Monday, January 21, 2013

A New Apron

Today's inspiration comes from an apron. You won't  find them at the local Target.  These aprons are more like works of art.
Works of art because they are lovingly handmade and designed by Melissa Moore who lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Santa Fe is a mecca for the arts so it is no wonder that these beautifully hand sewn aprons would originate from there. 

So how did I get my hands on them in Chicago? Well I have a story.  A food stylist friend from Santa Fe, who I assist on shoots occasionally when she comes to Chicago, met Melissa  and bought an apron from her which she wore  to a shoot one day. It was very kitsch. I must have raved about it to Kim because  the next time we saw each other she gave me my very own handmade apron.  I loved it. At first I was afraid to wear it, I did not want to get it dirty. But then I said to myself,  "nonsense" an apron is to be worn and to be used, so I wore it and have to say that it wore very well. I washed it and it held up great. Even the beautiful ribbon tie did not unravel in the laundry. 

So I was connected with Melissa and we spoke via email. She agreed to send me a few aprons so I could see some other designs. I would photograph them and send them back.
When I got them in the mail I was like a kid at Christmas. They were beautiful. Well packaged and so perfectly ironed. I put them away for safe keeping until I was ready to shoot them. The Christmas holiday was approaching and my shooting got pushed to the back burner. In the back of my head I always had the aprons in mind and spent some time ruminating about how to shoot them. When I have a shoot to do I usually plan it out in my head. It may or may not go exactly how it was in my head but it is good to have a picture in mind and go from there.
Of course, when you go to do the shooting, things don't always work exactly as you planned but you roll with it and somehow something else will unfold and that is art. 

The first apron that caught my eye was the coffee cup apron. I love coffee.

Coffee Cup Whimsy

When I saw this apron I thought diner. So the classic breakfast shot came to mind.

Here is my interview with Melissa:

What is the name of your company?

 Ciseaux (French for scissors) – renamed this year. (My sister, Shelley, and I started our business in Santa Fe in 2008 under the name of One of One, where we made and sold dozens of aprons for women, men and children. We also made other items of clothing.)

Why did you decide to make aprons?

 Aprons offer an unlimited opportunity to bring back an iconic image of domesticity in whimsical, contemporary style, suitable for casual wear as well as in the kitchen. Each is one-of-a-kind since I change some element such as the piping color, buttons, ribbon ties, etc. I generally buy fabrics in small yardages to assure this uniqueness.

Where do you sell them?

 I currently have two outlets in Santa Fe: POEM – a gift shop; and at Collected Works Bookstore, featured in their extensive cookbook section. I hope to establish another store in Santa Fe this coming year.

Where do you get inspiration from for designs?

 All inspiration is derived from the textiles chosen to pair-up for each apron, since they are all reversible. I use piping to define the contour of each apron as well as each pocket. I love the rounded edges. I have also used tulle to edge certain styles.

Are they machine washable?

 Yes, because they are 100% cotton which I have pre-shrunk. I made washable linen blends, as well, with detachable tea towels (they unbutton from a waistband), all parts of which are washable.

Do you make all the aprons yourself?

 Yes, I do; and I take great pleasure in the one-of-a-kind aspect of creating. All of my other artworks (paper collage, assemblage, textiles) are also singular pieces.

Anything else I need to know…?

 I learned to sew at age 9 on a treadle sewing machine, which I used until I was 18. Sewing is a deep source of quiet and inspiration. The creative process brings calm and the opportunity to let the concerns of life slowly and thoughtfully surface. Using my hands to manifest what is in my mind’s eye is meditative, meaningful, and life-affirming. I find the same result in cooking, arranging space, design and display. I like making order out of disparate pieces. . .thus creating something new! 

Avocados Yum!

Converse Meets Jackson Pollack

Thanks so much Melissa for showing us your beautiful aprons! I think I may be keeping the one with the coffee cups! Wink wink. 

I love your philosophy as you stated in the last paragraph. I feel that all of us creatives share that view. Creating things out of disparate pieces. How beautifully said. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Fresh Start New Year

Winter Skies New Year

The photo today is not of food but a reflective image of the skies we have been having lately. The light has been fantastic. I also feel a bit melancholy as of late. I do not know if it is the after Christmas let down or just the dark skies.

As I think of the new year and what I want to accomplish professionally I have been feeling that the blog may have to take a hiatus or at least I will not be posting as often. 

I just uploaded a website with my food images and am planning on really concentrating on this.  My true love  is creating beautiful imagery of food. Working in the space of my viewfinder is where I like to be. To see the image take shape over time is so great. It is not easy and whoever thinks food photography is easy has never done it. Those that do it well I so admire. 

I hope you all have a great new year filled with creative juices flowing, great food and lots of loved ones around.

Happy New Year,

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas is the smell of Gingerbread baking

There is truly nothing like the smell of gingerbread dough baking in the oven on a cold December day. I love making these traditional Christmas cookies.
The recipe I have used for years is from my favorite baker Rose Levy Beranbaum.

naked gingerbread


3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsps ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
3/4 cup dark or light brown sugar*
12 Tbsps butter, softened
1/2 cup grandma's molasses
1 lg egg

Add dry ingredients together and toss. Place butter in mixer and beat add brown sugar and cream. Then add molasses and egg. Next add dry ingredients and mix until well beaten.

Refrigerate dough until very chilled at least an hour. Then roll out on floured surface about 1/8 inch thick and cut out with your favorite gingerbread shape. 

Bake at 350 degrees F. When cool decorate with royal icing and your favorite decors.

For Royal icing I use the recipe on the can of Wilton meringue powder. It is the best!

*I have used both dark and light. If I have dark I use it, it produces a richer flavor and darker color. If I am out light works just fine.

Wishing you all the Merriest Christmas. Hugs to you and yours! See you in the New Year for more good eating.