Advent 2015: Day One

Preface: Advent 2015 Starts Today!
I try to pick a theme that I stick to, or choose to derivate from and this year's theme is Birds, Bees and Big Green Trees. Some of them are Christmassy (sing the carols please) and others are just birds that I admire or think are funny. You can be the judge. Here we go!

Advent 2015: Day One: Christmas Goose   Q. Cassetti 2015

Advent 2015: Day One:
Christmas Goose

Q. Cassetti 2015

Mental tryptophan

Vector Sketch, Q. Cassetti, 2011, Adobe Illustrator CS5Working on a portrait. Fun. Tough going with the eyes. I find that recently, I need to construct more of the eyes than what is in the picture which is a bit of a puzzle, but when I focus on them, it really snaps the image up. My guy has a cape and a high necked, dark shirt. Very dashing…with a very goth hairdo.

More little projects on the desk to correct, to add to, to develop, to change. I met with my new farmers today. They took me on the most lyrical and philosophical walks over their property to see the elegant black chickens, their groomed, snuffling and happy pigs (searching for apples) filled in with their thinking on planting, on cycling crops and livestock, on teaching, on food and then on their beautiful barn (complete with a slate roof) and the architectural plans around this. The property spans the most glorious gorge…with a lovely stream and the trees sheer perfection and tall, reaching up to the sky. No hanging branches, no need to limb up or change anything. With the sparking leaves…it was breathtaking. We shared maroon apples from a tree by their driveway and talked about planting in hexagons with plants that complement each other for their seasons, for the creatures they attract or repell….Just take a gander at their poetic blog. Love reading it: Tree Gate Farm>>

Nice meeting with the Distillery. We are on a direction that is great…and beginning to refine an approach to the labels, the logotype, the color palette. Next step, comping the range of products they are going to lead with, think about the secondary packaging, and the marketing materials…and how the spirit and language go with it. As this operation is on the wine trail, the need to drive the location as a destination is key to their success. How to do that? What are the key vehicles? How to position this operation as part of your Cayuga Lake tour etc. Plenty to think about during winter days.

Have started thinking about Thanksgiving and the food around that. I so loved cooking much of the feast in advance so that Thanksgiving day was about setting the table, and cooking the bird and any last minute stuff (icing cakes, potatoes etc). Making stock in advance is the first place to go, so, I will need to get some turkey parts to make the stock to make the stuffing, gravy, and all else that is stock derived. I found a wonderful italian cake I would like to make this year along with a pear ginger claflouti (King Arthur Flour Cookbook). The cake I can make and freeze, but the claflouti is a now thing…so that will happen on the 25th. Right now we have around 17 coming. I project those numbers will be growing. Our big table can seat 12-14…so we are probably looking at 11 at the big table and 6 at a satellite table. Placecards will be in order…hmmm. (such good sleep inducing thinking versus my wanting to bury a hatchet somewhere)….Mental trytophan.

I am still not sleeping well. Coulda shoulda woulda. Then, the brick wall of can’t, won’t, maybe, shouldn’t. They are making me mad. Unfortunately, they do not know that when I am mad, I get feisty…and this will not be the placid, nice me that they think they know. I click into lists, confirmations, dating, reports, verbatim quotes (dated.time) and then finding out my rights and referencing their responsibilities. The land of carbon copied lawyers, and everyone else and their mother is just about to begin. The boil is slow…and as this bear was poked this morning…the heat is building.

More finish.

Finished, I think, Q. Cassetti, 2011, Adobe Illustrator CS5So, First portrait is done. Need to chip away at the publication for now…and then back at the other portrait. The process was pretty fun yesterday—and as you can see, the work tighened up and was a bit more designed from the show and tell last night with the client.  The image came together pretty quickly (considering other images I have done)—so the quickies earlier this summer had some value in getting my “eye in”. Then, it gets married to some type.

It was announced that Steuben Glass, a former client of mine, is closing it’s doors, it’s factory—and letting it’s employees go.

Ben Dobbin, an AP Reporter says:

Luxury crystal maker Steuben closes NY factory

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — The Ohio owner of Steuben Glass, the company still making luxury lead crystal by hand in the United States, said Wednesday that it plans to end production after 108 years.

Schottenstein Stores Corp. of Columbus, Ohio, which bought the business from longtime owner Corning Inc. in 2008, said declining sales in the choppy economy have been eroding Steuben Glass’ profitability.

Steuben’s sole factory, which employs 60 people making everything from wine glasses to art objects in the small city of Corning in western New York, is set to close Nov. 29.

When the factory opened in 1903, founder and designer Frederick Carder’s richly hued creations turned him into a giant of the glass arts scene alongside Louis Comfort Tiffany and Rene Lalique.

The Steuben Glass store in New York City will remain open until its inventory sells, while the shop at the Corning Museum of Glass will close in November, Schottenstein spokesman Ron Sykes said.

Before its sale to Schottenstein, the crystal maker had been unprofitable for a decade. It had lost $30 million over the previous five years, and its sales had shrunk to $25 million a year, company officials at Corning said.

Steuben Glass artwork can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Its wine glasses start at $75 apiece. For more of this article>>

The Elmira Star Gazette reports.

Crystal Biscuit, Steuben GlassHow sad this all is. Steuben Glass has been part of my history and that of my husband and his family. This American Tradition of giving and receiving the finest crystal in the world we share the love of with our friends who are designers, craftsmen and top managment of this concern with threads of knowledge and design reaching down to the former generations of designers and craftsmen. This remarkable company provided gifts of state and gifts to friends for 108 years presenting bowls for Buckingham Palace to candlesticks for the dining room table from grandmother, to mother to daughter. This is a company we all talked about, stretched to understand, reached to grow, and lean into to showcase the best of the best. (the example to the right is an example of where they have gone….a personalized glass dog biscuit…from the pinnacle that created and produced many magical pieces from James Houston (to name one), creating and producing Sydney Waugh’s Gazelle Bowl (1935) in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (see the bowl)

Steuben was the pride of the Corning valley. It embraced families of glassmakers, copper wheel engravers, design cutters, glass cleaners, glass craftsmen, gaffers, gatherers, and teams. Everyone had even a small piece in the requisite knick knack cabinet, a “dust collector” (as I called them)—with company gifts, personal gifts, momentos given and displayed. It is a sad day for the valley…and a sad day for the company. I have many happy memories of the company with the grey linen box.

Today is my dear son’s birthday. Happy Day to Alex. Speaking as someone who was at the original Birthday, he is as adorable as the small Alexander Commander who arrived on the scene on time, as predicted—sweet and burrowing into our hearts. We will have dinner out at a splashy restaurant tonight. I bought him a used electric guitar which is his present from me. Gotta go.


More miracles

Portrait in progress, step one, Q. Cassetti, 2011, Adobe Illustrator CS5

I have two portraits to do by the end of September. I got a crack at one of them yesterday and delighted in creating the silhouette and beginning to digitally cut the highlights out of that shape. I hope the mid tones and darks will go in today. I am always, without a doubt, nervous when I square up the paper and start these thing—asking myself if I can do it this time…as I rarely have much confidence in the reference combined with shaky personal confidence. Just picking up the pen, taking a deep breath and then the focused chipping away often checking every decision takes the time. When I have a half dozen highlights in, I know this is going to work or not….and my optimism can rise. Its a nice charge to drive the work forward. Then, I give myself a little permission to go a bit rogue with some manufactured highlights and shadows. I am optimistic I can give my client a pair of portraits that will work complete with working a hand with a smoking pipe into one of them as the pipe was so iconic with this particular artist.

Have you heard about Wacom’s newest offering, the Inkling? I discovered this wonder yesterday and currently I am transfixed and cannot wait until mid September. The Inkling is essentially, a ballpoint pen that records your hand drawing and transfers that work to digital. You use their pen, and your own notebook. I am wondering how it translates your drawing to make it better than a high res scan. Its too cool…but now that I think about it…unless it saves it to vectors or layers or provides me more than a scan, I am trying to figure out whether this is more of a toy than a real work tool. Maybe if there is a chance today, I will do a little reading on this.


“Finally this fantastic pen interface technology has made it to where it belongs, Wacom Inkling Smart Pen. The Inkling Smart Pen is a 2 part device that transfers handwriting strokes to a digital format. The technology is quite clever and extremely energy efficient which is what gives it such great potential. The base unit uses 2 microphones that give it the sound version of stereoscopic ‘vision’, allowing it to hear where the pen is moving.The pen emits a completely inaudible pulse helping the base unit track location and pen pressure. The datagrams on these coordinates are tiny allowing for cheap storage of many pages. The pen is normal sized thanks to only needing to make its silent ping while the base unit listens and records. Other competitors in the space require a hot-dog sized pen to hold all the electronics. Some of those require special paper as well, where none is needed by the Inkling.

The touch of a button on the base tells the device to start using storing the pen strokes in a different ‘page’ and it can store dozens if not hundreds of pages. An internal battery in the base is recharged by USB and the pen only needs inexpensive watch batteries. This technology has been hopping from company to company for some time now, A-open and IOGear to name a few. Both have products based on this technology but no one does pens like Wacom. We’re looking forward to see how much they’ve improved upon it while unfortunately upping the prior incarnation’s MSRP. Wacoms plan to release the Inkling Smart Pen at $199 later this year. Being able to import directly into Illustrator is probably worth double that for any serious artists.”

OH MY. v e c t o r

I wonder if one will be enough!

It was study hall yesterday at the office. It just dawned on Alex that maybe, just maybe he needed to get to work on the paper he has due next week for his environmental science class. This has a lot of research and processing of information which my son thought he could dash off….NOT. So, I made him sit with me all day to work on this paper. Unfortunately, he is busy counting words versus focusing on truly delivering on the paper’s content and requirements. I think I am going to throw the role of the heavy to Rob as I am making him sit and focus. I hope there is more we will learn about Alex from the testing we will be starting in a week or so. He just focuses on the oddest things and doesn’t really understand where he should be tracking. If I can talk him through, sometimes it hits. Sometimes he is there with me. More study hall today.

I have a meeting in a few and need to get the already foley-ed tomato sauce on the stove to simmer for a few hours to get the water out. I am a sauce making machine. I feel like there may be a few more pots out there. Loving it.

1 hr. portrait v.2

Liz, from the I hr. portrait series 2011,Q. Cassetti, 2011, Adobe Illustrator CS5I am becoming a disciple of the Vonster and his work methods in Vector Basic Training. He is such an organized illustrative designer, that his work is accurate, well planned and thought out, and drawn within an inch of its life. I toted the book with me on our chores yesterday and dipped into the chapters waiting for hair to be cut, rides to be coordinated.

As you can see from the left, I am working away at one hour portraits really taking 1 hour. Nix the shading, nix the complexity. Paths, blob brush and eraser are the Adobe Illustrator modes in play here. Liz truly took less than an hour. Yes, some of the curves could be a bit nicer, and more tone could have found their way into the image…but the clock was key here. More vixens and others to come. Chops building.

Alex is packing for two weeks of Ithaca College Summer Music Academy while playing the piano and the unamped bass. Kitty is off in the world of fashionable thifting. Rob is working on village things so I have a moment to say hi. After we drop Alex off, our hope is to hear Eilen Jewel play at the Sheldrake Point Winery. Eilen Jewel is a great talent that we all love—and to have her in our back yard is an extra YEAH!

The week ahead beckons. Lots to do so I will not be counting raindrops or measuring the grass as it grows. As an aside, one of my apple trees which I thought had died, is sprouting green stuff at the bottom, so my heart leaps as one is still good. The caged cherries flourish albeit the tops are eaten by those varmints (deer). There will be cherries to be picked for cherry pies (the Amish celebrate wedding breakfasts with sour cherry pies) for all of the new couples who will be married here in the most perfect spot in New York State. Time to start baking!