Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding

Both incendiary (above) and sweet (below) - the world has celebrated the weddings of Royal Britain in different ways. I was recently cleaning out my apartment and found the matchbook featuring a cheery portrait of Charles and Diana. I'm not sure why it's in French, nor do I know how old it is, but I consider it a timely find. On the date of Kate and William's wedding, I happened to be in our Nation's capital on business. The hotel offered guests these cute cupcakes below: jeweled crowns, the Union Jack, Kate's ring, and a heart-shaped cookie bearing the names of the happy couple.
In my plush hotel robe, and feeling pretty chuffed with myself for getting up at 4:30 a.m., I watched the nuptuals live on tv. The pageantry, the hats, the fascinators, and the clamor of the bells throughout London was exciting. A modern fairytale, it was a much-needed escape from wars and recessions. Let's just hope this one works out a lot better than the marriage of Will's mum and dad.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ethnic Decorative Easter Eggs - Interview

Last year, I posted about a traditional method of dyeing Easter eggs call pysanky. This year, I found an artist who uses another method. It is a style that I recognized, and is stunning in its simplicity and natural color. We have some eggs like these in our family's collection (my mom remembers doing them as a child) so I wanted to get more information from someone who currently practices this tradition. Below, is Mary Gleixner's story- she also sells her work in her online shop.
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These chicken eggs are decorated using the Polish pin drop method of waxing and dyeing eggs. They have been blown out, cleaned, waxed, and dyed dark red. I then varnish the eggs with the wax giving the eggs a raised effect. This completed set of three sits with a dozen of empty shell of different colors of eggs including brown, speckled, and aracana (a light green). It is a tradition that was handed down through the generations from my Great Aunt to my mother and to her children. For years, we thought that the tradition was Russian but my sister found a book called, Easter Eggs...Polish Style by Lawrence G. Kozlowski (a simple 40 page spiral bound book). It showed the different designs from different sectors of Poland. I think that my family must have come from Podlasie because those are the designs that match my mom's eggs. It also describes other traditions known as Kraszanki, Batykowane, Skrobanki, Wyklejanki, Nalepianki, Malowanki, as well as eggs made from paper and straw. My Great Aunt on my mom's side taught her when she was pretty young, and they had to stand over a hot coal stove to work on the eggs. Aunt Betty didn't have fond memories of making the eggs because of that stove. On the other hand, my mom loved making the eggs. I know that her favorite part was giving them away. She always looked so proud! I have great memories of my mom creating the egg designs. I am so very thankful that I learned when I did. My mom passed away eleven years ago, and there is not a single egg that leaves my hands without a thought of her.

This method is called "pin drop" because the designs are all made with the head of a pin dipped in wax. My mom would let all six of us kids dye usually two dozen hard boiled eggs for Easter. Once they were dry, she would heat up her bee's wax in an old paint can lid and begin her waxing. I can still hear her pin hitting the lid, where she would let it sit for a few seconds before she would touch the egg and make a short stroke, The stroke made a tear drop effect on the egg. The markings represent the tears that Mary cried when Jesus died on the cross. Each egg was either divided into three or had markings of three to represent the Trinity. She would work quietly on each egg. One by one, she would start to fill the egg cartons. They were just beautifiul. She would let us watch only because the wax was extremely hot. Then she would send us to bed, and you could hear her working until late into the evening. In the morning, we would come down to see her beautiful work. We were each allowed to pick an egg to give to our teachers for Easter. Others were given as gifts, and the last of them were reserved for egg fights on Easter- when you smash each other's egg by banging them together to see who had the toughest egg.
It wasn't until after I became a mother myself that I realized how important this tradition was to me. I blew out a dozen eggs - the hard way- and asked my mom to make some for me to keep for my children. She told everyone in the house to sit and watch, and she would explain exactly what she was taught. Even our brothers had to try to make the eggs. Our eggs looked terrible, but I was determined. I practiced for many years before I thought they were good enough. I love making the eggs and have truly enjoyed passing the tradition onto my children.

Some of the eggs pictured here are some of my older eggs that I have kept for my kids. The original tradition with our family was to hard boil, decorate, and eat the eggs. I now use the aniline dyes to get the great colors. Some of the eggs I leave the wax on for a fun effect, and others I remove the wax to reveal the colors. The eggs that my mom made were a simpler version because they were to be eaten and not saved.
All photos in this post courtesy of Mary Gleixner of MarysEggs
We were always told that they were peasant eggs. The farmers would bury an egg at the end of a row in their field to ensure a good crop. They were also placed at the head of gravestones at Easter. I do it today in place of flowers...my eggs last much longer than flowers.

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The tools I use are remarkably simple. When my grandma passed away, we were asked by my uncle to come to the house and take what we wanted.  He knew what I was looking for...all I wanted was those tools.  He was in the basement, turned around and said, "Oh Mary, this is what you want!!"  It was the only thing I wanted- a little bag with two sticks with pins in the end, some candles, and a little tray.  It sounds silly that two little sticks with pins should be such a prize, but they will be held dear to my heart forever.

For more of Mary's designs and stories about how she creates these beautiful eggs, visit her blog.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Andy Warhol Sighting in Union Square

Andy Warhol, famous artist, filmmaker, and sycophant returns to New York's centralized Union Square in sculpture form as a public art project by artist, Rob Pruitt. He now stands at the same juncture where he once gave out copies of Interview Magazine and just steps away from where his famous (or infamous) Factory was located on the sixth floor of the Decker Building at 33 Union Square West. The sculpture depicts Andy with large, owl-like glasses, an ever-present Polaroid camera swinging from his neck, and a Bloomingdale's shopping bag (medium) all encased in a ghostly Mylar patina. He's on view through October 2, 2011.

I'm in New York now partly because of Andy Warhol. My love for this city started as a slow burn in the early 1980s as I thumbed through Interview Magazine. Its pages chronicled the hazy accounts of gallivanting of stars like Grace Jones, Brooke Shields, Debbie Harry, and Keith Haring. They wore gold lamé catsuits with matching metallic roller skates. They hung out at Studio 54, Palladium, Cedar Bar, and Max’s Kansas City. I loved it all, the fashions, the parties, the artsy people who all appeared to be having the time of their lives. I bought into the dream and fantasy of being an artist in New York. Andy was in the center of it all, and I wanted to be part of that art scene more than anything. New York sure has changed, but at the time, I felt like I was missing out because of my age. While most of my friends were at the mall or starting to date, I sat alone in my Victorian doily-covered room in southern New Jersey dreaming of the big city...
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Below, is a "living sculpture" of Andy's famous Mylar pillows that still quietly float in a room in his Pittsburgh Museum.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Some Press in Inc. Magazine, April 2011

This month, Inc. Magazine's feature article is about Etsy and its founder, Rob Kalin. The article runs through some of the inner workings and history of the company showing thumbnail photographs of many familiar faces. If you happen to pass a newsstand this month, you'll see me on p. 64. Happy reading!
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