Fun and Funky Bat Mitzvah Gift

stained glass keepsake box Abby_side Abby_frontI was recently asked to make a keepsake invitation box for a girl who’s “fun”. Her aunt asked me to make it “fun & funky” to fit her personality. The invitation itself was so colorful it was easy to design around. We decided to make sure it had lots of color, so I extended the bands of color around the sides of the box. I hear she loves it!

Lessons Learned from the Naked Cake

naked cake with fresh fruit

I’ve been asked to make another naked cake for two weeks from now! Here’s my first one above, made last summer. Well, technically this was my third one, I made two in preparation for this one and brought them in to work for comments and taste testing. I had made two versions: one completely from scratch and the other used a recipe from the Cake Mix Doctor. The cake mix won! Obviously I added my own touches to the recipe, because that’s just what I do 🙂

I learned a lot from making these cakes. While they save you some time in decoration they have their own unique issues.

  • You MUST bake each layer so that they are the same color when they come out of the pan. Easier said than done! This means they can’t be on two different shelves in your oven, or they come out lighter or darker and this shows. You can see that my 6″ layer on top is slightly darker than the rest. It’s hard to gauge when baking because you can’t see the sides of your cake.
  • Try not to sugar your fruit on a hot day. This cake was done in July and the fruit was sweating as I was putting it on. I had made them the day before and left them on the counter. I had read NOT to put them in the fridge as this makes them get even more condensation and sweat further. Good advice!
  • I tried a few versions of the sugaring that I found online. In my opinion the best was warm water and unflavored gelatin. Just drag the fruit or leaves through it, and then into superfine sugar. I didn’t have superfine, so I put regular sugar into my food processor and whipped it around on low. Don’t use high, you might end up with cotton candy!
  • Filling: if you’re going to use a preserve for a filling you need to decide whether or not to let it drip out. On Pinterest I see ones where they let it just drip completely. If you don’t want it to come out, make sure to pipe a dam of frosting to hold it in.
  • What to use for fruit? I found the best were smaller fruits. I used grapes, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries and red currants. I used sage, grape leaves and vines and raspberry leaves from my garden. As an artist, I look for different shapes and different colors that still relate to one another. My favorite part of this was the sage leaves, the cascading currants and the grape vines trailing around.

It’s fun to create this type of cake. At first I was nervous that it wasn’t going to look good, but as soon as I started to put the fruit on, it magically came together and looked great. Have fun creating one – and I’ll post the next one after it’s made!

naked cake by Anna Harding

 

A Glass Wall Hanging for a Wedding Invitation

wedding invitation wall hanging

Here’s a simple but pretty wall hanging for an invitation. This one was for a wedding. It’s made with textured glass called Everglade. The swirls in the glass make it special. I used decorative brass corners plated in antiqued silver, which I added just a hint of gold powder onto. The frame uses a traditional picture framing “sawtooth” hanger. This way you don’t have an unsightly line showing through the clear glass!

Finding the Purpose of Art

onemillionbones2

Recently I went with my husband to Washington D.C. to visit friends. We were on our way to the National Gallery of Art, primarily to see the Albrecht DĂĽrer exhibit. We passed by the Mall and saw hundreds of people dressed in white running to piles of what looked to be bones, grabbing a handful and placing them on the lawn. Interested, we took a closer look. They were, of course, fake bones, made of recycled cardboard: egg carton-like material cast into a variety of bone shapes. From their website is a brief synopsis:

One Million Bones is a large-scale social arts practice, combining education, hands-on art making, and public installations to raise awareness of ongoing genocides and mass atrocities in places like Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Burma. For the past three years we have been collecting 1,000,000 handcrafted bones for a three-day installation event on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., June 8-10, 2013. The installation will exist as a collaborative site of conscience to honor victims and survivors, and will also serve as a visual petition against ongoing conflicts and a resounding call for much need and long overdue action.

onemillionbones1

We watched and read about the project and moved on. We saw the amazing DĂĽrer exhibit and then went over to the west building to see the Edvard Munch show and then browsed around. One of the rooms had just 4 large paintings by Thomas Cole, The Voyage of  Life. I found the scenery depicted was fabulous (though the angels were too much) and I loved how he handled the clouds. Steve was particularly struck by the series and asked me for my phone to photograph them. As we walked back toward where we parked we were just about at the bones again and I wondered how far they had gotten while we were inside. Steve was talking about the Cole series and saying how sometimes he doesn’t like the art for the imagery but more for the meaning. I was thrilled! This is what artists throughout time, all over the world have been trying to get across! Artists have used many forms of media to produce something that inspires and moves you emotionally. This clearly was what the One Million Bones project was all about. The chance to bring a message to the general public in a format that transmits the message in a powerful way.