Monday, August 20, 2012

Gift Idea: Homemade Vanilla Extract

I've been spending some time lately thinking about what Christmas presents to make this year. I know it's only August, but this year I really want spend the holidays enjoying the season as opposed to frantically prepping for every special moment and scrambling at the last minute to get everything done. I truly love getting homemade Christmas gifts and want to return the thoughtfulness and effort that so many friends and family put into their gifts to me. Hence why I'm thinking about this in August. I've decided on a couple gifts and plan to get the making underway this weekend. Unfortunately, I can't share any of those projects here, one of the would be recipients might see! But I can share one of last year's efforts, Homemade Vanilla Extract. 

There are TONS of tutorials online that provide excellent step by step instructions. It really was simple and turned out delicious and high quality stuff! I'd highly recommend doing it. We ended up using Tahitian Vanilla Beans and Smirnoff vodka for our batch. When you read about how many beans to use, don't believe the posts that have you using 3 per 8 oz bottle. Use 5-6. Ours sat for several months and we ended up adding more into each bottle that we gave just so that it could keep infusing and making the vanilla flavor richer. Fortunately, the extra beans we added at the last minute have done the trick because everyone who uses the vanilla claims it's good stuff. 

It was fun to design the packaging for the bottle, tho, here's another tip, if you end up printing it on an inkjet printer, spray it with a nice top coat before you cut it out and affix it to the bottle. The inevitable drips of vanilla end up bleeding the image if you don't! Doh! Lesson learned there. 

We paired the vanilla with a recipe book filled with ideas for how to use the vanilla. We found all kinds of fun uses for vanilla both sweet and savory. Here's a list of the recipes we rustled up: 

Spiced Pecans
Spring Vanilla Vinigarette
Vanilla and Black Peppercorn Pork
Vanilla Shrimp Crostini
Hot Chocolate
Old Fashioned Pancakes
Vanilla Cupcake
Vanilla Biscotti
Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream
Bread Pudding with Whiskey Vanilla Sauce
Vanilla Creme Brulee
Pear Vanilla Crisp
Cherry Vanilla Oatmeal
Vanilla Chai Tea
Vanilla Cream Soda
Vanilla Sugar Scrub

I tried out most of the recipes before including them, but they all looked so interesting to me! For a couple of the gifts, I packaged them in a little basket with a pre-made jar of sugar scrub and a cookie scoop as I figured mostly the vanilla would be used for cookies! 

This little vanilla experiment definitely peaked my interest for other types of infusing experiments. I cant wait to try more. Feel free to ask me for any more information about the vanilla adventure! There are certainly many more details I can share if you're looking to make some of your own.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Summer Muse

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Late Nights and Lunch Hours

I want to start by giving a HUGE thanks to the Prairie Arts Council for providing the opportunity for Ashley, Joseph, and I to share our art with their community. It's a ton of hard work, most of it volunteer, and it's pretty incredible that they continue to give their time and energy to promoting the arts. Thanks to everyone who showed up to the opening as well. I know that several pieces were sold and that was even more than I was hoping for. What a great community to come out and spend some time with us! The evening was really nice and of course the tunes provided by Alex and Dan were fantastic. Good live music always makes things even better. Here are a few shots from the night. I'll post a larger version of the Summer Muse hanging shortly.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Gallery Show, "Late Nights and Lunch Hours"

I am looking forward to this Friday night when we will be heading up to Rensselaer for the opening and reception of our gallery show, "Late Nights & Lunch Hours". Several of my pieces will be hanging alongside two other extremely talented artists, Ashley Fronterhouse and Joseph Cross. There will be wine, food, and good music. 

This upcoming show has given me an excuse to carve out time to make some new stuff and it's really been fun. I'm extremely thankful for such a supportive husband who's been picking up my slack so that I could focus more in the evenings. I've loved experimenting with birch plywood and colored pencil for this show. I can see many more experiments in my future. One thing that I realized is that even though I loved working with colored pencil, it was the complete wrong medium for the look I was going for. I'm switching to paint for the next one for sure! (Which will be yet another experiment, because I have no real experience with technique for that) Another first for me was working on such a large piece, the Summer Muse is 22"x30". It was really satisfying to create something so large just because. It's not anything I created with the intention to be purchased and hung on anyone's wall, it was just for fun and felt really freeing. I'll post more photos of the work and the gallery after the show. Here's the information that was printed on the back side of the show card. 

Late Nights and Lunch Hours:
A group art show featuring illustrations, prints, pen and ink drawings, and oil paintings. All works were created almost exclusively on the borrowed hours of late nights and lunch hours.”

Amy Kingman, Joseph Cross, Ashley Lee
July 20 - August 17, 2012

Artist’s Reception
Friday, July 20, 2012
6:00 P.M. to 7:30 P.M. (Chicago Time)

Lilian Fendig Gallery – Carnegie Center
(Two blocks north of the Jasper County Courthouse)
301 North Van Rensselaer St • Rensselaer, IN 47978
Gallery Hours – M, T, Th, F from 9 A.M. to 2 P.M.
or by appointment 219.866.5278 or

Art on postcard:
Top: Ashley Lee, “April”, linocut print
Middle: Joseph Cross, “A Berne Farm”, oil 
Bottom: Amy Kingman, “Summer Muse”, colored pencil on wood

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Monday, February 27, 2012

First tea towel for sale

Got the first listing put up onto the 'ol Etsy site. Excitiiiing.

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Tea towel screen printing experiment

Well, it's been a long time coming but it's finally assembled. It's taken a couple months to get the space set up for this experiment and a very patient partner in crime who helped build and rig bits of our little diy screen print 'studio'. I have to say, though, all the setup was worth it! I am so excited, the print actually worked. Definitely more than I was hoping for on a first attempt. I had no idea how the fine lines of the illustration would register, so I was incredibly happy when I saw that all of the skinny little lines printed. Hopefully this first test wasn't just a beginners luck fluke and the next attempts will go as smoothly.

My hope is to get a nice line of tea towels created so that I can offer them on my etsy site, but I've got more experimenting to do before that happens. I'll be sure to post when the set is ready.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

An Experiment in Screen Printing

After consulting a screen printing friend and doing a bit of research on the web, mainly the forums, I'm finally getting serious about putting together a little DIY screen print setup. Of course the middle of February in Indiana is just about THE WORST time to try and create this makeshift studio in the back of my unheated garage but slowly, slowly it's coming together. I've got a slew of new projects in the works, just waiting to be printed. First priority of the moment is to hang up some visqueen to make myself a smaller space to heat with the little space heaters I own.

Here's a sneak peek at our construction of a little vacuum table. Huge thanks to Alex for putting in so much time and effort to get these items built. Another huge thanks to Aaron over at RONLEWHORN for answering all of my random questions as I attempt to get things up and running. This has been no solo act, that's for sure.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Now in technicolor

A very clever artist friend of mine suggested that I add a splash of color to these pen and marker butterfly prints. I do love the butterflies in black and white, but is a completely different feel. I think I'm digging this colored take as well. I did a quick color test with marker and I do like the look of it, but I think I'd like to experiment with some water color washes and some more painterly techniques. Any thoughts? I'm listing this one on my Etsy site and will custom color the butterflies any color requested. Just drop me a note and I'll color and add the item to my shop!

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Part 2 of the Wishful Thinking Collection

LinkLast night I finished up the last piece for this weekend's IHE event! Everything has been sent to the printer so fingers crossed that nothing goes wrong with the printing. I don't like cutting things so close, but sometimes life just works out that way. I have been distracted by my daughter's cleft palate surgery and recovery among other important life things, but now she's doing fabulously and I'm kicking this last week into high gear! I'm getting really excited about the event. Can't wait to see how it all goes, not to mention browse all of the other great art that will be there.

If you can swing by this Sat. June 11 between noon to 8:00pm we would love to see you there. With great art, Sun King beer, and fantastic musicians it's guaranteed to be a good time. After browsing the booths you can always head over to Italian Fest or the Talbot Street Art Fair in the area as well. It's going to be a great weekend for food, music, and arts in Indy.

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Pen and Marker Butterflies

As the days count down to the handicraft exchange I've been busy bulking up my inventory. My goal is to create tiny collections of sorts based around some of the art that I already have for sale in my Etsy shop.

I have been feeling concerned that my body of work may come across as a jumbled, disconnected hodge podge because I enjoy playing with so many different styles and mediums. I have pen and ink, linocut prints, and even the styles of my digital work vary. Unfortunately, I'm having a hard time cutting anything out because each style seems to generate an interest. How to pick?

Well, I don't know if my little 'collections' plan will work or not. When it's all said and done my work may still come across as a jumbled mess at the exchange. We will just have to give it a try and see how it turns out. This will be a great learning experience for sure.

So that said, this is a piece I intend to pair with the Wishful Thinking print. It was originally done in pen and ink and shaded with gray marker. I think I'll also offer each butterfly as an individual print. Well it's late and I've got more work to do before bed. Goodnight!

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