and smoothly when I’m deeply engaged in new work–and then sometimes suddenly it just doesn’t.  It is all part of the process.  For me, it is a matter of dedicating enough daily time and thought, and occasionally, knowing when to take a break. 

glogg (Swedish mulled wine–this one is made with cranberry juice) and cookies after dark…
Cedar Waxwing (see upper right–this was one of the last lingering birds of the visiting flock…They decamped after an hour of noisy eating leaving just a few berries…)
pomander with whole cloves…they last quite a few months and smell amazing.

The first real frost has come and gone. I love how silvery it makes the grass and rooftops. I can almost pretend it is snow…something I miss here in North Carolina…though it’s easy to romanticize winter if you don’t have to shovel the driveway.  We go for long bundled up walks these days.  I always look forward to hat and coat weather.  I collected some white pine boughs earlier this week.  A flock of Cedar Waxwings and a Robin or two descended one day and noisily ate most of the remaining waxberries in the bush in front of our doorstep.

Cloudberry Cheesecake

Baking and cooking are good ways of doing something non-art related yet a bit creative with my hands.  These activities and long walks and gardening can help me work through ideas when I get stuck with a challenging studio problem.

My Lucia Day Saffron Buns.
Saffron bread…
Just baked saffron buns…

I baked a bog batch of saffron buns (lussekatter) for Lucia Day. I love their golden color under candlelight at this dark time of year.  I also made a batch of snowball cookies with chopped pecans, and a cloudberry cheesecake (ostkaka med hjortron) with lots of lemon zest.  I also experimented with a batch of homemade marzipan acorns and oak leaves for the Jul log that I will make in a few weeks.

Snowball cookies…

I’m trying to place emphasis on the small moments of joy and coziness that are possible now even in this new phase of the pandemic that we are going through.

Kittikens welcoming “her” fir tree.
My homemade marzipan acorns and acorn caps–getting ready to make the Jul log…

AT HOME Residency: The Collection Grows…

Since I last wrote, my hand-cut paper pollinator “collection” has increased to 506.  Just over halfway to my goal of 1,000.  Pictured above and below are a few recent work-in-progress shots.  Right now I am have just finished working on ants…and I’ve just finished this batch of Goliath Beetles.  All my pieces will receive more detail, but their main components are complete.  I’m working toward my 1,000 pieces first, then will begin to add more details, and add linings to my boxes.

An ant in progress…
Starting to work on moths…

The holly berries and bittersweet are boldly red and burnt orange.  The birds have eaten most of the Waxberries.  I refill our small bird feeder every two days with black oil sunflower seeds.  Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, House Finches, and Carolina Wrens are the main visitors.  Blue jays, Brown Thrashers, White-throated Sparrows, and occasionally Bluebirds, come to drink and bathe when it is warm enough.  There was ice on the birdbath for the first time last week…The sweet pepper plants have finally been frost nipped, and the last few cherry roma tomatoes are in a race against time.

Holly berries.
Bittersweet berries.

I baked a batch of Blueberry Cardamom Rolls filled with homemade blueberry jam, a roasted butternut squash and herb tart, apple and cheddar scones, and a sticky ginger cake with clementine frosting (topped with pomegranate and pistachios,) and a batch of Danish honey bombs with candied orange and lime.  

Blueberry Cardamon rolls.
Roasted Butternut Squash Tart.
Apple and Cheddar Scones.
Sticky Ginger Cake with Clementine icing.

I made turkey broth and a turkey and leek pie with our Thanksgiving leftovers…we made a just slightly scaled down version of our usual dinner—(since the 13 pound turkey cost $3.74, it seemed a shame not to get one), so with just our immediate household of 2 (and one hopeful kitty, who does not get people food:)), it made many, many meals…which will continue as we reheat the turkey hand pies I have cached in the freezer.  Probably the most fun thing I made with our leftovers was a tom yum goong flavored noodle bowl (a mash up of 2 of my favorite dishes that made sense with what we had on hand.) Tom Yum was one of my favorite soups from my year in Thailand that I have found easy to get ingredients for in the US without any specialty grocery stores.  (Some of the Northern Thai dishes that friends and colleagues in Chiang Rai taught me to cook really can’t be made without trips to my favorite Vietnamese grocery store in Charlotte, but I will look forward to making them after the vaccine roll out.)  I used the turkey broth in lieu of chicken broth and substituted coriander seeds to provide the bright citrus taste of the lemongrass I didn’t have on hand.  I just had to increase the amounts of lime juice, coconut milk, and fish sauce to pair with the more robust flavor of turkey…I also used what may be the last of the garden scallions of the year…

Tom Yum Goong with turkey broth…

Family Zoom calls and making some of the same foods despite the many miles made this year’s Thanksgiving festive…though it is not the same as being with everyone in person…

Glogg.

I also made a big pot of hot spiced cider with star anise, and a batch of cranberry glogg (a Swedish mulled winter drink, often made with wine, though mine was cranberry-juice based courtesy of a recipe from Emily Vikre of Vikre Distillery in MN).  I put raisins and slivered almonds in the mugs before serving.  This is my favorite recipe I have tried.

Glogg and pepparkakor (Swedish Gingersnaps).

As the year darkens, I’m looking forward to candles and hot drinks, and crisp, long bundled-up walks, bread baking, reading by the fireplace, and working on my first sweater (a hooded, belted sweater coat in marbled grey wool from pattern I sourced at our wonderful local library.) We’ve been using the curbside pick-up at our library to full advantage. I’ve been reading even more than usual. It is a fun way to travel without traveling…Something that appeals even more than usual this fall…

Ginger cake before decorating…
Turkey and Leek Pie.

AT HOME Residency: Candleberries and Cut Paper…

Berries are abundant these days…the most impressive right now is the Wax Myrtle (otherwise known as the Southern Bayberry or Candleberry—my personal favorite name for it) dripping with tiny slate blue spheres. 

A popular autumn nap spot…

The tree in front of the house is filled with a noisy assortment of Cardinals, White Throated Sparrows, and House Finches–providing many hours of entertainment for a certain calico kitty (see above) who watches them through the windows with great interest in between fortifying autumn naps…

Candleberry

Since I last wrote, I have increased the number of my cut paper pollinators to 432. Here are a few of the new ones…

Goliath Beetles

Believe it or not, I have finally exhausted my cache of #11 x-acto blades! After periodic re-sharpening, the fine tips eventually cannot be re-claimed, and they no longer work for the most intricate of cuts…When making beetles and bees, there are lots of precise, tiny cuts involved. Legs and antennae are especially delicate to make, particularly for the pieces smaller than a fingernail.

Bees, wasps, and bee flies…
another autumn nap…
Afternoon fika (Swedish for coffee break) with cinnamon roll and fresh coffee…

My favorite things I crafted in the kitchen recently were a huge batch of cardamom applesauce and a sage and onion tart. I am using as many fresh herbs as possible while I can still harvest them directly from my garden pots.  Soon I will begin drying and freezing them, and preserving some in oil. I’ve also baked several batches of crackers.  I like to freeze some extra dough in logs and then take it out to bake up a fresh batch…Convenient to go with autumn and winter soups, which I also freeze in batches.

Sage and onion tart
homemade crackers

On the teaching front, I am excited to teach some virtual cut paper “botany” classes for the American Swedish Institute’s handcraft program in the spring.  The programming will be in conjunction with ASI’s Papier exhibition featuring the work of Swedish-Polish artist Bea Szenfeld, whose stunning paper fashion designs I have followed for a long time.  Co-created by Szenfeld and Swedish painter/illustrator Stina Wirsen, the exhibition opens in February 2021.  More details to follow.  I am super excited!

The ginko leaves are turning golden…

AT HOME Residency: After the Storm…

As I write, I can hear the crew working on our street to remove the giant Oak that came down yesterday in the aftermath of Hurricane Zeta.  Fortunately, no one was hurt. We just lost power for a while…In the photo above you can see an adventurous neighborhood cat exploring the fallen tree after the wind and rain passed through.

Work-in-Progress

It’s always exciting to dive deep into new work after an exhibition…I am now 350 hand-cut beetles (bee flies, rhinoceros beetles, and tumbling flower beetles, to name a few of my favorites) into a project on pollinators…I will share just a few work-in-progress images with you.  Some will be mounted in entomological cabinets and display cases (Riker mount boxes) using #2 insect pins. 

Work-in-Progress: Scarabs

This piece is based on research I did last fall in the entomology collection at the College of Idaho Natural History Museum while I was an artist in residence at Surel’s Place in Boise…Also on the wonderful private collections of a retired entomologist/scientist couple who were very supportive of my work.

I have set a goal of 1,000 insects for this piece….so I am making some headway…though all of the individual pieces will need additional work and care as the piece develops.

Work-in-progress: Rhinoceros Beetles

It is wonderful to finally be in full swing on this piece after lots and lots of thinking and planning…

On the garden front, I have planted some fall bulbs…Blue irises, tulips, and peonies…The raspberry canes I put in are thriving, as are the three new blueberry bushes.

I have been busy baking and making autumn stews and soups as the weather begins to cool…Some of the best were pumpkin scones, Challah bread rounds, homemade blueberry jam, roasted butternut squash waffles, dill-pickled brussel sprouts, and homemade applesauce…

Challah bread rounds…

I also made a pit of Artsoppa (Swedish yellow split pea soup) with fresh thyme.  Perhaps the most unusual (for me) was a batch of burnt leek whipped butter (Rachel Khoo has a great recipe.)

Roasted Butternut Squash Waffles…
Dill-pickled Brussel Sprouts…
Pumpkin Scone…

The leaves are falling fast these days…I took this picture of bare-tipped branches after a storm. The quality of the light is changing too…Time for more candles…

October 4 was Cinnamon Bun Day (Sweden)…
I made two kinds of kanelbullar (Swedish Cinnamon Buns) this year.

The cardinals and chickadees have been feasting on dogwood berries…It has finally also turned cool enough for the first birdseed of the autumn—a time I always eagerly await! 

Bare-tipped branches…

The Black-capped Chickadees always seem to be the first to find the sunflower seeds I offer…I can hear them now…