Monday, September 29, 2014

Farewell for Now

Hand Drape by Diane Komater
steel wire, 48 x 36 x 1"

After much consideration, we have all decided to say farewell to the blog for now. It's not for good, just for awhile. We have so loved bringing you beautiful things every week, but our lives outside of the internet have recently become very busy, so we need to put Swings and Arrows on hold for the time being

Thank you for your support over the years. 
Your readership has been appreciated more than you know. 

You can see more work from marvelous wire sculptor Diane Komater on the artist's website: 

Cathleen, Grace, Alissa and Brian

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Middle School Reading Lists: Then and Now

As an educator (that sounds snobby) I found this article intriguing - a comparison of middle school reading lists from 1908 and today. Check it out.

Stock photo from Google, you know, 'cause I'm phoning it in.

Thoughts? I think what surprised me the most was that the books from today's reading list are, for the most part, not older than twenty years old. Yikes! Young people need to read books from time periods other than just contemporary titles.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Safety First

Vintage Children's Training Scissors 

I can't figure out how these four-finger scissors work exactly. They look like a torture device for poor preschoolers. But an aesthetically pleasing torture device nonetheless. I wish I had known about them when I made my scissor print

- Cathleen 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

One Man Symphony

I found this online and I don't know who this guy is and if he is a musician, or photographer, or both. For some reason he took the time to take a photo of him sitting in every seat, playing every instrument, and mulling about doing other odd things (like drinking behind stage).  It must have taken a very long time but I am happy he had the energy and perseverance because it's kinda awesome. Click on the image to see the larger version.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Artwork of the Week: Illustration by Luke Best

illustration by Luke Best
published in Geo Wissen, 2012

After multiple reschedulings, we finally had our yard sale this past Saturday and it was a minor success! We made 118 bucks which was way more than we expected. Besides the rush that came over me each time I made a $3 sale, I mostly just felt relief to finally exorcise the house of all our junky demons. Most surprising transaction? One chipped Martha Stewart for Kmart bowl circa 2001 for 10 cents. After the guy failed to produce anything smaller than a $20 bill, he seemed genuinely psyched when I told him he could have it for free. I hope he and his roughly used bowl are happy. Wherever they are.

You can see more work from London-living Luke Best on his website: 
and his blog:

- Cathleen 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Photo Friday- Crazy Kids in Studio Addition

I am in studio everyday photographing objects from jewelry, to fine art, to furniture.  Both my kids come in to hangout on a regular basis and are, on the whole, well behaved.  But there is something they have done for years and I don't see it ending anytime soon.  They love to jump in shots or get me to photograph them between pieces.  I have a heck of a lot of these images and some are crazier than others.  Here is one of Ted going nuts on my large grey drop right before a piece of furniture comes in to be shot.  
I will post one of these images each time it is my turn for "Photo Friday"... until Alissa is back writing on those days.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I Probably Need This

I've never eaten a sardine, nor do I ever plan to, but I still think I should probably get this antique sardine box.

- Cathleen 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Auditions for Famous Roles

Watching auditions for famous roles always interests me....especially when they are by actors who later become huge.  Some of these I like because the role is classic and the performance was outstanding and others are interesting because they are by a no name that becomes a mega star years later.

This audition by Henry Thomas for the role of Elliot in E.T. has become pretty famous but I think it is my favorite.  This kid was impressive and Spielberg is obviously blown away at the end.

I love this one because it's for one of my favorite movies and what launched Jason Schwartzman's career.  He had never acted and was never planning to be an actor but was convinced by Wes Anderson to give it a try.

It's Pacino auditioning for the role of Michael Corleone in The Godfather....not much else has to be said.

A young DeNiro auditioning for the role of Sonny, in the first Godfather.  I like this one because he didn't get it but then was fortunately used in the next one to play Vito in the flashbacks.  One of his greatest roles.

Scarlet Johansson as a little girl is neat to watch.  It was for a bad movie and she doesn't do all that great a job but not long after, she got the role in The Man Who Wasn't There by the Coen Brothers.  An odd movie but she played a wonderfully uncomfortable role.


I have never actually seen The Notebook but I love Rachel McAdams and her chameleon like acting ability.

If you know of any others that are cool, please comment.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Artwork of the Week: The Yellow Books

The Yellow Books by Vincent van Gogh

Another surprising revelation of ordinary things: the library! Graham and I go to two different branches for story times and music/movement class at least twice a week, and while we're there, I'll usually check out a few board books for him. I never considered borrowing books for myself because I take FOR-EV-ER to read them and figured I would either end up with excessive late fees or returning them half-cracked. Then I read Alissa's post about Dinner: A Love Story and decided, you know what? I should check that out! So I went to my library's website and discovered that not only could I RESERVE BOOKS ONLINE, but I could also RENEW ONLINE! when the return date was approaching.  My whole literary world has been blown apart. I loaded up on cookbooks last week, including two on one pot recipes that I've been eyeing on Amazon for awhile. I may never buy another book again. 

I'd never seen this Van Gogh painting of books before, but apparently you can buy a print of it at Walmar. Look who's getting good at discovering things everyone already knows about.

- Cathleen 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Photo Friday

Alissa's taking a break from the blog for a little bit. While we'll certainly miss seeing her here on Fridays, we plan to keep the torch burning while she's off getting her ducks in a row. Grace, Brian, and I will take turns posting at the end of the week. In lieu of adding to the onslaught of Friday links you probably get from other blogs, we thought we'd just leave you with one personal photo and a short explanation.

Here's mine. 

Something I'm into lately: Taking a shower by candlelight. I know candlelit baths are what romance novels are made of, but I'm here to say showering solo in the dark is where it's at!

- Cathleen 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Design Always Repeats Itself: Japonisme Edition

I'm currently undertaking an independent study in Asian Influences in Art and Design and I've just completed the book Japonisme; Cultural Crossings Between Japan and the West and the book is fascinating! One of my favorite elements though is in Chapter 2: Japan and Painters where the authors discuss the works of many 19th century English and French artists and their direct influence of Japanese woodcuts. My absolute favorite is this example:

The Courtesan Hinazuru at the Keizetsuru
Kitagawa Utamaro
c. 1794-5
Color Woodcut

The Letter
Mary Cassatt
c. 1890-1
Color Etching, Drypoint and Aquatint

Mary Cassatt had direct access to this image and it seems highly likely that she was inspired by Utamaro's magnificent rendering of a women with a paper in her mouth. 


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Music for Mellow Mornings

Animal Tracks by Mountain Man

We took Micky to the airport early today, and since Graham's got a mean ol honking cough, we spent the rest of the morning inside playing music and reading books. I heard this song (below) in a yoga class weeks ago and didn't figure out what it was until yesterday. Sylvan Esso is a two-person band, produced by Nick Sanborn and voiced by Amelia Meath who used to sing with Mountain Man (above), a female folk trio I just discovered thanks to Spotify's Biography lesson. I like them both, but am really leaning hard on the soft harmonies of Mountain Man right now. And! Another revelation! Both bands are based in the Raleigh-Durham area. Which somehow makes them even dearer to my heart. Have a listen.

Coffee by Sylvan Esso

- Cathleen

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tim's Vermeer

I watched a fascinating documentary last night called, Tim's Vermeer.  It follows inventor, Tim Jenison and his quest to prove the theory that Johannes Vermeer used optics in order to paint extremely realistic paintings during the 17th Century. Everyone has seen a Vermeer or at least the most famous one...

Girl With a Pearl Earring
Books have been written about the idea that Vermeer may have used an early version of the "camera obscura" to project a scene on a wall in a dark room through a pinhole lens. His work has always been thought to be too perfect and his pieces (when x-rayed) show absolutely no sketching under the oil paint.

Tim Jenison wanted to recreate a Vermeer using this technique or something similar in order to prove that it could be done using 17th Century technology.  What he discovers is something truly magnificent and ground breaking in the Art History world.  If correct Vermeer may have not only been a great artist but a brilliant inventor and early "photographer".

Tim using mirror technique to do his very first painting copying a portrait of his father
The scene Tim set up in order to precisely copy a famous Vermeer

Here is the trailer to the movie and it is only 99 cents to rent on iTunes this week.  It's not long and is most definitely worth the time.  It is directed by Teller (of Penn and Teller) as well as produced and narrated by Penn himself.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Artwork of the Week: Ruin #9

Ruin #9 by Danny Jauregui
graphite and ash on panel, 2007 

We are back! While I had a wonderful time spending bright mornings on the beach and overeating delicious food by dad all summer, it feels SO nice to be back in my own space again. And getting things in order! I finally backed up my computer and updated my OS after months of moving the task from week to week on my To-Do list. Boring stuff, I know, but it feels like I've done a cleanse. Minus the glowing skin and energy boost. Anyway, major administrative accomplishments over here! Next on the list: finally finishing Graham's baby book. IT SHALL BE DONE.

You can see more work from artist Danny Jauregui on his website:

- Cathleen 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Dinner: A Love/Hate Story

So I finally got around to checking out Cathleen's "birthday gift" to me from last year: Jenny Rosenstrach's Dinner: A Love Story. I was at my library and they finally had it, so I did what any sane person would do: I gave a little yelp and a hop, then remembered that I was in a library, grabbed the book and got out of there as quickly and furtively as possible.

Anyway, this book has been just as fantastic as I thought it would be. Jenny's writing style is charming and conversational and I've found myself laughing out loud many times. But even more important than keeping me entertained, (wait, is there anything more important than that?) it's given me a new angle from which to tackle my dinner issues. 

Wait, what's that you're saying? "Alissa, how can you have dinner issues? You love to cook and you're at home all day, for goodness sake!" I know, it sounds ridiculous, (I could NEVER cut it as a working mother) but dinner is like a scary freight train relentlessly bearing down on me every day. No matter how much I like to cook, the continual thinking, planning, and actual cooking with small people underfoot can make even the stoutest chef heart tremble a little bit. Not to mention that my eldest daughter likes to ask me in advance what we're eating for dinner tomorrow- usually just as we're sitting down to the dinner that I just made. 
It literally puts me into a panic.

That's why I'm so excited to have a fresh perspective and some new ideas to try out in my kitchen. Maybe it'll breathe some new life into old favorites and make the monotony avoidance a little easier. So what I'm trying to say is, 
Thank you, Cathleen, for your thoughtful cyber present. I love it and it was just what I needed.

Happy Weekend, Friends!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Emma Bridgewater

Have I ever talked about Emma Bridgewater? I'm pretty much obsessed with her pottery. Ever since I had Clementine I wanted to purchase her a silver baby mug from Tiffany's, but they are super expensive - so I settled for a silver spoon and you know what... that spoon is driving me crazy! It gets tarnishy on a dime and it has scratch marks all over it. Since silver is so high maintenance and completely out of vogue I was stuck. I headed over to Emma Bridgewater's website and was completely smitten by her baby mugs. Here are my top favs!

Figs Baby Mug

Egg and Feather Baby Mug

Polka Dot Baby Mug

The mugs are priced around $25 each and Bridgewater sells other items, pitchers, platter, jugs etc... Here's my beef, the company is located in England therefore shipping to the US is $30! And even though I of course understand why it costs this much it's irritating and has stalled my grand plans to have a gorgeous mug for my two babies.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Artwork of the Week: Personal Work

Personal Work by David Abrahams
(though I have a feeling that's not actually the title of the piece)

The first official day of fall this year isn't until September 22, but now that Labor Day has come and gone, summer feels over for me mentally. Physically I'm still at the beach and it's still hot as ever. Actually TOO hot to go down to the shore today if you can believe it. So we're spending our morning indoors, eating melon and watching our fourth episode of Curious George. Oh yeah. 

You can see more work by London-based fashion photographer David Abrahams on

- Cathleen 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

TW Searby- 19th Century Photographer

Over the last few years I have built a pretty legit and detailed family tree including Grace and my family lines.  I have traced nearly every ancestor back to when they arrived in the US (and beyond) and have found some cool stuff.  I have also found that our families have both been in the states a lot longer than previously thought.

One fun fact about my Searby heritage was finding out that my great-great grandfather (Thomas W. Searby) was a photographer/artist in Philadelphia (and later Brooklyn) between 1850-1880.  Being a photographer myself, it was very cool to find that my ancestor was at the very beginning of this technology and art.  He specialized in portraiture before, during and after the Civil War.  What's even cooler is that I was able to find copies of some of his Ambrotypes and here they are....

He used the same chair prop in all three of these final photos and it looks like the same chair the lady in the first photo is sitting on.  There is no way to know but one of these could be TW Searby himself.

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