COOK BEAUTIFUL | STYLE YOUR WINTER TABLE WITH ATHENA CALDERONE

Athena Calderone cooks with internationally acclaimed chefs, hosts stunning dinner parties for luxury publications, and showcases it all on EyeSwoon, an online destination for food, fashion, and design. And in Cook Beautiful, she’s revealing the secrets to preparing and presenting gorgeous meals. Included are 100 seasonal recipes with step-by-step advice on everything from prep to presentation—from artfully layering a peach and burrata salad, to searing a perfect steak. Organised by season, each section ends with a menu for entertaining and ideas for table decor. Following in the tradition of EyeSwoon, this book is where design meets food, where culinary tradition marries food styling, where home chefs become experts. These are beautiful, tasteful dishes to make for friends and family, with advice that will inspire you to create visually stunning, and still wholly delicious, culinary masterpieces.

The following is an extract from Cook Beautiful by Athena Calderone (ABRAMS Books)


THE WINTER TABLE

Rather than mourn winter’s waning light, embrace the darkness with lush, moody décor and a warm, cosy vibe. Here, saturated grey linen, rumpled for added texture, serves as the backdrop for simple black ceramics, mismatched brass candlesticks, and a rambling arrangement of delicate flowers and ferns. A handmade touch—no matter how small—is the best way to add warmth to a table. For this meal at home with friends, I made ink-stained paper menu cards, adorning them with fragrant eucalyptus leaves. The overall feel is intimate, refined, and just a little decadent—like the perfect winter meal. 

N o . 1 

O N  T H E  M E N U

There are few things more festive than handwritten menus—even when they’re not actually written by hand. Rather than hiring a calligrapher, select a scrolling script font and pop some pretty paper into your printer. Here, I used watercolour paper, tearing the edges and dabbing on watered-down ink, which bleeds to form a subtle, organic pattern.

N o . 2 

W E L L  S E A S O N E D

During citrus season, I love to flavour sea salt with a blend of zest and herbs. My recipe not only livens up roast fish or poultry, it also serves as a mouth-watering memento of the meal for guests to take home.

N o . 3 

D A R K  M AT T E R

We change our wardrobes with the seasons, so why not our dishes? These days, investing in darker, moodier place settings for winter isn’t particularly pricey. Chic—and cheap!—pieces can be found at stores like West Elm, CB2, and even IKEA.

N o . 4 

L E T  T H E R E  B E  L I G H T S

A matched pair of candlesticks in the middle of your table can feel a little predictable. Instead, add visual interest—and set a casual, modern mood—with an odd-numbered grouping of vintage finds in a variety of heights and styles. Dark-colored tapers are an especially cosy touch on cold nights.

N o . 5 

S P I C E  T H I N G S  U P

Whole spices like nutmeg, allspice, star anise, and cinnamon are too beautiful to keep hidden away in a drawer. And, especially during the holiday season, their sweet, warm scents feel festive without being overpowering. Here, I used the sculptural little gems to decorate a side table, alongside spicy sachets that guests can use at home to simmer mulled wine.

N o . 6 

P R I Z E  R I B B O N S

Words to live by: Never pass up a spool of pretty ribbon. If you keep some on hand, you’ll find many lovely ways to use it, from holding together cutlery to binding bouquets—and, of course, tying up presents. Velvet varieties add elegant texture and subtle sheen to winter décor.

N o . 7 

W R A P  S TA R

Gauzy linen, available at most fabric stores, can serve as a beautiful and unexpected alternative to wrapping paper. Simply cut or tear a large square—leaving the edges unfinished—place a gift in the centre, and form a loose knot on top, tucking in a few green sprigs for a decorative touch.

N o . 8 

C I R C L E  O F  L I F E

Get the look of a handmade wreath without the hassle of starting from scratch by purchasing the simplest evergreen option from your local market or nursery and embellishing it with seed pods, ornamental berries, feathers, sprigs, and other foraged finds.

N o . 9 

S AY  C H E E S E

When artfully composed, a cheese plate can double as table décor. The most inviting platters feel abundant, so fill in vacant areas with fresh or dried fruit. The cheeses themselves should look natural and gooey. Break up any pristine wedges by hacking off a few messy chunks and let soft cheese sit at room temperature until properly runny.


Cook Beautiful by Athena Calderone is out now, find out more here.

Uniting Two Galaxies | Marc Hagan-Guirey talks STAR WARS™ KIRIGAMI

We first featured paper artist Marc Hagan-Guirey back in September, when his new book, STAR WARS KIRIGAMI, hit shelves. He explained how he first encountered the world of kirigami and what led him to start creating scenes, buildings and vehicles from movies.

Now, with only one week until the latest instalment in the Star Wars saga hits cinema, he has told us a little more about the book and its part in the journey to The Last Jedi.

Photograph by Seamus Ryan
Photograph by Seamus Ryan

So how do you turn the ships into paper? What is the design process?

Needless to say I watch a lot of Star Wars. There’s a ton of resource material to work from which is great to make the kirigami design as accurate as possible. Sometimes there’s a bit of artistic license involved in order to make a ship fold properly. It’s about figuring out the basic shape of the ship first and then building upon that with details. I often use the LEGO versions of ships as resource because they’re essentially simpler versions of the real thing.

SW Kirigami_JediStraightfighter_Spread02

Which is your favourite ship in the book and why?

A prequel ship. The Jedi Star fighter from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith stands out for me. The prequel ships are slightly more stylised than those in the original trilogy. With lots of extra details and folds, they translate really well to paper.

Is there anything else interesting about the creation of the book that you can share with us?

Apart from a new ship from The Last Jedi, I wanted to offer something a little different with my book. I’m really interested in the production design process, from concept to final product. Each project comes with a written accompaniment detailing this. There are lots of interesting facts about the designers who worked on the films and pictures of the original concept drawings. It’s a celebration of the people behind the camera.

Tell us about the Star Wars exhibition you did.

It was called Cut Scene. It had 12 kirigami scenes from the original trilogy. my exhibitions are more like a collection of tiny movie installations. Each kirigami was housed in shadow box with a strong backlit colour reflective of the tone of the movie scene. I love how lighting plays a huge effect in cinema in creating that theatre. With the kirigami you get to experience a dual personality. You can appreciate the paper for the ‘craft aspect’ when viewed in a fully lit room (with ‘the big lights’ on) and then become immersed in the effect when they are lit with colour. It’s a bit like riding a ghost train in the dark and then again with the lights on. The experiences are very different – with the lights on you get to say ‘ah! That’s how they did it’.

The pieces were arranged chronologically and floated on the walls at eye level. I loved how every morning when I’d go in to the gallery to prepare it for opening, I’d have to clean nose smudges off the perspex from when people had be peering in. They’re probably the most complex work I’ve done to date. For example, my favourite, the Carbonite Freezing scene from The Empire Strikes Back took me around 2 years to master. Tweak after tweak, I was still working on it a few days before the show opened. I’m so glad I did that show. I was nervous because the Horrorgami exhibition had garnered so much press that anything other than that would have felt like a bit of a letdown. Cut Scene ended up dwarfing it in those terms. I was also not feeling great before that. I’d lost my mum to cancer, came to the end of a 7 year relationship and moved out of our home that I’d spent 2 years renovating, so much of the effect of those experiences had compounded. I literally decided one day – what makes me happy? What will help me get back to being me? As silly as it sounds the answer was kirigami and Star Wars.

What other books have you published?

This is my third book now. My first book ‘Horrorgami’ was a follow up to my first exhibition. Just a few months ago my second book ‘Frank Lloyd Wright Paper Models’ was published. It’s a collection of his 14 most celebrated buildings. I’ve just returned from California and visited (loitered) outside quite a few of them.

Whats next for you?

I’m keen to have another solo exhibition. I’ve had 3 year gaps between them so I’m ready… that’s how long it takes to build up the energy. They’re all consuming! If enough people like this book then hopefully I can do another!

Who or what are you inspired by?

I guess there’s no one particular source. Film, TV, interior designs. I have a tendency to be drawn more towards the relatively more ‘unsung’ heroes of film & TV such as set designers and concept artists. Outside of media I find inspiration in all sorts just from being observant. I guess if I can look at something, anything be it an object or photo and I can see it has a backstory – then my mind goes into overdrive romancing what it’s history is. I’ve got lots of pals who make stuff – crafters and artists. Anyone who makes something from nothing inspires me to keep creating.

If you could meet any actor from the Star Wars films who would you most like to meet and why? 

It would have been Carrie Fisher. Her passing has a huge effect on me. It was very strange – psycho-analysing myself – her death had obviously re-surfaced the loss of my mum a few years ago. Another feisty woman who was gone too soon. On top of mourning the loss of a person you admire as a fan-base, we also are hurting due to the loss of the character too – knowing that they’ll never be able to fully complete her character’s arc. I always felt out of every character, Leia lost the most and gave the most. Luke was obsessed with his own journey whilst Leia looked at the bigger picture and sadly either her family was taken from her or they abandoned her (in the new films). She deserves a happy conclusion.

Are you excited to see the new film; The Last Jedi which is released cinemas this December?

I think tormented by the wait is the more accurate feeling!


STAR WARS KIRIGAMI is out now. Find out more here and watch Marc Hagan-Guirey in action here!

Inspiring Paper Flowers | Guest Blog Post by Livia Cetti

Exquisite Book of Paper Flower Transformations

Master crafter Livia Cetti is here to share the story of how she came to create her exquisite paper flowers.

Take is away Livia!


 

Growing up in the mountains of Santa Barbara, I’ve always been drawn to nature. As a child, I spent a lot of time playing with flowers and I created my first bouquet for the wedding of family friends at 7 years old. I began working for a floral shop in high school and went on to study fine arts at the San Francisco Institute of Art, always working for florists along the way. After graduating, I continued to hone my floral skills in various places and cities.

I knew I didn’t want to have a floral shop of my own – the market is already saturated with so many great florists. I became the senior style editor at Martha Stewart Weddings, and after a career in magazines I fell into freelance floral styling, which I really love because of how detail oriented it is. I made my first paper flower for a client and have been making paper flowers ever since.

I have always been interested in the movement towards handmade objects and had been looking for something I could make in my basement so that I could be close to my children and paper flowers were it.

Charm peony

I think about each flower for a long time before I make it. I’m never trying to copy the flower identically, but instead am trying to capture what I love most about the flower. Overtime the way I make different paper flowers develops and changes. I’m really excited to be able to share the way my paper peonies and roses have evolved in my second book. When I first began making peonies, it was difficult for me to figure out the right system for creating volume in the petals. Eventually I created a method of layering, fanning, and darting, which allowed me to create more realistic looking peonies. The same method has translated into the way that I make paper roses. I’ve loved the way the roses have continued to develop – there’s so much diversity and infinite possibilities, and in the end they always look like a rose.

Eden rose


Livia’s new book; The Exquisite Book of Paper Flower Transformations: Playing with Size, Shape, and Color to Create Spectacular Paper Arrangements is out now. Pick-up your copy in all good bookstores and start your own crafting story.

 

 

#FiveYearsOfBooks | Top Five Craft Books

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With books for every type of craft imaginable we had a hard time whittling down our list to our Top Five. But with books from Kaffe Fassett to Lena Corwin we think we managed it!

baby-gami
Baby-Gami
Baby Wrapping for Beginners
Andrea Cornell Sarvady, photographs by Bill Milne, foreword by Fern Drillings
Chronicle Books

From Kids to Craft. (To crafting with kids!)

Baby-Gami is a gem of a book from Chronicle that has helped parents cocoon their little ones into swaddles and slings for years!

Origami meets the age-old art of swaddling in Baby-Gami and no longer does baby wrapping have to be an intimidating undertaking. Easy-to-follow instructions illustrated with step-by-step diagrams and unbearably cute photographs make it a cinch to execute flawless wraps.

Famous Frocks
Famous Frocks
Patterns and Instructions for 20 Fabulous Iconic Dresses
Sara Alm and Hannah McDevitt
Chronicle Books

Famous Frocks provides everything fashionistas need to re-create favorite iconic dresses by hand – from Audrey’s little black dress, to Marilyn’s summery white halter, Farrah’s sexy wrap dress, Stevie Nicks’ fringed frock, and even Madonna’s sexy ‘Like a Prayer’ number!

With it’s full-size patterns and how-to illustrations it is no wonder this inspiring book for crafters of all levels is part of our Top 5 Craft books!

Printing by Hand
Printing By Hand
A Modern Guide to Printing with Handmade Stamps, Stencils, and Silk Screens
Lena Corwin
ABRAMS Books

In this classic Abrams craft title craft guru Lena Corwin teaches us how to create our very own hand-printed fabrics. Using step-by-step instructions and up-close photos, Corwin teaches crafters everything they need to know to master stamping, stenciling, and screen printing, from making their own printing devices to trouble-shooting when plans go awry. Her inimitable collection of projects ranges from stamped stationery and simple-to-sew pouches, to stenciled tote bags and furniture, to screen-printed bed linens and upholstery fabric.

Paints at the ready!

Simple Shapes Spectacular Quilts
Kaffe Fassett’s Simple Shapes Spectacular Quilts
23 Original Quilt Designs
Kaffe Fassett
ABRAMS Books

A name synonymous with craft, our Top 5 Craft books list would not be complete without a title from Kaffe Fassett.

In Kaffe Fassett’s Simple Shapes Spectacular Quilts, Kaffe demonstrates how basic geometric forms – squares, rectangles, triangles, diamonds, circles and quarter circles – found in natural and man-made environments inspire his quilt designs.

With 23 magnificent designs to create this books is a quilters dream!

Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing
Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing
A Modern Guide to Couture-style Sewing Using Basic Vintage Techniques
Gretchen Hirsch
ABRAMS Books

An extension of her hit blog, Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing this book is a hardworking reference book, packed with techniques our great-grandmothers could have done in their sleep but have been forgotten over the decades, all shown in step by step photographed and illustrated tutorials.

This book is a must have for serious seemstresses Gertie gives us 14 customisable wardrobe essentials inspired by Vogue’s New Book for Better Sewing, many shown in several different variations, for a total of 25 projects.

Three cheers for Gertie, the last of our Top 5 Craft books!

Did you favourite craft books make the cut? No? Tell us which books you love!