Author: Sarah Maria

Pablo Garcia – A Brief History of Drawing Machines, Since 1425

Although I haven’t watched the entire talk as it’s quite long, I found this to be very interesting which allowed me new insight to the concept of drawing machine.

Having employed this idea in some of my work, and still considering exploring drawing machines further, I found this video to allow me to analyze the concept while also questioning why I am so interested in them in the first place. What is so attractive about them? Why am I so intrigued by something that produces something else?

http://video.mit.edu/embed/26876/

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Making Scented Candles

Candle wax is a fascinating substance. I used to spend hours playing with a lit candle, dipping my finger into the hot wax, feeling it cool and then peel it off. On the assumption that candle wax would be a fun and interesting material to manipulate, I had done a couple of candles way back when I was much younger.

Lately my interest in candles has been rekindled (pun intended), mostly because of this blog. For the purpose of this post I decided to make a scented candle. The process was as follows.

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Things needed:

a clean empty jar,

some candles,

essential oil (your preferred scent),

a toothpick,

a piece of string.

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Method

Tie a piece of string to a toothpick and let it rest on top of the jar. Make sure that it touches the bottom from the other side.

Fill a pot with water and heat. Place the candle wax inside another pot, and place inside the pot of water. Heat until all candle wax has melted. Add essential oil and stir.

Pour the melted wax into the jar. Once the wax had set and started to cool, I sprinkled some beads on it. Allow to cool entirely, and then trim the wick. Use the lid to close the candle when not in use.

Always remember to be extra careful when working with candle wax. It is an extremely flammable substance, and it should never be left melting unattended.

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Festa Frawli : A Feast of Strawberries!

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Sunday 14th April was a very special day, not in the sense that it was anyone’s birthday or anniversary, but special in the way that it attracts a great deal of locals, and no wonder!

Festa Frawli (translated into Strawberry Feast) is literally a feast dedicated to one of everyone’s favourite fruits. During this day long celebration one can find all sorts of things made from strawberries, including ice cream, jams, cakes, and weirdly even sushi! There was also a stall selling candles and bath soaps made from strawberries, which is a refreshing different product from the abundance of food.

My only disappointment is that I could not find the delicious strawberry wine I love.

Delicious strawberry ravioli

Delicious strawberry ravioli

I had to try the ravioli with some strawberry sorbet

I had to try the ravioli with some strawberry sorbet

Strawberry jam

Strawberry jam

Strawberry soaps and candles

Strawberry soaps and candles

Strawberry memorabilia

Strawberry memorabilia

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A Very Special Treat

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I love this time of the year, and not just for the weather, the picnics, and the overall happier mood from everyone around me. One of the things I always look forward to are the fresh desserts and fruit that there are around this time. I love to have fresh fruit with dessert, probably because it’s the ultimate way to make myself not feel guilty for having fattening food.

Having bought an abundance of strawberries, this obviously called for some creative preparation. I was always fond of mixing them with fresh cream, blending them into an ice cream or eating them with pancakes. This year I wanted to try something new. As I have just bought a new waffle maker I thought I should give it a try and make waffles with strawberries.

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Ingredients:

2 cups plain flour

1 cup chocolate chips

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 2/3 cups milk

1/3 cup unsalted butter melted

2 eggs beaten

Method:

Mix the dry ingredients together.

Melt butter and leave to cool.

Add milk and butter to the dry mixture.

Add eggs.

Pour into the waffle iron, and cook until firm.

These glorious treats ended up being so delicious that I could not resist not having an extra portion. They can be served with fresh strawberries drizzled with maple syrup, honey, or even fresh cream to make it even more special!

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My Work at Milkshake; the Exhibition

Two weeks ago there was the opening of the long awaited exhibition, MILKSHAKE, in which several artists exhibited works that discussed topics such as the queer body, gender and sexuality. It is a very sensitive subject which is very easily one of the biggest taboos in Malta, partly due to the conservative catholic influence on the island. However, it was for this very reason that there was a need to have this publicly discussed.

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I am very glad to have taken part in this show, and for the first time I exhibited serigraphy (silk screen) prints. It is a set of 8 different prints, which all are tied to past experiences relating to my own sexuality. They are one of the most intimate body of work I have ever made, both because of content, and also because of the images.

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The development of this body of work was a long one, about ten months to be exact. However it was this process which led me to a much better understanding of the subject, thus enabling me to produce this work. It was important for me that the work would not reflect the subject from the outside in, but rather from the inside out. I did not want to give my thoughts on the topic, but rather how it affects me and my life. I felt it was better to record my experiences by working with my partner and record our experiences which although not experienced together, both of us can relate to.

After coming up with a lengthy piece of writing, I selected particular phrases and started building images around them. This allowed the pieces to evolve into an intimate record of both our experiences.

MILKSHAKE: The Exhibition at St. James Cavalier is opened until 1st of April 2013

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My Eight Legged Love

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my dog and how much I pamper her. What most people don’t know is that sometimes twice the legs is just as lovable, and hence my undying love for tarantulas.

Really and truly I have a deep fascination with a lot of arthropods, including phasmids as well. Phasmids are a family of insects which can grow quite large. More commonly they are called stick insects. However arachnids are my favourites, not only because they can have amazing colouration and interesting habits, but also because one can learn so much from them.

I get a lot of weird looks about my tarantulas, but I believe it is only because there are a lot of misconceptions about the creatures. For example, while ALL tarantulas are poisonous, they are not dangerous to humans and a bite is not strong enough to kill anyone. In fact, no one has ever died from a tarantula bite. This does not mean that you won’t have to handle a couple of hours of pain though. The fact that they are not deadly, unlike how many people perceive them, is probably one of the main reasons why they became so popular in the exotic pet trade.

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Tarantulas are divided into two sections, old world and new world. Old being from Asia, Australia and Africa, while new being from the South America. The old world ones have a more potent bite, however those from the new world can kick the so called urticating hair on their abdomen, causing itching. There is also another division, terrestrial tarantulas, those who are ground dwelling, and arboreal, those who live in trees.

They are often very hairy, which in my opinion makes them look really cute. They are able to spin webs like the common spiders, however for completely different purposes. While the spider makes it to trap its food, a tarantula makes its web to cover her borrow, or to produce hammock like structures to rest on. Another major difference is that while a spider’s average lifespan is two years, a tarantula can live up to 25 years.

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There are several reasons why tarantulas make perfect pets. First of all they do not need a large amount of space, they do not make any sound, maintenance is minimal, and they don’t smell. This makes them perfect for apartment living, especially for anyone who doesn’t have the time to go for long walks, or hates cleaning after their pet. They don’t need you to play with them, and they won’t require company. They won’t even raise you electricity bill as they do not need specific lighting, just a simple low wattage heat mat. And as an extra bonus, if you need to go on holiday you don’t need to worry about their feeding, as they can fast for months without any effect on their health.

Even though a lot of people are terrified of spiders, I do know of arachnophobes whose heart was stolen by a tarantula.

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Bone Shaped Biscuits

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When I saw this sweet little bone shaped cookie cutter set I immediately knew I had to have it. I could imagine how good the different dog cookie recipes would look. It was an impulse e-bay buy, and as quickly as I bought the set, I also quickly forgot about it. That is until I received them in the mail.

I decided to make this particular recipe, because it is quick to make and does not require a lot of preparation. Lately I am being really lazy to wash the dishes, so the amount of preparation actually makes a difference for me.

This particular recipe makes use of carob powder, which can be found in every health food section. I like to use carob powder because, first of all it is safe for dogs, and it is also a good replacement for the chocolate flavour which they (and me) adore so much. This recipe does not include anything which is fattening such as butter, as I do not like to introduce such ingredients to my dogs diet. The reason why I always use whole wheat for dogs is that its much easier for them to digest, while also being the healthier option.

Ingredients (Makes 20)

1 egg lightly beaten

1 tablespoon carob powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup milk

1 cup whole wheat flour

Method

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix dry ingredients together. Make a well in the centre. Add egg and milk and mix well. Knead well into a ball. On a heavy floured surface roll open and cut with the cutter. Place on a baking tray lined with baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.

And that’s it. Now wait for them to cool and then give one to your dog, who has definitely been lurking in the kitchen for the last 15 minutes.

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Creatively Surviving Winter

During the winter I always find myself wanting to cuddle up in a warm jumper, and preferably stay in bed. Besides being practically impossible, it is also a great way to kill your creative output. So to help keep your creative production levels up, I decided to compile a short list of things which will help when the weather is much less than encouraging.

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Besides a heater, this is the ultimate way to avoid freezing. Personally I use mine constantly, as I will be able to keep warm even at my desk. It is one of the ultimate indispensable items for me, ranking almost as high as my laptop.

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Through personal experience I know that a large sketchbook is somewhat a chore to carry around, and thus remaining empty. However on a small sketchbook you can even draw while in bed, on the sofa, or wherever. So really there is no excuse any more.

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This is probably the most important one. In the cold winter days it’s almost easier to procrastinate than to slip on a butter covered floor! To avoid the need to return to bed after the warm tea, it’s best not to be wearing your pyjamas to further distance yourself from temptation.

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You guessed it, right now I’m wearing a pair of fuzzy gloves which I refuse to take off until I absolutely need to. Although this really depends on what you are doing, it’s a good way to not having your fingers almost fall off while trying to do something.

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It is impossible to get anything done if you don’t have a single target. Now is the time to embark on new projects and plan new things. If this doesn’t work to get you motivated you can always use them as a reminder on what you should be doing.

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The miracle worker! A cup of tea keeps me warm while not really taking my mind off what I’m doing. I use it as a sort of treat to get my incentives going.

Layering ink, a Passion for Printing

Sometimes there are things which make us dream, make us wonder how far they would take us and the new possibilities they would open. I used to have this feeling about silk screen printing for many years, however after failing to find supplies and tutors in Malta I decided to let it go. That is until last May, when I decided to jump in and spend (the only money I had) on screen printing equipment.

I have been long interested in the technique. I was always fascinated by the method of producing photographic prints, mainly as the process was always so clouded in mystery to me. This printing technique also allows the use of block colours, sharp lines, and layering. It was the exact aesthetic I am interested in, so this attraction towards the process was very natural.

After contacting several art shops in Malta, I concluded that no one really imports silk screen material, at least not for commercial sales. I was left with the only option of ordering from abroad, facing extraordinary shipping costs. However it was all worth it, as it provided me with not just a new medium, but a new way to make my work, and a new way to think.

The design printed on a transparent film, part of the preparation for making the stencil.

The design printed on a transparent film, part of the preparation for making the stencil

Silk screen is a printing process which makes use of a prepared ink blocking mesh, while forcing ink through the stencil using a squeegee. It allows for various colours in a single image by the use of multiple screens. Nowadays it is industrially replaced by digital printing, however it is still used for printing on T-shirts, especially those which are custom made. However my interest in the process lies solely as an art form and book making.

The origins of silk screen lie back in the Chinese Song Dynasty, but the process used today was developed in the Europe over the 20th century. It was made popular as an art form by several artists including Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

I decided to make a design which represents this blog by taking several elements from various past posts, and also adding some from my own imagination.

After printing the black part

After printing the black part

Printing the blue
Printing the blue

Mixing the red

Mixing the red

The finished print

The finished print

Organising a Get-Together… in Less Than 2 Hours!

Everybody loves a birthday get-together. They are a perfect excuse to meet friends in the comfort of your own home, while drinking a little extra as you’re not going to be driving anywhere. That is why I’m always up for one and whenever someone’s birthday is approaching, I always volunteer.

What most often happens is that one does not have enough time to prepare, and instead of having fun ends up having a very stressful experience. However with some planning you can prepare everything in less than two hours. Here are the recipes that I have used, which you can follow to have a fun night without the usual stress that comes along with get-togethers.

The most important item of such an event is food. No one will be able to enjoy anything on an empty stomach. The reason I chose a dish rather than party food is that it is more filling, less time consuming to make, and once it’s ready drinks and snacks can be enjoyed. I chose a simple recipe that does not take more than half an hour to prepare, thus reducing the panic factor. Click here for the recipe. I used cellentani instead of linguine, as I ran out of them.

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For dessert I chose the very addictive recipe of the Crunchy Chocolate and Marshmallow Cake. My mum made this once and everybody loved it and could not have enough of it. Not only does it taste amazing, but it also does not take a long time to make. In fact it is one of those non bake cakes which you simply refrigerate. Click here for the recipe.

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Of course, there is no party without that little bit of alcohol. To make things a little bit more fun than just opening a good bottle of wine, I decided to go for shots. After all no one can say no to that. I opted for the colour blue which was the birthday girl’s favourite colour. I also decided to go ahead and use one of my own recipes. Not only does it have an appealing appearance but it also tastes really good. The recipe is as follows.

Ingredients

20 ml Sambuca

12ml Blue Curaçao

12 ml double cream

honey

Method

Layer the Sambuca, Blue Curaçao and double cream. Remember to pour the spirits really slowly, and over a spoon. Then add a couple of drops of honey in the middle.

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And finally, some cocktails to end everything on a sweet note, and while also allowing time for socializing. I wanted the cocktail also to be blue (to have some form of consistency)  so I decided to make the Blue Hawaii. Click here for the recipe. Somehow mine turned out green rather than blue, but it still tasted amazing.

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And there you have it, a simple yet complete plan to organize a simple get together for a couple of friends, which should not take more than two hours. It is very important to allow time to wind down prior to when people start arriving. After all, this is meant to be fun!