What is on my table? February 2021.

Things that were happening in February, things that will happen in March - sketches, notes, doodle pages used as protectors in my sketchbook (gouache smudges if you carry your sketchbook everywhere and surprisingly enough even these days I carry it a lot!). Masking tape to mark area on my table for the video I was recording. 

Sketchbook Page: New Beginnings

A couple of weeks ago I wanted to re-pot some of my new tiny plants and while I was looking for soil I found a bulb! It had a very pale hint at wanting to grow into a real plant so I put it in some water and added to the story of my day - along with quick portraits of the repotted tradescantia and my notes of the blues that I carry in my gouache palette.

Recipe: Eggplant Caviar

This is a wonderfully simple dish that my grandma used to make: she called it caviar - probably because of all the seeds (from tomatoes and eggplants) that are visible in this spread.  

Grateful: The science of vaccines and people who help each other.

I am very grateful for the science of vaccines. And to all the people who work tirelessly to make this pandemic end and help us all survive through these times - in myriad huge and visible or tiny and subtle ways of everyday life. 

Our nonagenarian got both shots of the COVID-19 vaccine - and we are looking forward to the times when we will worry less. 

Here is my sketch record of the shot #1 

And this is shot #2.
She got a "COVID-19 vaccinated" pin and proudly attached it to the cardigan that she knitted herself. 

Recipe: Forshmak (Jewish and Polish versions)


Both of these are old recipes from two parts of the family. Polish version takes more time and I personally prefer Jewish one - but in any case it all starts with the salted herring and goes from there! Enjoy! Oh and it looks like some people spell it as Vorschmack!

Three tricks I use when I work with Ackerman Pen (tuning and minimizing ink spills)

I love flex nib pens and having a portable option was always an interesting idea for me. I got my first Ackerman pen in 2008 and had a long and complicated yet wonderful relationship with it that ended abruptly when I tried to get fix it with plyers. 

I got another pen in 2016 and enjoyed it quite a bit until I got too tired of having inky fingers.

Naturally, I kept the pen in rotation (I have a whole system of doing it) but somehow this particular pen was  being overlooked (it was easy because I keep it in a separate ziplock bag with a paper towel inside - because it... well it used to leak) and with time the nib got glued to the body of the pen and to the overfeed by the dry ink. Pretty soon I saw that I would need a proper cleaning/rescue operation to make it work again and I never could find time for that. Both the quarantine and enthusiasm of friends who were playing with their pens helped me to find my way back to this wonderful (and somewhat temperamental) instrument. 

I would like to document what I learned both for my future self and to see if this might help someone to  make it work better.

My pen is Manga G Pump Pen with an overfeed. 

1. When my pen was stuck and gunk glued the nib and to the body of the pen nothing seemed to work - no soaking, waiting - nothing. That is when the $2 solution from Goulet pens - a simple rubber grip - saved the day. Here is a picture and a short video of how I use it:

2. When my pen was leaking a lot I experimented with how far the nib and overfeed are extending from the body of the pen - it is a friction fit and the rubber grip helped me aligning the parts with greater precision. As a result, I know pretty well where my nib and overfeed should sit - notice on the photo below how the hole in the overfeed is aligned, and how much of the nib is covered by the overfeed. This helped with extra spillage of the ink a lot. And it is something I adjust almost daily because it slips and some inks are more slippery than others.

3. The third trick is about taking the cap off the pen. I knew about it before but forgot. There is a tiny hole in the cap which is covered by the metal clip. You need to have it open when you put the cap on and when you put the cap off. But keep it covered while you are not using the pen. If you forget to move the clip aside and this tiny hole is covered it would create enough suction to get half of the ink from a fully inked pen out. And that is a mess that makes me keep this pen in a ziplock bag with a paper towel inside. Because of course I regularly forget to turn the clip. 

Grateful: Internet connecting people.

I have many thoughts on the technology and freedom and all sorts of influence platforms and devices have on my attention as an individual their effect on the society at large. But I am eternally grateful that I don't have to wait for months or weeks or even hours to send a letter or receive an answer or share a picture. And I am so grateful that I can see my friends and family and talk to them and draw them in real-time. Though only some of them are OK with me drawing while we are talking or sharing whatever I draw - so you will see me mostly sharing these faces - of my longest-running subjects and never wavering supporters - my parents. So this is a double-grateful post :)  

Recipe: Lobio

I had so much fun drawing the borscht, and it inspired so many lovely online and offline conversations that I decided to draw more from the kitchen lore of my family - here is Lobio!