Thursday, December 27, 2012


The Moode family angel is the best angel ever.
30-somethings playing Super Mario World? Best ever.
Organizing ribbon post Christmas? Best ever.
 My Dad said this looked just like my Master's Thesis.
My family's beautiful, happy heirloom china.
The last year this china was made was 1904.
Snowy white camilias and holly from my parents' garden.
My mom made this costume 30 years ago for my brother to
wear in a school pageant. We just found it. Really well made.
Kinda fits me, right?

Ginger things.

Hope everyone has had a Merry Christmas and a restful, wintery holiday! I understand many of my friends have seen more than a little snow. I'm visiting my parents at the moment, and it's even been a bit frosty here!

I've been baking this week. I love the blog 101 Cookbooks, not only for the recipes, but for the beautiful photographs. I made this gingerbread last year, and knew I wanted to make it again this Christmas. Since most of the ingredients were the same, I also made these delish ginger/chocolate cookies. My baking adventures don't photograph quite so well....

So, I actually made this recipe twice. The first time around
I failed to notice I was using salted butter. Oops!
They came out as darn salty cookies. I blame the wine.
darn wine.
Chopped bittersweet chocolate.
Gingerbread dry ingredients.  
And sourdough bread, of course.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Try Harder, Carolyn Keene.

Mid-December! Wow, how did that even happen? It hasn't been wintery-cold here; the last few days have been very grey and wet. My Kickstarter Project, Books & Postcards form Wyoming, only has hours to go! I'm amazed at how well it has been received, and so very grateful for all the support I've found! And of course I am very excited about my residency!

Persian cats are being stolen, and Nancy is tap-dancing in morse code.

One of my winter leisure pastimes seems to be reading Nancy Drew books while soaking in the bathtub. They are fascinating in their ridiculousness, and the astounding variety of bad writing styles all attributed to Carolyn Keene. Because I'm Michelle Moode, and my hobbies and interests occasionally turn into temporary obsessions, the whole Nancy Drew thing is starting to take on a pseudo-scholarly-research sort of thing, as I have started taking notes as I read. Really? Mostly this consists of...

  1.  The sequence of  outrageous dangers Nancy encounters in a given book. Some seem due to outright recklessness, and her father is not nearly concerned enough about his daughter's safety. 
  2.  Also her pleasant, smiling comments and reactions after she, ya know, gets clear of her car or cottage that has had a time-bomb placed in it...
  3. Nancy's astounding talents and skills. From tap-dancing to horse-riding to flying airplanes. And the whole mystery-solving thing. Nancy is awesome.
 I've also become interested in learning more about the history of the series, and the Stratemeyer Syndicate, and the revisions that were made to the original stories, and what seems to be a serious collecting community. 

Were you into Nancy Drew as a kid? I confess, I really wasn't. I owned and read a few of the "Nancy Drew Files" written in the 1980's, (I have re-read a couple of these recently. and maybe a couple of the original books from the library...

I really don't mean to sound all cynical or serious about this, you know. Again, this is just a winter diversion, and good bathtub reading.  I have been joking with friends about starting a Nancy Drew blog...what should I call it?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


This greeted me on my doorstep, this fine December morning!

I love my Bakersfield friends. If Spruce Pine wears out, maybe I'll move back west. Liz and Laura visited me ever-so-briefly a while ago, on their way to DC. Besides avocados, in their back yard they have bees, chickens, and certainly other goodness. I'm so envious!

Monday, December 10, 2012


Today I'm trying to work on grading. Obviously I'm on a break at the moment...

We've closed down the Penland Gallery for the winter season, and I got to experience a "week-end" of those things where you have two days off in a row! Wow! I did so much. Laundry, gardening, (it's in the 60s here...crazy!) organizing, cleaning, art-making, bill-paying,!

Of course, shortly after the thrill of a "week-end" comes the shock of temporary-seasonal-unemployment.....but hey, I'm not done at App State yet, so we'll think about that next week!

Less than 10 days left of my Kickstarter Project, Books & Postcards from Wyoming!  Check it out if you have not already, and maybe pass it on if you think it's pretty good. The funds raised thus far have exceeded my expectations. Any further funds raised, and I'll be able to buy some leather! I haven't worked with leather since I assisted Bonnie Stahlecker at Haystack all those years ago.

Also, have I mentioned I'm making my own walnut ink? With black walnuts from my back yard? Yeah! How cool is that!?  Photos of the brown messiness next time!

Okay, back to work, Michelle.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Kickin' Starter


Hey, look! I'm back in the bread-making business! It took a while to revive my sourdough starter, and there was one unsuccessful, hard-as-stone loaf, but two beautiful loaves have been made and consumed, (not just by me, mind you!) and my house smells good and bread-y.

Last week of classes at ASU, and we start closing for the season at the Penland Gallery this week. Busy times.

I've made a few books. Alfred is unimpressed.

Not a helpful studio-mate.
About 16 more days to go on my Kickstarter project. Thanks again for all the support I've found, and if you haven't already, take a peek!


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Let's talk about stuff.

I won't be leaving for my residency at Jentel 'til mid-January, but I already find myself making notes of what I'll need to take, what I'll be able to get there, and what I don't have that I'll need to purchase.

Since my travel expenses have been covered, (Hooray!) and since my Kickstarter Project is live for another 24 days, I thought I'd detail some of the things the extra funds will help with.

Many things I already have, and will either pack in my luggage or ship there: some ink, all sorts of drawing materials, PVA glue, wheat paste, thread, needles....

thread & moths & books

I have some miscellaneous paper, some book-board, and some book cloth, but I will be purchasing more of everything, particularly paper.

Some paper.
I will also be purchasing some lovely Cave Paper, which I use for the covers of my small soft-cover pocket-size journals. I love their paper, and the "internships" link on their website immediately caught my eye. (Side note: I love love love handmade paper....and yet I have ZERO experience making paper. What?! Shocking, I know.)

Cave paper w/ inclusions of snippets of text. Love it.

At Jentel I'll have access to a Litho press, but will not be doing any stone or plate lithography. I understand it is suitable for printing monotypes, xerox transfers, and polyester plates. I have some polyester "pronto" plates, but will probably buy some more.

I know in the course of a month of work I'll want my sewing machine. So I may ship my little singer, or maybe it will be my carry-on. I have not yet investigated what it would cost to ship her to Wyoming. Plan B is to hunt down a thrift store sewing machine when I get there, and just donate it back when I'm done with it.

I also think as a grown-up printmaker, making her way in the big beautiful world, it might be time to arm myself with one of these beauties from Takach:

A yummy grown-up investment.

So these are some of my practical calculations as well as dreamy daydreams. As always, thank you for reading, and if you haven't already, please take a peek at my kickstarter project, Books & Postcards from Wyoming. 

In other news, here are a few of my fall radishes:

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Some sort of a fuzzy, elegant drawing about moths, I think.
I booked my flight to Wyoming last night! Yay! It is a bit of a weight off my mind, and it is a great relief to know that the big dent in my bank account is only temporary, thanks to the support I have found through my Kickstarter project, Books & Postcards from Wyoming. 

Very thankful indeed.

I'm not packing my bags yet, though. I've had a very welcome couple of days off, in which I have spent getting organized at my new place, reading a Nancy Drew book, (mostly while soaking in the bathtub) and trying to make the leap and book the other adventure that's sneaking up... my ever-complicated holiday travel plans. I can't wait to see family in Texas and California, but it is making me anxious and neck-tense nonetheless.

What else is new? Oh yeah, my Bakersfield friends Liz and Laura passed through Spruce Pine on Sunday/Monday. They've driven cross-country, and have kept a blog of their adventures. It was a good, short visit, and I got to play tour guide to friends at Penland's currently deserted campus. Although it was a ghost town up there on Monday morning, I don't think Liz and Laura were disappointed!

Final weeks of classes at App State, final weeks of the season at the Penland's all winding down. I'm mostly glad, but it is making me a little anxious. But for today I'll take it easy, roast some beets and radishes, and head over to my friends John and Courtney's for Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanks, y'all!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ain't that a kick in the head?

Remember that Kickstarter project I mentioned a minute ago? Or rather, about twenty-four hours ago? My goal of $600 has been met! and exceeded! In twenty-four hours! What!? I'm really excited and a bit in shock about this.

I'm so very grateful to have found such enthusiastic support. I want to thank everyone who has contributed so far, and all my friends who have told their friends. 

And STRANGERS! Thank you, Strangers, for finding and supporting this project!

So what now?! There are twenty-eight whole days left in which folks might contribute to the project. Funds raised beyond the cost of travel will be used to help with shipping costs and art materials, (and Wyoming-winter appropriate clothes, suggests my Mom) I may detail what specific materials in a separate blog post.... I'm a little too dizzy with gratitude at the moment!

Instead, here's a snippet of the video I was working on for the project. I had fun working on it, but it took a long time to figure out what the hell I was doing, and at the rate I was going, I probably wouldn't have been able to launch my project 'til February!

But it does include a shot of my pressed penny collection, so you should probably take a look.

Wow, that looks terrible! It looks so nice on my computer...I really don't know what I'm doing.

But don't worry; I do know how to make books.

Thank you again, and stay tuned!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Books & Postcards from Wyoming!

Hooray! I am pleased to announce my Kickstarter project, which is an effort to fund my travel to Wyoming this winter for an art residency at Jentel.

You can read all about it at the link to the right, or click HERE!

I hope you will consider pledging what you can, and spreading the word to your friends and anyone who may be interested!

Thank you, dear blog-visitors, for your continued interest in the little things I do.

Best, Michelle.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What would Alois Senefelder say?

For those of you who do not know, Alois Senefelder was the inventor of Lithography.

For those of you who do not know, Lithography is a printmaking process involving drawing on beautiful old slabs of bavarian limestone, and a lot of  magic  chemistry.

Here is the charming Phil Sanders to show you more....

For those of you who do not know, I've been teaching Lithography this semester at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, which is an hour north of Spruce Pine. I swear, on my drive to Boone I pass at least a dozen places where one may choose and cut their own Christmas tree.

Because this is where they come from, folks.

Anyway, the reason Alois Senefelder might be rolling over in his grave is that it has been a rocky semester, and there is no reason to deny it! Lithography is not my area of expertise; I have never said otherwise, but when the opportunity to teach the class found me (and it totally did) I was really excited. Although not my specialty, I love the process, and knew it would be a good challenge.


I made some lithos in undergrad, and a few large stone lithos in grad school (images of flux-capacitors and clock parts...) and while teaching at CSUN I grained a bunch of stones (mostly for the fun of it) and helped a handful of students print some stone lithos.

And hardly anything ever went wrong for me.

Teaching this class has helped me learn exactly how little I know about the medium, and what an infinite number of variables there are of things that can go wrong. When something goes wrong for a student when I am not around, (and being part-time and living an hour away, I'm usually not there) there is a 50/50 chance that we will be able to sort out what went wrong, and whether or not we can fix it.

Fortunately I've had 13 awesome, hard-working, patient, and talented students. We are in the final weeks of the semester, and they are exhibiting a strong work-ethic, good team-work, and good communication. Collaboration, folks. I almost wish we could continue, because they are finally really getting a hold on the process...

Beginning of a collaborative image with my student, Justin.

A bit of a demo thing I've been working on..

Lithotine Litho Team.

Look at 'em go.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Always Arranging.

Okay, so I have been in the process of moving into a new house, just a couple of blocks away from the old one. With my funny, busy schedule, (I have Thursdays and Sundays off...) I thought it would work out well to do it slowly, a car-load at a time.

Here it is November and I'm still not done moving, so I may have been mistaken about this plan.

But I am almost done, and I have taken up residence at the new place, and so has Alfred.

Still have some things to dig up out of my yard, and some odds and ends to get out of my old house...but here are a few pictures of my stuff in the new place...

Very fine kitchen things, and room for everything!

I have been arranging many many books.

Orange things go here.
The corduroy pillow was a very good $2 thrift store find.

Wait, more orange?
 My favorite coat matches another good thrift find..

Alfred got a house-warming gift.

And so did I!

Look! Pink starburst countertops.

Alfred, checking it out...
In other news, I'm working on putting together a Kickstarter project to help with travel expenses of my winter residency at Jentel. I'm pretty excited about it!  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fair enough.

Have you heard that there's been some bad weather recently? No? (I'm kidding, of course.)

This side of the country has been pretty torn up by Hurricane Sandy. Excuse longer a it is technically a "mega-upset" or something.

Here in the mountains of North Carolina, Sandy has brought snow. Enough snow to cancel classes yesterday in Boone, and to delay work today at Penland. And slow-down my move.

More than anything, all this October snow has made me hungry.

So, pictures of snow in October? Oh, hell no. Surely there are enough of those on the internet.

Let's see some pictures of the WNC Mountain State Fair. For the second year in a row, going to the fair with my friend Wes was my way of celebrating my birthday. This was in September, folks. 32, if you're counting.

"Why I Love the Fair" by Michelle C. Moode....

Shoe-box dioramas.

Ribbons aplenty.


By the ferriswheel.

Don't forget it looks like this where I live.

And this is still one of my favorite things ever.

Space Girl.

Last Saturday was Penland's Halloween party....

Space Girl in Space.
This year I'm in love with my costume, and the related "research" which can be found here.

I think it was on the Imagineering Disney blog that I first ran across images of costumed "characters" in old Tomorrowland at Disneyland. In the 50's and 60's, (so before real astronauts...) these very tall, silver-clad couples would pose for pictures with visitors to Disneyland. If you take a look at my "research," you will see the costumes evolved in time...sometimes Space Girl is sporting a pink-lined cape, often she is without her space helmet...

This costume took a lot of thought, but actually not a lot of work. I found the perfect floral-print-synthetic-material-thrift-store dress, cut 11" inches off the bottom, decided that was scandalously short, re-attached about an inch and a half, and spray-painted it silver. As soon as I saw the silver go-go boots on, I knew I couldn't do without them. (and no regrets...although they are not the most comfortable shoes ever, they weren't bad! And pretty well made too.) And yeah, I purchased my space helmet. 'Cause my time available to search for and repurpose plastic domes has been limited lately, and I didn't want it to look clunky, (although it is a bit clunky.) And as craft-school students and staff kept asking me how I made my space helmet, I began feeling a teeny bit guilty of being a sell-out...

Michelle Moode as Space Girl.

I had trouble hearing what people were saying to me, and it was even harder to be heard in the helmet. That suits me fine, as I seldom have much to say at parties. But I could hear the music just fine, and sipped my petite bottle of champagne through a neon green straw.

Where should I wear this next? Dragoncon?
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