Coming home

Halloween Masks: Casper (the not so friendly, ghost), Q. Cassetti, 2011, Adobe illustratorFriday!

Its been quite a week. Tonight we have Alex’s performance. Rumors over Facebook have been positive about his skills and performance, so I am excited to see what he can do! I will also being doing double duty by shooting the drama for the yearbook. Better charge up the batteries!

Rob is home today to futz with slide presentations and the thises and thats he cannot address given his wild work weeks. We are plotting out our weekends in a strategic way between now and Christmas as each open weekend is another opportunity to see a school or travel in some other way. Dizzying.

Big J arrived last night (the big  HORSE) and was delighted by his travels and surprised by the new freedom he has  in a big pasture with a stream he can drink out of, grass he can nibble and other horses to watch and learn from. This is a horse from the desert who lived in a small pen at a public stable (nice but confining) and relyed on being ridden to get his exercise. He has come to a very beautiful farm with other horses…and if I had four legs and a mane, I would be dumbstruck. The only glitch to the whole thing is the electric fence which he is quickly learning about. Hard lessons…ow! From Gloria’s description, perhaps Justin, albeit a California horse, might have come home too. At least, that’s my whimsical way of looking at it.

Speaking of coming home, I was delighted to talk to Jacob’s dad yesterday. There is some desire that Jacob join us after Christmas to spend the time until he goes back to college with us. I posed that to the home team and the response was immediate and beyond enthusiastic. So, we are going to swell our ranks for the new year and have tons of extra friends and musicians dropping in to gather and hang out. Should make for a jolly holiday!

As you can see, the masks continue. I am still learning….and thinking about them, their iconography, the techniques and some of the stylistic tricks. Gotta pack that all in my small brain and then turn whirr on to see what comes out the other side. Should be interesting.

Just signed a pile of posters for the Ulysses Philomathic Library dinner for tomorrow night. They are selling signed prints of the Bicentennial Owl for $10. A nice way to raise a little money.

Gotta go.

Getting in the groove.

Halloween Mask: Bunny, Q. Cassetti, 2011, Adobe IllustratorStill stinky here. The black one wafts around with a little cloud of diesel inspired scent…and we always know where she is. Its a bit tedious— and its only been a day. From what I have read, the oily skunkiness can last as long as 2 years. I am bored now…imagine two years from now. Maybe we will be lucky enough that she will not be sprayed again (or at least for two years so it can wear out).

Alex’s first show was today. Unfortunately, I had a phone call that I had to make so as not to make the elementary and middle school performance. Poor dude, he is worn out and done with all of this. Next week, no play and no XC…so its from pressure to other pressures and work. It just keeps going and going. I am looking forward to his work as the wind (he is the wind in a fable…and it seems he is feeling it).

Justin, the big California Horse (Cap C, Cap H, Cap HORSE), arrives via the night train tonight (anytime after 5) to the cold weather. Gloria told me that his long coat was a problem in LA and she was constantly worrying about his electrolytes and water consumption. This big warhorse will grow a nice long coat and hopefully be able to handle the snow and cold. There is a lot of excitement around his arrival. Its been a long journey for him. A nice dry stall that is not moving will be a relief.

Ben Cooper 1980 (catalog page)

Busy with the masks as you can see. Between this bunny and the cat, the idea of developing my own character designs seem feasable. I am learning a bit about this styling, how things are handled for cute, how things are handled for scary, how things are handled for funny/cute. I am curious about the illustrators/artists who created these mask characters. Need to do some research and see what I can dig up. I was reading another internet clip, and they were referring to these halloween costumes as folk art. Hmmm. What do you think?

Check out these cool box graphics from the Ben Cooper Boxes. I love the benday dot…and the line treatment. Does this look like graphic design work? or illustration? Which side of the desk will this sit on? Neato Coolville>> I just ran into a bunch of vintage Kiss masks…Whoa. Kiss…and some of them have yucky frizzy hair attached to the vacformed face.


Halloween Mask: Cute Cat, Q. Cassetti, 2011, Adobe Illustrator, CS5KItty and Kaitlin and Ari just left this noon with the sun bright in the sky, clutching the gigantic nutella jar I had as a backup to the one they had day one of school. They were thrilled to bits as they had already (among 8 of these students) eaten the first of the 11 lb. containers of this chocolate/ hazelnut spread. Onward! To more school, to heated living and studying spaces, to the next stretch before Thanksgiving. It was lovely to visit with them—and I hope they get back to the Shire safely.

Kitty was given two vintage Marimekko dresses which looked fabulous on her (and she knows it). One of them will have a new life on the contradance circuit (Kitty is not fond of the india print skirt ethos but wants something with plenty of fabric that will swirl and spin. The other in a lovely black and white print with a high waistline and 3/4 length sleeves she was wearing looking the peak of chic. She was positively delighted. Three generations of Cassetti ladies have worn these…with the happy dancing princess the current owner.

Shady Grove had a skunk encounter last night getting sprayed in her face…and missing most all else. So around 9 p.m. we cranked up a combination of Hydrogen Peroxide, baking soda and dish soap and then finished her in a bath. Kitty was upfront and center with this (bless her) with me providing wing support on left, Rob on right. Shady was a good girl and was very patient with us down to getting into the bath and lying as still as can be as we lathered her up with Lemon Dawn. She still has that Eau de Skunk stink…but she isnt dominant with it. Gloria and I went to the local farm store, Agway  this a.m. to get stuff for Gloria’s horse, Justin and a new collar for Shady (florescent orange hunting collar for now). Loved spending a bit of time at Agway checking out all the lovely esoterica having to do with farming and animals, the different products, harnesses, ropes, boots, and the complete Carhartt collection.

Things are settling down here. Plans are falling into place happily. I am busy drawing these masks…and thinking a bit further out for the masks I need to design myself once I have the mask chops down. Interesting. Rob thinks we should screen print and vacform them and sell them as one off art pieces…? Your thoughts about that? I am more interested in making the pix….and not product that is an outgrowth. I am busy learning and thinking about these masks—so I am on a new channel.

More later.


No more princesses and vampires, for this year.

Halloween Mask: Witch, Q. Cassetti, 2011 Adobe Illustrator CS5Halloween was cold outside. Down coat cold. No boots on the fairy princesses. Kitty and gang carved some gorgeous pumpkins and put 50 lumieres down the walk. We handed out a ton of candy and it was all done by 8:30 p.m. It was another clear and dry evening at least.

Kitty is wonderful. It has been nice to have a little visit with her. She is beginning to focus, to reach out, to make connections, to take more risks, to go out on the edge, to go beyond her fear. She took a hat making course which she LOOOVED. They were presented original straw hat forms, and some tools with access to ribbons and bows which Kitty transformed into a “Jane Austen bonnet”.  The teacher was an original that she cottoned to…marvelling in how creative and interesting millinary really is. Maybe more work there. Could be a fun thing. Her Rennaissance Art History Class at Mt. Holyoke she loves too. She is throughly enjoying being part of the drama community, the costumes, the shop, the people. She is a dancing girl—and a girl that goes to parties (that girl wasnt here last year). So, I couldnt be happier in her open attitude, happiness, and change. We love her friends too.

Alex is heads down with the drama production. He is so solid…and great. I hope it will be a great success. There are all sorts of XC events this weekend (along with dishes to pass)

I baked a few of the apples I got this weekend from Kingtown Apples (a half bushel (mixed) for $8). Down they went for lunch. Everyone was very happy. I had totally forgotten how easy and pleasing baked apples are. Even the most simple style, sugar and cinnamon are a treat. Low in fat…and tasty/warm.

I have done something interesting that maybe you might want to try too. There is a cool feature/offering from Google called “Google Alerts”. You can set up topics you want to be alerted to what is new…and I have put Fraktur, Trumansburg, Ben Cooper and Q. Cassetti as my alerts. From that, I get an email that tells me about what is new. I found out that my bee work was cited in Dappled Additionally, my work was shown on a cool urban farming blog, Brooklyn, again, another grouping of bee images.

As you can see, I am happy with my masks. More to come. They are so odd…and oddly engaging.


Halloween Mask: Frankenstein, Q. Cassetti, 2011, Adobe Illustrator CS5Funny what happens! Kitty called yesterday around noon. Hampshire had evacuated campus due to the electricity being knocked out—and she was trying to figure out what to do. Twenty four hours later, we have Kitty, and two friends here, eating, watching t.v. and hopefully carving the pumpkins and making Halloween for tonight’s activities. They all have had snuggly beds, hot tubs, cups of tea and soup and slices of quick bread. So, yesterday’s proposed afternoon of cooking became significantly bigger with a vegetarian Pizza Rustica, two cranberry recipes (one sauce made with mulled cider and lemon juice and a cold one), the gravy for bird day. Lots of prepping and cooking.

New week, new work. Trying to close down some projects as so many are opening up. Can you imagine, its almost November 1? What happened?

New masks in process. A pretty wierd witch. Then, I think Uncle Sam…

More later


Halloween Mask: Devil, Q. Cassetti, 2011 Adobe Illustrator CS5I am off to the Shure Save to get the basics and fixings for pizza rustica for my little boy. Alex has play play play practice this week, so something that goes into the fridge that he likes and wants, and can be quickly miked up to take it off the cold is in order. I floated the idea of pizza rustica and he flipped (quietly, but that is how he rolls). Afters yesterday’s prep and chop, today seems simple with pumpkin carving and turkey gravy making.

I googled gravy to see if there was anything that I wasn’t doing…and it seems like I do it all right (no one mentioned browning the flour which is something I do— my mom always did…and I think it makes a difference). The cornbread, banana bread and stuffing awaits in the freezer. What next? I know, cranberries…but forget buying them before Halloween. As of Tuesday, we will be on it. I am thinking of doing two cranberries—one chunky and the other more of a real sauce. Ideas?

I am smitten with doing research on these odd halloween masks. Its curious, but there is a little bit of my love of old circus poster illustrations combined with the crazy palette of the sixties (I found a purple gorilla that is outstanding), combined with a sixties headset of what was good/acceptable imagery and symbols for little children to represent. The only girl costumes were fair haired princesses and raggedy ann (all with white fleshtones). If you were a girl of color, you either had to be white or a monster/witch. Twisted. Talk about a generation needing to change. Imagine your self image if you were neither statuesque and blond with perfect skin, or a white dollbaby. But then again, we didnt have a female head of the department of state or a supreme court justice. Thankfully, that has changed.

You will find more pictures coming from this as I am learning stuff…mainly how to add detail and depth, and how to create high vis pings and flecks. I was just blabbing on the other day to my audience (Rob and Alex) on how I want to be able to think out a real live “sports” icon…and this is good training. Plus, this will morph to the clown project I have been waiting to do. So, wait long enough, something will click…the pen or the electronic pen just has to keep moving. I now do not have enough time in the day to do what I want to do. Who hoooo. However, the usual question pops up, who would want these things? And the answer always is, who cares?!

Time to roll to the store and pumpkin patch.

Masks on!

Halloween Warmup, Q. Cassetti, 2011, Adobe Illustrator CS5Cranked up some tylenol this a.m. Two days of the same blasted headache needs to STOP. Cranking up some caffeine too. Maybe that will help. It was blistering yesterday. Take off the glasses and press the palms to your eye sockets ouch. I am being positive about medication and caffeine. I can hope. I think its the change from fall to winter. A hard freeze is promised for tonight. Oy.

I have every turkey part available from the bits and pieces department at Shure Save—roasting in the oven with all the leeks and celery I chopped and froze from the Sweet Sweetland CSA a month ago. Smells delish. I am going to brew a lovely rich stock for Thanksgiving today/tomorrow (we are aiming to have a freeze tonight which will help the stock) and then gravy this weekend (to freeze).

The gorgeous bones (what an italian grandmother I have become…or a baba yaga?)  are done roasting. New bag of frozen organic celery added to the cauldron to brew the turkey stew/stock. David C. said it smelled like Thanksgiving. I guess its doing what I wanted it to do! Two down for the Festa della festa.

Speaking of fun, Annie K. posted this great link to Kate’s recipe for making your own cola. I am so all over this.  Hello vanilla beans! Right here>>

As you can see, the Halloween imagery is rolling. A pumpkin for today. I was looking through imagery of store bought masks from when I was growing up. The whole costume in a box thing was a puzzle for me as a kid…with the little cheap screenprinted jumpsuit and these neon printed, vac form masks that gave kids who didnt make their costumes something to wear. I marvelled in these costumes that came in boxes (why that was fascinating, I cannot figure) but the masks…they are scary in the mode of clown illustrations for me. They seemed like a cop out for me as a kid—and that homemade costumes of being a cowboy, or nun, witch or cat were the way to go. However, the kitchiness, the context of neon cereal boxes, Mr. Bubble commercials, Saturday a.m. cartoons recalibrate these costumes for me—and really would like to think of them as part of reach of advertising and imagery that we took for granted.

I guess these costumes are collectible now (not a surprise) so it was interesting to see how this little snippet of my childhood is curated. Look at the cape and skirt of this witch is just decorated without much design. The costume holds all sorts of Halloween symbols without really messaging witch. Funny. The imagery screened on these essentially, “dry cleaner bags” decorate with ideas having to do with the holiday, or the most obvious images that reflect on the character. When did we finally decide this boxed approach to off the rack costumes change to what we have today, more distinct, “fashion-y” garments that may or may not be accompanied by masks (and not screen printed/vac form masks)? When didn’t this cheap panacea for moms work…?  And Why?  I think it might be linked to the Martha Stewartization of what a real, a “good” mom does. I think it might be Martha highlighting Halloween (with the exquisite make up and costumes that highlighted MS annually on the cover from spectacular to spooky at a very high level). Perhaps that MS shove, transformed Halloween from the simple Trick or Treat holiday of one day, to the second decorated holiday event we have today…with blow up lawn ornaments, orange Halloween trees ( like December holiday)…Wow. Did the advent of cheap Chinese manufacturing (at a high level) affect this too? I am surprisingly fascinated and nostalgic about the old Halloween…and will surf around today to see what else pops up. I know, sick.

Here are some links just to keep em coming: Goblin Haus
Ben Cooper>>
Ben Cooper on Ebay>>
Collegeville on Ebay>>
Halco on Ebay>>

Collegeville on Google Images>> (please be seated)
The Halloween Museum (check out Spock at the bottom. Heckle and Jeckel is alarmingly bad)

Just got off the phone with a list (!) of projects and branding initiatives for my big client. Should wrap it up with you to be productive.

Psyched to be involved

Halloween Warmup, Q. Cassetti, 2011, Adobe Illustrator CS5It was heads down yesterday. I had yearbook, files to complete, new projects to begin. I am working on a bunch of vector things just to get my hand in, my eye in, my head into the work. I am feeling stale overall, so playing the visual scales is a good thing that is challenging me, and at the same time, making some happy holiday imagery.

Rob is in NYC. Alex is in prep for his play and for upcoming XC events. The girls XC team wants me to do a shirt for them inspired by the Sausage Fest shirt. Its not my design. It’s Alex’s work…I am just the hands…and he has ideas for the girls he knows either they will not get, or better, get and not understand how inappropriate it is. I need to get him to put his brain on this for amusement (at least ours).

Gloria is on her way east. Gloria is my sister-in-law who has lived in Los Angeles since college. She has decided to move east for a change of things—bringing household and horse (big horse) to settle here with family and old friends (and new ones too). We are all looking forward to this change for her…and feel that this will be a good thing for her personally, professionally. Los Angeles, as much as its heaven, is tough going financially, travelling, making friends, engaging in community. These are factors that are sweet here. I think she is going to be pleasantly surprised once she settles in. She is driving her cute little blue car east … Memphis was last night. Tonight is Lexington KY. She will be here Friday. So things are ramping up here on campus.

I started Thanksgiving on Sunday making the filler for the stuffing (I make a combo of sausage, mushrooms, leeks, parsley (sauteed)) that I blend with cornbread, and parmesean cheese. Tonight I start making stock so I can make the gravy in advance. I want to make pumpkin bread and cornbread in the next week or so. Same with the cranberries. All this prework makes the 25th of Nov. a pleasant day. I love this. Totally. I should be doing dupes so that xmas is the same. That would be genius. I am not that genius…but if one is prepping feasts, prep big. I am thankful I am living in the day of the freezer and not the middle ages so this sort of prework can happily be done.

Postcard, Wide Awake Bakery, illustration/design, Q. Cassetti, 2011, Adobe Illustrator CS5In the spirit of giving, I was thrilled to read about my friend, Stefan Senders championing a local food delivery to the Occupy Wall Street folks>> Ithaca is filled with protesting old hippies who love local food. We are all over being part of the 99% and want to share our goods to keep cheer for those who are doing the occupying. Stefan, as you remember, is the baker/owner of Wide Awake Bakery (a wood fired, artisan bakery who uses flour that is grown and ground here in Tburg. Here is a bit from the Ithaca Journal article by Rachel Stern:

“A van, running on biodiesel and chock-full of goodies made in the Ithaca area, traveled to New York City to feed protesters with the Occupy Wall Street movement last week.

Organized by Stefan Senders of Wide Awake Bakery of Trumansburg, the van was packed with bread, pancake mix, cheese, scones, cabbage, bulgur and whole wheat pasta, to name a few items. Eager to find a way to contribute to the movement, Senders decided to enlist the help of local farmers and restaurant owners.

“Our bakery has a mission to bake the best bread in the world, but we also have a social mission to do good things we believe in,” he said. “We really wanted to contribute in some way to the movement because it is very much in line with what we think.”“…

“This is part of our mission — it is part of the mission of many of us in the area — to do all we can to help what we see as an important movement,” he said. “We feel like we are doing the right thing. We are totally psyched to be involved.”“