Mildred Trevor Thornes Giveaway

Finished! Mildred Trevor-Thornes profile angle.
Finished! Mildred Trevor-Thornes profile angle.

Finally!

I finished the drawings for the winner of The Great Mushroom Detective’s hedgehog-character naming contest. I ended up calling the international-hedgehog-of-mystery-criminal-mastermind Mildred Trevor Thornes of the Hedgely Trevor-Thornes. It started with casting the villain for The Great Mushroom Detective: The Case of the Golden Mushroom. Once I settled on the hedgehog, I needed a good name. Readers to the rescue! Big thanks to Dolly Tartan who supplied the names Mildred or Thornes.

The portrait angle of Mildred was pretty difficult for me but I finally came up with a sketch that I like. I love how she looks like she’s up to wickedness in the front-view. The portraits I drew made her look too sweet. I drew on artist trading card illustration board. I really like that surface for drawing.

Here’s the finished gift (photographed on the train so there are some weird reflections).

Present for Mildred Trevor-Thornes naming contest.
Present for Mildred Trevor-Thornes naming contest.

 

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Bromeliad Mini-Location Shoot

One bromeliad terrarium creates photoshoots for four different types of movies.

The shop Bromeliads in Okusawa opened last year. It’s a cute shop selling bromeliads (mainly airplants) and terrarium items such as glass containers, dishes, bits of wood, sand and other emphermera. An airplant doesn’t have a significant root system. It gets moisture and nutrients from it’s leaves.

I’d been popping in since Bromeliads opened and trying to decide what I wanted to get. Today I bought a few things, a glass container, sand, wood and two airplants. I got a butzii, which rather looks like a squid, and a tillandsia which is spiky looking but not really sharp.

It was fun to set up and once I had it all arranged, it really reminded me of a desert for a photo shoot or a movie set. So I went to my little rummage box (or as I will call it from now on my omnium-gatherum) and grabbed some lego minifigures, and other little plastic toys. Finally! My obscure toy-hoarding reaps some rewards. I ended up with the fixings for five different movie genres: Shakespearean drama, zombie-post apocalypse, aliens, creature feature and dragon fantasy.  Check them out below.

I particularly like the salary man alien. I have no idea where I picked it up. If you have other suggestions for mini-photoshoot sets, please comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

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Ebijiro, The Traveling Shrimp Sushi: A Photo Project

Ever wonder what an ebi (shrimp) sushi would do if it had the opportunity to travel a bit? Wonder no more! Ebijiro is here to demonstrate. On a brief trip to Belgium and Amsterdam I photographed this sushi in different locations. A friend described this photo project as “somewhere between hilarious and freakingly odd.” I was elated because, yep, that’s pretty much the tone I strive for. You can see the original posts at my instagram or searching for #ebijiro or #shrimpstagram.

Of course, it’s not a real shrimp. That would be smelly. It’s one of those extremely realistic plastic food models for which Japan is famous.

I love this intersection between travel and toy photography. From the moment I saw the Travelocity gnome photos and the gnome postcards from the movie, Amelie, I felt this… freakingly odd connection. I actually started doing this kind of photography a few years ago with a clay star I call Estello. I got a few strange looks (okay, many strange looks) but I also met a lot of other people doing the same thing. The different objects people choose for their avatar reveals a lot about the person. Mostly people use stuffed animals.

I’ve been doing Estello for a while. He even has his own blog, Estello Project (though it’s in desperate need of an update). I love how the moldable oil-clay can interact with the environment, but that movement comes with a price. It’s very messy. Dirt gets in the clay, clay gest on fingers, sets and cameras. So Estello is currently in a period of development as I search for a material that isn’t so difficult to work with.  On this trip I was a bit disappointed that I’d be doing only “regular photography” until I saw this shrimp sushi at the airport and thought, why not?

What I enjoy beside the humor of photographing a shrimp all over Europe, is the challenge of finding new ways to look at places. I’m thinking about light and perspective in a new way. Ebijiro, and this photography give me a different way to engage with the places I travel. It’s another tool in my photographic thinking kit.

I Don’t Scare Easily

A quick comic related to the post Listening to Scary Stories.img_4655img_4652img_4654

So how do scary stories affect you? Do they keep you up? Do you need the light on? Is there only one type that freaks you out? Maybe they’re no problem whatsoever.

What’s the scariest story you know?

Making up with Mochi. Gateway Foods in Foreign Lands.

My gateway mochi dish: Shiratama and shiruko at the Onishi Matsuri.
My gateway mochi dish: Shiratama and shiruko at the Onishi Matsuri.

If you live someplace long enough, you eventually develop craving foods you thought you once vowed never to eat. There’s one moment and one dish that becomes the gateway for appreciating that food in all its forms. This is true for me and mochi. This is sort of a tale about my journey to mochi appreciation. Plus a recipe!

Mochi is one of the foundation ingredients for countless Japanese desserts. It’s made from a different kind of rice than used at a meal. Mochi rice is more glutinous. You can pound the cooked rice into a sticky dough or mix up a special mochi rice flour and make a different type of sticky dough.

Sticky. Sticky is a key word when it comes to mochi. Sticky is the reason I was used to be scared to eat mochi. When I first moved to Japan, people delighted in telling me the number of people who died from choking on sticky mochi balls. Mostly the victims were elderly Japanese and kids. The cautionary tales of mochi tragedy are a kind of rite of passage for newbies to Japan but they really hit me hard.

I’m scared of choking on stuff because of two childhood events. The first was a Reader’s Digest story about a young man dying from a mysterious illness that turned out to be a fishbone lodged in his throat.** In my teens my sister choked on a huge gob of cheese from her French onion soup. She survived the incident  and endures the jokes that come up with every subsequent mention of mozerella and onion soup with pretty good humor.  So yeah. I had some issues.

Mochi’s pretty much flavorless. So why do people like it? Because of the texture. Just make sure you chew it carefully. Mochi also acts like an umami base to balance the sweeter parts of Japanese deserts like anko (a paste made from the sweet red bean, adzuki) or kuromitsu (a syrup made from Okinawan unrefined, dark sugar). If eaten with something a bit more bitter, like green tea or matcha, then you can taste the slight grain sweetness. You find mochi in variations of dango (usually mochi with adzuki bean paste centre), kagamai mochi at New Year’s  and sometimes in soups. You can even bake it in toaster.

I’m fascinated by Japanese desserts, mostly by how they look. I never craved mochi. I’ve ocassionally eaten dango, usually because someone gave it to me, but never really wanted to eat it until I recently discovered shiratama. Now I’m even making for myself at home. It’s that easy to make and pretty hard to get wrong.

Shiratama are exactly what the name says, balls of white dango. I learned how to make shiratama dango (literally white balls of dango) while helping out at the Matcha Café in the Kinuya Building ofo Shiro Oni Studio in Onishi., Gunma. Matcha Café is only open during the weekend of the Onishi Matsuri (festival). Fuyuko Kobori is a Sado (tea ceremony) practitioner and was runs the café.

During a break from the busy cafe, Fuyuko made me a cup of iced matcha and a bowl of the shiratama we made with chilled shiruko. I sat on a bench in front of the cafe and enjoyed my cool snack as the matsuri parade passed by. The sun was hot and many people stopped at the cafe after catching sight of my icy cold matcha. Others were interested in slightly salty shiruko blended well with the deep rice taste of the shiratama. The matcha was the perfect complement of bitter and slight sweet matcha aftertaste. And they were easy to eat. Not at all difficult to chew.

It wasn’t just the taste that hooked me. It was the experience. The sun, the matsuri, the camaraderie of working in the cafe and learning to make shiratama. It was something I wanted to continue by making at home. My husband loves this kind of dessert and I realized that I could share this by making it for him. Mochi is becoming something I tolerate, but something I enjoy making at home.

What food do you love now but it used to ick you out? What was your gateway food or moment?

Recipe Time! If you try this please post a picture and let me know how it turned out.

How to make Shiratama
Ingredients:
Powder
Water

happymochi-loriono
Increase the happy value by adding faces to shiratama before you boil it. My first attempt at shiratama on my home.

Instructions:
1. Mix one package with about 90 mL of water (double check the instructions on your package as it may be a different size).
2. Add the water bit by bit. The dough shouldn’t be crumbly and it shouldn’t be too wet. If it’s not just right you, breaks down when you boil it. Fuyuko gave this great analogy for the perfect dough texture: it should be about the same firmness as your earlobe.
4. Make balls about 2.5 cm in diameter and pinch them slightly. This allows the middle to cook. Smaller, flatter dango also reduce choking hazards!
5. Add the mochi balls to the boiling water.
6. Boil until they float on the surface.
7. Drain them and run under cold water.

Store unused shiratama in water otherwise it will stick together. Keeps for about 2 days in the fridge. It’s actually safe to eat it for a bit longer, but shiratama dissolves a bit when stored in water and after two days, the texture isn’t as nice to eat.

Some Suggestions on How to Serve Shiratama


Summer Style
Serve on top of green tea ice cream with anko.
Serve with cold shiruko (red bean soup) and green tea ice cream and a nice cup of matcha.
Serve with cold fruit, anko paste and an mitsu (agar jelly cubes)
Winter Style
Heat the shiruko and eat shiratama like a warm sweet soup.

**There is another rite of passage I had as a newbie to Japan, where I was directly confronted with this fear of fishbones.

Morning Sketch: What Would It Look Like if a Kiss Swam with a Goldfish?

I wanted to start of the day with something creative. I used an old illo because I wanted to practice using Sketchbook Pro on my iPad. I used a layers technique like I would on Photoshop but I had to use my clumsy fingers since I can’t find my stylus. Plus this technique is more like coloring than drawing.
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Fist the original illo as I scanned it:
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I processed it in Photoshop Express because it looked dark and gunky.
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Then into Sketchbook Pro:
I kept the lines from the base layer by erasing the blocks of color on the upper layers. I don’t really draw well in this app with my fingers. I added the word KISS because maybe the fact it was a chocolate kiss was vague. I thought about having it just chocolate instead of in foil but then I thought it might look like a swimming poo. I attempted to draw a foil bikini but that look was even more confusing. I spared your eyes the confusing foil bikini.

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Back to PS Express because I thought it could look punchier and you get the image at the top. And thus ends my morning sketch post.

Let me know what you think or if you have any requests for goldfish or kiss cartoons.

Have a great day.

About Last Gnat: the adventures of Saigo-kun

The following comic is about my jogging life. One aspect of it, anyway. I decided to tell this part about jogging in Tokyo from the point of view of Saigo, the Gnat.

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Yarn Addiction Thursday: Novelist Gesozaburo Ikamura

Ikamura-San is busy writing his latest opus. If you follow me on Facebook, you might have already seen one of these photos.

In my interview with Ikamura, he stated that the squid’s point of view is poorly represented. He notes that International Cephalopod Awareness Days (October 8-12) is a great start. Action ever being Ikamura’s watchword, he is already taking steps to remedy the dearth of cephalopodic literature written by Cephalopoda.
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I suggested that his work so far is a little too Clash of the Titans but he informed me his inspiration was actually Metallica’s “Enter the Sandman.”

So come on and support Ikamura! If you have a squidly yarn, tale or link, share the inky squid love.

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Some inky links to get you started:
International Cephalopod Awareness Day on Facebook
Nat Geo video of giant squid

Note:
Ikamura was designed and made by (me) Lori Ono. You can occasionally see his adventures here. I posted this under Yarn Addiction Thursday because he is handmade and the suckers were needle felted.

Motivational Snail Poster!

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This was made from a photo I took along the Tamagawa. I created it for a little snail back-talk to tack on the end of my post Snail Geometry.

But remove it from the back-talk context and I think it’s pretty motivational. I can’t help it. I just had to give this its own post. Because nothing is more motivational that a snail!

When it comes to motivational pictures or quotes I need something unconventional. Footprints in the sand at sunset with some humbling quote meant to remind me about my place in the world really gets my back up. The famous “Hang in There” kitty just about drives me nuts. As much as I love animals, when I see that poster, I always wish the kitty would drop the wire and find something else to occupy its time.

Hmmm… I see a top five motivational images or quotations post in my future.

And you? What kind of stuff works for you? What gets you motivated?

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