Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spring flowers and floating islands

Potters Place, my cooperative studio in Walpole, MA hosts a spring show and sale annually over the weekend preceding Mother's Day.  The members who coordinate the show get to choose the theme.  This year it is “Flora and Fauna”. 

I turned to stamps with images of flowers for my inspiration.

I'm using tiles as a way to explore some of my ideas.  I really like the way they are coming out of the kiln.

My Magnolia Flower Tile

This stamp illustrates a flowering tree commonly called the Franklin tree. It is native to Georgia. It has been extinct in the wild since the early 19th century, but survives as a cultivated ornamental tree.
I'm anxiously awaiting the final glaze results of this tile. Using some of the same colors as my Magnolia Flower tile, it will work nicely with my Spring "Flora and Fauna" Collection.

As a child, I spent many hours looking at beautiful stamps with my grandmother.  It was where I first learned about art, history, and geography.   
It seems fitting that I share a recipe of my grandmother's as it was her love of stamps and flowers that inspired the pottery featured in today's blog post.

Floating Island~ serves 6
A French dessert consisting of Meringue floating on a vanilla custard.

2 cups milk

5 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
3 T flour

1 tsp vanilla


2 cups milk
6 egg whites
1/3 cup sugar
pinch salt

To make the custard: bring the milk to a boil over medium heat, then turn off the heat and let sit.

In a separate saucepan, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until they thicken and lighten, about 3 minutes. Drizzle the just-boiled milk into the pan in a thin stream to temper the egg yolks, whisking all the while. Once the mixture is well-combined, place the pan over a medium-low flame. Continue to stir with a wooden spoon as it heats, until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon so that it holds the mark if you draw through it with your finger. Remove the pan from the heat as soon as this happens, and pour the custard through a strainer into a waiting bowl. Stir in the vanilla. Refrigerate until chilled (it will continue to thicken).

To make the meringues and assemble the dessert: Bring the milk to a gentle simmer over medium heat.

While the milk is heating, beat the egg whites, gradually adding the salt and sugar, until they form stiff peaks. Drop rough half-cups of the meringue mixture into the simmering milk. You can form jagged islands, or use two spoons to make somewhat smooth ovals. Let the islands simmer for one minute in the hot milk, then gently turn and simmer for another minute on the second side. Using a slotted spoon, remove the islands from the milk and set to drain on a clean plate. Repeat until all of the meringue is poached. The islands will swell dramatically in their simmer bath, and then shrink disappointingly when they're removed. Serve immediately on a puddle of chilled custard, or place in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours. 

Sign ups for my tile workshop have begun.

Carved Flower Tile
The theme is spring flowers. The class is on Saturday, April 21st from 9am-12pm at the Dedham Square Artist Guild. Click here to sign up. 

In my tile workshop, students will create a drawing of a spring flower using photos and their imagination. Simplify the design and trace it onto a leather hard tile. There will be different tools to experiment with to create an image that is three dimensional.  When the tiles are dry, they will be bisque fire and then glazed in a solid color. 

2-8 participants. Ages 13 and older.

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