I routinely ask myself why I even bother to make artwork that hangs on a wall simply to make our rooms look nice. Really. When some folks have barely enough coins to feed themselves and others with no walls at all to hang things on, I question my motives.
But the reality is that, like most artists, I simply have to create. A light flashes in my minds eyes and I see an image that I must quickly sketch out to preserve the thought. The process of producing the image in my medium may take weeks or months, long after the inspiration is gone. Paint, more paint, setting the paint, cutting, stitching, cutting, stitching, quilting, stretching; it’s a process that is so labor intensive I must record the inspiration so I can recall the image later as I go along.
But sometimes I have to do something quickly to satisfy the urge. Case in point; cake. I had just been inspired and Halloween colors were dancing in my head when David requested my incredibly delicious, yet white on white on white, coconut cake. Not feeling very neutral, the cake became my quick canvas for color. Enjoy my recipe below and come to my Open Studio Nov. 3rd and 4th, 2018 to see some of my sketches and the finished works of art!
Jane’s Quadruple Coconut Cake
Prepare two 8″ cake pans. Trace around the bottom of a pan onto folded waxed paper using a knife or scissors then cut the tracing yielding two circles. Liberally grease the bottom and sides of the pan with unrefined coconut oil. Stick a round of waxed paper onto the bottom of each pan smoothing it out then grease over it. Sprinkle and shake flour around in each pan until it is evenly coated; shake out the excess. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350°
Sift together and set aside:
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose wheat flour*
- 1 5/8 tsp baking powder
- 3/8 tsp salt
Mix together and set aside:
- 3/4 cup coconut milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
Separate then set aside:
- 3 eggs
In a stand mixer or with hand-held mixer mix until very creamy:
- 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter that is room temperature and squishy soft
Add to the butter bit by bit mixing until it is light and fluffy:
- 1 cup + 2T granulated sugar
Add to this mixture one at a time until creamy:
- 3 egg yolks
Add reserved flour mixture alternating with milk mixture, one then the other in three batches, mixing very well after each, scraping down the sides of your mixer with a spatula.
Whip the egg whites with:
- a heaping 1/8 tsp of cream of tartar.
When creamy and white, add bit by bit whipping until soft peaks form:
- 3T granulated sugar
Fold these whipped egg whites into cake mixture. Scoop into prepared pans and smooth. Drop pan firmly on counter to level batter and get rid of air bubbles. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let rest for 10 minutes in pan then run knife around edges to loosen and turn out onto a rack to cool. Peel off waxed paper. Let cool completely before frosting.
* Any flour will work but the taste of fresh wheat flour enhances the coconuttiness of the cake. I use King Arthur unbleached all-purpose white flour.
Whip together in mixer until light:
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature and super squishy
Add and whip until smooth, light and spreadable:
- 3 cups powdered confectioners sugar
- 3-6T coconut milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
Spread frosting between the layers then frost entire cake. Press coconut into the frosting. Add sprinkles.
To tint coconut, put 3 drops of yellow food coloring and 1 drop of red food coloring in the bottom of a bowl. Mix together with a toothpick to make orange. Add 2 cups sweetened coconut and toss until colored.
We labor all year on our arts and crafts preparing for an Open Studio in the hope that someone will come and recognize our inspired process. We hope that our souls will be seen through our work, that the spark that drives us will be showcased and that the viewer will be touched. It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of deadlines. But it’s a labor of love.
In this past month in preparation for my 11/4 & 5 Open Studio I have updated my website, designed & mailed a postcard, designed & published an email newsletter, uploaded pictures to Facebook & Instagram, personally invited past patrons and reorganized my studio. It’s a lot of work but it’s a labor of love.
Today I am photographing and writing a blog post. It’s a lot of work but it’s a labor love.
In this next week I will be completing several new works, adding a new artistic touch to my road sign and posting more to Facebook and Instagram. It’s a lot of work but it’s a labor of love.
In the last week before Open Studio I will be completing more new work, hanging the show, making refreshments, cleaning up my yard & entrance way and keeping my fingers crossed that people will come. It’s a lot of work but it’s a labor of love.
Why do we make art? Why do we put ourselves through this intensive process? It’s a big topic and there are many inspirations, but, basically it’s love.
In this troubled world we need art and artists to comfort ourselves and remind us what love feels like and to rekindle the fire in our own soul. So rule of thumb; if you ever see an Open Studio sign any time, any place or any where; stop. It means the world to those who have gone through this process and you just might feel good yourself.
Come to my Open Studio and visit all my fellow Canterbury Artisans that will be open on the same days, November 4th and 5th. We are part of the state-wide NH Open Doors Tour in association with the League of NH Craftsmen, supporting and encouraging artisans since 1932.
I have just completed a new quilted artwork inspired by the Call to Entry from the League of NH Craftsmen HOT STUFF exhibit that opens on January 10th in Concord, New Hampshire. “Shadows and Flame” is a throw back to my original roots in textile art; it is a true quilt, not stretched as I have done in the recent past but instead stitched tightly with under-turned edges that reinforce a firm hanging format.
The quilt features hand painted, hand dyed and over-painted fabrics with microscopic piecing, fused reverse appliqued and detailed stitching which includes the wording for the color formulas used to make the paint colors.
Please join me on opening night of the exhibit to see this work and the other work of some other amazing artists that the League supports. Friday, January 10th 5:00 to 7:00. Wine tasting by LaBelle Winery. LNHC Gallery – 49 South Main Street suite 100 , Concord, NH 603-224-3375. Shows runs through March 21st.